Archive | July 9th, 2011

Rewards of Tantawi’s counter-revolution


“Despite the recent revolution in Egypt and continued anti-government demonstrations there on Friday, the United States signaled this week that it plans to continue business as usual when it comes to arms sales to the Egyptian Military.

On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank to Egypt – the first large arms deal since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February – including associated weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of just over $1.3 billion.”

Despite revolution, US set to approve tank sales to Egypt


If approved, the deal would increase the number of Abramstanks in Egypt from around 1,000 to 1,130; Congress must approve deal.

Talkbacks (40)

The US signaled last week that it plans to continue business as usual when it comes to arms sales to the Egyptian military, despite the recent revolution in Egypt and continued anti-government demonstrations there.

On Friday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank to Egypt – the first large arms deal since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February – including associated weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support at an estimated cost of just over $1.3 billion.

If approved, the deal would increase the number of Abrams tanks in Egypt from around1,000 to 1,130.

According to the notification to Congress, Egypt would receive 125 tanks, parts of which would be produced in Egypt, as well as M256 Armament Systems, M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 7.62mm machine guns, spare parts, maintenance, support equipment, personnel training and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The Pentagon told Congress – which has 30 days to object to the deal – that the sale of the tanks would “contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”

The sale would “provide Egypt with a modern tank fleet, enhancing its capability to meet current and future threats,” the Pentagon further stated.

News of the deal raised eyebrows in Israel, which has carefully watched arms sales to Egypt ever since Cairo began to receive annual military aid of some $1.3b. from the United States following the peace treaty the two neighbors signed in 1979.

Israel has in the past lobbied Congress against specific arms deals to Egypt. In the past few years, Egypt has purchased 24 F-16 fighter jets, Hellfire missiles, Harpoon antiship missiles, TOW anti-tank missiles, Chinook transport helicopters and Apache attack helicopters.

Israel is concerned that Egypt might take a radical shift in elections expected to be held in the fall and might once again turn into an enemy state, depending on the identity of the new president and the number of seats the Muslim Brotherhood wins in parliament.

The IDF has taken a cautious approach to the developments in Egypt, with Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz choosing a long-term plan formulated by the Planning Directorate, under which the army would grow over a number of years and not launch an immediate procurement plan to counter the possible threat evolving in the South.

Gantz’s thinking is based on the assumption that any war with Egypt would not take place any time soon, and that an immediate procurement plan announced by the IDF could be detrimental and increase tension between the countries.

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Rape victims in the US justice system: if this happened in an Arab country, Americans would have been outraged


“A former KBR Inc. employee who said she was drugged and raped while working in Iraq lost her lawsuit against the military contractor Friday.  The jury of eight men and three women rejected Jamie Leigh Jones’ claims a day after starting deliberations in a Houston federal courthouse.

Jones, 26, said she was raped in 2005 while working for KBR at Camp Hope, Baghdad.  Jones sued KBR, its former parent Halliburton Co., and a former KBR firefighter, Charles Bortz, whom she identified as one of her rapists. The Houston-based companies and Bortz denied her allegations.

The alleged sexual assault was investigated by authorities but no criminal charges were filed.  “I was going up against a monster,” Jones, sobbing loudly, told The Associated Press. “I’m devastated. I believe I did the right thing coming forward.”  KBR applauded the jury’s verdict, which in addition to rejecting Jones’ claims that she was raped also denied her fraud claim against the company.

See: The Angry Arab News Service

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US ambassador in Hama: how Anthony Shadid covered it



Now this is the account of Anthony Shadid:  “A video posted to YouTube captured a scene unusual for an American diplomat in the Arab world, where resentment at American support for authoritarian rulers runs deep. In Hama, crowds chanting “People want the fall of the regime” cheered what appeared to be Mr. Ford’s vehicle, and some protesters tossed flowers on its hood. In the background was a huge banner that said, “Syria is free, down with Bashar al-Assad.””  First, would Anthony Shadid dare cover something that is damaging to Israel on the bases of a video posted on YouTube?  What do you think?

