Netanyahu is in town


CongressInvited by the US congress to speak and influence American policy no less, Netanyahu is enjoying the right to free speech and possibly usurp American foreign policy but his own country is not broadcasting the speech Americans will hear without a FIVE minute delay and after removing all references to campaigning in order to “keep the address from influencing the upcoming election”. (That also happens to be one of the reasons why Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu during this visit; it appears Obama is more Israeli than Bibi) But that’s hardly the reason why Netanyahu is receiving resistancenetanyahu from his own country towards his speech and visit here….it probably has more to do with the fact even his own citizens can’t stomach the lies he’s telling to a very gullible US congress and Main Stream Media.

When the Israeli prime minister argues that his speech will stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he is not only misleading Israel, he is strengthening Iran,  Amnon Reshef, former head of the army’s armored corps, said at a news conference Sunday.

Boo yoow anyone??

 

John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama


When I first saw this headline, I tweeted how some members of America’s body politic love all of these foreign leaders rather than their own President and as they stand compared to Obama, these leaders, Putin and Netanyahu  are losers in the arena of policy vis-a-vis American interests.  That hasn’t stopped Speaker of the House, Joh n Boehner from doing an end round and bringing Netanyahu to town to upstage the American President.  America, love it or move to Israel…

Vox

House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress in February, on the topic of Iran. On the surface, this might seem innocent enough. Israel is a close American ally. Surely he should be welcome in Congress, particularly to discuss an issue that concerns his country.

On the surface, Netanyahu’s speech will be about opposing Obama’s nuclear talks with Iran and supporting Republican-led sanctions meant to blow up those talks.

But there’s more than meets the eye here. Netanyahu is playing a game with US domestic politics to try to undermine and pressure Obama — and thus steer US foreign policy. Boehner wants to help him out. By reaching out to Netanyahu directly and setting up a visit without the knowledge of the White House, he is undermining not just Obama’s policies but his very leadership of US foreign policy. The fact that Netanyahu is once again meddling in American politics, and that a US political party is siding with a foreign country over their own president, is extremely unusual, and a major break with the way that foreign relations usually work.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama in the White House in March 2014 (Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty)

Throughout Obama’s tenure, he has clashed with Netanyahu. That is no secret, and it’s nothing new for American and Israeli leaders to disagree, sometimes very publicly. But Netanyahu, beginning in May 2011, adopted a new strategy to try to deal with this: using domestic American politics as a way to try to push around Obama.

During a trip that month to Washington, Netanyahu publicly lectured Obama at a press conference and then gave a speech to Congress slamming the president. That speech, also hosted by Republicans, received many standing ovations for Netanyahu’s finger-wagging criticism of Obama.

At first it appeared that Netanyahu was merely trying to steer Obama’s foreign policy in a direction that he, Netanyahu, preferred. Obama wanted Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank, for example; Obama has also sought, in his second term, to reach a nuclear deal with Iran that Netanyahu earnestly believes is a bad idea.

Netanyahu’s first responsibility is to Israel’s national interests, not to Obama, so it makes sense that he would push for policies that he thinks are good for Israel.

But in 2011 Netanyahu started going a step further, and appeared to be working to actively remove Obama from power. During the 2012 election cycle, Netanyahu and his government were increasingly critical of Obama and supportive of Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for whom he at times appeared to be actively campaigning. Netanyahu’s criticisms of Obama were so pointed that some of Obama’s opponents cut a campaign ad out of them. It became a joke within Israel that Netanyahu saw himself not as the leader of a sovereign country, but as the Republican senator from Israel.

But trying to unseat a foreign leader is not a joke, especially when that foreign leader is funding your military and guaranteeing your nation’s security.

Netanyahu’s government ramped down this strategy after Obama won; he even gave Obama the world’s most awkward congratulations speech. But throughout Obama’s second term he has once again gradually escalated from trying to influence Obama to actively undermining both the president and his party. The new Israeli ambassador to the US for months would not even bother to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, yet held many meetings with Republican fundraiser Sheldon Adelson. Israel’s foreign policy, in other words, was more focused on undermining the American leadership than working with it.

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

The Jerusalem skyline (MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty)

Republicans, aware that Americans are supportive of Israel, have urged on Netanyahu’s anti-Obama campaign since it began in 2011. Inviting him to speak to Congress that year was shrewd domestic politics, and it will be shrewd legislative politics next month when Netanyahu publicly supports the GOP’s sanctions efforts.

This makes sense within the narrow scope of domestic politics — if you can use something to convince voters your party and its policies are a better choice than your opponents, you use it, even if that something is a foreign head of state. But members of Congress are purportedly supposed to put their country before their party, and siding with a foreign leader over your own president doesn’t seem to do that. Neither does cheering a foreign leader when he lambasts the president of the United States.

More to the point, it was a really significant breach when some conservatives supported Netanyahu’s implicit lobbying on behalf of the Romney campaign. If a foreign country wants to unseat your president, that is generally considered an outrageous breach. But Netanyahu has been invited in, and with the 2016 presidential elections ramping up it appears likely he will be invited in once more to implicitly run against the Democrats.

This speaks, in a very real sense, to just how extreme political polarization has become in Washington.

This sort of practice is bad for America’s ability to conduct foreign policy

To be very clear, this is not just a breach of protocol: it’s a very real problem for American foreign policy. The Supreme Court has codified into law the idea that only the president is allowed to make foreign policy, and not Congress, because if there are two branches of government setting foreign policy then America effectively has two foreign policies.

The idea is that the US government needs to be a single unified entity on the world stage in order to conduct effective foreign policy. Letting the president and Congress independently set their own foreign policies would lead to chaos. It would be extremely confusing for foreign leaders, and foreign publics, who don’t always understand how domestic American politics work, and could very easily misread which of the two branches is actually setting the agenda. (This confusion, by the way, is exactly what some Republicans are hoping to create in Iran with new sanctions.)

This could also allow a foreign country to play those two branches off of each other. That’s in part what Netanyahu is attempting to do here, and it’s working. The Obama administration did not even find out about Netanyahu’s planned visit to Washington until Boehner announced it. The Republicans are attempting to run a foreign policy that’s separate from the actual, official US foreign policy.

One more anti-Obama speech from Netanyahu on the floor of Congress is not going to break US foreign policy, of course. But it’s troubling that Republicans are willing to breach such an important principle for some pretty modest short-term gains.

Muslim, the new black


I hope Muslim Americans study very well American history, because it’s about to repeat itself and Muslims will find themselves having to fight the same battles of equality fought by their African-American, Native-American, Asian American and Spanish speaking American brothers and sisters who have fought the entire length of this country’s existence.  What’s even more ironic is this fight is symbolically starting on the day after the country’s observance of Martin Luther King day who’s being honored because he gave his life with a bullet to the brain fighting for the rights of people of color to equality.  Everybody loves to quote Dr. King and memorialize him while at the same time completely  ignoring his calls for racial human rights and equality.  America is determined to go back down the road of bigotry and xenophobia and it has targeted its Muslim citizens.

It’s not an issue of who is Muslim…..they come in all shapes, sizes and colors…..it’s Islam and Muslims that many in America have set their sights on.  No where was that more apparent than during President Obama’s State of the Union Address.  A blogger at RH Reality Check was insightful enough to observe the Senate chamber’s reaction to a portion of Obama’s address.  The word “applause” appears at the points in his speech where members of Congress reacted positively to what the Prez said by clapping/applauding.

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, [applause] and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained [applause]. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world [applause]. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslimsthe vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace[SILENCE]. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender [applause]. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer [applause].

However, no one in Congress, Democrat or Republican seems to think that Muslims are interested in peace and Obama’s remarks fell flat on the deaf ears of America’s lawmakers.  That doesn’t bode well for America’s Muslims.  To add insult to injury, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner unilaterally and unbeknownst to the White House invited Israel’s warmonger Benjamin Netanyahu to talk about Iran and radical Islam…..which means Islam, which means Muslims, all Muslims those who are criminal and deranged beyond any hope as well as those who are law abiding contributing members to their societies……the ones Obama was referring to in his SOTU. Of course, Netanyahu has to demonize Muslims because he too is trying to exterminate them and he wants our help doing so….not that we’ve done very much to stop him, we just haven’t hastened his efforts.

