Archive | June 6th, 2010



What Israel’s Execution Of An American Teen Means

We Can Kill Anyone, Anywhere No Reason Needed, We Are Terrorists

By Gordon Duff
Mark Glenn Interviews Gordon Duff MP3

Israeli “comandos” executed peace activists, mostly with shots to the back of the head at point blank range, while prisoners were kneeling, according to a report from an Israeli paper, based on autoposy results

An American teenager Furkan Dogan was murdered by Israeli commandos, pirates really, this week. He was shot in the abdomen and, instead of being given medical aid, he was held down on the deck of a ship, probably by multiple pairs of combat boots and shot four times in the back of the head at close range.

Reports from the Israeli Knesset have Israeli boats approaching the unarmed flotilla, machine guns pouring lead across the decks. These facts won’ t be in any American or British newspaper or on the television news, not the corporate networks anyway. Israel dictates what is reported, even by the BBC, an organization they control entirely.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, an Israeli military force has gone after a ship in the Mediterranean. The most glaring case is the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. With President Lyndon Johnson agreeing to support the Israeli invasion of Egypt and Syria, a quick land grab started by a Pearl Harbor type sneak attack, it wasn’t certain that the American military would support this kind of cowardly aggression.

Thus, the American monitoring ship, the USS Liberty, had to be sunk and its entire crew wiped out to a man. President Johnson approved, Admiral Sidney McCain agreed to cover it up and Israel sent wave after wave of bombers, torpedo boats and fighter aircraft out but the USS Liberty never went down. 34 Americans were murdered by Israel that day.

The USS Liberty incident should have taken down the Johnson presidency, ended the “special relationship” with Israel and opened the 6 Day War to real scrutiny for what it was, Israeli expansionism.

If the United States had reacted then, there would have been no 1974 oil embargo, no Ayatollah in Iran, no “war on terror,” no 9/11 and no world economic collapse. A single act of treason 43 years ago changed the world for the worse, erasing our triumphs in World War 2 and erasing the economic boon the collapse of the Soviet Union should have brought the world.

Is It Still Treason When Nobody Knows?

The current attack against the Freedom Flotilla deeply parallels the USS Liberty attack. The attack on the Liberty was an act of war against the United States. This required retaliation. There was none. “What it wasn’t was an “accident.” Israel now calls the murder of an American teenager.”

Allowing Israel to get away with this, an attack on a US Navy ship in international waters was one of the worst acts of treason and cowardice in American history but it was also a more significant error. America gave up its sovereignty to Israel. Johnson had been bought and paid for long before, years of sexcapades in Hollywood, arranged by studio heads and, at the time of the USS Liberty attack, bedding an Irgun operative, Matilda Krim.

Johnson had seen “the outfit” get rid of President Kennedy and knew he had to ”toe the line.” Another Kennedy would die and, after that, no American leader would oppose Israel again, not without a plane crash, sex scandal or being removed from office through a massive deluge of cash.


When an American citizen is murdered anywhere in the world, our embassy is involved, the FBI asks to assist in the investigation and the State Department monitors the case from beginning to end. In 1812, we went to war over the kidnapping of Americans from ships at sea. We entered World War I because of a German attack that killed Americans, an attack on a ship carrying arms during a war.

Were a soldier from any army or police force in the world to shoot an unarmed American on their own territory, an apology would be offered immediately, reparations made and still, they would face military retaliation. Such an incident is state terrorism by definition.

The idea of a member of a military group murdering an American, not an accidental shooting but an execution, not within their sovereign borders but during an act of piracy in international waters, America would have an obligation to respond militarily to a terrorist attack.

However, not only was nothing done, nothing has been said. America is only admitting that it is no longer a sovereign nation. It can’t, it won’t protect its citizens, it won’t even act in concert with the international community. America is a colony of a police state, a colony of a terrorist evildoer.

No American Safe, U.S. Passports Now Worthless

The message Obama, Biden, Schumer, McCain and Lieberman sent out is clear. If you want to spit on an American soldier in Germany or Italy, we don’t care. If you rape an American woman in a hotel, kidnap an American child anywhere in the world, America isn’t concerned, not unless the child is a Jew.

America is obsessed with one thing and one thing only, protecting Jews, Israeli, American, it doesn’t matter. Why is this?

Only a kidnapped Jew gets news exposure. Anyone else “had it coming.” How can a large nation allow racial discrimination against its own majority Christian population? If we didn’t see it, who would believe it.

We even allow our own military to be murdered and say nothing. How can such a little country have so much power. Did America really surrender her national sovereignty to Israel so many years ago?

American Outrage

It is the American military that is reacting to this latest provocation with the most anger. After years of conditioning to see Muslims as a less than human, years of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan have mellowed even the most strident “Zionist Evangelical” crusaders bent on killing every Arab they could get their hands on, products of Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense propaganda machine.

The America that only knew of the Middle East from watching villainous “greasy” Arab terrorist and Nordic looking Israeli “freedom fighters” with their blonde hair and aquiline features play out “comic book melodramas’ on television.

Each show always ends the same, credits that look like an Anti-Defamation League or AIPAC membership list, producers, directors, writers, editors, even the caterers.

Decade after decade Americans were being fed a constant diet, are being fed a constant diet of race hatred. Now Americans, particularly American soldiers, many of whom have spent years living with tribesmen in Afghanistan or playing with kids on the dusty streets of Iraq, our kids, our soldiers know better.

The picture now in their minds is that of an American teenager being executed by a criminal gang, protected by the Israel lobby in the United States, protected by cowards like Barak Hussein Obama, protected by a nation that has lived for decades above any law.

Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran. A 100% disabled vet. He has been a featured commentator on TV and radio including Al Jazeera and his articles have been carried by news services around the world. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues. This article first appeared in Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal.

Senior Editor: Veterans Today .

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Mark Steel: Of course, they were asking for it!

It’s time the Israeli government’s PR team made the most of its talents, and became available for hire. Then whenever a nutcase marched into a shopping mall in somewhere like Wisconsin and gunned down a selection of passers-by, they could be on hand to tell the world’s press “The gunman regrets the loss of life but did all he could to avoid violence.”

Then various governments would issue statements saying “All we know is a man went berserk with an AK 47, and next to him there’s a pile of corpses, so until we know the facts we can’t pass judgement on what took place.”

To strengthen their case the Israelis have released a photo of the weapons they found on board, (which amount to some knives and tools and wooden sticks) that the naive might think you’d expect to find on any ship, but the more astute will recognise as exactly what you’d carry if you were planning to defeat the Israeli army.

It’s an armoury smaller than you’d find in the average toolshed in a garden in Cirencester, which goes to show the Israelis had better destroy Cirencester quickly as an essential act of self-defence.It’s a shame they weren’t more imaginative, as they could have said “We also discovered a deadly barometer, a ship’s compass, which could not only be frisbeed at someone’s head but even had markings to help the assailant know which direction he was throwing it, and a set of binoculars that could easily be converted into a ray-gun.

That would be as logical as the statement from the Israeli PM’s spokesman – “We made every possible effort to avoid this incident.” Because the one tiny thing they forgot to do to avoid this incident was not send in armed militia from helicopters in the middle of the night and shoot people. I must be a natural at this sort of technique because I often go all day without climbing off a helicopter and shooting people, and I’m not even making every possible effort. Politicians and commentators worldwide repeat a version of this line.

