Former British army officer Colonel Richard Kemp was described by a leading anti-Palestinian lawyer as “one of the Jewish state’s greatest allies” at a conference in Jerusalem last week.
At that conference, Kemp argued for Israeli impunity from war crimes accusations. He also descried himself as a “thug” who liked to fight and had disobeyed army rules of engagement.
He argued that the laws of wars and the rules of engagement for “democratic armies” should be loosened to allow “maximum possible freedom of action.”
“As a former commander myself, I liked nothing better than to be given no orders, so I could carry out the mission any way I liked,” he said, speaking at a panel on 5 May.
He said that “rules of engagement are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools … on many occasions, I have – I say on many, on some occasions – I have disobeyed the rules of engagement.”
Kemp seemed a star of the show during the two-day “Towards a new law of war” conference. He used his ample platform to advocate for Israel, the US and the UK to be given more freedom to inflict “collateral damage” – a euphemism for killing civilians.
Darshan-Leitner also described Kemp as “an officer, a gentleman.” Kemp responded jokingly that he’d never been called a gentleman before, later explaining: “you join [the British army] because you want to fight … you’re a bit of a thug, such as me. That’s why I joined the army.”
Human shields calumny
Throughout the conference, particularly during Kemp’s contributions, the constant justification for Israel’s long record of killing Palestinian civilians was that they were “human shields” who were in many cases forced by Palestinian resistance factions, such as Hamas, into playing that role.
In fact, despite the constant refrains of “human shields” used by anti-Palestinian propagandists, there has never been any evidence of Palestinian human shields (something The Electronic Intifada has reported on many occasions and with which Amnesty International concurs).
With one exception: Israel uses Palestinians, including children, as human shields to protect their soldiers. This is a war crime, and its practice by Israel has been documented by groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Kemp justified this killing of civilians, saying that “attacks do go ahead … and human shields very often die as a consequence.”
Kemp said there was an increase of “political warfare against western powers” including Israel, and that such “warfare” was often sponsored by Hamas and al-Qaida, “but also by enemies from within our own countries.”
He said that to stop the supposed use of human shields “commanders would need to be more willing to apply military force, even when it risks the lives of the human shields.”
In other words, armies have to kill civilians in order to save civilians.
But he cautioned this would need a legalistic veneer: “a more robust approach to human shields of course needs to be legally permissible. I’m not in any way advocating the unlawful slaughter of civilians on the battlefield.”
He claimed that some “human shields” were volunteers and “therefore liable to be attacked and killed” although “in practice it is really hard, often – sometimes impossible – to distinguish.”
“Civilian casualties will ensue”
He argued for a “more modern definition of proportionality” which would give greater scope “undesirable though it may be – but for inflicting collateral damage, because it [the new definition of proportionality] refers to ‘clearly excessive’ in relation to the concrete and overall military advantage.”
“I don’t advocate the callous butchery of civilians,” he repeated, “but on the real battlefield, often … civilian casualties will ensue.”
But later, during another panel, on the rules of engagement for militaries, Kemp specified some concrete ways ways that soldiers in Afghanistan had decided who they were allowed to shoot and kill.
In 2009, new rules for when NATO forces in Afghanistan could get into a fight and when they had to withdraw were put in place by General Stanley McChrystal. They were summarized as putting the protection of the civilian population above killing the enemy. “Given the choice between killing the enemy or risking civilian lives, they have been willing to let the enemy go,” reported NPR at the time.
Speaking on the panel, Kemp said he disagreed with McChrystal on this policy. He said that troops “tried to overcome the policy … by using themselves as bait for the Taliban, to lure the Taliban to attack them, and then they could fire back.”
Colonel Richard Kemp was a British army commander in Afghanistan, based in Kabul, in 2003. He retired from army life in 2006. Since then he has been a UK government adviser, an author and a public speaker.
But his most prolific role in the last few years has been as a leading propagandist for Israeli war crimes.