For any news coverage relating to Israel, the New York Times’ editors require standards and scrutiny tougher than those applied on PhD dissertations by committee members (at least in the old days).  Yet, for coverage of Iran and Syria, the New York Times applies the most lenient and least reliable standards.   Now here is the video in question.  Watch it.  It seems that Anthony assumed too much from a few minutes of video.  Anthony says:  “what appears to be Ford’s vehicle”.  Exactly.  The car is nondescript.  How on earth would protesters know that this is the US ambassador’s car?

And there are no cars going through the tens of thousands of demonstrators in Hama.  This is not going through the demonstration for sure.  Secondly, the Syrian people don’t know what Mr. Ford looks like.  He is not visible at all, and is not recognizable (except in Hama–if you believe the account in the Shadid article).   So Mr. Ford is not recognizable anywhere in the world (I did not know what he looks like until yesterday), except in Hama and Dayr Az-Zur, for some inexplicable reason.  Thirdly, the account of the ambassador being greeted by protesters first appeared not in news sites but in the account of the US Department of State’s spokeswoman.

That should have at least made Shadid express some healthy skepticism.  Fourthly,  there is a history of American staging of public spectacles: from Operation Ajax in Iran in 1953, to the most fake staging of a spectacle–the topping of Saddam’s statue in Firdaws Square in Baghdad when US soldiers provided old style Iraqi flags thinking that the Iraqi people would abandon the Saddam flag which has “God is Greater” on them.  Fifthly, look at the video itself.  Judge for yourself.  It is most fishy.  The car does not look like the fancy motorcade of a US ambassador in an an Arab country: it is a normal vehicle.  There is no way for protesters in Hama to know that this is a US diplomat’s car.  And how would the crowd know it is the ambassador?  And if you look at the video, the people around the car appear more like the local goons that US embassy hires for security.

In Lebanon, the local hired goons were graduates of the death squads of the Lebanese Forces, by the way.  And the “protesters” in the video (which zoomed closely in and it concluded with a close up of the face of the ambassador to suspiciously prove to people that it is indeed the Mr. Ford) seemed to be protecting the car more than anything else.  They were strategically protecting the car.

Otherwise, the whole scene is very weird: there are according to news accounts, several hundred thousands protesters in Hama, and it is not possible that his car went through that crowd.  We know how careful US diplomats are about their security, especially the security of the ambassador.   Sixthly, how did the people in Hama arrange for the flowers (bushes really) to be tossed on the car?  Or do people in Hama protest with trees in their hands?  Seventhly, this is not only a staged event for political purposes, there is also a professional reason.  Mr. Ford came under criticisms in Congress for visiting Jisr Ash-Shughur so he had to play John Wayne in another city.  Enjoy.

SYRIA: Protesters greet U.S. envoy with flowers in Hama [Video]

July 8, 2011


Bashar Assad’s minions condemned U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Ford’s visit to the flashpoint central Syrian city of Hama as unwanted interference in Syria’s affairs.

But in the streets of Hama, the scene of massive protests Friday, he was greeted with roses, as shown in the video above.

— Los Angeles Times

See: The Angry Arab News Service

As’ad Abukhalil

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Here is the Interview of Dr. David Duke on RT



Obviously, this was a very biased interviewer, but Dr. Duke has received an overwhelming positive response from the appearance!

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Tensions rise between the U.S. and Syria after U.S. Ambassador to Syria visited protesters in Hama on Wednesday



Despite the harsh exchanges between Damascus and Washington since demonstrations first broke out in Syria, at this stage the Syrian Ambassador to the United States Imad Mustapha will remain in the U.S. capital and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford will remain at his post.

The decision to maintain the present state of affairs has led to uncomfortable incidents and disconcerting questions from Congress.

U.S. ambassador in Syria Robert Ford, covers his nose from the smell of the dead bodies during his visit with other foreign diplomats to a mass grave, in Jisr el-Shughour, Syria, June 20, 2011.

