11/10/03 GI Special #110: World Class Goat Fuck
From: “Thomas F. Barton” thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

BRING HIM HOME ALIVE NOW!: SPC Nick Gray, 2nd Armored Cavalry, from Tallahassee, FL, rides a Humvee during patrol shortly before entering Sadr City, the largest Shiite Muslim enclave in Baghdad Oct. 7, 2003. Two soldiers from the 1st Armored Division were killed and four injured  in Sadr City Thursday night. (AP Photo/Greg

World Class Goat Fuck;

U.S. Occupation Command Picks A Fight With Shiite Majority ;

Two Soldiers Dead;

Armed Shiites Close Their Area To U.S. Troops

By TAREK AL-ISSAWI, Associated Press Writer, 10.10.03

BAGHDAD, Iraq – A nighttime clash that killed two U.S. soldiers and at least one Iraqi in a teeming Shiite Muslim slum raised tensions Friday between the American occupation force and the country’s religious majority.

The Americans said their troops were lured into an ambush, but the Shiites maintained that U.S. soldiers opened fire first when they approached radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s headquarters in the Sadr City slum.

The clash late Thursday, which wounded at least seven Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers, drew an angry reaction from Iraq’s Shiites. That could mean trouble for coalition forces, because the Shiite population in Iraq has shown patience with the American occupation so far, evidently feeling it had much to win from cooperating.

A clash with Shiites could open a second front for troops already facing regular attacks in the Sunni heartland of central Iraq

Sheik Abdel-Hadi al-Daraji, an al-Sadr aide, claimed the Americans were approaching al-Sadr’s headquarters and opened fire first in the Thursday night attack.

He accused the Americans of trying to drive a wedge between Shiites and Sunnis, and claimed the U.S.-led coalition was responsible for “manufacturing crises and trying to create havoc.” But he stopped short of calling on Shiites to take up arms against the Americans.

The U.S. soldiers were killed when they came under small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, he said. Homemade bombs were also detonated.

An Army quick reaction force helped extricate the patrol, Krivo said.

Krivo said the U.S. military would not change its policy of patrolling the heavily populated Shiite slum.

PHOTO OF SOLDIER KILLED BY GEORGE BUSH THURSDAY: Lisa Swisher, 25, of Lincoln, Neb., holds a picture Oct. 10, 2003, in Lincoln of her brother Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swisher, 26, who was one of two soldiers killed Thursday night in Iraq.  According to Swisher’s mother, Sharon, he joined the military in November 1996 and was deployed to Iraq in April of this year. (AP Photo/Bill Wolf)

Security was tight during Friday prayers, with residents loyal to al-Sadr blocking streets leading to the main mosque.  Guards were stationed on rooftops and around the 10,000 faithful who attended the sermon and prayers.

Afterward, there was a funeral procession for what were said to be two Iraqis killed in Thursday’s clash.

“America claims to be the pioneer of freedom and democracy, but it resembles, or indeed is, a terror organization,” al-Daraji, the al-Sadr aide, told the congregation. “The Americans may have forgotten that the real power rests with God and not with the wretched America.”

Staff at al-Chawader Hospital in Sadr City said one Iraqi was killed in the clash and at least seven were injured.

“No to America! Yes to martyrdom!” the crowd chanted as the two coffins arrived.

“Let me congratulate the martyrs and pray we are all granted that same fate,” al-Daraji said.

Of the growing U.S.-Shiite tensions in Sadr City, Krivo said the Americans are in an “ongoing dialogue with Shiite officials.”  He didn’t elaborate.

We want peace, but the Americans came last night thinking this is Fallujah,” said Mahdi Abdel-Zahra, 32, referring to a city west of Baghdad where frequent clashes between Iraqis and Americans have taken place.


Shiite Radicalization;

Protests Against Occupation More Frequent, Violent

Rémy Ourdan, Le Monde, Friday 10 October 2003

Shortly after the attack, thousands of Al-Sadr City residents gathered at the scene, kept at a distance by circles of barbed wire placed by the American army. They spontaneously transformed the event into a political demonstration, chanting “No, No to America!” or “America, get out!”  

