Archive | November 16th, 2010


November 16, 2010

QuantcastUS says military strike would unite a divided Iran

Defense Secretary Gates tells WSJ strike would only offer ‘short-term solution’ to Iranian nuclear program issue; says Khamenei ‘beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about impact of sanctions on economy’

(Reuters) A military strike against Iran would unite the divided country and ensure Tehran’s unwavering commitment to pursuing nuclear weapons, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday.

Gates, in comments to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, said it was important to use other means to convince Tehran against pursuing nuclear weapons and renewed concerns that military action would only delay — not prevent — it from obtaining such capabilities.

He told the council that military action would offer only a “short-term solution” to the thorny issue of Iran’s nuclear program.

According to the US defense secretary, sanctions against Iran may be causing a rift between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“We even have some evidence that Khamenei, now, (is) beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy. And whether he’s getting the straight scoop in terms of how much trouble the economy really is in,” Gates said, renewing his position that sanctions were having an impact.

Western nations have accused Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, something Iran vehemently denies.

It has refused global calls to rein in its suspect nuclear enrichment program and has been slapped with a series of UN and international sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iran kicked off a five-day nationwide military drill on Tuesday to examine its air defense system, according to reports.

Dubbed “Defenders of the Sky 3,” the exercise simulates an attack on Iran’s borders and nuclear facilities. The drill is reportedly said to test Iran’s skill against Israel and the United States in the event that one or both of them decides to launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Expert tells MKs: We have 15 years to fight assimilation

55% intermarriage does not mean 55% assimilation, counters Reform chief; Maimon says Israel needs to act now before it’s too late.

“We have 15 years to intervene and bring back people on the verge of assimilation into the fold of Judaism,” Dov Maimon, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, said at a special session on assimilation in the Diaspora at the Knesset on Monday.

Speaking to the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, Maimon said Israel needs to act now if it wants to engage the large group of young Jews whose affiliation with their communities is weak before it’s too late.

He suggested a fivefold program supporting Israel trips like Masa and Birthright, strengthening Jewish education in Israel and abroad, and even rethinking Israeli foreign policy.

“It’s hard identifying as Jewish at colleges in Europe,” Maimon said. “Israel isn’t perceived as an enlightened country, but that’s perhaps an issue outside our scope of conversation today.”

Committee chairman Danny Danon (Likud) convened the panel to discuss ways of dealing with the threat.

Prof. Sergio DellaPergola, an authority on Jewish demographics, opened the debate by giving some background.

“Assimilation is a long process that dates back to the emancipation of the Jews,” he said. “According to a study from the first part of the decade, approximately 40 percent of Jews in the Diaspora marry outside the faith nowadays.”

DellaPergola said that the number of Jews in the world is currently stable at a bit over 13 million, with 6 million in Israel and about 7.5 million abroad. But the number of people with Jewish ancestry is much larger than that, he said.

“The number of Americans eligible to make aliya according to the Law of Return is between 10 to 12 million people,” the Hebrew University lecturer said. “That’s not to say that I think they’ll show up tomorrow morning. But this is a group that should not be entirely ignored.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, the Israeli branch of the Reform movement, warned against alienating the children of mixed marriages.

“We need to be careful when we process the numbers,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, and I’m not an expert on this issue, there may be 55% of marriages between Jews and non-Jews, but that does not mean there’s a 55% assimilation rate and that families in this group are torn away from the Jewish people.

The key question is how we treat this phenomenon.”

He strongly rejected the notion that assimilation was substantially higher in communities where Reform Judaism is practiced in comparison with Orthodox ones.

“There are communities where there are almost no Reform or Conservative Jews and, nonetheless, assimilation rates of young Jews is in the high double digits and many marry outside the religion,” Kariv said. “In France there’s almost no Reform Judaism, and a very strong Orthodox establishment. But isn’t there still a 45% mixed marriage rate there?” Kariv urged authorities to institute faster conversions and carry out a more inclusive policy toward the children of mixed marriages, lest they be lost.

MK Marina Solodkin of Kadima, a member of the Knesset committee, weighed in with her opinion on the issue.

“In Russian there’s a saying that I haven’t heard in any other language and is very important: ‘Half a Jew is still a Jew,” she said.

Russia to provide free military assistance to Lebanon

Announcement comes as army aid to Lebanon under scrutiny after US lawmakers demanded assurances that weapons won’t go to Hizbullah.

(AP) BEIRUT — Russia will provide the Lebanese army with free helicopters, tanks and munitions in a deal that will boost the country’s poorly equipped military, officials said Tuesday.

The announcement came at a time when military assistance to Lebanon is under scrutiny after US lawmakers demanded assurances that American aid will not fall into the hands of Hizbullah.

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the Russian aid includes six helicopters, 31 tanks, 130 mm caliber cannon shells and about half a million different munitions for medium sized weapons and artillery shells. The statement, which followed Hariri’s talks in Moscow with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, did not say when the aid would be delivered.

“We also see that military and security relations are very important, as well as military exchanges and training. We thank you for all the support you have granted Lebanon in this area,” Hariri told Putin, according to Lebanon’s Daily Star.

Hariri also praised Russia’s role regarding the Middle East conflict.

“We believe that Russia’s role is major and your historical positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the Arabs, as well as your support to the international resolutions related to these issues, were fair. Russia has always been the party that sees the problem from two sides…we hope that your role in this process will become stronger, because the region needs Russia’s role … We must put an end to Israeli continuous intransigence, because the region does not tolerate all this extremism that exists in it,” Hariri said.

Lebanon’s 60,000-strong military has long been poorly equipped and has virtually no air force – except for about 30 unarmed helicopters and several 1950s-era British-made Hawker Hunter jets – and no effective air defense system.

The news about the Russian aid came just days after two key members of the US Congress released their holds on $100 million in US military aid to the Lebanese army.

The lawmakers suspended the aid on Aug. 2 amid growing concern in Congress that American-supplied weapons could threaten Israel and that Hizbullah may have influence over the army.

Iranians begin 5-day, nationwide air defense drill

Military spokesman: Goal of 1st nationwide defense exercise is to “boost the self-esteem of Iranian air defense forces.”

( The Iranian military began a five-day nationwide military drill dubbed “Defenders of the Sky” on Tuesday, state-run IRNA reported.

“Army Defense Forces, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), police and Basij have joined the military exercise,” drill spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hamid Arjangi told IRNA.

“The military maneuver is staged across the country unlike last year’s,” he said.

“Aircrafts of the enemy dubbed ‘Orange Forces’ were identified and intercepted by our radar systems and then the order to confront the enemy was given.”

Low-, mid- and high-altitude missiles were being used in the drill, he added.

“Boosting the self-confidence and self-esteem of Iranian air defense forces is one of the goals of the operations,” he said, adding, “new, modernized air defense systems, long-range missile as well as radar systems built indigenously over last year, are being used in the drill.”

The first phase of the “Defenders of the Sky” exercise will wrap up on Wednesday, when the second stage will begin.

Israel: Norway inciting against us

Foreign Ministry says Norwegian authorities funding anti-Israel film, exhibition, and play. Norway: We support freedom of expression

According to reports received by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the Trondheim Municipality is funding a trip to New York for students taking part in the “Gaza Monologues” play, which “deals with the suffering of children in Gaza as a result of the Israeli occupation.”

The play, written by a Palestinian from Gaza, will be presented at the United Nations headquarters. It joins an exhibition by a Norwegian artists displayed in Damascus, Beirut, and Amman, with the help of Norway’s embassies in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan.

The exhibition shows killed Palestinian babies next to Israel Defense Forces helmets, which are reminiscent of Nazi soldiers’ helmets, and an Israeli flag drenched in blood.

The Norwegians are also helping the distribution of a documentary film called “Tears of Gaza” to festivals across the world. According to the Foreign Ministry, the film deals with the suffering of Gaza’s children as well, without mentioning Hamas, the rockets fired at Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself.

The film shows Gazans chanting, “Itbah al-Yahud,” but the Norwegian translation says “slaughter the Israelis” instead of “slaughter the Jews”.

In addition, a book written by two Norwegian doctors who were the only foreigners in Gaza to give interviews during Operation Cast Lead was published recently. The book, which accuses IDF soldiers of deliberately killing women and children, is a bestseller in Norway and has been warmly recommended by none other than Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The Israeli Embassy in Norway strongly protested the authorities’ involvement in Israel’s demonization. “The open and official Norwegian policy talks about understanding and reconciliation,” a senior Israeli official said Sunday evening, “but ever since the war in Gaza, Norway has become a superpower in terms of exporting multimedia aimed at de-legitimizing Israel, while using the Norwegian taxpayer funds for creating and transporting this multimedia.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said in a meeting with Norwegian parliament members that “such activity pushes away the chance for reconciliation and encourages a radicalization in the Palestinian stand which prevents them from compromising.”

The Norwegians responded to the Israeli criticism by saying that the government supports the freedom of expressions and will not intervene in artistic content.

US deal would allow Israel some West Bank building

US proposal on West Bank settlement curbs would allow completion of Israeli housing under way

(AP News) Israel would be allowed to finish hundreds of apartments already under construction in West Bank settlements even if it agrees to a U.S.-drafted deal to renew a freeze on new construction, a diplomat familiar with the details said Monday.

The U.S. is pressing Israel to renew a settlement slowdown that expired in September in order to get stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks moving again.

In exchange, it is offering Israel military hardware and veto protection against U.N. resolutions critical of its policies. The U.S. routinely vetoes resolutions critical of Israel, but such moves are not automatic and are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Because of the Obama administration’s perceived toughness on Israel, it was not assumed in Israel that the U.S. would back it against the Palestinians at the Security Council if the Palestinians take their case to the U.N. in the event that peace talks fail.

Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor told Israel’s Channel 10 TV on Monday that U.S. veto protection against unilateral Palestinian U.N. initiatives would last for a year.

According to the emerging deal, construction would have to halt for 90 days on hundreds of additional homes begun after the first slowdown expired on Sept. 26. But that freeze would not apply to apartments already under construction that were exempted in the first slowdown, the diplomat said.

Officials had earlier given conflicting accounts regarding the fate of those homes.

“From our understanding, what was allowed under the previous freeze can continue. What was not allowed under the previous freeze cannot continue,” the diplomat said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the deal have not been finalized.

According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 2,140 apartments were under construction in the West Bank at the end of June, the last period for which there are official figures.

It is not clear how many of those homes have been completed since. But to give a rough idea of the pace of construction, nearly 800 apartments were completed in the first six months of the year.

The Palestinians have not said whether they would accept the deal, whose details they have not yet discussed with the Americans, they say. “Once we see it we will meet and have a response,” said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The Palestinians have already expressed alarm that the proposal does not include construction in east Jerusalem, their hoped-for capital, but like the Israelis, would find it difficult to resist pressure from President Barack Obama to sign on to the deal.

The Israeli diplomat said the Americans have not set a deadline for an Israeli response.

Israeli settlement construction has become a major obstacle to peacemaking because the Palestinians see it as eroding their claims to both the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of a future state that would also include the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The Palestinians say there is no point in negotiating if the Israelis continue to build homes on captured territory claimed by the Palestinians.

Israel captured all three territories in the 1967 Mideast war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but continues to control the other two areas, where half a million Jewish settlers live.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio that the White House wants to give — not sell — Israel 20 stealth jet fighters in exchange for renewing the moratorium.

The $3 billion will come “from the American administration, not from us,” he said, and not from an additional $3 billion in annual aid that Israel receives from the United States, Barak said in an interview from Paris.

Cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein had said Sunday that the jets would be sold to Israel.

Israel has already ordered 20 F-35 stealth jets — next-generation fighters that are set for delivery beginning in 2015. Barak said the U.S. proposal would provide an additional 20 of the warplanes, which developers say would be capable of reaching as far as Iran undetected by radar.

Barak said the supply of the planes was not contingent on concluding a final peace deal. A broad security arrangement that would involve far more military hardware would require a peace agreement, he said.

In a separate development, Israeli troops raided a house in the West Bank town of Tulkarem early Monday, seizing money and possessions of suspected Hamas supporter, Ali Dadu. More than $600,000 in cash, jewelry, computers and vehicles were seized from his home and business, said his son, Bara Dadu.

Ali Dadu was convicted in an Israeli military court in August of laundering money for Hamas, the militant Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, the military said.

The military said it was entitled to seize possessions equal to the value of the money laundered and said the confiscation was a “message.”

His son called the company a “family business.”

Napolitano Shrugs Off Complaints About TSA Policies

TSA Not Feeling Up Passengers ‘Just to Do It’

by Jason Ditz,

Faced with growing complaints about the intrusive “full body scanners” and the even more intrusive “enhanced pat down” procedures the TSA is demanding of Americans who want to fly, Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano did what officials have been doing for a decade in the face of public complaints, shrugged them off.

TSA officers demonstrate the new “policy”

We ask for cooperation, patience and a commitment to vigilance in the face of a determined enemy,” Napolitano said in a column in USA Today, adding that the obscene scans of passengers are “not visible to the public” and that the images can’t be transmitted, a blatant lie given that one of the few public details of the “classified” scanners says that they in fact are required to be able to transmit those images.

Napolitano also shrugged off the complaints about the pat-downs, insisting they are used by “countries across the world.” She added that the TSA isn’t just doing the procedures, described by many as de facto sexual assault “just to do it.”