Certainly all the talk about Islamophobia and the hysteria surrounding it takes place in an atmosphere generated by the tragedy in Paris, France surrounding the Charlie Habdo cartoons, and the demonstrations taking place in Germany and the geopolitics of the larger Middle East and it seems America is doomed to repeat its history of enslaving and persecuting a group of people based solely on an affiliation America does not like and it would appear most members of Congress have no problem with that.  This then is a part of our Nation’s character….it revels in xenophobia…..it embellishes it, embraces it, perpetuates it (FoxNews)  and it wants to legalize it, return America to it’s segregationist past, glory.  It won’t even stop at separate but equal, it wants to go beyond that to criminalize and expel.  African-Americans, some living today….have seen this propensity America has to its dark side; Asian-Americans and Native-Americans have too.  Muslim Americans might want to talk to them about how they survived the American juggernaut…..or at the very least, study and learn American history in order to prepare themselves.

Who Broke the Ceasefire?


By Max Blumenthal, Allison Deger

A beleaguered looking President Barack Obama appeared before the Washington press corps Friday to lash into Hamas for supposedly violating the 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire that his Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations had labored so tirelessly to secure.

“I have unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third minutes after a cease-fire was announced,” Obama said.

But evidence supporting Obama’s claim of Hamas responsibility has been difficult to come by. Indeed, even the Israeli Army news desk was unable to provide AlterNet with a clear narrative or substantial evidence regarding the incident in question. Moreover, accounts published in Arabic by Hamas’s military wing along with details provided by the PLO indicate that the killing of two soldiers and disappearance of another actually occurred before the cease-fire went into effect — when Israel was assaulting Rafah.

“Today at 9:30, terrorists executed an attack from which two soldiers were killed and an additional is now missing and therefore he is suspected to have been abducted,” an Israeli army spokesperson told AlterNet. The army spokesperson went on to state that Hamas and the army “exchanged shelling,” yet they were unable to provide details on the source of the Palestinian fire. “They used several forms of fire simultaneously,” was all the spokesperson could divulge.

“I cannot confirm at the moment as we are still looking into it, but it may have been live bullets and a suicide belt,” which killed the soldiers, the army spokesperson said.

When asked why the army did not have a solid account of the events that broke the promised 72-hour cease-fire, the army spokesperson maintained, “There were terrorists and they attacked the soldiers, two soldiers didn’t just drop dead.”

Tweets from Gaza contradict official US-Israeli claims

The PLO and Palestinian Authority both insisted to AlterNet that Hamas fighters engaged Israeli soldiers inside Gaza well before the cease-fire took effect – and during an Israeli assault on Rafah leading up to the 8am cease-fire.

“They aborted the cease-fire from the beginning,” said Nabil Shaath from the PLO’s Central Committee.

A veteran negotiator, Shaath has become the de facto liaison between the PLO and Hamas. He confirmed to AlterNet that PA President Mahmoud Abbas received a briefing from Hamas this morning on the incident near Rafah. Shaath’s account reflects details provided directly by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip.

According to Shaath, at 6am Hamas fighters engaged Israeli forces in Rafah. He maintained that it was then — almost two hours before the cease-fire went into effect — that the two Israeli soldiers were killed and the other went missing.

Shaath’s account was supported by dispatches published before the cease-fire went into effect by the official Twitter account of Hamas’s Qassam Brigades military wing. In a tweet published at 7:34 a.m. on August 1, the Qassam Brigades stated, “At 7 a.m. a group [of Hamas fighters] clashed with [Israeli] forces east of Rafah and caused many injuries and death to them.”

In a separate tweet published at 6:22 a.m. on the say day, the Qassam Brigades declared, “At 6:30 a.m., a group of the Qassam infiltrated behind enemy lines at east Rafah and bombed a house that the enemy had taken as a stronghold with a Tandem missile after the enemies bombed the whole area.”

The following day, Qassam Brigades reiterated its description of the incident in an official statement: “The clashes began at 7.00am, before the proposed truce was in effect, while the enemy launched its attack on civilians at 10 a.m, blatantly violating the truce in aims of finding a missing soldier.”

Qassam Brigades added that it had “no knowledge regarding the soldier missing in action [Lt. Hadar Goldin] or his location or the circumstances of his disappearance” — a departure from previous instances when it trumpeted claims that it had captured Israeli troops. Despite the denial, Obama vehemently demanded that Hamas unconditionally release Goldin.

The cease-fire was first violated at 8:30 a.m., according to Shaath, when the Israeli army destroyed 19 buildings in an operation to demolish tunnels. “Destroying tunnels is destroying houses,” Shaath said, noting that the cease-fire allowed hostile Israeli forces to continue to operate inside the Gaza Strip, making violence almost inevitable. “We do not accept a cease-fire that allows the invader to attack and murder,” he declared.

Conflicting claims and evidence ignored

In announcing the brief cease-fire, Kerry said its terms authorized Israeli forces to carry out“defensive” operations against tunnels. He seemed unaware of the ramifications of such an agreement, or what Israel’s attacks on tunnels actually entailed. A glimpse at Human Rights Watch’s bracing report on the Israeli army’s brutal assault on Rafah in 2004, “Razing Rafah,” which it conducted under the auspices of anti-tunnel operations, would have offered a glimpse of what was to come. (American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer during the 2003 attack on Rafah).

Following the incident in Rafah that left two Israeli soldiers dead and one presumed missing, Kerry immediately declared that Hamas had committed an “outrageous violation of the cease-fire.” White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest echoed Kerry by accusing Hamas of “a barbaric violation of the cease-fire agreement.”

But sources offer starkly conflicting accounts of the incident in question. The Israeli army claimed to AlterNet that Lt. Hadar Goldin went missing at 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half after the cease-fire was declared. Yet Obama claimed that the attack occurred “minutes after the cease-fire began.” For their part, Qassam reported engaging and killing Israeli soldiers well before 8 a.m.

So when did the incident actually occur? And why was Obama’s information so dramatically different from details the Israeli army was furnishing journalists with?

More importantly, why was the Obama administration so quick to jump to conclusions?

Framing Hamas, driving the death toll

Perhaps the answer was credulousness or sheer laziness, with its diplomatic corps and intelligence services neglecting to examine sensitive details from sources on the ground. But the more likely explanation is that Washington has sought to frame Hamas as the aggressor to enable Israel to intensify military operations disproportionately directed against a besieged civilian population.

Since violence escalated in mid-July, the Obama administration has demonstrated a disturbing pattern of legitimizing suspect Israeli claims about Hamas’s malevolence and bad faith. In each case, the administration provided political cover for disproportionate Israeli violence, deepening the damage to civilian life in the West Bank and Gaza. And in each case, Washington’s claims were ultimately discredited — but only after Israel had ratcheted the violence up to a frightening new stage.

The first case of irresponsible enabling by the Obama administration occurred in the immediate wake of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank on June 12. It was on June 15, before evidence was made public about the kidnapping suspects’ identities, that Kerry pointed the finger at Hamas, suggesting that the organization’s leadership had authorized the crime. His words helped justify Operation Brother’s Keeper, an army rampage through the West Bank in which thousands of Palestinian homes were raided, over 500 were arrested without charges, and 6 civilians were killed.

A month later, Israeli Police Spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld finally admitted what was widely known and had been extensively documented: Hamas leadership had no role in or advance knowledge of the kidnappings. But by then, the damage to the West Bank had already been done. Kerry has yet to retract his demonstrably false and damaging claim.

