Marc Gopin on Gender Aspect of War

I saw this from my facebook feed tonight, by Marc Gopin — does it make sense to you?:


“Force protection”. A clean phrase, and its cousin “collateral damage”, that actually mean together that today, men don’t get killed in war much. The vast majority of the dead and wounded are women and children. From Syria to Gaza, from Afghanistan to Congo. The luckier women escape the bombs aimed at them, the luckier ones escape the rape aimed at them. They are merely left to care for abandoned children who have lost their food and lost their minds. People think that ISIS and Boko Haram are the great evil of the world against women, formerly it was the Taliban as the great embodiment of evil against women. But in truth, they are just the caricatures, the showpiece cowards, who flaunt their insanity. The truth is that the entire modern construct of male war is an act of cowardice, where the majority of victims are women and children. Men have become cowards hiding behind their masks and their armor and their artillery. Let’s face it, the age of men’s honor in war is over. Now it is the women who have become the valiant and the fearless, shuttling back and forth across war zones to protect the children and whatever is left of life. Women of war zones need to rise up together, as the Liberian women did. They must humiliate the men, as never before. This works. Taboo, shaming, is a powerful form of nonviolent resistance against barbarism in the history of conflict mitigation. They must shame their men, and they must shame us, the bystanders and enablers.

Leave a comment

Account of surviving June massacre in Tikrit

Surviving June’s massacre in Tikrit — this is a NYT video blog which provides an account by Ali al-Kadhim about surviving the June 2014 ISIS massacre in Tikrit:

“Back now at his family home here in southern Iraq, Mr. Kadhim, 23, recounted his story on a recent afternoon while taking a break from harvesting dates in his uncle’s orchard.

His is one of a very few witness accounts, and perhaps the most detailed, to emerge after the June massacre of Iraqi soldiers stationed at Camp Speicher, a former American army base in Tikrit, Mr. Hussein’s hometown.

Mr. Kadhim spoke plainly and evenly about his experience, and how he set off from the riverbank on a nearly three-week, underground railroad-style journey through insurgent badlands, relying on sympathetic Sunnis to deliver him to safety.”

Posted in Current Events, FSEM: History of Genocide | Leave a comment

MSF Field Staff Describes Ebola Response (or Lack Thereof)

Posted in Africa, MSF, Relief Work, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kurdish Genocide Task Force Urges Action Against IS

 Kurdish Genocide Task Force Statement has been issued urging international action against the “Islamic State”…

Posted in Current Events | Leave a comment

Rumors of Saudi Plans to Remove Muhammad’s Tomb

In this Independent article, rumors appear to have floated that the Saudi government, who are officially claimed as “the protectors of the two holy shrines,” are considering removing the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb in Medina, and moving it to an anonymous spot in a nearby cemetery. If this happens, it could seriously divide the Muslim world against itself. Here’s the article.

Leave a comment

A Life Well Lived: Only SS Struma Survivor Passes Away

Struma Survivor Article Here

The unsinkable David Stoliar, sole survivor of the largest civilian maritime tragedy in World War II dies at home with his wife by his side.

David Stoliar

October 31, 1922 – May 1, 2014


Marda Stoliar with her husband of 46 years, David Stoliar, posing for a birthday photo in 2010, along the banks of the Metolius River in Camp Sherman, Oregon.  Copyright (c) 2010 Alan Guggenheim

Marda Stoliar with her husband of 46 years, David Stoliar, posing for a birthday photo in 2010, along the banks of the Metolius River in Camp Sherman, Oregon. Copyright (c) 2010 Alan Guggenheim

It is with great sadness that I pass along the news I received from Marda Stoliar that her husband David Stoliar, 91, passed away shortly after midnight, May 1, 2014.  He survived the Holocaust at Sea.

Jay Shupack will conduct a memorial service, Sunday, May 18, 2014, at the Congregation Shalom Bayit in Bend, Oregon.

David lived a rich and varied life, albeit a private life as much out of the limelight as possible.  However, he was an historical figure.

In 1942, David was the sole survivor from among almost 800 passengers and crew who perished in the Black Sea after a Soviet submarine, under orders from Stalin to sink enemy and neutral vessels, torpedoed the Jewish refugee ship, the Struma.

