Aristide Summoned: The courts in Haiti’s New Dictatorship

First published on TeleSUR english

On August 12, a court in Haiti summoned former President Jean Bertrand Aristide to appear on charges of corruption. Aristide’s lawyers quickly filed a motion with the Supreme Court seeking the recusal of the judge who issued the warrant. Lawyer Mario Joseph, from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, accused judge Lamarre Belizaire of engaging in a political trial, bringing baseless accusations forward, violating due process in the way Aristide was informed of the summons (through the press), and questioning the process by which the case came to be under Belizaire’s jurisdiction. Aristide and his lawyers argued that, since due process was not observed in summoning him to the court, he did not have to appear. For his part, neither did judge Belizaire, who left the country (see the AP story, Evens Sanon Aug 14/14, “Haiti tense after summons issued for ex-president”).

Judge Belizaire is an interesting character. One of Aristide’s lawyers, Brian Concannon Jr., told journalist Kevin Pina (see the Haiti Information Project blog: – August 19/14, “Haiti: IJDH Director Dismisses Allegations Against Aristide As False”) that Belizaire was so famous for misusing judicial authority to persecute enemies of president Martelly that he had been banned by the bar association for 10 years; that he was a political appointee, appointed directly from the prosecutor’s office without the legally mandated 3-year hiatus; that he lacks the minimum qualifications (either a specialized course or 8 years of specialized practice) to be a judge; and that he didn’t have jurisdiction to bring the case.

Supporters of Aristide mobilized in front of his house in Port au Prince to physically prevent an arrest. They remained on vigil for days. United Nations forces, continuing their decade long dishonorable role in Haiti, brought an armored personnel carrier, sirens, tear gas, and soldiers in riot gear to try to make the arrest. From the video of the attack, it is impossible to tell which country the UN soldiers are from – Brazil remains in command of the mission. For all of the excessive and partisan force they brought to bear against Aristide’s supporters, international forces didn’t manage to kidnap Aristide again.

The UN’s zeal for capturing Aristide, a former elected leader with a record of reasonable achievements in his short, coup-interrupted terms in office, has not been matched in attempts to bring to justice a real dictator, with a truly murderous and truly corrupt decades-long record – Jean-Claude Duvalier. “Baby Doc”, under whose reign thousands of people were killed, ‘disappeared’, and tortured, and who stole hundreds of millions of dollars from Haiti, returned to Haiti before Aristide did, and attempts to prosecute him in court for human rights violations and corruption have stalled.

The UN managed to be on the scene to try to arrest Aristide on August 14th, but they were not on the scene to prevent some real criminals, including the mastermind of a kidnap ring named Clifford Brandt, from breaking out of Haiti’s Canadian-built prison on August 10th. Heavily armed commandos broke into the prison, freeing Brandt and more than 300 other prisoners. The UN took two hours to get to the scene. Brandt was recaptured two days later at the Dominican border.

A few days later, Aristide’s lawyers were successful, and the warrant against Aristide was suspended pending an investigation of judge Belizaire for bias.

Aristide has been in the country since 2011, keeping a low profile and working in education. He was elected president in 1991, overthrown in a military coup, returned in 1994 to finish his shortened presidential term, became the first president to hand power over peacefully to another elected president (Rene Preval), was elected again in 2000, and overthrown yet again in 2004. In 2004, Aristide was replaced by a peculiar, internationalized occupation with heavy involvement by the Latin American countries and the United Nations, the structures of which remain in place to this day, despite two electoral exercises and the disruption of the 2010 earthquake. I’ve referred to these structures of occupation as ‘Haiti’s new dictatorship’.

One of the key structures of Haiti’s internationalized dictatorship has been the courts, which use judicial persecution to prevent popular candidates from running for office. Since 2004, the courts have targeted political leaders and, in particular, actual and potential political candidates from Aristide’s Lavalas political party. In 2004, when Aristide was overthrown, he was flown to the Central African Republic. He returned to the Caribbean, to Jamaica, but that country was pressured so heavily by the United States that Aristide had to leave again, to South Africa, where the government held its ground against US pressure. The Haitian Constitution stated that, after a disruption in the presidency, new elections had to take place within 90 days. Two years later, when the elections happened, Aristide was still barred from the country. Other leading Lavalas politicians were jailed when the coup happened in 2004. The Lavalas candidate who was going to run in his place, Fr. Gerard Jean Juste, was jailed on fairly ridiculous claims that he had weapons in his church. The electoral authority disallowed him from running from jail, claiming that he needed to present his candidacy papers in person. Jean Juste was released on compassionate medical grounds, and died of cancer in 2009. Political persecution by the court, bias by the electoral authority, and of course the soldiers of the United Nations, all ensured Lavalas’s exclusion from the 2006 elections.