They’re aware a nation has sent its militia to confront people carrying provisions for the desperate, in the process shooting several of them dead, and yet they angrily blame the dead ones. One typical headline yesterday read “Activists got what they wanted – confrontation.” It’s an attitude so deranged it deserves to be registered as a psychosis, something like “Reverse Slaughter Victim Confusion Syndrome”.

Israel and its supporters claim that Viva Palestina, made up of people who collect the donated food, cement and items for providing basic amenities such as toilets, and transport them to Gaza, wanted the violence all along. Because presumably they must have been thinking “Hezbollah couldn’t beat them, but that’s because unlike us they didn’t have a ballcock and several boxes of plum tomatoes”.

One article told us the flotilla was full of “Thugs spoiling for a confrontation”, and then accused them of being “Less about aid and more about PR. Indeed, on board was Swedish novelist Henning Mankell.” So were they thugs or about PR? Did they have a thugs’ section and a PR quarter, or did they all muck in, the novelist diverting the soldiers with his characterisation while the thugs attacked them with a lethal spirit level?

But some defenders of Israel are so blind to what happens in front of them there’s nothing at all they wouldn’t jump to defend. Israel could blow up a cats home and within five minutes they’d be yelling “How do we know the cats weren’t smuggling semtex in their fur for Hamas?”

If this incident had been carried about by Iran, or anyone we were trying to portray as an enemy, so much condemnation would have been spewed out it would have created a vast cloud of outrage that airlines would be unable to fly through.

But as it’s Israel, most governments offer a few diplomatic words that blame no one, but accept the deaths are “regrettable”. They might as well have picked any random word from the dictionary, so the news would tell us “William Hague described the deaths as ‘hexagonal’”, and a statement from the US senate said “It’s all very confusing. In future let’s hope they make every effort to avoid a similar incident.”

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THE ROVING EYEBy Pepe EscobarJust imagine if these were Iranian commandos attacking a multinational, six-boat aid flotilla in international waters. The United States, the European Union and Israel would instantly make sure to shock and awe Iran to kingdom come.

Instead, it was Israeli commandos who perpetrated this bit of gunboat diplomacy – or “self-defense” – in the dark hours of the early morning, in international waters, some 130 kilometers off the coast of Gaza.

And what if they were Somali pirates? Oh no, these are Israeli pirates fighting shady, “terrorist” Muslims … It doesn’t matter that Arab, Turkish, European, developing-world public opinion and

governments are fuming. So what? Israel always gets away with – as Turkey is stressing – “murder” (or “state terrorism”, according to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan).

Footage from the deck of the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara – played across the world, but not much on US networks – is unmistakable. Fully body-armored and weaponized Israeli commandos have approached the flotilla on high-speed marine dinghies, deployed stun grenades and tear gas and shot everything in sight – a military helicopter is hovering over the flotilla. At a certain point the commander of the Marmara is heard, in English: “Please stop all resistance. They are using live ammunition.”

Ah, the “resistance” … Debka, essentially an Israeli intelligence digital spin machine, described the peace flotilla occupants as armed with “firebombs, stun grenades, broken glass, slingshots, iron bars, axes and knives”. Were the commandos only carrying paintballs and pistols?

So there you have it – Monty Python once again (tragically) remixed for the 21st century. The best-trained special forces in the world just wanted to “talk” and were attacked by a bunch of knife-wielding terrorists in a Turkish boat carrying tons of aid – medicine, building materials, school equipment, food, water purifiers, toys – for the 1.5 million Gazans who have been slowly dying under an Israeli blockade for the past three years, ever since they democratically elected a government by Hamas.

Debka even laments that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – “famous for its innovative electronic warfare capabilities” – did not bother to jam the signals and images coming from the flotilla, so the whole world wouldn’t see a thing. They also lament the attack was in international waters; “the blockade zone is 20 nautical miles deep from Gaza. An Israeli raid at that limit would have been easier to justify”. Obviously, they ignore the fact that Israel has no legal international claim to the (illegally occupied) Gaza coast.

We’re such a suffering lot

No one excels in post-Orwellian, war-is-peace newspeak as Israel. Not only the Israeli commandos are being spun as the victims; the world is being subjected to a complete Israeli-orchestrated news blackout. Nobody really knows how many civilians were killed (nine, 19,20? Mostly Turkish?

Maybe two Algerians? Any Americans or Europeans?) Nobody really knows if they were carrying “weapons”. Nobody really knows at what point the commandos freaked out (eyewitnesses tell of people being killed in their sleep).

All the several hundred passengers on the flotilla – Muslims, Christians, diplomats, non-governmental organization officials, journalists – have been de facto kidnapped by Israel. Nobody knows where they are being held. Radio static rules. Only myriad Israeli “spokespeople” control the word.Such as IDF spokeswoman Avital Liebovitch, stressing how lucky were the commandos to “have those guns” to defend themselves (they are being hailed in Israel as “brave heroes”).

So here’s how Israeli newspeak goes. Weapons-smuggling Hamas “terrorists” dupe fake international “demonstrators” into becoming human shields and start a firefight with Israeli commandos.

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, for instance, has described the flotilla as an al-Qaeda-linked “armada of hate and violence”. Looks like Hamas and al-Qaeda are now in the business of smuggling cement, orange juice and Chinese dolls.

It doesn’t matter in all this that the World Health Organization, in a fresh report, has stressed how Gaza – because of the illegal Israeli blockade the flotilla was trying to break – is mired in absolute poverty, unemployment, lack of medicine and medical equipment, and is being literally starved to death; no less than 10% of Gazans, mostly children, are physically stunted from malnutrition. The Israeli commandos were defending the illegal Israeli blockade in Gaza.Progressive Jews, wherever they live, are the first to admit that most of Israel nowadays is extreme right-wing, paranoid, and convinced they are victims of a global propaganda war. Thus the eternal recurrence message – conveniently enveloped by US tax dollars – to the whole world. Shut up. We are the victims – we are always the victims. If you don’t believe it, you are an anti-Semite.

The fool on the hill

Fortunately for Israel, there’s always the original land of the free, home of the brave. Only in the US large sections of the population are capable of clamoring for punishing sanctions to be imposed on Iran and North Korea while being blind to the slow-motion genocide going on in the Israeli gulag.

And only one place in the whole world is capable of buying the narrative of Israel as “victims” of a humanitarian aid flotilla: the US Congress. The US State Department, in an official note, practically condemned the humanitarians. As for US President Barack Obama, so far he has been as mute (embarrassed?) as during the first weeks of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; the White House only expressed “deep regret”, without condemning Israel.The White House’s Israeli-in-charge, Rahm Emanuel, had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington for an amenable kiss-and-makeup get-together this Tuesday. On Monday, Netanyahu canceled the trip. Word in Washington is that Obama would pass a sponge over non-stop expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the appalling condition of the Gaza gulag as a whole in exchange for crucial extra cash from pro-Israel donors to the Democratic party, essential for winning the November legislative elections in the US.

 The Democrats are going to get the cash anyway – they just need to be mildly “concerned” about the ocean massacre, and that’s it.