The next case of Obama administration enabling came on July 15 as the military regime of Egypt – a ferocious antagonist of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas – introduced a cease-fire proposal developed in intimate collaboration with Israel that would not have lifted the 8-year-long siege of Gaza. Hamas had not been consulted on the proposal or even briefed on its details, exposing it as a hollow document conceived as a ruse to frame the Palestinian faction as rejectionists. Kerry brought the Israeli-Egyptian scheme to its fulfillment when he launched into an indignant condemnation of Hamas for rejecting the Egyptian proposal, accusing the group of “purposely playing politics.”

Kerry’s statement was a political boon to Netanyahu, providing the Prime Minister with all the cover he sought to initiate and expand ground invasion of Gaza. Hamas’s refusal to accept the proposal “gives Israel full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our people,” Netanyahu declared on July 15.

Human catastrophe with no end in sight

Some thousand civilian deaths later, with morgues filled with the bodies of children and the UN no longer able to care for the 25% of the Gaza Strip forced to flee from sectors of the Gaza Strip that resemble post-apocalyptic moonscapes, the Obama administration was at it again. As before, they blamed Hamas without the benefit of anything remotely resembling substantial evidence.

In turn, Washington provided political legitimacy to military operations aimed at an occupied and vulnerable civilian population with nowhere to flee, allowing the killing to continue unabated. Following the collapse of the cease-fire, Israel bombarded Rafah with US-supplied F-16’s and tank artillery, decimating the center of the city and killing over 70. At the time of publication, the death toll is rapidly rising.

Meanwhile, the talks scheduled to take place in Egypt over the next 72 hours seem to have fallen into shambles.

Obama has described the scenes of human misery pouring out of the Gaza Strip as “heartbreaking.” If only he and his administration had demanded evidence before enabling Israeli aggression, he might have been able to forgo the empty displays of hand-wringing. More importantly, hundreds of innocent lives might have been spared from a marauding army operating behind a shroud of impunity.

Israel Provoked This War


…as if you didn’t already know that?!?!?! This is par for the course type of behavior for one of the most ruthless governments known to civilized man.  It doesn’t belong among semitic peoples of the Middle East; rather it belongs among its colder hearted brethren of the European hinterlands who love war, destruction and genocide.  It has taken its playbook from Nazi Germany in the way it has systematically destroyed Palestinian hopes and aspirations for self-determination and to live in peace with its neighbors.  If it were any other country in the Middle East, America would have invaded Israel right now for its crimes against humanity conducted against the Palestinians. Saddam Hussein was guilty of far fewer atrocities and he was hung to the glee of the neocons of the Bush administration. Henry Siegman has written the brilliant, thought provoking piece below

There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

 The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.”

This is true of the latest cease-fire as well. According to Thrall, Hamas is now seeking through violence what it should have obtained through a peaceful handover of responsibilities. “Israel is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and waste sometimes floated in the streets.” It is not only Hamas supporters, but many Gazans, perhaps a majority, who believe it is worth paying a heavy price to change a disastrous status quo.

The answer to the second question — whether a less lethal course was not available to protect Israel’s civilian population — is (unintentionally?) implicit in the formulation of President Barack Obama’s defense of Israel’s actions: namely, the right and obligation of all governments to protect their civilian populations from assaults from across their borders.

But where, exactly, are Israel’s borders?

It is precisely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to identify those borders that placed Israel’s population at risk. And the reason he has refused to do that is because he did not want the world to know that he had no intention of honoring the pledge he made in 2009 to reach a two-state agreement with the Palestinians. The Road Map for Middle East peace that was signed by Israel, the PLO and the United States explicitly ruled out any unilateral alterations in the pre-1967 armistice lines that served as a border between the parties. This provision was consistently and blatantly violated by successive Israeli governments with their illegal settlement project. And Netanyahu refused to recognize that border as the starting point for territorial negotiations in the terms of reference proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry.

But on July 12, as noted in The Times of Israel by its editor, David Horovitz, Netanyahu made clear that he has no interest in a genuine two-state solution. As Horovitz puts it, “the uncertainties were swept aside … And nobody will ever be able to claim in the future that [Netanyahu] didn’t tell us what he really thinks. He made it explicitly clear that he could never, ever, countenance a fully sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank.” The IDF, Netanyahu said, would remain permanently in the West Bank. During the Kerry-sponsored negotiations, he rejected out of hand the American proposal that U.S. and international forces be stationed on the Israeli-Palestinian border, which he insisted would remain permanently under the IDF’s control. Various enclaves will comprise a new Palestinian entity, which Palestinians will be free to call a state. But sovereignty, the one element that defines self-determination and statehood, will never be allowed by Israel, he said.

Why will he not allow it? Why did he undermine Kerry’s round of peace talks? Why is he inciting against the Palestinian unity government? Why does he continue to expand illegal settlements in the West Bank, and why did he use the tragic kidnapping and killing of three Israelis as a pretext to destroy what institutional political (as opposed to military) presence of Hamas remained in the West Bank?

 He’s doing all of these things because, as suggested by Yitzhak Laor in Haaretz, he and his government are engaged in a frenzied effort to eliminate Palestinians as a political entity. Israel’s government is “intent on inheriting it all” by turning the Palestinian people into “a fragmented, marginalized people,” Laor writes. It is what the Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling described as “politicide” in a book by that name he wrote in 2006.

So exactly who is putting Israel’s population at risk? And what is Obama prepared to do about it?

I’m sure the president’s political advisers are telling him that a congressional election year is not the time to take on the Israel lobby. They are wrong, not only because it is always election time in the United States, but because successive polls have established that American Jews vote constantly and overwhelmingly Democratic for a wide variety of domestic and international reasons, but support for Netanyahu’s policies is not one of them.

And if the president wishes to convince Israelis and Palestinians that Israeli-Palestinian peace is a cause worth taking risks for, should he not be willing to take some domestic political risks as well?

 

 

Debunking Israeli myths/lies


A well written article appears here about Israeli talking points and how they have been proven to no where approach  reality.  It’s still strange to see, hear spokes people for the Israeli government parroting these lies although they know they’ve been proven untrue.  Perhaps they’re banking on most people not knowing about what’s written below:

Palestinians just endured an exceptionally brutal weekend: In Gaza, the death toll crossed the appalling benchmark of 1,000, overwhelmingly civilians. In the West Bank, Israeli soldiers and settlers also killed at least nine Palestinians amid protests against the devastation of Gaza. I recently debunked Israel’s misleading “human shields” argument attempting to deflect responsibility for the killing of hundreds of Palestinian civilians; but more important to expose is the false narrative of how we found ourselves in this crisis and who is responsible for its perpetuation.

Invisible Bias

For most media outlets, the current crisis began with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. This is, of course, an arbitrary starting point. Just one day before the kidnappings, a Palestinian man and a 10-year-old child were killed in Gaza by an Israeli airstrike. Why wasn’t that the starting point of the violence? Has the media internalized Israel’s narrative to such an extent that they only see Israel as “responding” to violence rather than initiating it?

Israel initially blamed Hamas for the teens’ kidnapping, and “responded” by going on aviolent rampage in the West Bank, invading homes, killing demonstrators, and arresting hundreds of Palestinians, including 60 Hamas members who had been freed in an earlier prisoner swap. Imagine the opposite scenario for a moment:  When Israeli troops were caught on tape killing unarmed Palestinian teens just a few weeks before the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, imagine if Hamas responded by invading Israeli homes, shooting Israeli demonstrators and kidnapping hundreds of Israeli troops. Would media outlets cover such actions with the same sympathy and understanding afforded to Israel’s actions?

Hamas, Rockets and Kidnappings

We hear a lot about how many rockets Hamas fired, but rarely in a proper timeline. Hamas had been strictly observing a cease-fire agreement since it was brokered in 2012, and was even arresting Palestinian militants from rival factions who fired rockets at Israel as recently as last month. Hamas ultimately did resume firing rockets into Israel, but only after the massive crackdown Israel initiated against Hamas in the West Bank (and by some accounts, even after an Israeli airstrike on Gaza).