Born October 31,1922, in Chişinău, Romania (today Moldova), to Jacob and Bella (nee Leichihman) Stoliar, David whose parents were divorced in 1934, divided his youth in the 1930s between his mother in Paris and his father in Bucharest, Romania.

In 1941, Romanian military authorities ordered David to work with other Jews at the Poligon labor camp, building a firing range for Nazi Germany whose army was massing for their Operation Barbarossa attack against the Soviet Union.  His father Jacob bribed Romanian authorities to release his son.  He paid Jean D. Pandelis, a nefarious Greek shipping agent and organizer of the ill-fated voyage, the equivalent of an $1,000 for a ticket on what was in fact a retrofitted cattle barge, the Struma.  The voyage was foolhardy but Jacob saw it as his son’s only chance to escape fascist Romania and its uniquely vicious, homegrown methods of genocide against its Jewish population.

The only known photo of the Struma, clipped from an Istanbul newspaper published in the winter of 1942 while the vessel lay off Tophane Landing, its nearly 800 passengers marooned in one of the busiest harbors in the world.

The only known photo of the Struma, clipped from an Istanbul newspaper published in the winter of 1942 while the vessel lay off Tophane Landing, its nearly 800 passengers confined to the ship by Turkish police in one of the busiest harbors in the world.

After many delays in the fall of 1941, mainly to enable Pandelis to sell more tickets to Jews desperate to escape, the Struma departed Constanza, Romania, on December 12, 1942. The engine, salvaged from the muddy bottom of the Danube, failed.

Jacob Stoliar and his son David posed for this photo in Bucharest just days before the 19-year-old youth departed on the "Strouma."

Jacob Stoliar and his son David posed for this photo in Bucharest just days before the 19-year-old youth departed on the “Strouma.”

The Struma had to be towed through the Bosporus to Istanbul where Turkish authorities detained the passengers and the vessel for 10 weeks because Great Britain refused to grant the refugees visas to Palestine.  In an attempt to avoid inflaming the Allies or Nazi Germany, neutral Turkey towed the Struma from Istanbul harbor back into the Black Sea where the crew of the Turkish naval tugboat, the Aldemar, cast the Struma adrift without a working engine, wireless, anchor or provisions.

At around 2 a.m. the following morning of February 24, 1942, the Struma exploded.  Initial reports attributed the blast to a “stray mine.” The first dispatch out of Istanbul, transmitted by The Associated Press and published in The New York Times, said “a search was begun immediately,” but there were “no reports of survivors.”

Had there been no survivors, the Struma might have disappeared as a minor maritime tragedy against a backdrop of world war in Europe, North Africa, and the South Pacific.  But one man did survive, 19-year-old David Stoliar.  And to the shame of Turkey whose official archives are still closed on this subject, Stoliar lived to expose their hypocrisy, as well as the intransigence of Great Britain, and blind cruelty of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

David was the only surviving eyewitness to the Turkish authorities’ cutting of the Struma’s anchor.  He was the only eyewitness to the inexplicable delay – by more than 36 hours – of the Turkish authorities’ rescue effort, which when it arrived, comprised a rowboat with a half-dozen coast guard, searching for booty among the debris of the Struma, when they happened onto David, half-frozen and clinging to the ship’s debris.

As the first edition of The New York Times rolled off the presses on the morning of April 25, 1942, David Stoliar was freezing to death, still awaiting rescue 30 hours after Turkish watchtower lookouts noted the flash of the Struma exploding in the Black Sea.

As the first edition of The New York Times rolled off the presses on the morning of April 25, 1942, David Stoliar was freezing to death, still awaiting rescue 30 hours after Turkish watchtower lookouts noted the flash of the Struma exploding in the Black Sea.

Even more damning, for several decades David was the sole source of information that the Struma, packed with refugees and  drifting helplessly without power, lights or an anchor, was deliberately torpedoed, not accidentally blown up by a stray mine.  His account was confirmed in the 1980s by Yosef Govrin, former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, and to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, who discovered archival records of the attack by Soviet submarine Shchuka-213, under the command of Lieutenant D.M. Denezhko, in “The Soviet Fleet in the Black Sea During the Great Patriotic War,” by G.I. Vaneyev.

