Saturday, 26 March 2016

The West's Islamophobia is only helping the Islamic State

 Arun Kundnani              Peace Movement Aotearoa                 24 March 2016

The "war on terror" was supposed to contain violence, but the whole world is a battlefield now. The promise of the "global war on terror" was that "it was better to fight them there than here." That brought mass violence to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen and Somalia - in the name of peace in the West.

That formula has clearly failed. Tuesday's bombings in Brussels come on the heels of similar incidents in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast; Maiduguri, Nigeria; Istanbul; Beirut; Paris; and Bamako, Mali, all in the last six months. Rather than containing violence, the war on terror turned the whole world into a battlefield.

We should not be surprised. Violence inflicted abroad always comes home in some form. Last year, the U.S. military dropped 22,110 bombs on Iraq and Syria. The Pentagon says these bombs "likely" killed only six civilians, along with "at least" 25,000 Islamic State fighters. The true number of civilian deaths, though, is likely to be in the thousands as well. Indeed, we know that the war on terror kills more civilians than terrorism does. But we tolerate this because it is "their" civilians being killed in places we imagine to be too far away to matter.

Because we pay little attention to the effects of our violence in the places we bomb, it appears that terrorism comes out of the blue. When it does happen, then, the only way we can make sense of it is by laying the blame on Islamic culture. When opinion polls find that most Muslims think Westerners are selfish, immoral and violent, we have no idea of the real causes. And so we assume such opinions must be an expression of their culture rather than our politics. There is no social media hashtag to commemorate these deaths; no news channel tells their stories.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have exploited these reactions with their appeals to Islamophobia. But most liberals also assume that religious extremism is the root cause of terrorism. President Obama, for example, has spoken of "a violent, radical, fanatical, nihilistic interpretation of Islam by a faction - a tiny faction - within the Muslim community that is our enemy, and that has to be defeated."

Based on this assumption, think-tanks, intelligence agencies and academic departments linked to the national security apparatus have spent millions of dollars since 9/11 conducting research on radicalization. They hoped to find a correlation between having extremist religious ideas, however defined, and involvement in terrorism.

In fact, no such correlation exists, as empirical evidence demonstrates - witness the European Islamic State volunteers who arrive in Syria with copies of 'Islam for Dummies' or the alleged leader of the November 2015 Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was reported to have drunk whisky and smoked cannabis. But this has not stopped national security agencies, such as the FBI, from using radicalization models that assume devout religious beliefs are an indicator of potential terrorism.

The process of radicalization is easily understood if we imagine how we would respond to a foreign government dropping 22,000 bombs on us. Large numbers of patriots would be volunteering to fight the perpetrators. And nationalist and religious ideologies would compete with each other to lead that movement and give its adherents a sense of purpose.

Similarly, the Islamic State does not primarily recruit through theological arguments but through a militarized identity politics. It says there is a global war between the West and Islam, a heroic struggle, with truth and justice on one side and lies, depravity and corruption on the other. It shows images of innocents victimized and battles gloriously waged. In other words, it recruits in the same way that any other armed group recruits, including the U.S. military.

That means that when we also deploy our own militarized identity politics to narrate our response to terrorism, we inadvertently reinforce the Islamic State's message to its potential recruits. When British Prime Minister David Cameron talks about a "generational struggle" between Western values and Islamic extremism, he is assisting the militants' own propaganda. When French President Francois Hollande talks of "a war which will be pitiless", he is doing the same.

What is distinctive about the Islamic State's message is that it also offers a utopian and apocalyptic vision of an alternative society in the making. The reality of that alternative is, of course, oppression of women, enslavement of minorities and hatred of freedom. But the message works, to some extent, because it claims to be an answer to real problems of poverty, authoritarian regimes and Western aggression. 

Significantly, it thrives in environments where other radical alternatives to a discredited status quo have been suppressed by government repression. What's corrupting the Islamic State's volunteers is not ideology but by the end of ideology: they have grown up in an era with no alternatives to capitalist globalization. The organization has gained support, in part, because the Arab revolutions of 2011 were defeated, in many cases by regimes allied with and funded by the U.S. After 14 years of the "war on terror", we are no closer to achieving peace. The fault does not lie with any one administration but with the assumption that war can defeat terrorism. The lesson of the Islamic State is that war creates terrorism.

