News Release

· Israeli-Palestinian Violence · Oil-for-Food Report


Reuters reported Thursday: “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed an open-ended offensive against Palestinian militants and Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a day after a suicide bomber killed five Israelis.”

Professor of international and Middle East studies at the Evergreen State College, Niva said today: “The timing of the criminal suicide bombing by Islamic Jihad militants in Hadera, Israel, on Wednesday underscores the provocative nature of Israel’s resumption of targeting Palestinian militant leaders over the past month. Israeli security forces had been bracing for an attack since Islamic Jihad had vowed to avenge Israel’s assassination of Luay Sa’adi, its top military commander in the West Bank, on early Monday morning.

“In the past decade, Israeli assassinations of high-level Palestinian militant leaders have frequently been followed by suicide bombings, usually within a week or two of the attack. This deadly pattern first emerged following Israel’s assassination of the Islamic Jihad’s local leader Hani Abed in Gaza on November 2, 1994, and then of its founder Fathi Shikaki by Israeli operatives in Malta on October 28, 1995. Each was immediately followed by a wave of suicide bombings. … Since then, Hamas and Islamic Jihad appear to have adopted a largely consistent policy of responding to high-level assassinations with suicide bombings.

“While these groups are solely responsible for committing war crimes through these attacks, Israeli assassinations have provided them with a critical pretext to justify their actions and mobilize support for their movements. Israeli government efforts to blame Syria for the [Wednesday] bombing are a transparent attempt to deflect attention from Israel’s unwillingness to take meaningful steps towards a political settlement with Palestinians following its much publicized Gaza withdrawal.” Niva is author of the forthcoming book Deadly Provocations, Strategic Revenge: How Israeli Violence Triggers Palestinian Suicide Bombings.
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AP reported Thursday: “About 2,200 companies in the UN oil-for-food program, including corporations in the United States, France, Germany and Russia, paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks and illicit surcharges to Saddam Hussein’s government, a UN-backed investigation said in a report released Thursday.” The investigation is headed by former Fed Chair Paul Volcker.

Active for years with the humanitarian group Voices in the Wilderness, Sacks was fined $10,000 by the U.S. government after going to Iraq to distribute medicine; Sacks has refused to pay any fines. He said today: “After we took humanitarian relief to Iraq, the U.S. government took action against us — whereas it said it wasn’t their business to take action against companies which actually put thousands of times more money into the coffers of the government of Iraq.”
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Gordon wrote a series of articles on the oil-for-food program and the efficacy of economic sanctions, including a piece in Harper’s magazine, “The UN is Us: Exposing Saddam Hussein’s Silent Partner.”

Available for a limited number of interviews, Gordon said today: “The Volcker process has been very distorted. It put enormous energy into things that had no consequences. They scrutinized Kojo Annan when the company with which he had been associated, Cotecna, had in fact submitted the lowest bid and without question performed the inspection contract it was given. They went to great lengths to track $1.8 billion which was allegedly misappropriated out of $65 billion, but that 3 percent is not much different than the error rate you’d find in any undertaking.

“The Volcker Commission, which claims to be a neutral inquiry into the oil-for-food program, describes in the briefest terms the success of the oil-for-food program. That program doubled nutrition for 22 million people, eliminated polio in Iraq and purified water. These are hardly trivial things; especially in contrast with the terrible deterioration of living conditions under the U.S. occupation and the interim Iraqi governments.” Gordon is author of the forthcoming book The Machinery of Annihilation: The U.S. and the Iraq Sanctions.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167