Once again poor Obama – perhaps against his will – is left emasculated, like a mere Banana Republic satrap, while Netanyahu is allowed to merrily groan a remixed version of The Village People’s Macho, Macho Man. As the humanitarian flotilla was sailing under Turkish, Greek and Irish flags, the Israeli commandos in fact attacked a microcosm of the real, flesh-and-blood “international community” – with Netanyahu harboring no doubts he’ll once again get away with it.So how does it feel, Mr President, to be the fool on the hill?

And how does it feel for the rest of us, the real, flesh-and-blood international community – apart from manifesting immense outrage (as did the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) plus Turkey, France and Spain)? A distinct possibility – already considered in quite a few latitudes – is to boycott all things Israeli, or impose sanctions.

To really hurt their economy. To totally isolate them diplomatically. If for a majority of Israelis the whole world is their enemy – governments, organizations, non-governmental organizations, aid agencies, public opinion – why not return the compliment?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).He may be reached at

(Copyright 2010 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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June 3, 2010


Zio=Nazi’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, cancelled his appearance at the Hay Festival this week, hours before his intended talk.

A spokesman for the Nazi embassy said: “Obviously because of developing events and other pressing demands on the ambassador’s time, we had many other obligations to fulfil. Sadly that meant we had no choice but to cancel the talk at the Hay Festival.” ?

Many of the speakers at the literary festival in Hay-on-Wye used their talks to address concerns over Zionist and the Gaza flotilla.

One speaker who provoked an angry reaction from some audience members was human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC.

He said he had almost accepted an invitation to join the flotilla but had cancelled because of his speech at Hay.

He said: “It was a chance decision not to go on the flotilla. I am incensed, I’m volcanic about the actions of the Israeli government.

“This was to be foreseen, this was utterly predictable. The Israeli government are now a pariah state. They aren’t remotely interested in international law and never have been. They commit murder with impunity.”

He added that he believed Prime Minister David Cameron should send the Royal Navy to protect ships delivering aid to Gaza.

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June 3, 2010
Adverts urging the government to act in lifting Zio=Nazi’s blockade of Gaza have been published in several national newspapers.

One appeared in today’s Times asking the government to call an emergency international conference following Nazi’s actions in the Gaza flotilla incident.

The advert states:

“With the eyes of the world on Gaza, the government has its first opportunity to make a difference on the international stage “.

In the Guardian, meanwhile, a full-page advertisement, styled as an open letter is addressed to the Prime Minister by Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general to the Muslim Council of Britain.

It is signed by more that 70 people including former London mayor, Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU).

It condemns the “unlawful killing of humanitarian workers” and urges the new government “in the name of humanity to provide leadership to end this siege”.

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June 3, 2010


One of the first Gaza flotilla activists to return to Britain Sarah Colborne, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s director of campaigns, described the scenes as Zionist commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara ship which was leading the flotilla.

Speaking at a press conference after arriving back in London she said: “I saw four dead bodies laid out on the floor. As we were moved out we were cuffed and our telephones and cameras were removed. We had to sit or kneel in lines on the deck.”

Ms Colborne said she had seen one activist shot in the head during the incident on Monday.

Asked about Zionist’s allegations that the activists used weapons and heavily resisted the Zionist officers, Ms Colborne denied the Zionist’s had been physically attacked.

She said: “All the passengers and boats went through security checks before leaving Turkey. We had kitchen knives because we were there for some days and needed them to cook. I did not see any kitchen knives used [against the Zionist army].

She said she did not know if poles had been used by the activist.

Bullets had been “flying around all over the place”, but Ms Colborne said the activists had not shot at Zionist army, they had only been acting “very aggressively”.

“I did not see any guns being taken off Zionist’s and used against them.”

She claimed some Britons had been denied access to consular services after reaching the the port of Ashdod, and later at Be’er Sheva prison.

Still wearing her prison uniform, Ms Colborne said: “it was terrifying. I’m in a very fortunate position to be here. I hope the horrific deaths will not be in vain and will be a wake up call to the world.

“This was an attempt by Zionist to stop humanitarian aid getting to Gaza. We will continue to challenge the blockade and work to end the siege.”



21 Apr 2010
Palestinian factions have held a meeting in the Gaza Strip, discussing an Zionist move to expel thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.

The meeting on Tuesday was attended by figures from acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas.

Zio=Nazi regime of ‘Israel’ has moved to expel some 70,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, which is under an Zionist illegal occupation, because their presence in the area is ‘illegal.’

Officials attending the meeting decided to stage a rally to protest Tel Aviv’s move.

International organizations together with Arab and Muslim nations have called for practical means to put pressure on Tel Aviv to rescind the measure, which has been described as ethnic cleansing and a violation of human rights.

According to the International Middle East Media Center, Fatah and Hamas also agreed to take extra measures to counter ongoing Israeli aggression in the occupied lands.

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18 Apr 2010

Pro-Zionist Mohammed Dahlan, the member of the Fatah Central Committee, is accused of spying for Zionism.

Hamas has accused, Mohammed Dahlan, of spying for Zionism and gathering information on Hamas member’s whereabouts, Fars news agency reports.

The Foreign Affairs ministry of Hamas has stated that the former security chief in Gaza and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Mohammad Dahlan, has collaborated with Zio=Nazi against Palestinians in the Gaza.

According to the report, a close source to Dahlan who asked to meet with a Hamas official in the ministry, said that Dahlan had called on him to collect detailed information about some Palestinian fighters in Khan Yunis.

The source, who is said to be a former security officer in the Palestinian Authority, leaked that Dahlan demanded information about the fighters who had killed two Zionist military sources in an operation on March 26.

He said Dahlan had provided a list of Hamas officials and resistance fighters, and asked for the precise location of their homes.

Hamas had formerly accused Dahlan of being involved in the assassination of its commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

Hamas official Muhammad Nazal said Dahlan had sent two of his men who worked in a real estate company in Dubai to collaborate with Zionist gestapo Mossad agents in the January murder.




Posted: 06 Jun 2010

A day or so back the Jerusalem Post ran a propaganda piece called “Duped,” saying that the Turkish passengers of the Mavi Marmara included a bunch of jihadists who were bent on a violent confrontation with Israel, and lo, they won. Norman Finkelstein sent along the article with one statement in it boldfaced:

Former senior navy officers were also quietly telling reporters that the navy had other options. One claimed that it was possible to sabotage the ship’s propeller or that the commandos could have boarded by sea.

I asked Finkelstein why he thought this was important: Did he think that the Israelis chose the violent path?

Finkelstein and I then had an exchange, with a lot of speculation on his part, which I will summarize in my own words (Finkelstein has scholarly, not bloggerly, standards for publication): Of course we don’t know what happened. But the Israeli allegations are on their face not credible. The final deciders on the attack, according to the Israeli press, were Netanyahu and Barak. Well, Netanyahu’s brother Jonathan was on the Entebbe raid in 1976 and was the only Israeli killed.

The Entebbe raid was of course great p.r. for Israel’s military prowess for several decades thereafter. In his prime, Barak was also a commando. He led the commando raid that assassinated senior PLO officials in Lebanon in 1973, another great p.r. stunt. Finkelstein speculates that Netanyahu and Barak wanted to stage a dead- of-night armed commando raid in order to prove after so many bungled operations that the Israeli army was still up to snuff.

And against the Turkish vessel–  because it’s the Muslim world that they want to impress. (Not to mention burnishing their personal reputations and enhancing political futures.) The simple fact is that they had nonviolent options and by their own reasoning — “we did not expect violent resistance” — they could have just boarded the boat in broad daylight. The only sensible conclusion is that they wanted some “daring” commando raid to use for p.r. They wanted to pull a rabbit from the hat — and instead drew corpses drenched in blood.

