Archive | December 5th, 2010



December 5, 2010

by Debbie Menon 

Given the flow of recent events I felt it might be helpful to make my appreciation of Davutoglu’s approach and achievements available to an American voice.


Ahmet Davutoğlu — Turkey’s Foreign Minister

Over a year ago I published a short profile of the Turkish Foreign MinisterAhmet Davutoglu, in the Turkish daily newspaper, The New Zaman. After the May 31, 2010 flotilla incident involving anIsraeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla led by the Turkish passenger ship, Mavi Marmara, Mr. Davutoglu demanded an apology from Israel as the basis for the restoration of normal relations.

Along with other Turkish leaders, Davutoglu questioned the Israeli narrative and criticized Israel for its brutal tactics that defied international law and morality.

A few months ago in collaboration with Brazil, Turkey attempted to work out an arrangement with Iran that was designed to provide it with the enriched uranium required for its energy and research programs, while removing most of Iran’s low enriched uranium from which nuclear weapons could be fabricated.

This diplomatic initiative caused a great deal of criticism of Turkey’s foreign policy independence, and Turkey was instructed ‘to stay in its own lane,’ which was an impolite way that Washington used to instruct Turkey to mind its own business, and one wonders what exactly is Turkey business if it not avoiding a war in the Middle East and addressing issues causing friction between its most important neighbor and other states.

The ultra-imperial outlook that makes relations with Iran a matter within the foreign policy domain of the United States, but not of Turkey, is quite revealing, and reinforces the contentions in WikiLeaks disclosures that Davutoglu worries the United States because he supposedly has a grandiose conception of the Turkish role in the Middle East, a view that is certainly shared by Israel.

In my view, Turkey especially, but the region and the world is extremely fortunate that Davutoglu has tried to pursue such a creative and constructive diplomatic course during his brief tenure to date as foreign minister that discovers and then takes advantage of the potential for peace and reconciliation, as well as exhibits a consistent respect for international law and a commitment to global justice, and does so on the basis of an exceptionally deep and ecumenical historical, cultural, and strategic understanding of world politics.

Davutoglu surely seeks to realize the full Turkish potential for exerting a positive influence against this background, but with sensitivity to the limits of the possible and the diversity of orientations and outlooks that must be accommodated to resolve the menace of violent conflict. In my view Davutoglu’s approach is a model of the sort of statecraft that responds brilliantly to the urgencies of the twenty-first century. It is my fervent belief that the world and the United States would be much better off if such a realistic visionary was guiding its foreign policy!

As my short article acknowledges, I write as a friend as well as an engaged citizen pilgrim and observer of world order. Given the flow of recent events I felt it might be helpful to make my appreciation of Davutoglu’s approach and achievements available to a wider audience. Despite the importance of subsequent developments, I stand by the profile as originally presented.

[published September 2, 2009, The New Zaman, Turkish daily newspaper]

The Turkish Foreign Minister: Ahmet Davutoglu

It has been my privilege to know Ahmet Davutoglu since he was a young professor teaching in Malaysia in the early 1990s. At that time I was immediately struck by his keen understanding of the importance of culture and civilization to the proper conduct of international relations. Mr. Davutoglu was definitely not just one more realist foreign policy analyst with a good grounding in the mainstream tradition of Western political thought covering the conceptual ground that connects Machiavelli to Kissinger.

This tradition was preoccupied with the management of power, and there is no doubt that Davutoglu had a sophisticated understanding about how to cope with power and conflict in world politics. Yet what made him more intriguing and distinguished him from many other intelligent interpreters of the changing global scene, was his recognition of the significance of non-Western thought as forming an essential basis for the shaping of historically relevant policy to enable government to meet the challenges of the contemporary world.

Davutoglu returned to Turkey a few years later, and began teaching university courses. More impressively he founded a voluntary program of advanced studies for doctoral students in the social sciences and humanities from all over the country. He led this effort by way of a foundation on arts, culture, and science that started in a modest building, but from its outset established an exciting and innovative learning community that combined an intrinsic love of knowledge and ideas with a search for practical wisdom that would be enable Turkey to fulfill its potential as a national, regional, and global actor.

Davutoglu led this educational effort, emphasizing in the teaching program the importance of history and culture, and what is sometimes called macro-history or the comparative study of civilizations, examining the broad sweep of the rise and fall of civilizations through time and across space. In this illuminating spirit of inquiry the role of Turkey was interpreted within a wider cultural and historical context of past, present, and future.  Such an approach acted as a corrective to a narrowly conceived nationalism that never looked back further than the ideas and guidance of the founder of the modern Turkish stateKemal Ataturk.

From such a perspective, the interpretation of the place of Turkey in this world historical situation of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century was of preeminent importance.  It was Davutoglu’s particular insight that Turkey to move creatively forward into the future needed to recapture an understanding of and a pride in the achievements of its pre-republican past, and especially the extraordinary capacity of the Ottoman Empire to encompass diverse peoples while exhibiting respect for distinct cultures and religions. I found this way of thinking congenial.

It represented a refreshing enlargement upon the non-historical forms of strategic thought that seems so prominent at the time in Turkey, and was almost entirely derivative from the way world politics was conceived in the United States. Davutoglu as a scholar was striving for an approach that came directly to terms with Turkey’s hopes and aspirations for the future, turning to philosophy, culture, and history for this deepening of his understanding.

In this same spirit, it was his consistent desire to expose students and the intelligent public in Turkey to similar styles of global thinking from other parts of the world. His foundation organized several conferences in the last decade that brought to Turkey leading thinkers from all over the world. Such events exhibited Davutoglu’s commitment to the establishment of a cross-cultural community of scholars dedicated to a universalizing vision of a peaceful and just world.

In his notable scholarly publications these features of Davutoglu’s thought gained attention for his ideas. His book on ‘strategic depth’ as the foundation of a constructive approach to security is one of the outstanding formulations of the way sovereign states should pursue their interests with respect to their region and the world. Although the book is now about ten years old, and is not available in English, it has gone through many printings, and is being translated into a variety of foreign languages.

It is one of the most significant contributions to the literature of international relations, and although imprinted with the geopolitics of the cold war and its globalization sequel, it retains great relevance to the relations of Turkey to an evolving world order. Davutoglu has expressed frustration that his public duties have prevented him from either revising Stratejik Derinlik or following it up with a second book on ‘cultural depth’ that would have given his published work a more accurate reflection of his original approach to international relations in our time.

Against such a background it may not seem surprising that Davutoglu has had such a major impact on Turkish foreign policy, initially as chief adviser to the top AK Party leadership, and since May of 2008, as Foreign Minister. Usually there is not a very good fit between influential professors and successful government service. What has made Davutoglu an exception, is his unusual combination of social and diplomatic skills and an absence of political ambition. Staying aloof from party politics, yet aligned with the AK Party policy outlook, has managed to give him a unique place on the Turkish scene, which is at once independent and yet exceedingly influential with political leaders, with the public, and in foreign capitals.

Even before becoming Foreign Minister it was widely appreciated in the media and in the diplomatic community that Davutoglu was the architect of Turkish foreign policy ever since the AK Party was elected in 2002. His initial main portfolio involved a focus on achieving Turkish membership in the European Union. It was always Davutoglu’s view that such membership was not only beneficial to Turkey, including establishing a stronger foundation for genuine democracy at home, but also that it was presenting Europe with a unique opportunity to become a dynamic force in a post-colonial world, enjoying multi-civilizational legitimacy in a world order where the West could no longer play an effective role unless it could claim an identity and recruit the participation of the rising peoples of the East.

Although Davutoglu’s hopes for greater European receptivity to Turkey have undoubtedly been disappointed by the unanticipated surge of Islamophobia in several European countries, as well as the unfortunate admission of Cyprus to EU membership in 2004, he continues to believe that the goal of Turkish membership is attainable and desirable. This Turkish quest for EU membership continues, with ups and downs, and has had its own benefits, providing all along strong support for domestic moves to strengthen democracy and human rights in Turkey.

As Foreign Minister, Davutoglu has exhibited the qualities of energy, intelligence, political savvy, moral concern, self-confidence (without arrogance), and historically grounded vision that one encounters in his scholarship and lectures. It is hard to think of a world figure that has had a more positive impact in a shorter time. Davutoglu’s signature approach of ‘zero problems with neighbors’ has been consistently successful in establishing better Turkish relations throughout the region, and challenging a country such as Egypt for regional leadership, even among Arab governments.

Less noticed, but as important, is Davutoglu’s tireless search for non-violent approaches to conflict management based on identifying and maximizing the common ground between adversaries. Such a diplomacy of reconciliation brings an urgently needed stabilizing influence to the inflamed politics of the Middle East, but also brings Turkey respect, stature, and expanding economic and diplomatic opportunities in the region and world. Perhaps, most notable in this regard, are the growing economic links, especially in relation to energy, with both Russia and Iran, countries that have often in the past been at odds with Turkey.

It is particularly notable that Turkey embarked on these controversial initiatives without harming its strategically central relationship with the United States. Quite the contrary. Turkey is more than ever treated by Washington as an important ally, as exhibited by President Obama’s early visit, but to a far greater extent than in the past, Turkey is now also respected as an independent actor with its own agenda and priorities that may diverge from that of the United States in particular instances. In was an expression of this new mutuality that led Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan, to say during his recent presence in Istanbul, that it was up to Turkey to decide whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan.

This seems like the natural thing to do in the relations among sovereign states, but it contrasted with the heavy handed approach of the Bush years where American officials, most prominently Paul Wolfowitz, lectured Turkey in public on their responsibilities to do whatever the White House desired. Of course, this changed atmosphere generally reflects a more multilateralist foreign policy in the United States, but it is also a recognition that Turkey is now an independent force in world affairs, not just an appendage of NATO or the West, which was the case during the Cold War and in the 1990s. Davutoglu deserves major credit for conceptualizing this change in the perception and treatment of Turkey, as well as through its expression in practical, day to day foreign policy decisions.

It is important to appreciate that Davutoglu took career risks while serving as chief foreign policy adviser that showed a willingness to put principle ahead of personal ambition. Davutoglu tried very hard to find and enlarge the common ground and dormant mutual interests in the most intractable, sensitive, and dangerous regional conflict, that of Israel/Palestine and Israel/Arab World. He did his best to broker Israel/Syria negotiations, encouraging an agreement that would end Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and some kind of diplomatic normalcy between the two countries.

And more controversially, but not less constructively, Davutoglu tried hard to soften Hamas’ posture as an uncompromising and violent element in the Palestinian struggle, and at the same time, to encourage Israel to treat Hamas as a political actor, not a terrorist organization, after Hamas gained political power through the 2006 elections in Gaza, and declared its intention to establish, at first unilaterally, a ceasefire. Israel, as well as the United States and the EU, refused to drop the terrorist label, and instead put a deadly squeeze on the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

A devastating humanitarian ordeal has resulted in Gaza from this refusal to respect the outcome of the elections, and is continuing with no end in sight. In retrospect, so much suffering might have been avoided if Davutoglu’s approach had succeeded. As well, the outlook for peace between the two peoples would have been far brighter than it is today. In this sense, Davutoglu’s foreign policy disappointments during the past several years are as deserving of  our admiration as are his successes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Turkey is extremely fortunate to have Ahmet Davutoglu as its foreign minister, and it is a tribute to the elected leadership in Ankara that so much responsibility has been entrusted to someone without party affiliations, of independent character, and of scholarly temperament. Much has been made of Davutoglu’s emphasis on ‘strategic depth,’ but I believe he will be in the end most remembered for his ‘moral depth.’ By moral depth I mean a dedicated concern for seeking peaceful resolution of conflict through mediation and compromise, based on mutual respect for legal rights and a commitment to justice.

Although it is far too early in his tenure to make any final appraisal with confidence, it is not too soon to think fusing strategic depth with moral depth will turn out to be a memorable dimension of Davutoglu’s legacy. If so it is likely to underpin an eventual judgment that Ahmet Davutoglu should be regarded as Turkey’s finest foreign minister of the republican era.

Richard Falk , Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University is also author of  Explorations of the Edge of Time : The Prospects for World Order;Crimes of  War: Iraq and The Costs of War: International Lawthe UN and World Order after Iraq. He is the current  UN’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

More from Richard Falk




WIKILEAKS SHOCKER: Did Abbas know in advance about the devastating blitz on his countrymen in Gaza?


December 3, 2010


by Stuart Littlewood 




One of the most grotesque Wikileaks revelations so far is the disclosure that Palestinian top dog (Fatah section), Mahmoud Abbas, was told in advance about the murderous assault on his countrymen in Gaza two years ago.

Some claim that the Wikileaks reye-openers are a ‘dirty tricks’ operation by people with a large axe to grind. It is certainly odd that ‘evidence’ is selected to portray Arab states as eager to see Iran zapped for an unproven nuclear threat when, actually, the Middle East is far more anxious about the very real and present nuclear threat from Israel.

That same mentality would no doubt wish to drive an ever bigger wedge between Fatah and political rival Hamas

So what are we to make of the documents claiming that in a June 2009 meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S. congressional delegation, Barak said that the Israeli government “had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas”?

Fatah deny that it happened. Top aid to Palestinian president Abbas, Saeb Erekat, said: “We knew about the war because the Israelis were saying there was going to be a war.”

Several months before it started, at a meeting that he, Erekat, attended, Abbas asked Israel’s then-prime minister, Ehud Olmert, not to go to war, saying “he would not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank.”

So they admit they were talking about it…

I put the question to the Palestinian ambassador in London, Professor Manual Hassassian. “I am surprised to read the Wikileaks revelation that Mr Abbas, along with Mr Mubarak, was informed of Operation Cast lead in advance. I don’t recall his issuing a public warning to the unfortunate people of Gaza or appealing to the UN and western powers to intervene. Why would a Palestinian president keep quiet about an evil and horrendous war-crime he knew was about to be committed against his own people? Can you please throw any light on the matter?”

The ambassador replied: “I am surprised as you are, and cannot confirm the Wikileaks revelation whether they are authentic or not.”

No flat-out denial then, nor did he say he would refer the question upwards for clarification. You’d think the embassy would wish to show a clean pair of hands.

Abbas, as we all know, is living his elevated lifestyle on borrowed time. Since January 2009, when his term as president officially expired, western-backed Abbas has clung like superglue to power and overstayed his welcome. A year ago, having already taken a one-year extension regarded by many, including Hamas, as unlawful, he announced he had no wish to seek re-election at a presidential poll he promised for last January. But January came and went, and there was still no presidential election. Abbas is now nearing the end of his second year of illegitimate tenure.

I have two vivid images of Palestinians. The first, in Gaza, was the sight of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the crusty old Catholic priest, Fr Manuel Mussallam, who had guarded his flock through utmost deprivation and the darkest of days (with many more to come), standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the microphones and cameras, both proclaiming that they were Palestinians first and Muslim/Christian second.

That’s unity of a welcome sort.

The other is of Fatah playing Israel’s armed poodle, reminiscent of the Vichy French government’s militia set up to fight the French Resistance and do much of the Nazis’ dirty work. Is Fatah prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Gaza Palestinians against the common enemy – the occupier – and proclaim themselves “Palestinians first” and Fatah/Hamas second?

Judging by their track record, no. Arrest and torture of their own people is more their game, we hear.

That’s disunity of the worst kind.

And you have to wonder why, if the story’s true, the Israelis felt comfortable discussing with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority what would happen after their tanks and aircraft had pulverized the Gaza part of Palestine and shredded and vaporized its women and children.

A genuine leader knowing about plans for such a mega-crime would surely have sounded the alert and raised merry hell at the UN for preventive action.

Copywright @ Stuart Littlewood

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DID AB-A$$ KNOW IN ADVANCE ABOUT GAZA HOLOCAUST?




They wanted to be part of the action and found themselves in an impossible situation. One had the task of washing corpses, another was embittered and abused prisoners, and the third told families that their dear ones had been killed. A new film reveals the trauma of the female soldiers of the intifada.

By Dalia Karpel

One night, Tamar Yarom was awakened by one of the soldiers in her unit. He said he wanted to show her something in the basement of the abandoned building where they were staying. “Before we opened the door, I heard this awful noise from a generator and there was a strong smell of diesel fuel. I saw a middle-aged Palestinian detainee lying with his head on the generator.

His ear was pressed against the generator that was vibrating, and the guy’s head was vibrating with it. His face was completely messed up. It amazed me that through all the blood and horror, you could still see the guy’s expression and that’s what stayed with me for years after – the look on his face.”

Yarom, now a film director, made two films following her army service as a mashakit tash (welfare officer) in an infantry company in the territories. She was drafted in 1989 and served at a basic-training base near Jerusalem until her unit was transferred to Gaza. She accompanied the recruits from their first day in the army and felt close to them, and they told her about what they did in the territories. “I tried not to judge them. Mostly I was glad that they were feeling good and finally had self-confidence.” That’s how it works, she adds: “When you’re told things that you don’t see with your own eyes, you can prettify them in your mind.” But then she was taken to that basement.

Why did the soldier take her there? “He wanted to share the horror with me,” she says. “Maybe he hoped that I’d do something, that I’d raise an outcry. I don’t remember how we left there or what happened afterward. The next day I asked one of the commanders what happened in the basement and he politely explained to me that I mustn’t interfere in things that were none of my business.

That detainee I saw taught me something about myself that I would never have learned in years of university. And he’s imprinted in my memory, engraved in every cell of my being. I saw a person in the lowest, most suffering state. A victim of cruelty I didn’t know existed. And I stood there unmoved, apparently.”

Sandler cleans bodies

In 2002, 12 years after completing her military service, during the second intifada, Yarom directed the drama “Hatza’it dema’ot” (“Sob Skirt” – a nickname for a female welfare officer), based on her experiences during the first intifada. It won the best drama prize at the Haifa Film Festival that same year, but Yarom felt she hadn’t yet given full expression to the trauma – “the real thing,” as she calls it.

Now Yarom was ready for the real thing. Her second film, “Lir’ot im ani mehayekhet” (“To See If I’m Smiling”), is a documentary. It focuses on the testimonies of six female soldiers about their service in the territories during the first and second intifadas. Yarom spent four years working on the film – to be aired on November 15th on cable Channel 8 – which won the best documentary award at the most recent Haifa Film Festival.

“I wanted to make a film that shows admiration for these girls, who are coping with crazy pressure and have daily responsibility for human lives. I got to know female soldiers who served as lookouts, operations sergeants, whose job was to apply make-up to soldiers going undercover as Arabs. A whole world of women on the ‘second’ line, in ‘combat support.’ I was impressed by the way they grappled with the difficulties and the psychological pressures. One of the comments I most identify with was by Meytal Sandler at the beginning of the film: ‘Sometimes I think that I’m insane, because I have memories that are not connected to reality and maybe never happened. But I know that they did happen because of the intensity with which I feel them today.'”

Meytal Sandler has gone to Cologne, Germany to do a master’s degree in linguistics and Jewish and Islamic Studies. In the army she chose to be a medic, because she wanted to learn a profession. She was also an idealist, she says in the film. She was posted in Hebron as a medical organization officer, responsible for evacuating the wounded. Sandler was the only person who declined to be interviewed for this article. She now has another life and is “okay,” she says, but in the film she is the most fragile, the most touching. She says that during the filming she drank every day “to forget the horrors of Hebron.”

In the film she says she didn’t tell anyone what happened to her in the army because Hebron operated by its own rules. The first time she encountered death was when she was handed the baby Shalhevet Pas, killed in 2001 by a Palestinian sniper. “There was a baby girl who was wounded and we couldn’t treat her very well and there was a feeling that she was in my care because I was the local commander. The next morning I saw the baby’s picture in the paper. People said: ‘Congratulations, you’ve had your first dead person,'” she says in the film.

As part of her job, Sandler also had to handle the corpses of Palestinians. “I was in the office with my medics and my doctor-commander asked, ‘There’s a body, who wants to come see it?’ It was a cell they’d pursued for a while and one member was killed. I immediately said: ‘I want to see!’ I remember riding in the ambulance [with the body] and sitting across from Uriel (one of the soldiers), who looked at me and wanted to throw up the whole time,” she says in the film.

“I wanted to throw up, too, but I couldn’t say that. And the body stank. I gave him a blanket and I took one, and we wrapped them around us to keep out the smell … They then come and take the body to the clinic and tell us that before it’s returned to the Palestinian Authority, we have to clean it, so there won’t be any signs of blood on it, so they won’t see what we’ve done to it. This was my task. Because he’d been struck in the head, but didn’t die right away, and only bled and died slowly, he lost control of his bowels – that’s what happens … He’s just lying there with his eyes open and I close his eyes because Uriel tells me he’s afraid.

“I close his eyes and keep on cleaning and scrubbing and at some point the eyes open up again. It’s automatic, and it’s a very frightening moment. It’s like he came back to life. Giving me this stare. People say to me: ‘What did you do? You cleaned a corpse?’ and they’re disgusted. I can’t allow myself to be disgusted by it.”

Dealing with corpses became routine. Sandler describes another incident when one was brought to her and was taken to be rinsed by the bathroom: “Something very funny happens: He has an erection. A corpse with an erection. And people laugh a little because it’s awkward. Anyone can come and see, and a few female soldiers come in – girls I know. One has a camera and without thinking, I say: ‘Hey, take my picture.’ And I sit next to the body and have my picture taken.”

Sandler is embarrassed by the photo, and told no one about it. “Who wants to deal with the evil within himself, the alienation?” she says. But then she wanted to see the photo again: “I wanted to see if I was smiling.”

Abramov gets revenge

Was Sandler authorized to deal with bodies? The IDF Spokesman’s Office says: “Care of bodies is not included within the framework of the medical organization officer’s job; such a procedure is unknown. The likelihood of this being done systematically is small, and if it was done – it was an aberration.”

Libi Abramov served as a Border Police officer at an Israel Defense Forces checkpoint. In the film she describes her friend Hani Abramov (no relation), who was shot in the jaw and skull in October 2001 during an operation near Tul Karm – the first female Border Police officer to be wounded during the intifada. Libi was so upset that she decided to take revenge on Arabs who passed through the checkpoint that day.

“With every Arab I see, I see Hani in my mind. In one shift, there were as many as 70 or 80 people whom I delayed. I stood them in a line and decided that they would stay with me for the whole 12- to 14-hour shift, in the sun, in the heat. I made them stand there with me and had them do all kinds of exercises. I stood them in threes, as if they were my soldiers. I started shouting at them and asked them ‘Why did you do that to Hani? What did she do to deserve it?’ No one else was around except my fighters, and they accepted this; it didn’t seem strange to them.”

One night Abramov was sitting alone in an armored vehicle and saw an Arab staring at her. “I stared right back and he started making obscene gestures. I took a good look at him. I wanted to remember what he was wearing and how he looked. And I can still remember: He was wearing three-quarter-length red pants, a white shirt and short black hair. As soon as he saw that my soldiers were coming back, he ran away. As soon as they got in the vehicle, I was ready to go. I drove really fast. When we found and caught him he realized who I was and what was happening. We took him to one of the alleyways and I started screaming at him. I made him look me in the eye and repeat in words what he’d done, and he of course tried to ignore me. He kept his eyes down. We stripped him until he was only in his underwear and just abused him.”

Behar regrets to inform you

Education in the territories was also a whole different story. Education officer Dana Behar says she dealt “only with death.” She grew up in Nes Ziona; her father was a doctor and her mother led youth trips to Poland. Before her enlistment, Behar did a year of service leading hiking trips for youths. She looked forward to enlisting because she wanted to “continue to contribute.” She enlisted in the summer of 2001.

After taking a course to be a mashakit hinuch (education officer), her main job was to work with commanders to make sure that whenever battle orders were given, about 10 minutes were first devoted to discussing values and humanism. She was assigned to the 50th Nahal paratroops battalion – “quality people, kibbutzniks and so on. An elitist population that’s known in the IDF as ‘the yellows’: Ashkenazim, who are soft in comparison to the ‘blacks,’ who are not just punks, but also violent.”

In her second week, she just wanted everyone to like her. “There were 500 guys and 10 girls. One day the soldiers from the company came back from Qalqilyah. The bus let off all these dusty soldiers and I’m walking around there, wanting to hear their experiences, and they see a new girl, fresh meat. So they boasted that they had souvenirs – prayer beads and little Korans that they took from the houses. It shocked me. I was taught that this was plundering.”

Two days later, she had her first meeting with the battalion commander. “This was in Hebron … and he asks me how I liked being an education officer. I said it was fine, but that I’d seen things going on. Horrified, he called up the company commander in my presence, who said: ‘The girl’s a liar. I don’t know why she’s making this stuff up, probably to impress you.’ The battalion commander promised to take care of it and I kept on in my job.”

A few days later, soldiers from the same company came to the area and recognized Behar. “They said: ‘Oh, you’re that bitch who ratted on us to the battalion commander?’ I said I didn’t rat on them, I just told what I’d seen. From that moment the ostracism began. I wasn’t allowed to enter their company, which was the most humiliating thing. Whenever they saw me, they spit on the floor and cursed … A few months later, when the company commander who led the revolt against me was replaced, the treatment I got from about 100 soldiers finally changed. Today I know something that I didn’t know then: Hardly any IDF soldier is without a souvenir from some Palestinian house.”

Subsequently she decided to go to an officers’ course because she wanted to work with more senior commanders, and says, “I also wanted to stop washing dishes in the battalion. The women soldiers always get stuck with the dishes.”

In the film Behar recalls coming out of the kitchen all wet when she heard shouting, and saw soldiers who’d returned from an operation taking pictures with the bodies of two Palestinians.

“At the time it didn’t look strange. The territories are a crazy place. The big strong IDF just killed some terrorists; it’s the soldier’s job to take down an important terrorist. It’s the ‘highlight’ of his service. Now it’s clear to me that these were the most sickening pictures I ever saw in my life.”

She thrived as education officer for the brigade. “The first two months in Hebron everything went well. My assignment was nice for my ego. It’s considered an important assignment, and only strong and assertive women are sent there.”

In November 2002 she left on a weekend furlough. She was at home and her mother suddenly knocked on the door and told her the news was reporting a terror attack in Hebron. “I came out of the shower and called my commander, and he yelled, ‘Get to Hadassah [University Hospital in] Ein Kerem right away!'”

Why? You were just an education officer.

Behar: “Yes, but he insisted so my father drove me and on the way I learned that the brigade commander, Dror Weinberg, and 12 others had been killed. I got to Hadassah and found that in this emergency situation, all of a sudden, I’d become an adjutancy officer and it was my job to relay information to the families of the injured. I was ordered to go into the rooms and bring lists of those who were seriously injured … and those who had died from their wounds. I was in the hall waiting for a doctor when I suddenly heard a shout – ‘Clear the hallway!’ I got out of the way and then, like in a movie doctors rushed by with the wounded on stretchers, all cut and bleeding … One of them was the boyfriend of a friend, and I had to tell her that he died of his wounds.”

Behar returned to the brigade in Hebron. The death of Colonel Weinberg, the most senior officer killed in the second intifada, sowed terror and chaos. “I prepared large memorial boards on which to hang texts and photographs, and memorial candles are placed beside them, for the brigade commander and the other casualties, and I asked the commander’s permission to put them up. He screamed at me hysterically, ‘No! No! Go into your room where no one can see you, and stay there until you’re called.’ There was no point trying to explain. Anxiety had taken over and there was also fear of another assault.”

Within two weeks, there were more casualties. “We knew there was no point trying to sleep or shower, that there were be another event, more death and grief. I organized memorial displays, albums, ceremonies and movies about the fallen and also had to go to the parents’ homes. My women soldiers were falling apart, and I – without any support from the officers or anyone else, including the main education office – dealt with this hell all by myself.”

Once, during her service, she asked a friend who was an information officer if she could come with him to the home of a bereaved mother, an immigrant from Russia whose only son was killed. “We come to this fairly poor neighborhood and go in the apartment, and he tells the mother what happened and how her son was killed. She fixes her gaze on me, caresses my hand, and says, ‘You’re so pretty, you won’t die, you shouldn’t be there.’ It was all I could do to keep from falling to pieces.”

In the film Behar describes how she realized that she had to save herself. “I understood that something bad happened to me. I told my mother to find me a psychologist and I went to therapy. Now I’m a third-year psychology major at the University of Haifa, and I see how right it was to try to save myself.”

What mark did your military service leave on you?

Behar: “I’ve become a very light sleeper. Every little noise wakes me up and I think it’s an alarm and that I have to rush to the war room in Hebron. I’ve vowed never to enter the territories again, because I want to forget.”

Why did you take part in the film?

“Because it’s important for people to know that something bad happened there. The IDF makes great efforts for it not to happen and I’ve never seen such big efforts made anywhere else, but still it happens. Because the reality is horrible. I want as many men and women soldiers as possible to talk about what happens there, for it to be a part of the discourse. I served there because my parents brought me up on the values of Zionism, on the idea that wherever I’m most needed is where I should go. I wanted to make a difference and I’d do it again despite everything.”

Ben Sira-Morag gets a club

In Golani, they salute blondes, and Tal Ben Sira-Morag was then a blonde soldier. In the film she says her army service was not without humor: “We were next to a muezzin, next to a mosque, we were always next to a mosque. And suddenly we hear coming out of the mosque, instead of ‘Allahu Akbar,’ the song ‘I’ve Got the Power.’ [The soldiers had] taken over the place and switched the tapes!”

Today she’s married, a mother of two who lives in Kfar Vitkin. Her father is Tnuva chairman Naftali Ben-Sira. As a 10th-grader, Ben Sira-Morag was active in the founding of the Democratic School in Hadera, which she attended. She enlisted in February 1990 and wanted to be a welfare officer, and just as she’d hoped, “I got a Golani basic training base in the Jenin sector. Everything was great. I was a queen. The atmosphere was amazing. I did an officers’ course and since I’m leftist I didn’t want to serve in the territories, but I was convinced since I didn’t have much choice and was assigned to a brigade in the Khan Yunis area.”

The base overlooked an entire sector in which were located the Shimshon Battalion, the civil administration, Shin Bet security people and other battalions. “It was a ‘hot’ sector and there was a high concentration of wanted men and they brought a Golani brigade there. Then two Palestinians disguised as women – because they didn’t search women – managed to open fire and a soldier was killed and others were wounded. Then we got an order that a female officer with a weapon would be added to every operation.”

On her 20th birthday, Ben Sira-Morag set out on an operation that lasted about 14 hours. She sat in a Jeep with senior officers and waited in the dark. The objective was to blow up two houses. She heard over the radio the word “Now!” and the commander ordered her to move to a Border Police Jeep as rockets and RPGs were whizzing around. The Border Policemen were asking if she wanted them to bring her flowers from the wanted man’s house, but then they got a call that they had to break up disturbances in the Tel Amal quarter.

“We drove there quickly and got to an area that was full of people of all ages running everywhere and throwing rocks. The noise was terrible and the fear that a rock would smash you was just as bad,” she recalls. She stayed in the vehicle until one of the soldiers came back with a club that had cracked in two after it was used to beat a woman. “Grab a club, put on a helmet and come out to hit,” he told her. “I came out but I certainly wasn’t going to hit anyone. I saw a baby crying in fright and my instinct was to go pick him up, but then his mother came and gave me the worst look I’ve ever seen in my life. That’s when it really dawned on me: I understood that I was the enemy in uniform.”

Later, she had to conduct body searches of Palestinian women. “It’s a terrible experience. The women are wrapped in layers and the smell is strong, and why should I be prying around their bodies? I passed a metal detector over them, including their private parts. Two or three security guards stood with their backs to me, but nearby. I tried to speak gently, but was horrified by the way I had to intrude.”

During one operation, while checking women, “I suddenly hear a scream and the soldier beside me has kicked the women who was supposed to pass through inspection. He’d noticed a knife that was sticking out of her sleeve. I was without a helmet and my neck was exposed. The knife went flying, they put the woman on the side and guarded her. When I finished inspecting, and the bullets were still whistling, I stood in front of the woman who was screaming in fear. The soldiers roared at me, ‘Finish her off, she tried to kill you.’

“Time stopped and I felt like everything was moving in slow motion and at that moment something was erased from my memory. I think I also gave her a little kick, I don’t remember. I shook her and shouted, ‘Stop screaming!’ I put handcuffs on her and took her away. It was a Saturday. They gave me the knife and said, ‘Now call your mother and tell her to recite the ‘blessing for deliverance’ in the synagogue. I called. My mother asked the rabbi at the Kfar Vitkin synagogue and he recited the blessing.”

Aside from that time, Ben Sira-Morag did not tell her parents about her experiences in the territories. “I was very unpleasant and aggressive then. My parents also weren’t that attentive and couldn’t absorb what I was going through. Once my father had occasion to come to the base and he told me it wasn’t so bad.” She knows that he told her mother, ‘It’s better you don’t know.” When Channel 1 did a report on her unit, her parents didn’t watch it.

After the knife incident, Ben Sira-Morag became emotionally detached from her surroundings. Her requests to transfer elsewhere were rejected: She was told she was doing a great job and her contribution was vital, and so she stayed on until August 1993. After her discharge, she traveled to the Far East with a friend and in Vietnam she suddenly suffered an anxiety attack: “People in Saigon were running and jumping on buses, the buildings were pocked with bullet holes and there were lots of beggars. It reminded me of Khan Yunis. I went into a panic and said to my friend, ‘I don’t have a weapon! I don’t have a weapon!’ It took me a while to calm down. I kept a journal during the trip and sent my parents letters in which I did a reckoning with them and with myself.”

In one letter, she wrote: “It was so hard for me after my discharge and you weren’t able to deal with it. I understand; it’s hard. One day I’ll tell you everything I went through there, all the hard things I’ve been carrying, inside day in and day out, all the horrors I saw. In a while, when I’m better, I’ll start to write and reconstruct what I went through for the sake of the future.”

In 2005, Ben Sira-Morag did that: She mounted the play “Shovrim shtika” (“Breaking Silence”) at the Teatronettto festival, based on her own experiences. Today she says: “I don’t think I was shell-shocked. What happened to me was because of the burden of the job.”

But she still suffers side effects. Crowded places make her nervous. She won’t wear a watch or listen to the news or read newspapers. “My army service screwed up my ability to love,” she says. “It took a long time until I met my husband. I have angry outbursts sometimes. I don’t hit or throw chairs, but I scream and yell.”

Michelzon gets a report

It should just not be boring – that’s all Inbar Michelzon, from Karmiel, wanted out of her army service. Though her views were quite leftist, there was no question that she would serve in the army, and as a sambatzit (operations officer), because she was told that it’s “the closest thing to the real thing” – i.e., combat.

“I was the commander of an operations room and an aide to an operations officer,” she said this week. “There were seven companies under us. We relayed orders and managed things.” The war room where she served was in charge of the Erez checkpoint, the Erez industrial area and the settlements in the northern Gaza Strip: Dugit, Nissanit and Elei Sinai.

She says she cried during her first month. Her brother, who had been a deputy commander in the criminal investigation division, had told her that it was hell on earth, but she ended up in Gaza, in October 2000. Her commander told her that only “the good ones” get to serve there.

Michelzon remembers the first time she saw the Erez checkpoint: “It was like mouse cages. I was in shock. I’d never seen Palestinians from Gaza carrying sacks on their head, dressed in rags. The poverty stunned me. This is Israel’s backyard. I had to change my skin to fit in there – everything was said there with shouting, everything’s a matter of life and death.”

Her fellow soldiers briefed her on the way things are done: “You say to someone: ‘You want to pass through? Bring cigarettes.’ Or [a Palestinian] would present an entry permit that took two months to get, and they’d switch it with another paper that they’d rip up in front of the guy’s face, just to see his reaction, and then they’d laugh and hand back the original do0cument.”

“Death to Arabs” was emblazoned on one soldier’s flak jacket, she remembers, adding that the soldiers thought she was a spoiled little girl. It didn’t take long to see that there was no one to talk to. “The guys would sit there laughing about how a sniper hit a Palestinian so that he’d be crippled the rest of his life.”

But Michelzon felt that her job was important and that she was contributing, and there was a lot of action: “There was gunfire every night. I’d come out of the war room and all the girls would be running to the protected room and I’d run to the war room and feel like a heroine in a war movie. It was fun until our soldiers started getting killed.”