After all, the organization was born in the chaos and carnage that followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Russia and Iran have also played their role, propping up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime - responsible for far more civilian deaths than the Islamic State - and prolonging the war in Syria that enables the militant group to thrive.

Meanwhile, the alliances that we consider crucial to the war on terror have worked in the Islamic State's favor. The group's sectarianism and funding have come from the Saudi and Gulf ruling elites, the West's closest regional allies after Israel. And the groups that have been most effective in fighting the Islamic State - the Kurdish militia - are designated as terrorists by Western governments because they are considered threats to our ally Turkey.

The incoherence of our response to the Islamic State stems from our Islamophobia. Because we believe religious extremism is the underlying problem, we prop up Arab dictatorships that we think can help us contain this danger. Paradoxically, we support the very regimes that have enabled the Islamic State's rise, such as the Saudis, the most reactionary influence in the region.

With our airstrikes, we continue the cycle of violence and reinforce the militants' narrative of a war by the West against Islam. Then, to top it all off, we turn away the refugees, whom we should be empowering to help transform the region. If we want to avoid another 14 years of failure, we need to try something else - and first, we need to radically rethink what we've been doing. 

It's our leaders who are creating a generation of terrorists

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown                       Independent/UK                     20 March 2016

On Friday, Belgium police captured Salah Abdeslam, a key conspirator and member of the Islamist gang that murdered so many innocents in Paris last November. Belgium PM Michel is triumphant: “This evening is a huge success in the battle against terrorism.” His bombast is typical of Western leaders – they revel in their “victories” and never think about why so many young Muslims, born in Europe, are turning to violent extremism. 

Not one of the EU nations has, to date, taken on Saudi Arabia, the promulgator of hardline Islam and zealous intolerance. Saudi Arabia went into Belgium in the late sixties and spread Wahhabism among the newly arrived Muslim migrants. To date, $70bn has been spent on this global brainwashing and destabilisation programme. This Tuesday evening on ITV, a secretly filmed documentary investigates the nefarious kingdom. Will this exposure alter Europe’s special relationship with the most evil of empires? No.  

Here is a dire warning: Europe is losing the battle against terrorism because its leaders still indulge the sponsors of terrorism, unthinkingly aid and abet the propagandists of Isis and germinate animosity and rancour in a new generation of Muslims. EU governments never say sorry, never let complexities divert them from their macho missions, seem incapable of thinking holistically, do not engage with history or the hinterlands, undercut democratic values, can only react to events as they happen and thereby endanger the lives of millions of citizens.

The police and special forces expect multiple terror attacks in London. Other cities are preparing for new blasts. These crimes are indefensible. And no, I am not saying that the West deserves these bloodbaths or is wholly to blame for them. Repulsive Islamists and their ideologies are hell-bent on annihilating modernity and cumulated human cultures. But I do believe that European politicians have, over many decades, created the conditions for fanaticism to seed and grow. The official responses to the refugee flows are leading to new anti-Western furies.

Here is a friend of mine, a Muslim woman, who works in the City and lives in a grand home: “I was born here, have done well. My faith is private and I have no time for fundis ( fundamentalists). But I am shocked. How can Cameron, my Prime Minister, treat refugees like they are cockroaches? Those children? Would he do this if they were white people from Zimbabwe? I now understand how a young Muslim turns and loads up on hate. My own son is so full of anger.” Me too. The media and our leaders – except for Mrs Merkel – demonise refugees and fill up on self-pity. The migration crisis is all about us. Sickening.

Now Turkey – where the government daily violates human rights – is paid billions to take the migrant problem out of Europe. Men, women and children from Africa and Arabia have become traded meat. And all the while, our politicians wax lyrical about Europe’s values and “higher” civilisation. Can you not see how this dissonance affects those with links to those places? And humane indigenous citizens too?

