Linguistic Engineering: New “Boshnjak” Identity and “Bosnian” Language

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On November 21st, 2015 it was the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accord – a treaty signed by four Presidents (the USA, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) that led to an end of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As a result of the Dayton Peace Accord a new “independent and internationally recognized state” emerged: Bosnia-Herzegovina as a confederation of two political entities (the Republic of Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation) but ethnically strictly divided into three segments composed by the Serb, Croat and Muslim (today Boshnjak) controlled territories. In contrast to the Republic of Srpska (49% of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina) the Muslim (Boshnjak)-Croat Federation is cantonized on the ethnic basis.

However, Bosnia-Herzegovina is today just another non-functional western project – a country that is not independent; it is a Western protectorate, a territory, fully dependent on international financial donations and credits. The country is ethnically divided as imposed by US-NATO without any inter-ethnic cooperation between the three leading ethnic groups.

Nevertheless, one of the most important features of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina is a creation and existence of a new ethnolinguistic and ethnonational identity – the (Muslim) “Boshnjaks” who speak the “Bosnian” language as a separate and independent language from the family of the South Slavic languages. This is an artificial construct with a view to creating ethnic and linguistic divisions.

The political consequences of  the “Boshnjak” project are of international significance: this ethnonational identity is based Islam and Muslim political ideology as all other identity components, including the language which in the 1980s was Serbo-Croatian. Subsequently, the Muslim Boshnjaks accepted all components of political Islam ideology and as a consequence the world is today faced with the fact that the Muslim part (cantons) of Bosnia-Herzegovina is the first European Islamic State (the second one is Muslim Albanian Kosovo) – a country that is a main European recruitment center for the Middle East Jihad fighters.

Nevertheless, the political project of making the “Boshnjak” ethnonation required and the creation of a separate ethnolanguage for such ethnonation in order to prove that the Boshnjaks deserved to be treated as a separate nation with their own independent state.

The object of this article is to present the process of making separate (from Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin) Boshnjak ethnolinguistic national identity by using the technique of “linguistic engineering/chirurgic” in the process of creation of an independent (from Serbian/Montenegrin and Croatian) Bosnian language as a national language of Bosnian-Herzegovinian South Slavic Muslims (former speakers of common Serbo-Croat language). We will present as well the ways in which various elements of linguistic diversity within former Serbo-Croat language have been “emblematized” and taken as markers of ethnonational and political identity of Muslim Boshnjaks in multicultural/multiconfessional Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1993, when official Boshnjak ethnonational identity was introduced, up today.

The relationship between language, nation and state is a part of an ideological composition either in Bosnia-Herzegovina or in the rest of the Balkans (similarly to majority of European regions). Bosnia-Herzegovina is a Balkan historical province where the consequences of the clash between national ideologies, which are both domestically rooted and imported from outside with more or less autonomous currents of thinking and behaviour, have been deep and extreme.

Importedideology of the 19th century German Romanticism of linguistically rooted ethnonational identity and solving the national-state problem (“Eine sprache, ein folk, ein staat”) is fused with more autonomous currents that were heavily imbued with “bloody memories” from WWII and resulted in what is labelled  to be  “post-Communist nationalism”. Such amalgamation became a basis for the creation of increasingly homogeneous states with rejuvenation of inter-ethnic intolerance.

The land of Bosnia-Herzegovina is probably the best Balkan example of a crucial interface between language and nationalism. For the purpose that they are separate nations all three major ethnoconfessional players in Bosnia-Herzegovina legally proclaimed their own national languages to be disconnected with Serbo-Croatian.  That was of especial importance to the Muslims/Boshnjaks as without “evidence” that their native language is different from Serbian and Croatian they will hardly convince the international community that they are not originally Serbs or Croats, which was a crucial justification of their claims to live in internationally independent “national” state organization.[1]

The Bosnian language (de facto of only Muslim Boshnjaks), as a separate (South) Slavic one, was officially inaugurated in 1996 by publishing the book: S. Halilović, Pravopis bosanskog jezika (Orthography of Bosnian Language) in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina – Sarajevo. According to the Orthography… (and other similar publications), Bosnian language is different in comparison with “relative” Serbian and Croatian because of the following main reasons:

  1. The use of phoneme “h” in certain words differently from Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin. For instance, the word coffee” is written and pronounced in these languages as: in Bosnian: kahva; Serbian/Montenegrin: кафа/kafa; Croatian: kava; in Bosnian hudovica (widow), in Serbian/Croatian udovica, etc.
  2. Greater use of “Turkish” words (i.e. of Oriental origin) like ahbab (friend); amidža (uncle); adet (custom/habit), akšam (twilight), etc. (all of these words are known in Serbian, Montenegrin and Croatian languages but not used regularly as they are replaced by the Slavic words).[2]
  3. Using of only one form of the Future tense: “ja ću kupiti/kupit ću” (I will buy) that is used in standard Croatian as well, but no use of forms “купићу/ја ћу да купим” as in standard Serbian/Montenegrin.[3]
  4. The use of Ijekavian sub-dialect of the Shtokavian dialect but not the Ekavian one of the same dialect.[4] However, Ijekavian sub-dialect is used in spoken and standard language by all Serbs, Croats and Boshnjaks westward from Drina River (historically and politically separating Serbia from Bosnia-Herzegovina) and by Serbs in Western Serbia and by all Slavs in Montenegro.

