Archive | April 14th, 2010


Mossad Hunts Reporter in Hiding, ‘Takes off Gloves’ in Israel’s Pentagon Papers Case

by Michael Leon

Uri Blau, journalist pursured by Israel for telling truth on war crimes
Uri Blau, journalist pursured by Israel for telling truth on war crimes

Israel is hunting down a journalist who exposed its human rights violations in the 2008 Israeli massacre in Gaza in which over 1,400 innocents were killed.

Uri Blau, a reporter with the Haaretz newspaper, has gone underground in London and is threatened with espionage by the notorious Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police.

First Israel went after innocent Palestinians, then they came for human rights activists, then they came for journalists. Who is next? Ask Mordechai Vanunu, who 24 years ago blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear weapons of mass destruction what awaits Blau.

We hope that Uri Blau, a hero for truth and justice in the tradition of Daniel Ellsberg, will seek and be granted asylum from Israel’s oppressive state police.

The United States should take the lead, though this is an unlikely possibility that evokes laughter so strong is Israel’s influence on American policy.

From Jonathan Cook in CounterPunch:

An Israeli journalist who went into hiding after writing a series of reports showing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders faces a lengthy jail term for espionage if caught, as Israeli security services warned at the weekend they would ‘remove the gloves’ to track him down.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, said it was treating Uri Blau, a reporter with the liberal Haaretz daily newspaper who has gone underground in London, as a ‘fugitive felon’ and that a warrant for his arrest had been issued.

Options being considered are an extradition request to the British authorities or, if that fails, a secret operation by Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, to smuggle him back, according to Maariv, a right-wing newspaper.

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Blau’s informant, Anat Kamm, 23, a former conscript soldier who copied hundreds of classified documents during her military service, had confessed shortly after her arrest in December to doing so to expose ‘war crimes’.

The Shin Bet claims that Mr Blau is holding hundreds of classified documents, including some reported to relate to Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008 in which the army is widely believed to have violated the rules of war.

Other documents, the basis of a Haaretz investigation published in 2008, concern a meeting between the head of the army, Gabi Ashkenazi, and the Shin Bet in which it was agreed to ignore a court ruling and continue carrying out executions of Palestinian leaders in the occupied territories.

Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, who has said his organisation was previously ‘too sensitive with the investigation’, is now demanding that Mr Blau reveal his entire document archive and take a lie-detector test on his return to identify his sources, according to Haaretz. The newspaper and its lawyers have recommended that he remain in hiding to protect his informants.

Haaretz has also revealed that, in a highly unusual move shortly before Israel’s attack on Gaza, it agreed to pull a printed edition after the army demanded at the last minute that one of Mr Blau’s stories not be published. His report had already passed the military censor, which checks that articles do not endanger national security.

Lawyers and human rights groups fear that the army and Shin Bet are trying to silence investigative journalists and send a warning to other correspondents not to follow in Mr Blau’s path.

‘We have a dangerous precedent here, whereby the handing over of material to an Israeli newspaper … is seen by the prosecutor’s office as equivalent to contact with a foreign agent,’ said Eitan Lehman, Ms Kamm’s lawyer. ‘The very notion of presenting information to the Israeli public alone is taken as an intention to hurt national security.’

The Shin Bet’s determination to arrest Mr Blau was revealed after a blanket gag order was lifted late last week on Ms Kamm’s case. She has been under house arrest since December. She has admitted copying hundreds of classified documents while serving in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, in charge of operations in the West Bank, between 2005 and 2007.

Under an agreement with the Shin Bet last year, Haaretz and Mr Blau handed over 50 documents and agreed to the destruction of Mr Blau’s computer.

Both sides accuse the other of subsequently reneging on the deal: the Shin Bet says Mr Blau secretly kept other documents copied by Ms Kamm that could be useful to Israel’s enemies; while Mr Blau says the Shin Bet used the returned documents to track down Ms Kamm, his source, after assurances that they would not do so.

Haaretz said Mr Blau fears that they will try to identify his other informants if he hands over his archive.

Mr Blau learnt of his predicament in December, while out of the country on holiday. He said a friend called to warn that the Shin Bet had broken into his home and ransacked it. He later learnt they had been monitoring his telephone, e-mail and computer for many months.

In a move that has baffled many observers, the Shin Bet revealed last week that Mr Blau was hiding in London, despite the threat that it would make him an easier target for other countries’ intelligence agencies.

Amir Mizroch, an analyst with the right-wing Jerusalem Post newspaper, noted that it was as if Israel’s security services were ‘saying to Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Hizbullah and Iranian intelligence agents in London: ‘Yalla, be our guests, go get Uri Blau’.’ He added that the real goal might be to flush out Mr Blau so that he would seek sanctuary at the Israeli embassy.

Ms Kamm is charged with espionage with intent to harm national security, the harshest indictment possible and one that could land in her jail for 25 years. Yesterday another of her lawyers, Avigdor Feldman, appealed to Mr Blau to return to Israel and give back the documents to help ‘minimise the affair’.

‘The real question is whether this exceptionally heavy-handed approach is designed only to get back Kamm’s documents or go after Blau and his other sources,’ said Jeff Halper, an Israeli analyst. ‘It may be that Kamm is the excuse the security services need to identify Blau’s circle of informants.’

Mr Blau has already published several stories, apparently based on Ms Kamm’s documents, showing that the army command approved policies that not only broke international law but also violated the rulings of Israel’s courts.

His reports have included revelations that senior commanders approved extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories that were almost certain to kill Palestinian bystanders; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely captured; and that the defence ministry compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law.

Although the original stories date to 2008, the army issued a statement belatedly this week that Mr Blau’s reports were ‘outrageous and misleading’. No senior commanders have been charged over the army’s lawbreaking activities.

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, said its research had shown that ‘in many cases soldiers have been conducting themselves in the territories as if they were on a hit mission, as opposed to arrest operations’.

It added that the authorities had ‘rushed to investigate the leak and chose to ignore the severe suspicions of blatant wrongdoings depicted in those documents’.

A group of senior journalists established a petition this week calling for Mr Blau to be spared a trial: ‘So far, the authorities have not prosecuted journalists for holding secret information, which most of us have had in one form or another. This policy by the prosecution reflects, in our view, an imbalance between journalistic freedom, the freedom of expression and the need for security.’

However, media coverage of the case in Israel has been largely hostile. Yuval Elbashan, a lawyer, wrote in Haaretz yesterday that Mr Blau’s fellow military reporters and analysts had in the past few days abandoned their colleague and proven ‘their loyalty to the [security] system as the lowliest of its servants’.

One, Yossi Yehoshua, a military correspondent with the country’s largest-circulation newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, who is said to have been approached by Ms Kamm before she turned to Mr Blau, is due to testify against her in her trial due next month.

Chat forums and talkback columns also suggest little sympathy among the Israeli public for either Ms Kamm or Mr Blau. Several Hebrew websites show pictures of Ms Kamm behind bars or next to a hangman’s noose.

A report on Israel National News, a news service for settlers, alleged that Ms Kamm had been under the influence of ‘rabidly left-wing’ professors at Tel Aviv University when she handed over the documents to the Haaretz reporter.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are ‘Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East’ (Pluto Press) and ‘Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair‘ (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi.


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By Khalil Nouri STAFF WRITER

During the last few days, President Karzai has thrown the “kitchen sink” at his allies, and his own people. Did the American’s rig the election? Is Karzai joining the Taliban or retiring to the south of France? Some say it is drug use, some say simply stress, depression or Napoleonic delusions, but whatever it is, this kind of behavior is signaling the end of any credibility of Karzai as a leader—with some options for his removal.

I’m sorry to hear that President Obama has not continued the typical Bush buddy style monthly video conferencing with you. But was it such a harsh reality request to ask for your personal cooperation in shaping up your country at the expense of American blood and billions of tax dollars?