That’s the first time the American army and a Shiite militia have been in such a violent encounter, even though Moqtada Al-Sadr’s men have always been resolutely opposed to the American presence in Iraq.  While the Iraqi “resistance’ is considered to be of Sunni inspiration, the American occupation is experiencing a clear Shiite radicalization in recent days, with demonstrations that are more and more frequent and more and more violent.

Resistance Victory;

US Forces Driven Out Of Iraqi Town After Repeated Attacks

HUWAIJAH, Iraq, Oct 9 (AF) – US forces Thursday withdrew from the town of Huwaijah, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north-east of Baghdad, due to repeated guerrilla attacks against them, a local official told AFP.

“The American forces based in the institute of technology in Huwaijah have left today to five kilometres (three miles) outside the town, near Bakara,” a village between Huwaijah and al-Riyadh, said Atallah Iskandar Al-Juburi, a municipal council member.

According to him, the redeployment was due to “the intensity of anti-American attacks.”

More than a thousand inhabitants of the Huwaijah area are being detained by US forces, “increasing the exasperation of the local population,” Iraqi attorney Hadi al-Qorra, responsible for Huwaijah’s prisoners in US custody, told AFP.

Huwaijah is situated in the Sunni triangle, a swathe of territory stretching north of Baghdad to Tikrit where most anti-coalition attacks outside the capital occur.

Another U.S. Soldier Killed In Convoy Attack

Rémy Ourdan, Le Monde, Friday 10 October 2003

The American army announced it had suffered two attacks against military convoys near Falluja, west of Baghdad, and another near Baqouba, to the north east of the Iraqi capital.  In the course of the last incident, one GI was killed- which brings to 92 the number of American soldiers killed since May 1, when the American president announced the “end of major operations” in Iraq.


A Shi’ite Warning To America;

With Five Words We Can Start A Revolution;

Turkish Troops Could Blow The Lid Off

Pepe Escobar. Oct 11, 2003, Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.

NAJAF, Iraq – Ammar Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, white-turbaned, with horn-rimmed glasses, is polished, soft-spoken, as he sits on a cushion in a secluded chamber to receive Asia Times Online at the Najaf office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

Ammar Abdul Aziz is a crucial player.  He is the son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, arguably the most powerful Shi’ite member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.  He is a nephew of the murdered grand ayatollah.  And until recently, he was commander of the Badr Brigades, the military wing of the SCIRI.

He is aware of US President George W Bush’s Executive Order 13315, signed on August 28, which in fact represents a US takeover of Iraq’s wealth: “He has signed many papers. But one day the occupiers will leave. The Iraqi people will not allow any of these contracts.”

At least for the moment, the chief US administrator in Iraq, L Paul Bremer, the Iraqi Governing Council and the marjaaiyya in Najaf are all adopting a “wait and see” attitude toward another Shiite leader, Muqtada. They know they cannot neutralize him at the moment because he is capable of putting a million very angry people on to the streets of Baghdad: nobody else can.

The Shi’ite middle class also knows very well that although Muqtada is intolerable, he cannot be easily dismissed. It’s even possible that the controversial Turkish decision to send troops to Iraq – as the Americans badly wanted – might be the opening Muqtada and his backers in Iran were waiting for.

Sunni Sheikh Abdel Sattar Jabar, a member of the Governing Council, went straight to the point: “Turkey, a Sunni country, is called for a military intervention in a Sunni area. So the Shi’ites also may have the right to demand Shi’ite troops deployed in their area.” Which means troops from Shi’ite Iran.

All Iraqis know that if Turkey sends troops to Iraq, this will mean the dreaded opening of a Pandora’s box. Shi’ites may have been very patient so far, but not a single one of them has forgotten that the Turks are descendants of the hated Ottoman colonial power.

Bremer, in line with Pentagon thought, has repeatedly said that Iraqis are disqualified from managing themselves.  Sheikh Saleh says, “Iraqis have been qualified to do it since the first month of the occupation, [but not being able to] has brought all sorts of problems to the Iraqis and also to the Americans.”  The sheikh insists that “we still don’t know the political and economic reasons for the occupation. They have used us as a training field, in the beginning of a big strategy.”

But will Shi’ite patience run out? The sheikh answers with a beatific smile, “The English left Iraq after the revolution in the 1920s. It started with only five words, here in Najaf.”