Through some very shrewd strategy and massive mobilization, a popular candidate, Rene Preval, did manage to win the 2006 elections, and did what little could be done in a context of foreign control. When Michel Martelly was elected in an earthquake-devastated Haiti, Aristide got back into the country in the time period between Preval’s and Martelly’s presidencies. He insisted that he had no intention of returning to politics, and has worked on various educational projects since his return.

During his exile, and during the worst years of the coup regime (2004-2006), persecution of Aristide and his party occurred through the courts. Evidence was lacking for any of the outlandish claims that ranged from embezzling millions of dollars to murdering people in voudoun ceremonies, but the claims were pernicious enough to be effective as smears. The judicial processes, too, imposed massive costs on the movement, kept many of its leaders in jail and others on the run, and, of course, helped exclude them from elections. As lawyer Brian Concannon Jr. told journalist Kevin Pina on flashpoints, the pattern has been consistent since 2005: the court will raise the accusation, then withdraw the accusation before the persecuted get a chance to defend them.

Elections are approaching again, in Haiti. Aristide has vowed to stay out, but he, and Lavalas, remain very popular. More than their electoral popularity, they have an ability to mobilize people, and a record of achievements on behalf of the people, that their opponents lack. This round of court persecution, complete with the UN muscle to back it up, is becoming a predictable part of Haiti’s dictatorship’s pre-electoral circus.

In recent years, Latin America has become stronger, more democratic, and more independent from the United States, with stronger solidarity in the Americas and a willingness to stand up to the superpower in the north. But with a few noble exceptions (Venezuela, Cuba, and CARICOM), Haiti has been exempt from this solidarity, as Brazil, Argentina, and Chile lead the UN mission in its enforcement of the dictatorship.

Haiti’s successful struggle for independence against slavery inspired Bolivar in Latin America. Its historic role is one of leading the hemisphere’s fight for freedom. Instead of suppressing Haiti’s democratic movement through the UN, the Latin American countries should support it.

Justin Podur is the author of Haiti’s New Dictatorship (2012). His blog is at

Torture is neither inevitable nor endless: a reply to Gerald Caplan

by Justin Podur and Dan Freeman-Maloy

Imagine an anti-racist with decades of work in the struggle writing the following about the popular upheaval and police attacks witnessed this month in Ferguson, Missouri:

Half a century after summer 1964 (when major US ghettos famously erupted in rebellion), we are once again being shown the nature of blacks and whites in the United States. The “wretched blacks,” along with the police attacking them and the whites who cheer, remain trapped in “a classic tragedy where characters cannot escape their nature.” But this is just how conflicts based on “visceral antagonism” go. The basic nature of the peoples involved is to blame, and this can’t be escaped. So why bother to think, say, or do anything about it? Whatever it is, “none of it makes the slightest difference”.

Or, imagine someone who has stood up against extractive industry for decades writing the following about climate change:

“Two hundred years into the industrial era, it is clear that the institutions propelling climate change are too strong, the imperative of extraction and profit too pervasive, for meaningful action on the climate. For thriving corporations, whose minds are full of indifference, it means waiting for a day when the ocean level rises up to the windows of their skyscrapers. For wretched peoples, whose minds are full of nonsense, it means starvation, thirst, and death.”

Or, imagine someone like Gerald Caplan, who has been a rare Canadian voice for decency on the Israel/Palestine conflict, reflecting on this summer’s Gaza massacre in precisely the words used above about Ferguson. In an article this week written for the Globe and Mail and reproduced by, Caplan writes that, in the words of Rabble’s headline, “War between Israel and Palestine” is our “endless, inevitable future”.

Caplan’s article quotes an Israeli scholar making a wild guess that “about 25 per cent of each people held genocidal attitudes towards the other”, as if it is these mutual feelings that are propelling the conflict and not monstrous disproportion. With total Israeli control over every detail of Palestinian life and death, Israel/Palestine is not a battle scene. It is a torture scene. Faced with the torturer and the victim, faced with the elaborate instruments for torture and excuses for torture, Caplan’s article would have us think, not about how to stop the torture, but about how the torturer and the victim feel about each other.