And I’m sorry to see that you feel forced into a corner, and must defend yourself —a corner where Iran and the Taliban would love to accommodate your rescue, at least for a little while until they find you of no use to them.

Your recent comical hullabaloo with the Whitehouse has trickled into a larger public domain that has evidently embarrassed all Afghans. It continues to deteriorate the political climate and is fostering a structure of disunity among your fellow Afghans, and within the NATO alliance; who are wholeheartedly trying to restore peace and prosperity, and more importantly, honor and dignity to your country.

And yet, subsequent to all that gobbledygook brouhaha of blaming the West for the vote rigging that you remarkably and markedly engineered, you are still reluctant or incapable of advocating a plausible plan—as none has been implemented in any post Taliban government—for building viable consensus between you, the Afghan people, and Washington.

Why are you wasting this golden opportunity that Afghanistan hasn’t had in decades, and may never have one again?

After all, if this is your personal nightmarish jihad against the Whitehouse, then why are you dragging the innocent Afghan populace—whom you have promised well being for almost a decade—into this political quagmire?

You also should bear in mind, the looming reality at the dawning of a major U.S. offensive to push the Taliban out of Kandahar, that by you not being a reliable partner to anyone (and especially if the counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy against the Taliban should somehow fail), without the presence of US troops, you and your opium-king brothers would be on the first plane to Doha—and the Almighty Allah will then determine your fate.

C’mon Mr. Karzai, you wouldn’t seriously refute that! Would you?

Even our native street level thug politics (Bad-mashi or Pai-loochi in native languages) makes more sense to us; whenever one feels weak, isolated and in danger, he may seek support from a crony whose presence is in close proximity. But in this reality, the crony (the Taliban whom you are now talking about embracing) is a foe, who awhile back murdered your father.

And, per our code of Pashtunwali (an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, retribution), or what is deemed precedence and procedure in our interpretation of the religion of Islam, you are failing to seek justice in the name of your late father. You have dared to dishonor the memory of this Afghan hero and patriot by talk of joining the insidious organization that murdered him.

Sir, where is your core… your Pashtun values? Where is your allegiance to native Afghan family values?

On the contrary, even if you tried to join those cronies, you will undoubtedly be vetted before they would accept you within their prominent ranks. By the way, Hamid Jan! make sure you invite your vice presidents, Mr. Fahim and Mr. Khalili to join you in the journey to Quetta to see the one eyed Mullah,—who you already offered peace talks despite the multimillion dollar bounty on his life—and good luck in the unification of a neo-Taliban alliance. Also, be careful, if you are in their ranks; watch the skies for Joe Biden’s drones that are remotely controlled from Langley.

In addition, your tarnished image within the tribal elders is at such a negative level that they and their elements are not willing to stand with your gang of thieves against the Taliban—or their relatives. This is the reality.

Mr. Karzai, the fact is that nothing has worked with you; the Crawford Cowboy Diplomatic Corps (CCDC) tried to be pals with you, no success. Their successor, Mr. Obama et al. tried to charm you, no success, and now the time has arrived to do some head scratching as to whether Afghanistan can afford to keep you or not.

Well Mr. President, all indications point to the fact that your days as President of Afghanistan are numbered; and it is time for Afghanistan’s young democracy to prove that it is capable of handling the truth.

A constitution that is revisable by a majority of the parliament can have a no-confidence vote to rid the nation of —Ali Baba and the forty thieves—a corrupt Afghan government should be removed by a constitutional majority of MPs in parliament.

If I could have Mr. Obama’s ears; I would suggest to him that before he decides to fight a war on behalf of a corrupt government, that he use whatever authority and world opinion available to him to call upon the world bodies to act in the way that Papa Bush acted towards Manuel Noriega.

By now, enough evidence exists to arrest everyone involved in this narco-syndicate; by now enough evidence exists to arrest everyone involved in the outright theft of billions of dollars that were designated to help the ordinary people of Afghanistan.

What has anyone done to earn the millions now in offshore accounts. When is there going to be an accounting of all the wrongs that have been afflicted upon the Afghan people.

We can no longer just stand by and watch everything go down the tubes. We cry out when people stand idly by and watch the commission of a crime right in front of them and do nothing.

How can anyone or any nation now stand idly by and witness criminal activity being perpetrated by a corrupt narco-government on its people. It is one thing for us to accept and work with a government that is truly attempting to change its ways and is at willing to draw up plans to eliminate the corruption; it is another thing altogether to accept threats and bullying tactics from a government that is willing to join those who are killing our soldiers.

Enough is enough!….

At last, Mr. Karzai, before you went Kamikaze, you should have thought twice and considered that there are alternatives to you and your scatological behavior.

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan.

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How the Shabak Use the Children of Palestine

Ed. Note:  The following is a report from Bi’lin resident Yasser Awad Yasin on his  interrogation by Israeli security forces.
My name is Yasser Awad Yasin.  I am 27 years old and I’m from the village of Bil’in. I’m married and I have two sons and one daughter.
The Shabak (Israeli security ) had called me on the phone and told me to go to their office.  I didn’t go, so the army raided my house.  I was sleeping with my wife and children when they woke us all up.  I asked them what they were doing because I hadn’t done anything. They asked me for my ID and they told me to go to the Shabak offices the next day. I asked them why they didn’t arrest me now and then the soldiers gave me papers ordering me to go for questioning. 
When I went there, first they strip-searched me and asked if I have any weapons.  I told them I have a packet of food and they took it off me.  Then they took me to the  head of the Shabak who told me many things about myself and my family to make me scared and to make me believe that they know everything.  He  told me they knew I have a son who has kidney problems and  ” we wanted you to come here to help you. 
You can send him to hospital in Israel and we can make sure he gets all the help he needs. I understand your situation because I also have children and I love them.”  When I heard this I told him I have two sons who are sick, not one.  He asked me what the problem is with the second child and I told him he has heart problems. He asked me which hospital he goes to and I told him the hospital in Ramallah.  “Why don’t you send him to an Israeli hospital where he can get better treatment?  We can help you to arrange that.” 
Then I understood that he would want something in return for this offer and he said we can do anything for you if you help us and work with us in Shabak.  I told him that the treatment was OK there and he doesn’t need to go to an Israeli hospital. He replied that my son may die if he doesn’t get the best treatment, in order to make me scared. 
 But I told him, “If he dies it will be because of your weapons and your gas every Friday.  I live near the Wall and we have to leave our home every Friday to protect the children from these things, otherwise they may die.”  Then he started in a different way.  He asked me if I have a house and maybe I need money.  I told him I have a house and a job and I don’t need help from anybody. 
After that he returned to the problem of my son who needs treatment in Israel because he knew that I have a real problem there and this was the best way to get my cooperation to be an informer against my own people.  He asked what I would do if they refused to give him permission to go through the checkpoint to take my son to the hospital and I said that his mother could accompany him.  “And what if we refuse to give her a permit?”
 I replied that his grandmother would go.  “And what if we refuse his grandmother?”  I said I will take him to Jordan.  “And what if we stop him at the border?”  I replied “I will take him to Ramallah – and may God help us”
Arrests and eviction orders in Sheikh Jarrah