Nominally, the Bosnian language is written in both Latin and Cyrillic scripts. However, in practice it is only in Latin (like Croatian) for the purpose to break any link with the Serbs for whom the Cyrillic script is (by language law) the first, while Latin is the second national alphabet.[5]

48 a 1994 etnicka BiH

It has to be emphasised that Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin and Serbian Latin script is identical. In a historical context, the native language of the inhabitants of Bosnia-Herzegovina (claimed to be Bosnian one) was written by three alphabets: “latinica” (Latin), “bosančica/bosanica” (Cyrillic) and “arabica” (Arabic). However, with regard to “bosančica”, the fact that this script came to mediaeval Bosnia-Herzegovina from Serbia and during the Ottoman rule is not recognized. It was known within the Bosnian Muslim feudal circles as “Old Serbia” up to the mid-19th century. At the same time Croatian philology claims that “bosančica” is Croatian national Cyrillic script. By “arabica”, undoubtedly, it was written in one of the most beautiful profane lyric, religious and fine literature – “književnost adžamijska”.[6]

Regardless of official domestic and international recognition of a separate Bosnian language, linguistically speaking, grammar and spelling of Serbian, Montenegrin, Croatian and Bosnian languages are broadly the same. [7] It shows that all four of them have the same origin, process of development and linguistic essence. Even the fact that there are 8% of lexical differences between them does not imply practical obstacles for understanding and communication in everyday life.

The common link that is connecting in practice and even in literature Bosnian with neighbouring Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Montenegrin languages are about 3000 Oriental words (“turcizmi”). For many of them there is no domestic Slavic alternative.[8]

One of the main problematic issues concerning ethno-linguistic-statehood reality of Boshnjaks is the fact that their ethnic, language and state names do not have the same terminology as in the majority of European nations (ex. Polish nation; Polish state; Polish language, etc.). In the other words, their ethnonational name – “Boshnjaks” does not correspond to the name of their national state – “Bosnia-Herzegovina” and both do not correspond to their national language name – “Bosnian”. In this context, why do Boshnjaks not speak the Boshnjak language but rather speak Bosnian? In this regard, it has to be said that originally from 1991 up to 1996 Boshnjaks pretended to officially speak theBoshnjak language (but never tried to rename Bosnia-Herzegovina into “Boshnjakia”). Such practice was even internationally sanctioned by the Dayton Peace Treaty in November 1995 when the text of the agreement was signed in four languages: English, Croatian, Serbian and Boshnjak (not Bosnian!).

However, very soon the ideologists of the Boshnjak ethnonational identity understood that international science of Slavonic philology is very suspicious upon the use of Boshnjak language as it is not at all rooted in the historical sources in which from the year 1300 up to 1918 is mentioned only the Bosnian language (in fact as a provincial language spoken by the Orthodox, Catholic and from 1463 Muslim communities).[9] The Bosnian language, as a mother tongue of all inhabitants of Bosnia-Herzegovina was especially promoted at the time of Austro-Hungarian administration in this province from 1878 to 1918.[10] However, such solution was decisively rejected by the Serbs and Croats from Bosnia-Herzegovina who called their languages after their ethnic names. Thus, the idea of the Bosnian language at that time (as today as well) was accepted only by local Muslim inhabitants.[11]

Nevertheless, the Austro-Hungarian policy of the Bosnian language as a native one of all inhabitants of Bosnia-Herzegovina is accepted today by those who advocated the Bosnian language as a mothertongue of Serbs, Croats and Boshnjaks from Bosnia-Herzegovina and of the Boshnjaks from Sandžak area (Рашка in Serbian language and historiography). The last one was devided after 1913 between Serbia and Montenegro but before 1878/1908 being a part of the Ottoman province (pashaluk in Serbo-Croat) of Bosnia (not of Bosnia-Herzegovina!) which existed from 1580 to 1878/1908.[12]

The truth is that in the 15th and the 16th centuries “Bosnian” (or “Serbo-Croat” or “Serbian” or “Croat”) language was the second diplomatic and official language at the court in Istanbul (after the Turkish one) due to the fact that at that time there were many high Ottoman officials and the Janissaries[13] in Istanbul (including and Grand Vizirs) originating from Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, this fact became the basis for the claims that the  Bosnian language was at that time some kind of Balkan lingua franca and a diplomatic language in Europe. Nevertheless, the sources are telling us that in the most cases the local South Slavic population of ex-Serbo-Croat language (especially those from Dubrovnik) have been calling their language as  “our language”, “Slavic language”, “Illyrian language”, etc., but only in very rear cases by ethnic names.[14]

The creators and promoters of a separate Bosnian language, in order to prove their standpoint, have applied the technique of “linguistic engineering”, similar to their Croatian colleagues concerning the Croatian language.[15] In both cases, it was and is done for the very purpose to prove that their ethnic groups are linguistically independent which enables them to call themselves separate nations  internationally recognized as independent nation states according with the right to self-determination. However, in contrast to Croatian case, Bosnian “linguistic engineering” is not based on the introduction of neologisms[16] but rather on the re-introduction of Oriental words which had been brought to the Balkans by the Ottoman authorities (those words are of Turkish, Arab and Persian origin).