The article concludes: “For thriving Israelis, filled with hate, it means waiting for the inevitable day when their enemies finally get weapons that can’t be thwarted so easily. For wretched Palestinians, filled with hate, it means continuing oppression and humiliation, and in Gaza, more death and suffering for the innocent. This is the future and it cannot be otherwise.”

Cannot be otherwise? An appropriate response, especially from people who respect the writer, might be confusion, or even bewilderment, or sadness that a lifelong fighter seems to have finally given up. Is racism, or climate change, more hopeless than the Israel/Palestine conflict? Did the end of slavery, South African racial apartheid, or colonial rule in most of the world not take decades, or even centuries, to achieve? What kind of activist accepts the idea of eternal conflict, equates oppressor and oppressed, accepts that “hatred” is a cause and not an effect?

Perhaps a strong and inspiring example might be found for Caplan to look to, to help boost his morale and prevent him from giving up. A quarter of a century ago, a rare thing happened: a Canadian public figure with upper-level experience in a major federal party wrote something decent on Palestine. The article appeared in the Toronto Star on May 13, 1990, under the headline “Mindless cheerleaders for Israel? It’s time Canada’s Jewish leaders stopped justifying heinous acts”.

Beginning in 1987, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank had taken centre stage in the struggle over their future. Their popular uprising against Israeli occupation endured for years despite heavy repression and many broken bones.

In the Toronto Star, the author explained that those like him who criticized Israeli abuses were being “rewarded with menacing and abusive midnight phone calls. Why pick on us?” It was the Canadian Jewish leadership that had sided with Israeli land theft and settlement, and with the racism that goes along with it. The author asked, “Is there no limit to what Canadian Jewish leaders will tolerate from Israel? … Is there any level of iniquity they’ll fail to celebrate? Is there a more monstrous Israeli figure than Ari Sharon, chauvinist, authoritarian, ultra-hawk, architect of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon who failed, an Israeli commission of enquiry found, to prevent the bloody massacre by Israel’s Lebanese allies of more than 700 helpless Palestinians in the Shatilla and Sabra refugee camps?”

The writer was someone named Gerald Caplan.

That Gerald Caplan would not have settled for vague, sweeping commentary about Gaza and the “nature” of Arabs, calling Israel’s 2014 massacres “just another in the endless violent conflicts between Israelis and Arabs that began when Israel was first created as a nation 66 years ago and has never stopped: 1947-49, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 1991, 2006, 2008-9, 2012, 2014.”

That Gerald Caplan would not have conflated “Palestinians” with “Arabs”. He would not have generalized about Palestinians based on a seemingly random list of years marking military conflicts: a list that, for example, somehow includes “1991” – when as a sidebar to the Gulf War, a few Iraqi missiles were fired at Tel Aviv, killing a grand total of zero people – while skipping both Palestinian intifadas (the first beginning in 1987, the second in 2000).

That Gerald Caplan would never have written an article that absolves Western governments and leaders of any responsibility for a conflict supposedly rooted entirely in local hatreds. He would surely have understood that even if he were keen to depict Western support for Israel as irrelevant, the West was probably relevant to the Anglo-French assault on Egypt alongside which Israel operated in his “1956”; that the West might have played a role in the Iraq war that framed his “1991”.

That Gerald Caplan would have recognized that it’s not for activists or serious commentators to predict endless, inevitable conflicts, diagnosed based on supposed eternal hatreds, but instead, that people have to look for possibilities even in dire situations; that it’s relations of power that are important, not the unchanging “nature” of peoples playing out their roles, tragic or otherwise.

A few months ago (May 23), Gerald Caplan wrote an open letter to Andrea Horvath, Ontario’s NDP leader, expressing concern about the party’s rightward shift. The letter led to some ugly attacks on Caplan and other stalwart progressives, accusations that they were “out of touch” with the party’s “new” values – “new” values which are not “new” at all, just old, emptied-of-principle, politically bankrupt positions already taken up by parties to the right of the NDP. The attacks on Caplan were unfair. He wasn’t “out of touch” with any values worth being in touch with – he was trying to say that the NDP should look to decent principles, that competition for the structural-adjustment-Ford-Nation vote is best left to others.

