Sunday, October 6, 2013

Phillip Adams Drones On

Phillip Adams was at the Brisbane Writers Festival last week, a fact which would not ordinarily interest me in the least, except for the fact that he was chairing a session on the subject of drones and one of his 3 guests happened to be Israeli Mossad salesman, Michael Bar-Zohar, out here pushing his latest book, Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service. The other two were lawyer Michael (Dan) Mori, associated, you may remember, with the defence of David Hicks, and UK anti-drone activist James Bridle. (You can hear the entire program, broadcast on October 3, on Adams' program, Late Night Live, on Radio National.)

Of course, the incorrigibly Ziophilic Adams, who invariably goes all soft and gooey in the presence of a Zionist, just couldn't help but allude to the 1972 Munich massacre, which he characterised as a terrorist attack which the Israelis "had to respond to."

This was the first of Adams' many services to the Israeli narrative during the course of the program.

Of course, Israel did not have to respond in the way it did, namely by unleashing a Mossad death squad against Palestinian resistance representatives in Rome, Paris, Nicosia and Oslo between October 1972 and July 1973. None of the individuals murdered in this killing spree had any proven connection with the events in Munich. Israel's actions were nothing more than eye-for-an-eye acts of vengeance, as were its murderous bombing runs over Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria in the immediate aftermath of Munich.*

(In the case of Wael Zuaiter, the resistance movement's representative in Rome, gunned down on 16 October 1972, an Italian court set out to try 8 Mossad operatives in absentia for his death but was forced to acquit them for lack of evidence. In its judgment of 17 December 1980, the Court had this to say of the victim: "The fact is that Wael Zuaiter had established strong ties in a number of Italian political, cultural and press circles and had developed an intense propaganda in favour of the Palestinian cause... However, there was nothing to authorize anyone to think that these activities, which were carried out in compliance with the laws of the host country, were a cover-up for any activities which, objectively, were likely to help extremist groups carrying out obviously unacceptable actions." (For a Palestinian: A Memorial to Wael Zuaiter, Ed. by Janet Venn-Brown, 1984, pp 209-210))

Adams' opening question to Bar-Zohar - whether drones were "necessary" - facilitated the first of Bar-Zohar's 'tough neighborhood' whines:

"It's very funny to sit here in Australia. You have no problems. You don't have any border with any enemy state, no danger of something exploding suddenly in a cafe or restaurant... and for you it's very easy to judge the outside world... By the way, Israel doesn't use drones for military purposes [because] terrorists live in densely populated territories."

This would have been an ideal opportunity for a critical and informed chairperson to suggest, in one form or another, that this might have something to do with Australia's having come to terms with its indigenous population, as opposed to Israel's ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine's indigenous population, but Adams is neither, instead bending over backwards to accomodate the arrogant sod:

"Michael makes the point that Israeli public opinion does not allow for too many civilian deaths, hence the reluctance to use these damn things."

Notice too, how Bar-Zohar is allowed to get away with the lie that Israel doesn't use drones to kill Palestinians. The reality is that they are an integral part of Israel's policy of 'targeted assassination', a euphemism for wiping out any manifestation of armed resistance to Israeli occupation:

"Each targeted assassination is a large-scale operation that integrates hundreds of specialists from different military branches and security apparatuses. Beyond its reliance on background intelligence (much of it gathered in mass arrests and from Palestinians stopped at checkpoints), targeted assassination depends on sharing real-time information between various agents, commanders, operators, and different military planes and on their ability to act upon it. After a Palestinian is put on the death list, he is followed, sometimes for days, by a 'swarm' of different kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles. Often, different swarms follow different people simultaneously in different areas of the Gaza Strip. In this way, the security services establish the targeted person's daily routines and habits and maintain continued visual contact with him until his killing. As well as being cheaper to operate, unmanned drones have the advantage over manned planes or helicopters because they can remain in the air around the clock... and because their formations circulate in relatively small areas while providing a multiplicity of angles of vision. Moreover, drones are quiet and barely visible to the human eye. This is the reason that, beginning in 2004, the air force started to shoot its missiles from drones, rather than from its more visible battle helicopters. A swarm of various types of drones, each circulating at a different altitude, up to a height of 30,000 feet, is navigated by a GPS system and woven by radio communication into a single synergetic reconnaissance and killing instrument that conducts the entire assassination operation." (The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ed, by Adi Ophir, Michal Givoni, & Sari Hanafi, 2009,pp 544-545)  [*See also Cut to pieces: the Palestinian family drinking tea in their courtyard, Clancy Chassay, The Guardian, 24/3/09.]