It seems unlikely Napolitano’s comments, a combination of bureaucrat indifference and appeals to fear, are going to convince the public of the wisdom of the administration’s policies, but they do suggest that the Department of Homeland Security, itself a creation of Bush Administration paranoia, will not easily back down from its inexorable march toward more powers.

US Hopes to Establish Bases as Yemen Fight Escalates

‘Forward Operating Bases’ Would Put US Forces ‘Into the Field’

by Jason Ditz,

US officials are looking to dramatically escalate their on the ground presence in Yemen, and new reports from the Wall Street Journal suggest that the US is hoping for Yemen to allow the establishment of “forward operating bases” for US troops in southern Yemen.

Of course at the moment the US isn’t formally at war in Yemen, so the deployment of US troops “into the field” is being couched as a purely advisory role, though reports also make it clear that the deployment would involve Special Operations forces.

But the deployment of US military “advisors” in a nation ahead of an eventual full scale military operation is nothing new, and while officials are still keeping their exact strategy somewhat vague it appears clear that the Obama Administration is escalating to what could only be called a war-like posture in Yemen.

At the same time, the CIA is looking to hugely increase its own presence on the ground, with large numbers of operatives looking to deploy in the country and reports suggesting that the US has already moved to deploying CIA Predator drones in the region, though they have yet to carry out the same sort of mass assassination campaign they have in Pakistan’s tribal areas.


NATO Chief: ‘No Alternative’ to Long Term Occupation of Afghanistan

Says Iraq Should Be Used as ‘Blueprint’ for War

by Jason Ditz, 

With the Lisbon summit about to begin NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen detailed the choices that the member nations are facing for the Afghanistan War. The choice is between continuing the Afghan War more or less indefinitely and… well that’s the only choice.

I consider if of the utmost importance to continue our military operations,” said Rasmussen, declaring “so there is no alternative to continuing military operations.” NATO cooperated in the US invasion in 2001 and even though the situation is dramatically worse over nine years later, the option of “not continuing military operations” apparently isn’t even coming up.

NATO’s strategy sessions so far have involved pledging ever increasing billions of funding for the floundering Afghan government and harranguing member nations to throw growing numbers of troops at the endless insurgency. Lisbon appears to be little different.

Except that popular opinion for the war is on the decline virtually throughout NATO, and so officials will have to pretend that the record death tolls are vindication of their failing strategy before they inevitably rubber stamp it for another year.

Posted in UK1 Comment



Dear Friends,

Tonight’s 6 items begin with a brief ‘don’t say we didn’t know.’  Amos sends these concise messages to remind us that we should know.  If you are not yet on his list, his email follows the episode that he reveals.  Easy to sign on.  And his messages are never more than a paragraph or two, and therefore facilitate your learning about what is happening in Israel and the OPT.

The 2nd item is about settler violence towards a teen-aged Palestinian boy.  The episode itself is disgusting.  And that such things can be done to others by supposedly religious people confounds the doing even more.  But then fundamentalists, whatever religion they are, are extremists.  At least this one was not acquitted.  Not that that will help the youngster forget his miserable experience.

Item 3 is about Yehuda Shaul, one of the founders of Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence).  On one occasion that I heard Yehuda relate his experiences (I think it was on a bus headed for a Hebron tour), he acknowledged that he did not know exactly when he began to question what he, an Israeli soldier in Hebron, was doing and why.  But he thought it might have been when his fellow soldiers were beating up a 4 year old Palestinian child.  Yehuda confessed that Shovrim Shtika and the tours to Hebron are a means to fighting off his own post-traumatic stress disorder.  Shovrim Shtika has no political agenda.  Its purpose is to give former soldiers a podium from which to tell of their experiences, both to help them battle post traumatic stress disorders, and to tell the world what Israeli soldiers do in the OPT. 

If you have not visited the site, you will find it worth your while.  It contains testimonies, videos, and more.

Item 4 informs us that the London Review of Books, an intellectual and respected journal, is anti-Israel.  Is it anti-Israel, or is it reporting factual material?  It’s difficult to paint something inherently ugly as pretty.

Item 5 shows the main concern of a major portion of Israel’s leaders: demography.  A Shas minister (Shas is a religious party) has the answer: seculars must bear more children.  There was a period when Israel rewarded parents for having large families.  But that ended long ago, perhaps because of the huge Russian influx, and also neo-liberalism which transformed Israel from a semi socialist state to a privatized one.  I doubt that today money would convince most secular Israeli families to produce more children.  I doubt even more that Ministers of Finance as the present one, and Israeli governments in general, would return to paying Jewish citizens to have more children.  In any event, this minister’s recommendation is further evidence that immigration to Israel has dwindled next to nothing.

The final item is mainly for Americans, since it tells them that they are paying for the occupation.  But it’s not solely the roads that Akiva Eldar writes about that American tax dollars construct.  Every penny of the  US $3billion in military aid to Israel comes from money that could have been much more usefully been put to work domestically, that is, in the  US—whether for building schools, adding hospital rooms and equipment, or for any of hundreds of other projects that would benefit American citizens. 

Wars and arms benefit only the manufacturers, bankers, and other relatively small number of individuals who make money from the horrors that others suffer from.  As for the roads, well read what Akiva says about them and other things.  

Have a good day/evening where ever you are.



1.  Don’t say we didn’t know 238

In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled – while ignoring the advisory ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague – that the path of the separation fence, on the land of the Palestinian village Bil’in, was disproportionate, and had to be moved westward.  Only in February 2010 did the IDF start construction according to the new route, and now a wall has been built instead of a fence.  Previously, some 2,300 dunums (dunum = 1000 sq.m) were on the other side of the fence, now, about 1,500 will be on the other side of the Wall.

Due to the popular struggle of Bil’in’s residents against the fence and robbery of their land, the IDF has been invading the village during the evening and night. Sometimes they come to arrest someone, sometimes just to spread fear. During some invasions stun and teargas grenades are thrown, and rubber bullets shot, and these cause nightmares to the children of Bil’in.  Last week seven such invasions occurred. 

Questions & queries:


2. Ynet,

November 16, 2010

    Settler convicted of kidnapping, abusing Palestinian teen

Shiloh resident Zvi Struk kidnapped 15-year-old boy, beat him and left him naked, blindfolded and bound in field. Yesh Din: Most Palestinian complaints end without indictment,7340,L-3985625,00.html

Aviad Glickman

Zvi Struk from the settlement of Shiloh was convicted Sunday of kidnapping and abusing a bound 15-year-old Palestinian boy.

The 28-year-old settler is the son of Yesha Human Rights Organization head Orit Struk. 

The indictment stated that Struk, arrived at an outpost located between Shiloh and Kfar Kusra in the West Bank. He arrived on a mini tractor and began to chase Palestinian youths at the scene. 

The youths attempted to escape, but Struk cornered one of them and his friend, armed with Struk’s M-16 rifle, began to fire in the air. According to the prosecution, Struk then began to beat the boy, who had put his hands up in surrender, and knocked him to the ground.  

The indictment went on to say that Struk’s friend continued to beat the boy while he chased another youth, beat him, and dragged him to the mini tractor bleeding. He then proceeded to blindfold and tie him to the tractor, and rode off with his hostage in tow.

Amran Farah after attack (Archive photo courtesy of Yesh Din)

The prosecution claimed that the boy, Amran Farah, lost consciousness during the ride, and was brought to an open field where the two suspects beat him, undressed him, and left him blindfolded and tied. He remained there for a number of hours, until he managed to untie himself and find a car to take him home. 

The boy was hospitalized in Nablus, and diagnosed with multiple contusions and lesions all over his body. 

Struk had attacked the boy two months earlier, the indictment stated, while the latter was herding sheep with a friend near the village. Struk told them to leave the land, claiming it was his, and then beat the two boys. The settler also killed a young goat belonging to the Palestinian. 

Ynet reported Tuesday that Jerusalem District Court Judge Amnon Cohen convicted Struk of assault under severe circumstances, kidnapping with intent to cause severe bodily injury and three more counts of assault.

The Yesh Din human rights group, which accompanied the Palestinian boy throughout the trial, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, but said, “According to our data, some 90% of complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli citizens that hurt them or their property end without an indictment.” 

Yesh Din stressed that Struk’s accomplice was never caught.


3.  LA Times,

November 16, 2010


Former Israeli soldier seeks to shine a light on Hebron

Yehuda Shaul of the group Breaking the Silence opposes the military’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank city.,0,3045808.story

By Edmund Sanders,

Los Angeles Times

November 16, 2010

Reporting from Hebron, West Bank

Prepare to be pelted with eggs, the tour guide warns. Or maybe it will be rocks, bricks or spit wads.

The projectiles, guide Yehuda Shaul says, are courtesy of angry Jewish settlers opposed to his group, Breaking the Silence, which brings outsiders to the hotly disputed West Bank city of Hebron every week as part of an effort to expose what it considers military misconduct toward Palestinians.

From the moment the former Israeli soldier-turned-military-whistle-blower arrives, Shaul’s movements are tracked.

Sometimes soldiers discreetly whisper “Yehuda” into shoulder-mounted radios as he passes; other times they shout his arrival like a town crier: “Breaking the Silence guy!”

This time it’s a 12-year-old Orthodox boy, with cherub cheeks and sprouting side locks, who spots Shaul and raises the neighborhood alarm.

“Trash!” the boy screams, running up to Shaul, pointing and attempting a sort of menacing, in-your-face stance that a little kid can’t really pull off against a burly, 6-foot-1 activist. “Traitor! Trash! You will be forgotten!”

Shaul, who served two tours in Hebron during the 2001-03 Palestinian uprising, fixes a smile on his face, ignores the boy and picks up his pace.

“It’s best to keep walking before a crowd draws,” he says.

Shaul may be the closest thing Hebron’s Jewish Quarter has to a Public Enemy No. 1. He’s reviled by settlers, discredited by the military and distrusted by many Muslims, who don’t know what to make of this cheerful Orthodox Jew who looks like a settler in a full beard and kippah.

“It’s like I’m a walking threat,” Shaul says with a laugh.

His 6-year-old group is made up of former soldiers who once helped Israel manage the occupation and now accuse the military of deliberately killing civilians, using Palestinians as human shields and looting homes in the West Bank.

Israeli opponents say the group presents a distorted view of the Israel Defense Forces. Supporters call the activists courageous. The group was one of three finalists this month for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which went to Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas Hernandez.

Over a glass of spiced coffee, Shaul runs quickly through Hebron’s recent history. Here in the city that is home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a biblical burial place sacred to both Jews and Muslims, the two groups coexisted for centuries. Jews were evacuated after a 1929 massacre in which Arabs killed 67 Jews.

After Israel took control of the city during the 1967 Middle East War, Jewish pilgrims returned a year later to hold a Passover ceremony in a Hebron hotel, and then refused to leave, marking the start of renewed Jewish settlement.

Hebron was split in two in the aftermath of the 1994 massacre by settler Baruch Goldstein, who shot to death 29 praying Palestinians.

Today about 800 Jews live around the city’s old quarter, protected by nearly as many soldiers. An additional 7,000 settlers live in Kiryat Arba adjacent to the city. More than 150,000 Palestinians live in Hebron, including thousands in Israeli-controlled sectors.

“This is what they call a sterilized road,” Shaul says. That means Palestinians are prohibited from using it, even if they live on it. To keep a security buffer, the military has welded shut metal front doors of Palestinian homes and businesses, leaving a row of abandoned shops in what was once a bustling marketplace.

Most businesses left or closed because of a lack of customers. Those who remain have to leave their homes over the rooftops, use backdoors or cut holes in the interior walls of adjacent empty buildings behind them.

“Every year they take another corner,” Shaul says.

He disagrees with what has happened to Palestinians here, he says. But at the same time, as a former soldier who spent months in Hebron as a grenade machine-gun operator, Shaul recalls the violence against Jews that triggered the crackdown. Over there, he motions, a 10-month-old was shot by a sniper. There were regular stabbings and shootings. Soldiers were killed almost weekly.

The problem, according to Shaul, is that Israel’s occupation of Hebron goes beyond what is needed for security. According to testimony and photographs released by his group, soldiers routinely humiliate Palestinians, raid civilian homes as a form of harassment and violate international laws regarding occupied territory. The military rejects the group’s allegations.

Motioning to a white building on a distant hill, he points to his old lookout post on the second floor, where he once sprayed grenades into the valley below — officially aiming at empty buildings to harass the enemy but avoid civilian casualties, but knowing his weapon was imprecise.

From more than half a mile away, he says, he can’t know what he might have hit or whom he might have hurt.

“We didn’t always agree with what was happening, but when you’re a soldier, you have an excuse not to say anything or do anything,” he says. “When you get out, how can you justify not taking a stand? I needed to answer to myself: What did I do?”

He says that’s what keeps him coming back to Hebron.

Wrapping up another tour, Shaul hops into a car when a soldier, once again, comes rushing over to question him.

But rather than a cold stare, Shaul is greeted with a broad smile. “You leaving?” 

Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times


4.  Ynet,

November 16, 2010

    Luxurious magazine fights Israel

Comprehensive study reveals London Review of Books presents ‘starkly one-sided and fringe approach’ against Jewish state. Israeli, Jewish contributors among harshest critics,7340,L-3985263,00.html

Yaniv Halily

British organization Just Journalism on Monday published a scathing study on the way Israel is being covered by London Review of Books – one of the most important and widely circulated literary magazines in the world. 