The Syrian ambassador was summoned on Wednesday by Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell after reports emerged that employees of the Syrian Embassy videotaped and still-photographed demonstrators in front of the embassy.

“We received reports that Syrian mission personnel under Ambassador Mustapha’s authority have been conducting video and photographic surveillance of people participating in peaceful demonstrations in the United States,” said State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

“The United States Government takes very seriously reports of any foreign government actions attempting to intimidate individuals in the United States who are exercising their lawful right to freedom of speech as protected by the U.S. Constitution,” she said.

“We are also investigating reports that the Syrian government has sought retribution against Syrian family members for the actions of their relatives in the United States exercising their lawful rights in this country and will respond accordingly,” Nuland added.

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford also made waves in recent days when he decided to visit the city of Hama in Syria, this time without being accompanied by any Syrian officials, who registered a complaint over the incident.

The Ambassador’s enthusiastic reception in Hama, in which demonstrators laid flowers on his car, drew attention and inquiries as to the purpose of his visit to Hama: Did he come to make his presence felt and prevent a massacre with his own body? Or was this an innocent trip made to gather information?

State Department spokesperson Nuland confirmed that the purpose of Ford’s trip was to express support for the Syrian demonstrators in their demands for democracy. Noland said that Ford did not intend to become a story in and of himself, and therefore returned to Damascus before Friday’s demonstrations.

Nuland said that the visit was in fact coordinated in advance with Syrian officials and called illogical the subsequent Syrian claim that the trip was not coordinated. She called upon the Syrians to focus on the demands of its citizenry and not on the activities of the U.S. Ambassador.

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Times coverage of ‘fly-in’ protest masks nature of Israeli control over Palestinian lives

Jul 08, 2011

Adam Horowitz

A friend writes:

Isabel Kershner has some useful information about Israel’s hysterical response to the fly-intoday, though she leaves out the frightening scenes of angry crowds at the airport.

But she obfuscates the basic reality that the fly-in was mean to underline, that Israel controls all borders and entry and exit of Palestinians and foreigners into and out of the West Bank, and cuts Palestinians off from the outside world. Readers won’t learn these very basic facts about Israeli control over Palestinian lives in the NY Times.

Instead, this is how Kershner describes the initiative to fly-in via Israel’s Ben Gurion airport:

There were persistent reports that the foreign visitors would try to create chaos and paralyze Ben-Gurion Airport, despite strenuous denials from the organizers of the campaign, who advocate nonviolence. They insisted that the foreigners only wanted to transit the airport and “go to Palestine.” (The West Bank has no airport of its own.)

A less knowledgeable reader might ask, “Well why didn’t they just cross a land border to visit the West Bank?” (Kershner didn’t tell you that Israel similarly controls the land borders).

Another reader might ask, “Why don’t the Palestinians just build their own airport rather than using Israel’s? Don’t they get enough foreign aid?” (The NY Times didn’t explain that Israel won’t allow Palestinians to have their own airport).

This is how AP has described Israeli control of the borders in it’s reporting on the fly-in:

Visitors can reach the West Bank only through Israeli-controlled crossings, either through international airports or the land border with Jordan. Citing security concerns, Israel bars most Palestinians from entering Israel or using its airport, meaning they must travel to neighboring Jordan to fly out.

Why can’t the NY Times describe these basic structural realities?

Israel included on Homeland Security terrorism watch list

Jul 08, 2011

Lizzy Ratner

Yep, you read the headline right. On May 1oth, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General committed the diplomatic equivalent of a Freudian slip when it included Israel on a list of rogue terror states, YNet reports. Nor was Israel the only ally on the list. Also included? Such sterling friends as Bahrain, Turkey, Morocco, and the Philippines.

But before you get too excited, the Department of Homeland Security has already issued an apology to Israel, brushing off the matter as a silly misunderstanding.

“The addition of Israel to the list… was based on inaccurate information provided to the OIG [Office of the Inspector General] during the course of its audit,” said John Morton, director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of DHS.