By Noam Sheizaf, reprinted from his Promised Land blog with permission.
Jerusalem – about 200 people took part in the weekly protest against the Jewish colonization of Sheikh Jerrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Among them were New Israel Fund President Naomi Hazan, former Knesset speaker Avrum Burg, and author David Grossman.
During the protest, several activists, among them Grossman, marched near the area of the four houses already occupied by settlers. Four protesters were arrested. Throughout the rest of the demonstration activists occasionally tried to break into the closed area and were pushed back, somewhat violently, by police and border police forces.
There have been numerous arrests of protesters in recent weeks in Sheikh Jarrah. Two weeks agothe Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hagai El-Ad, was also arrested, only to be released without charges as well. the police arrested one of the protest organizers on Friday evening at his home. He was later released without charges, after the police failed to present any evidence against him. In a different incident the head of
A few days ago, two more Palestinian families received eviction orders from their houses in Shikh Jerrah. It is not clear when the police will try to actually force the families out, so peace activists are trying to keep a 24/7 presence in the neighborhood.
Sheikh Jerrah is a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The Palestinians in the disputed territory are refugees from Jaffa, who fled there during the war of independence (1947-1949). An Israeli court declared the land they settled on as belonging to Jews prior to the war, and ordered their evacuation. The absurdity is that according to the same legal principle, those refugees should be allowed back to Jaffa – something Israel would never allow.
Without anywhere to go, the families evicted from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah are living in tents on private Palestinian land near their old homes. They are subject to constant harassment by both settlers and representatives of the municipality of Jerusalem, who even fined them for erecting their tents in the area
You can help the protest in Sheikh Jerrah: If you are in Israel, the most important thing is to simply come here. The weekly demonstrations keep media attention on the neighborhood and make further evacuations more difficult to carry out. You can find details on the weekly protest here, or on this Facebook page.
If you don’t live in Israel, you can show your support by making a donation, as legal costs for the activists are mounting rapidly. More details here.


Finally, I want to draw your attention to an interesting debate regarding Jerusalem which started between me and one of the writers on It began after I posted a reply to an article which praised unilateral steps taken by Israel in Old Jerusalem.
Just before leaving to Sheikh Jerrah today, I saw that I got my reply on For some reason, the anonymous author was offended that I chose to post my comments on my blog rather than his; this clearly wasn’t my intention. I simply think that it is a better way to conduct this kind of debates and to invite more people to take part in them.
Anyway, I urge you to read today’s article in, as it represent some of the common rationalizations – as well as rhetoric – regarding Israel’s actions in East Jerusalem. Hopefully, I will post my answer here sometime next week.

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Noble wars of liberation cost a fortune

How many in the US know this?

If you’re an average American taxpayer, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, since 2001, cost you personally $7,334, according to the “cost of war” counter created by the National Priorities Project (NPP).  They have cost all Americans collectively more than $980,000,000,000.  As a country, we’ll pass the trillion dollar mark soon.  

These are staggering figures and, despite the $72.3 billion that Congress has already ponied up for the Afghan War in 2010 ($136.8 billion if you add in Iraq), the administration is about to go back to Congress for more than $35 billion in outside-the-budget supplemental funds to cover the president’s military and civilian Afghan surges

When that passes, as it surely will, the cumulative cost of the Afghan War alone will hit $300 billion, and we’ll be heading for two trillion-dollar wars.

Visiting Sri Lanka as a war crimes investigator not tourist


Sri Lanka is now promoting itself as a wonderful holiday destination, filled with natural wonder, peace, harmony and white beaches:

In fact, the Global Tamil Forum has called for a worldwide boycott of Sri Lankan products and services in protest at Colombo’s shocking violations of human rights.

Don’t visit Sri Lanka on your next holiday.

We’re Jewish and we would like to ban this

Is the Zionist Diaspora somehow pre-programmed to try and censor anything that mildly challenges Israeli policies?

The latest madness:

How to fight the occupation with a few good men and women

Israeli peace group Ta’ayush – not just talking but doers against the occupation – on another week in the West Bank:

As in every week of the year, we woke up at 07:00 on a Saturday morning to oppose injustice. We, is a group of about 15, mostly Israeli and some International Activists lead by Ta’ayush, a Jewish-Arab organization opposing the occupation and trying to promote equality.

The South of Hebron Hills is one of the most difficult regions in the West Bank. Much of the native population of this area is Bedouin, a minority in Palestinian society to begin with, and generally invisible to the Israeli occupation authorities.

We first arrived to a location which became a focus of attention in recent weeks – the lands of Umm Zaytouna, near the village of Tuba (not that you could know, since the road signs only name the Jewish settlements in this area – did we say invisible?). Tuba’s misfortune is its neighbors. About 1km the east and north lie two Israeli settlements – Ma’on and Carmel. We will talk about Carmel later on.

The story here is quite simple. The whole land area around Ma’on is either private Palestinian land or “state lands”. This means of the settlers have no ownership rights over them. But, of course this doesn’t concern those whose land ownership is god-given. They don’t want Palestinians damaging the view.

But Tuba’s residents need to make a living, and their Shepherds want to feed their herds on the land. When they do, they are expelled by the army – normally by shouting, threatening and sometimes even by taking a goat hostage (yes, that’s right).

If the shepherds demand their rights on their own, they would be imprisoned and harassed in the better scenario, or physically hurt in worse scenario. Needless to say that all of this is illegal, either by international law (the mere existence of Ma’on) or by the occupation laws (forbidding the shepherds).

The Israeli supreme court and legal adviser ordered the army that an area can be closed for Palestinians only if one of two conditions applies: an immediate security threat or immediate negative interaction with settlers. None of these exist here.

That’s where the activists come into the picture. We accompany the shepherds, demand their rights be realized and confront the army and police if they are not. The goal is to allow the herds to feed.

Sri Lanka kills and tortures journalists


A strong article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald by Matt Wade outlines the reasons Sri Lanka remains a brutal country with little interest in addressing human rights concerns:

The treatment of journalists is one bellwether of the human rights climate in Sri Lanka. But the Australian Government doesn’t seem to be paying attention. It’s decision to decision to suspend the claims of Sri Lankans seeking political asylum is at odds with the plight of media workers there.

Despite the end to the country’s civil war 10 months ago, voicing a critical opinion in Sri Lanka remains very dangerous. In recent weeks, several journalists have fled the country fearing for their lives. They have joined scores of others living in exile because they feel it is too dangerous to report independently in their country. These include several Sri Lankan journalists I have encountered while reporting there over the past 18 months.

One media activist who worked for me as an interpreter in January has since fled Sri Lanka with his wife, also a journalist, and their small child. He found himself in a ”life-threat situation” after the presidential elections and decided it was time to leave. The family is now in a European country that still accepts Sri Lankan asylum seekers. ”I have no idea when will I be able to come back home,” he says.

Last year, a professional photographer who had taken pictures for The Age escaped to India after being accused of sympathising with the Tamil Tigers. Poddala Jayantha, editor of the Sinhalese newspaper Silumina, which has published stories critical of the government, was abducted and severely beaten last June.

He was left permanently disabled by the attack. Despite his injuries, Jayantha remained in Sri Lanka for more than six months hoping to continue his journalistic career, but gave up recently and left the country. Last week, another long-time journalist activist left the country in fear for his life.

Meanwhile, there is grave concern for the wellbeing of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, who has been missing since the evening of January 24.

According to some, the situation has become worse since recent elections.

The editor of the Sinhalese-language Lanka Irida Sangrahaya newspaper, Chandana Sirimalwatte, was arrested soon after Sri Lanka’s presidential poll in January and held for several weeks. His newspaper, which is affiliated with an opposition party, has since reopened but with restrictions.

Sirimalwatte fears media freedoms will deteriorate further following this month’s parliamentary elections, which were won convincingly by the coalition led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

”We are hoping for things to get better but we are ready for the worst,” he told The Age on Sunday.

Last month, the International Federation of Journalists wrote to the President raising concerns about a list of journalists, human rights campaigners and other prominent individuals in Sri Lanka that was reportedly compiled and possibly circulated by state intelligence agencies.

The federation’s Deborah Muir says the climate of intimidation in Sri Lanka now is as bad as it has ever been for journalists, and self-censorship rules the media across the island. ”For the Australian or other governments to say that there is no problem in Sri Lanka, and to accept the claims of a regime notorious for its efforts to undermine independent media voices and to stamp out free expression, appears to completely overlook the reality for people in Sri Lanka,” she said.

”How can anyone claim the situation is acceptable when just last week a long-time journalist activist finally had to flee the country in fear for his life?