And it turns out the initial crackdown against Hamas was also without basis. Israeli officials now acknowledge, in direct contradiction to statements by Israel’s prime minister, that Hamas was actually not responsible for the kidnappings of the three Israeli teens after all. And this is not just a realization Israel made over the weekend: Israeli intelligence officers reportedly noted as early as June 30 that there was no evidence implicating Hamas as an organization.

Why Now?

Since Hamas did not initiate this confrontation, the question remains: Why did Israel pick this fight with them now? The answer requires a bit of context: For more than two decades, Palestinians and Israelis have been engaged in a so-called peace process, which aims to establish a Palestinian state on the occupied territories, the small areas from which Israel is legally required to withdraw. But that peace process failed time and again because Israel was never serious about allowing a viable Palestinian state to exist, and insisted on swallowing up more and more Palestinian land through relentlesssettlement expansion, in direct violation of international law. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu candidly (though only in Hebrew) ruled out the possibility of allowing a sovereign Palestinian state to exist.

But because global perceptions are important, Israel is always looking for a way to deflect responsibility for the failure of the peace process onto the Palestinians. One of the talking points used to that end is the claim that there is “no partner for peace” on the Palestinian side because the leadership was divided. So when Hamas and the Palestinian Authority agreed to end their division in recent months, Netanyahu’s government freaked out and demanded Western governments boycott the new united Palestinian leadership. When, to Netanyahu’s bitter disappointment, the U.S. insisted on dealing with the new Palestinian government anyway, Israel seems to have opted for a direct confrontation with Hamas to break up the unity government. One can see the cynical exploitation of the teens’ kidnapping to this end simply by looking at theJerusalem Post headline, which reads: “Netanyahu to Kerry: PA’s Hamas-backed unity government to blame for missing teens.” Evidence for this sort of nonsense, of course, is nowhere to be seen.

Occupation and Self-Defense

Beyond the tit-for-tat of “who started it” many are busy debating, it is crucial to emphasize that Israel has illegally occupied the Palestinian territories for many decades, is actively engaging in land theft through illegal settlement expansion, and is imposing a system of apartheid. Under those circumstances, Israel’s very posture is offensive, and it cannot claim to be engaging in “self-defense” against the very people whose land it has illegally usurped.

To personalize this for a moment, imagine a bully sitting on a smaller child, and every time someone objects to the fact that the bully is beating the smaller child with an iron rod, the bully exclaims, “Well, he tried to slap me, so I was forced to defend myself.” No, you can’t claim that you’re beating the smaller child with an iron rod in self-defense, especially when you can end the entire confrontation simply by getting off him. Back to the political reality, Norman Finkelstein put it best: “The refrain that Israel has the right to self-defense is a red herring: the real question is, does Israel have the right to use force to maintain an illegal occupation? The answer is no.”

Israel’s Message to Palestinians

When you take into account everything I mentioned so far, you begin to realize that the ubiquitous talking point “Israel was forced to defend itself from Hamas rockets” is wrong on three counts: 1) This round of violence did not start with Hamas rockets; 2) Israel was not “forced” into this confrontation; and 3) Israel as the occupying power is certainly not “defending” itself.

Under these circumstances, the atrocious bombing of Gaza and the killing of hundreds of civilians makes clear that Israel’s message to Palestinians is this: You will live under our boot, occupied, besieged, dispossessed and humiliated without any semblance of freedom. On occasion, we may even go on a violent rampage against you, but you better not respond. Because if any of you ever dare respond to our violence with violence, we will be forced to “defend ourselves” by using our overwhelming military might to beat your entire society into submission.

Ending the Violence

By now, you’ve probably heard news outlets accuse both Israel and Hamas, on alternating occasions, of rejecting cease-fire proposals. The accusations against both are true, and this merely has to do with the terms of each proposal: Israel wants a cease-fire that effectively ends the fighting while allowing Israel to keep its boot on Gaza’s neck. Hamas, on the other hand, insists on some humanitarian conditions, including ending the siege and economic suffocation of Gaza, the introduction of international peacekeeping forces at Gaza’s borders, and the freeing of prisoners rounded up in recent weeks, many held without charge or trial.

Whatever cease-fire terms end up being accepted by both sides will only matter in the short term. In the long term, only true justice (an end to Israel’s occupation and apartheid) can end this conflict. Here, the responsibility of American citizens is paramount: If we can end our government’s unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel’s most destructive policies, or condition such support on Israel abiding by its legal and moral obligations, we can begin to work toward that real justice all Israelis and Palestinians deserve.

Omar Baddar is a Middle East political analyst based in Washington, DC. You can follow him on Twitter at @OmarBaddar

 

 

Israeli hypocrisy


Israeli chutzpah is always amusing if not absolutely puzzling.  Take this latest Israeli reaction to what took place recently in France and France’s reaction  when European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton speaking at a conference on Palestinian refugees in Brussels on Monday, hours after the attack in Toulouse, France where 4 French Jews were killed, said this:

….The Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy, and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world — we remember young people and children who lose their lives.

…which apparently drove the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu to the limits of hyperbole

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that he was “infuriated” by what he called “the comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli military that he said were “intended to hit terrorists who use children as a human shield.”

I guess he forgot his own history in regards to human shields.But what’s even more appalling is the inability of Netanyahu to empathize with even the children of Gazan who he has had a hand in slaughtering or imprisoning.

A new, important yet disturbing report published on Tuesday by Defence for Children International – Palestine section has found that Israel’s routine arrests, detentions, interrogations, abuses and torture of Palestinian children are in breach of various UN and international laws, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, all of which have been ratified by Israel.

This is strangely reminiscent of America’s disregard for the conventions against torture that it signed and then reneged on during the Iraq war. Despite Netanyahu’s protestations in some ways he is correct.  There is no moral equivalence between the act of a single gunman and the wholesale slaughter of civilians by a military equipped with some of the most lethal weapons known to mankind. In fact, what the Israeli military has done in the name of wiping out terrorism is to institute terror on innocents on a scale unparalleled in modern warfare.  It’s like shooting fish in a barrel; imprisoning a population within well defined borders, not letting anything in or out except at the discretion of the Israeli government, the penalty for any transgression no matter how small or well intended being death and unleashing a military juggernaut against such a population whenever the national angst calls for it is no less than a crime against humanity…..all of humanity, which pales in comparison to the shooting deaths of four people by a madman on the streets that the victims felt comfortable traveling.  The citizens of Gaza have no such reassurance of safety on their streets.  Netanyahu is spared these images or ignores them; you shouldn’t be.But let’s just assume for the sake of argument that Netanyahu is correct and there is no comparison between what happened in France and what is happening on a regular basis in Gaza and the West Bank  (The latest Israeli strike has killed at least 23 people, some of them the children that Netanyahu scoffs at the mention of killing.) and that his cause is a noble one, ridding his country and the world of terrorists, then such logic must be extended to an insane gunman, Muhammad Merah who it is claimed acted in defense of those very Palestinian children killed by Netanyahu and ignored by the rest of the world.  Merah claims he was acting out of a sense of  justice for those innocents killed by Israel.  Acting without drones, satellite tracking or special weapons and tactics, Merah sought to bring to justice those people he felt were responsible for murdering Palestinians children in much the same way  Netanyahu slaughters people in the name of his justice.  The difference is the acceptance of the doctrine that Palestinians are terrorists and Jews are victims of their terror.  Merah’s rational, in that context, will never be acceptable to a free thinking  populace.  The fact that Netanyahu’s explanation is accepted means that in many ways we, especially those of us in the West, are NOT free to form an opinion vis-a-vis Israel’s abuse of human rights due to the lack of information and/or the slant and way it is given us…offering us no chance to form an unbiased opinion of it.  That perhaps is the biggest crime of all.

Positive Results from the Arab Spring


One of the biggest world wide problems has been how to bring peace to the Middle East and especially to the Holy Lands of the Fertile Crescent.  Parties on both sides of the conflict have obfuscated their goals and concerns, which has only led to slaughter and conflict for almost a century.  One of the points of contention has been what Israel claims is Palestinians refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to cease hostilities towards the Jewish state.