According to the comprehensive study, the magazine systematically publishes articles clearly criticizing Israel. “The State of Israel wishes to inculcate in its soldiers a neo-Nazi ideology wrapped in Judaism” or “the Israelis think of Arabs much as they think of chickens of cats” are only two of the many statements which appear regularly in the luxurious magazine’s articles.

While elements in the British press stress constantly their attempts to be balanced and fair in their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the highly regarded magazine presents a “starkly one-sided and fringe approach”.

The LRB is a fortnightly literary and political magazine which publishes opinion articles and book reviews written by leading intellectuals.

‘I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state,” the magazine’s editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers, wrote in one of her articles. “They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.” 

The study reveals that LRB takes the harshest stand against Israel among all British media outlets, and that many of the strongest condemnations come from Israeli and Jewish contributors of all people. 

“The only danger is the danger facing the Palestinians,” wrote author Yitzhak Laor in an article published by LRB during the al-Aqsa Intifada. “Gas chambers are not the only way to destroy a nation. It is enough to destroy its social tissue, to starve dozens of villages, to develop high rates of infant mortality.”

And Laor is not alone. Historian Ilan Pappe, who in the past called for an academic boycott of Israel, noted in a scathing article published by LRB that “Palestinians have been so dehumanized by Israeli Jews…that killing them comes naturally.” 

Just Journalism is a London-based research organization which focused on how Israel and Middle East issues are reported in the British media. It is funded by donations. 


5.  Ynet,

November 16, 2010

    Shas minister: Procreate instead of complaining

Minister of Religious Services Yacov Margi calls on secular public to boost birth rate in effort to thwart demographic threat,7340,L-3982798,00.html

Kobi Nahshoni

Minister of Religious Services Yacov Margi (Shas) is calling on the secular public to boost its birthrate in order to battle the demographic threat Israel is facing.

In a forum titled “Haredim in Israeli society” held last week as part of the Israel-Sderot Conference on Social Issues, Margi said, “Bring more kids to the world instead of complaining about the haredim. I, as a haredi man, fear for the fate of Israel.” 

The minister added that within a few years he believes most people in the IDF and the education system will be wearing skullcaps. 

Margi commented on the integration of haredim into the job market, and noted that the 2003 cutbacks in funds for the haredi sector, coupled with the world economic crisis of 2008 increased the rate of working yeshiva students because “nobody wants to be economically dependent on someone else.” 

The Shas minister lauded this phenomenon, saying “there is an increased openness in the haredi sector, although it may not be publicized. The changes must seep in slowly, and not be forced.” 

In reference to the relationship between the haredi sector and Israeli society, Margi noted that “we are now in the process of compromising and bridging; however, if we don’t recognize the needs of both sectors, we won’t get anywhere, and only continue to gnaw at each other from the inside.” 

Margi took the opportunity to criticize the secular education system, saying that its flaws led many parents to send their kids to religious and haredi schools.

“Those who think haredim study in yeshivot only to evade military service are completely wrong. The reason for the high demand for religious education is because the public education system lacks Jewish values,” he said. 

Shahar Ilan, vice president of Hiddush organization for Religious Freedom and Equality said that “Shas’ greatest sin is that it sends its youth to small yeshivot that do not offer general studies.”

During the discussion, Ilan presented data indicating that the number of yeshiva students increased over the past two years from 65,000 to 75,000 haredi men, despite the millions of shekels the government spent in an effort to incorporate them into the job market. 

“There is no better proof that there’s a need to call off the income support and condition any such aid with employment,” said Ilan. 


6.  Haaretz,

November 16, 2010

U.S. taxpayers are paying for Israel’s West Bank occupation

According to a June 2010 fact sheet on the USAID Internet site, last year American taxpayers funded the paving of 63 kilometers of asphalt roads in the West Bank.

By Akiva Eldar

Travelers along the “original” West Bank roads, the ones enabling drivers to bypass Palestinian villages, can see signs declaring “USAID from the American People.”

The roads are one of the initiatives of the United States Agency for International Development for building infrastructure in underdeveloped countries. Israel has already proudly left the club of developing countries and is not among the clients of USAID. Nevertheless, it appears the Smith family of Illinois is making the occupation a little less expensive for the Cohen family of Petah Tikva.

According to a June 2010 fact sheet on the USAID Internet site, last year American taxpayers funded the paving of 63 kilometers of asphalt roads in the West Bank. It also says completion of a road in the southern part of the West Bank dramatically increased the amount of trade between Dahriya and Beer Sheva.

What the site doesn’t say is that a significant segment of the road goes through Area C – the 60 percent of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli civilian and military control and responsibility under the interim agreement of 1995 (the second Oslo agreement ). The agreement states: “Territorial jurisdiction includes land (and ) subsoil.”

This is not the only occupation-perpetuating road funded by American money. Dror Etkes, an expert on the settlements, noticed a few days ago USAID workers energetically laying asphalt on two roads in the Samaria region (northern West Bank ) that crosses Area C. Israelis haven’t been traveling these roads for years now because the taxpayer (in this case, the Israeli taxpayer ) has already paved separate, wide, modern roads for them.

Etkes wondered how it is possible that the Obama administration, which is vociferously opposed to the continuation of the status quo in the West Bank, continues to subsidize the road for Israel. “If the state of Israel is insisting on continuing to hold on and de facto annex the West Bank,” he says, “it should also be allocating the money needed to take care of the infrastructure.”

I asked an American official why the administration isn’t demanding of Israel that it fulfill its obligations and pay the price of the occupation out of its own pocket.

“Who told you we aren’t demanding that?” replied the official. “We are also demanding a construction freeze in the settlements and you know at least as well as anyone else what is happening on the ground.”

It is worth mentioning that the when the Palestinians sought permission to pave a short road in Area C to enable access to the planned town of Rawabi, Israel pulled out the Oslo accord and kicked them down the stairs. The USAID tractors don’t have access to the area either.

However, when it suits his interest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a stickler for Oslo. A few days ago he announced that unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state would be considered a violation of the agreement. Tomorrow, incidentally, will mark the eighth anniversary of Foreign Minister Netanyahu’s statement on Israel radio that “all the Oslo agreements are null and void.”

A USAID spokeswoman responded that the program’s infrastructure projects “respond to the needs of the Palestinian people and are implemented in response to requests from the Palestinian Authority. Many of the USAID funded projects cross from one area to another in accordance with the needs of the Palestinian communities and the specific project. There are roads and water pipelines that cross through Area C or are adjacent to Area C as designs require and agreements with Civil Authorities allow.”

No way home

The Oslo agreement, which is so close to Netanyahu’s heart, also states that both sides see “the West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit.”

Nevertheless, since the outbreak of the second intifada, Israel has cut off almost entirely the connection between these two areas.

Security authorities make a point of expelling Gazans from the West Bank and they do not allow residents of Gaza to reunite with their families in the West Bank.

A year ago, in response to a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual, the State Prosecutor’s Office said the policy does not apply to individuals who took up residence in the West Bank before the year 2000 and “about whom there exists no negative security material.”

Be that as it may, during this past year a number of Palestinians have been expelled from the West Bank even though they arrived there prior to the cut-off date, and had no “negative security material” against them. Several have applied to Hamoked for help.

One of them, Muhammad Nimruti, 29, went to Gaza in 2004 to participate in the mourning for his father. Since then he has been stuck and is in hiding from Hamas, which has issued an arrest warrant for him.

The coordinator of permits at the Coordination and Liaison Office in the Israel Defense Forces has recommended that Nimruti’s request to return to the West Bank be granted. In the opinion appended to the recommendation, the aforementioned response by the prosecutor to the High Court of Justice is cited.

But the High Court of Justice is one thing and the reality is another. The Liaison Office’s legal adviser rejected the recommendation and wrote that it is necessary “to be strict about consistency, paying attention to the fact that approving the request might be a precedent for approving similar requests.” In another case handled by Hamoked, the adviser wrote that Gazan Tzabar Abu Jazar entered the West Bank in 2000 and should not be expelled under the guidelines. So why has Abu Jazar been sent to Gaza and not allowed back in the West Bank?

“The aforementioned is a bachelor and he has no family connection in Judea and Samaria,” was the response. Truly an excellent reason. The time has come for him to find a bride in Ramallah and marry.


Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER



Dear friends in the UK,

The conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch is trying to take over British media with his bid for full ownership of BSkyB. We only have 3 days to tell the regulator why this deal is bad news!

Send a message now!

Rupert Murdoch is on a fast track to control over half of this country’s newspapers and television. This week is our only chance to tell regulators to stand up for a wide choice of news, and defend our democracy.

Britain loses if Murdoch wins. With all of the BSkyB TV network his massive dominance of our media would become further entrenched, extending his power and political influence. Here and elsewhere Murdoch has used his reach to promote conservative political candidates, the persecution of minorities, climate change denial and the dangerous lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.

We have until Friday to stop this! Let’s flood the regulator with thousands of submissions saying why we feel this deal is against the public interest. We’ll deliver tens of thousands of comments in boxloads to Ofcom’s offices on Friday, making a media splash. Send yours now via the link below, and encourage everyone you know to do the same today.

Murdoch’s News Corporation already owns 39% of the BSkyB television company and four of our best-selling newspapers. His new expansion bid rides roughshod over the ‘media plurality’, which the government has a legal duty to uphold. Regulator Ofcom is accepting public comments on Murdoch’s plans for just a few days.

This deal would allow Murdoch to cross-promote his different outputs and increase his political roles. For 30 years no British political party has won an election without Murdoch’s blessing. This ability to get voters’ attention gives him frequent access to the prime minister – hence his nickname the ‘24th member of the cabinet’.

This is a fight for the soul of British democracy. We cannot afford to have one company dominate half of our TV, newspaper and online news. From illegal spying at the News of the World here to his hate-filled Fox News empire in the U.S., Murdoch’s media erodes the values we hold dear and shows few scruples when attacking political or commercial rivals – now including the BBC.

The Avaaz movement in Canada recently proved that determined campaigning can block conservative media takeovers. Let’s do it again here. Ofcom has given until this Friday for anyone to submit comments on whether this deal is in the public interest. Let’s send a message today and tell everyone we know.

In the world we are striving to create, citizens will be empowered by a media telling truth for the public good. Countering this deal is vital if we are to leave space for such a media in our country, and the world.

With hope,

Alex, Ricken, Brianna, Mia, Ben and the whole Avaaz team

PS Avaaz has a new website! Your feedback will be very valuable to help us improve it. You use the pink buttons on the left hand side of any page to report any problems you find.


UK invites views on Murdoch’s BSkyB buyout proposal (Reuters)

News Corp notifies Brussels of BSkyB takeover bid (The Guardian)

Rupert Murdoch’s growing media empire (BBC)

Official memo on why the Murdoch bid would damage the media (BEEHIVECITY)




Danny Ayalon to Norway: Why can’t you keep your artists under control?

Didi Remez | November 16, 2010 at 10:27 | Categories: Diplomacy, Freedom of the Press, Suppression of Dissent | URL:

The Israeli government reaction to the homegrown cultural boycott of the West Bank settlement of Ariel was forceful and blunt: Threaten funding, establish a “Zionist Art Prize” and de-legitimize whoever takes part as fifth-columnists.

This should not have been a surprise, coming from a government that has overseen an unprecedented assault on domestic freedom of expression and association. The campaign has been so successful locally that the Foreign Ministry is now trying it on the international stage.

Here’s how the Israeli Embassy in Santiago dealt with reporting about a Chilean tourist beaten half to death in Jerusalem because he resembled a Palestinian:

“The incident has been blown up here out of all proportion also by members of parliament of Palestinian extraction who took advantage of it to accuse Israel of racism after it was reported that he might have been attacked because of an Arab appearence,” [Ambassador David] Dadon told Haaretz yesterday [November 10 2010]. “Following our swift and tough response, the matter was immediately removed from the media’s agenda.”

Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon expects foreign governments to adopt the Israeli standard in its entirety, at least on all things Palestinian. This morning’s [November 15 2010] Yediot reports [full translation at bottom of post; Hebrew original here]:

A severe diplomatic crisis has erupted between Israel and the Norwegian authorities. Israel has accused the Norwegian government of financing and promoting blatant anti-Israel incitement.

The article then lists a series of of Norwegian of cultural projects funded by the Norwegian government that the Foreign Ministry doesn’t like. This has been going on for a while. What brought on the “severe diplomatic crisis”? Hutzpah, apparently. Not only did the Norwegians refuse the Israeli dictate, they had the gall to cite democratic principles:

The Norwegians informed Israel in response that this was a matter of freedom of speech and that the government did not meddle in artistic content.

One can hardly blame the Deputy Minister. In Israel, suppression of information and opinions at odds with government policy has become normative. Ayalon probably thought the Norwegians were sandbagging him.

Apparently, the trigger for the Israeli diplomatic assault was this sinister piece of propaganda:

According to reports that have reached the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, the city of Trondheim, Norway, is paying for a trip to New York by a group of high school pupils who are taking part in a play called Gaza Monologues. The play deals with “the suffering of children in Palestine as a result of the Israeli occupation.” The play, which was written by a Palestinian man from Gaza, will be performed in the UN building.

The play’s website lists EED, Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst — Church Development Service, a government-funded association of the Protestant Churches in Germany. The government of Germany is also directly involved in funding the play through DED, the German development service.

