Categorized | Middle East

A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

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100 greatest movie insults of all time

 01 Jul 2010

Sometimes we all need a break:

(via Andrew Sullivan)

 

CNN covers the growing cultural boycott of Israel

 01 Jul 2010

How did David Kelly die?

 01 Jul 2010

Here’s a story that requires sun-light. I’ve heard from various sources over the years that Dr David Kelly was probably murdered by either British agents, hired foreign thugs or an intelligence service:

The official story of Dr David Kelly is that he took his own life in an Oxfordshire wood by overdosing on painkillers and cutting his left wrist with a pruning knife.

He was said to be devastated after being unmasked as the source of the BBC’s claim that the Government had ‘sexed up’ the case for war in Iraq.

A subsequent official inquiry led by Lord Hutton into the circumstances leading to the death came to the unequivocal conclusion that Kelly committed suicide.

Yet suspicions of foul play still hang heavy over the death of the weapons expert whose body was found seven years ago next month in one of the most notorious episodes of Tony Blair’s premiership.

Many believe the truth about the manner of Dr Kelly’s death has never been established properly. Some even fear that the 59-year-old, the world’s leading expert in biological and chemical weapons, was murdered.

Of course, it would be easy to dismiss these sceptics as wild conspiracy theorists — but for the fact they include eminent doctors and MPs.

The blanket of secrecy thrown over the case by the last Labour Government has only fuelled the sense of mystery.

In January this year, it emerged that unpublished medical and scientific records relating to Dr Kelly’s death – including the post-mortem report and photographs of his body – had been secretly classified so as not to be made public for 70 years.

Lord Hutton, who had been appointed by Blair, was responsible for this extraordinary gagging order, yet its legal basis has baffled experts accustomed to such matters.

Against this shadowy background, we have conducted a rigorous and thorough investigation into the mystery that surrounds the death of David Kelly. And our investigation has turned up evidence which raises still more disturbing questions.

Our new revelations include the ambiguous nature of the wording on Dr Kelly’s death certificate; the existence of an anonymous letter which says his colleagues were warned to stay away from his funeral; and an extraordinary claim that the wallpaper at Dr Kelly’s home was stripped by police in the hours after he was reported missing – but before his body was found.

 

Killing civilians in a kind and considerate way

 01 Jul 2010

Despite New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman being always happy to defend Western terrorism in the name of freedom and democracy, don’t get on the wrong side of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach:

Friedman certainly is entitled to his view. But he is not entitled to slander Israel, and last Sunday he did so with relish.

In words that blur the line between commentary and defamation, Friedman wrote of the “brutality of Israel’s retaliations” against Hezbollah and Hamas, and how Israel “chose to go after them without being deterred by the prospect of civilian casualties.” He then crossed a line of common decency when he irresponsibly accused Israel of using “Hama rules” in its war against the twin terror groups.

“Hama Rules,” he explained, “are named after the Syrian town of Hama, where, in 1982, then-President Hafez el-Assad of Syria put down a Muslim fundamentalist uprising by shelling and then bulldozing their neighborhoods, killing more than 10,000 of his own people.”

This is a straightforward blood libel. To accuse Israel of indiscriminately murdering thousands of civilians the way the butcher Assad did in Hama is to equate a democratic state whose actions are open to international media and scrutiny and constant judicial review with a bloodthirsty dictator and tyrant who held on to power without any restraint of law.

 

Does the Zionist lobby have blood on its hands in Australia?

01 Jul 2010

The Australian blog Middle East Reality Check – previous coverage heredissects yesterday’s column by the Australian’s Greg Sheridan on Israel and the fall of Kevin Rudd. Over to you:

The foreign editor of The Australian, Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, seems to be suggesting that Australia’s Israel lobby, referred to euphemistically as “some friends of Israel,” was at least a factor in, if not a party to, the decision to oust Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

In some ways [Gillard] has been even more courageous than Rudd in staring down the Left of her party on foreign policy. There was a vociferous campaign from the Left to stop her from attending the Australia Israel Leadership Forum in Jerusalem in 2008 [sic: 2009]. But she defied it and gave a fine address at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel celebrating not only Australia and Israel’s friendship, but also the common values of the two nations. Similarly, during Operation Cast Lead, when Israel attacked the Hamas rockets [!!!???] launched from the Gaza Strip, Gillard was acting prime minister and steadfastly, day by day, defended Israel’s right to self-defence against overwhelming commentariat hostility.

When some friends of Israel raised this with Rudd, in contrast to what they thought was his cheap resort to anti-Israel actions and rhetoric in expelling an Israeli diplomat recently, Rudd was furious. He was the one on the phone to Gillard all the time during this period, he told them. Oddly, the expulsion of the Israeli diplomat may be the single foreign policy issue that did Rudd the most harm in domestic political terms. It had 3 deleterious political results for Rudd. It was seen by Labor professionals as likely to help open the pockets of the friends of Israel for Tony Abbott’s Liberals. It was also seen as a sign of Rudd not sticking with a friend under pressure. And, perhaps most significantly, many within Labor’s Right saw it as another episode in which Rudd refused to solicit, or listen to, their advice, making a unilateral and ill-considered decision.” (Continuity in foreign affairs but questions remain, 1/7/10)

Let’s tease this out:

Sheridan claims that Rudd’s decision to expel an Israeli diplomat/Mossad agent as a sign of his anger over Israel’s use of Australian passports in its assassination of Hamas member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January has in some way harmed him domestically. How so? Sheridan can hardly be referring to a public backlash – there was none that we know of. The only possible construction here is that Rudd’s standing with the lobby was damaged. So how could it be said to have harmed him? Surely only by being involved at some level in last week’s coup against him?