David's mother Bella agreed with her divorced husband Jacob that David should depart Paris for Bucharest in spring 1939 to avoid being trapped behind enemy lines.  This is the last photo taken before his departure.  He never saw her again.

David’s mother Bella agreed with her divorced husband Jacob that David should depart Paris for Bucharest in spring 1939 to avoid being trapped behind enemy lines. This is the photo taken before his departure. He never saw her again.

Five months after the sinking of the Struma, French gendarmes in Paris arrested David’s mother Bella and interred her, with thousands of other Jews, at the Drancy concentration facility north of Paris.  The French authorities turned her over to the Nazis who, on September 14, 1942, transported her by rail Convoy 32 to Auschwitz.  She and about one thousand other Jews in Convoy 42 were executed in the gas chambers the day they arrived.

Five years later, long after the end of World War II, Bella’s second husband, Jacob Tomashin, journeyed to Jaffa, Israel, to track down David and tell him the fate of his mother.  David said Tomashin also lost his son to the Nazis’s “Final Solution” that same summer of 1942.

Given David’s personal loss of his mother in the Holocaust, he practically fell out of his chair at lunch with me one day in the winter of 2005 when I read aloud the remarks of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, speaking before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in remembrance of the Holocaust.  Sharon, a militaristic leader who David didn’t particular like, said the callous disdain of the Allies towards the plight of Jews fleeing the Holocast resulted in the sinking of the Struma and the deaths of so many Jews in concentration camps, which of course included his mother Bella.

The allies knew of the annihilation of the Jews. They knew and did nothing.  The leadership of the British Mandate displayed . . . obtuseness and insensitivity by locking the gates to Israel to Jewish refugees who sought a haven in the Land of Israel. Thus were rejected the requests of the 769 (sic) passengers of the ship Struma who escaped from Europe — and all but one found their deaths at sea.

 Throughout the war, nothing was done to stop the annihilation.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Speaking before the Knesset
January 2005

Sharon said the sinking of the Struma lay at the heart of the Jewish people’s rationale for their own homeland, and why Israelis must always remember that no nation other than Israel itself will insure the survival of its people.

The sole survivor referred to by Sharon was David Stoliar.  If David had been a firebrand, a political Jew, an opportunistic man anxious for celebrity and all it bestows, the world might have known more about the Struma.  There might even be an exhibit to it at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  However, he was not that kind of person — and there is no Struma exhibit in the USHMM.  He resisted the role of a “monkey in a cage,” as he often referred to such a role.

Simon Brod is pictured here early Thursday morning, April 23, 1942, an hour or so before he put David on the Taurus Express for Aleppo, Syria, and from there by car to Tel Aviv.

Simon Brod is pictured here early Thursday morning, April 23, 1942, an hour or so before he put David on the Taurus Express for Aleppo, Syria, and from there by car to Tel Aviv.

After his rescue, Stoliar was jailed by Turkish authorities because, he was told, he was an illegal alien.   Finally, after two months of incarceration, David was released to embark overland, on the Taurus Express, for Aleppo, Syria, and later Tel Aviv.  His saviors were a Jew whose efforts would cost him his family fortune, a Turkish policeman known for torture, and an agent of MI-6 who would be knighted after the war.  The Jew was Simon Brod, a one-man Holocaust relief agency who spent his family fortune saving thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of refugees fleeing the Axis nations.  The MI-6 agent was British Customs Officer, Major Arthur Whittall.  The Turkish policeman was Brod’s well-paid connection, Director General of the Istanbul Police, Ahmet Demir.  (David Ben-Gurion, leader of Eretz Israel and soon-to-be the nation’s future prime minister, on a crisp December day in 1944,  went to Istanbul, to Haydarpasa railway station, to thank Turkish and British officials, and the Jewish Rescue Committee, for their rescue effort.  Against a backdrop that included the blue and white Star of David flag, snapping in the breeze for the first time on Turkish soil, Ben-Gurion singled out Major Whittall and praised him for opening the floodgates.  He said it was thanks to Whittall, personally, that a number of human beings had survived what the world would come to know as the Holocaust.  One of those survivors was David.)

After convalescence, David tried working as a nightwatchman but couldn’t stay awake all night.  He worked one day for the U.S. Army liaison in Jerusalem but lost that job after flipping an army pickup truck in a ditch.  He attempted work elsewhere in Tel Aviv but, unable to speak Hebrew, found none.