Turks Face Wrath Of Old Enemy As Kurds Vow To Fight

The Scotsman, 10.9.03

IRAQI Kurds who helped US forces topple Saddam Hussein are threatening to turn their guns against their old enemy, Turkey, if Ankara sends troops to Iraq at Washington’s request.

The decision upset many Iraqis because of the legacy of 400 years of Turkish colonial domination of what is now Iraq.

Opposition to the Turks runs deepest in the north, where Iraq’s minority Kurds have watched ethnic cousins across the border in south-eastern Turkey wage an on-off separatist guerrilla war in recent decades, in part from bases in northern Iraq.

“I don’t want Turkish troops coming to Iraq,” Kurdish taxi driver Saddam Younis, 27, said in Mosul. “They will be attacked when they pass through the north.”

In June there were 24 million guns in Iraq, enough to arm every man, woman, and child.  They could be bought for $10

As Lt. French Tries To Rule Iraq,

The Resistance Rules The Night

By Gina Cavallaro, Army Times staff writer, 10.13.03

Lt. James French, 32, a Reserve engineer from Charlie Company, 52nd Engineers, of Fort Carson, Colo., happens to be intimately familiar with the production of cement and concrete in Iraq.

French becomes the assigned point of contact “so you’ll only have one person to deal with,” Hodges tells the manager. The plant has the capacity to produce 2,000 tons of cement daily, but is producing only about 350 tons a day. French’s assessment of the run-down plant boils down to the basics: It needs money, machinery and manpower.

“Before this war, they were making about 1,000 tons a day,” French said, “but they haven’t gotten spare parts since the last Gulf War.”

The aging equipment is falling apart, and the electrical grid is near ruin. The plant, he said, has $4 million in parts on order but no money to pay for them.  Nevertheless, workers toil in unsafe conditions to ship at least 50 tons of cement each day to the Freedom Dam northwest of Mosul to continuously regrout and repair the aging structure. The dam supports the operation of a hydroelectric plant that supplies power to the region.

The next stop is not as pleasant. Hodges must complain to the European-educated, 20-something son of a wealthy Iraqi businessman and newspaper owner about an editorial calling for the ouster of the mayor of Mosul.

The tense meeting takes place in the Hammam mayor’s office and does not go well. Fundamental ideological differences dominate the debate, which centers on whether an elected official can be unilaterally removed from office for allegedly lying during his campaign.

Hodges closes the discussion by telling the man that if the newspaper insists on denigrating the interim government, he and his father “will always be on the outside. You will never spend a dime here. You will never get a contract.”

“I think he’s going to be trouble, sir,”? Capt. Jessica Merriam, 26, of Philadelphia, a new staff intelligence officer tells Hodges on the way back to post.

Soldiers are asked not to move on the roads at night, when most attacks occur, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If they have to move a convoy at night, they’re asked to do it within a two-hour window in which Apache attack helicopters are on patrol to provide air cover.

Everyone in Hodges’ convoy had been shot at before. Today was not one of those days.

What do you think?  Comments from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome.  Send to the E-mail address up top.  Name, I.D., withheld on request.  Replies confidential.

Selling a misguided war is a lot like selling cigarettes. You can never tell the tragic truth about your product.  Bob Herbert, New York Times, 10 October 2003

“Non-Compliants” Latest Duck Speak For Resistance Fighters;

(”Terrorists” and “Saddam Hussein Remnants” Out Of Fashion)

By Gina Cavallaro, Army Times staff writer, October 13, 2003

Soldiers search the vehicles for contraband, excessive amounts of cash or weapons and what the Army calls “noncompliant forces,” Iraqis or people from other countries who may incite violence against the U.S. presence.

Smugglers have been known to transport weapons by hiding them in bags suspended inside the tanks of the water trucks.



Ralf W. Zimmermann. Army Times October 13, 2003

Now that our president has asked for more money to sustain the war on terror, one should seriously ask what the government plans to spend the exorbitant amount of $87 billion on. As a former war-fighter, I don’t want my hard-earned tax money lining the pockets of greedy industrialists and financing useless home-defense projects or superfluous bureaucracies.  From the letters I’ve recently received from the troops, it seems that old-time loggies are trying their utmost to turn the clocks back, while our men and women warriors bleed and sweat.