The European crusaders who attacked Iraq and Libya and play hidden war games in Syria have never accepted responsibility for the churn, chaos, rage and violence that they left in their wake. Western sanctions and bombs wiped out more people in Iraq than Saddam ever did. Read Patrick Coburn’s new book, Chaos & Caliphate, which chronicles these historical catastrophes. For Salim and his ilk, these killer facts fuse with their own life stories of confusion and rejection and the amalgam combusts.   

Abdeslam was kept safe and hidden by those who live in Molenbeek, an overcrowded Muslim ghetto stuffed with no-hopers. Some inhabitants describe the place as Europe’s biggest jihadist factories. Why should this be so? Because the very air is thick with disillusionment and breathed in by all those who live there.

In the Sixties, Belgium welcomed cheap factory labour from Morocco and other Arab lands. The old industries died and families were marooned with no jobs, low skills and a sense of failure. They believe successive governments used and then discarded them. Francoise Schepmans, the mayor of Molenbeek, has now come out and spoken about the “culture of denial”, which now must be broken. Belgium needs to address its racism and neglect of Muslims who are in its national bloodstream. So too France, Germany, Spain, Britain, Denmark…

Our political elites need to be honest, savvy and ethical. They must refrain from impetuous militarism and reach out to estranged Muslims. Remember, the West beat communism using political and economic seduction. Weapons, laws and racist discourse will not defeat Islamist terrorism. Soft, smart power just might. [Abridged]

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bernie Sanders is out, but …

Why, although the nomination looks locked up for Hillary Clinton, the future of the Democratic Party lies in the hands of Bernie Sanders and his progressive allies
Matthew Turner                        Independent/UK                  16 March 2016           

Sanders is
out of the running, but it is important to reflect on what has happened so far. A self-proclaimed democratic socialist gave the presumed nominee Hillary Clinton one of the toughest battles of her political career.

What is more staggering is the extensive support network he has mobilised across the country.
84 per cent of millennials backed Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in Iowa and 83 per cent gave him their vote in New Hampshire.

Whilst Obama also took advantage of millennial discontent during his 2008 primary campaign,
his margins against Clinton were a lot narrower than the numbers we are seeing for Bernie Sanders. For the first time in generations, the young have an equally positive view of socialism than they do of capitalism.

This represents nothing short of a political breakthrough.

The truth is that millennials have a different view of the political sphere than their elders. They are constantly being told what is best for them, but they are the only real experts in their own state of affairs. This is something that mainstream politicians across the globe are failing to recognise. They have a different experience of capitalism and a different idea of socialism. For baby-boomers, socialism is a term associated with the authoritarian Soviet Union and memories of an imminent nuclear threat. To millennials, it is capitalism that is becoming the dirty word.

Millennials grew up through the crisis of capitalism in 2008 and see the roots at the ideological birth of free market dogma and neoliberalism. They have seen both establishment Republicans and Democrats swear allegiance to this greedy, failing ideology
whilst they become the most indebted generation to ever exist, and see their ability to get onto the property ladder diminish year on year. They see a society governed by plutocrats and a system that cannot tackle the colossal issues of the day. They have inherited the decadence of a dying consensus which serves them no purpose.

This is why although the nomination looks locked up for Hillary Clinton, the future of the Democratic Party lies in the hands of Bernie Sanders and his progressive allies. Whilst some are rightly concerned about Hillary Clinton losing the energy and momentum from Sanders’ support base in a general election, the thought of a Donald Trump presidency should be enough to persuade a significant portion of activists to get on board.

In spite of this,
as Noam Chomsky correctly asserts, it is vital that the campaign Sanders has created continues as a vibrant popular movement in between election cycles. There is a thirst for real change which has not been seen in the political arena for decades. Millennials don’t want to work within a broken system, they want it ripped down by an architect who can build a better way.