All of the Palestinian parties have met those conditions, except one, Hamas….so claim the Israelis, and now they too might have come around.

Jane’s, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on “the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel.” Jane’s, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not “tactical” but “strategic.” Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas’s strategy was “gradual and nuanced,” with one senior officer telling Jane’s that Hamas “intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis.” The interviewees’ names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.

I urge every subscriber to Jane’s to read that groundbreaking piece of reporting because, even if it is not publicly confirmed yet by Hamas’s leadership, it has all the makings of a fascinating story which I am positive will generate an intense debate not only in the Arab world and Israel but also in Washington and other Western capitals. The story is starting to get serious attention in the international press with the Financial Times, Sydney Herald Tribune and other media outlets covering it.

The report, written by my friend and colleague David Hartwell, Jane’s Middle East and Islamic affairs editor, argues that the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising. More directly, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey reportedly played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with its historical rival Fatah and end armed resistance against Israel. Hartwell writes that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted “in writing with a signature” the need to embrace peaceful activism. And if this is not controversial enough, echoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun, Hamas’s leadership also told Jane’s that it will be “downgrading its ties with Syria and Iran and forge new relationships with Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey.”

In some ways, perhaps, this development could have been foreseen. Even the most ideological and stubborn actors in the Middle East have been forced to adjust to the new political realities created by the Arab uprising. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for example, has been feeling increasingly vulnerable and isolated lately because of the escalating civil conflict in Syria and the threat that poses to its ally, the Syrian regime. Hezbollah recently made significant concessions at home, including its approval of funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon—an entity that Hezbollah’s leadership for years had viewed as a tool used by Israel and the United States to defeat it. Other signs of Hezbollah’s contemplation of life after Syrian president Bashar Assad include its decision to move most of its military hardware that has been stored in Syria back to areas under its control inside Lebanon, including the South and the Bekaa.

Yet despite its evident tactical adjustments, Hezbollah hasn’t suggested any intent to disarm, forge new strategic alliances or end its military struggle against Israel. In fact, in a rare public appearance this month, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared that his party will remain defiant, side with Assad’s Syria and never relinquish its arms. If Hamas, an ally of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran (the so-called Resistance Axis), truly intends to reinvent itself, that would be a historic development with massive political and security implications not just for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also for the whole of Middle East politics.

There are numerous questions surrounding Hamas’s reported decision, the most obvious being why it could have possibly adopted such a stance. It is one thing to say that Hamas felt motivated and/or pressured by Turkey, Egypt and Qatar to renounce violence. But it takes much more for an organization to abandon everything it has stood for and create for itself a new identity. After all, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have tried countless times in the past to shape Hamas and lure it, with financial and political rewards, to leave the pro-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah camp and give up armed struggle. The strategy did not work simply because Hamas felt it had much more to lose than gain. The Resistance Axis was always on the rise, especially after the 2003 Iraq war as Iran and Syria gained influence in the region at the expense of their rivals.

No more. Today, with Iran feeling more cornered by the international community (minus Russia and China) than ever because of its controversial nuclear program and with Syria’s regime fighting an existential battle against its own people, the balance of power is shifting in the Middle East, and this has not gone unnoticed by Hamas. It is foolish to deny that Hamas’s decisions and behavior have been partly driven by ideological convictions and motivations, but it is also wrong to argue the organization has not acted rationally, based on material interest. The decision it reportedly has currently taken may be further proof of that.

While it is important to remember that Hamas’s leadership has not gone public with its decision, it is worth noting that the majority of its external political staff has already evacuated Damascus, where it has a key office managed by Meshal. Their next destination is likely to be Cairo and Doha, where leaders there have committed to sponsoring the movement politically and financially. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas has refused to say publicly that it is siding with the Syrian regime, a move that has angered not only the Syrian leadership but also the mullahs in Tehran—causing them, according to Jane’s and other sources, to stop providing financial assistance. With money drying up and winds of change rocking the region, it is no wonder Hamas was fed up with Syria and Iran. One also cannot exclude the sectarian underpinnings of Hamas’s decision. While Hamas never allowed its religious identity—Sunni—to prevent it from forming necessary and strategic alliances with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, the party is pragmatic enough to realize that positioning itself against the Sunni Islamist tide that is currently sweeping the region (in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, possibly Syria and elsewhere) is against its long-term interests. Having operated in the Iranian strategic orbit in the past, Hamas might now wish to embrace its old identity as a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas’s decision, if real, will take time to implement. Since its founding in 1987, the organization’s bread-and-butter stance has been armed resistance coupled with terrorist activity. Should Hamas’s leadership publicly state its new strategy, the first thing it will have to do is come up with a new charter as evidence to the world that its move is not propaganda. The organization will also need substantial help from Arab countries and others interested in such a development. The world, including the United States, will not accept Hamas’s transformation if it is half-hearted. In other words, Hamas will have to integrate its military into the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in order to get the attention and support it desires.

The implications of such a Hamas decision could be huge. Theoretically, it will create a united Palestinian front. In other words, there would be few divisions within Palestinian society to inhibit progress in negotiations with the Israelis, a major boost for the Palestinian cause. Two things remain unclear, however: how Hamas’s constituency and Israel would deal with this massive shift. It is not unreasonable to assume that Hamas would not make such a dramatic move without testing the waters and feeling the mood in the Palestinian street. Hamas knows its constituency well enough to realize that the costs it might suffer as a result of such a decision are likely to be tolerable. Furthermore, Hamas’s support base is not necessarily ideological. Many credible polls suggest that those who have voted for Hamas over the past few years have done so out of pragmatic reasons and anger toward Fatah for its governmental failures. As far as Israel is concerned, the suspicion is that moderates and those truly committed to peace and a two-state solution will be supportive of Hamas’s transformation. The hard-liners will remain critical and will always find an excuse to object. Marking its twenty-fourth anniversary this week, Hamas leaders did not even hint that they may switch strategy. They insisted instead that they will never recognize Israel. For Israeli hard-liners, this is reason enough to remain skeptical of any move by Hamas.

If Hamas actually seeks to pursue such a decision, the United States will be confronted with a crucial choice. It can lend its verbal and material support for the move and cite its concerns and reservations. Or it can stand against it and endorse whatever the Israeli government says and does on the matter. Hence, a large onus likely will rest on Washington as well as on Hamas.

Despite these hopeful pronouncements, Israel is still belligerent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Sunday on the recent moves by Fatah and Hamas to set up a unity government, saying that Israel would not negotiate with the Palestinians should such a government be established.

“If Hamas joins the Palestinian government we will not hold negotiations with the Palestinian Authority,” said Netanyahu in a speech at a conference for Israeli ambassadors.

So it would appear, despite claims to the contrary, Israel is the impediment to peace in the region.  Because it is the most well equipped militarily and the most aggressive in incursions onto its neighbors territories, one should expect there will be more bloodshed and death at the hands of this recalcitrant US ally.

Beware False Prophets


Julian Assange at New Media Days 09 in Copenhagen.

Image via Wikipedia

Wikileaks and Julian Assange have generated a media frenzy with its release of secret documents which detail the machinations of countries, diplomacy and war and in the process angered a lot of people, especially those here in the US.  What isn’t so well known is how easily Wikileaks and Assange himself have been co-opted by the government of Israel.  Take a look.

A number of commentators, particularly in Turkey and Russia, have been wondering why the hundreds of thousands of American classified documents leaked by the website last month did not contain anything that may embarrass the Israeli government, like just about every other state referred to in the documents. The answer appears to be a secret deal struck between the WikiLeaks “heart and soul”, as Assange humbly described himself once [1], with Israeli officials, which ensured that all such documents were ‘removed’ before the rest were made public.

According to an Arabic investigative journalism website [2], Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a “secret, video-recorded agreement,” not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.

The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange’s “autocratic leadership” and “lack of transparency.”