For months, units in Iraq were critically short of building materials for showers and latrines and of air-conditioned tents for cooling.  Most important, the troops experienced a debilitating shortage of lubricants and spare parts for combat vehicles.

No matter how good we claim our equipment is, it will break in heat that tops 115 degrees and with desert sands grinding in engines and breaking down seals and bearings.  And trust me, some of our gear isn’t as new as the public is made to believe. Having been the skipper of 1-68 Armor at Fort Carson, I can assure you that none of our hand-me-down M1A1s was younger than 12 years old. It’s therefore inexcusable if critical parts and oils can’t be delivered within days, especially during combat.

One soldier explained to me that it takes about 14 troops per procurement trip to Baghdad. Most of the 14 are security personnel, ensuring that the local purchase mission won’t end up getting smoked in a rocket-propelled-grenade ambush.  And while we’re talking of ambushes and protection against them, many troops ask why they didn’t receive sufficient amounts of ballistic blankets to line the floors of our soft-skinned vehicles, such as the Hummers and trucks? Readily available in the United States, they should have become an immediate delivery priority, no matter what the monetary cost in making them or flying them into theater. If these blankets save lives, ship ‘em on Air Force One!

The biggest failure, however, would be that young Americans unnecessarily lose their lives because people in air-conditioned offices can’t swallow their pride.

Bush Scum Still Plan to Slash Deployed Soldiers Pay

Tom Philpott, Stars and Stripes (European Edition), 10/6/2003

The Department of Defense has asked Congress to roll back the Jan. 1 increases in Family Separation Allowance and Imminent Danger Pay enacted in April for deployed forces and, instead, to raise Hardship Duty Pay only for military personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Congress agrees, FSA for tens of thousands of personnel would fall in January, from $250 a month down to $100, and IDP would drop from $225 a month down to $150. So, depending on individual circumstance, the pay cut could range from $75 to $225 a month.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., criticized panel witnesses, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his comptroller, Dov Zakheim, for making “a serious mistake” with their plan to return FSA and IDP to pre-April levels.

“How in the world do we justify activating all these Guard and Reserve [forces], removing them from their families and saying, ‘If you don’t happen to be assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan, we’re going to revert back to $100 a month in Family Separation Allowance,’” Durbin asked Rumsfeld.

The move, said the senator, doesn’t square with recent rhetoric.

“We can give all the speeches we want about our respect for men and women in uniform but I find it unconscionable that we are going to say to so many thousands who have been activated that they are not going to receive an increase in Family Separation Allowance [because] it will be eliminated. How can that help morale? How can that say that, beyond those speeches, we really do care about these men and women?” asked Durbin.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld illustrates the size of the shaft he intends to give troops by cutting their combat pay. Oct. 10, 2003, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Do you have a friend or relative in the service? Forward this E-MAIL along, or send us the address if you wish and we’ll send it regularly. Whether in Iraq or stuck on a base in the USA, this is extra important for your service friend, too often cut off from access to encouraging news of growing resistance to the war, at home and in Iraq, and information about other social protest movements here in the USA.  Send requests to address up top.  For copies on web site see:www.notinourname.net/gi-special/

DoD Crunch Time;

Iraq To Be Occupied By Reservists

Wall St. Journal, 9.25.03, D. Rogers and Greg Jaffe

“Washington—Top military officers are giving Congress little hope of any reduction in U.S. Troop levels in Iraq until next spring and even then the predictions are heavily qualified and assume an increasing share of their burden will fall on reservists.

The Pentagon plans to send two National Guard brigades to Iraq to relieve troops currently in the country.   If the U.S. can’t find allies to contribute another division’s worth of troops in the next month or so, two more National Guard brigades may have to be called up soon to man the occupation.”

The article goes on to point out that 15,000 to 20,000 foreign troops will be needed by next spring to relieve the 101st Airborne in Northern Iraq.   Without them, Reserve and Guard troops will have to be called up to fill the hole, or the Marine Corps will have to full the void, or the 101st will get a nasty surprise, another extension of duty.

Rumsfeld admits it will take another 18 months before he gets his fantasy 80,000 strong Iraqi police force organized.

“’It’s not going to fly having a majority of the reserves and Guard on duty in Iraq and the United States defense establishment back home or elsewhere,’ said Sen. Ernest Hollings (D., S.C.), who said [he] had been told by the military that reservists could account for 60% of all U.S. forces in Iraq next year.