In conclusion, we can say that the problem of official recognition of a separate Bosnian language of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Boshnjaks can be solved taking into consideration two standpoints:

  1. Linguistic standpoint.
  2. Socio/polito-linguistic standpoint.

De facto (linguistically), Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin languages are part of one standard-linguistic system. They express unity in orthography, grammar, morphology, syntax, phonology and semantics. For instance, all of them have 30 phonemes (25 consonants and 5 vocals). Between them there are only app. 8% lexical differences (including and “neologisms”). However, there is a tendency to create lexical differences with a view to creating barriers, in order to firmly justify ethno-linguistic and state-political differentiation. The obvious fact is that the level of understanding is almost 100% (excluding the most newest neologisms).

De Jure (in socio/polito-linguistic point of view) these four languages are separate ones and  internationally recognised. While Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin are considered separate languages in essence they are they same language.

The crucial technique of “linguistic engineering” pertaining to the Bosnian language is its lexical Orientalization with the three sociolinguistic and ethnonational tasks to be achieved:

  1. Inner homogenization of Boshnjak nation
  2. Denacionalization of Croats and Serbs within Bosnia-Herzegovina (by suggestion that all inhabitants of this state speak the Bosnian language)[17]
  3. External heterogenization of ethnoconfessional Boshnjak nation in relation to the neighbouring Serbs and Croats.[18]

The politics of “linguistic engineering” in the case of the Bosnian and Croatian languages was implied for the final aim to create firstly independently standardized national languages within officially common Serbo-Croatian one (during ex-Yugoslav (con)federation) and later (after collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991) internationally recognized separate languages by deepening and using as much as the dialectical/regional differences of the same spoken Serbo-Croatian language. The ultimate result was that minor speaking differences were proclaimed for the national characteristics and as such have been used to be lay the foundations of the newly declared autonomous national languages. Consequently, the common Serbo-Croatian language has ceased to exist together with a common Serbo-Croatian nationality.

Finally, the Muslim community in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 20th century is no longer a religious community. It has been categorized and internationally recognized as a national identity with its own national language. However, Boshnjaks, Croats and Serbs from Bosnia-Herzegovina (likewise from Montenegro, Sandžak or ex-Republic of Serbian Krayina) all speak the same language which in the 20th century came to existence as Serbo-Croatian with a shared historical past.

If one were to apply a German Romanticist criteria upon ethnonational identity Serbs, Montenegrins, Boshnjaks and majority of the Croats would be considered as a single ethnolinguistic nation with the right to live in a unified nation state organization with a common identity.

2. Sotirovic 2013

Prof. Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirovic

www.global-politics.eu

globalpol@global-politics.eu

© Vladislav B. Sotirovic 2016

_____________________

Endnotes:

[1] An extra ordinary feature of Bosnia-Herzegovina is that it covers the fault lines between three major confessions: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Islam. From this point of view, local nationalism(s) are not only ethnic; they are even more confessional ones.

[2] Lexical differences have been a primary criterion for the establishment of a separate Bosnian language.

[3] However, both Serbs from Eastern Herzegovina (regularly) and Western Serbia (in many cases) are using future tense construction “ja ću kupiti/kupit ću” like in standard Bosnian and Croatian.

[4] Former Serbo-Croat language was composed by (officially) three dialects: Chakavian, Kajkavian and Shtokavian. The last one became standardized literal language for Serbs, Croats, Montenegrins and Muslims/Boshnjaks. Shtokavian dialect was/is subdivided into three sub-dialects: Ijekavian (mlijeko = milk), Ikavian (mliko) and Ekavian (mleko). Ikavian is not standardized.

[5] Similar policy of using alphabet in Bosnian language was pursued by Austro-Hungarian authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1878–1918.

[6] Besides these mentioned, historically, on the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina have been used and Glagolitic and Greek scripts.

[7] According to the Constitution of Bosnia-Herzegovina official languages are: Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian. Such constitutional-linguistic situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina is quite similar to the Swiss one – Italian, French and German (plus Romansh, spoken by very small community).

[8] During the Bosnian-Herzegovinian civil war of 1992–1995 Bosnian-Herzegovinian Serbs tried unsuccessfully to purify their language by elimination of the “Turkish” words. However, in many cases it was impossible without creation of new neologisms (ex: čarape=socks, šećer=sugar, pamuk=cotton, etc.). It is interesting that common nickname for Bosnian Muslims given by the local Christians, but also and as a group name used by Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslims to identify themselves, was Turci (the Turks). The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Christians used and the term poturice (those who became the Turks, i.e. convertors). The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Muslims, on the other hand, called the real ethnolinguistic Turks (Turkish language speakers) from Anatolia as Turkuše or Turjaši.

[9] In historical sources the name Bosanski jezik (Bosnian language) is mentioned for the first time in the year of 1300. It is true that the earliest Slavonic philologists like P. J. Šafaŕík, J. Dobrovský and J. Kopitar used the term Bosnian language but only as provincial speech of all inhabitants of the Ottoman Pashaluk of Bosnia but not as a language of Bosnians in ethnic term.

[10] For instance, according to the decree of 1880 for Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia-Herzegovina existed only Boshnjaks who are by confession divided into those of Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox denominations. In general, Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia-Herzegovina very much favored local Roman Catholic and Muslim inhabitants at the expense of the Orthodox.

[11] It has to be emphasized that even before Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia-Herzegovina the local population used the terms Bosnian (“bosanski”) for the language and Bosnians (“Bosanci”) for themselves as inhabitants of this province alongside with more pure ethnic names Serbian/Serbs and Croatian/Croats.