Kemp’s virulent propagandizing for Israel seems to be motivated in part by religious extremism. In 2013, I reported on a speech he made at the Christians United For Israel annual summit. There, he described the late British occupation army officer Orde Wingate as “the greatest Christian Zionist in Britain.”
Wingate infamously led the Special Night Squad, a sectarian militia used to crush Palestinian rebels who fought against the British occupation in the 1930s.
The Shurat HaDin conference where Kemp spoke was closed by a speech in which Israeli defense minister Moshe Yaalon threatened to kill more Palestinian and Lebanese civilians “in any round of hostilities in the future,” and implied Israel might nuke Iran “in certain cases” when “we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations.”
I captured Kemp’s comments on video via the conference live stream. Shurat HaDin this week begun uploading video from the conference to their YouTube channel, though the Kemp speech is not yet there.
Those Pungent Smells Oozing Out of Marijuana Buds Are Actually Giving You Clues About What Their Effects Will Be Like
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Scientists are now formally acknowledging something that Cannabis consumers have long taken for granted: aroma is associated with effect.
Plant cannabinoids —21-carbon molecules found only in Cannabis— are odorless. It’s the terpenoids —components of the plant’s “essential oils”— that create the fragrance. Terpenoids contain repeating units of a 5-carbon molecule called isoprene and are prevalent in smelly herbs such as mints and sage, citrus peel, some flowers, aromatic barks and woods.
The aroma of a given plant depends on which terpenoids predominate. They tend to be volatile molecules that readily evaporate, and they’re very potent —all it takes is a few reaching the nose to announce their presence.
Evidence that “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions” enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabis was presented by Ethan Russo, MD, at a conference in Israel in 2010 and published in the August 2011 British Journal of Pharmacology. Russo, a neurologist and ethnobotanist, is senior medical adviser at GW Pharmaceuticals.
Both terpenoids and cannabinoids are secreted inside the Cannabis plant’s glandular trichomes, and they have a parent compound in common (geranyl pyrophosphate). More than 200 terpenoids have been identified in Cannabis. The most common and most studied include limonene, myrcene, alpha-pinene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, nerolidol and phytol. Anecdotal evidence suggests that pinene is alerting, limonene “sunshine-y,” and myrcene sedating.
The fact that most terpenoid compounds are common components of the human diet and “generally recognized as safe” by the Food and Drug Administration has made research possible, and scientists employed by flavor and fragrances manufacturers have investigated their properties over the years. But the terpenoids “remain understudied” in terms of therapeutic potential, according to Russo.
His paper mustered all the evidence —proof in some cases, hints in others— that cannabinoids and terpenoids can work in concert to abate symptoms of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, which kills more Americans nowadays than AIDS) and other illnesses.
Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, who heard Russo’s presentation in Israel, expects its publication to “generate great interest in terpenes among medical cannabis users as well as physicians.” The SCC recently began collecting data on patients’ responses to CBD-rich Cannabis. Future surveys will seek to document which other cannabinoids and which terpenoids are associated with which effects.
The “Entourage Effect”
The conference at which Russo presented his paper was held at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where Raphael Mechoulam directs a lab, in honor of Mechoulam’s 80th birthday.
In 1999 Mechoulam co-authored a paper with Shimon Ben-Shabat suggesting that cannabinoids made in the body work by means of an “entourage effect.” They had found that the endocannabinoid 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol), when administered with two related compounds, would bind more readily at the cannabinoid receptors and exert more pronounced behavioral effect on mice.
To pharmacologists who customarily designed experiments aimed at finding the active ingredient, this had heavy implications. Mechoulam spelled them out: “Biochemically active natural products, from either plant or animal origin, are in many instances accompanied by chemically related though biologically inactive constituents. Very seldom is the biological activity of the active constituent assayed together with inactive ‘entourage’ compounds. Investigations of the effect of the active component in the presence of its ‘entourage’ compounds may lead to results that differ from those observed with the active component only.”