”We fear more may be forced out in the next weeks or months as the regime cements its grip and seeks revenge on those it deems to be its enemies.”

Remind us why America can solve the Middle East crisis, again?

Daniel Pipes reminds us that Washington’s supposed attempts at peace are really counter-productive:

….The “peace process” is in actuality a “war process.” Diplomatic negotiations through the 1990s led to a parade of Israeli retreats that had the perverse effect of turning the middling-bad situation of 1993 into the awful one of 2000. Painful Israeli concessions, we now know, stimulate not reciprocal Palestinian goodwill but rather irredentism, ambition, fury, and violence.

Pipes is right with one thing. The last 20 years has seen a lot of talking but massive increases in Palestinian dispossession. And America has simply watched.

The striking beauty of Nepal


Muslims allowed to throw shoes in protest (and Jews want to throw something, too)

This story may need no introduction (except to say that I wonder what, say, Jews, Christians and Hindus would like to throw, just to make things fair, of course):

Scotland Yard has bowed to Islamic sensitivities and accepted that Muslims are entitled to throw shoes in ritual protest — which could have the unintended consequence of politicians or the police being hit.

News of the concession by the Metropolitan police has come to light amid a series of trials of more than 70 mostly Muslim demonstrators who were charged with violent disorder after last year’s Gaza protests outside the Israeli embassy in London.

Aquib Salim, 21, an IT student at Queen Mary, London University, who was involved in a shoe-throwing incident, is almost certain to avoid a prison sentence as a result.

Chris Holt, Salim’s solicitor, said he was likely to get a suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to a single charge of throwing a stick at police lines.

“The court accepted that the earlier shoe-throwing incident was simply a ritual form of protest and therefore not a criminal act of violence,” Holt said.

Judge Denniss agreed that the act of shoe-throwing should not be considered in a charge of violent disorder against the student because it was “a symbolic” political gesture.

Any chance of Kissinger not being invited to Christmas this year?

With yet more evidence linking Henry Kissinger to war crimes, perhaps now the political and media elites will regard him as the pariah he should be (yes, I know, wishful thinking):

As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger canceled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that was to have gone to Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington’s Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows.

Whether Kissinger played a role in blocking the delivery of the warning against assassination to the governments of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay has long been a topic of controversy.

Discovered in recent weeks by the National Security Archive, a non-profit research organization, the Sept. 16, 1976 cable is among tens of thousands of declassified State Department documents recently made available to the public.

In 1976, the South American nations of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay were engaged in a program of repression code-named Operation Condor that targeted those governments’ political opponents throughout Latin America, Europe and even the United States.

Based on information from the CIA, the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders.

In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as “Operation Condor,” preceded by the words “(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN.” The cable states that “secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo” Uruguay “and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter.”

“The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots,” Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive’s senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.”



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Didi Remez | April 14, 2010 at 10:40 | Tags: Nir Barkat | Categories: Diplomacy, Jerusalem | URL:

This report follows the news Tuesday (April 13 2010) that Mayor Nir Barkat was attempting to renew house demolitions in East Jerusalem. Note also the repetitive framing of the story as an act of defiance of the US administration (three out of five paragraphs.)

Construction in Jerusalem: Business as usual

Roni Malul, Maariv, April 14 2010 [page 14]


Despite the cresis with the United States about constructing in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, it appears that the municipality is supporting continued construction in the Gilo neighborhood, which was annexed to Israel in 1967.

The Jerusalem municipality’s local planning committee, which will meet tomorrow, will discuss the permits for constructing community buildings in Gilo despite the White House’s vigorous opposition to construction over the Green Line. Municipality officials commented that the plan was approved in principle in 1995 and that now, a decision was made to carry it out on the ground.

The committee’s agenda will include the final approval of a construction plan that involves the expropriation of several lots in Gilo’s Area 5 by the Israel Lands Administration for the municipality. This plan expands the neighborhood by two hundred housing units. According to the plan, a school and synagogue will also be built there.

 “These are not new construction plans, and there are no actual construction plans for the public buildings yet,” the municipality spokesman said. “This is only a decision to transfer the land from the Israel Lands Administration to the municipality, as was agreed upon in the past.”

This is not the first time that construction in the Gilo neighborhood has aroused criticism in the United States. Approximately five months ago, Obama spoke against Israel’s decision to approve the construction of 900 housing units there. He said that Israel’s decision constituted an obstacle to the resumption of negotiations and did not contribute to Israel’s security.


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Mark Onions

Mark Onion – BNP council candidate in Thurrock

Mark Onion is the BNP candidate fighting the Orsett Ward in Thurrock’s council elections on May 6th. This picture is taken from his Facebook page and features the candidate seeming to offer a Nazi style salute. On his hand he appears to wear a Help for Heroes wristband.

On his Facebook page Onion has said that he finds films about the Holocaust and Slave Trade “amusing and funny”. He lists “Mein Kampf” and the “Final Solution” as his favourite books. He publicly jokes about violence and rape against women on his Facebook wall.

Nick Griffin MEP has protested time and again that BNP supporters are unfairly labelled as bigots. He says the BNP is no longer racist. He says he doesn’t support misogynistic sentiments. He claims the BNP is no longer anti-Semitic or sympathetic towards the Nazis.

And yet, time and again, BNP activists are exposed for holding intolerant and racist views. It would still be unfair to suggest everyone who supports the BNP is racist, but you don’t have to dig too deep before you discover an unhealthy amount of support for values that are inimical to the British way of doing things.

If mainstream candidates can be sacked for saying revolting things about the Queen or joking that they prefer bananas harvested by slaves, then it is perfectly reasonable to expect Griffin to fire a BNP candidate with explicit Nazi sympathies, who jokes about rape and violence against women and who finds films about crimes against humanity “funny and amusing”.

The neo-fascist BNP now hold 2 MEPs, nearly 1 million votes, 50 councillors and 1 Assembly Member in London. It is, therefore, the duty of voters to hold Griffin and the BNP to account.

When contacted by Nothing British Onions declined to comment or defend his actions. Unless a reasonable explanation can be found, this looks very bad for Griffin’s claims to have modernised the BNP and move them on from their Nazi past.

We therefore call on Nick Griffin to stop dithering on the entrenched racism within the BNP. If Mark Onion cannot account for this vile image, he should be sacked as his council candidate in Thurrock.

Mark Onion's FB profile

Screen grab taken from Mark Onion’s Facebook page on 9th April 2010

Please feel free to pass on this statement and our notice to your blogs and websites.

Best wishes,


James Bethell

© Nothing British 2010 | Contact Us | Terms and Conditions| Unsubscribe from our mailing list

See: Nothing British about the BNP

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The Truth about the Fatal Plane Crash in Smolensk

by James Buchanan

Information is still coming in about the crash of the Polish Tu-154 at Smolensk with President Kaczynski and a good part of the Polish government on board. There seems to be an organized effort to blame the pilot for the crash claiming that President Kaczynski pressured him to land under impossible conditions.

The first strange piece of information that has come out was that the airport at Smolensk reportedly does not have an Instrument Landing System (ILS). Considering how horrendous the weather can be in Russia during winter and spring and fall, it’s stunning to hear that a significant European city of 330,000 people does not have an airport with an ILS.

One excuse is that the airport was an ex-military airbase. Which raises the question: “Were the Russians letting their $30 million dollar Sukhoi Su-27 fighters land there without an Instrument Landing System?”

Assuming the Russians did let a city that large run their airport on “visual flight rules” raises the question: Why would anyone ever want to land there? If I were planning an important event, where people had to fly in, I’d only recommend an airport that had an ILS. In this case, there was an airport at Vitebsk in Belarus with an ILS that was only 66 miles from the Katyn forest.