P.S. From the Times online today, “Operation Calamity”:

The relationship between Bibi and Ehud goes back more than 40 years. Barak was a commander of Israel’s equivalent of the SAS and Bibi was one of his young officers. In 1972 they were among the commandos who stormed a hijacked Sabena jet at Tel Aviv airport. Bibi was injured by a bullet in his hand. Barak went untouched. Ever since, Netanyahu has regarded him as his mentor.

Posted: 06 Jun 2010

I was struck watching a Canadian television broadcast of John Mearsheimer, David Frum, Peter Beinart, and Derek Penslar (University of Toronto, Jewish history) called “Israel’s Newest Critics,” that the real outlier in the four was not Mearsheimer but Frum who came off as shrill and was clearly parroting the party line (“unresolved sovereignty” for Palestinians as a status quo). Beinart and Penslar have moved close to the Walt-Mearsheimer position, and it is the Frums of the world who are stuck defending the indefensible: Bibi and Lieberman.

Weiss adds: I gather the show is the equivalent of Charlie Rose. It is called The Agenda with Steve Paikin. At about18:50 Frum launches into a shtetl joke, with the (polite, i.e., false) disclaimer that he does not know who on the show is Jewish, which prompts Steve Paikin to say, “We should nail that down right now.” Paikin asks each guest whether he is Jewish.

Of course, Mearsheimer is the only non-Jew. How unusual to have an expert who is not Jewish talking about the American Jewish community, the assigned topic. How unusual to have personal religious attachment openly identified. And of course the broadcast was not in the United States.

The Freedom Riders (and the flotilla)Posted: 06 Jun 2010

My old friend Eric Etheridge, a Mississippian, responded to my post saying that Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, who were killed in Mississippi in ’63, were like the Gaza flotilla members:

1. CSG were not Freedom Riders but Freedom Summer volunteers. Rides were 1961, Freedom Summer 1963. Rides were classic nonviolent direct action, targeting segregated bus and train stations. Freedom Summer was about registering black Mississippians to vote, which was a provocative idea, granted, but not nonviolent direct action.

2. Ironically, the focus on voting rights came in some part from the Kennedy Administration. Even while the Rides were still going on, Bobby Kennedy met with Diane Nash, CT Vivian, James Lawson and a handful of other movement leaders in DC and urged them to forgo any more nonviolent direct action and focus on voter registration, which they (the Admin) thought was much less confrontational and much less likely to lead to violence.

 Admin offered funding, indirectly, and other support to try to induce the movement to shift its focus. Of course, any provocation was at risk of being met with deadly violence in the South in the early ’60s, and voter registration, as it turned out, wasn’t any safer than Freedom Riding. For CSG, it was even worse.

3. Not sure how you intended the question about provocation in the headline of your post (“Did Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman provoke and incite their murderers in Philadelphia, MI?”). I think the Freedom Riders intended to provoke violence in the south, in this sense: Whites had been using violence for nearly 300 years to control blacks in the United States.

The Riders were essentially saying, if you (white Southerners) are going to keep doing this, we’re going to make you do it in public, for all the world to see. We are willing to die in public for our freedom. If you kill the first group, we’re going to keep sending more groups for you to kill. We’re not going to let you do it in the shadows anymore.

4. Which is not to say the Riders wanted to die, but that they were willing to die.

5. I think the Riders’ essential gambit was this: either the White South attacks us, and they lose, or they let us desegregate the bus stations, and we win. So either way, the Riders were going to win, as long as they could muster the effort, keep the Riders coming and stay nonviolent. I think this is essentially the Flotilla’s gambit, but frankly I don’t know enough to know.

6. It is interesting to see what happened since some of the Flotilla people fought back. I’m sure all the things being said about them would have been said about the Riders if any of them had fought back.

A Palestinian-American family slept. Till 9/11Posted: 06 Jun 2010

Editor’s note: Anyone who is active in Palestinian issues in New York has come to recognize an attractive, outspoken family– Debbie Mardon and Mahmoud Bitar and their kids Joel and Jenna. Debbie looks like the girl next door, but she is unstoppable, Mahmoud has the softest smile you could ever see. Jenna is a compelling speaker. It turns out the family took a long time to awaken to the issue despite Mahmoud’s Palestinian origins. In fact, Mahmoud went by the name Michael for 30 years. Debbie watched Fox News.

The cover story of the latest issue of the Indypendent, a free, New York City-based newspaper, tells the family’s story. Excerpt below. You can read Alex Kane’s whole article here.

When Debbie first met Mahmoud, she did not understand what it meant to be someone from Palestine. Mahmoud was uncomfortable with his heritage, and he let people, including Debbie when they started dating, think he was Jewish or Italian. Debbie recalls how “people said things to him like, ‘You’re not a Palestinian, you’re too nice.’”

Born in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1958, Mahmoud was brought up immersed in the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He lived in Jericho, a city in the West Bank, for the first ten years of his life after his family moved there because his father had set up a station in Jericho selling fruits and vegetables. In 1967, when the Six-Day War broke out, Mahmoud and his family returned to Jerusalem after Israeli bombs killed three of his relatives.

As soon as Mahmoud and his two brothers were college-aged, their parents sent them to the United States. Mahmoud, now a U.S. citizen, arrived in the United States in 1977 on a student visa…

For most of their marriage and while raising Jenna and Joel, Mahmoud rarely talked about his childhood in Palestine.

“I never got a greater picture, it was just bad things were happening to the Palestinians, or at least my family that was Palestinian,” Jenna said. “I visited there before I knew what was going on, for three weeks, with my grandparents when they were alive. I lived the life they lived for a bit, saw the checkpoints, but I didn’t understand.”


The September 11, 2001, attacks jolted Debbie’s political perspective, and made Mahmoud more nervous about his background as a Palestinian, especially as thousands of Middle Eastern men were profiled and arrested throughout New York City.

Debbie had just dropped Jenna off at school when she returned home and watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center on television.

Debbie turned to Fox News for clarity.

“That was the first time I started learning about foreign policy, and why someone would attack us,” Debbie said.

But Debbie and Mahmoud rarely discussed post-9/11 politics.

“We didn’t discuss it, I just listened. Debbie’s a leader by nature, so she always led with the remote control,” Mahmoud recalls. “She had the remote control with her so she would pick the information, and I would retreat when I had really had enough of it.”

Debbie’s family started attending the Redeemer Presbyterian Church almost 20 years ago. While they were initially drawn to the church, which met at Hunter College, by a smart and interesting pastor, over the years the congregation became a second family for all of them.

However, they were forced to leave this community in March 2008 after Mahmoud, who worked at the church on Sundays, was accused of stealing a CD of a church sermon. He was arrested by a City University of New York security guard and charged with assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and misdemeanor theft — charges that Debbie and her family say were ridiculous and were later dropped.

“It was a small thing in the larger world, but it happened to us,” Debbie recalls. “I thought that we would be immune to all this, and that the community we were a part of would care about truth and care about justice being served, but they didn’t care about either of those things. It opened my eyes to greater injustices. I used to think that people who went to jail were probably guilty.