[12] Ottoman Pashaluk of Bosnia before 1683 encompasses and parts of historical territories of Croatia and Dalmatia.

[13] Vinko Pribojević, a Dominican friar from the island of Hvar in Dalmatia in his De origine successibusque Slavorum (Venice, 1532) pointed out that Ottoman sultans appointed many South Slavs as the commanders of his army and that 20.000 of his guard (the Janissaries) are recruited among the Thracians, Macedonians and Illyrians (for Pribojević all of them have been South Slavs – aboriginal Balkan people, speaking one language that was later on called “Serbo-Croat”). With the help of them the Ottomans subjugated many states and peoples in Europe.

[14] Mavro Orbini, a Benedictine abbot from Dubrovnik, in his famous pan-Slavic book (“the Bible of pan-Slavism”) De regno Sclavorum (in Italian version Il regno degli Slavi), printed in Pesaro in 1601, was very clear telling that all South Slavs are speaking the same language and composing one nation within a wider network of united ethnolinguistic Slavdom. More precisely, he inclined to call all speakers of ex-Serbo-Croat language of Shtokavian dialect as the Serbs. However, a Croatian nobleman of German origin from Senj, Pavao Ritter Vitezović (1652–1713) in his political-ideological-programmatic book Croatia rediviva: Regnante Leopoldo Magno Caesare, Zagreb, 1700 claimed that all Slavs, including and those in the Balkans, originated from the Croats and speaking in the essence Croatian language with regional dialects. The essence of both Orbini’s and Ritter’s (likewise Pribojević’s) writings is that all South Slavs (especially the Shtokavians) are composing one ehnolinguistic group (in modern sense – nation).

[15] “Linguistic engineering” of Croatian language can be followed even from 1967 when a majority of the most important Croatian scientific, literal and cultural institutions signed a Declaration upon the name and position of Croatian literal language (“Deklaracija o nazivu i položaju hrvatskog književnog jezika”) requiring to be officially separated from Serbian one and purified from the so-called “srbizmi” (the words of a Serbian origin).

[16] Croatian neologisms in fact have to replace both the international words (not translated in Serbian) and common Croato-Serbian words in order to make a deeper distance between Croatian and Serbian languages for the sake of lesser understanding as a crucial proof that these two languages and ethnic groups are separated. For instance: korjenoslovstvo (etymology), narječoslovstvo (dialectology), točnozor (sniper), vrhoskuplje (summit), odmoridbenik (tourist), veleprevrat (revolution), etc. There were and such proposals for neologisms which hardly took roots like: okolotrbušni hlačodržač (belt for trousers), uljudba (civilization), vrtolet (helicopter), prosudba (mark), etc.

[17] The first President of post-Yugoslav independent Bosnia and Herzegovina and a leader of ruling Muslim political Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Alija Izetbegović, was known as an author of nationalistic Islamic Declaration from 1970 according to which any form of multiculturalism and multiconfessionalism was not possible for the Muslims who have to establish pure Islamic society firstly by Islamization of the whole Muslim community.

[18] The most problematic and unproved in the sources hypothesis upon the ethnic origins of the Boshnjaks (supported by, for instance, Bosnian linguist Dževad Jahić) is that they are posteriors of the mediaeval Bosnian Bogumils who allegedly have been a separate ethnic group, i.e. not Serbs or Croats.

Balkan geographic map

“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton in November

neoconned

It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad.

Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.

Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.

Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she devil – fascist rule prevailing either way.

Both candidates represent pure evil. Duopoly power runs things, serving monied interests exclusively, popular ones increasingly ignored.

US elections are farcical, anti-democratic, illegitimate by any standard. Outcomes are predetermined, dirty business as usual winning every time.

Voting is a waste of time. On election day, stay home. Four more years of imperial wars are certain.

So are policies favoring wealth, power and privilege exclusively, social justice fast disappearing, remaining fundamental freedoms on the chopping block for elimination, police state harshness replacing them.

Clinton won big on Tuesday, notably taking California and New Jersey. Mixed Sanders messages followed.

On the one hand, vowing to fight to the July convention. On the other, saying he’s returning to Vermont on Wednesday to “assess” his options.

On Thursday, he’ll meet with Obama at the White House. Will a concession statement and Clinton endorsement follow – supporting what he campaigned against, betraying his supporters, showing his stump populism was phony, empty rhetoric!

He operated this way throughout his political career – saying one thing, doing another, showing he’s more opportunist than populist, just another dirty politician, self-interest alone driving him.

Each electoral cycle, Americans get the best democracy money can buy – wealth, power and privilege exclusively served.

The only solution is nonviolent revolution. Voting accomplishes nothing.

08-06-2016

About the author:

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Ethnic Cleansing in Palestine

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Ilan Pappé is a historian, socialist activist, professor at the University of Exeter, and supporter of the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Of Israeli origin, he is a world-renowned scholar on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and has written numerous books on the subject, including The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine and The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge.

Pappé was interviewed by Alejandra Ríos for Left Voice, where this article first appeared.

Alejandra Ríos (AR): You’ve talked and written about the concept of homeland as justification for destroying the native population. What is the meaning of this concept and what are some examples of its use in other places? In what sense is it applied differently in Palestine than in other countries?