On January 18, 1943, David joined Royal Army Service Corp (RASC) of the British 8th Army’s Expeditionary Force Institutes (EFI).  He was stationed in Cairo for his basic training and served with distinction in the 8th Army, in stations ranging from Alexandria, Egypt, to Baghdad and Jerusalem.

David could have joined one of the Jewish underground movements, perhaps the Irgun  (Irgun Zvai Leumi, National Military Organization, also called Etzel), a Jewish terrorist organization founded in 1937; or the Stern Gang (Lohamei Herut Yisrael, Fighters for Israel’s Freedom, also called Lehi), founded in 1940 by Abraham Stern as a breakaway terrorist group from the Irgun.  He preferred not.  David did not care to be a “fighting Jew” in the Irgun, which would be commanded, in 1943, by Israel’s sixth prime minister, Menachem Begin.  And he was repulsed by the Stern Gang among whose commanders back then was another future prime minister, Israel’s seventh, Yitzhak Shamir.  Instead, David joined the British Army where he found a healing for his psyche and the time for re-inventing himself – not so much as a “Jew” but rather as a human being.

The British trained him for the quartermaster corps.  At first, he communicated with hand signals.  I remember quipping, “They must have really needed people.”

David laughed and replied with his usual wit: “Hah!  Labor was in short supply.  They took anybody.”

Quite quickly, David adapted to military regimentation and learned English, working in the desert bases of the British in Egypt.  A British officer taught David English, his fourth language after French, Romanian and Russian, but not his last.  David could not recall the officer’s name but he conceded an immense debt to his mentor:  “In Tripoli, my commanding officer was a lieutenant in the British Army, a ‘lef-tenant.’  He was a teacher in England, and he insisted every evening to teach me English.”


David's British Army commanding officer "gave away the bride," Adria Nacmias, to David in this distinctly military wedding in the largest synagogue in Cairo.

David’s British Army commanding officer “gave away the bride,” Adria Nacmias, to David in this distinctly military wedding in the largest synagogue in Cairo.

In 1945, David married an Egyptian woman, Adria Nacmias, in a large British military wedding in the largest synagogue in Cairo. After his discharge from the British Army in 1946, David and his wife relocated to Jaffa, Israel, where he found work with the Humble Oil Co.

Both David and Adria served in the underground Jewish defense organization, the Haganah, and fought in 1948 to help win Israel’s War of Independence.  David manned a machine gun in Erfula along the Syrian border.

In 1953, the Stoliars had a son, Ron.  In 1954, David relocated his family to Tokyo where he learned Japanese and taught himself the import-export business, especially the manufacture of shoes.  Adria died of nicotine poisoning in 1961.

In 1968, David married Marda Emslie, a Portland, Oregon, artist working in New York City as a shoe designer.  Together, they lived in Tokyo where they launched what became Koala Shoe Co., manufacturing and representing major shoe brands in England and the United States for many years.

They continued through the decade of the 1970s, manufacturing shoes in Korea and exporting them to Europe and North America.  They lived for periods in Tokyo, Taipei, Paris and New York before making Bend, Oregon, their home base in 1972.  For many years during the 1970s, Koala imported more shoes to America than Nike.

David became a naturalized a citizen of the United States in 1972.

As the shoe industry changed, David, then 57, and Marda, age 39, retired from that industry and together, in November 1980, launched “Breads of France,” a French bakery and cafe in downtown Bend.  Afterwards, with David’s full support, Marda launched International School of Baking, which she continues today with an international clientele of students and bakeries.

Burial with Rabbi Jay presiding, will be Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Prineville, a high desert city in Central Oregon, not far from Powell Butte where Marda’s family homesteaded in 1901.  Survivors beside his wife Marda, son Ron, include one granddaughter, Adria Stoliar.

Posted in The Arab Israeli Conflict, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pro Hutu Power Interpretation of 1994 Rwanda Events


Upcoming WBAI-FM Program

Project Censored


Tuesday, April 15, 2014   6:00 AM – 7:00 AM

Peter Phillips with guest co-host Ann Garrison discuss the Politics of Genocide and the 20th anniversary of the tragic mass killings in Rwanda in 1994. Their first guest is Robin Philpot, a Montreal author of the new book Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction. Their second guest is Edward Herman, professor Emeritus at Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author of the Monthly Review Press book “The Politics of Genocide.”