But now, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness! There are all these people in jail that are probably innocent.’ Michael could’ve gone to jail, but he had a private lawyer. What happens if you’re poor?”

Nine months later, on Dec. 27, 2008, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, beginning what would be a devastating assault.

“It was during Gaza that we started to awaken,” said Joel, who at the time was first foraying into politics by joining an antiwar organization at Hunter College and reading books about U.S. foreign policy and the Israel-Palestine conflict. “Killing civilians indiscriminately with U.S. weapons, paid for with our tax money, seemed to be so hideously wrong.”

During what Amnesty International called “22 days of death and destruction,” Debbie could not avoid the Gaza conflict, especially because Mahmoud’s brother Farid, who was glued to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the assault, was emotionally devastated.

Joel, who was reading books like Noam Chomsky’s The Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians, also started to talk with Debbie about the detrimental impact of U.S. foreign policy on Palestine.

After those 22 days were over, Debbie started going to lectures and protests about the conflict and soon found herself enmeshed in the world of Palestine solidarity activism. Although described as the “leader” of the household, she was the last person to finally call herself an activist.

The assault on Gaza also made Mahmoud become more engaged with the Palestine solidarity movement.

“It’s a natural conclusion to what happened in Gaza,” Mahmoud says. “Our breath is being taken out of us. I felt an urgency to start having a voice.”

In the last two years, the household has been transformed. Jenna describes how sometimes, before she goes to sleep, Debbie will run into her room and “just read me books out loud,” including passages from the work of Chris Hedges and Michael Parenti. “She’ll come and say, ‘I have to read you this passage, it’s so good’ and it’ll be something sad and depressing,” Jenna says, laughing.

These days, it is nearly impossible to miss Debbie and members of her family at activist events related to Palestine.

CFR party line ignores everything Cordesman, Petraeus and Mossad chief have been sayingPosted: 06 Jun 2010

Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations continues his critique of me for going after the CFR for publishing five Jewish experts on the Gaza flotilla attack:

I know it’s Shabbat, but the least you can do is a little bit of research.

See the chapter I did with the Shibley Telhami in “Restoring the Balance,” which was a joint cfr/brookings effort. My US News essay on the Gaza invasion and the work I did on Iraq for Salon some years ago.

I think it undermines your implicit argument that all the Jews at CFR think alike.

Well, I did my homework (except for the book chapter), and I see that Cook’s work is Realist, in the sense that he argues that war/occupation doesn’t work in the Arab world. His US News piece during “Cast Lead” said that Israeli violence against Gaza is justified but it won’t work. His piece mentions “collective punishment” in passing, but without earnestness.

Similarly, his CFR piece on the flotilla raid doesn’t say a word about Palestinian conditions under the siege; it treats the raid as a disaster for Israel’s p.r. “across the Arab and Muslim worlds” with scarce mention of Europe. I had challenged him to show me one place where he or any of the other CFR experts makes an earnest statement on behalf of Palestinian human rights. You won’t find any. And in the U.S. News/Gaza piece, Cook was writing after there was clear evidence of atrocities/disproportionate attack.

Now I admit that Cook is measured. But move on to the other four CFR panelists. They’re way worse. There was Richard Haass telling Obama to forget about settlements and a Palestinian state and join Israel in confronting Iran. There was Les Gelb saying that Israel was right! at the Daily Beast, and blockades are good.  I won’t even look at the Elliott Abrams and Max Boot pieces. Those guys are lights-out neoconservatives.

So let us be clear that the political (and Jewish) diversity Cook brags on goes from his Israel-sympathizing realism on the left to the nuts on the right. There’s a party line here. Nobody at CFR questions the “special relationship.” And this at a time when the security establishment, Anthony Cordesman, General David Petraeus, and even Mossad chief Meir Dagan are saying that Israel has become a strategic liability for the U.S. Even Biden has privately said as much; but no one at CFR can say so.

Shouldn’t a bipartisan organization like the Council have some balance? CFR used to have people like Richard Murphy (former State Department) and the great Henry Siegman doing ME stuff. Now it has neocons and Cook.

Keep in mind that CFR just replaced Jim Hoge as editor of Foreign Affairs with Gideon Rose, who has said that 9/11 had nothing to do with Palestine, who gives a platform to Israel lobbyists, never has a word to say about the strategic implications of Palestine, and who I gather once worked as an intern for AIPAC. Rose is from a wealthy New York real estate family. His father led efforts to stop boycotts of Israel. 

Oh but there I go talking about Jews again. If I keep this kind of baiting up, the anti-Semites will take away my parents’ summer house, force Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan to do tax law, run Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod out of the two offices closest to the president, never mind what will happen to poor Larry Summers and Peter Orszag and Steinberg and Bernanke and Dennis Ross and Russ Feingold and Dianne Feinstein and — better shut up. Religion means nothing. Especially around the Middle East!

Israeli Strangelove now at Harvard calmly lays out ‘Armageddon scenario’Posted: 05 Jun 2010

To understand the news involving Israeli nuclear-armed subs off Iran, I recommend an important post by Jerome Slater on his blog about a crazy/chilling paper from a former high Israeli security adviser now at Harvard, named Chuck Freilich

Read the whole original post–which includes a link to Freilich’s paper–then ask yourself what in heaven’s name this guy is doing at Harvard? And how many other brains in Israeli command are as deluded as he is? (It suggests again how little Americans know about rightwing trends in Israeli society.)

In my excerpt from Slater, note once again the utter refusal by this Israeli strangelove to reckon with the Palestinian issue as anything that Israel has to deal with. No, Israel has endless Arab enemies. Also note Slater’s view that our Israel policy is not just a strategic liability, no, it’s making us a nuke target. Excerpt, with my emphases

[T]he latest, and surely the craziest employment of the rationality-of-irrationality strategy of nuclear deterrence: Chuck Freilich’s thirty-four page study and recommendations for Israeli policy, “The Armageddon Scenario: Israel and the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism.” 

Freilich’s core argument is that Israel must enhance its deterrence against nuclear terrorism by adopting a policy under which it will initiate nuclear attacks against any state or non-state group that has a “declared nuclear terrorist capability, a stated intention to acquire one, or an advanced suspected one.”

While Freilich does not refer to [Thomas Schelling’s] rationality-of-irrationality theory [act so crazy that your enemies will fear you might actually nuke them], that is clearly the logic of his argument.

Does he actually mean what he seems to be saying: that Israel should not merely retaliate against a state or terrorist group that attacks it with nuclear weapons, but should completely destroy, in advance, any unfriendly state or group that declares it has the intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, or is merely suspected of having such an intention?” Yes.

To be sure, there are all sorts of crackpot theories and arguments, particularly concerning the use of nuclear weapons, but most of them are unlikely to actually influence state policies. However, Freilich’s arguments are more ominous, since he is at very heart of the Israeli government-military-academic establishment: a former Deputy National Security Adviser to the Israeli government and an Israeli delegate to the UN, now a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and a professor of political science at Hebrew and Tel Aviv universities.

The “Armageddon Scenario” was published by Bar-Ilan University’s Center for National Security Studies, a rightwing thinktank that is known to be highly influential within the Netanyahu government.