Ilan Pappé (IP): The context is the phenomenon of settler colonialism: the movement of Europeans, because they felt unsafe or endangered, into non-European areas in the Americas, Africa, Australia and Palestine. These people were not only seeking a new home, but also a new homeland. Namely, they had no wish or plan to come back to Europe.

The only problem was that the lands they coveted were already inhabited by other people. In most cases, their solution was the genocide of indigenous people. In two cases, the solution was different: apartheid in South Africa and ethnic cleansing in Palestine.

AR: In your book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, you suggest that the objectives of Israel have remained the same since 1948. Can you elaborate?

IP: As any settler colonial movement, the Zionist movement is motivated by the logic of elimination of the native. In the period after the second World War, elimination is more complex and maybe less inhuman, but still drastic. The desire of the Zionist movement to create both a Jewish state and a democratic one means that there is always a wish to take over as much of Palestine as possible and leave in as few Palestinians as possible.

This is the background for the Israeli ethnic cleansing operation in 1948; an operation that ended with expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians and a Jewish takeover of 80 per cent of the land. However, the ethnic cleansing of 1948 was not a complete project. There was still 20 per cent of the land that Israel did not have and there was a Palestinian minority within Israel. The vision of a purely de-Arabized Palestine was still there, though the means differed.

The means included the imposition of military rule over the Palestinians in Israel and refusing to allow the refugees to return. The space was not enough and the opportunity to enlarge it came in 1967, but then the demographic problem emerged again. This time, the means were apartheid, military occupation and cutting the land into enclaves and Bantustans.

AR: You have described Israeli actions in Gaza as “incremental genocide.” What is the meaning of this term?

IP: “Incremental” means that there is no dramatic, massive killing of people of a certain race or nation. However, a strategy like the one Israel has been conducting since 2006 has led to what the UN called “the transformation of the Gaza Strip into an uninhabitable place” – so this is not just the constant killing of civilians that makes it genocidal, but also the destruction of the infrastructure.

AR: Do you think that Israel is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on a similar scale as what took place in 1948?

IP: Well, the fact is, just in the Greater Jerusalem areas since 1967, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were transferred in various means – from massive expulsion or by moving their neighbourhood to the West Bank or by not allowing them to return if they left the country. After 1967, ethnic cleansing is more about moving Palestinians into enclaves rather than out of the country.

AR: You argue against a two-state solution on the grounds that it is not viable and instead are in favour of a bi-national state. What are your reasons for coming to this conclusion? How do you think a bi-national state could be achieved and how would it operate?

IP: The two-state solution is not viable for three major reasons. First, it only applies to 20 per cent of Palestine and to less than half of the Palestinian people. You cannot reduce the problem of Palestine in such a way either geographically or demographically.

Second, Israel created such a reality on the ground, in terms of settlement and colonization, that it would be impossible to create a normal Palestinian state, even if one were to accept this solution. The best you can hope for are two Bantustans: one in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip. This is not a solution.

Finally, there will be no solution to the conflict without respecting the right of the Palestinian refugees to return and the two-state solution does not respect this right.

AR: What has been the effect of the growing international criticism of Israeli actions against the Palestinian people? How has this affected the peace movement in Israel?

IP: In the last ten years, civil societies around the world had enough of their government’s passivity on Palestine. Therefore, they took independent action by supporting the Palestinian civil-right call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

The world governments are still not pressuring Israel to change its policy and therefore it is difficult to expect any change from within. There is no peace camp in Israel. There is now a small group of activists who are encouraged by the BDS movement and are trying to educate Israelis about the human and civil rights violations in the past and present. These groups from within will not survive; it is necessary to put more international pressure on Israel.

AR: What role do academics or intellectuals have in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine?

IP: A very important role. They can tell the story about Palestine that Israel wants to hide from the world. There is enough evidence, and today there are enough scholars using it, to tell the history as it really happened. We will need to deal bravely with this history if we would want to have a genuine process of reconciliation in Israel and Palestine.

AR: How important is the BDS campaign? What do you think it can achieve?

IP: Very important. It has two major roles: first, to send a painful but necessary message to Israel that there is a price tag attached to its continued policy of dispossession and colonization. And secondly, to galvanize world public opinion and activism around a campaign that would not let the Palestine issue be forgotten.

12-08-2016

The original source of this article is Left Voice: http://www.leftvoice.org/Ethnic-Cleansing-in-Palestine

Copyright © Ilan Pappe and Alejandra Ríos, Left Voice, 2016

Israel and Arabs

Crimes against Humanity: Britain’s Complicity In Saudi Arabia’s Terror Campaign Against Yemen

Yemen war photo
Photo by CartoonPeril2011

The ‘mainstream’ Western media is, almost by definition, the last place to consult for honest reporting of Western crimes. Consider the appalling case of Yemen which is consumed by war and an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.

Since March 2015, a ‘coalition’ of Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, and supported by the US, Britain and France, has been dropping bombs on neighbouring Yemen. The scale of the bombing is indicated in a recent article by Felicity Arbuthnot – in one year, 330,000 homes, 648 mosques, 630 schools and institutes, and 250 health facilities were destroyed or damaged. The stated aim of Saudi Arabia’s devastating assault on Yemen is to reinstate the Yemeni president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and to hold back Houthi rebels who are allied with the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The Saudis assert that the Houthis, who control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, are ‘proxies’ for Iran: always a convenient propaganda claim to elicit Western backing and ‘justify’ intervention.