One night, she recalls, “my commander found a 13-year-old boy sitting next to a Border Police outpost. He asked the soldiers what the kid was doing there and they said, ‘We kept him here and played with him a little.’ My commander returned to the war room and said that by the morning, he wanted an investigative report from their commander. The report was submitted and it said that the soldiers beat the boy and stubbed out cigarettes on him. I brought the report to my second commander. He reviewed it and said, ‘Call the company commander and tell him that if he doesn’t submit another report within a few hours to me, the police investigative division will be here.”

And so Michelzon found herself roaming the base with two reports about the abuse of the boy: the original report and an “improved” version. She imagined herself calling up Israel Radio reporter Carmela Menashe: “I knew I had to do something so people would know what’s really happening. I knew I had the proof, but I didn’t do anything. It scared me. It was impossible for me to betray my comrades and my commander. It would be like betraying myself. I continued as usual.”

Morality, she says now, “is a privilege of people who weren’t in these places. It’s very hard to look at yourself and understand that you’re not the person you thought you were. I came to the army from a youth movement that touts equality and the value of every human being and I got a slap in the face. When I saw the film at the Haifa Film Festival I couldn’t stop crying. I cried for what we did. Dear God, what we did.”

The day she was discharged from the IDF she had to attend the funeral of a friend, Anatoly Kursik, whom, she says, “was killed in a stupid operation: A battalion commander decided to go into an area he wasn’t supposed to be in to catch terrorists, and Anatoly was killed by friendly fire. That day I felt like everything was falling apart. I went through a tough period of depression.”

What did you do about it?

Michelzon: “I didn’t want to go to therapy. I ran away to India for six months and there I talked about it a lot.”

She says she believes that not just she, but the entire public, must engage in some serious soul-searching.

At present Michelzon volunteers in the ALON organization for social involvement, lives in Tel Aviv with her husband, and is writing her master’s thesis about how Mizrahi girls deal with the degrading “bimbo” image.

Yarom’s position

All the women in “To See If I’m Smiling” describe themselves as victims of circumstances. But of course that’s just one way to see what they felt and did there, and what happened to them.

Asked what her film’s political stance is, director Tamar Yarom seems momentarily nonplussed. Her film has no political stance, she says. “It’s a mainstream film. Otherwise, people will switch channels. Because who wants to see a film that tells horror stories about military service in the territories?”

She adds: “The film is political only in that the Israeli viewer comes to this subject and projects a lot of his own political meanings onto it. The only thing that has value is the attempt to relate the experience of service in the territories, and women are good at describing emotional situations.

Through them you can understand the psychology of the guys who serve in the territories. It’s not different, it’s just more extreme. It makes no difference what your job is. If you’re in the territories you’ll be sullied by this thing and come out a different person. I went into the territories with an excellent upbringing and came out a different person. I was afflicted by moral confusion there. That’s my position, and the position of the film.”W

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MY GOD, WHAT DID WE DO?



Dear Friends,


This evening’s message contains 4 items. 


The first is about Palestinian child prisoners from the personal vantage point of Ofra Ben Artzi, who is well acquainted with military courts.  I have added to her article links to information on international law regarding child prisoners and links also to information on Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children.  I have sent these links out previously.  For those of you who have not yet seen them, I wish to recommend glancing through all, and especially watching the brief video on the subject of Israel’s treatment of the children.


Items 2 and 3 are both criticisms of Israel—item 2 by Harry Feldman about the loyalty oath,


Item 3 is from today’s LATimes, and is about the US-Israel relationship.  The criticism is geared no less towards the US than Israel, and concludes with advice to the US: “first step toward restoring U.S.-Israeli relations to health is to withhold further gifts unless fully earned and fully deserved.”  Agreed!


In item 4 Al Jazeera reports that Abu Mazin threatens to dissolve the PA, thus throwing all responsibility for the West Bank on Israel.  One very distinct advantage for Israel from the Oslo accords was that Israel, instead of bearing the onus of Palestinian education, health, etc. in the West Bank and Gaza rid itself of all concern for the welfare of the Palestinian population.  Abbas threat, if carried out, would once again put all the cost of occupation on Israel’s shoulders.  I doubt that the threat will frighten Israel’s leaders into stopping expansion and ethnic cleansing (i.e., colonization).  But, perhaps it is worth a try.


All the best,



1. On the hunting of Palestinian children and re-education at the Ofer prison


Original Hebrew:



By: Ofra Ben Artzi [Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent]


3 November 2010


On 15 November the IDF spokesman issued the following news flash: “During the night IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area and in the Jordan Valley arrested 11 wanted persons.” A routine announcement that is published nearly every workday morning, but it does not receive much attention, because whom does it interest? And if among those 11 wanted persons there were some children who were pulled from their beds in the middle of their dreams at midnight, or at one or two in the morning, seized by soldiers of an elite brigade in front of their terrified parents; handcuffed, blindfolded and then put into a military vehicle that took them to an ISA (Shin Bet) interrogation facility, does anybody really care?


I set out with my comrades from Machsom Watch to the “Ofer” military court to which those children are taken after they have been interrogated by the ISA and the police without any adult accompaniment, though they are detained with adults. Two weeks ago two defendants’ benches looked like a primary school class, but here the women are not mothers or teachers, but the judge and the prosecutor. They sit in groups to the right of the judge, wearing the brown uniforms of adult security prisoners, their legs shackled. It is impossible to get used to the sight of child prisoners. The heart skips a beat every time and shame comes flooding in, because they are sitting there in my name and my tax money pays for their uniforms, the diligent judge and prosecutor, and even the air conditioning in the courtroom.


In recent weeks the number of children arrested has increased dramatically. One defence attorney estimated that on the morning of 25 October of this year, two school classes appeared on the defendants’ bench – about fifty children and youths. Statistics from Palestinian and Israeli organizations show that at any given time the Ofer prison is populated by at least 300 Palestinian minors. This week a lawyer told us that recently most of the cases heard at the Ofer military court have been of minors. After hundreds of hours of observing judicial proceedings and conversations with families and lawyers I believe that what we are confronted with here is the terrible phenomenon of a hunt – there is no other word – a mass hunt of Palestinian children.


This is how it works: army jeeps enter a village and station themselves beside a school. They create deliberate and planned friction with the pupils. Stones are thrown, and then, in the dead of night, several children receive visits from soldiers of the elite unit and are arrested. Their detention ends with a plea-bargain in which the minor confesses to a small infraction in order to save himself time in jail and his family money, because as a Palestinian his chances of getting bail are virtually zero even if the accusation is of throwing stones.

Therefore he will not undergo a trial to prove his innocence. The system takes full advantage of that. The personal consequence is a criminal record. The cumulative general consequence is thousands of Palestinian children and youths with criminal backgrounds. In contrast, Jewish minors who were convicted of crimes related to the anti-Disengagement protests received a blanket amnesty about a year ago under a special law that was passed for them in the Knesset. About 400 files were closed and their criminal records were erased.


Since the West Bank was occupied in 1967, Palestinian minors have been put on trial in military courts. Only recently has an order been issued to establish a military court for youth, and new orders have been issued relating to the procedures for putting minors on trial in that court. This is a cosmetic measure that does not give them the special protections that Israeli children – including those who live in the West Bank – receive. In 1991 Israel ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, according to which “a child is defined as a human being *under the age of eighteen.*” Apparently Palestinian children are super-human beings, maybe Supermen, because according to Israeli security legislation they reach adulthood at age sixteen. This is a violation of an international convention, an ongoing injustice and racial discrimination. And in fact, last June the Civil Rights Association and the Yesh Din organization asked the Military Advocate-General to take action to modify the law.


When I sit like this in the court of the military judge Sharon Rivlin-Ahai who has been appointed to rule on the cases of minors at the “Ofer” military court on Mondays and Thursdays, in addition to the pain and the shame I am troubled by the question: why does the strongest army in the Middle East preoccupy itself with Palestinian children and youth to such a degree and with such devotion? Why do they dedicate so many resources and so much thought to them? What do they gain from this?


The answer that I conclude from the accumulated experience of the group is clear and very distressing. As I see it, the faces of those who so preoccupy themselves with the young generation of Palestinians are not turned to a political solution. We have here a well-planned measure that constitutes a stage in a general Israeli policy that has the objective of continuing to rule over the Palestinians for the foreseeable future. The policy of criminalizing thousands of minors and turning of some of them into collaborators and incriminators fragments and destroys the next generation. This preliminary treatment “sears the consciousness” of the young generation and conditions them to face adult life under Occupation, not with dignity in their own state.


I assume that this policy is competently managed by teams of experts and consultants from various fields who are probably aided by professional literature that is rich in reference notes and bibliographies.


Will one of the senior learned figures who implement this criminal policy break the silence one day?


The author is a member of the Machsom Watch organization


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent


Links to intenrational law and other material on child prisoners


Link to pictures of 13 year old Mohammad’s ‘capture

[pictures forwarded by Ofra Lyth]


Links to information about international laws on child imprisonment and on Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinian children


a strong video report on Palestinian child imprisonment by Israel—about 5-6 minutes

International law on the rights of children

Campaign to release Palestinian children



2.  Ed Corrigan       I pledge allegiance..


Harry Feldman


While I’ve been dithering, it’s faded from the headlines.  But it was quite the controversial topic way back in October.


On 10 October, the Israeli cabinet approved a bill by 22 votes to 8 changing the wording the loyalty oath non Jews seeking Israeli citizenship must take.


The Nationality Law of 1952 provides mechanisms for obtaining Israeli nationality by ‘return’, residence, birth, or naturalization.  The residence provisions only apply to those resident prior to the promulgation of the law.  Only children of Israeli nationals are entitled to nationality by birth — children born in Israel to non Israeli parents apparently have no claim to Israeli nationality.  Jews immigrating under the Law of return are entitled to Israeli nationality under the ‘return’ provisions. 


So it seems that the proposal would simply amend paragraph 5(c) of the Nationality Law — the section concerning acquiring Israeli nationality by naturalisation, that is, by non Jews — which provides:


(5)(c)   Prior to the grant of nationality, the applicant shall make the following declaration: “I declare that I will be a loyal national of the State of Israel.”


to read something along the lines of ‘…”I declare that I will be a loyal national of the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.”


By nightfall, reports the Jerusalem Post, 150 were demonstrating at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv. ‘One of the organizers of the demonstration, Sefi Rachlevsky, said that the protest was held to express their “great anger towards a terrible action taken by a country we love.’


The same day, Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levy wrote, ‘Remember this day. It’s the day Israel changes its character… From now on, we will be living in a new, officially approved, ethnocratic, theocratic, nationalistic and racist country.’ 


JStreet immediately called ‘on the government of Israel to pull back from this proposal which runs counter not just to the values enshrined in the country’s Declaration of Independence, but puts at risk the very democratic nature of the state itself.’


On Tikun Olam, Richard Silverstein wrote, ‘If the [Supreme] Court does not reject the law then Israel is sliding down the slippery slope to a racialist state.’


Within two days, Ynet was reporting that the Anti Defamation League’s ‘National Director Abraham H. Foxman explained that “in the spirit of Israel’s founding principles of equality, we urge Israel’s government to adopt further modifications to the proposed amendment to the citizenship law so it will apply to all immigrants to Israel, including those entering under the Law of Return.’


By the end of the week, thousands were rallying against the bill.


Meretz MK Oron also condemned the loyalty oath bill, calling it racist and anti-democratic.


“This anti-democratic attack of legislation was meant to exclude the Arab population from the democratic game and to eternalize an ethnocentric right-wing regime in the government.’


‘…hundreds of Israeli public figures, including Shulamit Aloni, Zehava Galon, Yoram Kaniuk, Ran Cohen’ signed the‘Declaration of Independence from Fascism’,


A state which forcibly invades the hallowed realm of the individual citizen’s conscience, and which imposes punishment on those whose opinions and beliefs do not fit the authorities’ opinions and the prescribed “character” of the state, stops being a democracy and embarks on becoming a fascist state.


Behind these stairs where we stand, the state of Israel was proclaimed. The state which increasingly takes Israel’s place – a state which fills the country with a variety of racist legislation, promoted by the Knesset and the cabinet – is excluding itself from the family of democratic nations. Therefore we, citizens of the Israel envisaged in the Declaration of Independence, hereby declare that will not be citizens of a country purporting to be Israel and which violates its basic commitment to the principles of equality, civil liberty and sincere aspiration for peace – principles upon which the State of Israel was founded.


On 31 October, the International Jewish Anti-zionist Network (IJAN) released its response, pointing out that ‘The Zionist “Left” is distancing itself from this policy, but the proposed oath is entirely consistent with Israel’s racist foundations and continued ethnic cleansing – all of which the Zionist “Left” has played a central role in perpetrating and whitewashing.’


And the next day, Gabriel Ash of Jews sans frontiers further excoriated the Zionist ‘left’,


…Not only is the Palestinian narrative erased and evaded, but the speakers appropriate it. They are the ones whose country has been stolen. Proclaiming that “grievance” serves precisely to appropriate another attack on the people whose country really was stolen… [The] “left” that defends the interests of the settlers and seeks to make the Palestinian national problem disappear is not part of the solution. It is part of the problem.


Tempting as it is to quote more extensively, I’ll leave it to you to follow the link.


More likely in response to Foxman than to the Israeli ‘left’, Ha’aretz reported that on 18 October, ‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman…to prepare a new bill extending the loyalty oath, which is currently aimed at non-Jews, to include Jewish immigrants as well’, quoting the PM,


“There is broad approval among the Israeli public regarding the Jewish and democratic identity of Israel, and that is not incidental. The state of Israel was founded as the sovereign state of the Jewish people and as a democratic state in which all its citizens – Jews and non-Jews alike – enjoy equal rights. Any person wishing to become an Israeli citizen must recognize these two key principals.”


The same day, the American Jewish Committee ‘welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to direct the Justice Ministry to prepare a bill that will oblige both Jews and non-Jews to pledge loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.”’ To their credit, J Street’s response to Netanyahu’s suggestion was to ‘remain opposed to the proposal’, albeit ‘for the reasons enumerated in the statement above’ — it risks ‘the very democratic nature of the state’.  


To require such an oath of olim would demand more complex drafting of the proposed amendment than the original proposal.  But that should be no impediment to justice and fairness.  AJC Executive Director David Harris


had been concerned about different standards for Jewish and non-Jewish prospective immigrants to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu has wisely decided, in keeping with Israel’s long-established principles of democracy and equality before the law, that if Israel is going to institute an oath of allegiance, it must be applicable to all.


If nothing else, you’d expect one of Zionism’s shrillest defenders to be aware that ‘different standards for Jewish and non-Jewish prospective immigrants to Israel’ are absolutely fundamental to Israel’s existence and that goyim are not entitled to acquire nationality under the ‘return’ provisions. Accordingly, unlike Jews seeking nationality, they must meet residence and language tests, and pledge fealty, to qualify. Amending the wording of the oath does not change that.


As many have pointed out, there is a contradiction between Israel’s claim to be ‘the national expression of the self-determination of the Jewish people’ and to be democratic in any meaningful sense.  Privileging any ethnicity or religious group erodes the democratic rights of those not so privileged.  So under the new provision, the only non Jews who would be entitled to immigrate and become Israeli citizens are those who are either too distracted to notice that they are swearing allegiance to something that can’t possibly exist or too dishonest or cynical to care.  Extending the requirement to olim would then restrict Israeli nationality by ‘return’ only to Jews displaying those characteristics.


But I reckon there are deeper implications.


In the immortal words of the Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel, ‘The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew…’ [my emphasis]


As I read it, the point is that all Jews purportedly possess a common heritage in Palestine and are therefore equally entitled to live there.  Also, because anti-Semitism is inevitable wherever Jews live outside of Israel, we need to have a refuge we know will accept us when we flee oppression in ‘The Diaspora’. 


Making citizenship for olim contingent on taking an oath (anathema, by the way, to observant Jews) or indeed on anything, seems to me to have one of two consequences.  Either not all Jews are equally entitled to access our heritage and seek refuge from persecution, or they are redefining Jew to include just the distracted and the cynical.


One way or the other, that seemed to me to undermine Israel’s whole raison d’ être. No longer would just any member of ‘the Jewish people’ enjoy an entitlement to our ‘historic homeland’ and to asylum when under threat.


But on reflection, it transpires that whatever the framers of the Declaration might have intended in 1948, by 1950 the Law of return already empowered the Minister of Immigration (amended in 1954 to the Minister of the Interior) to deny an oleh’s visa if ‘satisfied that the applicant:


    (1) is engaged in an activity directed against the Jewish people; or

    (2) is likely to endanger public health or the security of the State; or


The 1954 amendments extended the Minister’s power to exclude a third category of applicant — ‘a person with a criminal past, likely to endanger public welfare’.


So Israel has, virtually since inception, been the state not of ‘the Jewish people’ tout court, but only of those Jewish people who meet the Minister’s approval.  And in recent times, the Jewish state has demonstrated no reluctance to exclude unwanted Jews, even as visitors, when it deported Norman Finkelstein in May 2008, and refused entry to Noam Chomskytwo years later.


Since one of the principal tenets of Zionist ideology is that Israel is in fact the state of all the Jewish people and therefore any activity against Israel or Israeli actions, including criticism, constitutes ‘an activity directed against the Jewish people’, I can certainly understand why they might want to exclude critics.  And yet both Finkelstein and Chomsky are proponents of partitioning Palestine in accordance with The International Consensus, which I have argued implies support for the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. So it’s not as if they actually challenge Israel’s fabled ‘right to exist as a Jewish state’.


If the Knesset enacts the legislation mandating a loyalty oath for Gentiles and the Supreme Court allows the law to stand, Israel remains a racist ethnocracy. If it requires the oath for all who seek Israeli nationality, it still remains a racist ethnocracy. And as for the Jews who can’t swear allegiance to a contradiction, we already know that Israel is not our country, anyway.


In solidarity,



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3.   Los Angeles Times

December 5, 2010 


Israel and the U.S.: A lopsided relationship

The United States today finds itself in the position of a suitor proffering his beloved ever more munificent gifts while receiving in return ever more perfunctory tokens of affection.,0,1260139.story


By Andrew J. Bacevich


December 5, 2010


The widely reported deal negotiated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — Israel committing itself to a nonrenewable 90-day freeze on settlement activity in return for 20 F-35 fighters and a U.S. promise to block anti-Israel resolutions in the United Nations — illuminates with startling clarity the actual terms of U.S.-Israeli relations.


What impresses above all is the gaping disparity between the American offer and the Israeli response. The United States today finds itself in the position of a suitor proffering his beloved ever more munificent gifts while receiving in return ever more perfunctory tokens of affection. You don’t need Dear Abby to tell you that something’s gone amiss.


For decades, U.S. policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict has pursued two objectives. First, Washington has sought to cajole Arabs into accepting Israel’s existence. Second, it has sought to allay Israeli security concerns. Assured that their survival is not in jeopardy, the Israelis might thereby become less quick to reach for the gun.


Progress toward the first goal, if hard-won and incomplete, has been real. Progress toward the second goal remains nonexistent. Peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have barely dented Israeli apprehensions that destruction lies just around the corner. The transformation of the Palestine Liberation Organization into the defanged Palestinian Authority has similarly provided little reassurance. Generously subsidized by the American taxpayer, the Israeli military remains today, as it has been for decades, far and away the most lethal and capable in all the Middle East. Still, to judge by statements coming out of Jerusalem, Israel teeters on the precipice of extinction. As one consequence, a pronounced Israeli penchant for using force — hit hard and never apologize — persists.


Along with superior power, Israel enjoys unique privileges, as exemplified by its nuclear posture. As a general principle, U.S. officials decry nuclear proliferation as a looming threat to all humankind. So the very existence of Iran’s nuclear program, whatever its actual purpose, elicits demands from Washington for transparency and strict compliance with international norms. Yet when it comes to Israel, Washington pursues a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”


One might expect the United States to find an arsenal consisting of an estimated 200 nuclear warheads worthy of notice. One might also expect Israelis to take comfort in the knowledge that, alone among nations in the region, they hold at the ready such massively destructive power. Instead, Washington pretends that the Israeli arsenal doesn’t exist, thereby opening itself to charges of entertaining a double standard. Meanwhile, Israelis nurse feelings of vulnerability as if the Jewish state were still David surrounded by a host of Goliaths.


Among a people for whom Auschwitz is not merely a memory but seems a looming prospect, this sense of insecurity is deeply entrenched. Whether such anxieties reflect collective paranoia or a sober appreciation for the persistence of anti-Semitism is beside the point. What Americans have yet to recognize is this: Nothing that the United States can do will put Israeli fears to rest. Indeed, by offering ever more weapons and by conferring ever more privileges, Washington ends up validating those fears.


So, although a gift of $3 billion worth of combat aircraft might boost profits for American arms manufacturers or buy President Obama some votes come November 2012, it will not make Israel appreciably safer. There is no looming threat to which the F-35 provides an essential response.


Nor will shielding Israel from criticism in the United Nations lead it to abandon its peculiar approach to deterrence, based on expectations that kicking adversaries in the teeth wins respect. It will not persuade Jerusalem to take U.S. concerns into account when Israel next feels threatened by Hamas or Hezbollah or by a convoy of relief supplies headed toward the Gaza Strip. Rather than curb Israeli inclinations to strike first and ask questions later, it will affirm that disposition, with the United States saddled with the consequences.


Furthermore, cheapening the coin of American friendship gives Israelis reason to question how much U.S. professions of friendship and support are worth.


“I know what America is,” Netanyahu said in 2001, in a video released last summer. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”


Of what value is the support of an ally that is so susceptible to manipulation?


As in love, so in politics: The only relationship worth having — or likely to last — is one based on mutual respect. To save a love affair gone awry, the abused suitor needs to wise up. A first step toward restoring U.S.-Israeli relations to health is to withhold further gifts unless fully earned and fully deserved.


Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His most recent book is “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.”


4.  Al Jazeera,

December 4, 2010


Ab-A$$  threatens to dissolve PA 



President of Palestinian Authority says he may disband his governing body if peace deal with Israel cannot be agreed.


US-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked since restarting in September, due to the settlement issue [Reuters] 


Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, has said that if no peace deal can be agreed with Israel and the international community does not approve a Palestinian state, he may dissolve his governing body.


Abbas said in a television interview on Friday that if Israel continued to build settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, leading to the beakdown of peace talks, the Palestinian Authority (PA), that provides limited autonomy for the territory, would be disbanded.


“I cannot accept to remain the president of an authority that doesn’t exist,” he said.


Pressed on whether he was referring to the possibility of dissolving the PA, he said: “I am telling them so. I say to them welcome … you are occupiers.

“You are here, stay here, I cannot accept the situation will remain as is.”


Settlement issue


US-brokered peace talks have been deadlocked since September due to Palestinian demands that the building of Israeli settlements on land, deemed by international law to be occupied Palestinian land, be halted.


The US has called for Israel to suspend settlement building for three months so the negotiations can be resumed.


In the interview on Friday, Abbas reiterated his appeal for settlement building to be halted and said that if this did not happen he would seek US and UN recognition for a Palestinian state. That would effectively bypass peace talks.


Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, gave a bleak assessment of the latest diplomatic moves to end the stalemate, saying that Israel was to blame for the failure of the peace talks.


“Israel has chosen settlements and not peace,” he told the Reuters news agency on Thursday.


The PA was created after the signing of the Olso peace accords between the Palestinians and Israel in 1993.


It provides limited self-rule over the Palestinian territory Israel had won in a 1967 war – territory that the Palestinians want to have as part of their own state.


However, Israeli construction of settlements within the borders of occupied West Bank land puts the idea of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state in jeopardy, according to the Palestinians.


Israeli supporters of the settlement construction assert that Palestinian and Israeli borders must be negotiated according to considerations of security.


They have said that the Palestinian demand to halt settlement building is an attempt to put preconditions on the peace talks.



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Carmel wildfire punishment from God?



Shas spiritual racist rabbi implies fire raging in northern Israel result of ‘desecration of Shabbat’. Haredi newspapers say disaster ‘a warning sign’, call for personal and public self-scrutiny

Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef implied on Saturday night that the fire raging on Mount Carmel in northern Israel was a punishment from God for religious offenses committed by the area’s residents.

During his weekly sermon, the rabbi read a section from the Babylonian Talmud, which states that “the fire only exists in a place where Shabbat is desecrated.”

Joint police, fire service investigation team’s preliminary probe suggests initial blaze caused by bonfire lit by residents near Usfiya; two brothers arrested. Team suspects fires in other locations may have been set by arsonists

“A number of houses were destroyed, entire neighborhoods were lost – all under supervision,” the rabbi said. He recommended that people “study Torah, engage in good deeds, repent, observe Shabbat, and know the entire Halacha, and thanks to this God will apply a full recovery.”

On Friday, a day after fires began blazing on the Mount Carmel range, ultra-Orthodox newspapers called for self-scrutiny, saying the disaster was a sign from God.

In its editorial, haredi paper Hamodia said the Carmel wildfires demanded that the people of Israel scrutinize their acts and ask themselves if they caused the disaster.

Under the title “Who by Fire,” the editorial said this was the time for each and every one to look inward and do what is required to improve their lives.

To touch its readers, the paper quoted two phrases from the Yom Kippur liturgy, “Unetanneh Tokef”, according to which each one will be judged on the Day of Judgment – “who will live” and “who will die.”

The Hamevaser newspaper wrote that an investigation committee would probably be set up, but said we must not forget that there are things beyond human control. The editorial noted that in legal language it is known as “force majeure,” and that we know there is a directing force from above without whom it is impossible to even lift a finger “here below.” The Heavens caused the events and lead them to such disastrous levels, the editorial claimed.

“The warning sign sent (Thursday) from above joins the previous warning sign, when we are already in the midst of drought, after a number of years of insufficient rain,” according to the editorial. “These warning signs are sent to wake us, to prod the sleeping from their sleep… Each one must come to conclusions and drive crookedness from his heart… And just as in the days of High Priest Mattathias Ben Yohanan made miracles and wonders (from the Hanukkah story), also in our time, He will save us from the darkest hours.”

In many cases haredi news channels tend to ignore major news events, especially in crime, for educational reasons. However, they were not indifferent to the human tragedy of the bus carrying prison services cadets and the fires still blazing in some areas of the Carmel Forest.

Lithuanian haredi newspaper Yated Ne’eman dedicated nearly all its news pages to the Carmel fires, and both Hamodia and Hamevaser covered the tragedy extensively.

In addition to regular updates, various particularly Jewish points of view were presented, including a red headline over the evacuation of Torah scrolls from the religious kibbutz Nir Etzion, and the instructions of Torah scholars to perform prayer vigils and laments in the yeshivas to invoke heavenly mercy.

Clinton to keep phoning leaders on leaks

HILLARY Clinton, who contacted dozens of foreign leaders after the latest WikiLeaks disclosures, will continue to do so for “the next weeks”, the US secretary of state said today.

“I haven’t seen everybody in the world, and apparently there are 252,000 of these things (leaks) out there in cyberspace somewhere,” she said, noting with a smile that they had not yet all been published.

“So I think I’ll have some outreach to continue doing over the next weeks just to make sure that as things become public, if they raise concerns, I will be prepared to reach out and talk to my counterparts and heads of state and governments,” she said.

“I take on the responsibility because I’m talking to them anyway. I’ve invested a lot of efforts in building these relationships

“I really believe that we had to re-establish trust, to re-establish relationships, so I take this very personally.”

Speaking of President Barack Obama, Clinton said: “I know he’s made recommendations for calls…. As he’s calling people on other matters, of course (WikiLeaks is) on the list to raise.”

The secretary of state was talking to journalists on the plane taking her back to Washington after a trip to Central Asia and Bahrain during which she came under constant pressure over the leaks.

The WikiLeaks website was fighting to stay online after Sweden issued a new arrest warrant for its elusive chief and it battled cyber attacks and government attempts to silence it.

The whistleblowing website’s founder, Julian Assange, briefly broke cover to say he had boosted his security after receiving death threats amid the storm unleashed by his site’s publication of about 250,000 US diplomatic cables.

“I’m not making light of it (but) what you see are our diplomats doing the work of diplomacy, reporting, analysing… in a way, it should be reassuring, despite the occasional tidbit that is pulled out and unfortunately blown up,” Clinton said.

“The work of diplomacy is on display. It was not our intention to release this way (but) there’s a lot to be said for what it shows about the foreign policy of the United States.”

Gaza Hamas leader: Carmel fires are Zionist’s divine punishment

Ismail Haniyeh says Allah is punishing Zionist’s for ‘what they did,’ during emergency prayers in Gaza City to ask for rain.

The de-facto Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday that the massive forest fires in northern 1948 occupid Palestine served as a “strike from God.”

Ismail Haniyeh - AP - Sept. 28, 2010

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh speaks at his office in Gaza City, Sept. 28, 2010

Photo by: AP

Commenting on the fires, which killed 41 Zionist’s and burnt more than 50 square kilometers of forest, Hamas’ Haniyeh told reporters that “those fires are divine strikes for what they Zionist did.”

The Hamas strongman made the statements as he joined emergency prayers in Gaza City to ask for rain. He expressed hope rain would fall in the Palestinian territories, which like Zionist, have been struck by an unprecedented dry season.

Over 17,000 residents, including 600 prison inmates, were evacuated as the blaze raged out of control since Thursday, devastating hundreds of acres of pine forest before sweeping down the slopes of the Carmel plateau near Haifa, Palestine’s third largest city.

Carmel inferno proves Zionist can’t afford war with Iran

Just like Israel’s army in the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the emergency services were wholly unprepared to handle a shock on this scale.

The enormous blaze that broke out on the Carmel will be remembered as the Yom Kippur War of the Fire and Rescue Service, who were not prepared to counter a disaster of such magnitude.

Yesterday it turned out that Israel is not prepared for war or a mass terrorist strike that would cause many casualties in the home front. The warning of the outgoing Military Intelligence Chief, Amos Yadlin, that the next war will be a lot more difficult than past experiences, and that Tel Aviv will be a front line, was not translated into the necessary preparation by the authorities assigned the protection of the civilians.

Carmel fire - AFP - Dec. 2, 2010

The blaze that continued into the night consumed nearly 10,000 dunams of vegetation.

Photo by: AFP

Under such circumstances, it is best for Israel not to embark on war against Iran, which will involve thousands of missiles being fired on the home front.

After the Second Lebanon War, which exposed how pathetic the civil defense system was, reports were written, exercises were held, but everything broke down under the stress of a real emergency on the Carmel range − an area that already experienced the trauma of Hezbollah missiles.

Yesterday Israel asked for help from Cyprus and Greece, and the air force traveled to France to bring fire retardants to make up for the material that had run out. In war time, it is doubtful whether Israel will be able to rely on the generosity and largess of its neighbors.

Responsibility for the home front is currently divided among three ministries: the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Authority, who are answerable to the Defense Ministry; the police, which is part of the Ministry of Public Security; and the Fire and Rescue Command, which belongs to the Interior Ministry.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who is responsible for the firemen and the head of the Fire and Rescue Services, Shimon Romah, were nowhere to be found yesterday. They are obvious candidates for losing their jobs as a result of the disaster.

Each ministry has its own bureaucratic dynamic, and ability to raise funds for equipment and human resources. The firemen are at the bottom of the pile, and have for years struggled to get more resources.

A year ago the firemen went on strike and warned that the system is far from being able to provide for defending the population. According to the firemen’s association, the international standards require one fireman for every 1,000 citizens, and in Israel the ratio is nearly one in 10,000. Over and over the firemen warned that they can’t shoulder the responsibility they are given.

Funding authorized several weeks ago was meant to head-off criticism in a State Comptroller report on the state of the fire departments.

In similar circumstance in the past, organizations that were found lacking were later bolstered with enormous resources. This is what happened to Military Intelligence and the air force following their failures during the Yom Kippur War. This will probably also happen to the Fire and Rescue Services.

Ab-A$$: Last resort — I’ll ask Israel to take over

RAMALLAH, West Bank – Palestinian Puppet Mahmoud A-A$$ has warned he may dissolve his self-rule government and ask Zionist to resume full control of the West Bank if troubled peace talks fail.

Dismantling the Palestinian Authority would be a last resort, Ab-A$$ told Palestine TV in an interview broadcast late Friday. However, his comments marked the most explicit warning yet that he’s considering a step that could crush lingering hopes for a Mideast peace deal.

If Ab-A$$ were to take such a step, Zionist, as a military occupier, would have to assume full responsibility again for 2.2 million Palestinians in the West Bank. Zionist was relieved of that financial burden with the establishment of the Palestinian Puppets in 1994, as part of interim peace deals.

Still, Ab-A$$ might face considerable domestic opposition to dismantling the Palestinian Authority, since it employs some 150,000 Palestinians, a large chunk of the work force.

The Palestinian puppet’s, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in foreign aid, has limited authority over 40 percent of the war-won West Bank, while Zionist has final say over the entire area and exclusive control over 60 percent of the land.

Puppet Ab-A$$ currently are threatening to quit peace talks with Zionist unless it freezes construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Zionist so far has refused to do so.

Ab-A$$ has said that if peace negotiations collapse, the Palestinians might seek unilateral U.N. recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, territories Zionist captured in the 1967 Mideast War.

If all efforts fail, Ab-A$$ said, “I will tell the Americans and the Israelis, come and put an end to all this. I can’t continue like this. We have an occupation and we don’t. No, keep it all and release me (from my responsibility).”

On Saturday, Zio=Nazi PM Netanyahu called Ab-A$$ to thank him for sending members of the Palestinian civil defense to help fight a major fire that is devouring much of the Carmel Forest. It was a rare isntance of personal contact after weeks of silence between the two leaders.

Also Saturday, Ab-A$$’ interior minister ordered the closure of a satellite TV station co-owned by CIA agent’s Mohammed Dahlan.

The station, “Palestine Tomorrow,” was to begin broadcasting in January. Palestinian security forces came to the office of the company operating the station on Thursday and delivered the closure order, said a senior station official who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fear of further retaliation.

CIA puppet Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman, and Interior Minister Said Abu Ali declined comment.

Shuttering the station seems to be the latest sign that Dahlan, a leading member of Ab-A$$’ Fatah movement, has fallen out of favor. Dahlan once served as a security adviser to Ab-A$$, and at one point was considered a potential successor to the president.

Iran will ‘never’ use force against Muslim neighbors, foreign minister says

IRAN will never use force against its Muslim neighbours, the country’s foreign minister told a conference on Middle East security today, following US said Arab states voicing concernss over Tehran’s suspected attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.

And in a keynote address to the conference, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks must be rescued from collapse to ensure regional and world stability.

“We have never used force against our neighbours and never will because our neighbors are Muslims,” Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki said.

“Your power in the region is our power, and our power is your power.”

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said Friday that US concerns over Tehran’s suspected atomic weapons program were shared by Iran’s neighbours.

But Mottaki cautioned against submitting to “pressure by outsiders to divide us and create instability,” saying that “the presence of foreign powers will not help establish security in the region” and urging cooperation among Gulf countries.

He said it was vital for Iran to “have stability and security, because we [Iran and its neighboring Gulf states] provide the world with most of its energy.”

“Iran is determined to guarantee international security in the field of energy,” he added.

Yesterday, Mrs Clinton said that “there is no debate in the international community, and perhaps the Iranians will engage seriously … on what is a concern shared by nations on every continent but most particularly right here in the region,” referring to talks due to start Monday between major powers and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“Obviously, if you’re the neighbour of a country that is pursuing nuclear weapons, that is viewed in a much more threatening way than if you’re a concerned country many thousands of miles away. But the concern is the same, and we hope that Iran will respond.”

The Manama Dialogue came as US diplomacy reels over State Department cables published by WikiLeaks.

Some of the most prominent headlines highlighted widespread fears among Arab countries in the Gulf about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

For his part, King Abdullah II said that “our region will not enjoy security and stability unless we solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Arabs, Muslims and Israelis find peace.”

“If hope is killed, radical forces will prevail. The region will sink into more vicious warfare and instability, threatening security far beyond the borders of the Middle East,” he said of direct peace talks launched in September in Washington.

“This is why it is essential that we rescue the new round of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.”

The talks ground to a halt as Israel refused Palestinian demands to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank. A 10-month freeze expired on September 26, shortly after the launch of the latest round of negotiations.

King Abdullah II said that “the building of settlements has to stop” and urged Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to resume “serious negotiations” on all pending issues – borders, security and refugees – adding that “the alternative is new conflicts that will reverberate far beyond the borders of the Middle East.”