To safely land an airplane under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), the minimum safe distance for landing varies from 1 to 5 miles depending on the airspace. At an airbase like Smolensk North which may have Soviet fighters using it, a 5 mile visibility is necessary to spot any stray fighters in time to avoid them. Another source notes that –even with an instrument landing system, a half mile visibility is needed before a pilot is allowed to land his plane.

One source reports that the day of the crash the Smolensk North airport had a visibility of 400 meters. Other reports on the evening news and radio have mentioned much less visibility as low as 50 or 80 meters. Any sane pilot would not have attempted a VFR landing with that little visibility. The pilot likely made one orbit of the airfield to appease President Kaczynski and to show that the visibility was not good enough to land.

Obviously the pilot would not knowingly fly lower than the height of the surrounding hills plus the added height of trees and power lines. If the altimeter were sabotaged, this would be where the plane flew too low and everyone got killed.

A number of false or unsubstantiated stories have been circulating around the Internet and it would be good to address them:

1).Diverting the plane would have caused the Polish president to be extremely late for the Katyn ceremony: False. There was an airport with an instrument landing system at Vitebsk, Belarus only 66 miles from the Katyn Forest.

The Katyn memorial service was largely ceremonial and only a few hundred people were reportedly at the site. The Polish contingent would have been the most significant group since this included the Polish president, and the press would have waited for them to show up.

2).The Polish president pressured the pilot to land against his will: Disputed. This has been reported as fact even though everyone on the plane is dead and the Smolensk air traffic controller didn’t hear anything that would confirm this. Hopefully the black boxes will shed some light on this.

An article notes “In August 2008, Mr Kaczynski had pressed a pilot to land in Tbilisi, Georgia, even though conditions were dangerous during Russia’s short war with the country. After the pilot refused, Mr Kaczynski went into the cabin and later said: ‘If someone decides to become an officer they should not be cowardly.’

The pilot, who diverted to nearby Azerbaijan, was later awarded a medal for refusing to yield to the president. Andrzej Seremet, Poland’s chief prosecutor, told a news conference on Monday that, at this stage of the investigation, there was nothing to suggest pressure was put on the pilots. However, the Tu-154’s black boxes were still being analysed to see ‘if suggestions were made to the pilots’.” Judging from the earlier incident, the pilot would have stood to get a medal if he ignored pressure from Kaczynski and diverted the plane to another airport. Also President Kaczynski would have embarrassed himself and gotten bad press if he tried to bully another pilot.

3).The pilot made four or five approaches. Disputed. One article notes “The pilot told Mr Plyusnin (the Russian air controller at Smolensk) that he would make one approach to land before switching to an alternate destination if he did not succeed.” Another news source has eyewitnesses describing the crash.

None of them mention the plane making multiple attempts to land. Another article reports “The air traffic controller at the Air Base said, the airplane attempted only one approach before radio contact was lost.”

4).Lech Walesa said the pilot was pressured into landing. False. One source notes “Lech Walesa, the former Polish President, said that Captain Protasiuk would have been expected to consult. However, pilots are trained to resist pressure to take wrong decisions.”

5).The Tu-154 was a flying coffin with a horrible safety record. False. A list of crashes for the Tu-154 since 1994 by FoxNews, show only two previous crashes in Europe. All the other crashes were over Siberia or the the Third World, including two planes shot down and one plane blown up over Europe by Czechen terrorists.

Another source notes “On a note about the type of aircraft used, Paul Duffy, an expert on Russian aviation, stated… the hull-loss (crash) rate was normal for the number in service, the number of years it has been operated, and for the technology of the aircraft… 1015 Tu-154s have been built, 214 of which are still in service as of 14 December 2009.” The plane that carried President Kaczynski was only 20 years old and had undergone a major inspection and overhaul in December 2009.

All this raises the question: Who would want to eliminate the Polish government? An article in Jewish Currents entitled “The Return of the Radical Right in Poland” reports “Something has gone very, very wrong in Poland. After elections last September, a group called ‘Law and Justice,’ led by a longtime Solidarity activist and right-wing politician named Jaroslaw Kaczynski, emerged as the largest party in parliament.

Victory in the following month’s presidential election went to Kaczynski’s identical twin Lech… The Kaczynskis formed a coalition with an agrarian populist group called “Self-Defense” and a radical-right party with the innocuous name of ‘The League of Polish Families.’ Polite Western journalists have labeled this government ‘center-right’ or ‘conservative,’ but it is hard to find anything centrist about those holding power in Warsaw today.

Even Europe’s mainstream conservative parties have publicly disavowed any affiliation with Law and Justice (not to mention the other two coalition members). Put simply, the extreme right now rules Poland, and people widely considered marginal and dangerous even a year ago are now within the corridors of power.”

All it would have taken to cause the accident at Smolensk would have been the sabotage of the plane’s altimeter so that the pilot would have thought he was higher up than he was. Thousands of planes land in bad weather in Europe and the US and only a tiny number crash.

The arch-criminal Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”




 How to Market Gaza as an Israeli success story: The complete guide

Didi Remez | April 14, 2010 at 10:10 | Categories: Diplomacy, Gaza, Hasbara | URL:

Cross-posted from Gaza Gateway, an analytical blog recently launched by the Israeli human rights group Gisha — The legal Center for Freedom of Movement. Gaza Gateway provides up to date data and analysis on access to the Gaza Strip and is an essential tool for for fact-checking and contextualizing information provided by other sources.

How to Market Gaza as an Israeli success story: The complete guide

The following guide was inspired by a report by the Government of Israel, summarizing Israel’s humanitarian activities for the Gaza Strip in 2009 and at the start of 2010, which was submitted yesterday to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee.

  1. Take things out of context. When you say that, “41 truckloads of equipment for the maintenance of the electricity networks were transferred”, you do not need to mention that those spare parts were waiting for many months for clearance, and that, at the end of 2009, the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company reported that 240 kinds of spare parts were completely out of stock or had dipped below the required minimum stock. Likewise, “There was a significant increase in the number of international organization staff entering the Gaza Strip” does not require explanation that, were the productive sector in Gaza not almost completely paralyzed, so many aid workers would not be needed and the number of aid recipients would not be so high. You also don’t need to explain that the high number of staff you quote might be misleading, since it’s likely you are counting individual entrances and not unique visitors (the same international aid workers enter and exit multiple times per month).
  2. Demonstrate impartiality. Present the transfer of 44,500 doses of swine flu vaccine as having nothing to do with you. There is always a chance people will forget it is a border-transcending epidemic and that the head of the Gaza District Coordination Office himself said an outbreak in Gaza would endanger Israel.
  3. Make it look like you are paying the bill. Use vague language such as “In 2009, Israel continued to supply electricity to the Gaza Strip”. Count on the fact that most people don’t know that Israel charges full payment for the electricity by deducting the amount from the VAT and taxes it collects for the Palestinian Authority via import into its territory.
  4. Take credit for the work of others. . Note that “Between April and October 2009, maintenance work was conducted on the power station by Siemens” and “In 2009, the international community transferred 141,390 tons of humanitarian aid” are your successes too. These actions were undertaken after you decided in a unique instance to lift the restrictions you imposed yourself. You deserve credit even for the summer camps UNRWA runs for children in Gaza: in an exceptional measure you did not prevent the transfer of musical instruments and other items you define as “non-humanitarian” (such as ice cream machines and swimming pools).
  5. Make sure to even present your failures as successes. “As part of the preparations for winter” you approved the transfer of glass. Even if you did so only after external parties exerted heavy pressure on you, even if you had to make an exception to a prohibition you imposed for two winters, even if you started transferring the glass only on December 29 (long after winter weather had already begun battering destroyed homes in Gaza), and even if you continue preventing the transfer of heaters – present the transfer of glass as your success.
  6. Make sure to use headlines that will stun your readers. . “The activities of the private and banking sectors in the Gaza Strip are maintained”. With a headline like that, few are likely to realize you are talking about maintaining an economy that has been at an almost complete standstill for nearly three years, with more than 90% of the factories closed or working at minimal capacity, because Israel has been preventing the transfer of raw materials. The headline “Over the years, Israel has kept the issue of public humanitarian infrastructure out of the conflict” will also obscure the Cabinet Decision to restrict the transfer of industrial diesel fuel to the power plant, which is crucial to the functioning of the water and sewage systems and other vital infrastructure, in an attempt to pressure the Hamas government.
  7. Use vague terminology. Choose words such as “transferred” and “were transferred”. This way, some people will understand that “Over 1.1 billion NIS were transferred to the Gaza Strip to cover the salaries and activities of international organizations” came out of Israel’s pocket and not, as actually happened, that Israel simply did not prevent the PA and international organizations from transferring the money through the border crossings under Israel’s control, in a rare exception to its restrictions on cash transfers and on the banking system in Gaza.
  8. Use visual tricks. State the number of individual flowers you allowed to Gaza farmers to export (9,782,076). This method can become problematic only if you mention that the potential for export is 55 million individual flowers per year, or that in 2006, 2,089 tons of strawberries were exported (compared to only 54 tons in 2009). 105,701,740 liters of industrial diesel fuel (according to COGAT’s 2009 report) sounds like a respectable amount when you state it in individual liters, but is a little less respectable when you discover that it amounts to only 57% of the amount required for maximum electricity production at the Gaza power plant. You do not have to reveal everything. Play down the extent and nature of your control of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, including indirect but substantial control of the Rafah Crossing.
  9. You do not have to reveal everything. Play down the extent and nature of your control of the Gaza Strip‘s border crossings, including indirect but substantial control of the Rafah Crossing.