Herman argues that some genocides such as Kosovo and Rwanda in 1994 have been heavily publicized in the West to advance a specific economic agenda, eventually leading to a minority controlled government of pro-Western and pro-business Tutsi, while other genocides, such as in East Timor, have been largely ignored for the same reason. Herman and Peterson wrote that the Western establishment has “swallowed a propaganda line on Rwanda that turned perpetrator and victim upside-down….the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million.”

Share Button



Posted in Rwanda | Leave a comment

Syria’s Drought and the Rise of a War Economy

Syria’s Drought and the Rise of a War Economy

by Omar S. Dahi | published April 14, 2014 – 11:19am

The grinding war in Syria brings new horrors with every passing week. The death toll and the number of displaced people continue to soar, as more areas of the country are reduced to rubble. This month, two additional issues with dire long-term consequences have been gaining attention: the possible drought affecting the northwest and the entrenchment of a war economy.

The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that this year’s rainfall is less than half the annual average. The resulting drought — particularly in the northwest of the country — could place about 2.3 million Syrians in need of emergency food aid. That number would be in addition to the 4.2 million already dependent on aid, for a total of 6.5 million.

Syria already experienced a severe drought from 2006 to 2010, leading some to make a link between climate change, water shortages, and the uprisings there and elsewhere in the Arab world. Yet others, such as Francesca de Châtel, argue that these discussions distract from the long-term mismanagement and overexploitation of the region’s water resources, particularly since the 1990s.

Either way, the food security policy that was a hallmark of the Syrian regime is unlikely to survive the war. After being the only country in the region that was self-sufficient in food production, the state is now a net importer of wheat. Before the uprising Syria had a “strategic reserve” of wheat estimated at around 3.5 million tons, roughly equivalent to one year’s consumption, and mostly stored in areas now outside regime control. In 2013, the government is reported to have imported about 2.4 million tons of wheat. These changes imply a bleak future for the Syrian countryside and suggest that the millions who have been displaced from the rural areas may never return there.

The entrenchment of the war economy, including competition over smuggled goods and black markets, control over natural energy resources (such as oil fields in the northeast) and foreign funding flows, has been equally devastating. As journalist Jihad Yazigi argues in a policy brief for the European Council for Foreign Relations, the collapse of public regulation and the emergence of new local actors with a material stake in continuing the conflict will only further delay a meaningful political settlement. Interestingly, while the rise of this warlordism exists mainly within rebel groups, it also occurs in regime-controlled areas.

Both the Syrian government and the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) are attempting to retain and project their economic authority over areas nominally under their control, albeit with differing results. In most areas under regime control, basic goods are available and the government’s institutions have shown remarkable resilience. Even state employees in many areas outside government control receive their salaries (albeit greatly devalued as a result of currency depreciation). No doubt the regime has received external financial support and is likely to have depleted its foreign exchange reserves or incurred large debts, but it has also proactively slashed investment spending and raised tariffs on some luxury goods. So far it has managed the economic crisis skillfully, as demonstrated by its ability to secure the large wheat imports mentioned earlier. For its part, the SNC’s recent efforts include printing half a million schoolbooks and declaring all fired Syrian state workers as employees in the Interim Syrian Government. Its actual presence and authority in areas outside Syrian government control is almost non-existent, however, and remains largely an aspiration rather than a reality — especially as local groups assert more control.

Of course, for the many millions of displaced Syrians completely dependent on relief, the scorecard of who “controls” which area no longer matters. Their actions are directed toward ensuring their survival and that of their families, and most of their thoughts are occupied by the question of when, if ever, their nightmare will end.

Posted in Syria Civil War | Leave a comment

On The “Israel as a Jewish State” Demand

In this article, Yousef Mouneyer answers the query…

Why ‘Jewish state’ demand is a non-starter

If Washington accepts new Israeli demands, it moves the goal posts further away from a middle ground for a just peace.