The annual Manama Dialogue is organized by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies and was formally opened last night by Mrs Clinton.

She previously said Washington was “working intensively” to break the impasse in Palestinian-Israeli talks.

Iran scientists not intimitaded by hit


Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi Iran’s Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi says the country’s scientists will not be intimidated by Western efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic from reaching scientific heights.

“The Zionist regime [of Israel] and the West want to use every means to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from obtaining scientific and technological capabilities and they think that in this manner they can intimidate our scientists,” Brigadier-General Vahidi said on Saturday.

“Their effort will surely be in vain,” ISNA quoted him as saying at a memorial ceremony for Majid Shahriari, the scientist killed in a terrorist attack in Tehran on November 29.

Unknown terrorists detonated bombs in the vehicles of Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi in separate locations in the capital Tehran. Shahriari was killed immediately, but Abbasi and his wife sustained injuries and were transferred to the hospital.

Both men were professors at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran.

Iran says the perpetrators behind the assassination could be traced through those who included Abbasi’s name in Resolution 1747 adopted by the UNSC in March 2007 which cites his name as a “nuclear scientist.”

Israel and Western powers have also been blamed for the terrorist attacks.

On July 12, Iranian nuclear physics scientist Dr. Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was killed in a remote-controlled bomb attack in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Brazil recognition of Palestine irks Israel


Acting Zionist puppet Mahmoud Ab-A$$ (L) and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at Mercy Museum in Salvador, Bahia State, November 20, 2009Israel has expressed regret over Brazil’s decision to recognize the state of Palestine based on the borders before Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

On Friday, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry announced that Brasilia recognizes the Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

“Israel expresses sadness and disappointment over the decision by the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a month before he steps down,” AFP quoted a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry as saying on Saturday.

“Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995, which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations,” it added.

Zionist regime also accused Brazil of ignoring the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which said a Palestinian state could be established through dialogue but not through unilateral measures.

“Every attempt to bypass this process and to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed, only harms trust between the sides, and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace,” the statement said.

The Brazilian announcement came in a public letter addressed to acting Zionist

Puppet  Mahmoud Ab-A$$. Lula sent the letter in response to a personal request by Ab-A$$b on November 24.

The letter expressed support for the Palestinians’ quest for a homeland as a “legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state.”

Racism rising in Zionist regime, survey shows


Recent survey reveals growing racism and intolerance among Zionist Jews, with one-third of them saying they believe the Zio=Nazi government should place Palestinians in internment camps.

Thirty-three percent of Zionist Jews support the idea of putting Palestinians in internment camps if a war breaks out, said the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Zionist Democratic Institute released on Tuesday, The Christian Science Monitor reported.

The respondents cited fears that the Palestinians might help their fellow Arabs during a possible conflict.

The poll indicated that 53 percent of Zionist Jews believe Tel Aviv has the right to deport Arab citizens, and some 55 percent say Tel Aviv should direct more funds to Jewish communities than to Palestinian communities.

More than 80 percent think any final decision about Zionist’s future political arrangement must only be approved by a Jewish majority of the Zionist parliament, the Knesset, the study found.

The poll also revealed that almost half of Zionist Jewish would be bothered by having a Palestinian neighbor.

More than 62 percent of Zionist Jewish respondents also said that as long as there is not a final deal with the Palestinians, Tel Aviv should not take into account Palestinian opinions on foreign policy.

More than 1,203 people were surveyed by six researchers, who compiled the required answers from public opinion polls.

Carmel Fire: Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Even in Tragedy

Richard Silverstein,Tikun Olam,

December 4, 2010

The worst forest fires ever to have struck Israel are sweeping through the Carmel Mountains surrounding Haifa.  42 prison guard trainees died when their bus was blocked on a highway and burned, thus cutting off their escape.  It is the worst loss of life in a natural disaster in Israel’s history.  17,000 have been evacuated.  The University is threatened.

While it is natural for human beings facing such tragedy to look for villains and scapegoats, it’s unfortunate the direction that attention has turned.   Israeli Jews have gravitated to a nasty spate of rumors blaming Palestinian Israelis for deliberately setting the fires as an act of terror and protest.  This commenter in a comment thread here writes, linking to the Drudge-like Rotter internet news portal (and rumor-mill):

…According to Haifa radio today, Arab citizens in the town of Fureidis, were seen cheering the massive forrest [sic] fire occuring in the Carmel forrest [sic] that has taken the lives of at least 40

In fact, this Arab news source says that on Saturday, the residents of the town actually gathered in the soccer stadium to pray for rain.  Either the earlier rumor is wrong or Fureidis is massively schizoid.

Only a day earlier, the same individual wrote this:

…During wartime they’re [Israeli Palestinians] a security risk. Most Jewish Israelies [sic] believe that they’d join the enemy and try to join the war.

And a different commenter writes about the fires:

There are rumors of arson. The rumors blame the fires on Israeli Arabs, Heuzballa’s and even Iran’s agents…Reset Bet (Channel 2, the public news channel) – A wave of arson in the north, two suspects captured.

Rotter itself fuels the flames with this:

Shabak has been called into investigate the forest fires

Since the fires began spreading throughout the north, the national police have transferred the investigation to the Shabak.  Great concern that orders to set the fires originate in terror elements.

Air tanker fighting Carmel fire (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Funny thing that this alleged report hasn’t been confirmed anywhere else in the Israeli media.  But now that it’s circulating in the Israel right-wing underworld of rumor and hate, the notion will have a long shelf life.  All this reinforces a right-wing nationalist narrative that proclaims that the Palestinian minority is the enemy within, a force that can never be trusted.  One that will side with “the enemy” during war or security crisis.

There’s only one problem with this line of thinking: it’s wrong.  Dead wrong.  Except for a few minor exceptions and despite massive levels of hate, mistrust and discrimination, Israeli Palestinians have shown remarkable dedication to the State, which is, after all, their country.

Let’s examine the reputable Israeli media reporting on the fires.  True, one strain of reporting emanating from the National Police (who tend to follow the Shabak’s lead and be harshly anti-Arab in their views and prejudices) arouses suspicion of arson.  But if you read the following carefully you’ll see that the police chief is not claiming the original fires were Arab-inspired arson, but rather that future copy cat fires might be.  Also, note how bereft of evidence or proof the police “suspicion” is in the first paragraph and that the police don’t even seem to be basing these suspicions on field investigations:

Close to a dozen fires broke out across the Galilee in northern Israel on Friday, even as fire fighters from Israel and abroad fought to contain a massive wildfire which has swept across a huge swathe of the nearby Carmel region. Police suspect that the new blazes were set deliberately.

Police Commissioner David Cohen earlier Friday warned local police chiefs to prepare for a spate of fires that had been purposely started. Police fear that some would take advantage of the current crisis to start more fires in the region.

Further fueling the rumors were reports that two residents of a Druze village were arrested on suspicion of setting the fires.  But the suspects were quickly released:

Two male residents of Daliat al-Carmel were released on Friday after having earlier been arrested on the suspicion that they had attempted to ignite fires in the Carmel hills region.

After being questioned by police, it became clear that the two were not responsible for the acts they were suspected of.

The second strain of reporting seems to derive from fire department sources who are on the scene or in contact with those who are.  This strain rejects claims of arson completely:

The initial inquiry conducted by fire investigators has pointed to negligence, not arson, as the cause of the wildfire.

According to the investigation, the wildfire started at one location west of Ussifiya. It is believed that household trash and tires that had been discarded in the area caught on fire and the fire spread. Investigators are looking into what exactly caused the trash to ignite.

While it’s too early to know definitively what the final determination will be, I feel safe saying that it’s likely that Israeli racism fueled by great pain and suffering has induced Jews to level yet another form of blood libel against their fellow Palestinian citizens.

The wild exaggeration hasn’t been limited to blaming Israeli Palestinians either.  Ynetnews blares this headline:

Hezbollah Overjoyed by Fire

The body of the report says no such thing.  It quotes the following Hezbollah statement:

The great Carmel fire embarrassed Israel’s firefighting capabilities and proved its almost complete incompetence,” a report by Hezbollah’s al-Manar network said. The Lebanese station said the poor performance came despite Israeli claims regarding the IDF Home Front’s full readiness to cope with any emergency and face the implications of an all-out war.

Even most Israelis would agree with these sentiments.  So where’s the joy?

I might add that among the 42 Israelis who died during the fires were three Druze and one Ethiopian.  Instead of falling prey to ethnic division and scapegoating, why can’t Israelis focus on the fact they all (Jewish and Palestinian) have lost something deep and painful with this natural disaster?  Why not acknowledge that the PA sent its firefighters to battle the blaze and Turkey too offered help?  Instead of finger-pointing at the weakest link in society and blaming them, why don’t Israelis turn their wrath where it belongs–toward an inept government more attuned to building expensive high-tech walls, Iron Dome anti-missile defenses, and buying F-35 jets as toys for the IAF; when it could’ve bought or leased a single air tanker that could’ve attacked this fire when it was at its origins, instead of having to wait for nations like Cyprus and Greece to send their equipment after the conflagration went out of control.

I write this post in the context of a disturbing survey by the Israel Democracy Institute baring the deep racism inherent in Israel society toward the Palestinian minority.  In the ways in which Israeli Jews have contemplated this disaster, the bad news of this poll have been borne out.

UPDATE: An up to the minute report from an Israeli reader confirms that the police are now agreeing that the fire was caused by negligence.  What are the odds that any Israeli politician or police officer will ever apologize to Palestinian citizens for promoting these rumors?


As Fires Continue To Consume More Areas in Haifa, Jewish Extremists Torch Islamic Graveyard

Saed Bannoura

(IMEMC) The Al Aqsa Foundation told the Maan News Agency that a group of Jewish extremists torched the Al Qassam Graveyard in Haifa under the guise of the ongoing fires that started Thursday in the area and continues to spread.

The Foundation said that there were two attempts to burn the graveyard that includes the grave of Iz Ed Deen Al Qassam, a Syrian nationalist who came to Palestine in 1922 and resided in Al Yajour village in Haifa. He was killed by the British Forces in Palestine in the 1930’s. He is regarded as a symbol of resistance against the occupation in Palestine and the Arab world.

He came for Palestine in February 1922 and resided in Al Yajour village in Haifa. He was known as an Islamic preacher and spiritual leaders. He was also the head of the Young Men Muslim Association In Haifa.

The Al Aqsa Foundation confirmed that two attempts to torch the Al Qassam Graveyard were carried out by extremists, and that Israeli firefighters managed to extinguish them.

There have been several attempts to ruin and burn the graveyard since Palestine fell under Israeli occupation, but Arabs and Muslims reconstructed and fenced it.

An Israeli police spokeswoman denied the report, and told the Maan News Agency that no fires took place at the graveyard.

She said that the fires in the area consumed 34000 Dunams, and that initial reports indicate arson.

So far, 42 persons were killed in the fires and 17 were injured, three of them, including Haifa police chief, are in serious conditions.

Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that nearly a dozen of fires broke out across the Galilee, north of the country, while wild fires continued to consume more areas in the Carmel. Haaretz said that the police suspect that the new fires were deliberate.

Haaretz added that Police Commissioner, David Cohen, instructed local police chiefs to prepare to counter fires that had been deliberately started.

The suspicion rose after the police and investigators found two bicycles and a bag that contained a wig.

The Police arrested and released two Druze residents of Daliat Al Carmel and released them later on after the investigation revealed they had nothing to do with the fire. A number of Israeli investigators stated that they believe the fire was likely caused by negligence.

Furthermore, Haaretz said that the largest fire that broke out on Friday around noon was in Tsur Shalom industrial area on the outskirts of Haifa. The massive density of smoke led the police to temporarily seal a section of Route 4 which links between Acre and the center of the country.

Later on, bushfires broke out in “Ma’alot Tarshiha” and “Kiryat Tivon”, while another small fire broke out east of Shfa Amr Arab city and Neve Yosef neighborhood in Haifa.

On Friday, approximately at 5 in the evening, another bushfire started near a Moshav on the side of the Mount Carmel. Around 6 in the evening, two bushfires broke out in the Nazareth area. Arson is suspected.

Approximately at 8 P.M. on Friday, a fire was reported close to Tel-Al area in the Western Galilee, and another fire broke out in the industrial area of Nesher town, near Haifa.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that the parties responsible for the fire did not expect an outcome this large, and called for an immediate investigation.

Israeli Interior Minister, Elie Yishai, also called for an investigation into the incident, and stated that he repeatedly warned in the past that Israel’s Firefighting capabilities are the worst in the world, and that Israel is not equipped to deal with urgent situations.

Several countries sent equipment and rescue teams to Israel after Netanyahu urged the international community to help Israel counter this disaster.
Planes and helicopters sent by Greece, Cyprus and Britain landed in Israel on Friday and joined Israeli firefighting planes.

On Thursday, Bulgaria sent 90 firefighters who joined their Israeli counterparts, while New York Municipality sent materials needed to counter the fires.

Also, Jordan and France donated similar materials and equipment, while the Turkish Red Crescent donated 10.000 tents to house the residents who were evacuated from their towns.

Local and International rescue teams are still trying to combat the raging fires in the north, while the latest casualty count stands at 41 dead and dozens wounded. At least 12.000 residents were evacuated from areas close to the fire.

Rashif Lev, spokesperson of Israel’s Firefighters Department, said that for the first time since the fires started, a sign of hope appeared in the Carmel after the flames in two main areas, Nir Etzion and north east of Kibbutz Been Oren, were controlled but added that extinguishing them requires more time.

Zio=Nazi soldiers open machinegun fire at civilians in Gaza, wound three


December 4, 2010 – Zio=Nazi occupation forces (ZNOF) stationed north and east of Gaza Strip opened machinegun fire at Palestinian citizens at dawn Saturday wounding three of them including two workers who were collecting gravel, medical sources reported. Adham Abu Salmiya, the coordinator of medical services in the Strip, told the PIC reporter that a 22-year-old youth was hit with a bullet in his right foot after the IOF soldiers opened machinegun fire at citizens’ homes east of Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza, at dawn Saturday.

US university yanks Helen Thomas diversity award


View Image 

Pro-Zionist Wayne State University says it’ll no longer offer the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award, citing recent comments made by the longtime journalist.

In a statement Friday, the Detroit school says it “encourages free speech and open dialogue,” but strongly condemns what it says are “anti-Semitic remarks” made by Thomas on Thursday.

According to The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press, the Wayne State alumna said during a speech in Dearborn that Congress, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists.

Thomas resigned in June as a Hearst Newspaper columnist over comments she made calling on Zionist’s to get “out of Palestine.”

Thomas was born to Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky and raised in Detroit. She worked much of her career as a United Press International reporter.


NY rabbi, sons accused of sexually abusing girls


(AP) A Hasidic rabbi and three of his sons are suspected of sexually abusing at least four female relatives, after the rabbi’s eldest victim — his daughter — confided in a co-worker at a Jewish school, police said Friday.

The 58-year-old father and his 21-year-old son fled to Israel two days ago and are wanted for questioning in the case, police said. They were apparently driven to the airport by the mother.

Two other sons, a 24-year-old and a 15-year-old, were arrested on sexual abuse and rape charges. It was unclear whether they had attorneys, and a message left at the home wasn’t immediately returned.

The suspects’ names are being withheld by The Associated Press to avoid identification of victims.

Police say the abuse came to light after the oldest victim, now 20, who worked as a teacher’s aide at a yeshiva, a religious school, in Brooklyn, told a teacher there she had been abused. Authorities believe she was assaulted by her father repeatedly for 15 years. The other victims range in age from 8 to 19, and investigators believe the abuse was also repeated.

Police say the father is suspected of abusing at least two of his daughters. The brothers were accused of rape and other crimes for abusing their sisters. The youngest suspect was accused of sexually assaulting the 8-year-old.

Hasidism, a form of mystical ultra-Orthodox Judaism, traces its roots to 18th-century Eastern Europe. Followers live in tight-knit communities nearly closed off to modern society and wear traditional dress — for men, dark clothing that includes a long coat and a fedora-type hat. Men often have long beards and ear locks.

Most of the 165,000 members in the New York City the area live in neighborhoods in Brooklyn neighborhoods are part of three different major sects.

Isaac Abraham, an activist in the Hasidic community who often speaks publicly for the different sects, said the family was not known in the community and he couldn’t comment.

The family lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood in a two-story frame house and the father and mother, who are first cousins, had 14 children, police said. All but two live in the home.

The 24-year-old suspect was married and lived elsewhere, as did the oldest child. There are seven girls and seven boys in the family.

New York Police Department chief department spokesman Paul Browne said the investigation was ongoing and it’s possible there could be additional victims. The father and son, who is legally blind, left for Israel from Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 29, Browne said. An NYPD detective assigned as a liaison in Jerusalem will assist officers there in the search, Browne said.

The father was a teacher at a yeshiva until about three months ago, when he resigned for unknown reasons. There was no answer at the school Friday; police would not say if it was the same school where the oldest victim worked.

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, whose districts include many of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, discussed sexual abuse among members of the insular world of ultra-Orthodox Jews on a radio show in 2008, prompting dozens of listeners to come forward with stories of abuse. Critics have said sex abuse claims are sometimes handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts, rather than being reported to authorities.

As a result, the state earmarked about $1 million to fund Hikind’s plans to teach Hasidic Jews to speak up against child molestation. Prosecutors, counselors and religious leaders in Brooklyn banded together last year to form a program to combat sexual abuse in the community. A hot line was established where victims can call and speak with a “culturally sensitive” social worker.


Zio=Nazi Netanyahu tries to warm up to Turkey after getting aid for Carmel fire

Zio=Nazi PM sends Zionist representative to Geneva to meet with Turkish foreign ministry official and try to draw a draft agreement that would end Zionist-Turkey diplomatic crisis.

As Turkey helps Zionist put out the Carmel fire, Zio=Nazi Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched an effort to end the diplomatic crisis with Ankara.

Netanyahu sent Zionist representative on the United Nations committee investigating the Gaza flotilla incident, Yosef Ciechanover, to Geneva to meet with Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu, an undersecretary at the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

Netanyahu carmel fire

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with head of a Turkish delegation of firefighters who came to help fight the Carmel fire in northern Israel, December 3, 2010.

Photo by: AP

A senior Zionist source said the two would try to draw up a draft agreement that would put and end to the crisis.

The Turks are demanding that Zionist apologize for the killing of Turkish civilians and compensate the families of the victims in the attack on the flotilla earlier this year.

Sources at the Prime Minister’s Bureau acknowledged that contacts were being made with Turkey on the issue but declined to offer further details.

For his part, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that despite the fire aid and his conversation with Netanyahu, Turkey continues to expect an apology from Zionist regime on the flotilla incident and compensation for the victims. “We do not confuse this issue with other issues,” he said.

As foreign help arrives, ZAF plans fire squadron

The Zionist Air Force has begun unofficial staff work to create a firefighting squadron ahead of a likely government decision on the matter in the coming days. The ZAF has gotten to work as aircraft continue to arrive from foreign countries, playing a key role in battling the fire on the Carmel.

Over the weekend, foreign firefighting aircraft were in operation including seaplanes from Greece and Turkey that landed in Haifa Bay, loaded their tanks and dumped the water on the Carmel. Large Russian planes and a French aircraft also took part.

More planes are due to arrive from France, Russia and the United States, including two Air National Guard planes equipped with special foam tanks. The largest firefighting aircraft in the world, a reconfigured 747 belonging to the private firm Evergreen, will also arrive. The aircraft is capable of carrying more than 90,000 liters of water.

Firefighting sources said the foreign aircraft have played a major role in efforts to put out the blaze.

The foreign aircraft have been joined by 12 from the company Chim-Nir; their operations have been coordinated by the air force, which established a special control center near the University of Haifa.

The aircraft operate out of air force bases at Ramat David and Tel Nof, as well as Haifa Airport. An overall picture of the situation on the ground is being provided by air force drones.

The air force once provided a firefighting capability using its heavy-lift helicopters, but they are old and less effective than the small planes in the Chim-Nir fleet.

The air force expects the government to fund a firefighting squadron. Air force officers are examining the equipment coming in from other countries with an eye to the future.

Clinton charm falls flat with Iran foreign minister


Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki turned away from the U.S. Secretary of State, after she approached him at a Bahrain security conference.

Hillary Clinton lost him at “hello.”

The U.S. secretary of state had a rare chance to interact with Iran’s foreign minister at a Bahrain security conference, which Clinton used to deliver a message to Tehran on the need to engage with the international community over its nuclear program at next week’s talks in Geneva.

But while Clinton’s keynote speech from the podium directly addressed the Iranian team led by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, her attempt at a more personal diplomacy with Mottaki fell distinctly flat.

“I got up to leave and he was sitting a couple of seats down from me and shaking people’s hands and he saw me and he stopped and began to turn away,” Clinton told reporters on her plane returning to Washington on Saturday.

“I said ‘Hello, minister.’ He just turned away.”

Clinton’s Bahrain speech on Friday came ahead of next week’s Geneva meeting between Iran and six big powers — the United States, France, Russia, Britain, China and Germany — their first such encounter in more than a year.

The big powers insist that the talks must focus on Iran’s nuclear program, which they fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iranian officials have indicated that they are not eager to discuss their atomic work, which they say is entirely peaceful, leaving prospects for the Geneva meeting in doubt.

Clinton said she hoped her speech — which described a clear choice for Iran on whether or not to rejoin the international community — was aimed at setting the stage for the Geneva meeting and demonstrating that real dialogue was still possible.

Her aim, she said, was “to do it in a way that they couldn’t claim was accusatory, condemnatory, everything that they always claim about us.”

“We offer to engage, and still have an open door on engagement, but they’ve got to show up in Geneva and negotiate on the nuclear program because it is causing legitimate concern,” Clinton said. “If they proceed it will be profoundly destabilizing.”

Mottaki, for one, didn’t seem destabilized in the least by Clinton’s entreaties. While the U.S. secretary of state laid out her case for broader Iranian engagement, Mottaki concentrated on his dinner — giving no sign that Washington’s latest message to Tehran had been heard.

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

Posted in WorldComments Off on NOVANEWS**NOVANEWS



Leaked dispatch reveals how US diplomats are amused by Britain’s ‘paranoid’ fears about so-called special relationship.

David Cameron and Barack Obama

David Cameron with Barack Obama at a press conference at the White House earlier this year. The incoming Conservatives appear to have made some wide-ranging offers of political co-operation with the US. Photograph: Rod Lamkey Jr/AFP/Getty Images

Conservative party politicians lined up before the general election to promise that they would run a “pro-American regime” and buy more arms from the US if they came to power this year, the leaked American embassy cables show.

Despite British leaders’ supportive stance, the dispatches also reveal – in what some will see as humiliating detail – how US diplomats in London are amused by what they call Britain’s “paranoid” fears about the so-called special relationship.

One said the anxious British attitude “would often be humorous if it were not so corrosive” and that it was tempting to take advantage of this neurosis to “make London more willing to respond favourably when pressed for assistance”. The UK was said to offer “unparalleled” help in promoting America’s aims.

The incoming Conservatives appear to have made some wide-ranging offers of political co-operation with the US. The cables detail a series of private meetings with Tory frontbenchers, many of whom are now in the cabinet.

Liam Fox, now the defence secretary, promised to buy American military equipment, while the current foreign secretary, William Hague, offered the ambassador a “pro-American” government. Hague also said the entire Conservative leadership were, like him, “staunchly Atlanticist” and “children of Thatcher”.

Fox met the US ambassador, Louis Susman, a year ago. In a 10 December 2009 cable marked “confidential”, Susman recorded: “Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the US if the Conservative party wins power … adding that ‘we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement’.” He reportedly went on: “Increasing US-UK ‘interoperability is the key’ since the US and UK will continue to fight together in the future” and “expressed confidence regarding US leadership in Afghanistan and optimism about the way forward”.

The frontbencher admitted that there was an opposed faction within Tory ranks. “Fox asserted that some within the Conservative party are less enthusiastic, asserting that ‘we’re supposed to be partners with, not supplicants to, the United States‘. Fox said he rebuffed these assertions, and he welcomed the ambassador’s reassurance that senior US leaders value the UK as an equal partner.”

Hague pledged his own loyalty in an earlier meeting with the US deputy chief of mission, Richard LeBaron. A confidential cable marked “no foreigners” from 1 April 2008 records: “The deputy chief of mission asked Hague whether the relationship between the UK and the US was ‘still special’. Hague said he, David Cameron and George Osborne were ‘children of Thatcher’ and staunch Atlanticists … For his part, said Hague, he has a sister who is American, spends his own vacations in America and, like many similar to him, considers America the ‘other country to turn to’.

“Asking his senior adviser her views, [Arminka] Helic (who is Bosnian), said: ‘America is the essential country.’

“Hague said whoever enters 10 Downing Street as prime minister soon learns of the essential nature of the relationship with America. He went on: ‘We want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it.’ “

These enthusiastic approaches came against a backdrop of what American officials termed British “paranoia” following the arrival of Barack Obama as an unknown presidential quantity.

In a lengthy classified dispatch in February 2009 headed “The British ask, is our special relationship still special in Washington?” LeBaron wrote: “More than one HMG senior official asked embassy officers whether President Obama meant to send a signal in his inaugural address about US-UK relations by quoting Washington during the revolutionary war [against Britain], while the removal of the Churchill bust from the Oval office consumed much UK newsprint.”

The Times had written, allegedly quoting British embassy sources in Washington, about the distress caused by the removal of the bust, lent to George Bush by Tony Blair from the UK government art collection, in happier times. It was headlined: “Churchill bust casts shadow over special relationship”.

LeBaron noted dryly: “This period of excessive UK speculation about the relationship is more paranoid than usual … This over-reading would often be humorous, if it were not so corrosive.”

He advised against taking advantage of British neuroses and said the UK remained highly useful to the US because of its “unparalleled” help in promoting America’s aims. “Though tempting to argue that keeping HMG off balance about its current standing with us might make London more willing to respond favourably when pressed for assistance, in the long run it is not in US interests to have the UK public concluding the relationship is weakening, on either side.

“The UK’s commitment of resources – financial, military, diplomatic – in support of US global priorities remains unparalleled; a UK public confident that the USG values those contributions and our relationship, matters to US national security.”

Britain’s willingness to invest in expensive weaponry is a key part of the so-called special relationship. The UK’s annual military budget is running at £37bn a year.

Fox’s reference to more procurement from the US shows his zest for heavy spending on two future big-ticket items – the joint strike fighter [JSF], and the £20bn replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system. The largely US-built JSF will be formidably expensive, and the original scheme was for Britain to buy up to 138 of them at £150m each, to go on giant aircraft carriers.

Fox is having an uphill fight: the recent defence review promised only to buy a cheaper version, and to cut the numbers of planes. Some are urging the purchase of US-made drones instead: the Ministry of Defence recently announced the purchase of 100 small Desert Hawk III drones and five extra Reaper killer drones. Other US purchases may be in the pipeline. Frustratingly perhaps for Fox, decisions on the Trident replacement scheme, which will rely on submarine-launched ballistic missiles leased from the US, have been delayed until after the next election.


3.December, 2010





Equipment used in Gaza contained UK-supplied components


In a Ministerial Statement on 21 April 2009, then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary David Miliband admitted that Israeli equipment used in Gaza “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components. He cited F16 combat aircraft, Apache attack helicopters, Saar-Class corvettes and armoured personnel carriers.

The following day, quizzed by the Commons’ Committees on Arms Export Controls, junior Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said no licences for components for the F16s, helicopters or armoured personnel carriers had been approved since the war on the Lebanon in 2006. On 13 July 2009 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that licences for parts for the Saar corvettes had been revoked. The UK embassy in Israel confirmed this had been done following the Foreign Secretary’s statement.

Campaign Postcard & Factsheet


That licences for key equipment being used by Israel are no longer being approved does not lessen the urgent need for a total embargo on all military equipment sales destined for Israel, including components. Such an embargo would send a strong message of disapproval of Israel’s actions. It would also facilitate informed debate within as the UK and parliamentarians and the public would know what the situation is.

Stop arming Israel postcard


Stop Arming Israel was set up in 2006 by CAAT, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and War on Want to campaign for an embargo on sales of military equipment to and from Israel.

A Stop Arming Israel postcard to send to MPs is available to order free from claire[at], along with a 2-page factsheet. You can also download the factsheet (pdf, 4.12mb).

* UK arms sales to Israel:


The UK has consistently sold arms to Israel. Arms export licences approved during 2009 include:

  • components for combat aircraft

  • components for electronic warfare equipment

  • components for helmet mounted display equipment

  • components for naval radars

  • components for sniper rifles

  • components for unmanned air vehicles

  • electronic warfare equipment

  • general military vehicle components

  • military aero-engines

  • small arms ammunition

  • unfinished products for air-to-surface missiles

These examples do not include components that go into US-built equipment destined for Israel. In July 2002, the UK government approved the export of components for F-16 fighters being made by the US company Lockheed Martin and sold to Israel. Then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw justified the sales saying: “The Government has judged that the UK’s security and defence relationship with the US is fundamental to the UK’s national security … Defence collaboration with the US is also key to maintaining a strong defence industrial capacity.”

He went on “Any interruption to the supply of these components would have serious implications for the UK’s defence relations with the United States.” In other words, the commercial relationship between BAE Systems and US companies such as Lockheed Martin was judged more important than the lives of Palestinians.

Israel has used F-16 fighter aircraft and Apache combat helicopters to bomb Lebanese and Palestinian towns and villages. These have contained UK manufactured components including missile triggering systems for Apaches and Head-Up Displays for F-16s.

The UK continues to sell arms to Israel despite the UN stating that Israel “violates humanitarian law” and even though the UK’s own “Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria” are supposed to assess the impact on regional peace, security and stability and the human rights record of the recipient.

More information on UK companies known to have supplied military equipment to Israel.

Israel’s own arms industry.


A Caterpillar military bulldozer in action 

A Caterpillar military bulldozer destroys Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories. Picture taken by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.


Israel’s military sector is made up of over 200 public and private companies, dominated by three state-owned ones: Israel Aircraft Industries (Israel’s biggest employer outside government), Israel Military Industries and Rafael. Private company Elbit Systems is also significant.

The UK spends millions of pounds each year on ‘battle-tested’ arms from Israeli companies, including 2,000 cluster shells that were used in the battle for Basra in 2003. Major Israeli arms companies Elbit Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries were exhibiting their wares at the UK’s Farnborough arms fair in July 2006, even while Lebanon was being bombed.

Stop Arms Sales to and from Israel


Because Israel is now such a major exporter as well as importer of arms, CAAT is calling for an embargo on the sale of all UK equipment to and purchases from Israel as well as the breaking off of all military contacts. This would send a strong message to the Israeli government that its actions are totally unacceptable.

Construction company Caterpillar sells its D9 military bulldozer to Israel, which then uses it for Palestinian house demolition, and infrastructure and olive grove destruction. Palestinians are often killed in these operations. CAAT therefore also supports the consumer boycott of Caterpillar until it stops selling bulldozers to Israel.

Further Reading


Arming the Occupation CAAT Report, October 2002
2005 update: Arms Exports and Collaborations: the UK and Israel adobe p.d.f. logo 109kb


US arms sales to Israel , Foreign Policy in Focus briefing, 2006


Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction, CND/PSC briefing, 2005. See CND website


Caterpillar: the Alternative Report, 2005. See the War on Want website


Posted in UKComments Off on UK: ARMING ZIO-NAZI GESTAPO



Arming the Occupation: Israel and the Arms Trade

by Mandy Turner



Understanding the Conflict
Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab World
The First Intifada
The Oslo Accords
Points of Dispute
 – Territories, Borders and Jewish Settlements in the Occupied Territories
 – Jerusalem | Water Resources | Palestinian Refugees
The Current Crisis
 – Operation Defensive Shield | The Use of Military Equipment against Palestinian Civilians

Israel’s Military Industry and Exports
Military Spending
Arms Exports
 – Israel’s Policy on Arms Exports | China | India | Turkey
 – Europe | Other Recent Deals
Israel’s Arms Companies
 – Israel Aircraft Industries | Israel Military Industries | Rafael
 – Private Military Sector | Israel as a Nuclear Power

Israel’s Major Suppliers
United States of America
 – US Policy on Israel | Military Assistance and Exports |Funding an Occupation

The UK’s Military Relationship with Israel
UK Exports
UK Imports
UK Policy on Arms Sales to Israel






Despite recent peace attempts, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians continues with no end in sight. Even with the obvious breakdown in the peace process and Israel’s military violence in the West Bank and Gaza, the international community, in particular the West, continues to sell large amounts of military equipment to Israel. These arms help Israel continue its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, an occupation deemed illegal by international law. Since the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, each new day brings fresh reports of Palestinian suicide bombers and Israeli military violence.

The Palestinians’ struggle for statehood and Israel’s demands for security are creating a dangerously unstable situation in the Middle East and threaten to spill over into other states such as Lebanon. Palestinian attempts to build a state and a viable economy are currently in tatters.

Arms sales to Israel are helping to prolong the conflict by supporting a highly militarised state and exacerbating an already volatile situation thereby hindering the development of a peaceful solution. By continuing to sell weapons and components for weapons, and continuing to buy weapons from Israeli companies, Western governments are giving tacit moral approval to Israel’s actions in the occupied territories. EU and UN resolutions which criticise Israel’s heavy-handed tactics are not enough. It is time to take action by introducing a two-way ban on exports and imports.

This briefing is divided into four main sections. The first section examines the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the origins of the current crisis, and the major sticking points in the quest for peace. The second section looks at Israel’s military industry and exports. Given that Israel is now a major arms exporting nation we look at who is buying military equipment from Israel, the strength and breadth of its military sector and its, as yet, undeclared nuclear capacity. The third section looks at Israel’s major arms suppliers: the US, Germany and France. The fourth section focuses on the UK’s military relationship with Israel, looking at arms exports, arms imports and recent government policy. All sales quoted are in US dollars, apart from the UK section which is in pounds sterling.

Understanding the Conflict

  Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab World:  

The question of Israel and Palestine lies at the heart of endemic instability in the Middle East. UN attempts to partition British-mandate Palestine into three elements: an Arab state, a Jewish state and an international zone embracing Jerusalem failed, leaving Arabs and Jews in Palestine to fight for statehood. This widened into the first Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). For the Palestinian Arabs, the emergence of the state of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli War meant exile, loss of livelihood and loss of land as they fled their homes through fear or expulsion by Jewish forces such as the Hagana and guerrilla groups such as the Stern gang.

Although a small number of Palestinians remained in Israel, the majority fled. Of the 700,000 refugees, about 400,000 were displaced to Jordan, mainly on the West Bank, 150,000 to Gaza and 150,000 to Syria and Lebanon.1 The refugees have not been allowed to return, a major sticking point in negotiations for peace and in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which affirms the right of every individual to leave and return to his/her own country. Israel took over their properties and refused to pay compensation.

Popular support for the Palestinian cause and antipathy towards Israel has dominated the foreign policies of Arab and Islamic states. Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has been embroiled in war with its neighbours five times: in 1948/9 (First Arab-Israeli War); 1956 (Suez Crisis); 1967 (Six-Day War); 1973 (Yom Kippur War); and 1982 (Lebanon). After the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israel occupied the Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights in Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem in Jordan. Negotiations have centred on a return to pre-1967 borders ever since. The international community does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories. UN resolution 242 (1967) asks that Israel withdraw its forces. Israel’s occupation of these additional territories brought more Palestinians under its rule.

This boosted membership and support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which had been founded in 1964. Israel’s ensuing conflict with the PLO, which at different times has been based in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia, exposed these states to Israeli military retaliation against PLO raids. This has created huge political instability and emphasises the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the region.

While Israel has proved time and time again that it has the military muscle and political will to stand up to its Arab neighbours and the PLO, it enjoys the patronage of a powerful ally, the US. Israel came to hold a central role in US foreign policy when the Middle East became a major arena for Cold War hostilities between the Soviet Union and the US. Israel was, according to former US defence secretary Caspar Weinberger, the US’s “unsinkable ship” in the Middle East.2 From the late 1950s radical Arab nationalism was identified with international communism, a link made easier by its socialist rhetoric and relations between the Soviet Union and states such as Nasser’s Egypt. It was at this time that Israel came into US favour.