Don’t be so modest! You play a central role in the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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Join JVP, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, and Bibi Netanyahu’s sister-in-law, Ofra Ben Artzi, as well as Israeli peace groups like the Shministim, Gush Shalom, and the Coalition of Women for Peace and help make history at the University of California at Berkeley by sending a letter of support for divestment now.

On March 18, UC Berkeley’s student senate voted 16 to 4 to divest from General Electric and United Technologies because of their role in harming civilians as part of Israel’s illegal occupation and the attack on Gaza.

A week later, the Senate president vetoed the bill despite a massive outpouring of support for divestment.

But the final decision will be made tomorrow, Wednesday April 14 at 7pm PST, when the veto can be overturned with just 14 votes.

The bill’s opponents have been waging a fierce campaign of misinformation, including a closed door meeting with the Israeli Consulate General where student senators were actually told that massive Jewish criticism of Israeli human rights violations is a cultural pathology. The senators have also been flooded with letters and we’ve now heard that Alan Dershowitz may be on campus.

That’s why we’re asking you to email the UC Berkeley senators to let them know why you support divestment and why they should overturn the veto. PLEASE click here to write your letter now, in your own words. The whole world is watching.

It truly is time for all hands on deck!

Cecilie Surasky and Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

PS: For JVP’s position on the bill, please see here.

PPS: Download this 2-page fact sheet on Jewish and Israeli support for UC Berkeley’s divestment bill.

PPS We’ll be twittering the historic vote live. Follow us at


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Reflections on the value of respect

Four years ago, Rory Stewart wrote:

A great many of the failures in Afghanistan and Iraq arise from a single problem: the American-led coalitions’ lack of trust in local politicians. Repeatedly the Western powers, irritated by a lack of progress, have overruled local leaders, rejected compromises and tried to force through their own strategies. But the Westerners’ capacity is limited: they have little understanding of Afghan or Iraqi politics and rely too heavily on troops and money to solve what are fundamentally political and religious problems.

The coalitions cannot achieve political change in the absence of strong local support. And when they try to do so, they undermine their local allies. Iraqi and Afghan national and regional leaders have a far better understanding of the limits and possibilities of the local political scenes; they are more flexible and creative in finding compromises; and unlike the coalition officials, they are elected.

They must be given real power and authority. This may seem an obvious prescription — but in fact the coalitions are not allowing it to happen.

Underneath the lack of trust that Stewart correctly identified, is a more fundamental issue: the hubris of power.

We have the guns, the cash, and represent the most powerful nation on Earth. You need to respect us but we really don’t need to respect you. Respect is something we expect but will also on occasions dish out if or when it seems expedient.

Americans, shaped by a culture that tends to place a higher value on power than anything else, are inclined to view respect as simply an element in a power equation. In one situation respect might seem essential, in another merely useful, and in yet another it can be dispensed with. Rarely is it held up as the most vital component in all human relationships.

After President Obama showed up in Kabul just over a week ago, President Karzai showed his uninvited guest and paymaster the courtesy of inviting him to dinner. Obama, the New York Times tells us, returned the courtesy with a thank-you note. “It was a respectful letter,” General James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser told reporters.

 The significance of this incident, supposedly, is that it signals an overdue change in tone as the administration registers that its repeated admonitions of the Afghan president have proved counterproductive.

Ironically, an American president whose arrival in office was supposed to herald an historic shift in America’s approach to the world — one which would reinstate the value of soft power — has been a surprisingly clumsy diplomat.

So, if the White House now understands that it must not underestimate the value of respectfulness, that’s a good thing — but let’s not pretend a thank-you note is all it takes.

* Respect is one of those words we use so often we rarely pause to consider its meaning. It describes an attitude, yet its latin root, specere, to look, indicates that this is really a form of attention.

To be respectful is to attentively incline oneself towards the other in recognition of their autonomy and integrity.

There is no one we can respect and simultaneously try to change. When we coerce or manipulate someone, we cannot respect them because our attention is focused not on them but on what we want.

If one views respect as a resource, nowhere is it generally more scarce than among the powerful.

The conceit of power is that power elicits respect, when in truth the tokens of respect bestowed on the powerful are rarely more than expressions of fear, envy or duty. (Hence an underlying paranoia haunts the powerful: they know they are the beneficiaries of a social investment that could, if things turn sour, be swiftly withdrawn.)

Respect is not the fruit of power, but on the contrary, it is a self-propagating virtue that becomes mirrored through its own expression.

Meanwhile, behind what might sound like an overly abstract reflection on respect, another topic floating in the background is Israel, since if one drills to the core of the Middle East conflict, it cannot be reduced to land or religion. It’s about respect.

Can Jews who claimed their “birthright” by dispossessing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, somehow make peace with those people and their descendants without also acknowledging the Palestinians’ rights to dignity and respect? Yet can such respect be conferred without also calling into question the legitimacy of the Jewish state?

Where is the actual ground for mutual respect when the affirmation of one people’s rights has for six decades depended on the denial of another’s?

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

Israeli activists to J Street: ’stop trying to gain political capital at the expense of dedicated peace activists’

The following form letter has been circulating on an Israeli activist listserv criticizing J Street’s leadership for their stance on the Berkeley divestment bill:

Letter from Israel to Jstreet: Please Do Not Call Me “anti-Israeli” !

Dear J Street folks

I am an Israeli citizen, I support the proposed Berkeley divestment bill, and I find your statement on this matter completely unacceptable.

Calling the bill “anti-Israeli” amounts to no more than shallow fear-mongering, and it is also an insult to me, an Israeli citizen who supports morally justified sanctions against companies that sell or operate military equipment facilitating the occupation.

Please stop trying to gain political capital at the expense of dedicated peace activists, Jews and non-Jews. If you truly disagree with the proposed bill, please engage in a serious debate.



I contacted the organizers of the letter to get the story of why they felt it was necessary. I heard back from Ofer Neiman who lives in Jerusalem and is coeditor of Occupation Magazine, an Israeli website about the occupation run by volunteer activists. Neiman wrote:

When I received the first messages from J Street two years ago, I felt there was something to celebrate. It certainly looked like a grassroots initiative to afflict the comfortable ones at AIPAC and comfort the afflicted ones, like frustrated Israeli peace activists who are fed up with AIPAC’s “pro-Israel” war mongering…

I am not an expert on the Jewish political arena in the US, but at that time I felt that there was something promising about J Street. Although they were not issuing poignant messages about the wrongdoings of the occupation, their cheerful bulletins about saying ‘Yes’ to peace and encouraging US involvement in the (so called) Middle East peace process seemed right.