Hm, inaccurate information? Sounds fishy. Maybe whoever was compiling the list simply didn’t realize Israel was an ally. Or maybe he or she just has a deliciously pointed sense of humor.

Welcome to Israel

Jul 08, 2011

Adam Horowitz

A crowd attacks participants in Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Joseph Dana)

Joseph Dana has been stationed in Ben Gurion Airport all day reporting on the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative. The scene he has shared can only be described as chaos. Israel hasbarred journalists from entering the airport, arrested Israeli activists who came to Ben Gurion in solidarity and stood aside as Israeli passerbys cursed, spit on and punched “Welcome to Palestine” travelers arriving from abroad.

In an piece on +972 titled “Air Flotilla” successful in exposing Israeli blockade of West Bank, Noam Sheizaf has described Israel’s response to the protest as “panic” and added, “it seems that the whole country has gone mad.” That looks about right, and it appears the “air flotilla” has also been successful in exposing the delusional siege mentality that seems to be governing Israel and the vast majority of its citizens these days. The government’s existential fear of tourists visiting the occupied territories is yet another sign that the delegitimization of Israel is a self-fulfilling prophecy that Israel’s leaders seem bent on bringing to fruition.

Below is Dana’s live twitter stream from this morning and be sure to read over the last few hours.

Will abstracted, isolated Obama be prey to neoconservative policy elite re Iran attack?

Jul 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Great piece by David Bromwich in NYRB on Obama’s political temperament– a preference for imperial utterance… extreme abstraction alternates with spasmodic engagement… seeks isolation/vacation from Washington, and is vulnerable for that reason. So no wonder Netanyahu cleaned his clock, and why “the neoconservative policy elite” is able to muscle Obama. This is an extended excerpt from the end of the piece, with its consideration of the ways that Netanyahu’s huge success in Congress may affect Obama’s maneuverability on the Iran question:

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress was also part of a larger strategy of his right-wing coalition. He got his invitation to address Congress from Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and the Republican Party is now working to detach Jewish donors from the Democrats and to convert Republicans at large to the Likud and neoconservative politics that support a greater Israel. In the pitch offered to Americans, taking sections of the West Bank from Palestinians is as warranted as the taking of lands from American Indians. Mike Huckabee has indicated his sympathy with this point of view. Sarah Palin wore a Star of David on her necklace in her recent liberty tour. Glenn Beck has planned a mass event, “Restoring Courage,” on August 24 at the Southern Wall excavations in the city of Jerusalem. Americans of the chauvinist and evangelical right are being invited to think of Israel as a second homeland.

Considered as a response to this predicament, Obama’s speech at the State Department, with its broad-gauge pronouncements and its candor regarding Palestine, was utterly overmatched by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress….

Netanyahu made the “existential threat” of Iran a major part of his appeal to Congress, as was to be expected. And this is probably the final terrain on which, in the next two years, Obama will have to confront the difference between the reformist intentions he cherishes and the conventional signals he has been sending. In 2007, there were many signs that the neoconservative policy elite, and the Office of the Vice President, wanted the US to back Israel or combine with Israel in an attack on Iran. They were thwarted by Admiral William Fallon, the commander of CentCom, and a letter from the Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to President Bush, and a few other acts of resistance from persons in authority. Most of all, the case for attacking Iran was defeated by the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which declared that no evidence existed of an Iranian nuclear program that could yield a weapon.

The 2011 NIE has now appeared, and it says much the same. But it has been kept under wraps by the Obama administration, in a manner reminiscent of the way the 2007 NIE was suppressed, as far as possible, by Cheney and Bush. According to Seymour Hersh, writing in the June 6 New Yorker, American intelligence has found “no conclusive evidence” that an Iranian weapons program exists. A June 3 New York Times article by Ethan Bronner backs up the Hersh report with testimony from Israeli sources. Meir Dagan, the recently retired head of Mossad, and other senior members of the Israeli intelligence establishment are now warning Israel, and by implication warning America, not to fall in with the adventurism of Netanyahu—the war fever he is drumming up in two countries with no foundation in an actual threat.