In 2001 John McPartland and Russo published a paper in the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics applying the “entourage” concept to the plant itself. “Good evidence shows that secondary compounds in cannabis may enhance the beneficial effects of THC… and reduce THC-induced anxiety, cholinergic deficits, and immunosuppresion,” they wrote. “Cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids may also increase cerebral blood flow, enhance cortical activity, kill respiratory pathogens, and provide anti-inflammatory activity.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered ministers to limit all but diplomatic and security contact with their Palestinian counterparts, an official said Wednesday, dealing another blow to faltering peace talks. The move comes a day after…
Yousef al-Shawamrah, 14, was shot in the back and hip with live ammunition near his village of Deir al-Asal al-Fawqa, which sits alongside Israel’s separation barrier, on March 19.
Shawamrah left home around 6:30 a.m. to forage for wild thistle, used in Palestinian cooking, along with two friends, 12-year-old Zahi and 17-year-old Muntaser. The boys planned to look for thistle in an area of land belonging to the village that now sits on the other side of the separation barrier.
As they crossed the barrier soldiers fired three shots without warning, Muntaser told DCI-Palestine in a sworn testimony. Another two bullets were fired, which hit Shawamrah in the hip and back as he tried to return through the barrier. Six soldiers, dressed in black fatigues and black face masks, then emerged from a group of olive trees less than 70 meters away, according to Muntaser.
An Israeli army spokesperson speaking to Ma’an News Agency alleged that the boys were attempting to sabotage Israel’s separation barrier, and “soldiers at the scene called them to distance themselves” before firing at their lower extremities. The Israeli military has yet to return Shawamrah’s body.
Eighty-five percent of the separation barrier and its planned route is located within the occupied West Bank and not along the Green Line, according to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization. It results in grave violations of Palestinian rights by severely restricting freedom of movement, restricting access to private land and crucial services.
Shawamrah is the second Palestinian child killed from live ammunition fired by Israeli forces this year, according to data collected by DCI-Palestine. Over 1,400 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2000.
“According to the Israeli army’s own regulations, the use of live ammunition is only justified in circumstance of mortal danger,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine.
“When a 14-year-old is shot with two live bullets from a distance of less than 100 meters, it must be presumed that the standard has not been met and the perpetrator must be held accountable.”
Shawamrah’s companions were detained briefly by the Israeli military and claim they were subject to ill-treatment. Muntaser told DCI-Palestine that he and Zahi were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to a nearby Israeli settlement, where they were beaten after failing to respond to questions posed in Hebrew, which neither speaks.
They were transferred to an Israeli police station in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba where they were interrogated, fingerprinted and had their pictures taken by Israeli authorities. At 5:00 p.m., 11 hours after they set out to pick thistle, they were dropped off at the Ramadin checkpoint, about seven kilometers (over four miles) from their homes.
Rifat Kassis added: “Once again, we are seeing the deadly consequences connected to the hyper-militarized environment of Israel’s prolonged occupation, in which children being children is enough to get them killed.”
To date, this shocking incident has not been covered by the BBC. In contrast, in the week prior to Yousef’s killing, BBC Online reported extensively on rockets fired out of Gaza, which resulted in no fatalities.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) wrote to BBC Online to ask why it had not even mentioned Israel’s killing of a Palestinian child, let alone report on it fully. We were told: “There is no mandate to report every killing.”
Once more, the BBC appears to be taking the position that the life of a Palestinian is worth less than that of an Israeli.
Israel’s prime minister pledged Sunday to resist “pressures” as he left for Washington on a visit expected to centre on peace talks with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear dispute. “I am now leaving on an important trip to the US where I will…
Authorities were on Monday investigating a fatal shooting in an Israeli prison after a US-Israeli inmate was gunned down by guards after opening fire with a smuggled weapon. The Israel Prison Services said it was looking into Sunday’s incident, during…
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