Heading For The Meatgrinder

Army Times 10.13.03

The Arkansas Army National Guard said Sept. 29 it received a mobilization order that directs nearly 3,000 soldiers to active duty starting Oct. 12. They can expect to be in the Iraqi theater for up to a year, the Army said.

The 39th Infantry Brigade is made up of soldiers from 47 units across Arkansas. They are to report to their home stations and then travel to Fort Hood, Texas, after the mobilization date.

The Arkansas soldiers will join a battalion from the Oregon National Guard’s 41st Infantry Brigade and will ultimately join the 1st Cavalry Division. The total call-up duration is up to 18 months.

The 39th is the largest combat unit in the Arkansas Army National Guard. The light infantry brigade has been chosen by the National Guard Bureau to be an enhanced brigade, trained to act as a strategic reserve in the event of two nearly simultaneous major theater wars.

An infantry battalion of the New York National Guard has been mobilized for service in the Middle East, state officials said Sept. 29.

About 670 members of the 27th Light Infantry Brigade, most from the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment, are scheduled to deploy to Iraq in winter 2004, a state news release said.

The soldiers, who will be deployed along with the 30th Infantry Brigade from the North Carolina National Guard, will leave for Fort Drum in northern New York for pre-mobilization training. The soldiers are expected to be in the Middle East for up to 12 months.

Air Force Rewards Retiring 21-Year Sgt. With---Bankruptcy!

Army Times 9.29.03

As Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Kunzmann went into retirement this summer after 21 years of service, he also went into bankruptcy.

Kunzmann and his wife were unable to sell their mobile home at Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., on which they still pay a mortgage, and they couldn’t afford the cost of moving it off the base.

They were put in that position when Elgin officials said this spring they will close the base’s mobile-home park, forcing service members to remove their mobile homes when they leave.  The Kunzmanns’ home is still there, with a “for sale” sign in the window put there by the mortgage company.

As the services dive deeper into privatization, mobile home parks on military installations are disappearing.

The army will be closing all its mobile home parks,

The Kunzmanns’ remaining mortgage was $34,800, and they would have had to get an additional loan for $50,000 to buy land and pay for the expenses of moving their home.

“We had to file for bankruptcy,” Donna Kunzmann said.  ”The Air Force should have bought our trailers or created another park with a better infrastructure,  They have plenty of land.  They put us in this situation.”

Maria Lindemann said she and her husband, an Air Force technical sergeant, will lose about $22,000 on their mobile home at Elgin.  ”There’s no place for us to go,” she said.  ”They say the infrastructure is crumbling, but why didn’t they use the money we gave them each month in fees to maintain our park?”

The Kunzmanns have been denied credit due to their bankruptcy.   ”We have become so stressed, disappointed, depressed and even angry at the situation we have been put in.,: Donna Kunzmann told Florida and Pennsylvania congressional representatives.

“Isn’t retirement supposed to be a time of celebration?  Ours has become a sad time,” she wrote.

“We Can Only Take So Much;”

Pentagon Wants To Kill Schools For Soldiers’ Kids

DoD schools are needed

It recently was brought to my attention that a study is being conducted that will consider eliminating Department of Defense schools.  I find this appalling.

Military children are a special group of children. They can’t be compared to civilian children, who do not move as much as military children, face long separations from parents, have best friends that move away or face the possibility of losing a parent due to war.  DoD schools give our children a feeling of stability.  There is no other place where students can cry because a parent is deployed and not be laughed at, but rather embraced by other children who are going through the same issues.

When my sons, ages six and seven, started kindergarten and first grade, they were faced with sending their daddy to war.

Immediately, our school counselor formed support groups in which kids wrote letters to their daddies and hung yellow ribbons.

In classrooms, writing lessons involved becoming pen pals with daddy. Art class became a time to draw pictures to mail to him.  My sons were not lost through the cracks as they might have been in a civilian school.

For me, as a military wife, school became a sanctuary.  Where else could I walk down the street and meet with other wives going through the same problems that I was facing? On Fort Benning, we have such a close community, we would meet at the schools just to be together.