Yet Obama’s national security advisers have disparaged Hersh’s findings as warmly as if they were still seeking a pretext to attack Iran. And the tight inner circle around Obama has denied a visit with the President to informed dissenters on Iran policy like Thomas Pickering. As a Times editorial pointed out on June 13, the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency cites new reasons for calling on Iran to disclose the possible “military dimensions” of its nuclear program. Plainly the answers to such questions will form a necessary part of any negotiations between Iran and the US. Meanwhile, the attempt to isolate the President from views such as Pickering’s seems full of hazard; though presidents who are said to be victims of isolation, from Johnson to Reagan to Obama, have become so by staying close to persons who shield them from unwelcome stimuli. In the same way, one recalls, on Afghanistan Obama declined offers of help by dissenters from the Petraeus-McChrystal escalation policy, even when they came from officials as well placed as Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke.

In appointing a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Obama passed over the person who was said to have been his first choice, General James Cartwright, the former vice-chairman of JCOS: a skeptic on Afghanistan who had become a trusted adviser of the President. He has appointed instead General Martin Dempsey, who had served as head of Tradoc (Training and Doctrine Command for American ground forces). The Israeli newspaper Haaretz devoted a June 1 article to the appointment of Dempsey under the headline: “Obama’s New Security Staff May Approve Attack on Iran.” The author of the article, the military correspondent Amir Oren, finds it significant that Dempsey has studied closely the operations of the Israeli Defense Forces, and that he worked at Tradoc with an IDF liaison officer. This appointment can stand as the first of many footnotes to the encounter, in late May 2011, between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Naomi Klein: How climate change should affect a N. American Jew’s view of Israel

Jul 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Great stuff happens and then goes by the boards, but below is an exchange from 6 weeks ago that I don’t want to forget.

In May we (along with the Culture Project) staged a panel on the Goldstone Report with Naomi Klein among others on stage in New York, and at the end moderator Laura Flanders asked Klein a question about global warming as it touches on the Israel/Palestine issue. I thought about it today because of the water war that Israel is now carrying out on the West Bank, destroying Palestinian cisterns. So here’s the exchange, wonderful for Flanders’s koan about self-interest & solidarity (I haven’t stopped thinking about it since), and for Klein’s inspired answer:

Flanders: I do want to give Naomi a chance to say, to answer one other question. Because I hear solidarity I also want to hear, I believe real solidarity is based on self interest. We all share an interest in resolving this conflict, and our own conflicts we are responsible for, and our part of it. We also I think have a self interest in a climatic way, having to do with our climate, our planet, our future as a planet. You’re working on this; I don’t want you to spill the beans on your book and your movie. But you said behind, backstage that it’s not unrelated.

Klein: …That’s a really great last question. I was mentioning to Laura, I am working on a book about climate change, it isn’t about Israel Palestine. But I am really immersed in this issue, and have been now for three or so years. And I find myself in situations talking to groups of people whose countries are going to disappear under the waves. They are literally planning for the disappearance of their states. And this is the future we are headed to, I know this is a completely different topic, but obviously climate change is going to affect the region that we are talking about very strongly. Water wars are going to intensify. I think we can see a really bad outcome for how climate change would play out in Israel Palestine, particularly when it comes to water. But I have this other idea, about what could happen. Because, I really do think we are looking at a much less secure world where it’s only a matter of time before everybody is confronting these facts, that a great many people in the world are going to be looking at their states disappearing. We are going to be looking at a huge number of climate refugees because of our refusal to deal with climate change. When I think about that world of insecurity and I think about what that means to me as a North American Jew, and the fact that I have been told that I have a right to not just one state but two, two secure states, I actually think that climate change might be something of a game changer there. And my hope is that it may create an opening for North American Jews to think about what security really means; what real security means, that it’s not a fortress and that it is these universal values. 