What Horvath’s campaign was domestically, Mulcair’s position on Gaza has been for foreign policy. The NDP’s federal leadership under Thomas Mulcair effectively sided with Israel in these massacres, to mixed response. The National Post praised Mulcair’s stewardship of the NDP, under which “pro-Palestinian voices have been remarkably restrained,” a sign of what the CanWest pamphlet deemed improving NDP “maturity”; Le Devoir, under a graphic photo of a die-in in front of Mulcair’s Montreal constituency office, described the public ripping up of an NDP membership card and the broader backlash to the Mulcair government’s perceived complicity with the campaign against Gaza.

With this article, Caplan has positioned himself against the Caplan of the May 1990 article, against a fine column he wrote the week before, and, indeed, of the May 2014 letter. Absolving Western political leaders of responsibility on Palestine is as implausible a ploy as it may be a convenient one. It’s no more credible than the crude psychologizing of Palestinian politics.

Moreover, bluster aside, any credible look at Israeli politics reveals that Israeli decision-makers absolutely are constrained by Western official reactions, and to some extent by Western public opinion. These impose some actual and more potential checks on the scale of Israeli violence; to the extent that these checks are removed, things can be expected to get worse. Public calls for resigned acceptance of Israeli power amount to an aggravating factor in this crisis, not serious analysis.

The hand-wringing, psychologizing, “both-sides” tropes and “eternal hatred” Caplan is a kind of figure depressingly common across the Canadian political spectrum. The old Caplan was much more rare, much more valuable, and much more serious. He should come back.

* * *

“Mindless cheerleaders for Israel? It’s time Canada’s Jewish leaders stopped justifying heinous acts”
by Gerald Caplan
13 May 1990
The Toronto Star

Never mind the routine beatings, torture, killings and harassment of Palestinians by Jews. Take the recent move of 150 Israeli fundamentalists, surreptitiously subsidized by the Shamir government, into the old Christian quarter of Jerusalem. The mayor of Jerusalem, a Jew, calls it “stupid and ignorant.” The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the principal pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., warns that American Jews may now cut back their financial support of Israel. The director of the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai Brith in the U.S. calls the settlement “provocative and insensitive,” while the president of the American Jewish Congress is “appalled” by the move.

Then, there’s Canada. The Canadian Jewish Congress issues a statement reaffirming its belief that Jews have a right to live in any part of Israel. The Canada-Israel Committee affirms this same right but with the mealy-mouthed qualification that “the manner in which recent events have unfolded is disquieting.”
And worst of all: The Canadian B’nai Brith. A B’nai Brith delegation of 20 Jewish leaders from across Canada, in Israel when the Jerusalem issue explodes, are ready, aye ready, to perform as mindless cheerleaders. “We support,” a spokesperson says, “what the duly elected government of Israel does” – a peculiarly witless and uninformed principle.

And to demonstrate the boundless nature of their irresponsibility, the delegation then visits and pays homage at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank that had been founded by Rabbi Moshe Levinger. Levinger, a fanatical leader of Israel’s Jewish settler movement and a bigot who calls Arabs “dogs,” was just convicted of killing an unarmed, unthreatening Palestinian shopkeeper.
Is there no limit to what Canadian Jewish leaders will tolerate from Israel? Wrong question. Is there any level of iniquity they’ll fail to celebrate? Is there a more monstrous Israeli figure than Ari Sharon, chauvinist, authoritarian, ultra-hawk, architect of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon who failed, an Israeli commission of enquiry found, to prevent the bloody massacre by Israel’s Lebanese allies of more than 700 helpless Palestinians in the Shatilla and Sabra refugee camps?

Not ghastly enough, it seems, for the Canadian Friends of the Jerusalem College of Technology, whose board has chosen to invite Sharon to speak at a Toronto fund raising event. What kind of message does this invitation send to Canadians, I asked their official spokesperson. “We’re not politically naive or stupid,” he replied. “The board weighed all the considerations before deciding. There were lots of considerations involved here.”

So the question remains: Is there any act of “the duly elected government of Israel” that will shame the leaders of Canadian Jewry into saying, with Jewish leaders in America and in Israel itself: “Enough is enough. You are despoiling every great historic tradition of Judaisim?”

When Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Ethiopia earlier this year, it was revealed they would also be sending military advisers and arms, including cluster bombs, to Menghistu’s demented, murderous regime. Was there a peep of concern, let alone dissent, from the Canadian Jewish establishment for this heinous act? Has there been even an eyebrow raised at the intimate 15-year collaboration between Israel and South Africa, actively promoted by the leaders of both major Israeli parties, involving not only commercial trade but weapons development, military co-operation and joint nuclear research, very possibly including the joint testing of a nuclear bomb.