The 1967 war firmly established this alliance because Israel’s victory proved that it could prevent the spread of Communist influence in the Middle East by defeating Soviet-backed regimes.3 It was extremely important for the US to have such a powerful ally in an area which boasts the world’s largest oil reserves.4 Before 1967, US aid was comparatively small at $50m a year, but by 1986 this had risen to $3bn a year, making Israel the highest per capita recipient of US aid in the world.5 Such support boosted the pro-Zionist lobby in the US who today push Israel’s interests through the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Israel was, according to former US defence
secretary Caspar Weinberger, the US’s
“unsinkable ship” in the Middle East

At present, Israel’s relations with its neighbours are chilly to say the least. Arab disquiet over the spiralling violence and the US’s acquiescence with Israel’s current military campaign has strained relations. Many Middle Eastern states have had to balance their desire for access to US aid and weapons, which are tied to peace with Israel, with appeasing their populations who have sympathy with the Palestinian cause. Israel’s military spending roughly equals that of all its immediate neighbours combined.

Egypt is Israel’s main worry, but as the second major recipient of US aid (it receives $1.3bn in annual military aid from the US 6), Egypt is tied into the peace process and dependent upon US aid, weapons and spare parts. In 1977, Egypt was the first Arab state to make peace with Israel; in 1982 Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt. The peace between Israel and Egypt has been described as a “cold peace” because while both seem committed to preserving it, they treat each other as a potential threat in their military planning.7 US aid to Jordan since its peace deal with Israel in 1994 has also kept it on side.

Relations with Syria and Lebanon remain cool largely due to the continuing dispute over Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights and the existence of the Iranian-backed Islamist group Hizbollah which continues to launch attacks on Israel from its base in Lebanon and recently has been trying to supply Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with Katyusha rockets.8 Israel regards Syria – which retains control over Lebanon since intervention in its 1990 civil war – as a major supporter of Hizbullah.

  The First Intifada:

Deep-rooted antipathy to Israeli control and to Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, which began in 1970 and accelerated after 1977 when the right-wing Likud Party came to power, broke into widespread, outright opposition in 1987. Unarmed Palestinians, particularly children, took to the streets in protest. In an attempt to control this first Intifada, Israel committed large numbers of troops to the West Bank and Gaza.

The Intifada, which raged until 1993, signalled a new turn in the conflict. Such widespread unrest meant that Israel could no longer claim it was conducting a war purely against the PLO.9 And the press photographs beamed across the world of Israeli soldiers firing on stone-throwing children did little for Israel’s international reputation and did much to boost support for the Palestinian struggle for statehood.

  The Oslo Accords:

Attempts to make peace produced the Oslo Accords. Signed in 1993 they provided for mutual recognition between the PLO and the state of Israel, and limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza.10 But by early 2000 only 40 per cent of the West Bank and Gaza was under full or partial Palestinian control – significantly less than the 90 per cent hoped for by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat.11 Despite this peace deal there was no agreement on the issues of territory, borders and Jewish settlements, the status of Jerusalem, or the fate of the Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Lack of movement on these issues was to be the undoing of Oslo. Although the framework provided by the Oslo Accords theoretically remains in place, Israeli incursions in the past year have made them meaningless. These major points of dispute, discussed below, will continue to dominate any future peace process when the two parties return to the negotiating table.

  Points of Dispute

Territories, Borders and Jewish Settlements in the Occupied Territories  [top]

While the Palestinians (and the majority of the international community) want Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders leaving the West Bank and Gaza a viable area in which to create a state and economy, Israel has continued to build Jewish settlements there. Successive Israeli governments have seen Jewish settlements as a means of cementing Israeli control over the occupied territories by creating “facts on the ground” and have encouraged their development by giving settlers subsidies such as tax refunds and cut-price water and electricity.12 By 1983, through confiscation and purchases, Israel had direct control over one-third of all land in the occupied territories.13

These settlements are joined to each other and to Israel through “by-pass” roads which are for the exclusive use of Israelis. This network of roads divides Palestinian areas making it difficult to envisage a viable, united Palestinian state. One leading South African writer compared these Palestinian areas to the “bantustans” of apartheid South Africa.14 The military protects the Jewish settlements through “internal closure” – where the roads out of every Palestinian town are blocked by army check-points.

By 2001 there were 205 settlements in the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and Gaza, over 74 of which were established after the Oslo Accords.15 Constructing settlements on territory whose sovereignty is in dispute constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s actions have attracted strong criticism from the international community.

By 2001 there were more than 403,000 settlers in the West Bank, over half of them in Jerusalem.16 In May 2001, the Mitchell Committee, which reported on US Senator George Mitchell’s peace mission, called for a freeze on settlement expansion. However this and similar UN calls have fallen on deaf Israeli ears. Since February 2001, when Ariel Sharon was elected, another 44 new outposts have been created. (Outposts usually consist, at first, of a handful of mobile homes and are used to extend the boundaries of existing settlements.)17


Jerusalem is another major sticking point in negotiations as both the Israelis and Palestinians claim it as their capital. Under the 1947 UN partition plan Jerusalem was to be assigned to neither Israel nor Palestine – it was to be under international control with special status as a corpus separatum. However, during the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948-49 Israeli forces took control of West Jerusalem and Jordan took control of East Jerusalem which contains the old city and the religious sites. The division of the city in the wake of the 1949 armistice acknowledged this military fait accompli.

During the 1967 Arab-Israeli conflict Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem despite widespread international opposition. Municipal boundaries were extended, land was expropriated and Jewish settlements were created around the eastern perimeter of the city.18 The Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem hold Israeli documents and are residents of an annexed area.19 The status of Jerusalem, a city which is holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians, remains a considerable stumbling block to a two-state solution.

Since September 2001, the IDF  has used US-made Apache helicopters and F-16s
to attack Palestinian homes, buildings and emergency services

Water Resources:

As well as the issue of land and borders, there is the question of access to and control of natural resources such as water. Most of the aquifers in the West Bank are now under Israeli control.20 The result is blatant discrimination regarding water supply: Israelis get 350 litres of water per person per day, Palestinians 70 litres per person. The World Health Organisation recommends 100 litres per person per day. In the recent invasions of Palestinian towns and refugee camps, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) deliberately destroyed the towns’ water supplies – an activity defined by international law as a war crime.21

Palestinian Refugees:

The fate of the Palestinian refugee population spread throughout neighbouring countries is another topic which hampers the peace process. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the body which looks after the Palestinian refugees, in June 2000 there were over 3.7m registered Palestinian refugees. About one-third of these live in camps, often in very basic conditions.22 This is a particular problem in Lebanon as these camps have proved to be a breeding ground for Hizbollah militants and suicide bombers, something which will likely harm regional stability if not addressed.

The Palestinian leadership insist that the refugees should have a “right of return” to their pre-1948 homes in what is now Israel or at least recognition of the principle and some form of compensation. Israel opposes this fearing that the Jewish identity of the Israeli state would be threatened with the return of such a large number of Palestinians. However, international law demands that neither occupation nor sovereignty diminishes the rights of ownership. UN General Assembly Resolutions 194 (1948), 3236 (1974) and 52/62 (1997) uphold the rights of Palestinian refugees to compensation and repatriation.

  The Current Crisis:

It is widely acknowledged that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Haram al-Sharif mosque – the Islamic holy site on Jerusalem’s disputed Temple Mount – on 28 September 2000 triggered the current al-Aqsa Intifada.23 Sharon, accompanied by several hundred Israeli police and other Likud members of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), insisted that the visit was necessary to emphasise Israel’s sovereignty over the site. Demonstrations against Sharon’s visit broke into violent clashes between protesters and armed Israeli police.

The escalation of violence meant that “Within three weeks, more than 120 Palestinians were killed and 4,800 were injured, many as a result of excessive, often indiscriminate, use of lethal force by Israeli security forces against unarmed civilians.”24 The first suicide bombing for over a year was carried out by Islamic Jihad less than one month later on 26 October.

Fed up with Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s failed attempts at peace, Israelis opted for a hard-line solution and elected Ariel Sharon on 6 February 2001. Opposed to the Oslo Accords, Prime Minister Sharon has turned his back on the peace process and has opted to defeat the Palestinians militarily and reoccupy the West Bank and Gaza. This has taken four main forms. First, Israel has pursued a massive military campaign hitting Palestinian towns, refugee camps and PA targets. Second, Israel continues to pursue a policy of house demolitions, land expropriation, closure (where the roads out of every Palestinian town are blocked by army checkpoints) and prolonged curfews, restrictions on freedom of movement, and economic warfare such as uprooting olive trees and clearing agricultural land. By pursuing these policies Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention which protects civilians under occupation and outlaws collective punishment. Third, Sharon has sought to continue the process of creating “facts on the ground” by consolidating Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, a policy outlawed under international law and widely regarded as one of the main reasons for the breakdown in the peace process.

Fourth, Israel has tried, with some success, to delegitimise the PA, particularly its leader Yasser Arafat. Sharon has referred to Arafat as “our Bin Laden” and accuses the PA of sponsoring terrorism.25 Israel has tried to recast its conflict with the Palestinians as a “war against terrorism” in response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. While the US has been sympathetic to this, it has convinced few European states.

Operation Defensive Shield:

Recent attempts to defeat the Palestinians and reoccupy the West Bank and Gaza have led to an escalation of violence and the complete collapse of the peace process. Palestinian suicide bombings have increased dramatically – barely a day goes by without news of the horrors inflicted by a “successful” mission or an attempt prevented by the IDF.

Israel’s answer was “Operation Defensive Shield”: it placed Arafat under house arrest in Ramallah, destroyed the trappings of PA statehood by bombing and raiding its offices, and destroyed Gaza airport and the PA’s two helicopters. In December 2001, statistics released by the Office of the UN Special Co-ordinator revealed that between $2.4bn (£1.55bn) and $3.2bn (£2.06bn) had been lost to the Palestinian economy since the al-Aqsa Intifada began.26 The poverty rate in Gaza has risen above 40 per cent and unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza is over 45 per cent.27

It remains to be seen whether Israelis will continue to support Sharon and his military campaign. Suffering from near zero economic growth, a declining currency vis-à-vis the dollar, a decline in tourism, a flight of capital from the country and strikes, Israel faces the prospect of its first recession since 1953. A senior Israeli commander, Major-General Uzi Dayan, has warned that the ailing Israeli economy will be unable to support the military campaign against the Palestinians for much longer.

He estimated that the conflict was costing Israel about $3bn annually.28 However, waiting in the wings and widely tipped to be Sharon’s successor is Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing politician who also opposes the peace process.

The Use of Military Equipment against Palestinian Civilians  [top]

Since September 2001, the IDF has used US-made Apache and Cobra helicopters and F-16s to attack Palestinian homes, buildings and emergency services in the West Bank and Gaza. In its 2001 Human Rights Report, the US State Department declared these actions an “excessive use of force”.29 From December 2000 to August 2002, the Israeli army used Apache and Cobra attack helicopters, tanks and booby-trapped cars to assassinate 82 Palestinian activists and militants; 31 bystanders were killed in the process.30 Such “extra-judicial killings” are outlawed under the Geneva Convention.31

Israel has also been accused of resuming systematic torture by the World Organisation Against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and has been condemned by the US State Department and other countries for its use of excessive military force. In fact, Amnesty discovered that since June 2001 the IDF has been using US-supplied Flechette rounds (a 120mm shell filled with up to 2,000 potentially lethal 5cm-long steel darts or flechettes) which is an indiscriminate munition designed to defeat massed infantry attacks or squads of troops in the open.

Using them in a densely populated civilian area, such as Gaza, is likely to kill civilians.32 LAW, the Palestinian society for the protection of human rights and the environment, have also recently found evidence that the IDF is using dumdum bullets which are banned by international law.33 Israel’s claims that its military campaign is against Palestinian activists, not civilians, seem hollow given that Palestinian civilians en route to hospital have been fired at and killed and ambulances have come under attack.34

There is no end in sight to the current violence as Palestinian suicide bombers continue their campaign and the IDF make frequent incursions into Palestinian towns and refugee camps. While this goeson the negotiating table sits empty.

Israel’s Military Industry and Exports:



  Military Spending:

As a state established by force of arms in an alien and hostile environment, Israel was, and continues to be, preoccupied with security. The maintenance of the IDF is the main business of the state. Between 1948 and 1978 the military budget grew an average of 21 per cent a year, with a more rapid increase after 1967. From 1973 to 1982 nearly 50 per cent of the state budget went on the IDF, although a substantial part of this was paid for by US military aid.35 Unsurprisingly, military concerns have shaped most political decisions and there are strong connections between the military and the state.

Indeed, the distinction between the military and the government has become increasingly blurred as the IDF has become an almost automatic stepping stone into politics. Several former generals, for example Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, have become Israeli prime ministers.36

Since 1997, military spending has stayed at roughly $9bn each year.37 In 2002, the Israeli Cabinet approved a military budget of $9.8bn, which includes $2.06bn of US aid. At 8.9 per cent of GDP, this is three times higher than the US (3.1 per cent) and four times higher than the world average (2.6 per cent).38 Israel’s arms inventory reflects the fact that the US has long been its dominant arms supplier. It has 250 F-16s, the world’s largest fleet outside of the US and has a further 102 on order with US military manufacturer Lockheed Martin.39 However, Israel is no passive consumer.

It has the industrial base and technological sophistication to modify imported equipment, and to supplement it with Israeli-designed equipment and ammunitions. At its inception in 1948 Israel imported rifles; by 1989 it was exporting advanced aircraft and missiles.40

  Arms Exports:

This section considers the importance of arms trading to the Israeli economy, Israel’s policy on arms exports, and its relationship with major customers China, India, Turkey and Europe. Some recent arms deals secured around the world are also listed to give a flavour of the extent of Israel’s military connections. Because information on arms sales is notoriously difficult to find, the treatment of each country here reflects only the amount of information available from sources in the UK.

International arms trading is an important source of income for the Israeli economy. Military exports in 2000 reached a new high of over $2.49bn. (Export statistics for 1997 were greater but this included a contract for a Phalcon spy plane to the Chinese Air Force, which was cancelled due to pressure from the US.41) In 2000, The US Congressional Research Service ranked Israel as 10th biggest arms exporter in the world.42 In 2001, according to the Israeli defence ministry, Israel supplied 10 per cent of total world military exports. That year, Israel’s military production reached $3.6bn of which only $900m-worth of equipment was bought by Israel’s defence ministry for the IDF. In other words, Israel exported 75 per cent of the total production of its military industries. This is the opposite of most other arms exporting countries, such as the US, who manufacture mainly for the domestic market.43

Israel’s Policy on Arms Exports:

Israel sells weapons to any regime – military juntas, countries in the throes of civil war and known human rights abusers. For example, the Guatemalan army received weapons from Israel between 1977 and 1981, a time when tens of thousands of people “disappeared”; and Israeli arms were shipped to the Medellin drug barons in Colombia. Other major customers in the 1970s and 80s included the Galtieri regime in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua under Samoza, Noriega’s Panama, and Sri Lanka – all of which had been accused of gross human rights violations.

Israel was also apartheid South Africa’s leading arms supplier with annual two-way sales worth more than $500m in violation of a UN arms embargo.44 In fact, selling arms to countries boycotted by other arms exporters has helped Israel become a leading arms exporter.

Israel sells weapons to any regime – military juntas,  countries in the throes of civil war and  known human rights abusers Israel’s role as the “bad boy” of international arms sales was secured in the 1985 Irangate affair, when it acted as a proxy for the US by shipping US-made arms to Iran, the funds from which were used to back the contra rebels in Nicaragua.

And, according to Saferworld, UK-based arms brokers organised arms transfers from Israel to Rwanda during the genocide in 1994 despite a UN embargo.45 More recently, Israel has sold air-to-air missiles and F-7 fighter upgrades to the military junta in Burma, and in 1997 it upgraded Cambodia’s MiG-21s and supplied avionics for L-39trainers – a time when the country was on the verge of civil war.46 China, Burma and Zambia are all Israeli customers despite the fact that the US either embargoes or severely restricts its own arms sales to those countries.

It was also reported that the UN had to ask Israel to stop supplying warring countries Ethiopia and Eritrea with arms.47 Pariah state Zimbabwe has also recently become a customer with a $10m order for riot control vehicles from the Beit Alfa Trailer Company.48

Israel appears to work on the basis that weapons should be sold to anyone who wants them. David Ivri, an adviser to the Israeli defence ministry who was instrumental in bringing about the Israeli-Turkish accord, when asked by the Jerusalem Post in 1997 whether Israel considers human rights when it sells arms to other countries, said: “Israel to this day has a policy of not intervening in the internal matters of any country in the world. We don’t like it when others interfere in our internal matters.

For this reason, our policy doesn’t touch on such matters.”49  China Israel has a long history of military co-operation with China and is currently China’s second biggest arms supplier. It helped China build its current F-10 fighter jet, which is virtually identical to Israel’s discontinued Lavi fighter.50 Israel has also provided China with instructors, advisers and technicians. This unlikely friendship has been a persistent cause of friction between the US and Israel; matters came to a head in 1999 when Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) agreed to sell China a Phalcon airborne early warning system for $250m.51 Although Israel insists that the radar system does not contain US technology, US officials claim that the Phalcon closely resembles the US AWACS system.52 The sale of such advanced military technology, the Pentagon argued, would tip the military balance between China and Taiwan in China’s favour.

After a year of US pressure, Israel withdrew from the deal.53 A year later in April 2000, a close encounter between a US surveillance plane and a Chinese warplane revealed, through photographs, that the Chinese jets were armed with Israeli-made Python missiles.54 The US is worried that Israel’s advanced technology could end up in the “wrong hands”. In 1999 Israel itself raised concerns that China was transferring missile technology to Iran.55


Since India normalised relations with Israel in 1992, the two countries have developed serious and substantial contacts around military and security issues. It has been alleged that Israel played a role in the development of India’s nuclear programme.56 In fact, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that India’s top nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Kalam visited Israel twice in 18 months before the 1998 Pokhran tests.57 Jane’s also revealed that Israel has recently upgraded Indian Jaguar bombers, made by India under licence from the UK, to allow them to carry nuclear weapons.58

Israel has sold India fire control and artillery equipment, ammunition for its tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles, Dvora MK-II patrol boats, electronic warfare systems for the Indian air force’s MiG-21s and helicopter upgrades.59 Israeli firm Elta is collaborating with Indian firm HAL on radar production.60 Israel is now India’s second largest weapon and military equipment supplier, with military transactions signed or in the pipeline exceeding $3bn.61 Defence analysts predict that Israel’s exports are set to overtake those of Russia, India’s traditional military trading partner. High level visits, the most recent of which was that of Israel’s foreign minister Shimon Peres in January 2002, have secured this burgeoning friendship. The two countries now exchange intelligence on Islamic terrorism and India has granted Israel access to its new reconnaissance satellite.62 Israel also hopes to sell its Arrow anti-ballistic missile system to India, however this has raised concern in the US.63


Turkey is now a major ally of Israel, and they have forged a military alliance that has altered the strategic map of the Middle East. One key target of this partnership is Syria. It is likely that Israel hopes that pressure from Turkey along Syria’s northern frontier will force Syria to the negotiating table over the Golan Heights.64 Turkey and Israel’s burgeoning friendship began in May 1994 with a security and secrecy agreement and was secured by other treaties throughout the 90s. They also use each other’s air space and Israel has been willing to sell Turkey top-of-the-range military hardware. Israel has contracts worth $715m to upgrade Turkish F-4 and F-5 combat planes, and a 1997 agreement to co-produce advanced Popeye II missiles.65 Turkey has also ordered an airborne photography system from Israeli firm Elbit Systems.66 In 1999, despite being a major contender for Turkey’s main battle tank programme worth $7bn, Israel gave in to US pressure and agreed not to sell its tanks to Turkey.

The US was concerned about Syria’s reaction.67 However, in March 2002, Turkey signed a $668m deal with Israeli firm Israel Military Industries (IMI) to modernise Turkey’s ageing fleet of US-made tanks.68 An IAI bid, in collaboration with Russian firm Kamov, to sell Turkey Kamov-52 combat helicopters has been reopened and is under consideration.69


Europe is an important market for Israel’s military produce. At the European-wide level, Israel made a serious bid, at a high level meeting in the summer of 2001, to sell weapons and reconnaissance aircraft to the EU’s fledgling Rapid Reaction Force.70 In 2000 IAI alone recorded exports worth $300m to European countries.71 Israeli firm Rafael has a joint venture with Eurospike consortium to make Gill/Spike anti-tank missiles for sale in Europe.72 Israel expects orders worth $1bn for Gill/Spike from Europe, but fears possible sanctions because of European disquiet over its actions in the occupied territories.73

Especially in countries whose military sales to Israel are minimal, campaigners are calling for an embargo against buying arms from Israel. A number of specific deals between Israeli firms and European countries are listed below, while Germany and France can be found in the section on major suppliers.

Other Recent Deals:

Angola – Angola’s air force has bought threat detection equipment from Elisra and long-range optical systems from IAI for its Boeing 707s.74

Argentina – In 1997, Israel signed a deal with Argentina to upgrade its Boeing 707 transport aircraft and supply radar systems and head-up display units for Pampas trainers.75

Australia – In 1995, Israel provided radar for upgraded P-3C aircraft, jointly with a US company. In 1998-99, it provided the ESM self-defence system for Australian C-130 aircraft, helicopters and frigates. Again in 1999, it sold Australia Popeye missiles.76 Elta Electronics (an IAI subsidiary), in collaboration with Danish company Terma, is providing the Australian air force with an electronic countermeasures pod and an electronic warfare system for its F-111 aircraft.77

Austria – In 2000, Israel provided Austria with command and control systems.78

Belgium – Belgium bought and took delivery of 18 Israeli-made Hunter unmanned aerial vehicles in 2000.79

Botswana – In 2001, Botswana signed a contract with Israeli firm Silver Arrow for at least three unmanned aerial vehicles. The contract includes training of Botswana personnel by Israeli teams.80

Brazil – Elbit Systems, in collaboration with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, has two large Brazilian contracts to upgrade F-5E fighters and to equip the new ALX light combat aircraft.81

Burma – Burma recently took delivery of air-to-air missiles and F-7 fighter upgrades from Israel.82

Cambodia – In 1997, Israel upgraded Cambodia’s MiG-21s and supplied avionics for L-39 trainers.83

Cameroon – Israel supplied Cameroon with 8 x 155mm artillery, four were delivered in 1997 and four in 1998.84

Canada – Canada has a $15.7m contract with Israeli firm Elisra Group for a radar upgrade for Canadian forces Griffon helicopters (in collaboration with Canadian company ITS Electronics).85

Chile – Since 1996, Chile has bought Sa’ar-4 missile boats, air-to-air missiles, artillery, Barak shipborne anti-missile missiles, mini unmanned aerial vehicles, tanker aircraft and components for upgrading F-5 combat aircraft.86

Colombia – Israel provided Colombia with radio transceivers, military training and assistance in upgrading its combat aircraft. Colombia also co-produces the Galil assault rifle.87

Croatia – In 1999, Israel upgraded Croatia’s fleet of MiG-21s.88

Cyprus – In 1997, Cyprus bought torpedo boats and, in 1999, electronic communications systems from Israel.89

Czech Republic – In 1995, Israel sold the Czech Republic avionics for L-39 trainer aircraft and ground forces radar, jointly produced, and in 1997, it co-operated in upgrading the Czech army’s T-72 tank.90

Denmark – Danish company Terma is involved in a collaboration with Elta Electronics to integrate its AN/ALQ-213(V) electronic warfare system with Elta’s EL/L08222 electronics countermeasures pod in the F-111 aircraft for the Australian air force.91 Denmark has also ordered thermal imaging cameras for tanks from Elbit Systems.92

Eritrea – In 1997, Israel sold Eritrea fast patrol boats.93 Recently, a representative from Elbit Systems accompanied Israeli transport minister Ephraim Sneh to Asmara to discuss modernising the Eritrean air force.94

Ethiopia – Israel’s upgrade programme for Ethiopia’s MiG-21 combat aircraft was temporarily suspended in 1999.95

Finland – Finland took delivery of AD command and control systems in 1996, Ranger unmanned aerial vehicles in 1997, and Spike missiles in 2000.96

Georgia – In April 2001, Elbit Systems, in partnership with Georgian company TAM, completed the Scorpion upgrade of the Georgian air force’s Sukhoi Su-25K air-craft.97

Greece – In 1996, Greece bought ground radar from Israel.98 It has recently ordered electronic warfare systems for its submarines from Elbit Systems,99 and ordered electronics systems for its F-16s worth $140m from Elisra Group.100

Holland – In 1997, Holland bought aircraft debriefing systems and, in 1998, artillery C 2 systems.101 Holland was also the first NATO country to buy Gill/Spike anti-tank missiles. It bought an unknown quantity of the missiles from Rafael for $250m in 2000. 102

Indonesia – Despite holding no diplomatic relations with Israel, Indonesia has bought arms from it. The Middle East Military Balance states that Indonesia bought unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel in 1996.103 Earlier reports state that Indonesia procured IAF surplus Skyhawk fighter-bombers.104

Italy – Italy has bought precision-guided systems for its air force from Elbit Systems.105 Israeli firm BVR Systems has won a $7.1m contract to build and service a full mission simulator for the MB-339 aircraft to be supplied in 2002.106

Lebanon – In 1997, Israel provided Lebanese Christian militia, the South Lebanese Army (SLA), with $93m, as well as small arms, tanks, artillery pieces and advisers.107 The SLA collapsed after Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000.

Lithuania – Israel has sold submachine guns to Lithuania.108

Mexico – In 2002, Israel sold Mexico three Grumman E-2C Daya airborne early warning aircraft.109

Nepal – In 1997, Israel supplied the Nepalese army with IMI-made Galil assault rifles.110

Nicaragua – Israel sold IAI-manufactured Dabur torpedo boats to the Nicaraguan navy in 1997.111

Norway – Israeli firm RB Tec, a developer of electronic surveillance systems, was competing for a Norwegian army tender until Norway decided to prohibit military procurement from Israeli companies in April 2002.112

Poland – Poland has collaborated with Israel on a number of programmes: night vision for tanks, tank arms production, upgrading helicopters, and supplying anti-tank missiles.113 In 2001, Poland ordered upgrades for up to 200 SU-22 fighter bombers from IAI.114 Poland has also signed a $250m contract with Rafael for Spike missiles.115

Portugal – In 1998, Portugal bought air combat debriefing systems from Israel.116

Romania – Israel sold Romania an OWS-25 weapon system for anti-personnel carriers in 1997; aground radar system in 2000, and upgraded the Romanian army’s tanks.117 Elbit Systems, in partnership with Romanian company Aerostar, has just completed the modernisation of 102 upgraded MiG-21 Lancers for the Romanian air force.118 Elbit Systems also has a partnership with Romanian company IAR to upgrade helicopters for the Romanian air force.119

Russia – IAI collaborates with Russian company Kamov on producing KA-50/52 attack helicopters. 120

Singapore – Israel has upgraded Singapore’s F-5 fighter jets and sold Barak ship-borne anti-missile missiles, air combat briefing systems and helicopter night vision systems. Israel’s relations with Singapore are kept secret by IMI and Israel’s ministry of defence.121

Slovakia – In 1995, Israel co-operated with Slovakia to upgrade T-72 tanks and to develop the Strop light defence system.122 Slovenia Since 1997, Israel has sold Slovenia 155mm canons, 120mm mortars, and has upgraded PC-9 training aircraft.123

South Africa – In 1996, Israel upgraded South Africa’s Boeing 707s.124

South Korea – Since 1996, Israel has sold South Korea Popeye missiles, Harpy anti-radar drones, night vision systems, and debriefing systems for air combat training.125 In 2001, IAI, in collaboration with Russian helicopter manufacturer Kamov, submitted a joint bid to sell Kamov-52 combat helicopters to South Korea. IAI is to supply the avionics.126

Spain – In 1995, Israel sold Spain unmanned aerial vehicles and military communications.127 In 2000, Spain awarded IAI a contract worth $20m to upgrade its air force fleet of SF-5Bs.128 Rafael also won a contract worth $14m to equip Spain’s Boeing EF-18 Hornets with tactical long-range oblique photography systems.129 In 2001, the Spanish air force became the first export customers of Rafael’s RecceLite tactical reconnaissance systems for its fleet of Boeing fighters.130

Sri Lanka – In 2000, Israel supplied Sri Lanka with IAI-manufactured and IAF surplus Kfir fighter jets, Sa’ar model 4.5 missile boats and Super Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles. This followed sales of mine detection radar in 1997 and electronic warfare systems in 1998.131

Sweden – In 1996, Sweden bought 120mm ammunition for tanks and, in 1997, bought ground penetrating radar. The two countries are also co-operating on the development of an explosives detection system.132

Switzerland – In 1999, Switzerland took delivery of 28 Ranger unmanned aerial vehicles.133 It also bought communication intelligence systems. The two countries have also co-operated on the development of Ranger unmanned aerial vehicles and C 3 I simulators.134

Thailand – In 1998, Thailand bought Searcher mini unmanned aerial vehicles, in 1999 Popeye missiles (temporarily suspended) and search and destroy systems, and, in 2001, upgrades for its F-5 and L-39 aircraft.135 At the end of 2001, IAI won a contract worth $23m to upgrade 19 Bell UH-1H helicopters belonging to the Thai air force. It hopes to win the contract to upgrade a further 60.136

Taiwan – Israel sold Taiwan naval special sensor microwave imagers.137

Uganda – Israel is to upgrade Uganda’s MiG-21 aircraft (this was temporarily suspended in 1999).138 IAI has upgraded the Ugandan air force’s Hercules C-130s.139

Ukraine – Israel has a joint venture with a Ukrainian company to upgrade AN-72P maritime surveillance aircraft, and another joint venture to upgrade Ethiopia’s MiG-21 aircraft.140

Venezuela – In 1998, Venezuela bought multiple rocket launchers, aerial tanker aircraft, electronic warfare and command and control systems for frigates, and listening pods from Israel.141 In 2000, it bought Barak surface to ground missiles (ground-based version).142

Zambia – In 1995, the IDF provided Zambia with military training, advisers and technicians. An Israeli company also had a contract to upgrade Zambian air force MiG-21s, but the project was temporarily suspended in 1999.143

Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe has an order worth $10m for riot control vehicles from the Beit Alfa Trailer Company.144

  Israel’s arms companies:

Israel’s military sector is made up of more than 200 public and private companies. Production is dominated by three government-owned companies: Israel Aircraft Industries; Israel Military Industries; and Rafael, who together produce 69 per cent of Israel’s $3.6bn annual military revenue.145

Israel Aircraft Industries:

IAI is Israel’s biggest exporter and (outside of government) its biggest employer (14,500 employees). The 2002 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook ranks IAI as the world’s 23rd largest arms producing company. In 2001, it had sales of $2.18bn, of which $1.7bn were for export.146 In 1991, the US overtook the IDF as the largest single market for IAI.147 In 2001, the US gave the company new contracts worth $1.35bn.148 IAI has extensive interests covered by four main groups: the Military Aircraft Group, the Electronics Group, Bedek Aviation Group, and the Commercial Aircraft Group. It also has two independ-ent divisions which deal with software development and technical training.

“Israel serves as an example of how vast amounts of arms sales
and military aid eventually contribute to a loss of US
control over conventional arms proliferation”
The Federation of American Scientists

IAI’s key recent development is the Arrow, a highly advanced stand-alone theatre missile defence system built in collaboration with the US. The US production of components by Boeing will allow Israel to buy Arrow batteries using US Foreign Military Assistance funds.149 The US is to give Boeing $20m of funding in 2002 to establish this US-based production line.150 Because this could raise compliance issues regarding the Missile Technology Control Regime (which bars the transfer of critical missile components and missile systems with ranges greater than 300km), only 51 per cent of the Arrow components and parts will be produced by Boeing, the final 49 per cent will be produced by IAI.151 There are no agreements for third party exports as yet, although Israel has said that it would like to sell to Turkey and India.

IAI is also supplying air combat training systems for fighter pilots to the IAF and a number of air forces in Europe and south-east Asia.152

IAI sells to or holds partnerships with the defence departments of more than 70 countries and is an approved contractor of the US Department of Defense.

Israel Military Industries:

IMI is another of Israel’s arms-producing giants. It makes small arms, ammunition, tanks, mortars andheavy artillery and is famous for producing the Uzi submachine gun. SIPRI ranks IMI as the 54th largest arms producing company.153 The US navy is a fan of IMI’s tactical air-launched decoys – it used several hundred during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and again in Bosnia.154 In 2000, IMI received a further order for them worth $20m from the US Navy.155 Although it struggled financially throughout the 1990s (receiving close to $1.3bn in government subsidies)156 IMI has come from making a loss in 2000 to making aprofit of $2.7m in 2001.157 In 2000 it had sales of $454.6m.158


Rafael is Israel’s air-to-air missile specialist and develops missiles, weapon systems, electronic warfare, radar and communications. It developed the Popeye air-to-surface missile, as well as the Gill/Spike anti-tank guided missile which is proving popular in Europe.159 It enjoys joint ventures with Lockheed Martin: to make AGM-142 air-to-ground guided missiles and to market and sell the Python-4 missile.160 Rafael and Lockheed Martin also cooperate on the Popeye missile.161 Rafael has annual sales of $680m and employs a workforce of 4,600, half of whom are scientists and engineers.162 SIPRI ranks Rafael as the 43rd largest arms-producing company.163 Business is booming for Rafael – it earned $21m profits in 2001, up from only $2m In 2000.164

Private Military Sector:

Israel’s private military sector is also extremely healthy. Elbit Systems is the largest non-government-owned military company, its core activity is upgrading exist-ing military equipment, an increasingly lucrative mar-ket for Israel, and manufacturing unmanned aerial vehicles developed by its subsidiary Silver Arrow. Its key market is the US (32 per cent), where it has two subsidiaries: 100 per cent-owned subsidiary Elbit Fort Worth and 50 per cent-owned subsidiary Vision Systems International. Other key markets are the IDF (27 per cent) and Europe (21 per cent). Elbit’s turnover was $700m in 2001 with an order backlog worth $1.5bn. It recently won a $7m F-16 avionics contract from Lockheed Martin.165 SIPRI ranks Elbit as 41st in the top 100 arms manufacturers.166

Another private Israeli firm, the Elisra Group, concentrates on electronic systems and unmanned aerial vehicle upgrades. Its $1bn order book includes contracts for advanced self-protection suites for F-16s in Israel and Greece; a $15.7m radar upgrade for Canadian Forces Griffon helicopters; and a $7.5m US naval air systems command contract for various types of electronic equipment.167 Tadiran Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elisra, also specialises in electronic warfare, communications and command and control systems, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. It expected sales to the US to reach $35m in 2001 boosted by a $10m contract to supply the US marine corp with tactical computers subcontracted through General Dynamics.168 Elisra is ranked as the 91st largest arms-producing company.169

These examples serve only as a taster of the many successful military manufacturers that have put Israel on the arms producer map. This burgeoning industry grew through a mixture of imported technology and Israeli innovation. The US connection has been critical in developing such a technologically advanced industry. Many Israeli firms have joint ventures with US counterparts as well as having subsidiaries based in the US, and nearly every electronics firm has links with US producers. These links have had grave implications for arms proliferation as Israel sells weapons to virtually anyone who wants them. Indeed, the Federation of American Scientists warn: “Israel serves as an example of how vast amounts of arms sales and military aid eventually contribute to a loss of US control over conventional arms proliferation.”170

  Israel as a Nuclear Power:

Although Israel officially refuses to confirm it, it is widely acknowledged that it possesses nuclear and chemical weapons. It is estimated that Israel may have as many as 200 warheads, consisting of aircraft bombs and Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missile warheads.171 The nuclear programme started in 1952 and capability was achieved in 1966.