One of the reasons my husband and I chose to stay in the Army was because of the benefits we receive from the DoD schools.  The classes are small, the teachers are experienced and we are welcomed there.  This is a benefit our soldiers and our families have earned.  Army families sacrifice enough. We should not have to give up our schools.

We are a proud Army family, and we are proud to serve our country, but as an Army family we can only take so much stress.  Fort Benning families, who had some soldiers deployed for 13 out of 15 months, have earned the privilege to have our children remain in on-post schools.

Kathy Bolar, Fort Benning, Ga.
Army Times  10.13.03

Canadian Soldiers Hit With Pay Cut, Government Demands Some Give Pay Back

WHAT’S UP: Using a sliding scale that reduces combat pay if the perceived risk has decreased, Canadian sailors in the Persian Gulf have had their pay cut, and, in some cases, owe their government money under the Canadian military’s pay system, which can be quite different from the U.S. military pay system. Pay cuts can total as much as $1,000, and have sparked strong complaints from sailors and their families.

WHAT’S NEXT: Canadian politicians are rethinking the idea of automatically scaling back pay when the estimated risk diminishes, and especially about the idea of making retroactive pay cuts. As U.S. military officials have learned, cutting pay for troops in a combat zone is never a politically wise thing to do.

Russian Troops Say Generals And The Government Are The Enemy;

Russian President Cuts Combat Pay, Declaring War Over As Soldiers Die

(Sound Familiar?)

GROZNY, Russia (AFP) Oct 08, 2003

The young Russian commander was weeping by the time he slammed down his latest shot of vodka in the early hours before dawn to tell how he delivered coffins to families of soldiers killed in Chechnya.

He was hard-pressed to explain whom he hated more — the Chechen guerrillas or his own generals.

“I have been here for five months and seven of my soldiers have died under my watch,” the 22-year-old, who agreed to identify himself as Andrei, said at one of the pulverized Chechen capital’s well-fortified Russian military bases.

“And every time the mothers ask me exactly the same question: Why are you still alive when my son is dead,” Andrei said, burying his face in his hands, his body shaking.

“What can I possibly tell them?” the soldier, trained to become an Olympic gymnast and with a wife and daughter waiting for him in his home town, asked in a whisper.

With broad public support, President Vladimir Putin launched the latest Caucasus war four years ago and has since proclaimed it over and won.  western governments, at first strongly critical, have toned down their opposition to Moscow’s own “war on terror.”

Putin staged weekend Chechen presidential elections which the Kremlin’s preferred candidate, the widely unpopular Akhmad Kadyrov, won overwhelmingly — a poll aimed at showing that life was getting back on track.

Russian soldiers who remain trapped in Chechnya by the tens of thousands appear crippled by fear, though they mask it with bravado which spills over into the violent beatings they inflict on those under their command — the rituals known as “dedovshina.”

With Andrei trembling after telling his tales, one his fellow commanders, a burly bare-chested man named Dmitry, telephoned a young recruit and ordered him to bring more vodka at three o’clock in the morning to calm Andrei’s nerves.

There is a rule that alcohol is not to be consumed on the base, but no one seems to have heard of it.

“Are you tired of me breaking your nose,” Dmitry demanded of the recruit after he crawled into the barracks through an open window with the required liquid refreshment.

The recruit apologized for taking so long and laid his hand on the table, waiting for punishment.

“I am not going to break it this time,” Dmitry replied as he smashed the recruit’s arm with his fist.

“You have to teach them to respect the law,” Dmitry said casually. The recruit said nothing and smiled.

After more shots of vodka, the three men began to rage against the enemy — not the Chechen rebels, but Russian generals and the state.

Putin’s declaration that the war is over means that soldiers here no longer get bonuses for taking action in live combat when they roll their tanks across Chechnya.

“The war isn’t over, but the pay is,” Dmitry snarled.

Some said that generals have banned telephone calls to loved ones out of fear that the troops might complain about their state.

Reporters with satellite phones on the base are hugely popular among soldiers dying to call home no matter their age.  Even men in their 40s are fighting back the tears after a minute’s call.

Andrei said his legitimate demands for vacation time have been brushed aside. He receives only about 10 dollars in cash out of a monthly salary of 100 dollars, he said. “The rest disappears — it goes for spare military parts and building up this base.”