Here is Freilich’s argument. Israel (and the United States) faces a grave threat of nuclear terrorism, not only from a nuclear Iran, but perhaps “one which may be no less likely and actually far more difficult to counter [because]….those most likely to pursue nuclear terrorism may be fundamentally nihilistic and thus undeterrable… [they] may be prepared to pay any cost in lives – their own and others’ – in pursuit of their goal of destroying Israel.” Moreover, because al-Qaeda can blend in with the population and perhaps clandestinely set off a nuclear weapon in an Israeli or American city, there may be “no return address,” as he puts it, for retaliation.

The problem is real: Osama Bin Laden is known to be seeking nuclear weapons–which could be acquired by theft, loss of control over nuclear arsenals, or clandestine transfer or sales of nuclear weapons by North Korea or Pakistan– and he has openly threatened to use them against Israel and the United States. Freilich is hardly the first analyst to have noticed the problem, despite his modest claim to be “the first to examine the nature of the nuclear threat Israel faces and to propose potential responses to it.” However, the nature of his proposed responses is certainly original.

To begin, Freilich argues that the nuclear terrorism problem cannot be solved by political or diplomatic means and he has no criticism—not a word–of Israeli policies and behavior towards the Palestinians; rather, the underlying premise of his argument is that the Israeli occupation and increasingly harsh repression of the Palestinians have nothing to do with the hatred it has engendered in the Arab/Muslim world.

For those who find this premise to be preposterous the only solution can be a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and the Arab world as a whole, precisely what has been offered to Israel by the Arab world since 2002.

Freilich not only rejects such a course, he argues—and this is also certainly original—that a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would actually increase the threats to Israel: “Peace in the Middle East, although desirable, unfortunately will not provide for true reconciliation….For the radicals who will never accept Israel, a peace agreement will further increase their determination to try and restore ‘Arab rights’ by all means possible….A Palestinian state might create a sanctuary for terrorist organizations, which could use its territory, with or without its knowledge and cooperation, to develop and deploy a nuclear bomb on Israel’s borders and near major population centers. …The more Israel is accepted in the region and establishes peaceful relations with Arab states, the more the radicals will be determined to find new ways of achieving their goals.”

To meet this problem, Freilich concludes, Israel must adopt a new and more far reaching deterrence policy: “If the source of a terrorist nuclear attack against Israel is unknown, or if it is known to originate with al-Qaeda or Iran, Israel should make it clear that its response will be unlimited and include not just major population centers, but all sites of value, including those of major symbolic importance…such as Muslim cultural and religious sites.”

But even such draconic threats might not be sufficient, Freilich fears, to dissuade terrorist attacks. Therefore, Israel must go beyond deterrence and adopt a policy of preventive war:…

There is indeed a threat of nuclear terrorism against Israel and the United States—to this country, to a substantial degree, precisely because of its near-unconditional support of Israel. The best way to defuse this threat would be a negotiated and fair settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To be sure, while it is (shall we say) far-fetched to argue that such a settlement would increase the terrorist threat, it must be conceded that it might not eliminate it altogether: the conflict has gone on for so long, and with such terrible consequences for the Palestinian people, that the bitterness and hatred it has engendered in the Islamic world might continue for some time.

For this reason alone, it may not be the case that a two-state solution is the best way for Israel to solve its deterrence problem. Recently, despairing of the possibility that a two-state solution will ever be reached, a number of observers are considering a one-state solution: that is, a single Jewish-Palestinian binational democratic state.

Under the present circumstances, it is hard to see how such a fantasy could be realized: all the factors that now prevent a two-state solution–principally blind Israeli stupidity– would make a one state solution even more impossible. Yet, what might finally convince the Israelis—or at least should convince them—is the realization that the close intermixing of Jews and Arabs in a single state and in its major cities would be the best possible deterrent against any Islamic nuclear terrorist attack.

Remember that Herzl came up with Zionism when he heard Parisians crying ‘Death to the Jews!’Posted: 05 Jun 2010

One of my themes is that Americans, including me, have very little idea what Israeli society is really like. We are told by the lobbyists that it’s a democracy with shared values, but the reporters I trust, from Lia Tarachansky to Max Blumenthal to Jared Malsin, describe a society that is closing down in ugly ways, and you’d never know from reading Ethan Bronner in the Times.

Well here’s Neve Gordon, with a chilling report at LRB from Ben Gurion University. (I’ve given his account the headline I have because this account is another signal to me that Zionism has now run its historical course).

A Palestinian student with a Palestinian flag was shoved and had his flag torn from him by some of the pro-government protesters, who were chanting: ‘No citizenship without loyalty!’ In response, the Jewish and Palestinian oppositionists shouted: ‘No, no, it will not come, fascism will not come!’ and ‘Peace is not achieved on the bodies of those killed!’

At one point a Jewish provocateur, who is not a member of any group (and could even be a police agent), raised his hand in the air: ‘Heil Lieberman!’ The response of the pro-government students was immediate: ‘Death to the Arabs!’ Luckily the university security managed to create a wedge between the protesters, and in this way prevented the incident from becoming even more violent.

h/t Alex Kane. Earlier version of this post located Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv. Shows how much I know. It is, commenters pointed out, in Beersheba. 

(Gulp) Israel deploys nuclear cruise missiles near IranPosted: 05 Jun 2010

The other day on Russian TV, Norman Finkelstein said Israel is a lunatic state and it has a bunch of nukes. Well the Times of London says: 

Three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline.

The first has been sent in response to Israeli fears that ballistic missiles developed by Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, a political and military organisation in Lebanon, could hit sites in Israel, including air bases and missile launchers.

Oh and I theorized a long time ago that Obama caved on settlements because Israel has nukes and is out of control, and the game is containment.

‘NYT’ opens ‘inflammatory’ discussion–Israel as strategic liabilityPosted: 05 Jun 2010

Wow. The Times is beginning to open the door. It has a big Week in Review piece by Helene Cooper asking, “Washington Asks: What to Do About Israel” that begins with the disclaimer, this is an “inflammatory” subject.

(Guess what, we’ve been talking about it anyway.)

It is of course based on Tony Cordesman saying that Israel has become a strategic liability, and on David Petraeus saying that a few weeks back. Unfortunately the piece quotes Jeffrey Goldberg doing dialect, and Steve Israel (in addition to smart stuff from Jeremy Ben-Ami and Daniel Levy). Wouldn’t it be nice to quote the guys who started the quiet rush to the exits four years ago?

Mark my words: the lobby is too important to risk; the lobby is essential to Jewish nationalism (as Avraham Burg so wisely explained). Netanyahu has opened up daylight between the lobby and the U.S. president. So Netanyahu’s days are numbered.

The Helen Thomas momentPosted: 05 Jun 2010

I was surprised as anyone by the Helen Thomas video that came out the other day showing the veteran White House correspondent saying that the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and she wasn’t talking about the occupied territories. She said they should go back to Germany. One hears this type of comment in Palestine, too; I reported it from my Gaza trip a year back. 

The silver lining here is that Thomas, who is an Arab-American, was expressing maximalist feelings, and if you’re going to denounce her maximalist impulses, then it is only fair to expose maximalist policies on the other side. Ari Fleischer says that Thomas is in favor of “religious cleansing.” Well what is happening now– not just in angry people’s heads– but on the ground in Sheikh Jarrah and al-Walaje and so forth?

That’s a maximalist policy. Yes Arabs opposed Partition, but so did Jewish maximalists, and who has had the hammer for the last 63 years? And which side repeatedly defied international law, and Harry Truman too, when it came to letting the non-Jewish refugees of ’48 return to their homes following their cleansing? 