Although a 2001 Pentagon report on nuclear proliferation omits Israel from its review of the Middle East, the US has been aware of its nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev desert since 1958, and identified it as a nuclear site two years later. US inspectors visited Dimona seven times during the 1960s but due to tight Israeli control over the visits, they were unable to obtain an accurate picture of the activities carried out there. However, as far back as 1972, the CIA concluded that the Jericho missile was evidence that Israel had made nuclear weapons as it was “designed to accommodate nuclear warheads”.172 Further evidence cited by some commentators is the explosion in September 1979 off the coast of South Africa in the South Indian Ocean which is believed by some to have been a joint South African/Israeli nuclear test. If further confirmation of Israel’s capacity was needed then it was certainly provided in 1986 when nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu gave descriptions and photographs of Israel’s nuclear warheads to the Sunday Times.173 Vanunu is still serving an 18-year jail sentence for revealing state secrets. In 1991 a US Strategic Air Command study listed Israel as a de facto nuclear weapon state.174

Israel’s denials have worn thin especially after the reported public spat between Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon over whether Israel should lift the secrecy on its nuclear capability,175 and Shimon Peres’ disclosure on Israeli TV documentary “The Bomb in the Basement” of how Israel got its nuclear capability.176 Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and there is no indication that it intends to, especially given that the international community appears to turn a blind eye to its nuclear capabilities. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the UK does not acknowledge that Israel possesses nuclear weapons. In March 2002, Ben Bradshaw, then foreign minister, said: “We continue to encourage Israel to resolve international concerns about its nuclear status by acceding to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon state…”177

Israel’s major suppliers


  United States of America:

US Policy on Israel:

The US has long been Israel’s main financial and political backer – it gives massive amounts of economic aid, it opposes UN resolutions which criticise Israel and it sells Israel huge amounts of military hardware. But this has not always been the case. During the early years of Israeli independence the US was reluctant to become a major source of arms. This changed after the 1967 War following the failure of the US and the Soviet Union to reach an understanding on limiting the supply of arms to the Middle East and the arms embargo imposed on Israel by France. From then on the US became Israel’s main outside source of sophisticated weaponry and their special relationship grew.

There were joint exercises and training programmes and the US assisted Israel in its project to produce its own Lavi fighter aircraft, shelved in 1987 due to cost overrun. In 1986, Israel joined the US’s Strategic Defence Initiative, also known as “Star Wars”.178 And in 1987, Israel and the US signed a Memorandum of Understanding which formally acknowledged Israel as a non-NATO ally with the same rights as NATO allies. This allows Israel to tender for US military contracts.179

The 1991 Gulf War against Iraq was a major source of tension between Israel and the US as the US courted Arab states and tried to appease them over Palestine. However, for not retaliating against Saddam Hussein’s scud missile attacks, Israel was well rewarded in 1991 with $1.2bn of additional aid.180 In fact, ironically, it seems likely that arms will be the reward for any future peace deals. It was reported that the US had pledged $1.2bn in additional aid to Israel to fully implement the 1998 Wye Accord which defined a fur-ther Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.181 (However, this was not achieved, so Israel did not receive the extra money.)

And when an agreement with Syria was under discussion, Israel presented the US with a $17bn wish list. Sami Haijjar, director of Middle East studies at the US Army War College, warned the US administration that: “You trigger an arms race unwittingly. You cannot expect to arm to the teeth one nation in the region and expect all others to accept it willingly.”182

Military Assistance and Exports:

Israel is an advanced, industrialised, technologically sophisticated country – its per capita income is nearly $18,000, putting it in the top 20 most prosperous states.183 Despite this Israel has benefited more than any other country from US assistance. Some estimates put total US aid to Israel since 1949 as high as $92bn.184 This includes Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) and Economic Support Funds (ESF). ESF are provided on a grant basis and are available for a variety of economic purposes, such as infrastructure and development projects. Although not intended for military expenditure, these grants allow the recipient government to free up its own money for military programs. ESF aid to Israel has historically been considered “security assistance” since it is provided out of strategic considerations rather than development needs. In fact, Israel’s annual ESF grant is explicitly provided to allow repayment of past military debt owed to the US.185

US taxpayers are subsidising huge US arms companies  while arming Israel to the teeth and  sponsoring a regional arms race Every year for more than two decades, Israel has received $1.8bn in FMA plus $1.2bn of ESF. This aid was the value of more than one-third of all Israeli military spending during the 1980s, now it constitutes 20 per cent of Israel’s annual military budget.186 In 2001, Israel received $1.98bn in FMA, which is half of all FMA budget requests.187 As if this weren’t enough, at the beginning of 2002, the US announced that it would be giving Israel an extra $28m to buy counterterrorism equipment. 188 Since giving grant economic aid to an advanced industrial economy no longer seems appropriate, Israel’s portion of ESF funding is being gradually phased out by 2008, to be compensated by an increase in FMA funding to $2.4bn every year.

Because all but 26 per cent must be spent in the US on US goods and services, many Israeli firms will be forced to shift production to the US in order to qualify for dollar-based sales.189

Israel also benefits from other US methods of transferring arms, e.g. excess defence articles – a system whereby the US gives away older equipment at little or no cost. Following the Gulf War, the US gave Israel surplus Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk transport helicopters, multiple launch rocket systems and Patriot tactical anti-missiles.190

There is also a system called “offsets” – incentives which weapons manu-facturers use to convince countries to sign deals. Lockheed Martin, for example, agreed to spend $900m in Israel to secure a $2.5bn F-16 sale; and Boeing agreed to a $750m investment for the sale of F-15I fighters and Blackhawk helicopters. Israel even demands offsets on FMA-financed sales, which means that the US pays twice, first through the taxpayer then the economy at large.191 US taxpayers are therefore subsidising huge US arms companies while arming Israel to the teeth and sponsoring a regional arms race.

From 1997 to 2000, US arms sales to Israel were worth $9.87bn. In 2001 alone, sales were worth $2.95bn.192 Although Israel is a customer to a number of US military manufacturers – Raytheon, American Ordnance, Boeing, General Electric, and Sikorsky, to name but a few, by far its biggest supplier is Lockheed Martin which has received at least $4.4bn since 1995 for arms sales to Israel.193 Lockheed Martin has a number of outstanding orders from Israel for F-16s and related equipment, in particular: for 52 F-16Is worth $2bn for delivery between 2006 and 2009 (a follow-on to a $2.5bn contract for 50 F-16Is signed in 1999 and already approved by the US);194 an $8.2m contract to incorporate a fibre-optic high-speed database into F-16s;195 and for electronic warfare displays for F-16Ds, part of a $6.7m contract approved by the Pentagon and financed by military aid.196

For its part, the US is a huge customer of Israeli-made military goods and many US companies have collaborations with Israeli companies on upgrades, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles etc.

Funding an Occupation:

So, why does Israel continue to be the largest recipient of US military assistance? Today, with the threat of Soviet expansionism replaced in Washington’s eyes by the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, Israel has retained its strategic value for the US. Israel has, since September 11, tried to couch its actions in the West Bank and Gaza as being part of the fight against international terrorism. But this has created a difficult balancing act for the US – while it successfully garnered support to conduct the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, it is finding it difficult to drum up support from Arab countries for military action against Iraq.

Its continued support for Israel, despite the recent military incursions into Palestinian towns and refugee camps, and its failure to intervene to stop these actions, has done nothing for the US’s image, already bloody and tarnished, in the region.

Despite continued White House support there has been growing disquiet in Washington regarding the end-use of US weapons. The US Export Control Act stipulates that “US weapons sold abroad can only be used for legitimate self-defence”. Given recent Israeli military strong arm tactics and mounting criticism from European and Arab countries even the US military trade press has voiced concern: “A strong argument can be made that precision attacks on arms caches and militants en route to terror operations are legitimate acts of self-defence.

The wholesale destruction of homes, livelihoods and Palestinian national symbols – government offices, media outlets, police headquarters – is not.”197 Yet the US continues to authorise the sale of attack helicopters and state-of-the-art missiles. US support for Israel remains unconditional. On 2 May 2002 the US Congress overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting Israel’s military campaign.198

Despite Israel’s impressive domestic military industry the Israeli defence ministry has said that US supply is critical because “it is impractical to think that we can manufacture helicopters or major weapons systems of this type in Israel.”199 Without the financial subsidies of the US – and US political support – Israel would have found it considerably more difficult to sustain its military occupation of Palestinian territory over the past 35 years.


Germany has long been Europe’s most steadfast supporter of Israel, partly out of a sense of historic responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Germany is Israel’s second biggest supplier after the US. According to figures from SIPRI, Germany supplied Israel with major conventional weaponry worth $765m between 1996 and 2000. This included two Dolphin Class submarines in 1999, financed by Germany, and another in 2000, 50 per cent financed by Germany.200 In 2000 alone, the last year for which figures are available, Germany sold about $170m in military equipment, including torpedoes and parts for tanks and armoured cars.201 This included key parts for the Israeli Merkava tank, which are currently being used in the occupied territories.

There are also unconfirmed rumours that Israel may be pursuing a sea-based nuclear capability for its three new Dolphin Class submarines. However, the German foreign ministry has asked for and been given assurances from Israel that the German-produced submarines had “no role in any cruise missile tests whatsoever”.202

Israel is Germany’s seventh largest military client, but growing impatience at Israel’s recent actions in the occupied territories has fuelled debate in the Bundestag about its continued uncritical support for Israel. For EU countries the approval of export licences for military equipment should comply with the European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports.

According to this code, export licences cannot be given if the end-user does not comply with one or several of its criteria which include respect for human rights and international treaties and obligations. As set out in a consideration of similar UK criteria on page 15, Israel’s behaviour does not comply with the code. German Defence Minister RudolphScharping confirmed on 14 April 2002 that his country had temporarily suspend-ed, but not cancelled, the sale of military equipment to Israel.203


France was Israel’s biggest source of military equipment until it imposed an embargo after the 1967 war. However, trade has picked up again and today France is one of Israel’s main suppliers after the US and Germany. According to SIPRI, France exported major conventional weapons worth $50m to Israel between 1996 and 2000.204 This included a delivery of seven AS-565SA Panther helicopters between 1996 and 1998 which were ordered through and partly funded by the US. Between 1981 and 1998, Israel also took delivery of six THD-1040 Neptune Surveillance radar for the Saar-4.5 fast attack naval craft.205 Israel’s military exports to France are also in a healthy condition.

In 2001, France bought unmanned aerial vehicles made by IAI in partnership with European company EADS.206 The sophistication and popularity of Israeli-made weaponry has given French companies an incen-tive to get in on the act; for example, Sagem of France is a subcontractor on the Israeli-owned SoltanSystems’ ATMOS 2000 – a self-propelled artillery system which is aimed primarily at the export market and was unveiled at DEFEXPO 2002 in India.207 Like Germany, France has currently suspended arms sales to Israel but has not declared a formal embargo.208

The UK’s Military Relationship with Israel:



  UK exports:

The UK has sold Israel a wide range of equipment and components.209 Following the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the UK joined other European states in placing an arms embargo on Israel.210 However, each country was allowed to interpret and enforce the embargo as they saw fit. Indeed, in 1989, Germany broke its own long-standing commitment not to sell weapons to areas of conflict by allowing the sale of two diesel-powered submarines.211 And in 1992 it was reported that France was discussing collaboration with IAI on aircraft and missile projects.212 But UK restrictions on arms sales remained in place until the Oslo Accords.

The value of UK military export licences to Israel almost  doubled from £12.5m in 2000 to £22.5m in 2001 Since then the UK has sold Israel equipment and components for tanks, combat aircraft, combat heli-copters and submarines; bombs; torpedoes; rockets; missiles; ammunition; mines; machine guns; tear gas/irritant ammunition; and electronic equipment for military use.213 Although no company details are provided in official figures of military sales, UK companies with known connections with Israel include: the Airtechnology Group, which supplies parts to IMI for the Merkava tank; BAE Systems, which has provided head-up displays for US-built F16s214 and whose subsidiary Rokar International is the current sole-source supplier of counter-measure dispensing systems for the IAF; Smiths Group which has supplied missile triggering systems for Apache helicopters;215 handcuff and baton manufacturer Hiatt & Co Ltd and firearms and riot control manufacturer Civil Defence Supply Ltd are involved with Paz Logistics, an Israeli company that markets UK military goods in Israel.216

In May 2002, it was discovered that UK equipment was being used in Israeli tanks and attack helicopters – the two main weapons used against  Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

The figures in the table below indicate that UK arms exports to Israel have been pretty constant since 1994 – the change of government from Conservative to Labour in 1997 appears to have made little difference – until the quantum leap in 2001. This was the year in which Sharon had come to power denouncing Oslo and the al-Aqsa Intifada raged – a time of great pes-simism in the peace process. The value of UK military export licences to Israel almost doubled from £12.5m in 2000 to £22.5m in 2001.217

UK export licences granted for military sales to Israel
from 1 January 1994 to 31 May 2002*


SIELS (refusals/revoked in brackets)**


1 Jan – 31 May 2002

63 (unknown)

14 (unknown)


277 (31)

20 (14)


191 (6)

18 (3)


190 (3 SITL****)



221 (2)

84 (1)

2 May – 31 Dec 1997*****

109 (1)

12 (2)

1 Jan – 1 May 1997

60 (4)

2 (7)


208 (7)

19 (1)



No statistics


172 (4)

No statistics

* Strategic Export Controls Annual Reports, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001; Hansard, 19/6/02, Col. 344W.
** Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) allow the shipment of specified goods to a specified buyer up to the quantity specified in the licence for a specified period of time.
*** Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) are specific to an individual exporter but cover multiple shipments of specified goods to specified destina-tions. No statistics given for OIELS before 1996. Figures given are for licences issued or where coverage was amended.
**** Standard Individual Shipment Licences granted for components for electronic warfare equipment.
***** The Labour Party took office on 2 May 1997 Figures given are of export licences granted for military sales to Israel since 1 January 1994. No differentiation is made between export licences granted to items on the military list and those on the “dual” civil/military list as the end-use cannot be verified


  UK imports:

The UK has bought Israeli-made extended-range bomblet shells, rifle grenades, manual loaders for air-to-ground missiles and jet fighter avionics.218 Citizens of London and south Wales can also rest easy knowing that both the Metropolitan and South Wales police forces buy soft-round ammunition from IMI via Leicestershire-based Samson Distraco UK, a subsidiary of Belgian company Distraco SA.219 The UK Ministry of Defence is trialling Rafael’s Gill/Spike anti-tank missile despite the fact that these missiles have been used against civilian targets in the occupied territories.

Their first overt use (The Lebanese Daily Star reported their use in south Lebanon in 1998)was on a civilian house in Beit Jala in the West Bank in November 2000; they were also used against (the now destroyed) Gaza airport.220 In 1998, the IAI subsidiary, Elta, supplied the ESM self-defence system for the RAF’s Nimrod 2000 patrol aircraft.221 The MoD is expecting Elta to be one of the bidders for the contract to build the next generation of electronic warfare self-protection systems for the Royal Air Force’s Panavia Tornado GR4 fleet.222

Other purchases include an IAI sale of four ex-IDF Skyhawk fighter bombers to BAE Systems for use in Germany.223 BAE Systems also collaborates with Rafael to produce two new torpedo decoy systems, the Subscut and the Lescut.224 Thales UK, in partnership with Israeli firm Silver Arrow, plans to sell Israeli-made unmanned aerial vehicles to the British Army. Silver Arrow also own a UK-based engine maker UAV Engines Ltd.225

And UK firm Green Light Ltd distrib-utes Israeli firm D-Fence’s modular control barrier.226 Military connections have extended further than just trade. Israel announced this year that it is opening an army recruitment office in London. The UK government has made no objection to the plan, even though the office would be “recruiting for a war that stems from the occupation of Palestinian territories which the UK government says is illegal.”227

  UK policy on arms sales to Israel:

Given the recent tension, mounting evidence of human rights violations by the IDF and Israel’s refusal to abide by international law, the UK government should adhere its own guidelines and stop selling military equipment to Israel. Before equipment with a military use or “dual” civil/military use can be exported from the UK it needs a licence. The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, adopted in October 2000, states that before granting an export licence the government should consider:

  1. Respect for the UK’s international commitments, in particular sanctions decreed by the UN Security Council and those decreed by the European Community, agreements on non-proliferation and other subjects, as well as other international obligations.

  2. The respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in the country of final destination.

  3. The internal situation in the country of final destination, as a function of the existence of tensions or armed conflicts.

  4. Preservation of regional peace, security and stability.

  5. The national security of the UK, of territories whose external relations are the UK’s responsibilities, and of allies, EU member states and other friendly countries.

  6. The behaviour of the buyer country with regard to the international community; in particular its attitude to terrorism, the nature of its alliances and respect for international law.

  7. The existence of a risk that the equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions.

  8. The compatibility of the arms exports with the techni-cal and economic capacity of the recipient country, taking into account the desirability that states should achieve their legitimate needs of security and defence with the least diversion for armaments of human and economic resources.228

The UK government continues to issue licences for the sale of UK arms to Israel despite the fact that these sales clearly contravene a number of the Consolidated Criteria:

  • Israel is carrying out an occupation deemed illegal by international law; it flouts UN resolutions and shows little respect for the wishes of the international community. This is in violation of criteria 1 & 6.

  • Israel has used, and continues to use, indiscriminate and excessive force against Palestinian civilians. It uses methods of collective punishment and carries out extra-judicial killings. It has been widely condemned for its violation of Palestinian human rights. This is in violation of criterion 2.

  • Israel’s recent military campaign and its refusal to negotiate with the existing PA leadership means that peace and stability are distant prospects. For the UK government to continue to issue licences for weapons for this region clearly contravenes criteria 3 & 4. It is obvious that continuing to export weapons to the region aggravates tensions and does nothing for regional stability.

  • Israel sells weapons to anyone who wants them. It refuses to sign up for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and is suspected of aiding India’s nuclear weapons project. Even the US acknowledges that Israel’s sales constitute a threat to arms proliferation. This contravenes criteria 1 & 7.

Given all this evidence, exports should be banned under the Consolidated Criteria. If the Criteria don’t apply in this case, it is difficult to know when they would apply.

Asked by a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee why the UK had granted licences for military vehicles in 1998 and military vehicle components in 1999, the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook replied that permission was granted as it “coincided with a time of optimism in the peace process.”229 Selling weapons seems an odd way to support a peace process but given this logic, if and when “optimism” broke down we would assume that the granting of export licences would wane.

Yet despite the obvious breakdown in the peace process and an escalation of violence since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada there has been a sharp rise in licences granted, from 209 in 2000 to 297 in 2001.230 Even when concern was expressed at Israel’s reoccupation of Palestinian towns and refugee camps at the beginning of 2002, the UK continued to sell Israel military equipment – 77 licences were issued between January and May of 2002.231 These licences were for equipment such as small arms, large calibre weapons, bombs and rockets, aircraft equipment, and military-use electronic equipment.

Israel has been widely criticised by organisations such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch. In 1998, even before the recent breakdown in the peace process, its most vociferous supporter, the US, reported that Israel continued to commit “serious human rights abuses” in the occupied territories.232 And despite concern from the Commons Select Committee on Defence over the methods used by the IDF in the occupied territories, the Foreign Office continued to justify arms sales by claiming it was satisfied with an assurance from the Israeli government that “no UK-originated equipment, systems, sub-systems or components are used as part of the Israeli Defence Forces’ activities in the occupied territories”. 233 Given that helicopter components supplied by the UK include transponders to Bell Huey helicopters which back-up frontline Apache helicopters widely used in the occupied territories, this assurance seems ludicrous.

This assurance was further dented by a BBC’World At One’ investigation whose journalist was told by a senior Israeli defence ministry official that UK Transit vans, Land Rovers, helicopter components and parts for an anti-missile system were being used in the occupied territories.234 In response to these findings, in August 2001 Ben Bradshaw, then foreign office minis-ter, argued that the government took “on trust” Israeli assurances that UK equipment was not being used for internal repression.235 But in March 2002, Bradshaw was forced to disclose that the IDF had modified UK Centurion tanks, exported between 1958 and 1970, and were using them as armoured personnel carriers.236 Again, in May 2002, it was discovered that UK equipment was being used in Israeli tanks and attack helicopters – the two main weapons used against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israeli Merkava tanks had been equipped with a cooling system made by the Surrey-based Airtechnology Group; and UK components, including missile trigger systems made by Smiths Group, are used in US-made Apache helicopters supplied to Israel.237

Following months of calls for action, reports in April and May 2002 suggested that the UK was operat- ing an unofficial embargo on military sales to Israel. According to Whitehall, decisions are being taken on “a case-by-case basis”, however this is the case for all licence applications. A government source said that the UK had not publicly declared a change in policy due to differences of opinion amongst senior government members.238

The so-called “ethical dimension” in Labour’s  foreign policy seems to be pushed aside when arms  companies’ interests are threatened, even when their  arms are bound for a region on the brink of war.

But an alternative change in policy was announced, one which completely undermined any commitment not to export military equipment to Israel that could be used in the occupied territories. In July 2002 the government announced that it was allow-ing the export of UK components for US-made F-16s sold to Israel. F16s have been widely used against Palestinian civilians. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended the decision by issuing new guidelines regarding licence applications for goods to be incorporated into products for onward export.

Where components are to be exported, the government will take into consideration the UK’s military relationship with the country in which the equipment will be finally assembled. These guidelines effectively abdicate to other governments, primarily the US, decisions on the end-use of UK-made military products. By licensing equipment that will almost certainly be used against civilians, the UK government is ripping up its own Consolidated Criteria and is making a mockery of attempts to regulate the sale of UK arms.

Straw argued that, in this case, stopping the supply of BAE Systems’ head-up display units would have “serious implica-tions” for military relations with the US.239 But this policy change will have serious implications for the ethics of UK arms sales and has clearly been dictated by the interests of UK arms companies and their desire to remain part of the Lockheed Martin team building the Joint Striker Fighter. The so-called “ethical dimen-sion” in Labour’s foreign policy seems to be pushed aside when arms companies’ interests are threatened, even when their arms are bound for a region on the brink of war.



Since the beginning of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 there has been an intensification of violence, death and destruction. The air attacks in the occupied territories and the use of high-explosive bombs has meant greater civilian casualties. By April 2002, more than 1,300 Palestinians had been killed by the IDF, while Palestinian armed groups and individuals had killed more than 300 Israeli civilians. More than 23,000 have been wounded on both sides. Many of the victims have been children.240 Exporting arms to Israel at this time contributes to this ongoing human suffering and hinders the search for a peaceful solution.

But, of course, Israel does not only consume imported weapons, it has an extensive and vibrant domestic arms industry which has made it the 10th biggest arms exporter in the world. Israel exports 75 per cent of the total production of its military industries – and sells weapons to virtually anyone who wants them, even those boycotted by other arms trading governments. This has grave implications for conventional arms proliferation. Western governments are huge customers of Israeli military equipment. So, as well as selling Israel weapons which it uses to continue a military campaign caused by the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, Western governments are also buying Israeli weaponry which has been tried and tested during that occupation.

The UK’s recent policy towards Israel is also highly questionable. Granting licences for military equipment bound for Israel when those sales clearly contravene UK export criteria expose these criteria as a sham. Initially, the UK government sought to bypass the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria by claiming that the Israeli government had assured them that UK-manufactured equipment was not being used in the occupied territories. Faced with mounting evidence, the UK government’s response was to suggest that an informal embargo was in place, giving assurances that licences for military equipment to Israel would be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, this is just business as usual as all arms export licence applications are considered on this basis.

The Consolidated Criteria have been further undermined by the introduction of additional “factors” which allow the export of UK-made components to be “incorporated” into weapon systems which are then sold on to a third country. In this case “incorporated” in the US to be sold on to Israel.

Why is the UK government so anxious to continue to trade arms with Israel despite Israel’s continued illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, its appalling human rights record, its grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and its recent excessive use of force including extra-judicial killings outlawed by international law?

It is clear that the power and influence of UK arms interests and the UK government’s desire to “maintain a strong and dynamic defence relationship with the US”241 are fundamental motivations. The UK government’s claim that the US’s “strident” export criteria are an adequate substitute for UK controls is disingenuous given that the US’s unconditional support for Israel shows no sign of waning. The US continues to sell F-16s despite their use against Palestinian civilians, it continues to block UN resolutions condemning Israel and it has followed Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in calling for the replacement of the elected Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. The “incorporation” get-out clause abdicates responsibility for what should be UK foreign policy decisions.

The UK government should implement its own arms export criteria and immediately embargo sales to Israel, including components via a third party. The support of Israel’s military industry through UK imports of Israeli equipment is equally damaging and needs to stop (as Norway has already done). The failure to implement a two-way embargo leaves the UK effectively condoning Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and its flagrant disregard for international law. And it makes UK calls for moderation and peace sound hollow. Action is also needed on a European level, however, UK contortions designed to continue its own exports do not bode well for a wider European agreement.



DTI Department of Trade and Industry
ESF Economic Support Funds
FAS Federation of American Scientists
FCO Foreign and Commonwealth Office
FMA Foreign Military Assistance
IAF Israel Air Force
IAI Israel Aircraft Industries
IDF Israel Defence Forces
IMI Israel Military Industries
IISS International Institute for Strategic Studies
JDW Jane’s Defence Weekly
LAW the Palestinian society for the protection of human rights and the environment
MoD Ministry of Defence (UK)
PA Palestinian Authority
PLO Palestine Liberation Organisation
SIPRI Stockholm International Peace Research Institute




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5 Yapp, 1991, p282
6 Defense News, 19-25 Nov 2001
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15 Youngs, 01/09, p10-11
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19 Peter Sluglett & Marion Farouk-Sluglett, The Times Guide to the Middle East, Times Books, 1991, p126
20 Youngs, 01/09, p19
21 Jessica McCallin, Israel’s Water Torture, The Middle East, May 2002
22 Youngs, 01/09, p14
23 Guardian, 9/2/01
24 Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001
25 Jeff Halper, The Final Push to Defeat the Palestinians,, 2001
26 Independent, 28/12/01
27 Dan Cork, The Palestinian Economy post Oslo: Unsustainable Development, paper for Centre for Policy Analysis on Palestine, 7/11/01
28 Guardian 7/9/02
29 US Dept of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2001 – Israel and the Occupied Territories, 4/3/02
30 Defense News, 26 Nov-2 Dec 01; Guardian, 10/8/02
31 LAW, Extra-Judicial Executions during the al-Aqsa Intifada: A Grave Breach of the IV Geneva Convention,, 25/2/01
32 Amnesty International, No Security Without Human Rights: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Terror Trade Times, June 2002
33 LAW, Israeli troops kill Palestinian teenager, Press release,, 29/7/02
34 Observer, 3/2/02
35 Yapp, 1991, p287
36 Ed Blanche, Sharon and the Generals: the Battle Within, The Middle East, June 02
37 US Dept of State, Annual report on military expenditures, 1999
38 Defense News, 26 Nov-2 Dec 2001
39 Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1/8/01
40 Yapp, 1991, p283
41 Tel Aviv Ha’aretz, 4/2/02
42 Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1993-2000, Congressional Research Service, Washington 16/8/01
43 Tel Aviv Ha’aretz, 4/2/02
44 JDW, 20/3/87
45 Guardian, 11/2/99
46 Dror Marom, Expose: Israel’s Global Military Links, Tel Aviv Globes, 12/6/01
47 Tel Aviv Ha’aretz, 19/5/00
48 Christian Science Monitor, 23/8/01
49 Jennifer Washburn, Power Bloc: Turkey and Israel Lock Arms, The Progressive Magazine, Dec 1998
50 JDW, 4/10/00
51 JDW, 20/2/02
52 Washington Post, Israel-China Radar Deal Opposed, 7/4/00
53 Jerusalem Post, 24/2/00
54 Harvey Morris, China-Israel ties worry US, ,15/4/02
55 Morris, 15/4/02
56 Sami Hajjar, Security Implications of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 17/12/98
57 Seema Mustafa, Israel emerges as second biggest arms supplier to India, after Russia,, 22/8.01
58 Guardian, 24/4/02
59 PR Kumaraswamy, India and Israel: the best of friends,, 2000
60 Air Forces Monthly, Dec 01
61 Seema Mustafa, Israel emerges as second biggest arms supplier to India,, 22/8/01
62 Martin Walker, The New US Triple Alliance: India, Israel and Turkey,, 17/1/02
63, US concerned about India’s missile system, 24/7/02
64 Washburn, 1998
65 Washburn, 1998
66 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
67 Cordesman, 2002, p461
68 Associated Press, Turkey Likely to Stay Israeli Friend, 29/4/02
69 Jerusalem Post, 29/7/02
70 Jane’s Foreign Report 2654, 23/8/01
71 Defense News, 25 Feb-3 March 2002
72 Flight International, 22-28 Jan 2002
73 Defense News, 16-26 June 2001
74 Air Forces Monthly, Feb 2002
75 Shai Feldman & Yiftah Shapir, The Middle East Military Balance 2000-01, MIT Press, 2001
76 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
77 Terma press release, 4/5/01
78 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
79 IISS, The Military Balance 2001-2, OUP, Oct 2001
80 Flight International, 20-26 March 2001
81 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002,, 15/6/01
82 Dror Marom, Expose: Israel’s Global Military Links, Tel Aviv Globes, 12/6/01
83 Marom, 12/6/01
84 IISS, 2001
85 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
86 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
87 Shlomo Brom & Yiftah Shapir, The Middle East Military Balance 1999-2000, MIT Press, 2000
88 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
89 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
90 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
91 Terma press release, 4/5/01
92 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
93 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
94 The Indian Ocean Newsletter, 2/3/02,
95 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
96 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
97, 25/4/01
98 Brom & Shapir, 2000
99 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
100 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
101 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
102 IISS, 2001
103 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
104 Marom, 12/6/01
105 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
106 Defense News, 22-28 Oct 2001
107 Brom & Shapir, 2000
108 Brom & Shapir, 2000
109 Air Forces Monthly, Sept 2002
110 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
111 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
112 Ha’aretz, 25/4/02
113 Brom & Shapir, 2000
114 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
115, 28 July 2002
116 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
117 Feldman & Shapir, 2001, 19/7/02
119 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
120 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
121 Marom, 12/6/01
122 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
123 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
124 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
125 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
126 BBC, Israel, Russian helicopter manufacturers submit bid to South Korea, 5/8/01, reported on, 15/4/02
127 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
128 Air Force Monthly, Sept 2000
129 Flight International, 15-21 Aug 2000
130 JDW, 7/3/01
131 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
132 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
133 IISS, 2001
134 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
135 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
136 Flight International, 4-10 Dec 2001
137 Brom & Shapir, 2000
138 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
139 Marom, 12/6/01
140 Brom & Shapir, 2000
141 Brom & Shapir, 2000
142 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
143 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
144 Christian Science Monitor, 23/8/01
145 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
146 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
147 JDW, 15/2/92
148 JDW, 13/2/02
149 Flight International, 1-7 Jan 2002
150 Defense News, 14-20 Jan 2002
151 Defense News, 14-20 Jan 2002
152 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
153 SIPRI Yearbook 2002, Oxford University Press, 2002
154 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
155 Defense News, 19-25 Nov 2001
156 Defense News, 19-25 Nov 2001
157 JDW, 6/3/02
158 Defense News, 30 July-5 Aug 2001
159 Flight International, 22-28 Jan 2002
160 Flight International, 22-28 Jan 2002
161 Defense News, 17-23 Dec 2001
162 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
163 SIPRI Yearbook 2002
164 Defense News, 18-24 Feb 2002
165 JDW, 5/12/01
166 SIPRI Yearbook 2002
167 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
168 JDW 19/9/01
169 SIPRI Yearbook 2002
170 Federation of American Scientists (FAS), Israel profile,, July 2000
171 SIPRI Yearbook 2001, p483
172 SIPRI Yearbook 2001, p485
173 John Pike, Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, FAS,, 17 Aug 2000
174 SIPRI Yearbook 2001, p483
175 Defense News, 17-23 Sept 2001
176 Sunday Telegraph, 23/12/01
177 Hansard, 7/3/02, Col.505w
178 JDW, 17/5/86
179 Flight International, 19/12/87
180 Defense News, 15-21 Oct 2001
181 Cordesman, 2002, p27
182 Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Israel’s request for $17bn in US weapons stirs concern, 8/2/2000, quoted by Federation of American Scientists, Israel Profile,, July 2000
183 Cordesman, 2002, p26
184 Cordesman, 2002, p44
185 FAS, Your tax dollars at work, 30/4/97
186 Dean Andromidas, In Midst of War Drive, Israel’s Economy Falls, Executive Intelligence Review, 7/12/01
187 Palestine Monitor, ‘United States Aid to Israel’,, 2002
188 Palestine Monitor, US giving Israel another $28m to fight ter-ror, 8/1/02
189 Defense News, 19-25 Nov 01
190 FAS, Israel Profile,, July 2000; Independent, 24/6/97
191 FAS, Israel Profile,, July 2000
192 FAS, US Arms Deliveries to Israel,, May 2002
193 Institute for Southern Studies, US Arms, Facing South, 1/2/02
194 JDW, 27/6/01
195 Flight International, 4-10 Dec 2001
196 JDW, 1/8/01
197 Defense News editorial, 28 Jan-3 Feb 2002
198 Jeff Halper, After Defeat, Autonomy,, 15/5/02
199 Quoted in Noam Chomsky, Fuelling a Conflict, CAAT News, Oct/Nov 2001
200 SIPRI Arms Transfer Project, 2001
201 Peter Finn, Germany suspends arms sales to Israel,, 10/4/02
202 SIPRI Yearbook 2001, p484
203 Itim News Service and Ha’aretz Service; 15/4/02, Defense News, 13-19 May 2002
204 SIPRI Yearbook 2001
205 SIPRI Arms Transfer Project, 2001
206 Tel Aviv Ha’aretz, 4/2/02
207 JDW, 19/12/01
208 Defense News, 13-19 May 2002
209 Mark Pythian, The Politics of British Arms Sales since 1964, Manchester UP, 2000, p188-198
210 Observer, 19/1/92
211 Independent, 27/11/89
212 Observer, 19/1/92
213 FCO, MoD & DTI, Strategic Export Controls Annual Reports, Foreign & Commonwealth Office/The Stationery Office
214 Guardian, 9/7/02
215 Guardian, 29/5/02
217 UK Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2001
218 John Pilger, Blair’s meeting with Arafat served to disguise his support for Sharon and the Zionist project, New Statesman, 10/1/02
219 Observer, 19/11/00
220 Palestine Campaign, Spike the Spike,, 1/9/02
221 Feldman & Shapir, 2001
222 Flight International, 20-26 Aug 2002
223 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
224, Rafael and BAE Systems offer advanced decoys to submarines, surface vessels, 9 July 2002
225 Jane’s International Defence Review, Feb 2002
227 Pilger, New Statesman,10/1/02
228 FCO, MoD, DTI, Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2001, The Stationery Office, Norwich, July 2002
229 Select Committee on Defence, 30 January 2001, question 103
230 Strategic Export Controls Annual Report, 2000; Strategic Exports Control Annual Report, 2001
231 Hansard, 19/6/02, Col.344w
232 US Department of State, Human Rights Report, 1998
233 Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Memo submitted to the Select Committee on Defence, 22/1/01
234 Richard Bingley, The UK’s role: a friend of Israel?, CAAT News, Oct/Nov 2001
235 Guardian, 17/8/01
236 Hansard, 11/3/02, Col.689w
237 Guardian, 29/5/02
238 Guardian, 13/4/02; Defense News, 13-19 May 2002
239 Hansard, Written Answers to Questions, Export Licensing Incorporation Statement, 8/7/02
240 Amnesty International, No Security Without Human Rights: Israel and the Occupied Territories, Terror Trade Times, June 2002
241 Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Hansard, 8/7/02, Col.651w

Posted in Politics1 Comment




Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding

Dec 04, 2010

Cecilie Surasky 

NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually take down respected human rights organizations, it is seeking to stop critical funding of the Electronic Intifada, a key media source for information and analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Electronic Intifada (EI) is a pioneering online news outlet that has been an essential resource for activists, scholars and journalists since its inception in 2002.  Its coverage is unapologetically sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle for human rights, grounded in an understanding of international law and universal human rights. Years before the current proliferation of blogs and alternate news sources, EI was there first, providing a much needed antidote to one-sided mainstream news coverage of Israel and Palestine. And they continue to provide original reporting and news and analysis you still can’t get anywhere else.