But minutes later he added urgently: “Don’t believe them when they say the war is over. We are dying. We are all afraid.”

Official figures say 5,000 Russian troops have died in the war.  Rights groups say the number is probably closer to 15,000 and that tens of thousands of civilians have been killed.


Child of Holocaust Survivors Condemns Israel’s’ Brutal Racist Terrorism Against Palestinians;

[Harvard University professor Sara Roy has for some time been arguably the leading scholar on the economic effects of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. In this essay, published in the current edition of the Journal of Palestine Studies, she departs from this center of analysis and tells us a more personal story.]

Some months ago I was invited to reflect on my journey as a child of Holocaust survivors.

The Holocaust has been the defining feature of my life. I lost over 100 members of my family and extended family in the Nazi ghettos and death camps in Poland.

As with the Holocaust, I tried to remember my very first encounter with the occupation.

One of my earliest encounters involved a group of Israeli soldiers, an old Palestinian man, and his donkey. Standing on a street with some Palestinian friends, I noticed an elderly Palestinian walking down the street, leading his donkey. A small child no more than three or four years old, clearly his grandson, was with him. Some Israeli soldiers standing nearby went up to the old man and stopped him.

One soldier ambled over to the donkey and pried open its mouth. “Old man,” he asked, “why are your donkey’s teeth so yellow? Why aren’t they white? Don’t you brush your donkey ‘s teeth?” The old Palestinian was mortified, the little boy visibly upset. The soldier repeated his question, yelling this time, while the other soldiers laughed.  The child began to cry and the old man just stood there silently, humiliated. This scene repeated itself while a crowd gathered.

The soldier then ordered the old man to stand behind the donkey and demanded that he kiss the animal’s behind. At first, the old man refused but as the soldier screamed at him and his grandson became hysterical, he bent down and did it. The soldiers laughed and walked away. They had achieved their goal: to humiliate him and those around him. We all stood there in silence, ashamed to look at each other, hearing nothing but the uncontrollable sobs of the little boy. The old man did not move for what seemed a very long time. He just stood there, demeaned and destroyed.

I stood there too, in stunned disbelief.  I immediately thought of the stories my parents had told me of how Jews had been treated by the Nazis in the 1930s, before the ghettos and death camps, of how Jews would be forced to clean sidewalks with toothbrushes and have their beards cut off in public. What happened to the old man was absolutely equivalent in principle, intent, and impact: to humiliate and dehumanize. In this instance, there was no difference between the German soldier and the Israeli one.  Throughout that summer of 1985, I saw similar incidents: young Palestinian men being forced by Israeli soldiers to bark like dogs on their hands and knees or dance in the streets.

In this critical respect, my first encounter with the occupation was the same as my first encounter with the Holocaust, with the number on my father’ s arm.  It spoke the same message: the denial of one’s humanity.  It is important to understand the very real differences in volume, scale, and horror between the Holocaust and the occupation and to be careful about comparing the two, but it is also important to recognize parallels where they do exist.

It was not until I lived with Palestinians under occupation that I found at least
part of the answers to some of these questions.  I learned, for example, what sheer terror looked like
from my friend Rabia, eighteen years old, who, frozen by fear and uncontrollable shaking, stood glued in the middle of a room we shared in a refugee camp, unable
to move, while Israeli soldiers were trying to break down the front door to our shelter.  I experienced terror while watching Israeli soldiers beat a pregnant women in her belly because she flashed a V-sign at them, and I was too paralyzed by fear to help her. I could more concretely understand the meaning of loss and displacement when I watched grown men sob and women scream as Israeli army bulldozers destroyed their home and everything in it because they built their house without a permit, which the Israeli authorities had refused to give them.

It is perhaps in the concept of home and shelter that I find the most profound link between the Jews and the Palestinians, and perhaps, the most painful illustration of the meaning of occupation. I cannot begin to describe how horrible and obscene it is to watch the deliberate destruction of a family’s home while that family watches, powerless to stop it. For Jews as for Palestinians, a house represents far more than a roof over one’s head; it represents life itself. Speaking about the demolition of Palestinian homes, Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli historian and scholar, writes:

It would be hard to overstate the symbolic value of a house to an individual for whom the culture of wandering and of becoming rooted to the land is so deeply engrained in tradition, for an individual whose national mythos is based on the tragedy of being uprooted from a stolen homeland.  The arrival of a firstborn son and the building of a home are the central events in such an individual’s life because they symbolize continuity in time and physical space.

