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?

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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.

Israel and its unholy alliances


abu_nidal_2The Obama administration has shown a willingness to work and negotiate with the Palestinians to coexist with their Israeli neighbors and that’s not a good thing for the Israelis  who believe in war and territorial expansion as instruments of state power.  Look for the Israeli  government to reach back into its old bag of dirty tricks and form partnerships with people to sabotage Obama’s efforts using terror attacks against people in any place in the world, or by forming groups that will challenge the Palestinian status quo and  offer the Israelis the opportunity to work with them at the expense of and in anticipation of  the demise of the present Palestinian leadership.

The Israelis have always set up and used one group of Palestinians against another in order to sow dissension and keep the movements for peace off balance.  Despite what they say, the Israeli government is NOT interested in a peaceful coexistence with Palestinians or any other Arab neighbor state, so turmoil is necessary to justify a militarily strong and aggressive Israeli state.  Abu Nidal is an example.  A  Palestinian terrorist who was fronted by several states, and this observer believes one of them being Israel, Nidal engaged in acts of terror and later confronted and challenged the political leadership of Yasser Arafat.

Nidal’s attempted assassination of Israeli ambassador to the  UK, Shlomo Argov was all the pretext Ariel Sharon needed to invade Lebanon and occupy that country for several years while reaping death and destruction on a scale not seen until Gaza, 2008.  Later Nidal went on to kill several members of Fatah, or so it was made to seem Nidal was responsible for their deaths, and set back  the nascent Fatah movement’s political legitimacy.  Israel was more than happy to see its enemies preoccupied with one another, or appear an existential  threat to Israel so that military action against them was justified.

There are other examples where Israel used militant groups to commit acts of terror to which they, Israel, responded with the foreknowledge of the attacks, how they would be executed, the intended outcome and how they would be concluded.  Political fortunes were built on such episodes of intrigue that until today remain dominant in Israeli politics.

An extraordinary claim that Israeli intelligence may have had a hand in an airline hijacking before sending in commandos to rescue the hostages at Entebbe was made to the Foreign Office….

*snip*

……the attack was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine with help from the Israeli Security Service, the Shin Bet.

It was designed to torpedo the rival Palestine Liberation Organisation’s standing in France and to prevent what they saw as a growing rapprochement between the PLO and the Americans.

Fast forward to today, where Hamas, a group that was aided by Israel during its infancy is now the target of Israeli aggression.  Hamas too was formed to challenge the legitimacy of Arafat’s Fatah, and since its inception has been the excuse for several Israeli military incursions.

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas.

A look at Israel’s decades-long dealings with Palestinian radicals — including some little-known attempts to cooperate with the Islamists — reveals a catalog of unintended and often perilous consequences. Time and again, Israel’s efforts to find a pliant Palestinian partner that is both credible with Palestinians and willing to eschew violence, have backfired. Would-be partners have turned into foes.

The consequences for Israel have been anything but perilous. Israeli political fortunes and the sympathy it has been able to attract with a minimal amount of damage to itself have been built on their overtures to Palestinian suitors who seemingly have had no interest in the Jewish state, and Hamas is no different.  That Hamas, after much Israeli grooming, has become a foe is precisely what the Israelis wanted.

Having tried to paint Hamas as the aggressor in the days preceeding an Obama administration and failed, the Israelis no doubt will resort to even larger operations they hope to pin on the Palestinian group to make it unpalatable to the new American administration.  If that doesn’t work, look for them to set up group(s) that will challenge Hamas’ authority in Gaza and leave Americans wondering with whom they should negotiate.  These are tricks that have been tried before with amazing success.  There is no reason to think, by Israeli standards, they can’t work again.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or so the saying goes.