Which perhaps is why NGO Monitor has made the preposterous claim that EI is “an anti-Semitic website,” stunningly based on the fact that one staffer is a supporter of the BDS movement and executive director, Ali Abunimah, in his non EI-related speaking engagements, “calls for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and routinely uses false apartheid rhetoric.” Really? This is what they’ve got? (They’d have to start throwing a lot of Jewish Israeli government officials into the anti-Semite dungeon if invoking ‘apartheid” is officially verboten… and Abunimah’s one state is different in substance but certainly similar in form to an increasing number of Israeli right-wingers who also push for a “one state solution”. And then there’s the entirely reasonable observation that we seem to already have a de-facto one state after 43 some years of occupation.. but I digress)

Yet another of thousands of such a ridiculous claims would be laughable if NGO Monitor didn’t have a card up its sleeve–EI gets about one third of its funding from a Dutch government-funded aid organization. According to the Jerusalem Post, NGO Monitor’s unsubstantiated charges

“prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to say on Thursday to the Post, “I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that the government subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious problem with me.”

As EI has documented in this must-read report, NGO Monitor has very close ties to the far-right. They use the language of NGO (non-governmental organization) transparency to go after funding of Israeli and other human rights groups and funders (including the New Israel Fund and Amnesty International) while remaining completely silent on Israel’s funding-dependent and law-breaking settler groups. 

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EI writes:

NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States….

NGO Monitor’s attack on The Electronic Intifada is part of a well-financed, Israeli-government endorsed effort to silence reporting about and criticism of Israel by attacking so-called “delegitimizers” — those who speak about well-documented human rights abuses, support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), or promote full equality for Palestinians. Last February, The Electronic Intifada reported that a leading Israeli think-tank had recommended a campaign of “sabotage” against Israel’s critics as a matter of state policy (”Israel’s new strategy: “sabotage” and “attack” the global justice movement,” 16 February 2010).

NGO Monitor has already been at the forefront of a campaign to crush internal dissent by Jewish groups in Israel that want to see Israel’s human rights record improved.

The Jerusalem-based organization poses as a project concerned with accountability for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but as Israeli human rights activist and journalist Didi Remez has stated, “NGO Monitor is not an objective watchdog: It is a partisan operation that suppresses its perceived ideological adversaries through the sophisticated use of McCarthyite techniques — blacklisting, guilt by association and selective filtering of facts” (”Bring on the transparency,” Haaretz, 26 November 2009).

There is good news here- thus far EI reports that no action has been taken thus far to end their funding. Presumably anyone who does so would have to actually substantiate NGO Monitor’s spurious charges. Good luck with that.

This post first appeared on Jewish Voice for Peace’s blog Muzzlewatch.

First BDS victory in Japan: MUJI cancels plan to open Israeli store

Dec 04, 2010



And other news from Today in Palestine:


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Land, property and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers

Clashes re-ignite in East Jerusalem neighborhood
3 Dec – Clashes broke out after a brief period of calm in the Al-Isawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday afternoon. Clashes centered on the western side of the neighborhood, when a march of peace activists and villagers passed through the area protesting the continued closure of roads leading to the residential zone … Israeli forces manning the checkpoints blocking off road access to the area fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets into the crowd of protesters.

Knesset members demand annexation of Ariel settlement
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 4 Dec — A group of Israeli parliament members including ministers and heads of committees signed a memorandum calling on premier Benjamin Netanyahu to annex the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Israel Today published on Thursday said that the 35 signatories urged Netanyahu and his government to impose Israeli sovereignty on the ever growing settlement and not to deal with it as a settlement in occupied land. “The project aims at silencing all voices that call for boycotting the settlement’s educational and cultural activities and trying to doubt its legitimacy and the legitimacy of the presence of Jews in this area”, the memo read.

Twilight Zone: Of fences and neighbors / Gideon Levy
The ongoing saga of a Jordan Valley moshav and the barrier it is trying to erect on lands abutting – and encroaching on – the encampment of 170 beleaguered Palestinians.

Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel / Neve Gordon
2 Dec – Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the  Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved.

Urban planning forcing Arabs from Israeli cities
According to a report carried out by Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, an Israeli organisation, 40% of Jaffa’s 20,000 Arabs live in ‘Absentee Ownership’ (AO) homes, houses that Arabs were forced to flee when Jaffa was ethnically cleansed in 1948. The Israel Land Administration (ILA), which owns 90% of land in Israel and is responsible for the management of public land, has contracted Amidar, a state-run housing company, to manage the AO homes. “Amidar wants to evict these people in order to profit from the lucrative real estate potential”, Jaffa resident Louis Williams told us. “Three years ago, roughly one quarter of the Arab community, comprising 497 homes, were issued with eviction or demolition notices”.


Israeli fire injures 3 in north, central Gaza Strip
4 Dec – Two separate incidents of reported Israeli fire injured three Gaza residents on Saturday morning, including two workers collecting aggregates in the northern Strip and a third bystander near his home in the central region … The workers in the north, he said, both sustained gunshot wounds to the left leg while they were collecting stone aggregates near the Erez crossing. The injuries brought to 90 the number of workers injured by Israeli fire along the borders since March.

Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Book tracks last days of photographer Tom
2 Dec – The last weeks of Tufnell Park photographer Tom Hurndall, who was shot dead by an Israeli Defence Force soldier, are the basis of a new book, launched on the eve of what would have been the student’s 29th birthday. Tom was shot in the head by the sniper in April 2003 as he took pictures and worked as a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement. He never regained consciousness and died nine months later. His dad Anthony, who along with Tom’s mother Jocelyn unveiled the book, The Only House Left Standing – The Journals of Tom Hurndall, at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in Mayfair on Friday

IWW supports Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement in support of Palestinian rights
3 Dec – The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) has officially voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights. The “Resolution in Support of the Workers of Palestine/Israel” was adopted in an overwhelming vote both at the IWW’s convention in Minneapolis and by the membership via referendum. This vote makes the IWW the first union in the US and the third union in Canada to officially support the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

#BDS: The first BDS victory in Japan: MUJI declared cancellation of Israeli shop plan
3 Dec – RYOUHIN KEIKAKU Co. Ltd. decided to cancel the plan to have a shop in Israel, which we announced in our news release in April 12, 2010. We decided the cancellation of the plan because of economical reason as a result of the concrete research which had been done after the news release. In the past seven months after the announcement of the plan, MUJI had been getting strong pressures from grassroots civil society in Japan and other countries including Korea.

#BDS: No to JNF’s pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid
1 Dec – As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and straight activists and scholars, we condemn the Jewish National Fund’s launch of a new LGBT committee in New York City on December 9, 2010, for what it is: an attempt to “pinkwash” the JNF’s central role in acquiring Palestinian land on which to build the Israeli apartheid state. Most immediately, this campaign is designed to cover up the ugly fact that Palestinians, with few exceptions, are effectively barred from living on 93 % of land in 1948 Palestine (“Israel”).

#BDS: Polish activists force Israeli general onto the defensive
1 Dec – Today the Polish Solidarity Campaign with Palestine (Kampania Palestyna) and the Polish Stop the War Initiative protested the invitation of General Eitan Dangot, Israel’s Military Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the (occupied) Territories to present at the Polish Institute of International Affairs …Major General Dangot’s lecture was shut down to the public by the Institute in response to Kampania Palestyna and Stop the War’s protest.

Yvette Cooper calls for Israeli settler labelling on food imports
4 Dec – Cooper, who spoke after her first visit to the Middle East as shadow foreign secretary, wants the EU to follow the example of supermarkets which identify goods produced in the occupied West Bank. Labour is opposed to boycotting Israeli goods but Cooper believes consumers should be informed whether products are produced by illegal settlers.

Boycott roundup: French companies to drop out of Jerusalem rail project
3 Dec – In a significant victory for the global Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, French companies Veolia and Alstom have dropped out of the Jerusalem light rail project due to sustained pressure from Palestine solidarity groups. The companies were contracted by the Israeli government to construct and manage the tramway linking Jerusalem to several illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank.

Why we walked out / Ahmad Hasan and Danielle Baeck
3 Dec – Students across the US are protesting a public relations campaign that brings soldiers from the Israeli army to speak on campuses. These tours are an attempt to justify recent war crimes committed by the army and are coordinated by various organizations, the most well-known being the Zionist organization StandWithUs. Our protests have drawn attention to the massive Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The protests started on 20 October 2010, when two Israeli army soldiers visited the University of Michigan campus.

34 ships to carry aid to Gaza next April
4 Dec – GAZA (PIC), — The international campaign for solidarity with the Palestinian people is preparing to send 34 ships loaded with humanitarian relief material to the Gaza Strip by next April, Mariam Zakut, the director general of culture and thought society, said. She added that the vessels would also carry Arab and foreign solidarity activists from various world continents. Zakut, who was participating in the international week for solidarity with the Palestinian people in France, said that the fleet targets forcing Israel to recognize the Palestinian people’s rights and end its siege of Gaza.

Gaza and the will to change the world / Tim King
2 Dec – Announcing Ken O’Keefe’s upcoming mission to free Gaza that is certain to bring about change, one way or another.

Students to finance aid flotilla to Palestine
2 Dec – After three hours of debate, University of British Columbia students will be funding an aid flotilla to Gaza after all. UBC`s students`union, the Alma Mater Society (AMS), had frozen $700 that student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) was to donate to an aid flotilla to Gaza.


Students’ Gaza aid checked for terror ties
3 Dec – Like many student governments in Canada, the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society is preoccupied with a bitter controversy over the Mideast conflict. But it stepped into a league of its own on Thursday when it launched an investigation of possible terrorist links in a proposed Canadian aid boat to Gaza. The decision follows a hotly disputed student council vote Wednesday night to approve, by 26-10, a donation of $700 of student money to a charity organizing the Canadian Boat for Gaza,

Gaza-bound aid team stopped at Attari border
Attari (Punjab), Dec 4 (IANS) A group of 34 Indians on a humanitarian visit to Gaza as part of an Asian outreach initiative were stopped here by Indian authorities Saturday despite having valid visas, organisers said. The organisers said the ministry of external affairs had not responded to their request for permission to cross over to Pakistan even though it was sought a month back. ‘We are deeply disappointed at the decision of the Indian government and it may just end up sending a wrong message about the Indian commitment to the Palestinian people,’ said Ashim Roy, one of the team members.

Siege / Rights violations / Restriction on movement

As Palestinians ‘commute’ to work / Kessel & Klochendler
BETHLEHEM CHECKPOINT, Occupied West Bank, Dec 4, 2010 (IPS) – It’s 5am. The late autumn dawn is about to break. But for 3,500 Palestinian workers, a hard day’s work began hours ago. Young and old men push and shove their way out through the narrow lane, barely a metre wide, bars of iron rising above them on either side. Over their heads sits a corrugated steel roof. Some try to sneak into the lane through a gap in the roof. “Being in jail is easier!” cries out one man angrily. He’s a builder from Hebron. “Donkeys are made to stand like this! Even cattle are not hemmed in like this.” … The Palestinians grasp the bars, not just for fear of being trampled, but to keep their place in line. “I’ve got to be at work at seven, not at eight or ten! When I’m late, my Israeli boss tells me, ‘You can go home, I don’t need you’.” This is the Israeli occupation writ small, the nitty-gritty battles to survive the Occupation in a single lane.

Gaza facing wheat crisis
3 Dec – The head of Gaza’s bakeries’ association said Friday that the Strip is facing a crisis due to wheat shortages. Abdul Nasser Al-Ajramy said Israel has decreased the amount of wheat it allows into Gaza, leaving mills in the Strip empty.

UN agency says situation in Gaza is still extremely bleak due to blockade
3 Dec – The situation in Gaza is still extremely bleak, according to the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has said that Gaza’s 1.5 million people, almost half of them children, remain trapped due to the imposition of the “illegal, inhumane and counter-productive blockade” on the territory. Despite being “encouraged by positive developments – the shops are full of consumer goods, for example… the plight of the people is still desperate”, said John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza. “Eighty percent of the population is aid dependent,” he said, so cannot afford to buy what is in the shops.”

War crimes

OIC medical delegation carries out plastic surgery on wounded Gazans
A delegation of doctors has arrived in Gaza and started the first phase of medical support which includes reconstructive (“plastic”) surgery for people wounded during the Israeli war on the territory … Two specialists oversaw pre-operative checks on more than 120 patients awaiting reconstructive surgery in Al Salama Association’s clinics across the Gaza Strip. Jordanian specialist Dr. Mohamed El-Abady said that he was shocked at the severity of the cases he had seen. “Over the years that I have worked in this field, I have never seen cases as serious as these,” he said. It was reported that the Israeli Army used internationally banned phosphorous and chemical weapons in the 3-week war it waged on Gaza in 2008/9. The result was injuries and deformities which doctors have not witnessed before.

Professor Richard Falk on universal jurisdiction
…The issue of universal jurisdiction is of special interest at this time because of the apparent effort to give assurances to Israeli leaders that they won’t be subject to a legal process if they come here (to the UK); and that of course is in reaction to the problems that the former Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni had when she cancelled her trip [to the UK last year]. I think it is important to realise that the whole idea of universal jurisdiction is to take account of the weakness of international institutions in upholding international criminal law … It seems to me that if a country such as Britain, which has a proud constitutional tradition, reserves the implementation of international criminal law just for those the government doesn’t like at the time – in other words if international criminal law is used for prosecuting Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic but not the friends of the government – then you discredit, in a fundamental way, the rule of law which really does depend on equals being treated equally.


Hamas: PA continues to detain affiliates
3 Dec – Hamas accused PA forces of arresting five of its members in the West Bank, a statement issued by regional leaders said on Friday. Those detained were from Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Salfit, the statement said.

Political / Diplomatic news

Abbas hints at PA dissolution over settlements
4 Dec – RAMALLAH — President Mahmoud Abbas threatened Friday to end autonomy in the Palestinian territories if Israel insists on going ahead with settlement construction on lands that would be a Palestinian state … The comment came two days after PA officials told AFP that American mediators engaged in bilateral talks with Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams had announced their inability to secure a promise to freeze settlement construction from Israel. Abbas himself has been threatening to resign from the Palestinian Authority since before 2009, when his term was extended by a PLO mandate, beyond its four-year elected term.

Hizb Ut-Tahrir says Hamas giving up principles
3 Dec – Hizb Ut-Tahrir (Liberation Party) issued a statement following a rare news conference held by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on Wednesday. The party said Hamas was heading toward the same track as Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, turning from armed struggle to negotiations with Israel, and ceding most of Palestine. Haniyeh said Wednesday that Hamas would accept the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

Brazil explains recognition of Palestine
3 Dec – In a move that took Washington by surprise, Brazil has recognized the state of Palestine along the 1967 borders before Israel’s seizure of the West Bank, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a notice posted to its website Friday

Engel and Ros-Lehtinen are quick to try to stifle Palestinian state / Philip Weiss
This is amusing/concerning/the same old story. The Brazilians decide they’re sick of the neverending peace process that only results in Palestinian dispossession, and let’s recognize a Palestinian state, and who jumps in with four feet? The Israel lobby. Two congresspeople. Note that Eliot Engel is sanctifying a UN resolution that is now 43 years and has produced little but suffering for the Palestinians:

US lawmakers blast Brazil’s Palestinian move (AFP)
4 Dec – US lawmakers [that is, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee] condemned Brazil’s “severely misguided” and “regrettable” decision Friday torecognize a Palestinian state on borders pre-dating Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 … Brazil’s decision also drew fire from Democratic Representative Eliot Engel,

Israel ‘saddened’ as Brazil recognizes Palestinian state (AFP)
4 Dec – JERUSALEM  — Israel on Saturday said it was disappointed by Brazil’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.

Sarkozy receives credentials of first PA ambassador
4 Dec – French president Nikolas Sarkozy received credentials for the first Palestinian ambassador to France Hayil Al-Fahoum on Friday, following an upgrade to the status of the Palestinian mission in Paris in June.

Turkey: Israel aid no sign of improved ties
4 Dec – Turkey downplays fire aid: Israel must still apologize for flotilla raid, Erdogan says,7340,L-3993952,00.html

Haifa wildfire

As fires continue to consume more areas in Haifa, extremists torch Islamic graveyard
The Al Aqsa Foundation told the Maan News Agency that a group of Jewish extremists torched the Al Qassam Graveyard in Haifa under the guise of the ongoing fires that started Thursday in the area and continues to spread.

Palestinian firefighters join efforts to control blaze (AFP)
NABLUS 3 Dec — Palestinian firefighters are aiding efforts to control a forest fire which has spread across northern Israel, Palestinian civil defense officials said … Brigadier General Ahmad Ar-Riziq told Ma’an that Palestinian firefighters were able to help control the fire which has spread to Palestinian villages At-Tayba and Barta’a west of Jenin.

Abbas sends firefighters to extinguish blaze in Israel
4 Dec – Palestinian civil defense forces have joined the huge international operation to tame the massive blaze ravaging northern Israel, the president’s office said on Saturday. “The three units of the Palestinian civil defense were sent to assist in extinguishing the fires in the Carmel,” said a statement from the office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

Police arrest two brothers suspected of starting Carmel wildfire
4 Dec –  Police forces arrested Saturday two brothers from the Druze village of Isfiya who are suspected of being responsible for the act of negligence which started the massive fire that was still raging in the Carmel in northern Israel … Earlier Saturday, Police Commissioner David Cohen already said that the fire was caused by negligence, and not arson

Carmel fire approaches Usfiya
4 Dec – Wildfire that killed 41 people continues to rage, approaches outskirts of northern Druze town; residents instructed to evacuate homes,7340,L-3994063,00.html

Other news

PA closes station linked to Dahlan
4 Dec – NABLUS — The Palestinian Authority has closed the offices of a Ramallah satellite TV station affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan, the once Fatah strongman who fled his native Gaza for the West Bank in 2007. PA police raided the offices of Falastin Al-Ghad (“Palestine Tomorrow”) and informed employees that it was closing.

Erekat claims Israel uses Christmas to deepen the separation of the Holy Land
3 Dec – With regard to a pre-Christians reception that the Israeli government has organized in East Jerusalem on December 6, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced on Thursday that “the Israel Ministry of Tourism has hijacked Christmas for political purposes.”

1,000 children send Christmas message from Bethlehem
3 Dec – A thousand children from across the West Bank gathered in Bethlehem on Friday to send a Christmas message to children around the world … Speaking at the event, [Tourism Minister Khouloud] Deibes said she wished children in Gaza could have participated in the Christmas celebrations. Two children delivered a Christmas message in Arabic and English, and said they hoped Bethlehem and Palestine would one day be open without checkpoints or walls.

Analysis / Opinion

WikiLeaks shocker: Did Abbas know in advance about the devastating blitz on his countrymen in Gaza? / Stuart Littlewood
…you have to wonder why, if the story’s true, the Israelis felt comfortable discussing with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority what would happen after their tanks and aircraft had pulverized the Gaza part of Palestine and shredded and vaporized its women and children. A genuine leader knowing about plans for such a mega-crime would surely have sounded the alert and raised merry hell at the UN for preventive action.

Q&A: Why only 51 percent of Israelis support equal rights for Arab minority
4 Dec …Why is their status increasingly urgent? Higher birthrates and rising demands for Arab autonomy challenge Israel’s ability to be both Jewish and democratic. Professor Smooha’s study found that 48% of Arab citizens are unhappy with their lives in Israel, compared with 35% in 2003. While nearly two-thirds believed in 2003 that Israel’s democracy empowered them as well as Jews, last year only half agreed with the idea. Voting turnout dropped to 53% in 2009 from 75% in 1999.

For Israeli Arab teens, a way to serve the country without joining the army
4 Dec – Six years ago, Rabah Rizik quit his banking career to help reverse decades of public neglect toward Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority. His new job? Helping to implement a pioneering civil service program akin to AmeriCorps in the United States. The initiative gave Arab high school graduates — who are exempt from the draft faced by Jewish 18-year-olds — the opportunity to contribute to their state, just as most of their Jewish counterparts do through military service … But in some respects, the state program has been lose-lose: Dozens of Arab opponents demonstrated outside Rizik’s home in April, calling him a traitor and an Israeli collaborator. And this year, he couldn’t get enough funding for new volunteer spots, undermining the program’s credibility among hundreds of prospective participants who were turned away.

Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding / Cecilie Surasky
3 Dec – NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually take down respected human rights organizations, it is seeking to stop critical funding of the Electronic Intifada, a key media source for information and analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [See report about this on the EI itself, posted here Wednesday]

Lebanon at stake / Ramzy Baroud
4 Dec – The timing of the Turkish Prime Minister’s two-day visit to Lebanon could not be more judicious. Lebanon’s enemies have been banging the drums of war louder than ever before. All the malevolent plans hatched following the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri are about to converge for one formidable goal: to destabilize and weaken Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah and allow Israel to return, uncontested, and wreck havoc on the tiny country, the way it remorselessly did in 1982.

Swiss army knives as a danger to Arab regimes / As`ad AbuKhalil
This [Washington Post article] must be the dumbest analysis there is.  Look at this passage: “Arab angst about Iran’s nuclear ambitions has been exposed, perhaps giving the United States greater leverage in international talks scheduled for next week.” Arab angst about Iran’s nuclear ambitions?  Are you kidding me?  Do you really think that Iran nuclear efforts are not wildly popular throughout the Arab and Muslim world-without distinction between Sunnis and Shi`ites? … You think if Iran is bombed, the Arab public will stand with those who bomb Iran?  Really?  You think that Israel arsenal of WMDs are popular among Arabs/Muslims and are not seen as a matter of grave concern?

Al-Akhbar in the New York Times / As`ad Abukhalil
“Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper that supports the Shiite militant and political group Hezbollah, has been posting documents from eight Arab countries…”  I should not get defensive about this: I should expect only ignorance and errors in the New York Times whenever any aspect of the Middle East is brought up.  But the distortion–I strongly believe–is deliberate.  This Al-Akhbar newspaper is a leftist newspaper founded by the leftist Joseph Samahah and led by the leftists Khalid Saghieh and Ibrahim Amin (the latter is a long time communist since his youth).  Its main publisher is a secular businessperson who resides in London (Hasan Khalil).  I have been to the paper numerous times and know many of the reporters and editors and I can honestly say that I know of no Hizbullah member and supporter there.


Army: Israel detonates ‘spy’ devices in Lebanon (AFP)
3 Dec – TYRE, Lebanon — The Israeli army on Friday detonated two of its espionage devices in southern Lebanon, slightly injuring two passers-by, a Lebanese army spokesman said. “Around noon today, the Israeli enemy detonated two spying apparatuses by remote control in Wadi Qaysiyya outside of Majdal Selem” near the southern coastal city of Tyre, the spokesman told AFP.

Lebanon complains to UN about Israeli ‘spy’ devices (AFP)
BEIRUT 4 Dec  — Lebanon on Saturday filed a complaint with the United Nations over “spying” devices planted by Israel on its territory which it said the Israeli army later detonated.

Lebanon defense minister denies WikiLeaks cable content (AFP)
3 Dec — BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr denied on Friday allegations in a diplomatic cable revealed by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks that he gave advice to Israel in 2008 on how to get rid of Hezbollah, an aide said.

Lebanon’s international theatre of war / Alexander Henley
The UN tribunal on the assassination of Rafik Hariri pits world leaders in direct conflict over the legitimacy of Hezbollah

A legal guide to being a Lebanese woman, Part 1 / Maya Mikdashi
For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system … I am often shocked by how much I have learned over these past four years. Many of my previously held assumptions on the legal system, the state, and my place in it as a Lebanese citizen, have been challenged. One of the lessons I have learned is that the previous sentence should have been written as such; “I have learned much about my legal position as a Lebanese Female Sunnite citizen.” Such specificity is vital because Lebanese citizenship is constituted through these two registers of recognition; the sexed and the sectarian.

Iraq, other Mideast

Friday: 1 Iraqi killed, 4 wounded
At least one Iraqi was killed and four more were wounded in the latest attacks. The deadliest event, however, occurred in Hilla where two buses carrying Iranian pilgrims accidentally crashed into each other, leaving 24 dead and over 50 wounded.

Baghdad bombs hit Iranian Shia pilgrims
Five Iranians were killed by two bombs near a house used by pilgrims near an important Shia shrine in the city’s Kadhimiya district, police said. In the northern Shula district, a car bomb struck a coach of pilgrims, killing two people. Another car bomb elsewhere killed six people. Correspondents say overall, attacks are down in Baghdad in recent weeks. Police officials said more than 100 people were injured in the string of bombings.

Iran will ‘never use’ force against Muslim neighbors
MANAMA (Agencies) Iran will never use force against its Muslim neighbors, its foreign minister told a conference on Middle East security on Saturday, after the United States said Arab states were worried by Tehran’s suspected attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki said: “We have never used our force against our neighbors and never will because our neighbors are Muslims.” [there never was an Iran-Iraq war, apparently]

WikiLeaks memo reveals Egypt’s Nile fears over Sudan
3 Dec – A leaked US embassy cable has revealed Egypt’s fears about the possibility of its neighbour Sudan breaking into two. In the cable, written last year, a foreign ministry official urged the US to help postpone a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan.

Qatar is more boring than backward / Brian Whitaker
Many myths have done the rounds since Qatar was declared World Cup 2022 host – for a start, alcohol isn’t illegal

U.S. and other world news

Obama assures Netanyahu forest fire assistance top US priority
4 Dec – U.S. is sending a team of expert firefighters and supplies to Israel to help the country contain the worst forest fire in its history.

Israel wildfire: How it stacks up with five other devastating blazes
Israeli officials are racing to contain wildfires that began in northern Israel on Thursday morning, prompting the evacuation of 17,000 and a rare request for international assistance. But while these fires are devastating for Israel — as of Friday they’ve killed at least 42 people and burned an estimated 8,600 acres in the tiny country — they are far smaller than other major forest fires around the globe.

Blair’s bodyguards ‘bought a rocket launcher on expenses to protect him in Gaza’
4 Dec – Tony Blair’s police bodyguards are being investigated over extra­ordinary claims they bought a ­device for launching rockets or grenades to ­protect the former prime minister.Watchdog officials want to know why the officers took it upon themselves to purchase the weapon, apparently on expenses, for a trip to Gaza. It is alleged they were not permitted to buy such a device … In a separate development, a probe has been launched by the IPCC into claims a member of Mr Blair’s protection team broke rules by accompanying him to Israel and Gaza. The Mail has learned the officer was forbidden from making such visits because his partner has worked for the Israeli security services.

US ‘cannot rely on cluster bomb deal’ with Britain
2 Dec – A former foreign office minister has said the US should not rely on any apparent secret deal to store banned cluster munitions on British territory. Chris Bryant was responding to a leak on the WikiLeaks website suggesting the US could be exempted from the ban.

US university yanks Helen Thomas diversity award (AP)
4 Dec – Wayne State University says it’ll no longer offer the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award, citing recent comments made by the longtime journalist. In a statement Friday, the Detroit school says it “encourages free speech and open dialogue,” but strongly condemns what it says are “anti-Semitic remarks” made by Thomas on Thursday.,7340,L-3994044,00.html

Media Matters, the watchdog group that loves to hate Fox News
2 Dec – Fighting Fox is what Media Matters does, relentlessly and obsessively. In the six years since its founding, the watchdog group has evolved from an all-purpose scourge of the conservative media into Fox News Channel’s veritable shadow and constant irritant. From well before sunrise to long after it each day, teams of young researchers sift through video clips and transcripts of programs hosted by Fox stars such as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly to find dubious facts, logical contradictions and poisonous – at least to Media Matters’ liberal sensibilities – rhetoric.

US Registrar yanks WikiLeaks domain / Jason Ditz
3 Dec – Registrar ousts WikiLeaks, citing DDoS attacks — As of 11:00 PM EST Friday December 3, the following Domains/IPs resolve to WikiLeaks. Your mileage may vary, try other URLs or IPs if the first doesn’t work.

PayPal cuts WikiLeaks from money flow (AP)
BERLIN 4 Dec – The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its website accessible after an American company stopped directing traffic to it.

US agencies warn unauthorized employees not to look at WikiLeaks
4 Dec – The White House Office of Management and Budget sent a memo Friday afternoon forbidding unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites using computers or devices like BlackBerrys and smart phones.

Jeffrey Goldberg doesn’t work for ‘The Forward’ any more– and that’s appropriate

Dec 04, 2010

Scott McConnell


A foreign journalist asked me what was with the Atlantic Monthly and Jeffrey Goldberg: why did a magazine which was a classic voice of the Eastern seaboard elite have a full time blogger on staff whose writing was devoted almost entirely to Israel? (including inside-baseball issues about giving money to the Jewish National Fund). It would be understandable if the Forward or JTA had him, but aren’t Atlantic readers mostly interested in other things than Israel and Palestine?

It’s a question that can be answered at great length. But the short version is that the Eastern establishment readership of my correspondent’s image exists no longer. There is an Eastern establishment, certainly, grouped around the Ivy League and Wall Street. But to the extent it has an ethnic core at all, (and it far more ethnically diverse than sixty years ago) it is Jewish. And very interested in Israel. Jeffrey Goldberg represents it quite adequately.

And what of the old establishment? No, they weren’t guillotined, or even dispossessed. They are doing fine, thank you very much. Their children, for the most part, own sporting goods stores in the hipper towns of the Mountain West. But do they read intellectual magazines, take an intense interest in foreign policy, feel a sense of stewardship for America and its place in the world?

Not so much.

The American Jewish belief in the endurance of anti-Semitism is at the core of the problem

Dec 04, 2010

Philip Weiss


Often I’ve wondered what perversity of character I must retain into middle age to want to talk openly about Jewish numbers in the Establishment. For instance, the fact that Jews from Mike Bloomberg to David Steiner to Shael Polakow-Suransky are all over the schools chancellor decision in New York, or that Robert Siegel and Guy Raz on All Things Considered were my Jewish hosts last night, or that Andrea Williams and Jamie Rubin and Chuck Schumer and Richard Cohen and so many other Establishment figures (i.e., people who don’t like Assange) are Jewish, etc. I often think I must not have worked out my power issues with my mother, or that I must be embittered by my own failures on the greasy pole… etc.

And then this week I realized that it’s no personal failure of mine, it’s actually a vital part of the discussion, and here’s why.

The other night my wife and I saw an old Jewish friend.


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Since returning from Jerusalem in September, my wife has become somewhat religious in her orientation (she calls herself a post-God Christian, which I will explain some other time) and also very pro-Palestinian. She’d never looked into the Middle East issue before, and now she’s completely on my side– and by the way, my wife is unscriptable. The other night my wife said, “You are seeing Jim Crow before your eyes. Our friend, he’s from a very good Palestinian family, well, first they kicked his family out of their house in 1948 and then the other day they wake up and the bulldozers are in their back yard because Israel wants to expand a road, for Jews…”

The conversation went on for a while and then our old Jewish friend told an anecdote about a Jewish person getting kicked out of one of the old cricket clubs in Philadelphia. Well, my wife grew up going to the Philadelphia Cricket Club. And when we drove back home later, she said she had felt some anti-anti-Semitism in the anecdote, which she finds apocryphal. Anti-anti-Semitism is my wife’s description of anger toward Christians, and she says it was prompted by her comments about Israel.

I tell you, this is the heart of it, the Jewish belief in anti-Semitism as the ongoing condition of Jewish life in the west. It is absolutely core to the Israel conversation.

And it rises again and again when Israel is criticized. It is in Jeffrey Goldberg smearing Walt and Mearsheimer as the second coming of Charles Lindbergh because they have criticized Israel (these men who would save the Jewish state thru a two-state solution). It is in Bernard-Henry Levy’s piece at Huffpo that seems to link the boycott movement with Nazism, “the most rabid of hatreds” directed at the miracle of democracy that is Israel. It is in the famous American Jewish Committee study by Alvin Rosenfeld of 3 years ago: Progressive Jewish thought on Israel = Anti-Semitism. It is in the statement that an old friend in Jerusalem made to me when I told her in September about my work– “They will always hate us, they have always hated us, they always hate the Jews; don’t help them.”

You criticize Israel, you are an anti-Semite.

It is the core issue for two reasons. Because the rationale for Israel is anti-Semitism–as I often say, I would have been a Zionist in the European scene of 100 years ago–and so long as there is anti-Semitism there must be an Israel; and so therefore we will find the anti-Semitism to justify Israel. That whole unconscious tautology.

And core because Jews have emerged in the last two generations from a great genocide, and you cannot address the Israel question without addressing the underlying emotion, and the legitimate Jewish fear of extermination. I am often counseled to show more compassion for my brethren in this regard; and I am trying to take that lesson. You must address Jewish fears. There is a “national psychosis” at work in Israel, as Anshel Pfeffer has said; it goes to Netanyahu and his father and everyone else; and that psychosis extends to American Jewry.

I don’t know how entirely compassionate I can be when I see the American establishment so well represented by Jews. For it gives the lie to the claim that anti-Semitism is an active problem in the U.S. It’s just not functionally a part of our social professional landscape; and the prevalence of Jews in the schools chancellor decision, or in the media, or the Congress, or the White House braintrust underscores my point. And that is why I must make the point: because it is true and Jews are in denial about it and Jewish American identity is still based on a description of ourselves as outsiders that is simply anachronistic. And not just anachronistic but destructive: defining ourselves by the fact that everyone hates us. (Not good, and maybe self-fulfillingly prophetic, too, honey.)

Now you may counter that the last time we had this conversation it ended in the death camps, and I accept the truth of that. But to say that we must censor ourselves now for that reason doesn’t wash. For a whole host of reasons, including the fact of American democracy and idealism; to the fact that Herzl and Kafka wrote about issues of Jewish financial/real-estate achievement in Europe at the turn of the last century and understood this as a basis of resentment toward Jews; to the fact that our success is a true fact and American journalists are supposed to deal in truth and I am an empowered American; to the fact that Jewish success is obviously playing a role in our foreign policy regarding the most dangerous issues on the planet; to the fact that history does not repeat itself, and when it does try and repeat itself the repetition is farce (per Hegel); to the fact that Herzl’s favorite quote in his diaries at the turn of the last century was, “Rien n arrive ni comme on le craint ni come on I’espere: nothing happens the way you fear or the way you hope,” and he is absolutely right about that.

So I’m not going to shut up about this. And when they talk about anti-Semitism I will insist on talking about Jewish success, and how marvelous it is, and also how transformative historically. So let’s get transformed. And lay off my wife.

Meet Moshe Soprano

Dec 04, 2010

Philip Weiss


I try to give the people what they want (I’ve been a news guy most of my life), and a lot of people are talking about the cable on Wikileaks from Tel Aviv a year ago about all the organized crime in Israel, and the fears of that o.c. spreading to the U.S. (because after all we’re joined at the hip). Raimondo loves the cable.  A couple more responses:

1. A friend: What does this tell us about the occupation and Zionism? There are entrenched organized crime networks in many, if not most societies. But where else would an organized crime family get a reality show? Maybe Russia. To me it shows lawlessness is socially acceptable in some way and that may well be connected to the occupation. 

2. I asked our regular commenter Shmuel about it, including the reality show angle:

OC is definitely a big problem in Israel, and the ills of Israeli society (including racism, occupation, etc.) all feed off one another in many different ways. I haven’t read anything on the subject, but I presume it has been addressed by Israeli sociologists (a very quick google brought something up about lawlesslessness and internal institutional weakness stemming from post-67 settlement). Some of the things described in the cables (eg. the lack of impact of high profile arrests on OC operations on the ground) are very reminiscent of the situation in Italy, brilliantly described by Roberto Saviano (who recently made some very stupid pro-Israel remarks, BTW).


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When I was in Israel this summer, Saviano’s book had just come out in Hebrew. I wonder if anyone has tried to draw any parallels or, more interestingly, examined the differences. I don’t think the reality show (a model/reporter spent a couple of weeks in the Alperon household about 4 years ago) tells us very much about the acceptability of lawlessness. Alperon was Israel’s real-life Tony Soprano. Makes for popular TV.

3. Somewhat unrelated, but I’d note that the cable-writer expressed the concern that Israel could export its organized crime to the U.S. because so many Israelis come over here. Well, right on schedule:

The Baltimore Sun reports that a former Israeli special forces agent who is part of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood-patrol attacked a black teenager, 15, in Baltimore, saying You don’t belong here, and broke his wrist.