It’s one thing to say that Palestinians want to push Jews into the sea. And yes, some surely do. But who actually got pushed into the sea? The Palestinians in Jaffa, during the ethnic-cleansing of that Arab city. There are now Israeli art galleries in the old stolen Arab homes there. That land’s beauties must be shared.


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Jewish group said to prepare boat to go to Gaza

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Yes the Rachel Corrie has been seized by the Israelis. But, from Ma’an, and at Palestine Libre too:

She will be sailing to Gaza during the second half of July. In order to avoid sabotage, the exact date and name of the port of departure will be announced only shortly before her launch….

[Kate Leiterer:] ”In attacking the Freedom Flotilla, Israel has once again demonstrated to the world a heinous brutality. But I know that there are very many Israelis who compassionately and bravely campaign for a just peace. With broadcasting journalists from mainstream television programmes accompanying our boat, Israel will have a great chance to show the world that there is another way, a way of courage rather than fear, a way of hope rather than hate’,’ says Edith Lutz, an organizer and passenger on what is being called the “Jewish boat.”

”Jüdische Stimme,” or Jewish Voice for Peace, along with European Jews for a Just Peace in the Near East, and Jews for Justice For Palestinians (UK) are “sending a call to the leaders of the world: Help Israel find her way back to reason, to a sense of humanity and a life without fear.”

The withering of liberal Zionism

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Much has been said about the withering of liberal Zionism, as the mainstream becomes ever more dominated by the military extremist and ultra-religious strains. Yossi Sarid says it poetically:

In the beginning, he was a gazelle whose neck the hunters were seeking. With time, he tried to become a seagull in the hope that if he was in the sky, they would not bring him down. He went to every corner of the land to build a nest for his rejected hopes, to find a refuge, until he finally found a place to rest his legs and soul − Nitzana. Late MK Arie “Lova” Eliav was the first traitor. But I did not speak out because I was not Lova.

Later on, they attacked the people of the kibbutzim for being hedonists, and the kibbutz for being a place where people sit on easy chairs and take a dip in the pool, where the grass is greener and the water is the brightest blue. So they imprisoned them within the security fence; they broke their spirits. The Zionists’ gem and pride turned into a wreck that would not be worth its weight in the settlements’ gold. But I did not speak out because I was not a kibbutznik.

It’s a beautiful read, check it out.

You know, it seems that what’s happening with Israel’s politics and definitions of Zionism is the inevitable outcome of the wheels set in motion in 1948. When you define your national identity through military power (in Israel, the common saying is “If force doesn’t work, try more force”), the space for anything else is bound to shrink.

A prayer for her country

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Emily Henochowicz, on her blog, April 13:

O America, my America… stop making weapons to test on demonstrators in Palestine.

Josh Ruebner, on our site, yesterday:

The high-velocity tear-gas canister which injured Emily Henochowicz was likely of U.S. origin

Photo of Emily Henochowicz at Qalandiya checkpoint, May 31, by Majdi Mohammed for AP:


I need your help

Posted: 05 Jun 201

It is difficult to formulate a new Jewish history while looking through the dense prism of Zionism–the light that traverses it keeps breaking into sharply ethnocentric colors…. [T]he Jews have always comprised significant religious communities that appeared and settled in various parts of the world, rather than an ethnos that shared a single origin and wandered in a permanent exile…How can we stop trudging along roads paved mainly with materials forged in national fantasies? 

Imagining the nation was an important stage in the development of historiography, as indeed in the evolution of modernity. It engaged many historians from the nineteenth century onward. But toward the end of the twentieth century the dreams of national identity began to disintegrate. More and more scholars began to dissect and examine the great national stories, especially myths of common origin, that had hitherto clouded the writing of history. It goes without saying that the secularization of history took place under the hammer blows of cultural globalization, which continually takes unexpected forms throughout the Western world.

Yesterday’s nightmares of identity are not tomorrow’s identity dreams. Just as every personality is composed of fluid and diverse identities, so is history, among other things, an identity in motion.

–Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, Introduction

An Israeli turns on the charm

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Past and future American government official Andrew Exum (Abu Muqawama), an exponent of counter-insurgency published by Center for a New American Security:

Last fall, I was in Israel for a two-week visit and conducted a few formal interviews with various Israeli officers, journalists and scholars. I met for coffee one morning with a retired Israeli general officer to discuss the fighting in southern Lebanon during the 1990s, and before too long, the two of us were engrossed in conversation about guerrilla warfare, Lebanon, the learning process that militaries go through in combat, and a host of related subjects. One hour became two, and two hours became three. The two of us must have downed three cups of coffee apiece, and my hand cramped from all the notes I was taking. At the end of the conversation, though, this retired officer took my hand, squeezed it hard, and said, “Andrew, just remember one thing: the Muslims are like shit. They stink, and there are plenty of them for all of us.” …

[I] left my most recent research trip to Israel, though, openly wondering a) whether or not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiment was widespread within the officer corps and whether that might have an effect on Israeli operations in the territories

Jews at CFR, c’ted

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Steven Cook has admonished me for “Jew-baiting” in a post I did yesterday on the Council on Foreign Relations’s lineup writing about the Gaza flotilla attack. His comment:

I am Jewish….

Also, Philip you should be ashamed of yourself for:

1) the Jew baiting in this post
2) not bothering to read much of what my colleagues and I have written

Off to play golf.

Steven A. Cook

Break your handicap, Steven, and when you get back:

I’m sure I was too provocative in my previous post– I sometimes am. But does it matter that all five experts convened by the Council on Foreign Relations to weigh in on the flotilla raid are Jewish? Does the lack of religious diversity signify anything noteworthy (even about the Jewish rise into the establishment)? William Quandt says that all the State Department officials who opposed Partition and later Truman’s decision to recognize Israel were “WASPs”.

Daniel Luban has scored liberal Zionists’ “attacks directed at any critics who were deemed to be ‘outsiders’—generally Gentiles.” Peter Beinart has basically said the same thing when he said, “I think we suffer from a distinct absence of Palestinian voices.” What do you say?

And as to you and your colleagues’ writings, I’ve read the others, not you. But help me: Can you point me to any earnest opposition to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories on human-rights grounds (a concern that animates my site and is anathema at your neocon hangout) in anything any of you guys has written?

Witness: Hours elapsed with wounded lying unattended

Posted: 05 Jun 2010

Amazing eyewitness account by Abbas Al Lawati of GulfNews, who was on Mavi Marmara:

Then the announcements on the ship started. Lubna Masarwa, an official from the Free Gaza Movement, addressed the Israeli soldiers, saying the ship had surrendered and its passengers would not confront the army. “You have blood on your hands. Four have died and we have many more critically injured. They need help,” she shouted.

She must have repeated the message at least ten times in English, then a few times in Hebrew. No response.After about half an hour, Knesset member Haneen Zoubi, armed with a white handkerchief, a message on a large piece of cardboard and her parliamentary immunity, risked her life to walk straight to the window. The soldier nervously raised his weapon and gestured for her to stop. She went ahead, stood there for a few seconds to ensure that the message was read, and walked back.

No response. The sun was up by then.

The announcements by Masarwa continued. Then, a British woman wrapped herself in the Union Jack and made the same move.