Philip Hammond, who was UK defence secretary when the Saudi bombing began in 2015, promised:

‘We’ll support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat.’

The British government has been true to its word; in this respect at least. Campaign Against Arms Trade says that UK sales to Saudi Arabia since the start of the attacks on Yemen include £2.2 billion of aircraft, helicopters and drones, £1.1 billion of missiles, bombs and grenades, and nearly half a million pounds of armoured vehicles and tanks. Just days ago, it was revealed that Britain is now the second biggest dealer of arms in the world. Is there any clearer sign of the corrupt nature of UK foreign policy?

Perhaps there is. Last month, Oxfam reported that in excess of 21 million people in Yemen, out of a total population of around 27 million, are in need of humanitarian aid, more than in any other country. Over 6,000 people have been killed, more than 3 million displaced and more than 14 million are suffering hunger and malnutrition.

Amnesty International reports that British-made cluster bombs have been used in deadly attacks on civilians. Children are among those who have been killed and maimed. The human rights organisation says that the UK should stop all arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Amnesty has also called for Saudi Arabia to be dropped from the United Nations Human Rights Council because of ‘gross and systematic violations of human rights’, both at home and abroad.
‘They Call It Natural Death. But It’s Not.’

In a two-part piece for BBC Newsnight last year, Gabriel Gatehouse commendably reported from Yemen on the plight of civilians there, including the Saudi targeting of civilian infrastructure. The BBC journalist also alluded to ‘the British dimension’ in which the Saudi ‘coalition’s efforts are supported by Britain and the United States’, with British-supplied weaponry being used by the Saudis. Although a welcome deviation from the norm, his criticism of UK foreign policy was muted and not subsequently maintained by BBC News, as far as we could see (with limited recent exceptions as we will discuss later).

Peter Oborne is a rare example of a Western journalist reporting from Yemen, also pointing unequivocally to British complicity in the country’s nightmare. Together with his colleague Nawal Al-Maghafi, Oborne notes in a recent article that:

‘We discovered indisputable evidence that the coalition, backed by the UK as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is targeting Yemeni civilians in blatant breach of the rules of war.’

At the same time, Saudi Arabia has imposed a brutal blockade on Yemen preventing vital commodities from getting into the country. One doctor at the Republic teaching hospital in Sanaa told Oborne:

‘We are unable to get medical supplies. Anaesthetics. Medicines for kidneys. There are babies dying in incubators because we can’t get supplies to treat them.’

The doctor estimated that 25 people were dying every day at the Republic hospital because of the blockade. He continued:

‘They call it natural death. But it’s not. If we had the medicines they wouldn’t be dead.

‘I consider them killed as if they were killed by an air strike, because if we had the medicines they would still be alive.’

This is shocking enough. But Oborne adds that there is:

‘powerful evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has deliberately targeted hospitals across the country. Four MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] hospitals had been hit by Saudi air strikes prior to the organisation’s withdrawal from the country, even though MSF were careful to give the Saudi authorities their GPS positions.’

Oborne, who resigned as political commentator from the Telegraph last year, places Western complicity in Yemen’s nightmare at the front and centre of his reporting. He points out that Britain has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and its partners, despite copious evidence of breaches of international humanitarian law presented by human rights organisations.

This is an echo of Britain’s shameful role in arming Indonesia while it crushed tiny independence-seeking East Timor, killing around 200,000 people – about one-third of its population. Noam Chomsky described it as a ‘slaughter’ of ‘near-genocidal’ levels. He noted that:

‘By 1998, Britain had become the leading supplier of arms to Indonesia…over the strong protests of Amnesty International, Indonesian dissidents, and Timorese victims. Arms sales are reported to make up at least a fifth of Britain’s exports to Indonesia (estimated at one billion pounds), led by British Aerospace’.

(Noam Chomsky, ‘Rogue States’, Pluto Books, 2000, p. 232)

In the present case of Yemen, the British Foreign Office has repeatedly denied that Saudi Arabia had broken humanitarian law, asserting until a couple of months ago that the FO’s own ‘assessment’ had cleared the Saudis of any wrong-doing. As Oborne notes, however, on July 21 this year, the last day of parliament before the long summer recess:

‘the British government was forced to admit that it had repeatedly misled parliament over the war in Yemen.’

It turns out that no such ‘assessment’ had taken place; a grudging and potentially damaging admission that ministers had clearly hoped to slip out quietly without proper scrutiny. Oborne describes it as ‘a dark moment of official embarrassment.’ You have to dig deep in the BBC News website to find scant mentionof this shameful episode.

Moreover, Britain has supported the UN Security Council resolution backing a Saudi blockade, and the UK has also provided the Saudis with intelligence and logistical support.

‘Perhaps most crucially of all, Britain and the United States have provided Saudi Arabia with diplomatic cover. Last year, Britain and the United States helped to block a Dutch initiative at the UN Human Rights Council for an independent investigation into violations of international humanitarian law.’

In a powerful accompanying filmed report on the destruction of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, Oborne concludes:

‘This city of old Sanaa is as extraordinary, as priceless, as unique as any of the masterpieces of Western civilisation – like Florence or Venice. Just imagine the outcry if bombs were falling on Florence or Venice. But because this is old Sanaa, in forgotten Yemen, nobody cares a damn.’