This movement has the ability to be bigger than Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party, he is simply beginning the path towards a consensus of a new kind of politics. It is gaining traction at astounding speed and in a decade’s time, millennials will be the backbone of the electorate. This is when they will have the best chance to exact their revenge.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Real Meaning of Easter

Ian Harris                  Otago Daily Times                March 11, 2016

It’s a fair bet that with Easter approaching, most congregations around New Zealand will be confidently assured that Jesus was put to death to bear God’s punishment for their sins. Most churchgoers probably won’t question whether that is really why Jesus was crucified. Nor will they readily make the link between that first Easter and ancient Jewish rituals of remembrance and sacrifice.

Some will be aware that the notion of Jesus dying as a punishment for sin became central to church thinking only after 1000 years of Christianity, and then only in western Europe – Eastern Orthodox churches have a different emphasis. But it would shock them to learn that many scholars nowadays think the idea of the cross as punishment for sin severely distorts the message and meaning of Jesus. Yes, they say, he was punished – but that was for challenging the religious and political establishment of his day.

The idea that Jesus died for our sins, known in the trade as “substitutionary atonement”, emerged to meet a deeply felt human need. Sinfulness is no light matter. People often feel weighed down by guilt over something they have done or not done. They crave forgiveness and reconciliation.

In former times, when guilt and the fear of a horrible fate in hell lay deep within the consciousness of everyone in Christendom, it’s easy to see how the assurance that Jesus had borne sin’s penalty on their behalf must have brought immense relief and gratitude. God had forgiven them! They could make a fresh start! That can still happen.

Preoccupation with sin went even deeper. From the 5th century the church had drunk deeply from St Augustine’s prescription labelled “original sin” – the notion that because the mythical Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command not to eat the fruit of a certain tree, every human being thereafter was born tainted.

A holy God abhorred all sin. Through the Middle Ages, and for some people even now, God, heaven and the torments of hell were as actual as they themselves. How on earth could they escape the fate they deserved? Only through the sacrifice of Jesus, the divine rescuer, the church answered. God could not ignore their sins, but Jesus willingly suffered the cruellest of deaths to wipe the slate clean: they would therefore be spared eternal punishment. It was a powerful message of release and hope.

In earlier centuries Jews had their own rituals of thanksgiving, sacrifice and remission of sins, so it is not surprising that as the first Christians, who were all Jews, reflected on their experience of Jesus, they drew on images from their heritage. Central was the Israelites’ flight from slavery in Egypt at the time of Moses. On the eve of their breakout, each family sacrificed a lamb and daubed its blood on their doorframes to signal the angel of death to “pass over” their households, while striking down the firstborn of everyone else. Each year at the Passover festival, Jews recalled that amazing escape.

Later, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), priests and people confronted their sinfulness, seeking release by sacrificing a perfect lamb in their temple and spreading its blood over the golden symbol of God’s presence in its innermost sanctuary. Then they metaphorically heaped their sins on the back of a goat and drove it into the wilderness, carrying their sins and thus giving everyone a fresh start. We still talk of scapegoats.

The key ideas running through those stories and rituals were not of punishment but deliverance, freedom, and newness of life, all seen as stemming from God’s mercy and love. And that, said those first Christians, was just what they had experienced in Jesus. So they wrote it into their accounts of his death. In Jesus, the protective Passover lamb, the purifying lamb of Yom Kippur and the scapegoat bearing away the people’s sins were fused into one.

They would have been astonished at later developments. Adam and Eve moved beyond their mythical origins to become literally the first humans, who stuffed up paradise for everyone who followed. Rituals that began as pointers to God’s grace became symbols rather of wrath and punishment. The church’s compass needle swung away from a love that empowers, to sin demanding punishment – a message then read retrospectively into Bible passages whose original purpose was to emphasise grace and transformation. God’s love became conditional on prior punishment.

The view that “Jesus died for my sins” still has emotional power. But it subverts the Christian gospel. More on that next time.   

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Meet Dindim, the penguin

Janet Tappin Coelho       Rio de Janeiro      Independent/UK       7 March 2016        

Four years ago, Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, found a South American Magellanic penguin covered in oil and starving on a beach on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A friendship was born. and starving on a beach on an island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A friendship was born. Since they met in 2011, the creature, which normally breeds on the Patagonia coasts of Argentina and Chile, three to five thousand miles away, has become a faithful companion, swimming every year from its habitat.