If Israel’s ire in the case of Norway was sparked by a municipality sponsoring a few kids trip to New York, what can the Germans expect when Ayalon’s staffers discover that the federal government is behind the play?

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ZIONIST AYALON TO NORWAY?



Right-wing Israel advocacy group pepper sprays Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) members

Right-wing Israel advocacy group San Francisco Voice for Israel/ StandWithUs 
Member Pepper Sprays Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) members 
at Bay Area JVP Chapter Meeting. Wraps self in Israeli flag.

 Group well known in Bay Area for harassing and intimidating peace activists

Jesse Bacon 215-298-3923
Dana Bergen 510-854-6761

[Oakland, CA November 15, 2010] Last night, up to a dozen members of San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs, a right-wing Israeli advocacy group with a documented track record of aggressively taunting and intimidating grassroots peace activists, attended a Bay Area Jewish Voice for Peace community meeting at a South Berkeley Senior Center with the intention of disrupting, intimidating and possibly assaulting Jewish Voice for Peace members.

Jewish Voice for Peace is the largest U.S. Jewish peace group dedicated to a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on democracy and full equality — the Bay Area chapter is the founding chapter of the organization. Approximately 50 to 60 people were at the meeting, and numerous witnesses are available to corroborate the events.

Watch video of some of the disruptions and the victims and perpetrator of attack here.
Eyewitness testimonies are here and here.

Wrapped in an Israeli flag, San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs (SFVI/SWU) member Robin Dubner, an Oakland based attorney, pepper-sprayed two JVP members in the eyes and face after they attempted to nonviolently block her ability to aggressively videotape the faces of JVP meeting attendees against their will. The members, Alexei Folger and Glen Hauer, were careful to make no physical contact with her or her camera prior to the attack.

Folger said, “I did not see it coming and all of a sudden there was gooey stuff all over my head and hand. I have never been pepper-sprayed before, my whole head felt like it was on fire.”

JVP had earlier this year filed a police report about a June SFVI/SWU protest at which JVP and (peace group) Women in Black members were intimidatingly videotaped  and threatened by a StandWithUs supporter after being taunted with chants like “Nazi, Nazi, Nazi” or “Kapo,Kapo,Kapo”. Caught on a widely seen videotape was a SFVI/SWU supporter pointing his camera to the faces of silent peace vigil participants while saying “You’re all being identified, every last one of you…we will find out where you live. We’re going to make your lives difficult. We will disrupt your families…”

For that reason, JVP members were particularly concerned about protecting the safety of meeting attendees and preventing the videotaping.

Hauer, a retired attorney and member of San Francisco’s Congregation Sha’har Zahav who was treated for pepper spray explained, ”When one of the intruders [Dubner] continued standing and filming people despite the facilitator and facility manager repeatedly telling her that she could not, I first asked her politely to please put away the video camera, then several times told her to put away the camera, and then tried nonviolently to stay in front of the camera with my body. I could have taken the camera but decided instead to talk to the woman and to try to be the only person she photographed.”
Hauer, who also leads groups on healing from WWII & the Holocaust, and speaks to churches about anti-Semitism as it relates to the movement for peace in the Middle East, went on:
“In my mind was the history targeting of Jewish peace activists by the right wing of the Jewish community–the posting of our photos on internet hate sites, for example, followed by acts of vandalism at our homes and places of work.  There were many in the room for whom I care deeply.  I could also see that many at the meeting were new to the work we were doing, and I did not want them to be scared away.”
Dubner was accompanied by up to a dozen other StandWithUs members–including Susan Meyers, Mike Harris, Bea Lieberman, Faith Meltzer, and Ross Meltzer–who repeatedly disrupted and aggressively videotaped the JVP meeting and JVP members against their will, wielding the cameras in an intimidating and belligerent manner. Despite repeated requests from the JVP meeting facilitator and other JVP activists to desist from recording and put away their videocameras, the SFVI/SWU activists – who had spread themselves throughout the room – continued to record and launch lengthy monologues while the presenters attempted to speak.

They were explicitly invited by the JVP facilitator to stay in the meeting and participate without videotaping but they refused. They also refused offers for floor time by the presenters. The manager of the facility asked the SFVI/SWU members to abide by JVP’s rules or face the police, and when SFVI/SWU refused to comply with JVP’s protocol, the police were called.

At one point, JVP members and presenters worked to restore calm and de-escalate by singing the Hebrew peace song, Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu (Peace will come to us) while waiting for the police to arrive. Most meeting attendees did not know until later that 2 people had been attacked with pepper spray.

When police arrived, Dubner was temporarily placed in handcuffs while other members of San Francisco Voice for Israel/StandWithUs remained inside the meeting blowing loud whistles, using videocameras to intimidate meeting attendees.

Dubner refused repeated requests by JVP members or the police to identify the substance she sprayed. A police officer later identified it as pepper spray and paramedics were called to help treat the victims of the attack. One of them, Alexei Folger, looked visibly red and swollen, as though she had been burned on more than half her face.

Immediately following the attack, Ms. Folger, not knowing the nature of the substance on her face, rubbed some of it on Ms. Dubner’s shirtsleeve at which point the physically powerful Ms.Dubner, who also wore a pen videocamera in her shirt pocket, started physically shoving the petite Ms. Folger. A Jewish Voice for Peace staff member stood between them to prevent further escalation or physical contact between Ms Dubner and the shocked and injured Ms. Folger.

This deliberate confrontation is part of a pattern of escalating intimidation and attacks against peace activists in the Bay Area. Earlier this year, the home of Tikkun Magazine editor Michael Lerner was covered in threatening posters. In addition to the videotaped harassment of Women in Black and JVP members, several months ago someone grafiited outside of the JVP offices “Jewish Voices for Palestine: Viva Barch Goldstein” 




Mohammad Mahmud, a member of UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), sent me the following report:

This was the first time I attended a JVP meeting. I was probably the only person in the room who didn’t identify as Jewish. It was not the first time I thought about attending, but this time I matched action to intention and went, primarily to show appreciation for our colleague’s act of courage that touched me. The meeting was held in a space JVP rents regularly at the Berkeley Senior Center on Ashby, starting 6:30. I arrived at 6:40 and walked in. There was a large circle of some 50 to 60 seated attendees.

There was a stage to the right. The four guest speakers were sitting on the edge of the stage. There was obvious tension as I sat next to a lady friend. She mentioned that there was a group hostile to JVP in the room and that they were trying to start the meeting peacefully. I looked around the room and saw many familiar faces. Two women on opposite sides of the room had come to our (SJP’s) teach-in on the Gaza Flotilla back in September and tried to disrupt it. One of them goes by the name of Faith.

I noticed at least five more hostile faces which were familiar from recent SF City Hall and UIC Berkeley Senate sessions, where they had gathered under the organization name “Stand With Us (SWU).” They were dispersed in twos and threes throughout the room. It couldn’t be a coincidence, and later I would count at least 11 SWU people who worked in concert. Apparently, before I arrived, some of these hostile participants had tried to film the meeting, and JVP leaders brought in the night shift supervisor of the building who told everyone that they would have to leave the room if they disobeyed the organizers’ rules that prohibit filming.

The meeting started by going around the circle and introducing ourselves, our JVP membership status, and our plans for Thanksgiving. At least one of the hostile faces refused to state her name. Another attendee identified as a law professor and tried to go off on an angry lecture about Israel’s rights before being asked to keep it to later and allow the introductions to finish.

Cecilie Surasky, JVP’s deputy director, started the meeting off by a brief introduction of the 4 youth and then turned the floor over to Rae, the first speaker. As a video of Netanyahu’s speech in New Orleans was being setup to project behind her, she as interrupted at the beginning of her speech by a loud noise. Faith had jumped into the circle, blowing a whistle, then proceeded to read loudly from a printed paper what I learned later to be Theodore Herzl’s speech at the UN. It looked like a cheap reproduction of the famous scene from Mr. Smith goes to Washington. Some other SWU elements stood up and started shouting or filming.

A woman wrapped herself in the Israeli flag and started making statements about Israel’s right to defend itself while filming from one side of the room. The woman who had refused to state her name took out a pocket camera and started filming from the other end of the room. Some JVP members tried to block the cameras and to ask that they be shut off, others started recording what was going on.At one point, an attendee participant snatched away the text from Faith, and he received a disapproving rebuke from JVP’s Cecilie. Cecilie appealed for calm and for everyone to not engage the disrupters until the police came.

JVP members and their guest speakers starting singing “Shalom Aleinu” to drown out the shouting and pacify the hostile crowd, and some of them eventually started singing with us. Within this melee, I didn’t notice that the woman wrapped in the Israeli flag –I think she had identified herself as Robin– had used a pepper spray on two of JVP members, a man and a woman, who were asking her to stop filming. They ran out to wash their faces but the woman’s face stayed red thereafter.  At this point, a number of the disrupters left the main room, as did some JVP leaders, and closed the glass doors to wait for the police.

I do not think that many people noticed the pepper-spraying incident when it first happened. The meeting resumed with Rae speaking. Once again, Faith interjected and had a burst. Most people stayed silent until she got back to her seat. Matthew, another guest speaker, interjected by coming to the center of the circle and suggesting that everyone take three deep breaths and try to calm down. On his way back to the stage, Faith made a mocking question which he ignored.

Rae turned the floor over to Matthew, after announcing that people who feel compelled to disrupt the meeting at some point will be afforded a 1-minute period to say what they have to say before the meeting resumes. During Matthew’s address, a man who had not stood up with the disrupters interjected with a question. Matthew started to respond by praising the question, but the man interrupted and kept going on incoherently well beyond a minute. When reminded, he insisted on “finishing his thought,” which never happened.

He was interrupted by objections from the participants a minute or two later. Matthew started talking again. A man in a baseball cap jumped in the middle and started talking in a loud voice – manifesto style. He taunted the participants and declared them “afraid” of being filmed, and unable to accept the same tactics they’d used in New Orleans. He sat down and left shortly thereafter, stopping to motion to another mustachioed attendee –who had not acted disruptively thus far– to follow him, thus identifying him as a SWU element.

After Matthew finished, Eyal started speaking. He barely started when a bearded man in a Michigan sweatshirt who was seated next to me jumped up and started shouting incoherent statements. At the point I noticed a policemen coming to the door. I walked over, and explained that this individual and others were disrupting the meeting and needed to be told to leave.

The policeman responded that he had to wait for his superior to arrive before “stepping into a free-speech matter.” I explained that this was not a public space, and that the event organizers had rented it and therefore should have the right to determine who is welcome to attend. He said that he could not make that determination.

Cecilie was moving to adjourn the meeting to avert chaos, when one of the four guest speakers suggested breaking up into four smaller groups where each of them would tell their story to take away the disrupters’ ability to sabotage the meeting. We started splitting into four groups of 10 or so, so that each speaker could tell their story to a small group. By that time I noticed the poice supervisor’s arrival. I informed Cecilie to go meet him and walked over to the first police officer to point out the location of the man whom he’d witnessed disrupting, and who had by now taken off his sweatshirt to reveal another green shirt underneath.

The policeman remarked that he “seems to be much calmer now” and took no action. As we broke into small groups, most of the SWU people left, except for two or three men who joined the group discussions and tried to challenge the speakers. One of them was the bearded man in the Michigan-come-green shirt. No disruptions took place, but they tried to dominate the discussions in their groups and control its terms. Matthew had two of them in his group and I noticed him calmly engaging them for a long time.

The group discussions were adjourned, and the SWU people left. JVP had an open circle to discuss and brief on what happened, and on what should happen next. Cecilie came in and announced that something like this had never happened at a JVP meeting. The attendees were visibly shaken, and wisely cautioned against people walking back to their cars alone. The two JVP members who were pepper-sprayed recounted their stories and one asked to leave as her face was all red and her contact lenses were burning.

They informed us that the offender had been handcuffed for a few moments but the police had then determined there was no sufficient evidence to arrest or press charges. That the options were either to perform a citizen’s arrest –at which point everyone involved gets arrested– or for both to walk free, since it is one word against another, forget about the pepper-sprayed face. By this point Cecilie and the guest speakers had left. I offered to walk the pepper-spray victim to her car outside.

Just outside the main door, I noticed two police cars still in the street, and I also noticed Faith and her mustachioed fellow lurking on the sidewalk.  As the meeting proceeded inside, I opted to challenge them by standing there and enjoying the evening breeze. I was joined by a JVP member whom I’d known for years and only tonight discovered his affiliation (he’s very cautious about his politics). I prodded Faith by wondering out loud on how it feels for a middle-aged woman to make a fool of herself in front of many people and cameras like she did.

We had a mini-debate whereby Faith and her partner declared that they had decided to come show JVP “a taste of their own medicine,” that what these youth did was a shameful transgression, interrupting Israel’s titular head of state, that their parent musts be ashamed of their kids conducting themselves the way they did. I asked her what her parents would think of her whistling and reading manifestos to disrupt a meeting she disagreed with. She responded that her mother would be proud of her and that her father helped liberate concentration camps.

Remarkably, during conversation she kept dropping hints, Gestapo-like, about my name, where I worked, and what statements I’d made. It sounded eerily like a “we know where you live” hint. I did not see it incumbent upon me to advise her that she had mistaken me for someone else, or to offer her my business card. I just smiled, and commented that her father was a hero, but that didn’t absolver her from being a fool.