Engel and Ros-Lehtinen are quick to try to stifle Palestinian state

Dec 04, 2010

Philip Weiss


This is amusing/concerning/the same old story. The Brazilians decide they’re sick of the neverending peace process that only results in Palestinian dispossession, and let’s recognize a Palestinian state, and who jumps in with four feet? The Israel lobby. Two congresspeople. Note that Eliot Engel is sanctifying a UN resolution that is now 43 years and has produced little but suffering for the Palestinians:


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Rep. Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today strongly condemned Brazil’s recognition of the State of Palestine.

He issued the following statement: “Brazil’s decision to recognize Palestine is severely misguided and represents a last gasp by a Lula-led foreign policy which was already substantially off track. If you couple this with Lula’s coddling of Ahmadinejad, it presents a very bleak picture of a government which wants to establish itself as a voice in the world, but is making the wrong choices as it tries to do so. One can only hope that the new leadership coming into Brazil will change course and understand that this is not the way to gain favor as an emerging power or to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. 

“Today’s action violates the spirit of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, the ‘land for peace’ resolution which is the basis of the Middle East Peace Process. Brazil is sending a message to the Palestinians that they need not make peace to gain recognition as a sovereign state.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on the Government of Brazil’s recognition of a Palestinian state, pursuant to a prior request by Palestinian Authority head Abu Mazen.

“Brazil’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state is regrettable and will only serve to undermine peace and security in the Middle East. The decision ignores Hamas’ control over Gaza and ignores the Palestinian leadership’s failure to abide by its international commitments.

“Responsible nations should urge Palestinian leaders to meet their commitments, stop incitement such as denying the Jewish people’s connection to the Wailing Wall, return to direct negotiations with Israel, and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, before any discussion of a potential Palestinian state.

“NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen is a leading cosponsor of House Resolution 1734, which reaffirms Congressional opposition to unilateral measures to recognize a Palestinian state. Ros-Lehtinen also authored the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-446), which conditioned U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority on, among other requirements, the PA ‘publicly acknowledge[ing] the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist.’”

PS. Here is Gil Maguire lauding the Brazilian decision.

To Gaza with humble apologies

Dec 04, 2010

Lillian Rosengarten


I am a Jew symbolic of the carnage of Gaza.
I will walk on the ravished desolation of destroyed lives
places where Apache helicopters fired yet another missile
on to crowds reduced to charred remains.
I wonder how to make contact for I am ashamed.
What justifies the brutal rampage of terror and murder?
Now in Rafah where entire neighborhoods are reduced to rubble
Where Israeli tanks and bulldozers made in USA
Add an extra 2000 families left homeless.
They flee on donkey carts piled up with no thing to nowhere!
No food, no water, no money, flattened neighborhoods from the reign of terror.
Where has hope gone? Where are the olive groves I love so much?
Does anyone remember the Nazis sixty years ago?
I am going to Gaza and wonder.
How can it be that arms will be outstretched to welcome me?
Will they see my pain as one with their pain?
I arrive with humility, afraid to witness once more
Man’s inhumanity to man.

State Dep’t reporters continue to be rambunctious about Israel announcing 625 new houses for Jews

Dec 04, 2010

Philip Weiss


The other day we picked up a State Department press conference in which reporters were bluntly questioning ass’t secretary PJ Crowley about the United States covering for Israeli intransigence and colonization. Well those reporters continued to ask questions on Thursday, the words “double standard” were hurled, when the Obama administration failed to say a word of condemnation of further East Jerusalem settlement. From the State Department:


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QUESTION: So before we get into the – all those WikiLeaks questions, which you were having before – I’m curious to know as to why, given your concern about actions or statements that can cause problems or incite violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and your unprompted condemnation of a Palestinian claim to the Western wall the other day – that you didn’t open up with a condemnation or at least an expression of concern about the Israeli Government’s announcement today that, in fact, 625 new houses for Jewish people will be built in East Jerusalem, and also the comments made by Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman, who said that much of the – that a lot of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli sentiment is being sparked by Arab Israelis themselves, including former members of the Knesset —


QUESTION: Can you explain why – why no —

MR. CROWLEY: I will not comment —

QUESTION: — expression of that?

MR. CROWLEY: — on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s comments. I have not seen them. We have had multiple conversations with the Israeli Government. We have expressed our concerns about such announcements. We’ve done this repeatedly over time. We’ve done so again. We continue our very earnest, ongoing efforts to work with the parties and see if we can’t create conditions for a return to negotiations, and certainly, as we’ve made clear over time, these kinds of announcements undermine the trust that is important to get the parties back into negotiations and to make progress.

QUESTION: Okay. And then just can you find out – or can you ask if there might be something forthcoming on Foreign Minister Lieberman’s statement, given that he is actually the foreign minister and the senior Palestinian official that you condemned the other day was the deputy information minister. There seems to be a bit of a –

QUESTION: Double standard?

QUESTION: There’s a bit of a difference here just in terms of seniority, going from the deputy —

MR. CROWLEY: All right. Let me try – I have not seen the foreign minister’s – I understand what you’re asking.

QUESTION: Could NEA maybe pose the question? I mean, maybe you don’t have a problem with his statement.

MR. CROWLEY: I will take the question. I mean, just to put this in context, we had conversations with the Palestinian Authority about the other set of remarks. We gave the Palestinian Authority several days to make their own statements rebuking those remarks. When that was not forthcoming, we felt it was important to put our comments on the record. We will – I’ll check and see if there’s anything we want to say at this point on Foreign Minister Lieberman.

QUESTION: All right.

QUESTION: More on Israel —

QUESTION: Well, wait. Just on the terms of the Palestinians, I understand that the consul general in Jerusalem met with Abbas today. Do you have anything on that?

MR. CROWLEY: Daniel Rubinstein did meet with President Abbas. He meets with him on a regular basis. And I think it was just to keep him apprised on the – on our ongoing discussions with the Israelis.

QUESTION: Is there any progress in those discussions?

MR. CROWLEY: Our efforts are ongoing.

QUESTION: Just following up on that, the Palestinian official only told one of us that the U.S. Administration has informed them that the Israeli Government did not agree to a new settlement freeze. Did you see that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we’re not going – as we have said many, many times, we’re not going to give you a play by play. We have quiet conversations with both sides on the substance of the peace process. Those conversations are ongoing. And beyond that, we’re not going to get into details of what precisely was discussed.

Would this work? You get to keep all your letters, and it still sounds like a Jewish state–

Dec 04, 2010

Philip Weiss

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER




Double your donation in December, get two gifts!

Dec 03, 2010

Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz


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‘Wikileaks’ cable drop is a giant power move for the left

Dec 03, 2010

Philip Weiss



(Source: Wikileaks)

I love the rage against Julian Assange. It shows how effective the Wikileaks drop has been. Schumer: “This man has put his own ego above the safety of millions of innocents… He should be extradited, tried for espionage, and given the most severe penalty possible.” And just now on WNYC, Massimo Calibresi of Time was saying that Assange doesn’t really care about gov’t transparency, he’s just a grandiose showman/freak/autodidact from a nomadic background. And we have learned from this that the media shouldn’t just be a firehose, but should make “appropriate” decisions about what to run, says Calibresi. Liberal Jamie Rubin formerly of the State Department was as angry as Schumer on Chris Matthews the other night, and Matthews seems to want Assange arrested.  I’m told Richard Cohen was completely dismissive today. Quel surprise.

A few quick thoughts on the cables drop:

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  • It is a historic huge event. We will be figuring out what it means for years. It is like the Pentagon Papers in that respect, it will transform the terrain. Calibresi says it will result bureaucratically in more secrecy. Gosh, I don’t care; it’s the biggest breaking of secrecy I’ve ever seen.

  • People are gaining enormous information about how government works. This is a phenomenological, objective truth. 250,000 cables. Wow. The cables will be studied and studied; and many people will learn from them.

  • Despite the characterizations of Assange as a weirdo and anarchist, he’s a leftwinger; and this is a huge power move for the Left. The Left is aided enormously by these cables, left wing discourse. The appropriate decisions that the media made for us gave us the destruction of Iraq. Assange is angry about that, enraged about the killing in the Middle East, that’s my assessment of his statements. And he has taken bold action.

  • Could this affect American status in the world? Knock it down. Yes, absolutely. Why are Schumer and Matthews so angry. They know.

  • Everyone is telling us that Assange is a weird cat. OK, he’s weird. I don’t care. They went into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office when that went down. I bet Dan Ellsberg was weird. A lot of people are weird. All the stuff about the sexual assault charges against Assange and his cult/theater/dropout background may be true (and let him be tried); but these matters are actually trivial next to his political motivation and action.

  • Did you notice how familiar so many arguments in the cables were? That’s because you heard them before; these State Department guys have been piping them to the NYT and other MSM voices for years. Assange is trying to break that daisy chain. No wonder Rubin is mad and the MSM is upset. This was their game, they got to make the decisions. And notice, they’re madder than when Assange’s Iraq information allegedly endangered soldiers and exposed soldiers’ atrocities. Now it’s journalistic/diplomat conspiring that’s been exposed.

  • Will the cable drop damage people, hurt relationships, even end some careers? Yes I’m sure it will. Gotta break some eggs to make an omelet.

  • Susan Abulhawa notes that many of the cables seem to serve Israel’s interests, and she wonders about the sources… She’s not alone, other friends of mine wonder; Assange has actually praised Netanyahu in one statement or another. Myself, I don’t buy it. I think the lobby spins everything all the time, and the cables will actually shed a lot of light on how the special relationship works, in the long run. Latest morsel: Jane Harman of California, jumping in on a congressional meeting with Mubarak to press him about cutting off supplies to the people of Gaza. Doesn’t this woman have better things to do with her time?

Mt Carmel fire is huge news– what about the arson all over Palestine??

Dec 03, 2010



Because, I document the news every single day and am aware of the fact that a week does not pass without settlers setting fire to Palestinian schools, homes and agricultural land it’s almost impossible for me not make “political hay” out of the fact that while the remaining 22% of historic Palestine burns to the ground, nobody cares, except for Palestinians. 

Settlers torch olive trees south of Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Residents of illegal settlements in the Nablus district set fire to olive trees on Tuesday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the settlements file for the northern West Bank, said settlers from Yizhar settlement torched trees on land belonging to Madama and Asira villages south of Nablus.

IOF troops detain 7 Palestinians, settlers set fire to cultivated land
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up seven Palestinians in various West Bank areas at dawn Wednesday including MP Nayef Al-Rajoub in Al-Khalil and two brothers in Nablus.

More questions about the settler attack on church in Jerusalem
A group of extremist Israeli settlers attacked and set fire to an old Christian church in Jerusalem (Al Quds) on Friday night, 30th October.

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The church itself was built more than a hundred years ago and has housed Christian worshippers in the Holy city of Al Quds for decades.  For the leaders of the Church, Friday night’s attack was indicative of the slow but steady destruction of Al Quds itself; once a city of diverse religious beliefs and practices. Zakaria Al-Mashriqi, one of these Leaders of the Church spoke of the attack as a “sinful crime” and stated in a press conference that the destruction of the Church was in line with the attempts by the Israeli army, the settler force and the Israeli government to expel Palestinians from the Holy city.

Palestinians say settlers torched their olive trees (AFP)
SALEM, Palestinian Territories – 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. 

Settlers Destroy Trees in Surif
Like Palestinians for centuries before them, Shaban Atiya Al-Hur and Ahmed Atiya Al-Hur have farmed the Al-Hajahat area of Surif. This morning both men attended their land to find that settlers from the nearby Bat Ayn settlement had destroyed 85 of their olive and fig trees. The trees were destroyed by deliberately lit fires and amount to around half the trees in the area. The fires were started at approximately 9:30am and lasted for around half an hour.

Settlers Burn Olive Trees Near Nablus
A group of extremist Jewish settlers torched, on Sunday, at least 200 Palestinian olive trees that belong to residents of Salem village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and also torched a number of nearby farms.

Jewish settlers set fire to girls school while expanding Rahalim settlement
As Jewish settlers spent Sunday morning digging up land in south Nablus to expand settlement, Nablus lawmaker Yasser Mansur warned expansion of illegal Jewish settlements was on the rise.

Another Settler Arson of Salem’s Olive Trees, Assaf Oron
Uri Pinkerfeld, Villages Group coordinator for Salem and Deir El Hattab, reports:  On Sunday November 14 2010, around 12 noon, smoke was seen rising from the olive orchards on the slopes of Jabal Kabeer above Salem. Several farmers went to locate the fire’s location, north of the settler bypass road, not far from the cistern. Two local teenagers who were shepherding nearby hurried to the location as well, and tried to put out the fire. They reported having seen two settlers run off towards the “Skali Farm” settler outpost. The farmers immediaterly called firefighters from Nablus and the officers of the District Coordination Office. The military allowed the fire truck to get to the orchards, but the road was too steep. Farmers eventually managed to put out the fire manually.

Residents say settlers behind torched grove
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Fires ravaged agricultural lands in the southern West Bank near Hebron on Monday afternoon, destroying 15 dunums of fruit grove and greenhouses.  Beit Ummar farmers, whose lands were affected, said they believed setters from the nearby Bat Ayin colony were behind the arson, which destroyed dozens of fig, olive and pine trees.

Settlers set Saffa ablaze, 3 Palestinian youth arrested
17 Nov – Palestine Solidarity Project – Last night [Tuesday] settlers from the Bat Ayn settlement set fire to 70 olive trees in the Saffa region of Beit Ommar. The trees belonged to the Thalji Aady family, who have been subject to frequent settler violence and military harassment. The fire was lit around 9:30 pm, and burned for 3 hours before fire trucks from the village were able to extinguish the flames. At 11:00 pm 3 military jeeps arrived and attempted to prevent villagers from extinguishing the fire, arresting 3 Palestinian youth in the process.

Settlers blamed for fire near Nablus
Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian farmland between the West Bank cities of Nablus and Qalqiliya on Tuesday, officials said. Ghassan Dughlus, the Palestinian Authority official monitoring settler activity in the northern West Bank, said Israelis from the settlement of Givat Gilad set fires in the village ofJit. He said about 100 trees were burned in the blaze. Mayor Nasser As-Sida told Ma’an that Israeli soldiers bared villagers from going to the land in order to put out the fire.

Settlers burn 10 dunums of farmlands south of Nablus
NABLUS, (PIC)– Israeli settlers from the Itamar settlement in south Nablus burned on Friday at least ten dunums of land cultivated with olive trees in the Bayada region northeast of the Awarta village … Israeli occupation soldiers stopped Palestinians and emergency officials from controlling the fire.

10 dunums of olive trees in Awarta burned by settlers
Oct 1, 2010– two settlers of Itimar settlement burned, approximately 10 dunums of an olive grove. The fires were North East of Awarta village, in the South Nablus district.

Settlers torch farmlands near Nablus
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Residents of Huwwara village south of Nablus said Thursday that settlers set dozens of dunums of farm lands on fire, destroying crops.  PA official responsible for settlement-observation in the northern West Bank Ghassan Doughlas said the fields were in the At-Tira area of Huwwara village, and had destroyed some crops.  “Lighting fields on fire is a provocative act perpetrated by settlers seeking bury the peace process,” the official said, calling on representatives of the Middle East Quartet to ensure that Israel took responsibility for the actions of its settlers.

Settlers caught on camera torching cars
Three Israeli settlers were caught on security cameras setting fire to two Palestinian cars in the village of Qusra in the northern Nablus district overnight Saturday … The footage captured by Hamdan’s home security surveillance also show settlers writing “death to you” on his doorstep after the settlers drove up to his home in a Peugeot, fleeing the scene after the arson.

Settlers torch olive groves in northern West Bank
Firefighters were called to a Qalqiliya village on Friday after settlers torched Palestinian olive groves, a civil defense spokesman said. Mohammad Amer said residents of the illegal Gevat Gilad outpost prevented fire engines from reaching Far’ata village. He added that tens of thousands of shekels of damage was caused in part due to the delay.

Israel settlers start fires amid West Bank harvest (AFP)
FARATA’A, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Thick black smoke billows from the olive grove under the gaze of Israeli soldiers as Palestinian farmers use branches to try to beat out the fires lit by Jewish settlers. It’s olive harvest time in the occupied West Bank. The firebombers swooped down from Havat Gilad, a wildcat Jewish settlement unauthorised even by the Israeli government. Encircled by barbed wire, the makeshift dwellings glower down on the surrounding Palestinian olive plantations from a hilltop in the northern West Bank.

Settlers torch crops in Bethlehem village
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian crops on farmland in the Husan village in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem, burning vast areas of olive groves before firefighters were able to control the blaze, locals said.  Locals said Israeli residents of the nearby illegal Betar Illit settlement obstructed Palestinian firefighters from accessing the site of the blaze, causing the fire to spread extensively.  A local village council source said grape and olive groves were damaged in the arson, largely in the Ein At-Taqa area, adding that bare-footed farmers were unable to extinguish the fire and that several sustained light burns as a result.

Settlers torch, vandalize Nablus school
NABLUS (Ma’an) — A group of Israeli settlers broke into an all girls’ school in the Nablus district village of As-Sawiya on Wednesday, setting fire to its storehouse containing furniture and unused sports equipment, the headmistress said.  Maysoon Sawalha said the school’s cleaning woman arrived to find the lock on the main door broken as well as that of the storehouse, with all its contents torched.

Palestinian school set on fire, vandalized with ‘regards from the hills’ graffiti
Incident appears to be the latest action in the ‘price tag’ campaign of extremist settlers.

Report from beyond the Green Line: Al Ma`sara celebrates four years of joint struggle and houses set on fire in Nabi Saleh
The unarmed and largely non-violent protests against the occupation returned to the West Bank on Friday. From Al Ma’asara to Sheikh Jarrah to Ni’ilin, Palestinians joined by Israeli and international supporters demonstrated against the occupation and for joint struggle against Israeli repression of non-violence in Palestine. The following is a collection of reports from certain villages complete with photos and video.

Israeli hasbara efforts:  Suspicion: Anarchists torched field near settlement
Security forces detain 12 people, including seven foreigners for allegedly setting fire to field near Bat Ayin; 12 acres destroyed … The grove has been set on fire three times over the past few weeks by anarchists.,7340,L-3986648,00.html

Truth: Watch: Footage contradicts arson allegations
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — International solidarity activists hit back this week at allegations broadcast in Israeli media that they and Palestinian farmers set fire to “state land” in the occupied West Bank.Ynet news and Arutz Sheva, two Israeli media outlets, reported Sunday that “leftists” and “foreign anarchists” were caught in an arson attempt near an illegal settlement between Bethlehem and Hebron.

Journalists held after covering Safa village arson
Hebron – PNN – Israeli forces held a group of journalists who tried to cover Wednesday’s settler assaults in the village of Safa, near Hebron. Muhammad Ayad Awad, media spokesman for the Palestine Solidarity Project, said that troops detained a Palestine Television crew including Fada Nasir and Mahmoud Khilaf, as well as a group of solidarity activists. They were forbidden from taking pictures of the fire started in Safa by Israeli settlers from nearby Bat Ayin. The fire reportedly destroyed more than ten acres of olive and almond trees.According to Awad, the military’s explanation was that the burning acreage was a “closed military zone.”

The latest from Haiti

Dec 03, 2010

James North


I’m just back from Port-au-Prince, where, as always, I met people with extraordinary courage.  Here is my up-to-date report in The Nation, in which I present one of them — Pierre France, a 35-year-old electrician who, along with his friends, risked their own lives to prevent the cholera epidemic from invading their tent encampment. 

I conclude that nearly a year after the killer earthquake, “a delayed and sometimes bumbling international and Haitian government response contrasts sharply with decisive, effective action by many Haitians, both here and in the 1-million-strong diaspora.”

Why doesn’t the world offer assistance when settlers set fire to West Bank land?

Dec 03, 2010



And other news from Today in Palestine:


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Settlers/ Land, Property, Resource Theft & Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Official: Settlers set fire to West Bank land
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers set fire to Palestinian-owned olive groves near the evacuated settlement of Homesh, near the West Bank city of Nablus Thursday, a Palestinian Authority official said.  Ghasan Daghlas, who is charged with monitoring settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an: “The settlers set fire in the area of Khahlet Awana, adjacent to evacuated settlement.”  He said Palestinians are banned from entering the area because of the presence of an Israeli military installation.  He said 10 dunums of land had caught fire. 

Palestinian property destroyed as Israeli settlements grow
Israeli bulldozers and armed soldiers implemented a swath of demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures for more than a week in multiple areas across the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

A dry bone of contention
After almost half a century of Israeli occupation its Palestinian population has shrunk from over 200,000 to fewer than 60,000. … A fortnight ago 15 young Israelis in T-shirts came down from Maskiyot, a hilltop settlement, took possession of a Bedouin tent, put up a fence to keep out the family and its goats, and sang Hebrew chants. An Israeli army jeep idled by, briefly surveyed the rumpus, and drove on. The local Palestinian governor, whose headquarters is in the Arab town of Tubas, paid a call, before also hurrying away. “From experience, we’ve learnt that, if we protest, the settlers will resort to violence and demand that the state confiscate the land to protect them,” explains a Palestinian activist who advises the Bedouin. On a nearby wall, someone had daubed in Hebrew: “Bless God for not making me a gentile. 

Palestinians turn a profit on the occupation
Some Palestinians living in Hebron make a living providing “tours” of the occupation, elements of which are easy to see in a city divided between Palestinians and Jewish settlers. 

Activism/Solidarity/Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions

Military Court to Hear Appeal in Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s Case on Monday
[Popular Struggle] The court will hear the Military prosecution’s appeal to harshen Abdallah Abu Rahmah’s sentence. Abu Rahmah was supposed to be released on November 18th, but was kept in detention to the military prosecution’s request, despite having finished serving his term.

Today in Bil’in, Hamde Abu Rahme
This Friday’s demonstration took place as a protest against the Wall, the settlements, and the Israeli practices of occupation, deportation and exclusion. A large group marched after Friday prayers from the center of the village toward the target areas of the Wall and settlements. The group consisted of dozens of Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Stephen Lendman
On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 181, the Palestine Partition Plan, granting 56% of historic Palestine to Jews (with one-third of the population), 42% to Palestinians, with Jerusalem designated an international city (a corpus separatum – separate body) under a UN Trusteeship Council. The area included all Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour, to encompass Christian holy sites. 

South African Artists Against Apartheid
South Africa Artists Against Apartheid opening declaration Photo South Africa artist Thandiswa. As South African Artists and Cultural Workers who have lived under, survived, and in many cases resisted apartheid, we acknowledge the value of international solidarity in our own struggle. 

The big fat national conversation could actually start w/ California divestment initiative
IDC is the acronym for California Divestment Initiative. To fully understand the importance of this initiative please hear me out.  The Israel Divestment Campaign (IDC) is the first citizens’ effort in the country to appeal directly to voters to hold Israel accountable for violations of international law and human rights. 

Abuse of Palestinian Children

Children of the Gravel, Appeal to stop the targeting of unarmed children working near the border in Gaza – 16 cases documented.

Siege/Rights Violations/Restriction of Movement

Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (25 Nov. – 01 Dec. 2010) 

Palestinians still need relief assistance: OCHA
Daily life for Palestinians living in Gaza remains a struggle despite the easing of blockade on Gaza by Israel, which allowed more consumer goods into the region, according to the United Nations.  Over 75 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on relief assistance, which includes food, shelter as well as cash. 

PLO official barred from leaving West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities barred PLO official Ziyad Salous from leaving the West Bank Thursday, Palestinian sources said.  Salous, the director of Public Relations for the organization, was detained at the Allenby Bridge border crossing for three hours before being denied entry to Jordan.  Salous was en route to a conference on Palestinian prisoners in Algeria. 

Israel restricts Al-Aqsa access
Israeli forces closed most gates leading into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound Thursday morning, leaving only two open. All worshipers under 40 years old were barred by Israeli police from entering the compound, and prayed together in the streets adjacent to the Haram Ash-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) which houses the mosque. 

Gaza crossings closed
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli officials announced the closure of all Gaza-Israel crossing terminals on Friday, a day ahead of the scheduled weekend, with passages remaining sealed on Saturday for the Jewish sabbath.  Palestinian crossings liaison official, Raed Fattouh told Ma’an that service would resume on Monday.

Gazan flowers headed to market in Holland because Israel won’t allow them in the West Bank
This week the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced the “beginning of the export season” in the Gaza Strip. “The export season” entails the continuation of a short-term program, sponsored – from planting through to distribution – by the Dutch government. The program allows a few farmers in Gaza to sell strawberries and flowers in European markets. So far this week, 7 trucks have left the Strip. 

PCHR Concludes Training Course on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in Jabalia 
In the context of the International Campaign for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December 2010, the Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Training Unit and Women’s Rights Unit of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) concluded a training course on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women on Thursday, 2 December 2010. The 18-hour course was held in cooperation with Palestine Call Society in the main office of the society in Jabalia, northern Gaza Strip, during the period 28 November – 2 December 2010. The course was administered to 19 participants representing five institutions working in the field of women.

Racism and Discrimination

“New Discriminatory Laws and Bills in Israel”
New report by Adalah detailing 20 main new laws and currently-tabled bills in the Knesset that discriminate against the Palestinian minority in Israel and threaten their rights as citizens of the state. Some of the legislation is specifically designed to preempt, circumvent or overturn Supreme Court decisions providing protection for these rights. 


Evening clashes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Clashes erupted in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Isawiya on Thursday evening, between residents and Israeli forces conducting patrols on the area northeast of the Old City.  Eight residents were treated for tear-gas inhalation, head of the Union of Arab Medics Mohammad Al-Gharabli told Ma’n.

Israeli Forces Raid Refugee Camps Near Jenin
Israeli troops entered the refugee camps of Barqin and Aqaba, in the proximity of Jenin, on Friday morning, PNN claimed.

Palestinian shot in An-Nabi Saleh
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Israeli soldiers shot a Palestinian in the leg during an incursion Thursday in the West Bank town of An-Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, local sources said.  Palestinians in the village said Omer Saleh At-Tamimi was shot with live ammunition while demonstrators confronted the Israeli soldiers, throwing stones. 

88th worker shot in northern Gaza ‘no go zone’
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Gaza man was shot in the foot Friday morning, medics in the coastal enclave confirmed saying the wound was inflicted by Israeli sniper fire targeting a man collecting gravel particles in the northern border area.  The injured man was evacuated to the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Jabaliya and identified only as 20-year-old “AB.” Medics said his injuries were moderate.

Gaza citizen wounded by IOF bullets
IOF troops fired at a Palestinian man on Friday while he was collecting scrap in the northern Gaza Strip wounding him in the foot, according to Palestinian medical sources.

Army Shells Khan Younis
Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip reported that Israeli soldiers shelled on Thursday evening a number of homes east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.


Female Detainees Safely Moved Out Of Al Damoun Prison
Amin Shooman, head of the Higher Committee for West Bank Detainees imprisoned by Israel, stated that all female detainees imprisoned at the Al Damoun Israeli prison were evacuated to the Hasharon prison due to raging fires in the north. 

Gaza man released after 18 years in Israeli prison
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Detainees center in Gaza City said it was preparing to receive 42-year-old Walid Shaath upon his release from Israeli prison, expected to come on Thursday.  The Khan Younis native was detained on 2 May 1993, charged with affiliation to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the armed wing of Fatah.  Widowed when he was in prison, relatives said a delegation would receive Shaath at the Erez crossing upon his release.  One day earlier, Israeli authorities released Usama Matar from the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza after 6 years of incarceration.  Usama was affiliated to the Al-Qassam brigades and was detained in March 2005 as he returned home via the Rafah border crossing. 

Arab Helpers

Those that did not lift a finger to help Palestinians during the savage war on Gaza: PA lends firefighters a hand
Palestinian official says authority decided to help because blaze in north is ‘human catastrophe’.,7340,L-3993799,00.html

Hamas: PA must release prisoners
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Hamas official in Gaza called on the rival Fatah movement in the West Bank to release alleged political prisoners from Palestinian Authority prisoners Thursday.  Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri reiterated accusations that the PA has tortured Hamas members in prison. “These acts against our brothers and sisters are unpatriotic,” he said.  “The number of prisoners in the PA jails had reached 2,822 prisoners during the year 2010 including 75 prisoners released from Israeli jails,” he said at a news conference. 

Hamas: PA continues to detain affiliates
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas accused PA forces of arresting five of its members in the West Bank, a statement issued by regional leaders said on Friday.  Those detained were from Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Salfit, the statement said.

Islamic bloc says An-Najah students, teachers detained by PA
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — An-Najah National University’s student union party affiliated with the Islamic bloc issued a statement on Thursday saying Palestinian Authority security forces had detained 40 members during the month of November.  Most of the 40 students remain in detention, the statement said, adding that the student bloc believed that the arrests were politically motivated. 


Fatah’s armed wing demands release of member
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, called on the Gaza government Friday to release one of its members.  Amir Ash-Shareef was detained one month earlier by internal security forces from the Hamas-led government, the brigades said in a statement. Ash-Shareef is listed as “wanted” by the Israeli army, and his house was destroyed in Israel’s December 2008 attack on the Strip, the statement said.  Fatah’s military wing said Ash-Shareef is suffering from health problems and that his continued detention is not in the interest of Palestinians.  The group called on all resistance factions to intervene to secure his release. 

Political Developments

Gulf governments and Israel
“Contrary to the condemnatory rhetoric opposing Israel in public, Arab diplomats behind the scenes have asked Israel to carry messages to the U.S. government and urged tougher action on Iran.” 

Leaked US cable: Qatar seen as unlikely to break strong Hamas ties
Qatar almost certainly will not be willing to break off ties or dialogue with Hamas. If asked to do so, we think HBJ will explain that the Amir gave his word to both Hamas and Fatah that he would financially support the winner of democratic elections in Palestine. Hamas won those elections, which the Bush Administration pressed the Amir to support actively. The Amir believes that it would be
dishonorable to isolate Hamas after he convinced its leaders to participate in elections that were backed by the United States.

Leaked US cable: Army officials tell Qatar to condition Hamas aid
ASD Vershbow raised Qatar’s ties with Hamas, and told the COS that Hamas needs to be encouraged to rejoin the Palestinian Authority and the Peace Process. He added that there should be “no blank checks, no checks at all,” for Hamas. ASD suggested that Qatar was in a position to influence Hamas; if Qatar helped bring about a change in Hamas’s behavior, it could enhance the U.S.-Qatar strategic relationship. COS undertook to relay that message to the Amir and Crown Prince. While the COS underscored that Qatar wants a good relationship with the U.S., he noted there were times when USG decisions sent a different signal, such as the USG’s decision on LAIRCM. COS al-Attiyah rhetorically asked, “Are we friends or not?” 

Leaked US cable: Qatar leader says Hamas would accept 1967 borders
According to the Amir, Hamas will accept the 1967 border with Israel, but will not say it publicly so as to lose popular Palestinian support.

Israel wants Arabs to support Abbas
“When questioned what Israel would most like to see from Morocco, Shlein-Michael immediately responded that the GOI wants the GOM to support the Palestinian Authority (PA). Morocco “does less than anyone,” she complained, commenting that smaller states like the UAE and Oman were far more visible in lending support to Abbas. We want Abbas to succeed, Shlein-Michael continued, and we want Arab governments to visit him in the West Bank, publicly declare their support for him, and show the Palestinians that he has international legitimacy and influence.”

Who Can Save Mahmoud Abbas?, Nadia Hijab
According to one cable in the latest WikiLeaks batch, the powerful Israeli security official Amos Gilad believes Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas won’t survive politically beyond 2011.  Abbas is certainly at a crossroads. Will he go down in history as the great liberator or a big loser? The United States appears intent on making him a loser, pushing him to restart direct talks with Israel even though there is no indication that this time would be any different than the past 19 years. 

Zionist Kouchner on Abbas
“The cable says Kouchner told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “Abbas is lost. You tried, we tried but nothing has happened.”  “Kouchner said that he had met with Abu Mazen three days prior and found him completely isolated,” the cable, which divulges the minutes of Clinton and Kouchner’s meeting, says.

Israel: disgrace unto the nations
This is a state that has every dirty weapon and every WMD there is and it dares to feign outrage at Iran’s nuclear effort.  You think that the Arab public is with Saudi Arabia on this? If you do, you should be one of the Middle East experts at the US Department of State’s Feltman team who have been trying to cultivate alternatives to Hizbullah among Lebanon’s Shi`ites.  “The Reagan administration developed but never deployed the weapons in the 1980s. France, Israel and the Soviet Union were believed to have added versions of the bomb to their arsenals.”

Jordan to U.S.: The way to stop Iran’s ‘octopus’ is to address Palestinian suffering, Philip Weiss
Now that our media are trumpeting the WikiLeaks cables as demonstrating Arab support for attacking Iran, let’s have a look at this 2008 cable from the State Department in Amman, Jordan. The cable shows a much fuller spectrum of realist/monarchical Arab leadership opinion than what’s been on the news. Note that Iran is referred to as an octopus; and that there’s one way to chill the octopus, work on the Palestinian issue. Note the deep concern about the radicalization of the conflict and the Islamicization of the conflict. I find this troubling/grim; and a reminder of something that John Mearsheimer has said, This situation is going to get worse before it gets better. And a reminder of the fact that the Arab League was behind a solution to the conflict since 2002 that Israel and the U.S. have essentially ignored.

WikiLeaks revelations serve Israel, says Turkish minister
ANKARA: A senior Turkish minister said Thursday Israel seemed to be “benefitting” from the impact of US cables disclosed so far by the WikiLeaks website as he questioned whose interests the leaks served.”One should analyze why this happened, who did it and why, who is benefitting and who is being harmed,” Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. 

US ‘intensively’ working on Mideast peace: Clinton (AFP)
AFP – The United States is working “intensively” to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted on Friday, a day after Palestinians said US efforts have failed.*

Ex-CIA official: Obama’s only peace process is to ‘hope for a miracle’, Adam Horowitz
Robert Grenier, CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002 and director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center, writes in disbelief at the current Obama administration strategy with the peace process (which he considers long dead). He comments on the Al Jazeera English websiteabout the rumored bundle of incentives the White House is offering Israel for a 90-day extension of the partial settlement freeze.

Other News

Israeli army unveils secretive cyber unit
JERUSALEM, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — You have to give the Israeli army credit for a fine sense of timing, irony and even a bit of hutzpah. On the same day that a local telco’s glitch dropped service for its 1.3 million cellphone users, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unit that keeps the army and nation connected by phone, radio and internet in wartime, decided to strut its stuff before the world media 

UN seeks 575 million dollars for Palestinians (AFP)
AFP – Millions of Palestinians are living in precarious conditions and need help to survive, the United Nations said Thursday, as it sought 575 million dollars for them in 2011.*

Israeli prison guards killed in ‘worst ever’ forest fires
Dozens of Israeli prison guards perished yesterday after their bus caught fire and overturned as the deadliest blaze in Israel’s history ravaged the north of the country. 

Israeli Emergency Services
Yesterday’s catastrophe is just an example of the powerlessness that Israel’s emergency services suffer from,” said top-selling Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth.  “What would we have done if faced with dozens and hundreds of missiles that might have ignited fires in several areas, including urban areas with multi-story buildings?

Turkey offers Israel help in controlling fire despite tense relations
Officials in Turkish embassy in U.S. say Israel accepted two firefighting aircraft, say Turkey was one of the first governments to offer help.


Fault Lines – Canada-Israel: The other special relationship
Seen as an honest-broker in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Canada has become one of Israel’s most fervent supporters. Avi Lewis investigates. 

today in Palestine: hypocrisy watch, Max Ajl
This kibbutz is reportedly over 2km from Gaza’s border. Were the militants “laying explosives” near the fence, or “trying to infiltrate”? Does it matter, or is this verbatim an IDF press release written by someone who knows his confusions and contradictions will never be dissected in the first place? Who “lays explosives” to break through a barbed wire fence that can be cut apart with wire-cutters? And if indeed they were planting explosives, how come “militants” planting explosives on their own land which is repeatedly subject to incursions from Merkava tanks that blow apart homes and kill children can be murdered by the occupying army while the Western commentariat twaddles about Wikileaks, while when militants–no quotation marks–kill paramilitary settlers illegally residing in or near Hebron we’re witness to a paroxysm of self-righteous fury and endless hand-wringing from the liberal-left? You want an Israel Lobby? Look at the intellectually corrupt discourse that pervades the chattering classes, creating the “necessary illusions” to keep the conflict cruising along ruinously while the body-count–at least on one side–piles higher and higher day-by-day.