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me,” said Mr Pereira de Souza in an interview with Globo TV, in which the bird honks with delight as he recognises his human friend. “No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up,” said Mr Pereira who has named the penguin Dindim.

Pereira de Souza believes Dindim formed a bond with him after he found it stranded on the beach and took him home. Over a week he cleaned the creature’s tarred feathers in the shower, fed him a daily diet of fish to improve his strength then took him back to the sea to let him go.

“But he wouldn’t leave, he stayed with me for 11 months and then just after he changed his coat with new feathers he disappeared,” recalled Mr Pereira de Souza. “Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.”

Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr Pereira de Souza for Globo TV, told The Independent: “I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight.”

Penguins live for about 25 years and are known for their loyalty to their mates, staying with the same partner until they die. However, environmentalists warn that, while hundreds of the Magellanic species are known to naturally migrate thousands of miles north in search of food, there has been a worrying rise in the phenomenon of oceanic creatures washing up on Brazil’s beaches. Between 2010 to 2013, the Humpback Whale Institute in Bahia recorded more than 180 cases of mammals stranded along the Brazilian coast.

Professor David Zee, an oceanographer from Rio de Janeiro’s State University, said the increase is due in part to global climatic changes. He explained: “Every year the strong ocean currents from the Falkland region traps and brings many species of seals, whales, dolphins, turtles and penguins to the Brazilian coast. This is becoming more problematic due to environmental changes and the increasing frequency of el Niño, in which the Pacific Ocean is warming up for prolonged periods of time.


The Last Trump

Uri Avnery                       Gush Shalom                          5 March 2016

The Americans are capable of many things. From time to time they indulge in a spell of collective insanity. Take Joe McCarthy. But not this! This is too much. Donald Trump is well on his way to the White House.

Wait, I am told. These are still only the primaries. OK, something odd has happened to the Republican Party. But on election day, faced with the real choice, the vast majority of Americans will return to sanity and vote for his opponent, whoever he or she is. I thought so, too. Not anymore. Now I just don't know.

DEMOCRACY, Winston Churchill is said to have said, is the worst political system - except for all the others.

One of the faults of democracy is that it is based on a contradiction. The capacity to win a democratic election and the ability to lead a country are very different, and often contradictory, talents. There are candidates who are sheer geniuses at winning elections. Once elected, they have not the slightest idea what to do next.

There are candidates who are born statesmen or women, endowed with wisdom and intuition, but have not the slightest chance of ever being elected. Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson was once told that all the intelligent people were going to vote for him. "But I need a majority," he quipped. And then, of course, there are the very, very few who are born leaders, who can both be elected and, once elected, lead their country with a sure hand. Churchill, again. [?]

TRUMP, IT seems to me, is of the first kind. Those who have a knack of appealing to the masses, but whose ability to lead a world power is in severe doubt. More than that – I believe that he is a very dangerous person.

 In the beginning, he looked like a clown. People discounted him. It was assumed that he would play around for a little bit, and then he would disappear. Those who said so have themselves now disappeared. Then he looked like an unprincipled opportunist, a person who would say at any moment whatever entered his head, even if it was the opposite of what he had said the day before. Not serious. A fool. Unelectable.

 Not any more. The Trump we see now is a very shrewd campaigner, a winner, a candidate who has an uncanny talent to channel the misgivings, resentments, anger and bitterness of the lower class of whites, who feel that their country is being taken away from them by corrupt politicians, blacks, hispanos and other riffraff.

WAIT! WHAT does the last sentence remind us of? Of a person who also began by looking like a clown, then developed into a shrewd campaigner, promised to make his country great again, made a career out of the resentment against minorities (Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, foreigners and the disabled), who said all the things his rivals were afraid to utter – and who brought untold misery to his country and the entire world. No names, please. Look at Trump. The total self-confidence of the Leader. The cult of brutal power. The unbridled nationalism. The incitement against minorities. The contempt for the political establishment (of both parties).