During our conversation, Robin the pepper-sprayer came from the direction of one police car. My fellow JVPer started asking a question but at that point another police officer came and asked us to leave to avoid confrontation with the participants from the meeting which was just getting concluded inside. Two of them got into their cars and left the parking lot. Faith, still Gestapo-like, walked down the street and around the corner to where she had obviously parked her car out of sight.

I was still dumbfounded by the police action, or rather inaction, I asked the officer a couple of questions. According to her, the pepper-spraying constituted a misdemeanor offense which the police had not witnessed. This makes the testimony of both parties equally valid, as the person who used the pepper-spray could claim that they were grabbed first and acted in self-defense. The fact that 20 witnesses could confirm one version was immaterial because they clearly belonged to one group. Several JVP members had walked out by now and joined the discussion.

The officer conceded that her understanding of the law is that if two people had a verbal altercation then one of them sucker-punches the other then claims that they had acted in self-defense, because they thought that the other person was going to punch them first, then their defense is admissible and no arrests should be made. And the solution, Officer, to people walking into private meetings with intent to disrupt and propensity to use violence than claim self-defense?

None that she could think of (as long as they stop short of pulling a gun, which constitutes a felony, not a misdemeanor). It is a sensitive issue, you see, because of free-speech limitations. She can get sued for infringing on somebody’s free speech. She is wrong. As I learned when I got home, Berkeley Penal Code S 602(o) states that a trespass is committed when a person refuses to leave a space not open to the public after being asked to do so by the owner’s agent, the person in lawful possession, or by a peace officer who is called by either.

Next meeting, I will have a copy of this law ready to show to the police when they come and sit there doing nothing.

I returned home, part disturbed, and part relieved that Faith had no clue who I was. Next time you meet Faith & co., be aware of what can happen and don’t always count on the police protecting you. 

Or whatever. The histories are too topsy-turvy for “brown shirt” to be more than a vague analogy. But Stand With Us claims to be an “international organization dedicated to bringing peace to the Middle East by educating about Israel.” I guess when education fails by virtue of the fact that the truth is a problem for defenders of Israeli policies, you barge into information meetings and disrupt them with whistles and pepper-spray. What’s next, when that fails, because the Jewish community decides to stop indulging in thuggish intimidation?

Get Christian Zionists in there with baseball bats? And then will the police “not intrude” because it is a “free speech issue”? It is clear that if the police will not enforce the law, peace groups won’t be able to function.

Technorati Tags: Israel, Jewish Voice for Peace, Palestine, Stand With Us, Zionism

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Posted in USAComments Off on LITTLE BROWN-SHIRTS



Eric Cantor Flexes Muscles for Israel

(Israel National News) Jewish Republican Representative Eric Cantor met last week with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and promised him that his party will act as a “check” on the Obama administration.

The unusual meeting offers a strong hint that U.S. President Barack Obama will find Congress taking a more assertive role in foreign policy towards Israel. Cantor is set to become the majority leader in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.

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

Although not unprecedented, the one-on-one meeting drew strong criticism from anti-Israel circles. The Atlantic, which routinely criticizes Israel, wrote on its ”Daily Dish” that the meeting is “a legitimate scandal worthy of far more attention. When dealing with foreign policy and climate change, Republicans believe in trying to deliberately sabotage the position of the U.S. government. The same is true of U.S. policy towards Iran…. Now it’s true of U.S. policy towards Israel, too.”

The “liberal” Op-ed news site posted an article by Saman Mohammadi, a university student, currently living in Toronto, who wrote under the headline, “Cantor, Thy Name is Traitor.”

The Virginia Congressman met with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Regency Hotel in New York City, along with National Security Advisor Uzi Arad and Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, according to the Politico website.

Cantor “reiterated his belief that compromise between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties,” according to a statement from his office. He also urged the Obama administration to “make it absolutely clear that the U.S. will veto any effort by the Palestinians” to seek recognition of their state by going to the United Nations.

“Eric has a longstanding friendship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and appreciated the opportunity to catch up last evening.”

Veteran observer of U.S.-Israeli relations Ron Kampeas wrote on a blog on the JTA website that the meeting and statement were “an eyebrow-raiser. I can’t remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president.” Cantor’s office later disputed his analysis.

Bush Didn’t Write No Damn Book

By Ahamad Amr

The first lie you’ll encounter in ‘Decision Points’ is the identity of the author; Bush didn’t write no damn book and if I’m wrong about that, I’ll eat the shoe that Iraqi journalist threw at him. ‘Decision Points’ is a hoax as transparent as Clifford Irving’s fake autobiography of Howard Hughes. 

Take a good look at the man who held the title of POTUS for eight years – he looks jittery and it’s worth speculating if he’s back on the bottle. I’m not suggesting that Bush is stupid. You need to be awful crafty to regurgitate the same WMD lies for eight years.   I’m just saying that the ex-president was in no mental state to write a book – certainly not a book of this size. The entire book was probably farmed out to some Neo-con boiler room operation. The word is already out that Condi Rice vetted the doctored manuscript before it made its way to the printing press. I can see Bush now patting Rice on the back “Condi, you did a heck of a snow job.”
The ex-president’s Neo-con handlers and their entrenched operatives in the main stream media will do their best to cover up his crimes and as well as theirs. It’s not that they’re worried about their reputations. They’re worried about the legal consequences.

The real mystery is who really authored the fictional autobiography. I’ll grant that there’s a distinct possibility that if you give a zillion monkeys access to a computer, one of them will pound out a three page masterpiece. But if I’m not mistaken, George Bush doesn’t know how to use a word processor. Seriously, if Bush actually wrote a book, I’d be the first to eat it.

By all accounts, ‘Deception Points’ is no Mea Culpa. Among Bush’s few regrets is a photo taken of him as he did a fly by to see what the Hurricane Katrina commotion was all about. POTUS is still fuming about the rapper that said he ‘didn’t care about black people.’ Yet Bush professes no remorse over the millions of Iraqis that were killed, maimed and fled into exile as a result of his misadventures in MessOnPotamia.  You can take this to the bank; George Bush doesn’t care about Iraqi people.

I expect the pundits will find it easy enough to pick through the weapons of mass deception fairy tales or pounce on the ex-president for being a self-confessed torturer who took the precaution of consulting a Dick Cheney appointed lawyer before approving water boarding and who knows what else. There’s no question that Bush and his accomplices lied about the phantom WMDs and that’s that. There was no intelligence failure and everybody with a lick of sense knows it.

Say what you will about the American intelligence community but never discount their capabilities. If Valerie Plame and Ambassador Joseph Wilson knew the WMD ‘evidence’ was fabricated, so did a whole bunch of other people in the CIA.  

The decision to invade Iraq was a result of a failure of judgment not a failure of intelligence. Blinded by their ideological passions, Bush and his Likudnik neo-con advisers bet that their Iraqi venture would be a cake-walk and a slam dunk. WMDs or no WMDs, very few Americans would have complained about an easy and swift victory. And let’s give Bush credit. He was right – for a few months. Check out the president’s approval ratings in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. Even when things started getting a little wobbly, Rumsfeld famously scoffed “we don’t do quagmires.”

By the time Bush realized he was wading neck deep in a quagmire, Rumsfeld started contemplating the “long hard slog ahead.”  Seven years later, we have a clear idea of where the trillion dollar Neo-Con inspired slog led us. Iraq has emerged as a blood soaked chaotic landscape where Shiite theocrats and radicalized Sunnis going at each other. Today’s Iraq is ranked as one of the most corrupt and unstable countries in the world.  So I’m just curious about something. When God told Bush to invade Iraq, did he mention anything about the potential decimation of one of the largest and most ancient Christian communities in the Middle East?

Moving on to the crazy decision to disband the Iraqi army – Bush’s phantom biographers are again pointing an accusatory finger at Paul Bremer for making that disastrous decision. If I recall, the Neo-Con praetorian guards tried to pull this off back in 2007. Fortunately, Paul Bremer refused to fall on his sword and turned around and handed documents to the New York Times proving that Bush knew in advance of the plan to dissolve Saddam’s military. The notion that the senior American envoy to Iraq would be left with the decision to disband the Iraqi Army was absurd on its face. When Bush was called out on it by Robert Draper, this was his response – “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, “this is the policy, what happened?’”

What else did Bush and his ghostwriters forget? I doubt the book mentions anything about Bush’s role in giving American occupation forces standing orders to turn a blind eye to Iraqi government death squads and ignore the torture dungeons operated by the vicious Wolf Brigades. That decision was in line with the Bush Administration’s policy of extraordinary rendition. No worries.  Bush had Cheney’s lawyers sign off on that policy too.

There is no doubt in my mind that “Decision Points” is a hoax – a bit of revisionist Neo-Con history to fog our collective memories of Bush’s atrocities.  And I’ll tell you who knows it’s a hoax – Random House, the publishers. Don’t boycott the book because there’s no Bush book to boycott. Trust me – Bush didn’t write no damn book. 

– Ahmed Amr is the former editor of and the author of “The Sheep and the Guardians – Diary of a SEC Sanctioned Swindle.” He contributed this article to

New German Party Opposes Political Islam

German politician Rene Stadtkewitz, dropped by his former party for hosting controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, has become the chairman of a new party, Die Freiheit (The Freedom). The party held a low-profile launch ceremony in late October, covered by journalist Daniel Pipes.

The party declares that, “Western civilization, for centuries a world leader, faces an existential crisis.” The party platform calls to protect freedom and democracy, and expresses particular concern over Islam, which, it says, “is not just a religion but also a political ideology with its own legal system.”

“We oppose with all our force the Islamization of our country,” party founders declared.

Die Freiheit is strongly supportive of Israel, which it calls “the outpost of the Western world in the Arab theater.” Israel’s right to exist should not be questioned, and “all democratic countries must show the highest interest in Israel’s living in free self-determination and security,” the party platform says.

Parties known for their opposition to political Islam have been increasingly popular across Europe, and anti-Islam parties scored victories in the European Union parliamentary voting in 2009. The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) led by Geert Wilders has gained the lead in national opinion polls.

Wilders announced in July that he is forming an international alliance to ban Muslim immigration to the West. His message is “stop Islam, defend freedom,” he said. Dutch Muslims have accused Wilders of using Muslim immigrants as a scapegoat for Europe’s problems.


‘US F-35 package more important than Likud infighting’

Barak supports PM on renewal of settlement freeze, says “either we reach an understanding with the US, or the Arabs will before us.”

(Jerusalem Post) Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday morning defended Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s position regarding the renewal of the settlement construction freeze in exchange for an American security package.

In an interview on Army Radio, Barak said that the American benefits “are more important than the conflict going on between [Netanyahu] and Yariv Levin, the deal changes Israel‘s stance for the future generation.”

Second squadron of F-35s is ‘an offer hard to refuse’
Reported 3-year delay in F-35 program may impact delivery
Israel signs contract to buy F-35 stealth fighter

Barak explained that the US has promised to fund the delivery of 20 F-35 advanced stealth fighter jets to Israel which will not be included in the annual aid given to Israel from the US. According to the defense minister, the White House has expressed willingness to take into consideration all the security issues facing Israel, “from Iran to Syria and Hizbullah,” hinting at the capabilities of the modern aircraft.

Barak added that the view in Israel which see the delivery of the F-35 as a “treat” is “embarrassing.” He said that the deal is part of an attempt to reach an understanding with the Americans. “Either we reach an understanding with the Americans or the Arabs will before us, and then we will have to deal with it.”

The US proposal in exchange for resuming peace negotiations entails several conditions, one of which is that Israel must announce a moratorium on settlement construction in Judea and Samaria for three months. This will include construction that began after the September 26 end date of the initial moratorium. The US has agreed that the building freeze will not apply to east Jerusalem and that no further extension will be demanded.

Turkish president: I don’t have a problem with Israelis

“Jews are praying for me in their synagogues every Saturday, all of them are our citizens,” Turkish newspaper quotes Gul as saying.

(Jerusalem Post) Turkish President Abdullah Gul has said Turkey does not have a problem with the people of Israel, but rather that the problems with Israel stem from the policies that are employed by its government, according to a report by the Turkish daily Hurriyet published Sunday.

“I have learned that [Turkish] Jews are praying for me in their synagogues every Saturday. All of them are our citizens. Our problem is not with the people of Israel, but with the policies pursued by the government of Israel,” Gül said, in remarks that were published Sunday in another publication, Milliyet.

Gul was responding to questions from journalists traveling from Turkmenistan, Hurriyet reported.

Tensions between Israel and Turkey rose in the wake of the IDF raid on the Turkish Mavi Mamara ship trying to break the Gaza blockade, during which nine Turks were killed on May 31.

However Turkish officials have reiterated that they are committed to maintaining friendly ties with Israel despite ongoing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Obama: Netanyahu willingness to freeze settlements is promising

Israeli political source says PM likely to win narrow approval from cabinet for U.S. package of incentives in exchange for 90-day settlement freeze.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to win approval from his coalition government for a U.S.
proposal to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement construction.

“I commend Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking, I think, a very constructive step,” Obama told reporters upon arriving in the United States after a trip to Asia. “It’s not easy for him to do but I think it’s a signal that he is serious.”

Obama and Netanyahu at the White House on September 1, 2010. AP

Obama and Netanyahu at the White House on September 1, 2010.

Photo by: AP

The Palestinians halted peace talks after the 10-month Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expired in September. The Obama administration has offered Israel diplomatic and defense perks to renew the freeze for 90 days.