Last updated: 09 Apr 2014 12:20
Yousef Munayyer
Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational programme, The Palestine Center. Prior to joining the Palestine Center, he served as a Policy Analyst for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest Arab American membership organisation.
Share article


Israel is demanding that Palestinians recognise it as a ‘Jewish state’ [AFP]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands Palestinians recognise Israel as “a Jewish state and US President Barack Obama, who used this language in his state of the union address, signalled US support for this position. This is disastrous for the prospects for peace and not something the Palestinians can or should ever accept. Here is why.First, the PLO accepted the Israeli demand to recognise the State of Israel decades ago and Israel never reciprocated with recognition of the State of Palestine or its right to exist. Now, while still denying self-determination to Palestinians, Israel demands recognition “as a Jewish state” not from the world but only from Palestinians. Israel does not want to formally change its name to “the Jewish State of Israel” which would allow it to join an elite group of theocracies like the Islamic Republic of Iran. It only wants Palestinians to accept it as such. Why?

Second, this demand adds insult to injury. The ostensibly pragmatic land-for-peace approach is one that says the parties will never agree on a historical narrative and must look to the future instead. But the Jewish state demand undercuts this and demands Palestinians accept the Israeli narrative that securing Jewish majoritarianism in Palestine was morally justified even if it necessitated destroying Palestinian society and created masses of Palestinian refugees. Asking Palestinians to make a deal that focuses on the future is one thing, but asking them to accept the crimes committed against them is another altogether. It is unbecoming of a party that claims to want a just peace.

Recognition of a ‘Jewish state’ by Palestinians and by extension the US and the rest of the world that accepts agreements on such terms would not only lend credibility to past measures to maintain a Jewish majority but it will also enable future ones.


Third, recognition of a “Jewish state” by Palestinians and by extension the US and the rest of the world that would accept agreements on such terms, would not only lend credibility to past measures to maintain a Jewish majority but it will also enable future ones. This directly imperils Palestinian citizens of Israel, like myself, living in the “Jewish state” as non-Jews.

It is conceivable that a state recognised by Palestinians as Jewish may soon say to its Palestinian citizens: “Go to the Palestinian state, that is where you belong,” discriminate against them further, or engage in ethnic cleansing. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman already openly advocates such policies today. To recognise Israel as a Jewish state would only give license to further efforts of marginalising or removing this population with the goal of maintaining Jewish majoritarianism.

A magical use of language would not sufficiently wed recognition of a Jewish state with the principle of safeguarding the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Every Palestinian recalls that the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which established London’s support for Zionism, noted that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. This did little to prevent the Nakba which followed as Zionism’s goal materialised.

As the Israeli historian Benny Morris said, “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore, it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population.” Legitimising the pursuit of Jewish majoritarianism ad infinitum opens the door to future actions like this.

Fourth, this is an entirely new demand from the Israeli side that did not exist a few years ago. Today, the Israelis present it as a deal breaker. That the Americans allow this is a significant problem. When Washington accepts new Israeli demands, Israel moves the goal posts further away from a middle ground where a just peace can be made. Making matters worse is that while Washington accepts new Israeli demands, it also fails to enforce Israeli obligations. The Road Map, which called for a settlement freeze, was never enforced. This allows Israel to have its cake, eat it, and then demand even more cake. Little more than the crumbs are left for Palestinians.

No Israeli politician has pushed this issue as strongly domestically and internationally as Netanyahu. He has created resonance in Israeli public opinion and argues now that his hands are tied on this matter.

The truth is, the main reason Netanyahu makes this demand is that he knows the Palestinians cannot accept it for all of the above reasons. Yet, he makes it, knowing it will be met with sympathy in Washington and put the Palestinians in the position of looking like rejectionists. This way, he aims to put a stop to any negotiations that would lead to an end to Israeli occupation.

Palestinians shouldn’t stand for this, neither should anyone else.

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational programme, The Palestine Center. Prior to joining the Palestine Center, he served as a Policy Analyst for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest Arab American membership organisation.

Posted in Current Events, history | Leave a comment

Letter from the Archive: The Genocide in Rwanda

Article Link

April 4, 2014


Letter from the Archive: The Genocide in Rwanda




Monday, April 7th, will mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda—a systematic, nationwide attempt to exterminate the country’s Tutsi minority in the course of about a hundred days. (In Rwanda, April 7th is Memorial Day, commemorating the genocide against the Tutsis; July 4th, Liberation Day, celebrates the genocide’s end.)