And least of all Britain’s new Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who callously waved away copious evidence of Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law. The Guardian’s diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour writes of Johnson’s assertion that the Saudis are not ‘in clear breach’ of humanitarian law:

‘His judgment is based largely on a Saudi-led inquiry into eight controversial incidents, including the bombing of hospitals.’

To his credit, Wintour notes that Johnson was ‘defending the credibility of a Saudi-led inquiry exonerating Saudi targeting’. Comment seems superfluous. He then adds Johnson’s own unwittingly self-damning statement:

‘They [the Saudis] have the best insight into their own procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations. It will also allow the coalition forces to work out what went wrong and apply the lessons learned in the best possible way. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies.’

Indeed, this is the same standard that the world saw with horror last year when the US investigated, and largely exonerated itself, over its dreadful bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Boris Johnson is sweeping aside compelling evidence of serious breaches of international law in a cynical move to maintain lucrative UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and to protect close strategic ties with a brutal kingdom of state beheaders and torturers. All this belies his carefully-crafted media image as an amiably bumbling and largely harmless P.G. Wodehouse-like character. In reality, he is a dangerous, extreme right-wing politician with too much power. Sadly, even the often admirable Peter Oborne’s judgement went awry on his return from Yemen when he appealed to Johnson to ‘act boldly to reset Riyadh [i.e. Saudi Arabia] relations’:

‘Boris Johnson has the potential to be one of the great British foreign secretaries of the modern era.’

Sadly, this line by Oborne does not appear to be satire.

Meanwhile, on September 5, the foreign office minister, Tobias Ellwood, addressed the Commons after being requested to do so by the Speaker, John Bercow, because of previously misleading statements on Yemen given by ministers to parliament. Wintour claims in his Guardian report that Ellwood ‘apologised’ for these ‘inaccurate answers’. But the quoted wording is far from a proper apology. Indeed, the foreign minister obfuscated further in support of Saudi Arabia. Ellwood:

‘said it was not for the UK government to conclude whether individual bombing incidents by the Saudis represented breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), but instead to “take an overall view of the approach and attitude by Saudi Arabia to international humanitarian law”.’

In effect, the UK would continue to rely on Saudi Arabia’s assessments on whether the latter had breached international humanitarian law. Worse, while Yemenis continued to die under US/UK-supported bombing, Ellwood went on to support the Saudis:

‘Defending the Saudi response to criticisms of its campaign, Ellwood said: “It was new territory for Saudi Arabia and a conservative nation was not used to such exposure.”‘

This was sophistry of the worst order. ‘New territory’ entails a murderous bombing campaign and a crippling blockade. And describing Saudi Arabia – a brutal and repressive regime which ranks amongst the world’s worst offenders of human rights – as merely ‘a conservative nation’, speaks volumes about the mental and ethical contortions required to defend British foreign policy.

But there is even more to say about the UK’s shameful complicity in Yemen’s destruction. And, from what we have seen so far, it has had zero coverage in the ‘mainstream’ media.
Media Silence Over UK Role In ‘Targeted Killing’

Last week, the online investigative journal The Intercept published an in-depth piece on revelations about spying based on top-secret documents provided to them by Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency whistle-blower. Titled ‘Inside Menwith Hill. The NSA’s British Base at the Heart of U.S. Targeted Killing’, the article was written by Ryan Gallagher, a UK-based journalist specialising in government surveillance, technology and civil liberties.

The RAF Menwith Hill base lies a few miles from Harrogate in North Yorkshire and is the largest electronic monitoring station in the world. As Gallagher notes: ‘it is a vital part of the NSA’s sprawling global surveillance network’. Consequently, its activities are shrouded in secrecy, despite the best efforts of human rights groups and a few British politicians demanding greater transparency. These efforts have been continually rebuffed by the UK government ‘citing a longstanding policy not to discuss matters related to national security.’

Now, however, the NSA files released by Snowden:

‘reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.’

Over the past decade, advanced surveillance programmes at Menwith Hill have located ‘suspected terrorists accessing the internet in remote parts of the world’ and ‘provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.’

But, adds Gallagher, ‘they have also aided covert missions in countries where the U.S. has not declared war’, including Yemen. These disclosures ‘raise new questions about the extent of British complicity in U.S. drone strikes and other so-called targeted killing missions, which may in some cases have violated international laws or constituted war crimes.’

Kat Craig, legal director of London-based human rights group Reprieve, told Gallagher that Snowden’s revelations are:

‘yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. “targeted killing” program. It is now imperative that the prime minister comes clean about U.K. involvement in targeted killing’.

Gallagher describes a number of surveillance programmes, including one called GHOSTWOLF used to monitor ‘terrorist’ activity in internet cafes in the Middle East. This information is being used to ‘capture or eliminate key nodes in terrorist networks’.

As Gallagher observes:

‘GHOSTWOLF ties Menwith Hill to lethal operations in Yemen, providing the first documentary evidence that directly implicates the U.K. in covert actions in the country.

‘Menwith Hill’s previously undisclosed role aiding the so-called targeted killing of terror suspects highlights the extent of the British government’s apparent complicity in controversial U.S. attacks — and raises questions about the legality of the secret operations carried out from the base.’