Way back machine: Senate hearings in ’77 were titled ‘The colonization of the West Bank territories by Israel’!

Jul 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

Yes, it was in 1977. I was wearing muttonchops. That’s a link to a Library of Congress record titled “The Colonization of the West Bank Territories by Israel,” a Senate hearing on “The Question of West Bank Settlements and the Treatment of Arabs in the Israeli-Occupied Territories” dated October 17 and 18, 1977. Fouzi El-Asmar, the Palestinian poet and author of the amazing book To Be an Arab In Israel, testified. El-Asmar lived behind barbed wire for a while, near Lyd. Also testimony from the great Dr. Israel Shahak, Professor of Chemistry, Hebrew University, where he describes how settlements are first referred to by their Arabic names, and then later biblical names.

There is one pro-Israel witness, Yehuda Zvi Blum, a professor of international law at Hebrew U. Today it would be all Blums. You can see where Sen. Jim Abourezk asks him:

I personally know of the former president or existing
president of Birzeit University who told me that he was taken summarily
with a bag over his head and dumped across the Lebanese
border in the middle of the night with no trial and no hearing and
no charges. Let’s take that one example. Do you approve of that

OK: What’s happened to my country, the U.S., that we can’t call colonization colonization and have the likes of Saree Makdisi and Mazim Qumsiyeh and Jeff Halper testify before the Senate? I believe the reason is the rise of the meritocracy, the new order of Jews inside the establishment, the Israel lobby as a fact of our elite culture. In ’77 the WASPs were still au saddle. As I hasten to add every time I make this point, it’s a great thing, generally, for everybody that the bluebloods were deposed, them too. But when it comes to Middle East policy it means that there’s no debate.

Listen to the great Shahak:

First of all, I would like to point out that the creation of the settlements in a territory, whose inhabitants then cannot settle in the state which settles this territory violates, in my opinion, the right of equal justice, the right which says that the people should be treated under equal law. I oppose both inside the State of Israel and in every place and in every forum of the world the statement of my Prime Minister, Mr. Begin, that Jews have the right to settle in the land of Israel because rights should be given irrespective of religion, race, and nationality. As I said in my own country, I say here that if the Jews of Tel Aviv have the right to settle on the West Bank, then they have it only under conditions that a mutual and equal right should be given to all the people, let us say, people of the West Bank to settle in Tel Aviv. Every other situation violates the conditions of freedom as known in modern states and violates the very principles established by the American Revolution and of the French Revolution and the most fundamental rules of a modern democracy. It returns us to the principles which were employed by anti-Semites against Jews. I say this especially as a Jew.

And listen to this:

I believe that especially now the Israeli Government is creating a class of quislings which should not be confused by any means with the previous notables
of King Hussein. These last, are newly made men. Tn many cases they are criminals, as I have said, and it is the aim, like in many other atrocious colonial regimes, to make of those people leaders.

Eric Alterman on his dual loyalty and the U.S. pressuring Palestinians to accept ‘their historic position’

Jul 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

I’m undertaking a new Jewish identity project: I’m going to start reaching out to prominent American Jews to talk about what makes them Jewish and when they got inoculated with Zionism. And below is one of my favorite statements by a Jewish journalist about his identity as it touches on his perceptions of what’s good for America and good for Israel.

Eric Alterman of the Nation is an important liberal, and he made the statement two years ago at the 92d Street Y, and I’m deeply grateful to him for his honesty. It was a panel called “Why we need a liberal Israel lobby,” where Alterman brings up the question of dual loyalty. Alterman is eloquent (if misguided) on the idea that he has dual loyalty. And then he is honest, if again misguided, I believe, on the extent to which the only players at the peace table are Israel and the United States, and Israel must agree to the terms for a Palestinian state before it can exist. And that means the U.S. compelling Palestinians to accept their “historic position,” even if this will anger Arabs across the region. And here I’d remind you that Alterman is on the left in this whole conversation in the U.S.; he actually criticizes Israel now and then.