“Because of their historic experience,” writes Irving Abella in A Coat Of Many Colors, his new history of Canadian Jewry, “Jews have tended to be sensitive to oppression and to threats to religious and political freedom.” Except, it appears, in Canada and Israel.

Yet, those of us who dare speak out for traditional Jewish values are rewarded with menacing and abusive midnight phone calls. Why pick on us? Why not harass instead those 780 American Jewish leaders who, according to a recent poll by the Israel-Diaspora Institute, are overwhelmingly opposed to the most fundamental Israeli policies of recent years?

* Gerald Caplan is a former national secretary of the New Democratic Party and a public affairs consultant.

Small Genocides

First published at Telesur English August 12, 2014.

When the word genocide is invoked, many people might think of Rwanda 1994. In that genocide, the government of the country targeted a minority population for massacre during a civil war that had begun three years before, and killed hundreds of thousands of people, from both the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi populations. That government lost the civil war, and was replaced by the regime that still rules Rwanda today, the RPF government of Paul Kagame.

Others might think of the Nazi holocaust. In the holocaust, Germany invaded many of the countries of Europe, captured and killed millions of people. The German Nazi government, like the Rwandan government of 1994, lost the war, and was occupied by the very country (Russia) that it had invaded.

We remember these genocides. We remember their victims. We remember their perpetrators. There are museums dedicated to them, and academic scholarship, and media attention. We are taught the slogan, never again.

But these genocides are unique mainly because their perpetrators lost. In many cases, including recent cases, genocide has been a path to power, a way of achieving a goal. The perpetrators have power. No one is able, or willing, to stand up to them. This is frightening for the rest of us because the powerful can, in fact, get away with genocide.

Returning to Rwanda: Kagame’s RPF, which defeated the Rwandan government in
1994 and took over the country, massacred tens of thousands of Hutus in Rwanda in ‘reprisal’, in highly organized massacres. Then, in 1996, Kagame’s RPF invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo, and, directly and indirectly over the next 15 years, occupied it. The violence of Rwanda’s occupation of the eastern DR Congo has led to excess mortality in the millions, hundreds of thousands of which were from direct violence not unlike the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But Kagame remains in power, his regime is a highly unequal police state, and wealth continues to flow from the eastern Congo, through Rwanda, to the West.

In the film “The Act of Killing” (, documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer meets some of the men who organized and carried out the mass political murder of hundreds of thousands of Indonesian communists in the 1960s. Oppenheimer has these killers re-enact their killings as a horror film.
At one point, he asks one of the killers, “what you have done could be considered war crimes, couldn’t they?” The killer responds: “What is and isn’t a war crime depends on who has won. I am a winner, and I get to decide what is a crime and what isn’t.” Elsewhere in the film, the killers go on television, laugh and joke about their killings with approving talk show hosts. The killings of the 1960s in Indonesia set the political context for decades to come – including the present.

The Americas are the most dramatic example. Hitler himself saw the expansion of the United States and the destruction of the indigenous populations of the Americas as a model. If the US could do it to the indigenous, Hitler reasoned, why could Germany not do it to the people of Eastern Europe? Even today, you can go to museums in the US that describe how indigenous people “left” their territories after “raids and counter-raids”. As the Indonesian general said, the winners have decided what constitutes crimes and what doesn’t. The winners have decided how history is to be remembered.

Massacres of indigenous people in the Americas didn’t stop in the 19th century. The Guatemalan civil war in particular had a genocidal character, with hundreds of thousands of indigenous people murdered by the state. The war was ended in 1996 through a UN peace process, but, like elsewhere, the victors remain in power. The president in 2012 denied that there had been a genocide.
How could there be? he asked, if the armed forces were indigenous. A report from January 2014, “Guatemala: El haz y el envés de la impunidad y el miedo”, shows how the Guatemalan establishment defends the political and economic status quo established during the genocidal civil war, through political murder, through legislation about ‘terrorism’, and through propaganda campaigns.

But these are whole states, or, in Rwanda’s case, regimes, that came to power, and strengthened their power, using genocide. But genocide can also be a tool for individual political figures.