An Israeli political source said earlier Sunday that Netanyahu would probably win narrow approval from his coalition for the U.S. package of incentives.

Netanyahu, who visited the United States last week, convened his cabinet to outline the proposal, which he said was still being drafted with the Americans. Once ready, it would be put to a vote in Israel’s 15-minister security cabinet, he said.

“In any event, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel’s security needs, both in the immediate term and vis-a-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade,” Netanyahu said in remarks broadcast by Israeli media.

The deal includes a U.S. undertaking not to request a further extension of the freeze, and to veto any attempt by the Palestinians to win UN recognition of their state unilaterally.
The Obama administration would also ask Congress to approve a $3 billion sale of warplanes to Israel and, should there be peace with the Palestinians, guarantee its wider security needs. These would supplement the 20 F-35s Israel already plans to buy for $2.75 billion drawn from annual grants it gets from Washington.

An Israeli political source said the security cabinet vote was expected later this week and that seven ministers – Netanyahu among them – were likely to back the U.S. proposal, against six who would vote against and two who would abstain.

The forum includes representatives of major coalition partners, from the center-left Labor party of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Netanyahu’s rightist Likud to the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

In private, Palestinian officials have expressed anger over U.S. incentives to get Israel to prolong the partial moratorium on settlement building, saying it effectively constituted bribing Israel to fulfill basic international obligations.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said there had been no formal word regarding a renewed freeze on housing starts in the West Bank, which, along with adjacent East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“An official Palestinian commitment will come only after President Abbas hears officially from the American administration what is going on between them and the Israelis,” Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters.

Netanyahu has previously said any settlement moratorium will not apply to areas around East Jerusalem, which Israel calls part of its capital – a status not recognized abroad – and where Palestinians want to base their own capital.

The Palestinians said the original moratorium was too limited in scope, as it did not include public buildings or settler projects already under way. They have also demanded that any new freeze include Jewish districts in East Jerusalem.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared the U.S. proposal at a meeting in New York last week, Netanyahu said.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu, who faces a tough political sell within his own coalition on the settlement issue, had pushed Clinton for the broad understandings.

Settler leaders, who said acceptance of the proposal would represent “a fundamental collapse” of the government’s integrity, called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.

Should Yisrael Beiteinu or a smaller pro-settler party in the coalition quit the government in protest of a renewed freeze, it could prompt Netanyahu to seek a new alliance with the centrist Kadima party of opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Obamma has made Netanyahu an offer he can’t refuse

(Haaretz) What benefits Israeli security more – a few more trailers on some hilltops or doubling the number of advanced fighters in its inventory?

The list of defense-related and other gifts the U.S. administration is willing to offer to Israel in exchange for three months of construction freeze in the settlements raises suspicions that someone has gone mad. An additional extension of the freeze, which he has previously rejected out of hand, may spell a political and ideological headache for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – but the offer by U.S. President Barack Obama is very enticing. The addition of 20 F-35s to the package discussed two months ago tips the balance very clearly. From Israel’s point of view, it is an offer that cannot be refused.

F-35 - AP

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

Photo by: AP

Since Obama entered the White House two years ago, he has not given the impression – at least in terms of foreign relations – of being a particularly tough negotiator. Nonetheless, this time the administration appears to have gone overboard, even though in Washington they know full well that the freeze is a highly symbolic gesture, which the settlers have already managed to avoid in the past.

This, of course, raises suspicions that there are much broader and substantive issues at hand, and not merely a few housing units in Samaria or Gush Etzion. Not only may there be a genuine Israeli willingness to move forward in a substantive way in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but perhaps some sort of deal on the Iranian question is afoot. Could it be – and this is only conjecture – that Obama is trying to persuade Israel to commit to desisting from any independent action against the nuclear installations of Iran, in exchange for a substantial future reinforcement of the Israel Air Force?

The F-35 deal signed last month was controversial in both defense establishment and political circles. The debate did not stem from the quality of the stealth aircraft, but from the price tag accompanying it: Generals and minister believed that when the price per unit is more than $130 million, there are better ways to make use of the U.S. military aid package. But, according to the prime minister, the U.S. is now generously offering to double the number of aircraft without the funding for them being taken from the future military aid package.

This is an enormous gift, which nearly makes the debate on the need for the F-35 redundant. According to reports, there will also be significant benefits elsewhere in the gift list for Israel.

In spite a great deal of bad mouthing about him, the U.S. president has proven no less committed to Israel’s security than his predecessor. To date the security package has included emergency stores that are available to the Israel Defense Forces, a $205-million grant to purchase Iron Dome systems, and a significant stepping-up of joint missile defense training programs. The list of items to come, at least on paper, is impressive.

“The Americans have put forth an excellent proposal. It will be a big mistake not to take it,” a senior defense source told Haaretz last night, adding that “the prime minister has made impressive gains. If we do not implement this deal, we will suffer in terms of defense.”

Obama is essentially spotlighting a debate that has been going on since the settlements began – namely, whether they contribute to or undermine Israel’s security. The U.S. president is now asking: What benefits Israeli security more – a few more trailers on some hilltops or doubling the number of advanced fighters in its inventory?

Barak: Israel must reach deal with U.S. before Palestinians do

Defense Minister weighs in on Obama administration proposal for package of incentives in return for 90-day freeze on West Bank construction.

(Haaretz) Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel must secure a deal with the Obama administration to pull the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, in order to keep the upper hand in the Middle East peace process.

The defense minister’s remarks come a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his cabinet with an American proposal for a new 90-day Israeli moratorium of settlement construction in the West Bank, in exchange for certain incentives from the U.S., including the purchase of 20 new warplanes. The proposal, which Netanyahu says has not yet been finalized, was met with opposition from many Likud ministers and Knesset members.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Photo by: Archive

“There are two options,” Barak told Army Radio. “Either we reach understandings with the Americans to find a way to force the Palestinians to sit around the negotiating table, or the Palestinians and the Arab world will reach understanding with the Americans and it will be us eating frogs.”

The deal includes a U.S. undertaking not to request a further extension of the freeze, and to veto any attempt by the Palestinians to win United Nations recognition of their state unilaterally.

The Obama administration would also ask Congress to approve the sale of the 20 F-35 warplanes to Israel and, should there be a peace deal with the Palestinians, guarantee its wider security needs.

“The fact that the Americans are willing to put guarantees on the table is a very serious achievement for the prime minister,” Barak told Army Radio on Sunday, adding that the benefits of the American offer outweigh any internal political considerations.

“We wanted 40 planes, but due to [defense] budget cuts, we could only afford 20, at a price of three billion shekels,” Barak said. “The Americans are now offering to complete the deal in return for a 90-day freeze. Furthermore, if we reach an agreement they are offering us a deal six or seven times larger.”

Meanwhile, an unnamed diplomat told The Associated Press on Monday that Israel would be allowed to complete construction of hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements under the new U.S.-proposed settlement moratorium.

That original moratorium, which expired in September, did not apply to some 3,000 apartments already under construction. The diplomat says the new three-month slowdown, if approved, would also not apply to those homes.

The diplomat’s country of origin was not clear from the report.

Netanyahu has found much opposition to the American offer from the right-wing members of his coalition. Nevertheless, he will apparently be able to muster a majority of his diplomatic-security cabinet to approve the incentive package.

But Barak dismissed Likud opposition to the deal as short-sighted.

“Twenty planes are of incomparable importance to momentary smiles between Bibi and his Likud MKs,” Barak told the radio, referring to the prime minister by his nickname.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Sunday that his party would abstain from a vote in the matter and enable it to pass in cabinet “if it is made clear in a letter from the president of the United States that construction will take place in Jerusalem immediately, and that after 90 days, it will be possible to build everywhere, without restrictions.”

Shas’ abstention would presumably give Netanyahu a 7-6 majority for the freeze, since votes in favor are expected from himself, three other members of his Likud party (Yuval Steinitz, Gideon Sa’ar and Dan Meridor ), both Labor ministers (Barak and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer ) and Yaakov Neeman, an independent affiliated with Yisrael Beiteinu. The six opponents are expected to be the three Yisrael Beiteinu ministers (Avigdor Lieberman, Uzi Landau and Yitzhak Aharonovitch ) and the three remaining Likud ministers (Moshe Ya’alon, Silvan Shalom and Benny Begin ).

Netanyahu briefed his forum of seven top ministers on the American proposal Saturday night and the rest of the cabinet on Sunday morning. But he said the package is not yet final; certain details remain to be worked out.

“When the work is finished, I’ll bring the matter to the diplomatic-security cabinet for a discussion and vote,” he promised.

Palestinians say settlers torched their olive trees

(AFP) SALEM, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Palestinians said that Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank burned about 200 of their olive trees on Sunday and also torched surrounding grazing land.

Settlers denied the allegations.

The alleged attackers were seen heading in the direction of the nearby Elon Moreh settlement after setting fire to the trees on land owned by the Palestinian village of Salem, village council spokesman Adli Ishtayeh said.

He said that the trees were on ground adjoining the settlement and, for reasons of Israeli security, kept off limits to their owners for most of the time. He said that the Israeli army, which polices the area, had been notified.

A military spokesman said no complaint against the settlers had been made and that troops on the scene were treating the incident “as a fire, not arson” after unseasonably hot and dry weather.

Settler spokesman David Haivri said Palestinian farmers themselves had been burning dead wood.

“After checking with local security and leaders of the town of Elon Moreh, no unusual events were recorded today in the area,” he said.

“We are not aware of more then some small-scale smoke resulting from farmers burning branches from their own pruning after the harvest.”

Since the start of the olive harvest last month, there have been scores of Palestinian complaints about settlers cutting down trees, stealing olives or preventing farmers from harvesting their crops, rights groups and police say.

A senior Israeli intelligence officer acknowledged that there had been acts of violence and vandalism by Jews in the West Bank, noting in particular recent attacks against mosques there.

“We are not happy about the situation connected with Jewish extremists in the West Bank,” he told a group of foreign journalists on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It needs big efforts in order to stop this wave of violence. We know who are these people. Hopefully we will be able to stop this wave of violence”, he added.

Settlers started 1650 new homes since freeze end, says Peace Now

JEWISH settlers have started building 1649 homes since the end of a freeze in construction on September 26, watchdog Peace Now said, more than making up for the 10-month ban on new building.

Figures compiled in a new report by the Israeli group show that in more than two-thirds of the cases, building work had begun on the foundations for new homes, with work being carried out in 63 separate settlements.

During 2009, construction work began on 1888 new housing units, the report said, citing data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

“Had the construction continued at the same speed without the freeze, work would have begun on 1574 units during the 10 months of the moratorium,” Peace Now said.

“In the six weeks since the end of the moratorium, the settlers have managed to start construction on a similar number of units.”

A source close to the negotiations said the proposal would involve a 90-day settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank but not in east Jerusalem.

It would involve freezing all construction started since the end of the moratorium on September 26.

Iran developing long-range radar, upgraded missile defense

Iran announced upcoming upgrades to its radar and missile defense systems.

(CNN) — Iran’s military is working to exponentially boost the range and numbers of its radar systems as part of a series of stepped-up defense measures, state-run media reports.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Miqani, commander of the Khatam ol-Anbia Air Defense Base, said Sunday that Iran is working on a radar system to detect low-altitude objects as far as 3,000 km (1,864 miles) away, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency. Previously, the maximum range for Iranian radar was 400 km (250 miles), he said.

“Today, we are building all types of active or passive radar systems, with any kind of range and in any frequency,” Miqani said, according to Fars.

The latest public comments touting its upgraded military capabilities come days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Iran the biggest threat to his country and the world, in a speech to a major Jewish organization.

Starting Tuesday, Iran’s military will hold five days of air defense drills to assess the effectiveness of its missile defense and weapons systems, Miqani said, according to state-run Press TV. During the drills, which were described as an annual exercise, Iranian forces will fend off “mock enemy” aircraft and missiles, the report said.

Besides the new and upgraded radar, all of which will be produced domestically, Iran is also making progress in updating its missile defense systems, according to the Fars report.

Miqani said that the military has finished the design stage of its long-range air missile defense system. Iran, too, expects to double the range of its low-altitude Mersad air defense system, he added Sunday.

These announcements come a month after the national defense ministry said Iran had successfully expanded the range of its mid-range Mersad missile defense system.

Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said earlier this year that Iran’s radar systems can now detect any air-borne target, the Fars report said.

“Today, we own sea-based and ground-based radars, as well as radars (that) are capable of identifying multiple air targets in various frequencies and different altitudes,” Vahidi said.


Oklahoma Surprise: Islam as an Election Issue

(The New York Times) Residents at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City last week. A lawsuit has stalled the ballot initiative.
He did not foresee that he would be accused of trying to subject Oklahomans to Islamic law.

Mr. Williams was one of 10 Democrats who voted against putting a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that would forbid state judges from considering international or Islamic law in deciding cases. He considered the idea unnecessary, since the First Amendment already bans state-imposed religion.

His Republican challenger sent out mailers showing him next to a shadowy figure in an Arab headdress. On the other side, the flier said Mr. Williams wanted to allow “Islamic ‘Shariah’ law to be used by Oklahoma courts” and suggested that he was part of “an international movement, supported by militant Muslims and liberals,” to establish Islamic law throughout the world.

“At the end of the day, it was just fearmongering,” Mr. Williams said.