WikiLeaks: Arab Collaborators With Israel Galore, Alex Kane
The WikiLeaks State Department cables have to be giving some Arab leaders who quietly support Israeli aggression headaches. Cables published by WikiLeaks on November 28 have clearly shown that Israel collaborates and is pleased with the Palestinian Authority, the junior partner in the occupation of the West Bank. 

Arab Media and Wikileaks
“Assad Abukhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, who has appeared numerous times on Al Jazeera, strongly criticized the network on the radio show Democracy Now.  During the interview, he said: “I think the extent to which the Saudi government—and all Arab governments in the Gulf—are embarrassed by these leaks is evidenced by the clampdown that is being exhibited throughout the Saudi-controlled Arab media. And even the so-called ‘independent’ Al Jazeera— which, contrary to its reputation here in the West, is the most serious news organization—is also trying to cover up the embarrassing revelations about the way Arab governments operate vis-à-vis the United States.” 

Arab public and Wikileaks
“I think the Arab public today woke up wiser than before, more cynical than before, and certainly more critical of the government,” said As’ad Abu Khalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus who runs the “Angry Arab News Service” blog. “You see all these governments competing, trying to bring up the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons. Not a single Arab leader in those discussions brought up the issue of the massive Israeli WMD program that has been going on for decades.” 

“Wikileaks and the Arabs”, Shibley Telhami
One of the highlights of the most recent Wikileaks release has been the focus on Arab attitudes toward Iran. The headlines suggest Arab unanimity in support of a U.S. or Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic, as long as Arab governments are allowed to keep their heads low to the ground. There was much evidence, and many colorful quotations, to make the case, especially from Saudi, Bahraini, and United Arab Emirates’ leaders. And although some of the quotations were jaw-dropping, in truth it was all a bunch of stuff we’ve heard before. But analysis by the media that followed, and the sweeping conclusion that “Arabs support attacking Iran,” is misplaced and ignores significant differences among Arab governments about how to deal with Iran—and especially missed the boat on true attitudes of the Arab public. 

Studio House of Saud
On the TV program, House of Saud (hosted by the most obnoxious Lebanese, Gizelle Khuri), they made a reference to Wikileaks.  The only reference they made was that Iran used an aid agency to sneak aid to Hizbullah. That was the only Wikileak reference of the week, they said.  I kid you not. It was on Al-Arabiyyah TV (the station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law). 

Some random thoughts on Wikileaks, Julian Assange and the American Right
I just finished reading Wikipedia’s entry about Julian Assange and I was quite surprised by its length.  For somebody which the corporate media describes as “mysterious” or a person “about which very little is known”, Assange’s entry in Wikipedia has a lot of information indeed.  The second thing which surprised me that it turns out that Assange has for many years been a developer of free software with a clear interest in developing applications which could be used in the defense of human rights and civil rights.  Lastly, I had no idea that the guy had received some pretty high profile and prestigious rewards.  All in all, I see no reason to doubt that Assange is exactly what he claims to be – a guy motivated by a desire to change the way the world operates.  Sure, a simple gut feeling is hardly the proof of anything, but to me he sure does not look like somebody’s nefarious mole.

Is WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange A Hero? Glenn Greenwald Debates Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News
WikiLeaks is coming under attack from all sides. The U.S. government and embassies around the world are criticizing the whistleblowing group for releasing a massive trove of secret state department cables.The WikiLeaks website is struggling to stay at home just days after Amazon pulled the site from its servers following political pressure. The State Department has blocked all its employees from accessing the site and is warning all government employees not to read the cables, even at home. “These attacks will not stop our mission, but should be setting off alarm bells about the rule of law in the United States,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. We host a debate between Steven Aftergood, a leading transparency advocate who has become a leading critic of WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for

How the US Media is Dumping on WikiLeaks, Roy Greenslade 
The Times story said the newspaper had made the decision not to publish ‘at the request of the Obama administration’. 

The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics, Glenn Greenwald
The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of — and in some cases directly responsible for — the world’s deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade.

Are the Palestinians the last Zionists? 
It would seem so. The situation of Israel has become surreal. Just as we Israelis are making a stupendous effort to ensure the dissolution of the Jewish state, envisioned by Theodor Herzl in 1896, by hanging onto the occupied territories, the Palestinians, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, are working to ensure the survival of the Zionist enterprise by striving to establish a Palestinian ministate in the West Bank and Gaza.  Let us be very clear on just what is happening here: the Palestinians are doing their best to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza on a mere 22 percent of British Mandate for Palestine, which would afford us Zionist Jews a predominantly Jewish state on the remaining 78 percent. This is surely more than we could ever have envisaged when we set out to create a Jewish state and guarantees the survival of the state of Israel. Against this, we Israelis are fighting to keep the West Bank, which will soon result in an Arab majority and the end of a Jewish majority state.

The endgame for the peace process
Future historians will no doubt argue over the precise moment when the Arab-Israeli peace process died, when the last glimmer of hope for a two-state solution was irrevocably extinguished. When all is said and done, and the forensics have been completed, I am sure they will conclude that the last realistic prospect for an agreement expired quite some time before now, even if all the players do not quite realise it yet: anger and denial are always the first stages in the grieving process; acceptance of reality only comes later.

Obama’s Israel Policy: Speak Softly and Carry a Very Big Carrot, Maidhc Ó Cathail
Even those familiar with the long and shameful history of America’s appeasement of Israel were taken aback by the Obama administration’s extraordinary offer to Netanyahu.  In exchange for a paltry one-off 90 day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel will get 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion and a slew of other goodies. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly gave up to eight hours with Netanyahu trying to persuade him to accept “one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power.” Praising the Israeli Prime Minister for eventually agreeing to put the offer to his security cabinet, President Obama took it as “a signal that he is serious.”

New Language for Middle East Peace, John V. Whitbeck
The recent passage by Israel’s Knesset of a law requiring either a two-thirds Knesset majority or approval by an unprecedented national referendum before Israel can “cede” any land in expanded East Jerusalem to a Palestinian state or any land in the Golan Heights to Syria has been widely recognized as making any “two-state solution”, as well as any Israeli-Syrian peace, even more inconceivable than was previously the case. It also highlights the need for a concerted effort by politicians, negotiators and commentators to adopt a new “language of peace”. 

Outsourcing Airport Security to the Shin Bet?, Belen Fernandez
Perhaps I am out of the loop, but is it normal in mainstream U.S. media these days to suggest that domestic airport security be outsourced to the Israeli Shin Bet?  At first glance, you might not guess that this is the gist of Caroline Baum’s Nov. 28 Bloomberg article “My Breasts Pass Unchecked by Airport Screeners”, which begins with Baum admitting she was jealous to learn that an Orlando passenger had been subjected to additional airport screening due to the size of her breasts. 

Watching The Pianist in Gaza, Mohammed Rabah Suliman
The Pianist is a movie that tells the disheartening story of a Jewish pianist,  Władysław Szpilman, who struggles to survive during the holocaust along with his family in Warsaw. Although it is primarily the story of one man, the movie instilled in me the notion of the universality of human suffering. Szpilman is Jewish, which especially leads me reflect on it. How did I feel watching it? I cannot really remember, but certainly an avalanche of conflicting feelings surged through my chest. I thought of every possible indictment that could be directed toward a Muslim who declared himself to be Jewish, even for brief moments. Thoughts like these invaded my mind especially as the movie drew near its end: a shabby racked Szpilman adeptly runs his feeble fingers over an abandoned piano playing before a Nazi officer who rescues his life later. I desperately wanted Szpilman to survive. For a moment, I was Jewish. 

Thoughts on Germany and Palestine, Mazin Qumsiyeh
The conference in Stuttgart about Palestine was themed “Separated in the past, together in the future”, was sold-out, and had some high powered speakers and lots of energy [1].  We listened, spoke, networked, bought each others’ books, ate, hugged, cried, and laughed.  I mostly spent lots of time in thinking; maybe because waiting at airports or because such conferences give us opportunity to reflect or whatever.  Thoughts are a mixed blessing.  In that labyrinth of neurons firing sometimes uncontrollably, we are transported to the past, to the present, to the future, whipsawed by images and stories and sounds and smells.  The one minute I am thinking of my delay of three hours at the bridge to Jordan while Israeli Shin Bet agents scurry around trying to figure out what to do about me.  I reflect on my angered indignation verbalized twice to a young white clean-cut guy (maybe Russian?).  Did I challenge him too much or was it too little?

Helen Thomas says US interests are against Arabs
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas has defended remarks against Israel that caused her resignation and told a Detroit-area audience U.S. interests are controlled by Zionist “propagandists against the Arabs.”  The Detroit Free Press reports the 89-year-old said Thursday people cannot criticize Israel, “which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank.” Thomas says no American would tolerate “white-only roads.”,0,2217975.story 


Report: Lebanese court convicts Israeli collaborator
BEIRUT, Lebanon (Ma’an) — A Lebanese Military Court sentenced a citizen to 15 years of hard labor on charges of collaboration with Israel, the country’s National News Agency reported on Thursday.  The man, identified as Ziad Homsi was found guilty of providing Israeli intelligence agencies with classified information about military and civil sites.  Homsi was the latest in a string of convictions, with several of the accused working for telecom companies in Lebanon.

Hariri to convene Cabinet upon return to Beirut
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday he would call for a Cabinet session immediately upon his return to Beirut to discuss the current political crisis over an impending indictment into the 2005 assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. 

Wikileaks Shocker: Lebanese Defence Minister Reveals Plan to Stay out of Israel’s Way in Next War
If you haven’t yet seen them, be sure to check out the latest Wikileaks cables released to al-Akhbar, at least one of which is tremendously damning and could have major implications for the Lebanese political scene. (See here for the Lebanon-specific ones).  In the cable mentioned, the Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias al-Murr discusses with U.S. Embassy officials his preparations for an impending war with Israel, which involved sequestering the Lebanese Army in its bases until Hizbullah is destroyed. You should read the entire cable, but I’ll post the juiciest bits below.

Resignation of this Murr (an appointee of Syrian intelligence) should be top priority
“Perhaps the most scandalous report is the one that appeared in the Lebanese press today citing Elias Murr, Lebanese Defense Minister, telling US officials during the 2006 war that the Lebanese army will “stay out of the way” if Israel attacked Hezbollah. The reports quoted him as saying that Hezbollah is scared of its Israeli enemy. However, Murr denied these reports, dismissing them as “inaccurate”.””  It is not “Lebanese press.”   It is Al-Akhbar, damn it.

Wikileaks and the English language press in Lebanon
It is not that the English language media are ignoring Wikileaks but in some cases they are just making things up.  In Daily Star, they don’t exist.  In Naharnet, they refer to a French refusal to freeze the work of the Hariri tribunal when in fact in one document Chirac’s adviser brings up the issue with US officials.  So they lie–but that is typical of Nahar media.  In NowHariri, they have a writer from the Foundation for the Defense of Likud in Israel state that the only scandal in the Wikileaks is that the US ignored advice from its Arab polygamous allies that Syria should be ignored and that the Palestinian issue should be disregarded. 

Elias Murr
There should be one political priority in Lebanon: the call for the resignation and trial of Al-Murr: who seems to give advice to Israel on how to beat Hizbullah and win support from the Lebanese population.  This corrupt politician was first appointed to office by Syrian intelligence and seems to have stayed in office with the support of other services.  Today, he said that his words were “partial”.  I am sure. He said worst things that were redacted. 

US spy planes over Lebanon (it is getting real crowded in Lebanese skies)
“American officials swept aside British protests about secret US spy flights taking place from the UK’s Cyprus airbase, the leaked diplomatic cables reveal.  Labour ministers said they feared making the UK an unwitting accomplice to torture, and were upset about rendition flights going on behind their backs.  The use of RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus for American U2 spy plane missions over Hezbollah locations in Lebanon – missions that have never been disclosed until now – prompted an acrimonious series of exchanges between British officials and the US embassy in London, according to the cables released by WikiLeaks.

US spy flights over Lebanon searched for ‘terrorists’ – cable
BEIRUT: The United States has been operating secret spy flights over Lebanese territory in a bid to locate “terrorists,” according to the latest batch of intercepted diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Details of exchanges between American and British officials suggest that the US – aided by the advice of current US Ambassador Maura Connelly. 

British objections to spying flights were dismissed
US planes on missions to spy on Hizbollah positions in Lebanon and over northern Turkey and Iraq were given permission to fly from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus despite a series of complaints by British officials to the US embassy in London. 

UN Representative in Lebanon is worried that Israel may be too lenient
“Williams and his UNSCOL colleagues assessed that Israel handled carefully the release of crew and passengers aboard the MV Tali, the “Brotherhood” ship that attempted to break the Israeli blockade and deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza February 5. However, they worried that the Israeli government would not be as “lenient” in the future should similar incidents occur, based on the statements of their Israeli interlocutors. Williams feared continued such incidents could spark provocation in Lebanon. He also noted Israel’s message to the GOL that Israel would take retaliatory measures in Lebanon if Hizballah took any action, anywhere in the world to commemorate the death of Imad Mughniyeh. ”

Wiki cables suggest U.S. worked with Lebanon for Israeli attack on Hezbollah
BEIRUT, Lebanon U.S. officials collaborated with the Lebanese minister of defense to spy on and allow Israel to attack Hezbollah in the weeks that preceded a violent May 2008 military confrontation in Beirut that consolidated the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group’s power in the country, leaked diplomatic cables suggest.  According to classified U.S. State Department dispatches provided to news organs by WikiLeaks, the U.S. military flew planes over Lebanon in 2008 to identify Hezbollah positions and provide the information to friendly elements within the Lebanese government, specifically the Ministry of Defense. 

Lebanon defense minister ‘offered invasion advice for Israel’
Elias Murr advised U.S. diplomats on how Israel could ‘clean out’ Hezbollah from southern Lebanon, WikiLeaks cable shows.

Lebanon at Stake: Turkey Must Reveal Its Cards, Ramzy Baroud
The timing of the Turkish Prime Minister’s two-day visit to Lebanon could not be more judicious. Lebanon’s enemies have been banging the drums of war louder than ever before. All the malevolent plans hatched following the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri are about to converge for one formidable goal: to destabilize and weaken Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah and allow Israel to return, uncontested, and wreck havoc on the tiny country, the way it remorselessly did in 1982. 

All Eyes on Lebanon, RANNIE AMIRI
While the world’s eyes are busy reading WikiLeaks cables, Middle Eastern eyes are focused squarely on Lebanon.  If the past week of frenzied diplomacy is any reflection of the region’s anxiety over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) upcoming indictment in the February 2005 assassination of the late premier Rafiq al-Hariri, imagine the mood in Beirut.  The Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar reported the country’s foreign ministry had received word via its ambassador to the Netherlands, Zaidan as-Saghir, that the STL’s verdict would be issued Dec. 2. Al-Manar TV said Dec. 4 or 5. Others say not until March. The date may be uncertain, but an imminent ruling is not.


Thursday: 8 Iraqis Killed, 18 Wounded
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the U.S. drawdown is making it harder for the U.N. to carry out it’s own operations. Meanwhile, the U.S. military is troubled by the porous Iranian border and lack of functioning security there, which allows for weapons and fighters to stream in. At least eight Iraqis were killed and 18 more were wounded in the latest violence. 

Pilgrims killed in Iraq bus crash
At least 15 people, mostly Iranians, died after two buses collided near Najaf, an important holy site for Shia Muslims.

Iraqi Interior Minister condemned for demanding execution of al-Qai’da suspects
Jawad al-Bolani paraded the 39 men before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits and called for their swift execution.  Amnesty International today strongly condemned a call by the Iraqi Interior Minister for the swift execution of 39 alleged al-Qai’da members as they were paraded before journalists, handcuffed and clad in orange jumpsuits. “For Jawad al-Bolani to abuse his position as Interior minister by parading these men publicly and calling for their execution before they have even gone to trial, flagrantly flaunting the requirement for defendants to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court, is absolutely outrageous,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Analysts: Cables between Sunnis, U.S. diplomats might push Iraq closer to Iran
BAGHDAD – Private conversations between Sunni Arab leaders in the Middle East and U.S. diplomats, leaked in confidential State Department documents this week, may push Iraq’s future Shiite-led government closer to Iran, analysts said. 

Hundreds of Christian families on the move in Iraq
Hundreds of Iraqi Christians families have fled their hometowns in search for security.  Anti-Christian violence has escalated recently with several cities turning into bloody scenes in which innocent Christians have been killed or injured.  The attacks have in the past few days targeted Christian property with several houses blown up in both Baghdad and Mosul.  The fleeing Christians leave behind homes, furniture, jobs, professions, careers as well churches and monasteries some of which are more than 1000 years old.  The government has promised to help but the aid is peanuts. It offers every fleeing family 500,000 Iraqi dinars (about $400). The sum can hardly cover one-month rent in the relatively quiet Kurdish north, for instance.\new%20folder\kurd.htm 

Iraq PM calls on football fans to stop celebratory gunfire (AFP)
AFP – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Thursday called for Iraqi football fans to stop firing celebratory gunfire when the national team plays well, as the practice has already left one person dead.*

U.S. and other world news

WikiLeaks DOWN: Website Goes Offline Again
Trying to access WikiLeaks? It’s down at the moment, with no indication yet why it’s offline.  WikiLeaks’ was booted from Amazon servers on Dec. 1, causing a brief outage, and it seems to be down again. It had migrated to Swedish servers, per the AP.  BNO News President Michael Van Poppel made the observation on Twitter about 10 minutes before Midnight Eastern Time in the U.S. 

Alternative Wikileaks URL #FUJoe
Try which points to the numerical URL or The subject of the twitter hashtag #FUJoe, introduced by others, is US Senator Joe Lieberman. See also Daniel Ellberg’s open letter to Amazon and the notice posted by Amazon Web Services explaining their decision. are ending their association with Amazon.

US spokesman responds to spy claims
One of the hot potatoes in the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables has been the revelation that the US state department ordered its staff to illegally obtain DNA from UN diplomats. One cable apparently instructs diplomatic staff to attempt to hack into people’s accounts at the UN. But PJ Crowley, the state department spokesman, tells Al Jazeera that the day-to-day activities of the US diplomats at the UN “were fully consistent with our values and our laws”. 

Inside Story – Julian Assange and the ‘red notice’
The legal pressure on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is mounting. We ask: How long can Julian Assange hide? And under what law can he be prosecuted?

Net closes on Assange: arrest by British police expected in days
Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is expected to be arrested in the coming days after Swedish prosecutors filed a new warrant with British authorities. 

Assange ‘facing death threats’
WikiLeaks founder takes part in question and answer session for UK newspaper as pressure mounts over Swedish warrant.

Lawyer: Sweden investigating Assange for sex without condom
A lawyer who recently represented Julian Assange says the Swedish sex assault investigation into the WikiLeaks founder is based on claims he didn’t use condoms during sex with two Swedish women.  James D. Catlin, a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia, says in an article published Thursday that Sweden’s justice system is destined to become “the laughingstock of the world” for investigating rape charges in two cases where women complained that Assange had had sex with them without using a condom.

This is how the New York Times tried to discredit Manning: shameful paper
“In August, the newspaper reported Manning’s relationship with “a self-described drag queen” and said that as a teenager “classmates made fun of him for being a geek . . . [and] for being gay.”

Cable: Abu Ghraib photos inspired hundreds of Saudis to jihad
The Bush administration’s torture program was a beacon for Islamic extremists seeking to recruit fellow fighters in the war against America and its allies, a leaked diplomatic cable has shown.

Cable reveals US behind airstrike that killed 21 children in Yemen
A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks shows that the US military covered up the killing of dozens of civilians during a cruise missile strike in south Yemen in December 2009. The secret cable from January 2010 corroborated images released earlier this year by Amnesty International, implicating the US in the use of cluster bombs. 

US diplomats took marching orders from CIA on UN spying
US officials continue to insist that its diplomats to the United Nations are not intelligence assets and do not engage in any form of spying.

CIA drew up ‘spy list’
A wish list of information that the US State Department was asked to find out about on Ban Ki-moon, the general secretary of the United Nations, and was described as a “spy’s shopping list” was drawn up by the CIA, it was claimed. Information demanded by the list included data such as credit card numbers. 

At War: Wikileaks Fallout in Pakistan
The disclosures by WikiLeaks that top Pakistani army and civil officials had been extensively meeting with American diplomats shook the country. 

Wikileaks and the El-Masri case: Innocent CIA Torture Victim More Than Just a Leaked Cable
El-Masri’s futile efforts at receiving justice in the U.S. are well-known, but cables recently leaked by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. also warned German authorities not to allow a local investigation into his kidnapping. 

WikiLeaks cable portrays IAEA chief as ‘in US court’ on Iran nuclear program
Iran could use the WikiLeaks revelation as another reason not to cooperate with the West on its nuclear program.

US’ best friends in the Middle East (from the Economist)

Nigeria to Charge Dick Cheney in Pipeline Bribery Case
Nigeria will file charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and officials from five foreign companies including Halliburton Co. over a $180 million bribery scandal, a prosecutor at the anti-graft agency said. 

Afghan president: NATO killed ex-local official
President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that coalition forces killed an innocent former local government official in southern Afghanistan, but NATO insisted the man was shot after threatening the troops with a grenade. 

US soldier admits to sport killing of Afghan civilians
Staff Sergeant Robert Stevens, 25, an Army medic from the State of Oregon, was only sentenced to nine months in prison on Wednesday for killing Afghan civilians, after pleading guilty.

Afghan officials free top Taliban fighters
Afghan security forces are freeing captured senior Taliban for payment or political motives, with President Hamid Karzai and his powerful brother among those authorising and requesting releases.

Patrick Cockburn: What Afghans will do to get friends out of jail
Almost any method from straight bribery to family, political, or tribal influence is likely to be used. 

Voters prevented from entering the polling place
Mubarak regime decides who can vote

Qatar wins right to host 2022 World Cup finals
Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup after Fifa, the world football governing body, announced in Zurich today that they have beaten bid rivals Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, confirmed the small Middle Eastern country’s successful bid following a vote by the governing body’s 22-man executive committee today. Qatar beat bids from Australia, the United States and 2004 World Cup co-hosts Japan and South Korea. The Fifa executive committees’ decision comes as a slight surprise after the US and Australia bids had been highly-fancied. Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark reports on the desert city’s plan to deliver a dream – a World Cup in 12 years time. 

Qatar nutmegs Obama, John V. Whitbeck
One may fairly conclude that Barack Obama’s over-hyped alleged efforts to “reach out” to the Arab and Muslim worlds ended yesterday when he responded, with a breathtaking lack of grace, to Qatar’s defeat of the United States (as well as Australia, Japan and South Korea) in the competition to stage the 2022 World Cup by branding the decision by the FIFA executive committee a “bad decision”.  
It is not as though the vote was close. In the first round of voting, Qatar received 11 of the 22 votes (one short of the required absolute majority) … and the United States received three votes (one presumably cast by the American member).


Walt: tribalist Goldberg is smearing us because ‘goyim’ aren’t allowed to criticize Israel

Dec 03, 2010

Philip Weiss


Jeffrey Goldberg is very effective: he intimidates people. He is personable and funny and well-connected and vicious. The other day he called Walt and Mearsheimer neo-Lindberghian. A disgusting effort to make them out as anti-semites, when both these guys are actually trying to save Israel from itself, and one of these authors is married to a Jewish woman. Walt has called Goldberg on the character assassination and, at last (W&M have tended to avoid this) brought up the tribalist angle. It’s unavoidable. When Goldberg himself left this country, believing the Diaspora was dangerous for Jews, and went off to serve in the Israeli army in a prison full of Palestinians. When Elliott Abrams says that Jews must stand apart in any country they live in except Israel and he’s involved in Iraq war planning, and when an Iran policymaker in the Obama administration is a former chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute (that works against assimilation), I’m glad other people are talking about tribalism. Walt:

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the Likudnik wing of the Israel lobby isn’t really interested in truth or even a fair-minded discussion of the issues. They just smear their targets with made-up accusations, knowing that if you throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick.

I suspect that what really ticks Goldberg off is this: My co-author and I (and a few others) have had the temerity to write critically about the political role of “pro-Israel” forces (both Jewish and non-Jewish) in America today. This is a topic that the goyim aren’t supposed to talk about openly. It’s fine for Goldberg to write at length about this topic, or for former Forward editor J. J. Goldberg, to devote an entire book(which is well worth reading) to it. But when a non-Jew writes about this issue, and suggests that these groups are advocating foolish and self-defeating policies, then that person must of course be an anti-Semite. If Jews express similar doubts, they must be labeled as “self-hating” and marginalized as well.

Please. I really do understand this sort of tribalism and up to a point, I’m sympathetic to it. Given Jewish history — and especially the dark legacy of genuine anti-Semitism — it is unsurprising that some people are quick to assume that any gentile who criticizes the present “special relationship” must have sinister motives, even when there’s no actual basis for the suspicion. But that sensitivity doesn’t make the elephant in the room disappear, and given that America’s Middle East policy affects all of us, the various factors that shape that policy ought to open to fair-minded discussion devoid of name-calling and character assassination.

Today in Bil’in

Dec 03, 2010

Hamde Abu Rahme


IMG 8772

(All photos: Hamde Abu Rahme)

This Friday’s demonstration took place as a protest against the Wall, the settlements, and the Israeli practices of occupation, deportation and exclusion. A large group marched after Friday prayers from the center of the village toward the target areas of the Wall and settlements. The group consisted of dozens of Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists.

IMG 8800Participants chanted national slogans calling for national unity and a removal of the occupation and its walls. They raised Palestinian flags and called for liberation, national unity, freedom for political prisoners, and an end to the settlement assault in Jerusalem. The demonstrators were met with a shower of tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber bullets fired at them by the Israeli occupation forces. Dozens were afflicted by choking from the gas as clashes continued for quite awhile.

IMG 8822The Popular Committee Against the Wall and settlements in Bil’in appreciate the presence of several joint solidarity groups and in particular a French national, who came to Bil’in from France by bicycle as a form of solidarity with the people of Bil’in in their fight against the occupation.

And the winner is . . .
Dec 03, 2010 09:45 am | Adam Horowitz



The above photo won The Israel Project’s ‘Best Shots of Israel’ contest. It’s called “Jerusalem,” and was submitted by Carola Eissler of Metzingen, Germany. You can see all the winners and finalists here. Amazingly, one of the Mondo entries made the cut – Matthew Graber’s photo from Bil’in was a finalist. Congratulations Matthew! Our readers sent in a lot of very impressive photos, so it’s really an honor to have been singled out.

We’re married to a man who’s acting erratically and saying racist stuff, and we’ll never get out

Dec 03, 2010

Philip Weiss


Nearly 5 years ago Scott McConnell sent me Walt and Mearsheimer’s famous LRB paper on the Israel lobby and I ran around the house saying it was high noon for the lobby. Well, noon has stretched out over many years. I thought that W&M’s gong would encourage many journalists to uncover the workings of the lobby. I was naive. The journalists acceded to the lobby by and large and have left the institution untouched in mainstream debate. Though Grant Smith and the internet have taken up the slack, and been something of a gamechanger, in Mearsheimer’s view, slowly changing public attitudes towards the special relationship.

McConnell himself has now published a long important piece on the special relationship (at the Middle East Policy Council) where he does a lot of the sort of analysis that I hoped W&M would enable, in an Americanist “blood and treasure” vein (which I don’t entirely share). McConnell portrays an Israel that dominates our thinking on the most important foreign policy issues, proving a “transmission belt” of bad ideas to the U.S.– including the Islamophobia that is now infecting out democracy. And he says it’s not the lobby that’s destroying the American brand in the Middle East, it’s the Israel alliance itself. And now it is doing so through nuclear blackmail. I tend to agree with McConnell:  I don’t understand why Obama has acceded so much to Israel’s demands, and I conclude that we don’t know the half of it, and that McConnell’s speculation is a very valid one– Israel is a crazy spouse that has nukes; even pragmatic Netanyahu, inflamed by the Holocaust, is a Strangelove; and Obama knows this, and doesn’t want to set these people off.

But let me walk through a few of McConnell’s sharp points before the marriage metaphor.

1. Partition.

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Then, as now, they [State Department wise men, most of them WASPs] saw America’s major strategic interest in the Middle East as unfettered access to oil from the Gulf, which was essential to the rebuilding of Europe and to the supply of American armed forces globally. No foreign-policy professional believed a Jewish state in Palestine would do anything but complicate that goal. They regretted that President Truman seemed to be making his Palestine decisions with an eye to domestic politics.

2. McConnell mostly buys that Israel was a “strategic asset” to the U.S. in the 70s and 80s, till the wall fell.

As Martin Kramer, a former Israeli academic who is now a leading advocate for Israel in the United States, puts it, Israel “underpins the Pax Americana” in the Eastern Mediterranean. When the United States kept Israel at arms length (from 1948 to 1973), there were four wars; with the onset of the special relationship and with universal acknowledgement of Israeli regional military superiority, the wars have been small and easily contained.

3. It’s been hell since 91. (And yes, I demonstrated against the Gulf War!)

The initial post-Cold War test of Israel as a strategic asset came in 1991, during the first Iraq war. As a regional ally, Israel proved worse than useless. Washington had to beg Tel Aviv not to attack Iraq, because Israeli involvement would have torpedoed the coalition President George H. W. Bush was building against Saddam Hussein.

4. McConnell agrees with Jonathan Cook on the neoconservatives imbibing the very worst of Israeli militarism and regurgitating it all over the U.S.. He includes a shocking quote about turning the Middle East into Lebanon:

The Israelis were proposing that Jerusalem cement its status as the Mideast’s dominant power by fomenting sectarian and ethnic strife in the surrounding states. As Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist and former senior Foreign Ministry official, put it in a 1982 essay,

“The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Arab peninsula, in a similar fashion. The dissolution of Egypt and later Iraq into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is the main long-range objective of Israel on the Eastern Front. . . [I]n the long run the strength of Iraq is the biggest danger to Israel. . . Iraq can be divided on regional and sectarian lines just like Syria in the Ottoman era. There will be three states in the three major cities.”

Cook contends that strategists such as Yinon did not simply sell their vision to the neoconservatives and seek its implementation. The neocons interpreted these strategies as not only good for Israel, but good for America. Israel’s regional dominance and America’s control of oil could be assured through the same means, the fomenting of chaos in the Middle East and the break-up of its large states…

Jonathan Cook’s argument…helps to explain the seemingly inexplicable: the American decision to allow Iraq to fall into chaos after the invasion.

5. The enormous price of the special relationship. McConnell is concise and deadly here. And it’s obvious. But Chris Matthews couldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

American backing of Israel has been a major, if not the sole, factor in making the United States a target of Muslim terrorists. This is invariably what such terrorists say, whether in custody or at liberty, and no one has explained plausibly why they would misrepresent their motivations… Osama bin Laden began inserting references to Palestine into his public statements in 1994…

the Israel alliance has drawn the United States into the Middle East in a particularly violent way. Over the last decade, cities in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza have been ripped apart by U.S. weaponry.

6. My favorite bit in the piece is when McConnell quotes all the Israeli leaders urging the U.S. to take on Iraq, before the Iraq war, and then posits [emphasis mine, the Israel lobby theory for dummies]:

The Israeli support for the war would not, in itself, be decisive in pushing the president to order the attack, but deference to Israeli sensibilities is what is unique about the special relationship. When Israelis talk, Americans listen. When Israelis want to circulate their views, they have an access to the opinion pages of elite newspapers and slots on network news shows that leaders of no other foreign country can dream of. Several of America’s European and Arab allies objected cogently and clearly to the idea of attacking Iraq. If Israeli leaders had voiced similar sentiments, it is inconceivable the invasion would have taken place.

In this connection, just look at the Wikileaks cables of Egypt’s Mubarak and Jordanian officials. They were strongly against the Iraq war. We paid no attention to them. And imagine if Israel had warned us what a mess it would be, McConnell is dead on…

7. Israel’s latest bad ideas, attacking Iran (the Atlantic and New Republic pipeline crazy Israeli arguments as if they’re rational) and Islamophobia:

Finally, we must consider another cost, one not easily measured in terms of blood and treasure. It is hard to miss that anti-Muslim bigotry is becoming embedded in American political culture, and Israel and its supporters are playing a substantial role in generating it.

8. Now let’s get to the bad marriage payoff. At the end, McConnell cites Ariel Roth of Hopkins, a former IDF soldier, saying that Israel has such a Holocaust complex it must be reassured constantly or it will strike out against those who threaten it. McConnell says this means there will be “no exit” from the disastrous special relationship, and that the State Department had little idea how bad things would get…

The United States is in the position of a wife whose spouse is acting erratically. A “panicked and unrestrained Israel,” armed with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, could do an extraordinary amount of damage. The only conclusion one can draw is that the special relationship would now be very difficult to exit, even if Israel had no clout whatsoever within the American political system, even if the United States desired emphatically to pursue a more independent course.

I submit that this argument has long been internalized by those U.S. officials who recognize that the special relationship brings the United States far more trouble than benefits. It is the principal reason no major American figure has ever advocated simply walking away from Israel….

In the coming years, as the prospect of a two-state solution disappears, it is likely that Israel will continue its inexorable march toward becoming a state between the Jordan River and the sea, with one set of laws for Jews, who will have the rights of citizens, and another for Arabs, who will be denied full citizenship. What will it cost America’s broader relationship with the Muslim world to maintain a special bond with a state based on this kind of ethnic discrimination? That also would be difficult to quantify. And yet this scenario may be impossible to escape. The threat of Israel’s turning itself into a nuclear-armed desperado striking at will at the oil states in the Gulf cannot, alas, be entirely dismissed. That may be, as Ariel Roth argues, a compelling reason to maintain the special relationship pretty much unchanged.


Ex-CIA official: Obama’s only peace process is to ‘hope for a miracle’

Dec 03, 2010

Adam Horowitz


Robert Grenier, CIA’s chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002 and director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center, writes in disbelief at the current Obama administration strategy with the peace process (which he considers long dead). He comments on the Al Jazeera English websiteabout the rumored bundle of incentives the White House is offering Israel for a 90-day extension of the partial settlement freeze:

After witnessing US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians for over 30 years, I had thought I was beyond shock. This development, however, is breathtaking. In effect, along with a whole string of additional commitments, including some potentially far-reaching security guarantees which it is apparently afraid to reveal publicly, the Obama administration is willing to permanently cast aside a policy of some 40 years’ duration, under which the US has at least nominally labelled Israeli settlements on occupied territory as “obstacles to peace,”.

All this in return for a highly conditional settlement pause which will permit Netanyahu to pocket what the US has given him, simply wait three months without making any good-faith effort at compromise, and know in the end that Israel will never again have to suffer the US’ annoying complaints about illegal settlements.

Leave aside the fact that as of this writing, the Israeli cabinet may yet reject this agreement – which seems even more breathtaking, until one stops to consider that virtually everything the Americans have offered the Israelis they could easily obtain in due course without the moratorium. No, what is telling here is that the American attempt to win this agreement, lopsided as it is, is an act of sheer desperation.

What gives rise to the desperation, whether it is fear of political embarrassment at a high-profile diplomatic failure or genuine concern for US security interests in the region, I cannot say. It seems crystal clear, however, that the administration sees the next three months as a last chance. Their stated hope is that if they can get the parties to the table for this brief additional period, during which they focus solely on reaching agreement on borders, success in this endeavour will obviate concerns about settlements and give both sides sufficient stake in an outcome that they will not abandon the effort.

No one familiar with the substance of the process believes agreement on borders can be reached in 90 days on the merits; consider additionally that negotiators will be attempting to reach such a pact without reference to Jerusalem, and seeking compromise on territory without recourse to off-setting concessions on other issues, and success becomes virtually impossible to contemplate.

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The Obama administration is coming under heavy criticism for having no plan which extends beyond the 90 days, if they can get them. There is no plan for a 91st day because there is unlikely to be one. The Obama policy, absurd as it seems, is to somehow extend the peace process marginally, and hope for a miracle. The demise of that hope carries with it the clear and present danger that residual aspirations for a two-state solution will shortly be extinguished with it.

Grenier believes the two state solution is no longer possible (“no conceivable Israeli government could remove [the settlements] even if it wanted to”) and the long term outcome is “the progressive delegitimation of the current state, and the eventual rise of a binational state in its place.”

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