Consider India’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. He arrived in the Prime Minister’s palace from the state of Gujarat, where he had been Chief Minister since October 2001. Just a few months after he became Chief Minister of Gujarat, in February 2002, a highly organized, state-sponsored massacre, mainly of Muslims, occurred in Gujarat. The massacre was documented by Human Rights Watch in a report titled “We Have No Orders to Save You” ( Modi remained Chief Minister for over a decade, then, this year, rode all the way to the Prime Ministership. He has dodged all legal proceedings about his role in the deaths of 3,000 people, which helped re-shape the politics of Gujarat – and of India.
And even though, as Nirmalangshu Mukherji has written (, millions of people are waiting for some key questions to be answered about the Chief Minister’s role in this well-organized slaughter, today Modi is moving forward with an agenda of re-making India in Gujarat’s image.

Or take Sri Lanka’s President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is credited with ending the threat of the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, defeating them militarily in 2009 in what is called Eelam War IV. Filmmaker Callum MacRae gathered footage by Sri Lanka soldiers, ‘trophy’ footage of crimes being committed, and by victims, that show a pattern of slaughter of a trapped civilian population, in his film, No Fire Zone ( Rajapaksa has gone from electoral strength to strength, and having terrorized the Tamils, his regime is now terrorizing Muslims and even Buddhist monks.

Viewing this whole global panorama, several examples of which Israel loaned a hand (Sri Lanka, Guatemala), should anyone be surprised that Israel does not understand why it should not be allowed its own genocide against the Palestinians? And, like Modi or Rajapaksa or Kagame, Israel is being given a pass. At the end of a month-long war specifically against the children of Gaza, celebrating murders in demonstrations, in the parliament, and on social media, Israel is working hard to ensure that the Palestinians return to starvation and imprisonment, and that they have fewer means to resist the next massacre.

American writer Barbara Coloroso wrote a book, “Extraordinary Evil”,
( linking the logic of bullying to the logic of genocide. Genocide, like bullying, is a crime of power, and a crime of contempt. Like bullying, genocide is an act that depends on a bully, and on a bystander. If the bully can demonize his victim, then he can demobilize bystanders who might otherwise intervene and protect the bullied.

Can anything be learned from these genocides? Yes, but the lessons are not the ones that we are usually taught. The truth will not necessarily come out. The perpetrators will not necessarily be brought to justice. People’s consciences will not automatically be activated after some horrible threshold is reached.
There is nothing so terrible that it won’t find apologists, as anyone who has had to watch one of these massacres unfold in North America, having to listen to the vilest talking points, knows. Those who commit genocide have power, and they hope to silence, or even attract, bystanders with their power. They want to use their power to get the bystander to suspend reason, fact, moral sense, and compassion. And they very often succeed.

So what can stop them? In each case, genocide occurred after resistance was broken. Whether armed or civil, it is resistance by the victim that provides the greatest chance of survival. Even if unsuccessful, resistance can help enough survive for a community to persist after a genocide. Look at the current Israel Gaza massacre, the so-called “Protective Edge”. Compared to Israel’s 2008-9 massacre in Gaza (“Cast Lead”), the Palestinians were more effective in their military resistance. Israel responded by going for mass civilian casualties and avoiding any close-quarters battles where they might lose soldiers, engaging in domestic and international campaigns to try to desensitize Westerners to Palestinian civilian deaths.

This Gaza genocide, a Western genocide, paid for and armed and covered by the West, is a test for Western bystanders. Many Westerners have sided with the bully, adopted the bully’s contempt for the victim, and in the process are helping speed up the genocide. On the other hand, for bystanders, genocide prevention is simple to understand, if difficult to enact: it means standing up to the bully, standing with the victim who is resisting, sheltering the victim and isolating the bully. Specifically, in the so-called ‘ceasefire negotiations’ and after, it means insisting that:

* The side that targets children and celebrates their deaths, killing overwhelmingly civilians (80%) does not get to proscribe as ‘terrorist’ the side that attacks overwhelmingly military targets (95%).

* The side that kills civilians must be disarmed before the side that focuses on military targets. We cannot arm the bully and insist on the disarmament of the victim. Security is for both sides. Freedom is for both sides. Full rights are for both sides.

* The blockade must be lifted, the siege must end, people and goods must be able to come and go freely from Gaza.

We have a long and arduous path to travel to make genocide no longer a rational choice for the powerful. In the West, it begins with taking a stand, even if it means risking something.