He won by 280 votes, but many of his fellow Democrats failed to hold their seats. The amendment passed with 70 percent of the vote and helped drive record turnout in Republican strongholds. For the first time in the state, Republicans will now control the governor’s office and have veto-proof majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Other states where Republicans seized control of all reins of government in this election are Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In Oklahoma, many conservative Democrats from rural areas lost, sounding a death knell for the state’s famous Blue Dogs, who have wielded power since the 1930s, pollsters and some Democrats say.

Politicians on all sides here predict that a raft of conservative bills that had been vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry, a moderate Democrat, will sail through next year, along with a few new ones.

The Republican governor-elect, Mary Fallin, a former member of Congress, is not only the first woman to be elected to the office, but also an archconservative allied with right-wing Republican lawmakers who call themselves the Liberty Caucus.

Voters also passed ballot initiatives on hot conservative issues, measures that had had little chance of becoming law under Mr. Henry.

Those initiatives show the extent of the conservative triumph here and how the anxiety among some voters about illegal immigrants and Muslims has become a potent political weapon.

For instance, voters overwhelmingly approved measures making English the state’s official language and requiring picture identification at the polls. Democrats maintain that both measures make it harder for Hispanic immigrants to vote or go to school, and they had succeeded in stopping them in the past.

But nowhere was the culture clash more stark than on the amendment regarding Shariah law, which put Democrats of a secular bent at odds with the conservative Christians who make up the backbone of the Republican Party.

Supporters of the amendment acknowledge that there is no evidence Islamic law had ever been brought up as a defense in the state courts. But they point to a recent case in New Jersey in which a judge had considered Shariah law in denying a restraining order to a Moroccan woman who said her former husband had raped her while they were married. The decision was overturned.

They also note that Shariah courts have been set up in England, where they have the power under a 1996 law to act as arbitration tribunals in Muslim civil disputes, provided all parties agree to abide by the ruling.

“This is a pre-emptive strike,” said the bill’s main author, State Representative Rex Duncan, a Republican from Sand Springs.

Before the vote, Mr. Duncan described the Shariah tribunals in England as “a cancer” and predicted that Muslims would come to America to take away “liberties and freedom from our children.” In an interview on MSNBC, he said: “This is a war for the survival of America. It’s a cultural war.” (In 2007, Mr. Duncan rejected a gift of a Koran from a council Mr. Henry created, saying, “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology.”)

Mr. Duncan, who had to step down because of term limits, won a close race for district attorney in Osage and Pawnee Counties. His sponsorship of the amendment helped him win there, local pollsters and politicians say. Across the state, the ballot initiative pulled conservatives to the polls.

“It was inflammatory, and it got people to turn out,” said State Representative Wallace Collins, a Democrat from Norman who lost a close race. “It worked for them.”

The day after the election, Muneer Awad, executive director of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations, filed a lawsuit. Mr. Awad argued that the amendment violated the freedom of religion clause of the United States Constitution, because it singled out Shariah law and Islam for special treatment rather than banning consideration of all religious codes. That amounts to state disapproval of Islam, he argued.

Last Monday, Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange of Federal District Court agreed that Mr. Awad’s complaint had merit, finding that the amendment’s “primary purpose inhibits religion.” She temporarily halted the certification of the election results and scheduled a hearing for next week.

Outside the courthouse, Mr. Duncan said the restraining order “thwarts the will of the people.” He said the amendment was never intended as an attack on Muslims, but as an effort to prevent what he called “activist judges” from using Islamic law in deciding cases.

Law professors have begun to raise questions about the unintended consequences of the amendment. Because it also “forbids courts from using or considering international law,” it could complicate contractual arrangements between Oklahoma companies and those with headquarters abroad. The amendment might also prevent judges from referring to the Ten Commandments or exploring English common law in their decisions.

“You throw a series of ambiguous ill-conceived words into the State Constitution and you don’t know what will happen,” said Harry F. Tepker Jr., a law professor at the University of Oklahoma. “It’s a mess.”

Ms. Fallin, who has strong support from business, has begun to back away from the amendment, even though she supported it. “It’s something that she will have to meet with the attorney general on and look at the legal specifics,” said Alex Weintz, a spokesman.

Muslim leaders in Oklahoma said the amendment felt like a slap in the face. They worry that marriages, wills, divorces and contracts — often drawn up between parties under Islamic principles then submitted to a court for approval — will no longer be valid. Jews and Roman Catholics often follow the same procedure in civil matters.

But many Muslims said they were more worried about the anti-Muslim mood that fueled the amendment’s passage. The vote here follows the controversy over a Christian pastor’s aborted plan to burn Korans in Florida and the opposition to an Islamic community center near ground zero in Manhattan.

Large mosques in Oklahoma City and Tulsa have been flooded with hateful e-mail since the suit was filed, including a video of a man destroying a mosque, Muslim leaders said.

“Islamophobia is really popular,” said Mr. Awad, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “With fear and hate, you really rally up a lot of supporters.”

The politicians backing the amendment, however, deny the accusations of fearmongering.

“America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles — that’s the basis of our laws, and people try to deny it,” said State Representative Mike Reynolds, a Republican who was an author of the bill. “I believe there is an awakening of people concerned about Christian values in our nation, and they are starting to express themselves.”


UK Captain Confirms Details: Wesley Clark Ordered Attack on Russian Troops in Kosovo

Commander Says Clark Ordered Him to ‘Destroy’ Russians

by Jason Ditz,

In an interview with BBC Radio, former British military Captain James Blunt discussed the details of how, during the height of the NATO occupation of Kosovo, he was ordered by US General Wesley Clark to attack 200 Russian soldiers and “destroy” them.

“I was given the direct command to overpower the 200 or so Russians who were there. I was the lead officer, with my troop of men behind us… The soldiers directly behind me were from the Parachute Regiment so they’re obviously game for a fight,” Blunt recalled.

Blunt had been ordered to occupy the Pristina airport, but 200 Russian soldiers had arrived on site before him, so he radioed on for instructions. It was at this point that General Clark, then the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, ordered Blunt to “destroy” the Russian soldiers and take the airport for NATO.

It was at this point, Blunt noted, that General Sir Michael Jackson, then commander of the British military, chimed in and told Clark “I’m not going to have my soldiers start World War Three.” Blunt added that even in the absence of this he was willing to risk court-martial to avoid carrying out the attack.

The story of Gen. Clark ordering the attack was well known, as was his clash with Gen. Jackson. Previous reports however had suggested it was an order given simply to Jackson himself, and not relayed to the commander of the troops on the ground.

It is an interesting glimpse into a nearly forgotten war, and indeed one which had likely never come to light except for the fact that the relatively anonymous Captain Blunt has since gone on to considerable celebrity as a musician. But for this odd twist of fate, we may never have known just how close the Kosovo War of the Clinton Administration came to escalating into World War Three, and how comfortable the former Supreme Allied Commander was in ordering that.

Six NATO Troops Killed as Afghan Violence Soars

As Lisbon Summit Looms, Record Deaths Continue

by Jason Ditz,

At least six NATO troops were killed today in several incidents across Afghanistan, bringing the monthly toll for November to 32, tying it for the deadliest November on record, though the month is not even half over.

The deaths included three NATO troops killed in a single clash with insurgents in the eastern portion of the country. The nationalities of the six were not released by NATO, but the Danish government confirmed that one of those slain in Helmand was from Denmark.

The violence adds more punctuation to a 2010 which has been by far the deadliest on record since the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan. The timing is particularly inconvenient for the ever enthusiastic supporters of the conflict in NATO’s command structure, as the Lisbon Summit on Afghanistan is just days away.

The Lisbon Summit is unlikely to net any major policy changes from the alliance, though it is expected to be the formal announcement of some measure of Russian involvement in the struggling war. It seems though most nations are willing to keep the conflict going more or less indefinitely to avoid a clash with the US, it also appears that few are willing to commit any additional troops, and most expect that the 2011 troop levels will be roughly the same as the 2010 levels. Whether this translates to more record death tolls, however, remains to be seen.

AIPAC Bares All to Quash Lawsuit

Sex, spies, and videotape

by Grant Smith,

On Nov. 8, 2010, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) filed a massive 260-page motion [.pdf] in the District of Columbia Superior Court. It asks Judge Erik Christian to dismiss former AIPAC employee Steven J. Rosen’s $20 million defamation suit. In October the court dismissed all counts of the March 2009 lawsuit except for Rosen’s claim of harm over AIPAC statements to the press that he did not uphold its standards of conduct.

Rosen and AIPAC have – until now – abstained from filing damaging information about the internal workings of AIPAC in court. AIPAC’s willingness to publicly air some extremely sordid and revealing content to get the remaining count thrown out before an alternative dispute resolution hearing begins in December is a sign that AIPAC is now fighting for its life, or – as one former AIPAC attorney put it – “reason for being.” If Rosen proves in court that AIPAC has long handled classified information while lobbying for Israel, the worn public pretense that AIPAC is anything but a stealth extension of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs – from which it emerged in 1951 – will end forever.

Rosen filed his civil suit after adverse judicial rulings made his (and coworker Keith Weissman’s) prosecution under the Espionage Act unlikely. Col. Lawrence Franklin pled guilty to passing classified national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it while Rosen and Weissman were indicted in 2005 for their role in the espionage affair. Although prosecutors reluctantly dropped [.pdf] their indictment in May 2009 – as AIPAC carefully notes in its filing – Rosen was never acquitted. Outstanding questions in the defamation suit about classified-information trafficking have now placed AIPAC in a bind.

If AIPAC financially settles with Rosen, it will signal to the American people and attentive law enforcement officials that it is honoring a previous compensation deal to pay Rosen off after the spy flap subsided. On May 11, 2010, Rosen revealed an e-mail to Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein asserting that AIPAC promised “when this is over we will do right by Steve.” But it’s now far from clear whether AIPAC has the financial wherewithal or donors willing to honor such a – possibly illegal – commitment.

AIPAC’s massive filing is mostly derived from transcribed videotaped depositions taken during a lengthy discovery process. AIPAC’s confrontational lead counsel, Thomas L. McCally, forced Rosen to admit that after AIPAC fired him, he tapped some of its biggest donors for cash. Through conduits, bundlers, and payments carefully structured below the gift tax limits, Daniel Abraham, Haim Saban, Newton Becker, Larry Hochberg, Fred Schwartz, Walter Stern, and other angels ponied up almost $1 million to Rosen between the moment AIPAC fired him and the day he joined the Middle East Forum as a visiting fellow. Rosen’s solicitations may have permanently broken such donor ties to AIPAC. Between 2007 and 2008 AIPAC’s revenue plunged 14 percent from $71 million to $61 million during a period the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported record donations to internationally oriented nonprofits. In 2008, AIPAC had to tap some of its $50 million in reserves to cover a $2.8 million budget shortfall.

AIPAC is firing its best shot now because it needs to get the case thrown out before Rosen can unleash a return salvo of “about 180” internal AIPAC documents showing that it routinely gathered “inside” (Rosen’s preferred euphemism for classified) information from U.S. government officials. Rosen can now immediately file his own sliced and diced depositions and even some of his stash of documents to prove his contention that AIPAC slandered him by claiming he was unique and thereby keep the case moving forward.

Rosen’s sense of persecution over the aborted criminal case is palpable. In one deposition Rosen compares himself to Capt. Alfred Dreyfus bound for Devil’s Island on secret and contrived evidence. In another, he explains to AIPAC’s legal team his motivation for filing a defamation lawsuit.

Rosen: “My primary claim is going to be based on AIPAC putting me in the zone of danger through knowingly false statements, with reckless disregard for the truth; putting me in the zone of danger of being convicted for a crime that I did not commit, which would have caused me to spend decades – potentially decades in prison, an innocent man; and that AIPAC’s reckless disregard for the truth had materially increased the chance of – of a wrongful conviction.”

McCally: “What actions by AIPAC put you in this, quote, ‘zone of danger’ to be convicted for a crime you did not commit?”

Rosen: “The statement that I – my – that my actions were not part of my job, and the statement that my actions were beneath AIPAC’s standards, and statements that stated and implied that AIPAC did not know about what I was doing, and various other false statements that could have led a jury to conclude that my – that I was a rogue operator, that this was not a legitimate lobbying activity.”

AIPAC ‘s filing struggles to exonerate AIPAC’s executive director of any involvement in classified information trafficking in a careful selection from a deposition of Howard Kohr conducted by Rosen’s lawyer, David H. Shapiro.

Shapiro: “You never sought to get classified information?”

Kohr: “That is correct.”

Shapiro: “Okay, did you get classified information?”

Kohr: “Did I get classified …”

Shapiro: “Yes.”

Kohr: “…information here? To my knowledge, no.”

Shapiro: “At no time?”

Kohr: “At no time.”

Shapiro: “During – we’re talking the period… 1987-1991.”

Kohr: “’1987 till today.”

Shapiro: “So at no time have you received information that has been classified as secret, top secret, that sort of classification?”

Thomas L. McCally (AIPAC’s lawyer): “Now that’s a different question, actually. You’re saying designated United States secret or top secret?”

Shapiro: “Yes. Designated – classified by the United States government.”

Kohr: “That is correct.”