Philip Gourevitch first wrote about Rwanda for The New Yorker in 1995; in 1998, he published “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families,” a book about the genocide and its immediate aftermath, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. We asked him to look back over his coverage, select a few of his pieces, and say a few words about how they came together, and how they might be read now, at nearly two decades’ remove. From now until July 4th, we’ve unlocked these articles on the genocide so that everyone can read them.

After the Genocide,” December 18, 1995.

I arrived in Rwanda for the first time in early May of 1995, a year after the genocide. The country was gutted. Between those who were dead and those who had fled, Rwandans spoke of their country as empty. Its infrastructure was trashed. The Hutu Power political, military, and militia forces that had carried out the genocide had reëstablished themselves as a rump state along Rwanda’s borders in camps catered by the United Nations and international aid agencies. In Kigali, the capital, the Rwandese Patriotic Front, the rebel army that had been waging a civil war in Rwanda since 1990, and that had brought the genocide to a halt, had established a rough control. But it was immediately clear that the violence that was unleashed in 1994 was far from spent. The United Nations peacekeeping force that had done nothing to stop the genocide had been given a beefed-up mandate after the slaughter—to help stabilize the country—but the only thing the R.P.F. wanted the U.N. to do was leave. The prisons and jails were packed to bursting with accused génocidaires. There were revenge killings. And two weeks before I arrived, on a hill called Kibeho, the Army had killed several thousand men, women, and children during an operation to close down a camp for internally displaced people—a move that clearly foreshadowed what could happen on a much larger scale, and what did happen, in 1996, when Rwanda went into neighboring Congo (then called Zaire) to disband the U.N. camps there.

I stayed in Rwanda for three months in the summer of 1995 before coming home to write. Nobody expected Rwanda to survive in the shape it was in then. The expectation of another—and a worse, or at least a broader—bloodletting was pretty much universal among international observers, and most Rwandans, too, had a grim view of the future. I had gone to Rwanda because I couldn’t understand what had happened, and because I wondered how life would continue in the aftermath. And when I went, I was chiefly preoccupied with questions about us—about America, the West, the so-called international community that had promised up and down for fifty years never again to tolerate genocide, but had abandoned Rwanda the moment the genocide began. I wondered what Rwanda’s story told us about our notions of a universal common humanity.

But, after a very short time in Rwanda, my focus shifted, as it often does when reporting, and I became overwhelmingly interested in Rwandans. As I travelled around, collecting their deeply thought-provoking, challenging, and moving stories, I often scribbled more words in my notebook in the course of a day than there are in this, the (not short) first reported piece I ever wrote for the magazine.

Neighborhood Bully,” September 9, 1996.

In the early months of 1996, when I returned to Rwanda, I kept hearing about a steadily increasing spate of attacks by the regrouped genocidal Hutu Power forces, who were based in the U.N. border camps in Congo (Zaire)—attacks by guerilla infiltrators into Rwanda, and also attacks on Congolese villagers living in the hills of eastern Congo beyond the camps. By spring, I was getting word of a seemingly systematic campaign by Hutu Power to drive local Tutsi populations out of eastern Congo, and to stake out control of a vast, agriculturally fecund zone of North Kivu province. The attacks against Tutsis by Rwandan génocidaires intersected with and reignited local conflicts over land and citizenship rights that had pitted ancestrally Rwandan Congolese peoples against other Congolese groups since the mid-sixties. But the violence now had all the markings of the killings in Rwanda in 1994, and when I got reports of a church massacre in the hills of Masisi, in the volcanic massif beyond the city of Goma, I went to have a look. The Makoto monastery massacre that is at the core of this piece had gone unnoticed in the international press. The “Neighborhood Bully” of the title was President Mobutu Sese Seko, and the systematic collusion of the Congolese state in the mass expulsion of surviving Tutsis from eastern Congo had also largely been ignored. These were defining events in the run-up to the war in Congo that was beginning just as this piece appeared, in the early fall of 1996. That war gave way to a series of devastating wars that continue to this day—and the question of citizenship for Tutsis remains as bitterly contested as ever.