J Street has grown since that time, and even held a festive conference with celebrity guests. With this came a more detailed agenda. We now know that J Street has failed to stand up for Richard Goldstone, an honorable human rights defender (and a Zionist), who has been vilified in an appalling manner by Alan Dershowitz and others.

J Street has not criticized Israeli war crimes, and its representatives use very soft, whitewashing language, when they are asked to comment on the every day reality of apartheid in the Occupied Territories. Worse than that, J Street seems keen on smearing dedicated peace activists, like the staff and volunteers of Jewish Voice for Peace (and other groups!), labeling them as “anti-Israeli” (read their press release on the proposed Berkeley divestment bill). This is a nasty way of self-promotion. It’s the AIPAC way.

The question begs itself: should we lovingly endure these cutthroat tactics, because that’s the only way to win hearts and minds among the Jewish community? Well, perhaps not.

AIPAC sympathizers are unlikely to break ranks and support a group which may weaken the old lobby. Will progressives, especially young people, be inspired by J Street’s policy? We have a counterexample in Israel. The ranks of Peace Now, once a mass movement, have dwindled drastically since 2000, when, instead of taking Ehud Barak on as a right wing menace and the most reckless Israeli politician of all, they resorted to banal “peace is the only way” or “a ceasefire is possible” sloganeering (with the exception of their good work on settlement monitoring).

The tasks of calling Israeli war crimes by their name and organizing grassroots activities in the OT have been left to others, the “radicals”. This pattern was repeated in 2005, when Peace Now volunteered to be a foot soldier for Ariel Sharon’s destructive “Disengagement Plan”, telling us that “This is the only game in town” (as if it’s impossible to say “we support the dismantling of Gaza settlements, but beware the dangerous consequences of an occupation-perpetuating, thuggish, unilateral step”. Peace Now does not inspire. It seems that J Street too does not inspire.

It’s the “radicals” who are leading the Israeli peace camp these days, as anyone who goes to Bil’in or to Sheikh-Jarah can tell. These “radicals” are not horned, yellow-eyed beasts. They are ordinary citizens, many of them young, who have learned that they can only rely on themselves and on like-minded people abroad, like the Berkeley activists campaigning for selective, morally justified sanctions against the occupation and the cynical corporations profiteering from it.

Activists, in Israel or in the US, are looking for a political home, and for a big cause. A peace group which fails to address the most pressing issues on the agenda is not a political home, and a cause which amounts to no more than coy political maneuverings is not a big cause.

Suddenly in vogue, book banning spreads to Canada

Earlier today, Phil posted on a leading Israeli book chain that has removed a book critical of the settler movement. Seems the trend is spreading. Tablet reports on an effort by the Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center to ban the book The Shepherd’s Granddaughter from a program run by the Ontario Library Association for 7th and 8th graders:

The book was published in 2008 to mostly good reviews and little controversy. But when it was nominated to the 2010 Forest of Reading list, the uproar began. Canadian Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center demanded that the book be “made unavailable” to students.

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center does not promote censorship,” said president Avi Benlolo, “but the issue is that this book is so skewed and so overtly against the State of Israel. … Any school child who reads the book will grow to hate the State of Israel and possibly the Jewish people.” The Jewish Tribune, a publication of B’nai Brith Canada, ran a story with the provocative headline:

Could this book turn your child against Israel?” The story’s opening sentence: “Reading this book made me want to go to Palestine and kill Israelis.” The quote was attributed to a girl named Madelaine on the book review site Quoting her was Toronto parent and Jewish Tribune contributor Brian Henry, who also wrote an open letter to Ontario’s education minister demanding the book’s withdrawal from the reading list.

“Unfortunately, that’s a perfectly natural reaction to this book,” Henry wrote. And in the same issue of the Tribune, Sheila Ward, a trustee of the Toronto District School Board, said, “I will move heaven and earth to have The Shepherd’s Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves.”

Ward, it was clear, hadn’t read the book. “This book,” she wrote, “on the basis of what Mr. Henry has sent to me, is so blatantly biased that it is intolerable. I suspect I’ll be accused of censorship. If it means I will not support hate-provoking literature with no redeeming qualities, I am delighted to be called a censor.”

To its credit Tablet quotes the Goodreads review at length showing that the author in fact does not want to kill Israelis, and says that Henry is being intentionally “disingenuous and hyperbolically alarmist.” Unfortunately that doesn’t mean he won’t be successful.

Cohen on Poland

Roger Cohen, who was so stirred by Tehran, is now moved by Polish history to imagine a different Middle East. His teaching re victimhood is aimed at those of us who harp about “justice” in Palestine. And I think it’s a good teaching, poetical, but it would be more meaningful if Cohen would go to Palestine and observe those conditions and explain who is responsible for them.

Agency in history is a difficult issue; but the creation of Jim Crow in Palestine is Israel’s achievement, with the active complicity of the American Jewish leadership. (Also, when all was said and done, Poland got Poland back…) Cohen:

Poland should shame every nation that believes peace and reconciliation are impossible, every state that believes the sacrifice of new generations is needed to avenge the grievances of history. The thing about competitive victimhood, a favorite Middle Eastern pastime, is that it condemns the children of today to join the long list of the dead.

For scarcely any nation has suffered since 1939 as Poland, carved up by the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact, transformed by the Nazis into the epicenter of their program to annihilate European Jewry, land of Auschwitz and Majdanek, killing field for millions of Christian Poles and millions of Polish Jews, brave home to the Warsaw Uprising, Soviet pawn, lonely Solidarity-led leader of post-Yalta Europe’s fight for freedom, a place where, as one of its great poets, Wislawa Szymborska, wrote, “History counts its skeletons in round numbers” — 20,000 of them at Katyn.

It is this Poland that is now at peace with its neighbors and stable. It is this Poland that has joined Germany in the European Union. It is this Poland that has just seen the very symbols of its tumultuous history (including the Gdansk dock worker Anna Walentynowicz and former president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski) go down in a Soviet-made jet and responded with dignity, according to the rule of law.

So do not tell me that cruel history cannot be overcome. Do not tell me that Israelis and Palestinians can never make peace. Do not tell me that the people in the streets of Bangkok and Bishkek and Tehran dream in vain of freedom and democracy. Do not tell me that lies can stand forever.

Thanks to Irek.

Neocons need not apply

Below, an event at Tufts last week that will give heartburn to neocons. Notice: no one from Brandeis is participating. The neocon pursuit of corridor, their modus operandi (avoid direct sunlight – why, look at Rob’t Satloff’s dishonest interaction with Stephen Walt and MJ Rosenberg’s honest rejoinder) means there are openings in academe.

One Harvard math friend was discussing taboos with me. He said, “you mean criticizing Israel,” and I smiled, for being Muslim the only taboos that I had experience with were all sexual. I said as much to him and he said that for him criticizing Israel could cause grief. He and his girlfriend attended the Finkelstein event a while ago.