Shapiro and Rosen are clearly building a very interesting box of incrimination around Kohr. While it is now established fact that a copy of the 300-page “Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free Treatment for U.S. Imports from Israel, Investigation No. 332-180” was probably still in AIPAC’s possession in 1987 and circulating among its employees, the report was only classified as “confidential” by the U.S. government. If Rosen intends to reveal Kohr received that particular classified information through such depositions, he will have to coach his legal team on the details of how AIPAC (in conjunction with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs) obtained such classified U.S. industrial secrets.

The AIPAC filing reveals the organization’s devotion to planting stories at the New York Times and Washington Post has not diminished since the days of its founder, Isaiah L. Kenen. David Shapiro deposed AIPAC’s head outside legal counsel Nathan Lewin in order to emphasize that Rosen and Weissman’s efforts to push a classified-information-laden story to Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler was simply business as usual.

Shapiro: “Right. Isn’t that why people talk to reporters?

Lewin: “No. I think you talk to reporters because you may have some information that the reporter might be interested because the reporter asks you questions. This was in the context – a conversation in which they were trying to get the reporter to write the story.”

Shapiro: “Isn’t that part of what AIPAC does, is get information out so that there’s a pressure that builds in favor of Israel?”

Lewin: “In favor of Israel. Correct.”

According to another Rosen deposition, the key to the government’s quashed espionage case against him was the story he embellished and pushed to Glenn Kessler. The FBI wiretapped a three-way conversation of Kessler, Rosen, and Weissman that confirmed AIPAC employees knew they were relaying classified information.

Rosen: “So we were warning Kessler that we had been warned that the Iranians were stirring up what could be called an insurgency. I referred to it colorfully as total war against the United States. That they were recruiting oil field workers for sabotage, that they were putting their agents – I’m afraid at this moment I don’t remember all of the details. But there was a list of details about what the Iranians were doing to get ready for active opposition to the U.S. armed forces in Iraq….”

Aside from such snippets of Rosen’s drive to get the U.S. into a war with Iran, the AIPAC civil-suit defense team was particularly interested in why (before he was indicted) Rosen immediately met with a representative of the Israeli embassy – instead of AIPAC’s inside legal counsel – after the FBI brusquely warned him to “get lawyer by 10 a.m.” Rosen was conscious that his own rushed meeting at a restaurant with an Israeli official was eerily similar to Anne Pollard’s (Jonathan Pollard’s former wife) rushed clandestine meeting with Avi Sella two decades earlier.

Like the Rosen warning, it allowed Israeli officials to flee the United States to avoid arrest and prosecution. AIPAC’s counsel also appeared to want details about the FBI accusing Rosen of lying to them, as Rosen detailed his doorstep confrontation with the FBI followed by rushed consultations with the Israelis.

Rosen: “They [the FBI] were accusatory toward me. They were accusatory toward the government of Israel. They were accusatory toward AIPAC.”

McCally: “And tell me how they were accusatory.”

Rosen: “They said that they had a recording of [Lawrence] Franklin giving a classified document to an Israeli government official. That was the most serious accusation. It’s true, it wasn’t about me or AIPAC. But it was the most serious accusation. They said they had reason to think I was lying when I told them that I did not receive classified information from Franklin, or that I didn’t know of somebody who received – I don’t remember the word formulation. They said that I better get a lawyer by 10:00 a.m. They said that they didn’t – that if I was willing to cooperate, they were willing to I forgive me for lying to them, but that if I didn’t cooperate, I could be prosecuted for lying to them.”

McCally: “Anything else you recall?”

Rosen: “At this moment, no. But I’m sure there might have been more.”

McCally: “Did you respond to them?”

Rosen: “In the beginning I was responding. But as they became more and more threatening, I said, those are very strong words you’re using, I think I better get an attorney. And then one of the two agents said, well, you don’t need an attorney. He said, I’m not an attorney either, you can just talk to us. And I said – I repeated that I think I better get an attorney, this is out of my league, and I’m very surprised by all of this, and I need – my head was spinning. And I said, I need to – I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

McCally: “And that ended the conversation?”

Rosen: “They made this threat about getting a lawyer by 10:00 a.m.”

McCally: “What significance did they place on 10:00 a.m.? Did they say they were going to arrest you?”

[Two deposition pages omitted from AIPAC filing.]

McCally: “Mr. Rosen, we’re back on the record. Who did you call?”

Rosen: “I called Phil Friedman.”

McCally: “Was he first?”

Rosen: “I believe – I don’t know. I believe I tried to call Howard Kohr. But I somehow didn’t get through or something. I believe I tried to call Howard Kohr, but I have no recollection of that ever taking place, and I don’t think it did take place. But I think I tried to call Howard Kohr. I called Rafi Barak, the deputy chief, the number two, like deputy ambassador, they call it deputy chief of mission, of the embassy of Israel. And I called Keith Weissman.”

McCally: “All right. Let’s take them one at a time. What did you discuss with Mr. Friedman?”

Rosen: “Well, I must tell you that it was a very agitated conversation on my side, and even, to my recollection, somewhat on his. He was taken very much by surprise, as I was. And while I don’t think he was as emotional as I was, he wasn’t completely collected either. It was early in the morning.”

McCally: “What do you recall of the discussion? What did you say, what did he say?”

Rosen: “Most of what I know about the discussion is what I’ve heard people say the discussion was about later. The only part I remember was that we should convene in the office. I said, ‘You’ve got to get me legal counsel,’ because Phil is not a criminal defense attorney. And he said he would, and that we would take care of this, we would find legal counsel. And that was a critical part that I was focused on.”

McCally: “So you recall in your conversation with Phil saying, we need to convene in the office, and he agreed to find you legal counsel?”

Rosen: “He said we should convene in the office.”

McCally: “When?”

Rosen: “When what?”

McCally: “To convene in the office? Right away?”

Rosen: “I don’t think so. I think it was a little later. I don’t know.”

McCally: “When did he say to meet in the office?”

[Four deposition pages omitted from AIPAC filing.]

Rosen: “… this, this is terrible, something awful is happening here.”

McCally: “You called Rafi Barak, deputy chief mission for the embassy?”

Rosen: “Yes, the number two official of the embassy.”

McCally: “What did you discuss with him?”

Rosen: “I told him I had to see him right away. And he said, I can’t, I’m going to a meeting. I said, no, you’re not. I said, this is extremely serious, I have to see you right away. And he said, okay, okay, I’ll meet you at Bread & Chocolate, which is a place we usually met for breakfast, often on Fridays, which this was.”

McCally: “Well – all right. And then you call I Keith Weissman? Did you –”

Rosen: “I don’t remember exactly when I called him.”

McCally: “Do you have any other recollection of your call with Rafi Barak?”

Rosen: “The hard part was getting him to cancel his meeting. By the way, I left out something about…”

[Six deposition pages omitted from AIPAC filing.]

Rosen: “The hard part was getting him to cancel his meeting. I went to Bread & Chocolate and met Rafi Barak, and talked to him there. And he got very upset too.”

McCally: “What did you all discuss?”

Rosen: “I told him especially the part about this allegation that some Israeli had received a classified document from Larry Franklin. I told him this looked very serious to me, and that I probably made some reference to Pollard, because that’s the first thing that of course comes to mind in such a controversy. And he was more guarded with me. Once I told him that, you know, he was – you know, just wanted to go back to the office and investigate it.”

McCally: “Do you recall anything else of your conversation?”

Rosen: “No.”

McCally: “What happened when you broke up at the restaurant and left?”

Rosen: “Well, according to my recollection I went to the office.”

McCally: “Well, was the FBI – did they follow you to the restaurant?”

Rosen: “Oh. At the restaurant. Yes. When I went to get my car in the parking lot, the FBI agent was there, or one of them.”

McCally: “Male or female?”

Rosen: “I have a recollection of it being female. But I don’t know. Because the ones who came to my house were two males. I may have that wrong.”

McCally: “She was standing at your car?”

Rosen: “Or in the parking lot at the back door. The way that restaurant works, it has a parking lot behind it, and the back door. And I think I came out the back door, and there she was, I think.”

McCally: “Did you speak with her?”

Rosen: “I don’t think so. I think I just looked at her and drove off.”

McCally: “Did you make any gestures, or did she make any gestures towards you?”

Rosen: “I don’t know. I don’t really know.”

McCally: “Do you recall her waving at you?”

Rosen: “Not at this moment, no….”

So there are lies and spies, but what about the sex? Suffice it to say that 27 percent of the filing deals with widespread workplace-inappropriate activities at AIPAC – from tales of prostitution, late-night Craigslist-powered anonymous hookups, and massive flows of digital content not generally handled by reputable charities. It’s funny to speculate whether AIPAC could have made a plausible defense to Justice Department prosecutors in 2005 that its office network was simply too overflowing with pornography to accommodate substantial amounts of classified government information. But AIPAC never had to. The filing also reveals that very generous rehabilitation incentives from the D.C. deputy mayor and property tax benefits given to AIPAC to build its new H Street headquarters have probably not meaningfully lowered neighborhood blight as promised.

As Rosen and AIPAC tussle in court over the organization’s long history of using classified national defense and economic information for the benefit of their foreign principal, Americans must begin to ask some very serious governance questions. Why won’t the mainstream media cover any aspect of the defamation suit? Shouldn’t this matter have been resolved in a bona fide criminal setting in 2009 rather than being surrendered by prosecutors under the watchful eye of Obama political appointees? Why wasn’t AIPAC itself indicted for espionage? And most important of all, why isn’t AIPAC properly registered as a foreign agent of the government with which it breaks bread (and chocolate) on Fridays?

Read more by Grant Smith 

Please check out the brand new book detailing Israel’s deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here

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November 15, 2010

by Eric L. Wattree  


The Actual Factuals About the Democratic Loss in the 2010 Election

In President Obama’s own words, the Democratic party received a shellacking in the midterm elections, but what’s amazing is that he still doesn’t seem to understand the reason why. He seems to have bought into the Washington punditry that the Democrats lost because unemployment was at 9%, and historically the party in power loses seats in congress during the midterms. Those things might have contributed to the loss, but he’s completely missing the real reason why so many Democrats were voted out of office.

The actual reason that Democrats were turned out of office was because they deviated from the reasons they were voted into office in the first place. The voters made it clear in the two previous elections that they were fed up with the Republicans, and they believed Obama’s pledge that the Democrats were going to bring in an era of “change that we could believe in.”

They were excited by that pledge. But once the Democrats were given the presidency and the largest majority in congress in a generation, they immediately turned into Republicrats. Their turncoat behavior angered independents because they felt lied to. It also made the Democrats look weak and unfocused to the people who were on the fence, and it absolutely disgusted the Democratic base.

President Obama took too many of his campaign advisors into the White House with him. These people are not about governing. They’re constantly in campaign mode, so instead of advising the president to simply adhere to the promises that got him elected, they’re continually triangulating to position themselves for the next election.

A lot of us were disgusted by that because it made us feel manipulated – after all, progressives are progressive because we’re not dumb, so it’s insulting to us when we feel like we’re being “handled.” So when the campaign finally began in earnest, and the Democrats came around with those very same rousing speeches that we bought into the first time we were bamboozled, they were counterproductive, because they only served to remind us of how disgusted we were over being lied to in the 2008 election.

But obviously the administration is so mired in the fallacy of beltway wisdom that all they can see is from one campaign to the next. So let me put this in campaign terms and maybe they’ll get the point. How successful do you think you would have been if in the 2008 election you would have gone out and made the following stump speech?

“If elected, I promise to circumvent the rule of law by instructing my attorney general to let Bush and Cheney off the hook for their war crimes so we won’t upset the Republicans and energize their base. I also promise to allow the Republicans to water down all legislation, even though we understand that they’re not going to vote for it in the end. And finally, I promise to never counter Republican lies in order to relate the truth to the American people.”

Maybe I’m politically naive, but I don’t think Obama would have gotten very far with that message, but that’s exactly what he did in his first two years, so I can’t see for the life of me see why the administration is so shocked that their base didn’t turn out to defend the Democratic Party.

On the other hand, if the president had walked through the door and kept his mouth shut – as he should have, since the attorney general is suppose to be independent – freeing Attorney General Holder to investigate and then charge Bush and Cheney for lying to congress to take the nation into war; illegally attacking the sovereign state of Iraq; the conflict of interest, misuse of funds and corruption; the torture, killing, and displacement of a million people, among other war crimes, the Republicans would have been so busy trying to cover their butts that they wouldn’t have had the time to cause so much trouble.

Yes, it would have ignited the Republican base, but it would have also energized the Democratic base, in addition to most young people, who tend to believe in Justice. It would have also done more to protect this nation from terrorism than all the bombs in our arsenal, because it would have sent a message to both the Muslim people, and the world, that the American people stand for justice.

Now that would have been a change that we could believe in, and the American people would have rallied around the administration, if for no other reason than having the courage and integrity to put the rule of law before political considerations.

But it seems that this administration still hasn’t gotten the point. The new congress isn’t even sitting yet and they’re already sending out signals that they’re ready to compromise on adding four trillion dollars to the national debt to give billionaires a tax cut.

If President Obama caves in again, he’s done. He’s playing right into Republican hands, because, you see, the Republicans have made it clearly obvious that they’re not really interested in the issues. Their main objective is to make Obama look weak, because they understand what’s most important to the American people – a strong leader.

So if Obama continues to cave in, he’s going to end up the most brilliant, charismatic, and beloved president ever to be voted out of office after his first term. Because the bottom line is, the American people want John Wayne, not Mr. Rogers.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.


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