The British government has consistently asserted that operations at Menwith ‘have always been, and continue to be’ carried out with its ‘knowledge and consent.’ In the context of the commission of war crimes, this is a damning admission.

operation-decisive-storm-map

Gallagher expands:

‘For several years, British human rights campaigners and lawmakers have been pressuring the government to provide information about whether it has had any role aiding U.S. targeted killing operations, yet they have been met with silence. In particular, there has been an attempt to establish whether the U.K. has aided U.S. drone bombings outside of declared war zones — in countries including Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia — which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and are in some cases considered by United Nations officials to possibly constitute war crimes and violations of international law.’

These new, deeply damaging revelations by Snowden appear to have been completely blanked by the ‘mainstream’ media. Searches of the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database yield zero hits on Snowden’s Menwith revelations, and there appears to have been nothing published on the BBC News website. Indeed, this dearth of coverage by UK media, including BBC News, had been anticipated by US investigative reporter Glenn Greenwald, who previously worked with Snowden.

Not unusually, one has to go to media such as RT or PressTV to find any coverage; another reason why these outlets are so often bitterly denigrated as ‘propaganda’ operations by corporate journalists who haven’t done their job of holding Western power to account.

The Post-Brexit, $2 Trillion Saudi Carrot

On September 7, BBC Newsnight revealed how a draft report by MPs on the influential committee on arms export control was being watered down to remove the call for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia (clip available here). A statement in the draft report had said:

‘The weight of evidence of violations of international humanitarian law by the Saudi-led coalition is now so great, that it is very difficult to continue to support Saudi Arabia.’

But a number of ‘pro-defence’ MPs had then tabled more than 130 amendments, including a move to remove the call to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Guardian noted cautiously that this attempt:

‘underlines the sensitivity of the issue of UK-Saudi relations at Westminster, the importance of the Gulf to the UK defence industry and the concern that Britain, for a variety of security reasons, is too ready to take Saudi assurances about how it is conducting a difficult civil war in Yemen.’

That is putting it all too mildly; a point to which we return below.

The following evening (September 8), Tory MP Crispin Blunt refused to respond when pressed by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark about reportedly walking out of the committee meeting in order to stall a vote. It appears that Blunt had feared his amendments were about to be rejected, and by walking out of the meeting the quorum requirement would fail and no valid vote could take place.

But the sickness of government priorities at the intersection of foreign policy and economic imperatives was really highlighted when the Saudi foreign minister declared last week that it was ‘in Britain’s interest’ to continue supporting Saudi Arabia in its murderous assault on Yemen. Or, as the neocon Telegraph defence editor Con Coughlin put it:

‘to continue supporting the Saudis in the battle to prevent Yemen falling into the hands of Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.’

Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, then dangled a carrot in front of British ministers’ noses.

‘Apart from maintaining traditional links on military and intelligence cooperation, Mr Jubeir also said post-Brexit Britain could look forward to forging new trade links with the kingdom as Saudi Arabia embarks on its ambitious plan to restructure its economy under a plan called Saudi Vision 2030. “We are looking at more than $2 trillion worth of investment opportunities over the next decade, and this will take the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain to an entirely new level post-Brexit.”‘

Sometimes, you have to go to the extreme right-wing press to have the crude realpolitik spelled out so clearly.

Saudi pressure is considerable and difficult to resist. In June, it was reported that even the UN succumbed when it removed Saudi Arabia from a blacklist of countries responsible for child casualties in conflicts around the globe. Saudi Arabia had been placed on the list for killing and maiming children in Yemen bombing attacks. The country, along with other Arab and Muslim countries, had reportedly threatened to withdraw funding from vital UN humanitarian programmes. One anonymous diplomat spoke of ‘bullying, threats, pressure’, and summed it up as ‘real blackmail’.

The reports on Yemen cited in this media alert from the Guardian and BBC News show the permissible limits of occasional – very occasional – challenges to state power. What is routinely missing, and what would be prominent in coverage of British foreign policy in honest news media, has never been better highlighted than by historian Mark Curtis. For many years, he has extensively analysed formerly secret government records detailing internal discussions about state policies and priorities. In his book, ‘Web of Deceit’, which lays out ‘Britain’s real role in the world’, Curtis concludes that the primary function of the British state:

‘virtually its raison d’être for several centuries – is to aid British companies in getting their hands on other countries’ resources.’

(Mark Curtis, ‘Web of Deceit’, 2003, Vintage, p. 210)

To pursue such state policies means initiating war, military interventions, threats, bullying, and other aggressive actions, usually in support of the United States and/or Nato. This global imperialism is dressed up in propaganda garb as ‘countering terrorism’, ‘improving world security’, ‘working with our allies’ and similar pieties propagated by the ‘mainstream’ media. Curtis lays particular responsibility for such propaganda at the door of the ‘liberal’ media, notably the Guardian and BBC News:

‘The liberal intelligentsia in Britain is in my view guilty of helping to weave a collective web of deceit…. To read many mainstream commentators’ writings on Britain’s role in the world is to enter a surreal, Kafkaesque world where the reality is often the direct opposite of what is contended and where the startling assumptions are frighteningly supportive of state power.’

(Ibid., p. 4)

This ‘surreal, Kafkaesque world’ – in which Britain shares responsibility for appalling violence, while proclaiming its supposed desire for ‘peace’ and ‘security’ – will continue for as long as we do not have an honest media that seriously and consistently challenges brutal state power.

2016-09-13

The original source of this article is Media Lens
Copyright © Media Lens, Media Lens, 2016

Yemen war photo
Photo by Julien Harneis