According to Sheridan, the plotters of the Labor Right in federal parliament, Mark Arbib, Bill Shorten, Joe Ludwig and David Feeney, all known supporters of Israel, were motivated, at least in part, by a concern that the lobby was sufficiently angry with Rudd to consider redirecting its money to the Liberals in the lead-up to the coming federal election. The importance of lobby donations and fund-raising to Labor’s re-election prospects had been underlined by Herald journalist Peter Hartcher in his June 22 report on Rudd’s bid to appease lobby leaders over dinner at The Lodge on June 3 : “When Labor approached key groups to hold fund-raising events for the coming election, they feigned busyness, but it was a deliberate and unmistakeable retaliation.” (See my 22/6/10 post The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy)

In addition, when Sheridan asserts that the Labor Right saw the expulsion as yet another episode in which Rudd refused to solicit, or listen to, their advice, the implication appears to be that Arbib, Shorten, Ludwig, Feeney and Co had actually voiced the lobby’s concerns on the matter to Rudd but had been rebuffed. That this was an issue for the lobby leaders invited to The Lodge to dine with the prime minister also emerged in Hartcher’s report: “On the passports affair Rudd stood his ground. He said he was personally hurt by Israel’s use of Australian passports [and] had a duty to passport holders…”

It is reasonable then to assume from what Sheridan has written that, to one degree or another, Australia’s Israel lobby was a factor in, or even perhaps a player in, Rudd’s removal from the prime ministership. If so, this is a truly extraordinary and deeply disturbing development in Australia’s political history and merits the closest possible examination. To quote the anonymous “Australian official” in an earlier Hartcher piece: “It wouldn’t matter whether it was John Howard or Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbott in the prime minister’s chair… [the Israelis] know they’ve got us by the balls… partly because of the strength of the Israel lobby…” (Betrayed PM should not be taken for granted, SMH, 26/2/10)

Maybe now, in La Guillotine, the lobby has finally found the Australian prime minister of their dreams. After all, they’ve had their eye on her for some time now: “As one Jewish leader put it, ‘She wants to be Australia’s first female prime minister and she knows that means currying favour with the Jews‘.” (Australia renews its love affair with Israel, Dan Goldberg, thejc.com, 10/12/09)

 

The dead Turks would like to come back to life, but alas…

 01 Jul 2010

Treat with appropriate skepticism:

Israel has signaled it may compensate and apologize to families of some of the victims of its aid-flotilla raid in comments during a covert meeting between Turkish and Israeli officials, the first high-level contact since the deadly attack.

 

Reporter Hastings on what our profession should be doing

 01 Jul 2010

Journalist Michael Hastings is extensively interviewed on Democracy Now! over his explosive Rolling Stone article:

Blair should be in the Hague

 01 Jul 2010

Satire is dead:

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is to receive a prestigious US medal and $100,000 (£67,000) prize for his work in conflict resolution.

The National Constitution Centre is awarding him its Liberty Medal for “steadfast” efforts to broker peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

Previous winners include Nelson Mandela and former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush senior.

Mr Blair said he was driven by values of “freedom, liberty and justice”.

Mr Clinton, the centre’s chairman, will present the medal in Philadelphia on 13 September.

‘Dedication and creativity’

He said: “It was a privilege to work with my friend Tony Blair to help end 30 years of sectarian violence and broker a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, to stop the killing in and mass exodus from Kosovo, and to develop policies that would improve living conditions for people in both our countries.

“Now, as a private citizen, Tony continues to demonstrate the same leadership, dedication and creativity in promoting economic opportunity in the Middle East and the resolution of conflicts rooted in religion around the world, and is building the capacity of developing nations to govern honestly and effectively.”

In response, Mr Blair, who currently works as a peace envoy to the Middle East, said: “Freedom, liberty and justice are the values by which this medal is struck.

“Freedom, liberty and justice are the values which I try to apply to my work on governance in Africa and on preparing the Palestinians for statehood.

“They are the values which drive the work of my faith foundation as we try to show that people of different faiths can live together constructively in peace and harmony.”

Yes, shame about that illegal Iraq war and utterly no progress on statehood for Palestinians or even the possibility of an end to the occupation.

 

The rules of modern journalism

 01 Jul 2010

Sharon Beder, Global Spin, Green Books, 1997:

It is a bitter irony of source journalism that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile. For it is by making themselves useful to the powerful that they gain access to the ‘best’ sources.

 

Denialism is killing Jews (and peace)

 01 Jul 2010

As “liberal” Zionist lobby J Street boasts how much money it’s raised for supposedly open-minded US politicians, founder Jeremy Ben-Ami co-writes an article that asks the Zionist community to end its “denial” over Israel:

No matter who leads the Palestinians, Israel needs permanent, secure and recognized borders. Israel has to make clear both in word and in deed that it is ready to end the occupation, not with a verbal nod to the two-state solution but with a solid commitment to a Palestinian state on territory equivalent to 100 percent of the pre-1967 land with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Of course, Palestinians and the broader Arab world both could be doing far more to advance solutions rather than pointing fingers, and we are not saying only Israel bears responsibility for the present state of affairs. But the reality is that, partner or no, the status quo is unsustainable and the long-term outlook for Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic homeland is bleak without an immediate change of course.

The United States and Israel do not benefit from making excuses for maintaining a self-destructive status quo. American pro-Israel advocates owe it to the Israel they love to stop hiding behind the latest incarnation of the “no partner” excuse for inaction.

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