Toward the end of this story, I tell of a young man whose head had been cut halfway off, then sewn back on by his rescuers. Two years ago, in the fall of 2012, I was visiting a refugee camp in Rwanda where many of the Tutsis who were ethnically cleansed from Congo in 1996 still live, and I heard that a number of the Makoto survivors were there. I asked after the boy with the cut neck, and a few minutes later we were introduced. He had been living in the camp ever since, and was raising his own children there. It was not a good life, he said, but it was life.

Forsaken,” September 25, 2000.

When the Rwandan Army went into eastern Congo in 1996, it spearheaded a Congolese rebellion that soon drew support from a far-flung pan-African alliance—from Uganda and Zimbabwe, Burundi and Angola, Namibia and Ethiopia—keen to drive out the West’s Cold War client dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. The leader of that rebellion, an old Maoist guerrilla who had fought alongside Che Guevara in Congo in the sixties, was Laurent-Desire Kabila, who was installed as Congo’s new President after Mobutu’s ouster, in May of 1997. His popularity with the Congolese and with his key foreign patrons, Rwanda and Uganda, was short-lived. During Kabila’s march to power, Mobutu’s strongest military defense came not from Congolese loyalists but from the renegade Rwandan Hutu Power forces that had regrouped in the U.N. border camps. Along the way, the Rwandan and Congolese forces fighting for Kabila had massacred tens of thousands of them and their civilian families and followers. But a year later, Kabila forged an alliance with his former Hutu Power enemies against the Rwandans who had carried him to power—and suddenly there were anti-Tutsi pogroms in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa. Then Rwanda attacked again, and this time the Ugandan army came with them, but instead of removing and replacing Kabila, as they had done with Mobutu, the invasion split Congo in two in a grinding stalemate.

Along with the violence of the occupation, the Ugandan and Rwandan forces, and their Congolese proxies in the east, were accused of pillaging natural resources. As friction between these old allies mounted, they turned against one another. Between several bouts of fighting between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the cut-off Congolese city of Kisangani in the spring of 2000, I travelled to Kinshasa, then to Kigali, where some military officers put me on a plane (from the fleet of the notorious Victor Bout) to fly to the front. As it happened, it was at that point in the second Congo war, as the fighting that began in 1998 and continued into 2003 was known, that General Paul Kagame, who had led the R.P.F. when it was a rebel force and commanded the Army ever since, became President in a shakeup in Kigali. Kagame’s Presidency, which continues to this day, had been long anticipated. But the atmosphere in Kigali was far from celebratory. It was as heavy and demoralized a time as any I’d seen in post-genocide Rwanda.

The Life After,” May 4, 2009.

I didn’t visit Rwanda again until New Year’s Day, 2009—nearly a decade after my last trip, and a few months ahead of the commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the genocide. The country had progressed immensely and was becoming known as much for its recovery as for its near annihilation. Rwanda had come back to life in a way that nobody could have imagined when I first visited.

But what does reconciliation mean after such extreme communal violence and so much absolute betrayal of neighbors by neighbors? I went back to visit a killer I had first met in 1996 as well as the survivors of his victims. He had been convicted and released by the community genocide court because he confessed, but he was hardly the picture of repentance, and the survivors were far from wholeheartedly forgiving. Like everyone in Rwanda told me then, they said they lived in peace side by side because they had to.

Everywhere one turned in the newly resurgent Rwanda, the complexities of officially imposed unity seemed to test the limits of possibility. For instance, the former commander of the Hutu Power forces in Congo was now a general of the national Army. The genocide had come in the middle of a decade of civil war, but that war was now little spoken of: in the name of ending the violence, the outrages committed on either side of the fight before and after the genocide were officially regarded as bygones. And in eastern Congo, after another round of destructive proxy war, Rwanda had just secured a deal with Kabila—Joseph Kabila, that is, the son of the old rebel chief who had been assassinated in 2001. The deal lasted for three years, bringing a greater semblance of peace to the region than it had known for fifteen years, until it was undone in 2012. Rwanda was very far from “normal,” whatever that would be, and the post-genocide order felt at once heavy and fragile, but the mood in the country was less haunted than I had ever expected to find it.

Photograph by Dominic Nahr/Magnum.

Posted in Africa | Leave a comment