Since fascists claim to glorify their own nation as against all other nations, it could have been assumed that the fascists of different nations are enemies of each other. But in practice there is such a thing as a fascist international. Fact: the French fascist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has been thrown out of his party's leadership by his own daughter because of his unbridled extremism (and anti-Semitism), has congratulated Trump, and so has the former leader of the American racist Ku-Klux-Klan. Trump has disavowed neither. Indeed, when he was caught quoting a line much beloved by Benito Mussolini ("Better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep") Trump did not apologize.

In this light one must judge Trump's attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On first sight, it looks refreshing. All the other candidates of both parties grovel before Binyamin Netanyahu in abject submission, begging for handouts from the divers Sheldon Adelsons. Trump does not need the Jewish money. So he says the sensible thing: that he wants to remain neutral in order that as President he will be able to act as a neutral.

According to the Oxford dictionary, a trump is not only a card of the suit which ranks above others, but also a deafening sound. "The Last Trump" is the trumpet blast that will wake the dead on Judgment Day. Let's hope American voters wake up before that. [Abridged – this is less than half of the article.]

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

In Yemen, a Humanitarian Pause is Urgently Needed

César Chelala                     Common Dreams                 March 01, 2016

As war continues to rage uninterrupted in Yemen, a humanitarian pause is badly needed as the country spirals down to chaos, leaving the majority of the population in urgent need of medical care. Restrictions on access to medical supplies and care are key impediments in improving the situation of people in need. A five day humanitarian pause would allow supplies and care to reach those people and relieve their dire health situation.

At the same time, attacks on health facilities continue. Last October, the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the bombing of a Medécins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) supported hospital in Saada province in northern Yemen. MSF believes that as a consequence 200.000 people were left without medical care. That attack, that violated International Humanitarian Law, was the second one on an MSF-run facility in a month.

 Since the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen, conducted with U.S. support, more than 5,700 have died (almost half of them civilians) -including hundreds of women and children- and 28.753 injuries have been reported. Several health workers have also been killed and 47 health facilities in 11 governorates have been damaged or closed as a result of the continuous violence.

Health care services in all public hospitals have been reduced, especially operating theaters and intensive care units. At the same time, disrupted immunization activities have increased the risks for measles and poliomyelitis, even though Yemen is presently free of polio. The breakdown of the water supply and sanitation systems has facilitated the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, as well acute diarrheal diseases, particularly affecting children. Also, because of limited communication possibilities, the early warning alert system for diseases has been seriously affected. The country has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in the world. According to UNICEF, 1.3 million Yemeni children younger than five years now suffer from acute malnutrition, compared to 850.000 before the war started. 320.000 are severely malnourished, twice the amount before the crisis. The little cash people have is to pay for food and gas –at greatly increased prices- leaving no money to afford health care. 

 The Lancet reports that approximately a quarter of the country’s health care facilities are no longer functional. To make matters worse, as Ronald Kremer, from MSF says, "People do not dare to go to hospitals because they are afraid that they are targeted and, even if they want to go they may not have the means –even where public transport does exist, it is very expensive because of the fuel problems." Fuel problems have increased the problems in obtaining clean water. Lack of a proper water supply and the dire sanitation and hygiene situation has led to outbreaks of dengue and malaria. Because many Yemenis store water in open containers, that becomes an ideal breeding ground for disease-transmitting mosquitoes.

So far, there are more than 2.5 million people who have become internally displaced persons (IDPs). To compound an already difficult situation, disrupted immunization campaigns have led to increasing number of children affected with measles and rubella, particularly among IDPs living in overcrowded conditions As a result of the conflict, many hospitals, laboratories, health warehouses and administrative offices have closed. Primary care facilities have minimum access to medicines, supplies and equipment. Fuel shortage has affected the proper operations of ambulances.

In this situation, a humanitarian pause is urgently needed. A five day pause, as proposed by the World Health Organization, would allow humanitarian organizations to respond to some of the most life-threatening needs of the people, particularly women and children caught in the middle of the conflict. An MSF doctor taking care of a badly hurt child in Syria realized that the child was desperately trying to tell him something. When he asked his translator what the child was saying, the translator responded, “Don’t they realize that we are children?” A similar question could be asked in Yemen today.