In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers’ platform to fulfil WikiLeaks’s original aim of “limitless file sharing.” [3]

Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days ‘Inside WikiLeaks’, accuses Assange of acting as a “king” against the will of others in the organisation by “making deals” with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about. [4]

Furthermore, Assange’s eagerness for headline-grabbing scoops meant that WikiLeaks had not been able to ‘restructure’ itself to cope with this surge of interest, insiders add. This has meant that smaller leaks, which might be of interest to people at a local level, are now being overlooked for the sake of big stories. [5]

According to the Al-Haqiqa sources, Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.

Indeed, the published documents seem to have a ‘gap’ stretching over the period of July – September 2006, during which the 33-day Lebanon war took place. Is it possible that US diplomats and officials did not have any comments or information to exchange about this crucial event but spent their time ‘gossiping’ about every other ‘trivial’ Middle-Eastern matter?

Following the leak (and even before), Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press conference that Israel had “worked in advance” to limit any damage from leaks, adding that “no classified Israeli material was exposed by WikiLeaks.” [6] In an interview with the Time magazine around the same time, Assange praised Netanyahu as a hero of transparency and openness! [7]

According to another report [8], a left-leaning Lebanese newspaper had met with Assange twice and tried to negotiate a deal with him, offering “a big amount of money”, in order to get hold of documents concerning the 2006 war, particularly the minutes of a meeting held at the American embassy in Beirut on 24th July 2006, which is widely considered as a ‘war council’ meeting between American, Israeli and Lebanese parties that played a role in the war again Hizbullah and its allies. The documents the Al-Akhbar editors received, however, all date to 2008 onwards and do not contain “anything of value,” the sources confirm. This only goes to support the Israel deal allegations.

Finally, it might be worth pointing out that Assange might have done what he is alleged to have done in order protect himself and ensure that the leaked documents are published so as to expose the American hypocrisy, which he is said to be obsessed with “at the expense of more fundamental aims.”

Why the outrage?


Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia

Image via Wikipedia

It appears Eric Cantor’s declaration to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Republican Party would, in essence, stand with Israel against the President of the United States has become somewhat of a news item.

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

I like the one party rule reference, because in a way, the Republicans have  done nothing but obstruct the Democratic party’s initiatives since Obama came to office.  Remember, their stated policy/political goal, or rather as stated by Mitch O’Connell is to see that Obama is a one term president, so anything they can do to make him ineffective and look bad, is a plus for them!  But what is also obvious is the “talking point” of mutual reliance.

Despite the fact that America has lived as an independent country far longer than Israel, it appears we cannot live without them any longer; our survival depends on whether Israel survives goes the rational and no one seems to find that insulting.  What is apparent is that the Republican Party will magnify, out do the Democrats in pursuing the Israel agenda in Washington to the extent of becoming a lobbying agent for the government of Israel.  Those efforts at appealing to Israeli leadership most probably will include more wars of aggression against Israeli enemies, who are presently not ours, at the expense of the American economy and lives; already several Republican party members since the elections a few short weeks ago have called  for military action against Iran, while the Israeli economy prospers at the expense of America’s.

But what is truly pathetic about all the hoopla about Cantor’s remarks is the false indignation it has  raised. Cantor has indeed done something he and his Party once criticized those outside his Party for doing during the Bush years, but ever since Obama’s coming to power, the Republicans have taken unprincipled stands against this present Administration in attempts to score political points and the future  indicates the same strategy will prevail.  Let us not forget who Eric Cantor is.  He is quite comfortable with lying to suit his political agendas and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again for Israel which holds a special place in American politics.  She is able to carry out the most egregious crimes in our name yet still command, nay demand rapt attention from American politicians and dismissal for her illegal activity, as well as the full faith and backing of America’s financial institutions.  If you ask me, that’s where our outrage should be directed.  Cantor is just one of many in the political system who’ve taken us down that road.  Shame on him, yes, but shame on us for ignoring the bigger picture!

Foot in mouth award


Shimon Peres is the latest Israeli leader to be awarded.  Earlier, while Benjamin Netanyahu in an equally disgusting show of contempt for the people who make it possible for Israel to exist made disparaging remarks against America which didn’t even cause a ripple stateside, Peres’ remarks about British politicians being anti-semitic caused more of a firestorm in England.  Americans are so used to being bitch slapped by Israel we just sit back and take the abuse dished out by our scorned lover, but the British who practically gave Palestine to Europe’s Jewish community took umbrage at Peres’ remarks so much so that he had to deny he ever made them.

Peres’ initial remarks that he now denies making, included references to the influence of Muslims on British policy, as if influencing the policy of a government  is something Israel would never do to any western ally, but it clearly shows the Israeli government’s attacks on Islam extend far beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank.  It didn’t help Peres that the Tablet confirmed his remarks and the reasons behind them while he was trying to deny them, the fact is his denial is a lie.

This illustrates two things common in both Netanyahu and Peres’ attitude.  First they are extremely manipulative of western governments by asserting  Israel is a victim in the ongoing battles with its neighbors in which Israel is always the aggressor and second they are scornful of their state sponsors, who have all but guaranteed their existence at the expense of Israel’s neighbors, by even refusing to acknowledge this support, usually undertaken  at great expense to sponsor states but little or no expense to Israel.  The recipients of this award  for a baffling comment by a public figure goes to both Peres and Netanyahu.  Please don’t congratulate them.

Israeli hysteria at a press story? Say it ain’t so!


Palestinian_The European press likes to rattle the nerves of semites, Arab, Israeli, Jew, or Muslim.  We all know how the Dannish cartoons of the Prophet of God caused a big reaction in the Muslim world at a cost of world wide derision because for some reason or another people aren’t supposed to get upset about the insults hurled at their religious figures especially when done by members of the press.  The publication of the cartoons was done twice for maximum exposure to the Muslim world and the expected ridicule which they faced because of actions of their world wide protests.  However, the international community was told how what the Danish newspaper did was a free press issue and in order to be citizens of the 21st century this is the kind of exposure one should expect by a press whose job it is to reveal and expose issues to its readers no matter how inflammatory they may be or who gets upset in the process.

Well that pesky European press is at it again, and this time the Israeli semites are in its cross hairs and they are as mad as the Muslims ever were.  In fact, so mad they claim the article in question ‘shames Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press’. Interesting reference to “democracy” wouldn’t you say?  I wonder what does Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor mean when he says an article in a free press Swedish newspaper “shames democracy”?  Ignoring the story, the Israeli government’s reaction has been to call the offending paper names and refer to a centuries old stereotype of Gentile blood sacrifice at the hands of Jews….dark blood libels from medieval times is how it was put by the Israeli spokesman, and perhaps they have a right to be angry, but where are all the calls for a free and independent media whose job it is to assess information and report it whether you like it or not.  What about the old saying, ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’, and there’s plenty of smoke surrounding the sale of organs at the hands  of Jews and Israeli-Americans who claim to have organ donors from Israel.

Responsible journalism is a lot different from a free press.  The latter sometimes is a double edged sword as the Israelis have come to find out but it is the very basis of journalism.  Responsible press is the epitome of journalism and a lot harder to find; we should insist on it, but not count on it.  The Israelis are now complaining against the very thing which they have relied on for so long to forward their disinformation, or yellow journalism, and which during the Danish cartoon fiasco they so highly touted.  Israeli hypocrisy can be seen from a mile away.  Despite their protestations, like everybody else, they’re gonna’ have to sit and bear it and see if the market place of ideas is their enemy or their friend.  Welcome to the world of European journalism; a must in today’s world.  Now, take that!

Israel’s free fall descent into chaos


It’s not a pretty sight, and there are still years to go before Israel hits rock bottom and it’s people scattered, once again, into the Diaspora, despite their ‘never again’ cries; what precipitated it all was the enabling done by Israel’s allies.  We just couldn’t say no to them at all.  We didn’t even say no once, and like most other spoiled children who always get their way, Israel has become a sociopath nation without boundaries that wanders around looking for prey to attack so that it can call itself a victim.