The Tufts Event:

 [sorry for lack of paragraphs below; webmaster is lazy]


Cabot Intercultural Center 160 Packard Avenue Tufts University Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts A CONFERENCE SPONSORED BY THE FLETCHER SCHOOL OF LAW AND DIPLOMACY, AND THE UCLA CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES CONFERENCE CONVENERS Nadim N. Rouhana, David N. Myers * _*Conference Schedule*_ Thursday, April 8 WELCOMING REMARKS 5:15 PM – 5:30 PM Stephen Bosworth, Dean,

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University David N. Myers, Professor of Jewish History, UCLA Nadim N. Rouhana, Professor of International Negotiation and Conflict Studies, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University SESSION I: LOOKING PAST, LOOKING FORWARD: THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Chair: Peter Uvin, Academic Dean and The Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Speakers:

Henry Siegman, President of the U.S./Middle East Project Rami Khouri, Director, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut and Editor-at-large, The Daily Star (Beirut); Fares Center Visiting Scholar Spring 2010, Tufts University _*Friday, April 9*_ 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM – REGISTRATION SESSION II: HISTORICAL ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN JEWS AND ARABS IN PALESTINE 9:00 AM – 10:45 AM Chair: Leila Fawaz, Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and Founding Director of Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Tufts University.

Speakers: Lital Levy, Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, Princeton University Arab Jewish Writers and the Question of Palestine, 1903-1948 Salim Tamari, Senior Fellow, Institute for Palestine Studies, editor of The Jerusalem Quarterly, Visiting Professor, Georgetown University, Washington DC WWI, Ottoman Jerusalem and Zionism David N. Myers, Professor of Jewish History, UCLA Past and Present: Why History Matters 10:45 AM – 11:15 PM – COFFEE BREAK SESSION III: CURRENT ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS 11:15 AM – 1:00 PM Chair:

Jeswald W. Salacuse, Henry J. Braker Professor of Law, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Speakers: George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of the Law “Unchain My Heart:” Overcoming the Tyranny of the “Past” Ian Lustick, Bess W. Heyman Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania We Have Met the Others and They Are Us: Perpetrators and Victims in “Valtz Eem Bashir” Nomi Stolzenberg, Nathan and Lilly Shapell Professor of Law, USC Law School Property and Sovereignty:

The Intertwined Fate of Private and Public Land Claims to the Holy Land 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – LUNCH BREAK SESSION IV: THE FUTURE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM Chair: Eileen Babbitt, Professor of International Conflict Management Practice, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Speakers: Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Professor, Department of Jewish History, Ben Gurion University, and Fellow, Center of Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania Binational Thinking:

Advantages, Risks, and Problems Leila Farsakh, Assistant Professor, Political Science Department, University of Massachusetts Boston The One State Option as a Political Project: Palestinian Challenges and Prospects Pnina Lahav, Professor of Law and Law Alumni Scholar, Boston University School of Law Why I Still Believe the Two-State Solution Is Preferable Nadim N. Rouhana, Professor, International Negotiation and Conflict Studies, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Historical Encounters and Visions of the Future in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Asking the Right Questions 4:00 PM – 4:15 PM – COFFEE BREAK SESSION V: 4:15 PM – 5:15 PM – WRAP-UP DISCUSSION WITH PARTICIPANTS.

Kafka’s Apartheid

Posted: 12 Apr 2010 08:20 AM PDT

My head hurts just reading the convoluted regulations.

Your chance to see and hear Eyad al-Sarraj

Posted: 12 Apr 2010 08:18 AM PDT

This looks good, I hope Sara Roy can get it on-line:

“Voices of Gaza” Videoconference Event

Presented by the MIT/Harvard Working Group on Gaza Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

Rowiya Hamam, Psychiatric nurse in Gaza Omar Shaban, Economist and director of the Gaza-based Palestinian think tank PAL-Think

Moderator: Dr. Sara Roy, Senior research scholar at Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Thursday, April 15, 2010 12:00-2:00 pm

Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics

Conference Room Littauer Building, Room 166 79 JFK Street, Cambridge

‘This is a racist state in which savages do what they want’

Who is Israel and what is Israel to you? as the old soul song went. This is another scary post. It is about the McCarthyite culture that has settled over that country. A leading book chain has removed a book that criticizes the settler movement from its shelves after rightwingers complained about the content. This society is in crisis, and who is informing Americans? From Ynet:


Shulamit Aloni, former chairwoman of the leftist Meretz party, said in response to the chain’s decision, “Israel has not been democratic for some time now. Our declaration of independence promised equality. I there equality? This is a racist state in which savages do what they want in the name of G-d and their rabbis.” 

“The settlers rule the land. The government supports them so much; it’s a disgrace,” Aloni told Ynet Sunday night.

Thanks to Marsha Cohen.

91 Democratic congresspeople need a little space on the special relationship

What the openly pro-Israel Jeff Jacoby describes here (“Support for Israel runs on party lines”) is not a new phenomenon although the gap between registered Democrats and Republicans when it comes to Israel has grown wider. That 91 Democrats refused to sign the recent Hoyer-Cantor letter to Secretary Clinton on the “unbreakable bond’’ and “extraordinary closeness’’ between the United States and Israel may reflect what they have heard from their constituents– whereas the most vocal Republicans are the Christian Zionist evangelicals.

This ultimately presents a problem for a party that has historically been dependent for the bulk of its funds on wealthy Jews and labor unions run by pro-Israel bureacrats. At what point will that funding either switch to Republicans or, what is more likely to happen in the case of those labor bureacrats, they will campaign only half-heartedly or worse for the party, sit on their hands? Jacoby:

The letter was polite, but there was no mistaking the implicit rebuke of the president for treating Israel so shabbily. Nor, one might think, was there any mistaking its bipartisan appeal: It was signed by 333 members of the US House, more than three-fourths of the entire membership….. 

But look at the disparity that emerges when those results are sorted by party affiliation. While support for Israel vs. the Palestinians has climbed to a stratospheric 85 percent among Republicans, the comparable figure for Democrats is an anemic 48 percent…. …And behind Israel’s “Top 5’’ favorability rating lies a gaping partisan rift: 80 percent of Republicans — but just 53 percent of Democrats — have positive feelings about the world’s only Jewish country.

Similarly, it is true that 333 US House members, a hefty bipartisan majority, endorsed the robustly pro-Israel Hoyer-Cantor letter to Clinton. But there were only seven Republicans who declined to sign the letter, compared with 91 Democrats — more than a third of the entire Democratic caucus. (Six Massachusetts Democrats were among the non-signers: John Olver, Richard Neal, John Tierney, Ed Markey, Michael Capuano, and Bill Delahunt.)

From Zogby International, meanwhile, comes still more proof of the widening gulf between the major parties on the subject of Israel. In a poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute last month, respondents were asked whether Obama should “steer a middle course’’ in the Middle East — code for not clearly supporting Israel.

“There is a strong divide on this question,’’ Zogby reported, “with 73 percent of Democrats agreeing that the President should steer a middle course while only 24 percent of Republicans hold the same opinion.’’

Weighing Obama, ‘FP’ allows the Israel lobby to put its thumb on the scale

Josh Rogin piece at Foreign Policy about where Obama’s advisers stand on Israel (all over the map, he states; I’m not buying) seems to rely on the usual suspects for insight into Obama’s braintrust.

The quotations I bristle at are near the end, from worried outsiders and Israel supporters, and have the effect of making General James Jones look like an Israel-hater because he doesn’t line up behind Netanyahu. Jeez. Where do I live?

Add to that [conciliatory] line of thinking the National Security Council’s Dennis Ross, who due to his experience and inclination [former chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem; yes that’s all over some map] is also said to be more focused on solving the dispute over Israel’s settlements. Yes, Ross argues for going a little easier on the Israelis than the other members of the team, the official said, but recent attacks on his loyalty to America from unnamed sources were way overblown.

Valerie Jarrett is another team member to watch. Two officials confirmed she is in almost all the meetings, although one official cautioned that doesn’t mean she has a foreign-policymaking decision role, per se.

…To the extent that Jones and Jarrett seem to have increasing clout with Obama, that worries outsiders who fear they are pushing him toward a tougher stance vis-à-vis Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who abruptly cancelled his plans to come to Washington next week for the nuclear summit.

And amid reports that Obama personally directed the harsh response to Netanyahu following the settlements dispute last month and the dressing down Netanyahu received at the Oval Office, Israel supporters worry that he is determined to make Netanyahu come to him.


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