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians is the crux of the problem between the two peoples, and it will remain so until it ends.  For the last thirty-five years, occupation has meant dislocation and dispersion; the separation of families; the denial of human, civil, legal, political, and economic rights imposed by a system of military rule; the torture of thousands; the confiscation of tens of thousands of acres of land and the uprooting of tens of thousands of trees; the destruction of more than 7,000 Palestinian homes; the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands and the doubling of the settler population over the last ten years; first the undermining of the Palestinian economy and now its destruction; closure; curfew; geographic fragmentation; demographic isolation; and collective punishment.

Palestinian children throw stones at an oncoming Israeli Army tank, during an ongoing army incursion in the occupied Palestinian city of Jenin Aug. 23, 2003. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians is not the moral equivalent of the Nazi genocide of the Jews.  But it does not have to be.  No, this is not genocide, but it is repression, and it is brutal. And it has become frighteningly natural.  Occupation is about the domination and dispossession of one people by another.  It is about the destruction of their property and the destruction of their soul.  Occupation aims, at its core, to deny Palestinians their humanity by denying them the right to determine their existence, to live normal lives in their own homes.  Occupation is humiliation.  It is despair and desperation. And just as there is no moral equivalence or symmetry between the Holocaust and the occupation, so there is no moral equivalence or symmetry between the occupier and the occupied, no matter how much we as Jews regard ourselves as victims.

Memory in Judaism—like all memory—is dynamic, not static, embracing a multiplicity of voices and shunning the hegemony of one. But in the post-Holocaust world, Jewish memory has faltered—even failed—in one critical respect: it has excluded the reality of Palestinian suffering and Jewish culpability therein. As a people, we have been unable to link the creation of Israel with the displacement of the Palestinians. We have been unwilling to see, let alone remember, that finding our place meant the loss of theirs. Perhaps one reason for the ferocity of the conflict today is that Palestinians are insisting on their voice despite our continued and desperate efforts to subdue it.

Within the Jewish community it has always been considered a form of heresy to compare Israeli actions or policies with those of the Nazis, and certainly one must be very careful in doing so. But what does it mean when Israeli soldiers paint identification numbers on Palestinian arms; when young Palestinian men and boys of a certain age are told through Israeli loudspeakers to gather in the town square; when Israeli soldiers openly admit to shooting Palestinian children for sport; when some of the Palestinian dead must be buried in mass graves while the bodies of others are left in city streets and camp alleyways because the army will not allow proper burial; when certain Israeli officials and Jewish intellectuals publicly call for the destruction of Palestinian villages in retaliation for suicide bombings or for the transfer of the Palestinian population out of the West Bank and Gaza; when 46 percent of the Israeli public favors such transfers and when transfer or expulsion becomes a legitimate part of populadiscourse; when government officials speak of the “cleansing of the refugee camps”; and when a leading Israeli intellectual calls for hermetic separation between Israelis and Palestinians in the form of a Berlin Wall, caring not whether the Palestinians on the other side of the wall may starve to death as a result.

What are we supposed to think when we hear this?  What is my mother supposed to think?

In the context of Jewish existence today, what does it mean to preserve the Jewish character of the State of Israel? What sort of meaning do we as Jews derive from the debasement and humiliation of Palestinians?

I have concluded that one way to pay tribute to those we loved who struggled, resisted and died is to hold on to their vision and their fierce outrage at the destruction of the ordinary life of their people.  It is this outrage we need to keep alive in our daily life and apply it to all situations, whether they involve Jews or non-Jews.

It is this outrage we must use to fuel our actions and vision whenever we see any signs of the disruptions of common life: the hysteria of a mother grieving for the teenager who has been shot; a family stunned in front of a vandalized or demolished home; a family separated, displaced; arbitrary and unjust laws that demand the closing or opening of shops and schools; humiliation of a people whose culture is alien and deemed inferior; a people left homeless without citizenship; a people living under military rule.

Because of our experience, we recognize these evils as obstacles to peace. At those moments of recognition, we remember the past, feel the outrage that inspired the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto and allow it to guide us in present struggles.

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