It’s not enough that we’ve seen and heard the racist diatribe spew from the mouths of their youth, no doubt picked up at the dinner table from their parents.  Or that the average Israeli intimidates, bullies, assaults and defames all those who even  remotely disagree with them about the slightest little thing.   Or that they continuously violate international law and treaties regarding the occupied territories.  (Why is there any discussion about a two state solution, when that is the ONLY alternative since 1948?)  Now comes word that even Israeli politicians have drunk the Kool-Aide and are dangerously close to becoming psychotic and international pariahs.

First off, look at what this Likud party member says about what the Israeli relationship should be with the US.  Before you go and say this guy is the fringe, guess again.  Some say he’s the left leaning side of Likud, but what really caught my attention is he is a cabinet  member  without portfolio……the same designation and party of one Ariel Sharon after the disaster in Lebanon, called Sabra and Shatilla,  so many years ago.

In the 11-page letter, obtained by The Jerusalem Post from a minister on Monday, Peled recommends steps Israel can take to compensate for the shift in American policy, which he believes has become hostile to Israel.

“Obama’s ascendance represents a turning point in America’s approach to the region, especially to Israel,” he wrote in the letter. “The new administration believes that in order to fight terror, guarantee stability and withdraw from Iraq, a new diplomatic slant is needed involving drastic steps to pacify the Muslim world and the adoption of a more balanced approach to Israel, including intensive pressure to stop building in settlements, remove outposts and advance the formation of a Palestinian state.”

Peled added that faced with an American government with an activist agenda that does not mesh with Israel’s, traditional reactions are no longer relevant. He said he expected that Obama would eventually realize that appeasement and dialogue with countries that support terror would not have positive results.

But in the interim, the minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.

Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America’s competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing.

In what may be his most controversial suggestion, Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama and asking American Jewish donors not to contribute to Democratic congressional candidates. He predicted that this would result in Democratic candidates pressuring Obama to become more pro-Israel.

Peled called for the formation of a new body intended to influence American public opinion. The groups he suggests courting include Hispanic Americans and Labor unions in industries that benefit from Israeli military acquisitions.

I would like to see Israel boycott American military hardware, and the American dollars they are given to buy that hardware.  Unfortunately, Mr. Peled thinks he is entitled to the latter and too many in American government agree with him.  I also note the centuries old conflict still being played out in the halls of political zionism which seeks to associate Islam with extremism in order to reduce its exposure to a western audience.  As you can see there’s a lot wrong with his wish list, but the one thing I find most egregious is his apparent attempt to use one group of Americans against another, a dressed up form of divide and conquer, to incite a race/class war or divide in the American body politic.  Does anyone else see something wrong with that?  American history is full of the struggle this country has gone through in accommodating, many times very poorly, the different races and ethnically diverse groups  on our shores, and with great human sacrifice; for someone to say that is worth exploiting for another country’s benefit is akin to sedition.  I hope Mr. Peled is on the Homeland Security Department’s no fly list because he should never step foot on American soil with that idea in mind.  The rest of the article is full of political zionist angst and sadly pathetic, but worth the read, in my opinion.

Meanwhile Benjamin Netanyahu has also joined the ranks of the “brain damaged” with his rant about self-hating American Jews.  You know where he’s going with that right?  Miscellany101 already mentioned how many Israelis expect American Jews to be subservient to Israeli interests even when they are at odds with American interests, and if they aren’t well then they get labeled the next worse label after anti-semite that political zionists can hurl at them, which is self-hating!

Netanyahu appears to be suffering from confusion and paranoia. He is convinced that the media are after him, that his aides are leaking information against him and that the American administration wants him out of office. Two months after his visit to Washington, he is still finding it difficult to communication normally with the White House. To appreciate the depth of his paranoia, it is enough to hear how he refers to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s senior aides: as “self-hating Jews.”


Notice the reference to the lack of mental stability and this is who the Israelis voted for just six short months or so ago, which suggests to me a national sickness or mental illness. The bunker like mentality of Netanyahu is also a throwback to, and here it comes y’all, the days of Hitler, hunkering down in his bunker/tomb with the illusion of running a country that was in reality falling down around him. The falling down part is not what’s happening to Israel at the moment….it’s too early for that to happen, but the process has started and we who have said “yes” too often are to blame. One can only hope that as Israel continues its free fall, her  enablers don’t go down with the ship.

Hilarious


I was doing some surfing early today and ran across this article and laughed until tears ran down my face.  As an American, I simply don’t see how anyone could propose this with a straight face,  and its merely being stated is a sure sign the Israelis are NOT interested in peace.

A week after President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world, Netanyahu said the Palestinian state would have to be unarmed and recognize Israel as the Jewish state — a condition amounting to Palestinian refugees giving up the goal of returning to Israel.

With those conditions, he said, he could accept “a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state.”

That’s kinda like me telling my neighbor, I’ll accept him living next to me if he just turns in his firearms, because only I have a right to own them.  It’s not happening….and with such foolish conditions, neither will peace in the Middle East.  The Palestinians have practically given in to the other terms in the above quote; the right to self-defense would surely be the final nail in their coffin.  Accepting it would only realize the holocaust political zionism wants to impose on the people who occupy the land.

Netanyahu whines


Of course that’s the way it’s portrayed to the West, but we all know, Netanyahu threatened, but the essence of what happened is this:

after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton’s call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, “What the hell do they want from me?”

For starters Ben, how about respecting the territorial integrity of your neighbors and cease and desist from IAF overflights of Lebanese airspace?  In fact, gearing up for another war, Israel has threatened to attack Hizbollah forces, read Lebanese Hizbollah forces, on Lebanese soil if they attempt to defend themselves from such Israeli aggression!  Talk about chutzpah.

Meanwhile, since the US president has stated he would like to see a cessation of settlement activity in the West Bank, he should make it conditional on the uninterrupted flow of US aid in dollars and materiel to Israel.  If they want to keep it, they have to give up settlement expansion. Perhaps Israel thinks the American empire is in decline and cannot make such demands on them, which accounts for their refusal to entertain the idea of halting settlement growth.  The message to Netanyahu is ‘if you want your settlements, you build them with your own dime, or shekel as it were, but not with US tax payer dollars’. The US economy could certainly use the money it gives in aid to Israel to strengthen not only our own economy, but our backbone when it comes to dealing with the recalcitrant Israelis as well.  Are you listening Mr. President?

Another in your face moment, brought to you by the Likudiniks


The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin  Netanyahu visited the US this week amid all sorts of speculation surrounding the US/Israeli “special relationship”.  One thing is certain, despite all the talk of “change” coming to Washington, Israel still runs the show when it comes to US foreign policy, and especially policy regarding the Middle East.  Casting all doubts whether the current Israeli government is for a two state solution, which Obama has said he favors, Netanyahu’s visit came on the eve of the announcement Israel was going to expand settlements in the West Bank which goes to show you a US president can say whatever he wants but it has no basis in reality as far as Israel is concerned.  Take that, Obama!!

Israel Warns EU to tone down


Warnings usually accompany threats, as in ‘if you don’t stop doing this I’m going to do something in response’, so what is Israel’s warning of consequence?

Israel warned the European Union on Thursday to tone down its criticism of the new Israeli government or risk forfeiting the bloc’s role as broker in Mideast peace efforts.

So my question is what is it Israel can threaten the European Union with? Israeli military threats against Europe have been made before and with rabid Israeli politicians now in power, the implication of Israel’s warning is probably not lost on Europeans.  Also, Israel has never accepted the EU’s role as a peace broker, the latest Gaza offensive, is proof of that when the Israelis bombed, strafed and blocked aid supplies to Palestinians in Gaza which came from Europe.  What is really at stake here is Israeli access to European markets.  The Israelis want to ply their trade of espionage, industrial, political and military and they can’t do that now as easily as they can in the US.  Evidently old habits die hard in the relations between Europeans and Jews.

An expected move


The Israeli government has decided not to investigate the actions of its military in Gaza, despite  its earlier claims that it would.  So what else is new you ask?  Well Human Rights Watch has initiated an investigation of its own and it does confirm what was apparent to all who have eyes to see that Israel did use white phospherous against civilians during the Gaza campaign.  You can watch what HRW had to say in the video below.