Characteristically, Adams, wasted no time in switching the focus away from Israeli  and onto American war crimes, suggesting to Mori, that unlike Israel, the US is not nearly as averse to a bit of 'collateral damage':

"That doesn't seem to be of great concern in the US, does it?"

Here's what ensued, in particular, Bar-Zohar's second 'tough neighborhood' whine:

Mori: Well, now we're raising the issue of collateral damage and how many civilian deaths are acceptable if we're getting the terrorist planner. Is it OK to kill him if we know there'll be 6 other members of his family, is that OK?

Bar-Zohar: Is it OK? If I listen to all this debate I would find out finally you can't get a war because [Sound of cheering from audience] everything we say - yes, here it's fine, it's fine for you, and I envy you people but when my enemy sits 40 km from my home and attacks me with missiles every day and bombs my restaurants and buses every day, what should I do? Debate what's moral, how to count, how many people are equivalent to death of a terrorist or go after the terrorist. That's the point. And speaking of errors... I can make you a list from here to eternity about the errors which are made in each and every war. War is a very unpleasant business. You've been to war? I've fought in 4 wars in my life. I don't recommend it to anybody, and war is full of mistakes every second and every moment people are killed for no reason and civilians are hurt for no reason so let's not mish-mash everything. There is today a new instrument. Everything changes. Before there were different kinds of war. They were running with spears and arrows. Then the tank came...

James Bridle then intervened to make the following, telling point:

"I totally understand the point Michael is making, that there is a particular situation in Israel that has produced these conditions and these weapons. What these weapons are now doing is carrying the attitudes of that conflict to the rest of the globe."

As did Mori, leading to this little exchange with Bar-Zohar:

Bar-Zohar, No, we didn't produce the killer drones, not at all.

Mori: No, but you produced the concept of executive-directed killings.

Bar-Zohar: No, not for drones.

Mori: No, not for drones, but for the executive determining who's bad and who should be killed.

But Bar-Zohar just couldn't let this one pass:

"You mentioned before about the Munich group which was followed. There was a tribunal in Israel formed by PM Meir, DPM Alon, and Defence Minister Dayan, and they had to approve each file of terrorism submitted to them by the Mossad saying this man should be killed."

At this point, Adams just couldn't help himself, and rushed to Bar-Zohar's aid with this fawning nonsense:

"I think what he might be getting at is that Israel has over quite a long time often done quite remarkable things which the world may have applauded but which weren't really legal. We did a program the other day on Eichman... This is Israeli intelligence - Mossading - at its best, going into another country, taking someone away for a trial back in Israel. You have long history of targeting individuals... but no one does it like the Israelis..."

Bar-Zohar, elated, chimed in with:

"No one does it better, but don't forget we are all the time on the front line..."

Adams blundered on, the imaginary Israel of his salad days, with its legendary Goldas and Moshes, taking possession:

"You have a history as a Labor member of the Knesset. You're the biographer of some very important progressive figures in Israeli politics. There must be times when what Mossad has done or is doing concerns you ethically."

Unfortunately for Adams, his Israeli guest missed the cue to indulge in a bit of good old Israeli 'shoot & cry'. No tortured soul he:

"Not very many times that I remember. You mentioned the case when the Mossad made a mistake killing a poor Moroccan waiter... Israeli government paid a huge amount of money to his family as an indemnity."

Warms your heart, doesn't it?

Adams final Q&A with Bar-Zohar was quality grist to the latter's propaganda mill.  "Michael," he asked, "does Hamas or Hezbollah in Lebanon have access to drones?"

Bar-Zohar: No, they don't need to. They don't need drones. They have 40,000 missiles, 40 THOUSAND MISSILES along the Israeli border ready to be launched.

Adams: Nonetheless, it must be highly possible that we're witnessing an arms race spurred by the widespread use of UAVs by the US.

Bar-Zohar: So far they sent 2 drones which were shot down over the ocean before they came into Israeli territory... but they have 40,000 missiles. That's much more dangerous than the drones.

God knows what the Brisbane audience made of all this.

[*See my 2/7/12 post Massacre Inc.]

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