Approximately an hour and a half after the first call for help, a soldier shouted through the window in a heavy Hebrew accent: “Injured only! One by one!”.

Slowly the injured were carried out. I was asked to help carry some, which led me to the second sitting hall on the floor where the injured were being treated.

I was shocked to see row after row of injured people lying down and waiting for help, some slowly losing consciousness.

About an hour later, after the injured had been unloaded, the Israelis told us to start moving towards the door at the back of the room. One by one we came out, with men being strip searched down to their underwear in full view of the women, then their hands tied with plastic handcuffs, some behind their backs and others in front.

h/t Nancy Kanwisher

Oh and this is a parallel-universe statement from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, telling Jews what to care about re the flotilla:

Mesheberach: During the Jewish Sabbath service, there is a prayer is for those who are ill or injured.   The “Mesheberach” includes the name of the person for whom the prayer is offered and, in an unusual practice, the name of the person’s mother rather than his or her father. Whether in the synagogue or not, we hope readers will remember the six soldiers injured while protecting the people of Israel:

Dean Ben (son of) Svetlana
Roee Ben (son of) Shulamit
Daniel Lazar Ben (son of) Tina Leah
Yotam Ben (son of) Dorit
Ido Ben (son of) Ilana
Boris Ben (son of) Eelaina

Updates on the MV Rachel Corrie

Posted: 04 Jun 2010

The news on the MV Rachel Corrie‘s attempt to break the siege has been difficult to follow, but it seems that twitter is the most accessible and reliable news source right now. I’ve embedded the Mondoweiss (@mondoweiss) twitter feed below where we’re posting information as it becomes available.


The myth of Israeli strategic genius

Posted: 04 Jun 2010

The botched Israeli naval commando raid on the Gaza Freedom flotilla has a lot of people scratching their heads. How could Israel have made such an ill-advised decision to try to storm the ship the Mavi Marmara with 600 peace activists on board, which in the best of circumstances could only have ended in a public relations disaster? Once it did make that decision, why did members of the much vaunted Israel Defense Forces naval commandos Shayetet 13 conduct the assault itself in such an inept fashion virtually guaranteeing their humiliation and the loss of life? 

These questions are only puzzling because most of us have bought the myth that the Jewish state has an unbroken record of strategic brilliance and military success going back at least to 1948. Typical is the argument by three U.S. Air Force Officers in a paper they wrote in 2000 for the National Defense University in which they held up Israeli national security decision-making as epitomizing Clausewitz’s ideal of a seamless link between tactical and strategic brilliance. 

This myth persists in part because most people here are unfamiliar with the New Historians of Israel who systematically challenge many of the cherished misconceptions of the official history that sustain this myth. But it also survives because it is fostered by some supporters of Israel who use it to deflect criticism of particular Israeli government policies (“who knows better than Israelis what they need to ensure their security”) and to encourage the Israelization of American foreign policy (“after 9/11, we’re all Israelis now”).

But a cleared-eyed look at Israeli strategic decision-making and military performance since 1948, puts the Gaza Freedom Flotilla debacle and other recent Israeli blunders in a context which suggests we should not have been surprised at all it turned out as badly as it did. (For much more on this see my Power and Military Effectiveness)

On the strategic level, a good argument can be made, and indeed Oxford historian Avi Shlaim makes it, that Israel’s collusion with the Hashemite regime in Jordan before 1948 with the objective of thwarting the establishment of an independent Palestinian State at partition, provoked, or at least provided the rationale for, the invasions by the other Arab states during the War of Independence in an effort to undo this “deal” made at the expense of the Palestinians. Israel’s strategic blunder in joining France and Britain in the ill-fated Suez War of 1956, which united America and the Soviet Union in opposition, hardly merits mention.

Israeli claims, most recently advanced by the Jewish state’s current Ambassador to the U.S. in his book about the Six Day War of 1967, that the IDF struck first to preempt an Arab attack are questionable. But even if we concede their validity, Israel’s decision to go beyond destroying Arab military forces and seize territory was certainly unnecessary. Indeed, the origin of Israel’s strategic dilemma today is the settlement enterprise, which constitutes the most serious existential threat to Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state.

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon had the twin goals of destroying the PLO and installing a pro-Israel Christian regime there to change the strategic environment in the region in the Jewish state’s favor. What Israel got instead was an 18 year festering sore and the creation of one of its most potent enemies – Hizbollah – along its northern border.

Having learned nothing after those 18 years, Israel invaded again in 2006 with the objective of teaching Hizbollah a lesson. Instead, the result was an inconclusive military campaign and a public relations disaster. Ditto, Gaza in 2008. Given this track record, what is most amazing that Israel is not ranked among such strategic dunderheads as Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Germany!

Our image of the IDF as a tactically highly proficient force is more grounded in reality, but still overdrawn. The enduring image of the War of Independence is of a Jewish David, armed literally with a sling, fighting an Arab Goliath, equipped with the most advanced weapons, and sometimes lead, at least in Leon Uris’ fevered imagination, by refuges from the Nazi Wehrmacht.

But this has things backwards: The Jewish forces in the war were better armed than most of the Arabs (save for the British-led Arab Legion in Jordan which hardly participated in it) thanks to arms from the Soviet Bloc and the United States. By the end of the war, the IDF substantially outnumbered the Arabs. By the way, the best students of the Blitzkrieg were in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, not the Arab capitals.

Since Israel took on the Egypt with the British and the French, this campaign hardly demonstrates anything more than the truism that greater numbers increase the chance of victory. The poster-child for Israel military prowess is the Six Day War, in which the Israelis did achieve some spectacular military victories. But the Jewish state was not a fighting a monolithic Arab coalition, and so could operate again Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in sequence, rather than simultaneously, further undermining the David/Goliath myth.

If 1967 is the high-water mark for the myth, 1973 is when the tide started going out. Israeli tactics for defending occupied Sinai and Golan were defective and their much-touted intelligence services were caught napping on Yom Kippur. Only Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the intervention of the United States (Seymour Hersh argues that the two were not unrelated in his Samson Option) prevented a costly stalemate.

Finally, Israel’s military performance in Lebanon in 1982 and 2006 and Gaza in 2008 were hardly text book examples of tactical prowess.

Given that, the interesting question is what explains Israeli strategic and military ineptitude, particularly in recent years? The conventional view is that the Occupation, which involved the IDF in police and other non-military operations, blunted the sharp edge of the IDF’s sword. I find that explanation compelling in explaining the tactical erosion of the IDF’s capabilities.

John Mearsheimer makes a different argument, which I will call the Moral Hazard of the Israel Lobby. His logic, which I find helpful for understanding Israel’s strategic missteps, is that the promise of unquestioning U.S. support has, like the government bailout of the Savings and Loan industry, fostered a culture of risk-taking within the Israeli political elite (as it did among U.S. bankers) that leads them to ignore the costs and risks of the questionable strategic decisions they have made, particularly since 1967.

Placed in this historical context, the strategic debacle and tactical shortcomings of Israel’s military operations against the Gaza blockade runners seem to be par for the course rather than anything surprising. So next time any one tells you that the Israelis know best about their, or our, security, keep in mind their real track record.

Goldstone removed from Hebrew University board

Posted: 04 Jun 2010

Richard Goldstone has been removed from the board of governors of the Hebrew University. He was on it for more than a decade. Jewish nationalism trumps Jewish intelligence, once again. The struggle of our generation.


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