Meanwhile the US continues its obsequious, servile behavior towards the Israeli government which boasts of having one of the strongest armies  in the world.  Evidently that is not enough to get the US to say to Israelis they’re on their own when it comes to Israeli military aggression, so Obama continues to pledge to defend Israel against its enemies.  Mind you Israel’s enemies are the ones it creates; most of its neighbors want peace with the Jewish state in exchange for recognition of their territorial sovereignty.  Even the Palestinians want peace, but as usual, that won’t suit the Israelis.

Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s new government will suspend negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on so-called “final-status” issues – the borders of a Palestinian state, the fate of Jewish settlements, Palestinian refugees and the city of Jerusalem – until the Palestinians take verifiable steps to end attacks against Israelis.

With the statement, the new Israeli government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed the policy of its predecessor, led by Ehud Olmert, which had been quietly attempting to negotiate a final settlement of the conflict with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the past 14 months.

It’s easy to see where this is going.  The expansionist policy of military aggression of the Israeli government is headed towards the West Bank and it won’t be long, months perhaps, before the Israeli government calls for war against all of what is left of Palestine.  Of course all of this will be done with the claim that Israel is under constant threat of extinction from its potent (not!) neighbors.

UPDATE:

The National Lawyers Guild has weighed in on what happened in Gaza, saying

Israel violated international law by targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, misusing weapons, deliberately denying medical care to the wounded and attacking medical personnel, the National Lawyers Guild Delegation to Gaza said today upon releasing a 37 page report containing new evidence on the facts surrounding Israel’s 22 day military offensive in Gaza. The full report can be viewed at www.nlg.org.
“Our findings join a growing chorus of voices—which include Israeli soldiers themselves—asserting that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians during the Gaza offensive,” said Radhika Sainath, one of the attorneys who initiated the seven-day fact-finding delegation to Gaza. “On a number of occasions, Israeli soldiers shot and killed young children as well as unarmed civilians holding white flags—both violations of the laws of war.”

The Delegation also uncovered evidence of Israeli soldiers using Palestinians as human shields, acts that constitute war crimes, as well as evidence that the Israeli military targeted civilian infrastructure and grossly misused weapons. Further, Israel denied the wounded access to medical care and routinely fired on emergency medical teams attempting to reach those in need of help. Paramedics and doctors reported to the Delegation that many civilians could have been saved if the Israeli army allowed Palestinian medical services access to the wounded. “On one occasion, when Israeli forces did allow Palestinian medical services to enter an area after four days, soldiers prohibited their ambulances from approaching and paramedics were forced to pile the injured on donkey carts,” reported Reem Salahi, a California-based civil rights attorney. “Medical workers were then forced to pull the carts to their ambulances two kilometers away.”

Is it any wonder that Israel has stopped its own investigation; it would incontrovertibly  point to IDF culpability in criminal acts.  I don’t know why that bothers Israeli officials; for the moment no matter what they do, or what evidence points to they are able to continue to demand and receive US aid which allows them to perpetuate these acts of violence and aggression.  With willing accomplices in the US media any investigation, including the ones mentioned in this post, would be ignored and/or not reported.  In fact conducting an investigation even if it points to Israeli guilt would be a feather in their cap….it would point to some sort of transparency.  However, the frame of mind of the Israeli government is they are not accountable to any authority, and thus no need for such an investigation on their part.  It is the height of hubris.  Let’s hope it is the pride that precedes Israel’s fall.

Zionism is the problem


The political movement which asserts the supremacy of Israeli Jews over all others will lead the world into another world war, so it is that the editorial below which appeared in the Los Angeles Times is a particularly good one beckoning the world to take heed of this problem and solve it.  Several bloggers have mentioned the editorial below but it wasn’t until I read it in its entirety that I felt it was worth mentioning here at Miscellany101.  It is rather long, so I’ll excerpt it but strongly encourage everyone who reads this post to go to the link and read it.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable two-state solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have methodically diminished the viability of a Palestinian state. Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has even refused to endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which suggests an immediate future of more of the same: more settlements, more punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single, secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas’ ideal of Islamic rule. Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was guaranteed. What precise shape such a state would take — a strict, vote-by-vote democracy or a more complex federalist system — would involve years of painful negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world, particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.

It’s not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, “turn justice into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground.”

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of justice that date back to Jeremiah.

America’s Iran jones


What is it with US policy makers that they have to go off and antagonize Iran at every chance they get, even when it’s not necessary?  Two threads have appeared in news stories today centered around Iran with this trend as if to anticipate and undermine what Obama is going to say in a letter he’s putting together to send to that country’s leaders.

Before getting onto those two themes, let me say I’ve always been distressed at how government has this seamy undercurrent that works to under cut what official Washington is doing, and both the official and unofficial seem to like the give and take in this relationship of setting, revising, ignoring, cancelling policy.  It would seem to me once you get  your marching orders from the CiC you take them and run with them, not go off and rub his nose in them with your own pronouncements, but that’s what it seems Robert Gates, Defense Secretary has done.

When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard-line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.

In his Senate armed services committee testimony Tuesday, Gates said Iran was “opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on.” Gates offered no further explanation for what sounded like a Cold War-era propaganda charge against the Soviet Union.

Gates has made no secret of his skepticism about any softening of U.S. policy toward Iran. In response to a question at the National Defense University last September on how he would advise the next president to improve relations with Iran, Gates implicitly rejected what he called “outreach” to Iran as useless.

Gates’ 1992 sabotage of the Bush plan for reciprocating Iran goodwill relied in part on making public charges against Iran that created a more unfavorable political climate in Washington for such a policy.

It will be interesting to see what Obama’s reaction to all this political posturing Gates is making so early in the Administration’s efforts towards rapprochement with Iran. We will  be able to take measure of Obama depending on his response; if he lets Gates continue with his “subversive” activity he can be viewed as a weak President undeserving of a second term, the nation’s trust, or respect of his “underlings”.  If he kicks Gates out so soon after asking him to stay on as Defense Secretary he’ll find himself facing criticism for not being a stable administrator or able to hold his people in check, preferring to give in to his impetuous side and getting rid of them whimsically.  The perfect damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The second salvo against Obama comes from of all places the Likud party’s boisterous and wrong Benjamin Netanyahu who says the Iranian nuclear weapons are more a problem than the global economy.  Netanyahu is great for hyperbole, probably something he picked up as a result of his public school education in Cheltenham, Pa. back in the day.  This we expect from Bibi who likes to somehow challenge the masculinity of America’s leaders by questioning their ability to take on his enemies for his benefit.  Using his typical adroit slight of foot maneuvers he turns everything that has to deal with anything into Iranian nukes.

Asked about achieving peace in Gaza, Netanyahu swiftly turned his answer to Iran, which he said is in a “100-yard dash” to get nuclear weapons.

*snip*

“We have had two wars with two Iranian proxies in two years and Persia has now two bases on the eastern Mediterranean,” said Netanyahu, referring to this month’s brutal fighting in Gaza against Hamas and Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“I think we are going to have to deal with neutralizing the power of the mother regime,” he said. “The Hamas stronghold would be about as important, if Iranian power was neutralized, as Cuba was when the Soviet Union became irrelevant.”

What Netanyahu doesn’t tell you about his metaphor  is while the Soviet Union became irrelevant because American ideas triumphed a military dictatorship without the US having to fire a single shot at the Soviet Union, Iran’s leadership and in fact all of that country has to be laid to waste militarily, according to the Netanyahu school of thought in order for his enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah, to become irrelevant. Typical.  In any event, this kind of bluster is to be expected from this quarter, and Obama would do well to ignore it and press on with his agenda, not that of an intractable and petulant “ally”.  Unfortunately, he can’t so easily dismiss Netanyahu, and if Gates continues with his own agenda as well, it might be even more difficult.  Bush may be gone, but the neocons are still lurking and haven’t given up hope of re-establishing themselves in policy making  positions or of somehow influencing policy.