I dig this speech out now for a few reasons. Because I have a genuine scholarly side, and I happened on this panel the other day and finally transcribed it and was blown away. BecauseJack Ross’s new book traces the rapid and absolute inscription of Zionism inside Jewish American life of which Alterman, who was sent off to Israel at 14, Zionism “drummed into” him, is a perfect example even inside the Thoughtful liberal media. Because Alterman was lately hired as a columnist by the moderator of the debate, Jane Eisner of the Forward (and by coincidence, I just got emails from a couple of folks about Alterman opposing one-state in the Forward).

But mostly because I think arguing over Jewish identity, a fight over Jewish identity and Zionist identity and what it means to the American and Jewish future is absolutely crucial to world peace… I want more debate, not less.

Here’s Alterman in his own words (the video is below, it’s at 33 or so):

Alterman: You know, one of the touchiest words you can say when you’re discussing Jews and Israel is the word dual loyalty. It’s sort of one of those words that American Jewish officialdom has ruled out of the discourse. If you say dual loyalty, you’re playing into the hands of anti-semites, because it’s been a consistent trope among anti-Semites that you can’t trust Jews. etc. etc. And I find this very confusing because I was raised dually loyal my whole life. When I went to Hebrew school, the content of my Hebrew school was all about supporting Israel. When my parents who I think are here tonight sent me to Israel when I was 14, on a ZOA [Zionist Organization of America]-sponsored trip… [laughter/backtalk] that was a bad idea, yeah– it was drummed into me that I should do what’s best for Israel.

I was at the Center for Jewish History not long ago where I heard Ruth Wisse, the Yiddishist professor at Harvard who happens to be the Martin L. Peretz professor, instruct a group of young Jewish journalists that they should think of themselves as members of the Israeli army. That in Israel young people have to serve in the army– well, they didn’t have to serve in the army, but they should think of themselves as members of a Jewish army, supporting the Jewish people, supporting Israel, putting aside their intellectual qualms and concerns about things. Like [the recent elevation of Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman.

Now it so happens that because so few people are willing to say this, and there’s certainly good historical reasons for this, I end up being quoted by Walt and Mearsheimer as the only person saying, I am a dual loyal Jew and sometimes I’m going to actually go with Israel, because the United States can take an awful lot of hits and come up standing. Whereas if Israel takes one serious bad hit it could disappear. So there’s going to be some cases where when Israel and the United States conflict I’m going to support what’s best for Israel rather than what I think is best for the United States.

The big fiction that permeates virtually all discussion and I bet you even in J Street, but certainly amongst official organizations is That there’s no such thing, that there could be possibly anything that could be both Good for Israel and Bad for the United States or vice versa. Every single speech you go to at AIPAC or the AJC says, thank god that our interests and values are perfectly aligned and We support a strong Israel and we support a strong United States. No– that’s not always going to be the case. They’re two different countries with two different strategic interests and different points of view on certain things.

Lieberman is bad for everything as far as I understand the world. He’s in the long term detrimental to Israel’s interest, and he’s certainly not in the United States interest, which has a strong interest in maintaining peace and stability in that region. And so in this case, there isn’t really a conflict in my saying, look if the Israelis are going to elect a government that’s detrimental to my interests and Israel’s interests… I’m going to do everything I can to convince them to elect a different gov’t. Just the way the Palestinians elected a bad thing by electing Hamas…

[Alterman then describes Israel’s role in founding Hamas, a “terrible mistake as many countries historically have made a terrible mistake.”]

As a friend of Israel and a person who’s concerned with the long term health and happiness of the Jewish people. I’m going to say I’m not going there with you guys, I have no trouble doing that.

Eisner: Can you imagine a time where you would feel that dual loyalty and go with Israel?

Alterman: I just said, there are many occasions.

Eisner: Can you give us an example?

Alterman: Off the top of my head. Well look, to me the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simple in the following regard. It’s complicated in most regards. But it’s simple in the following regard. The only people who can deliver peace, who can deliver a state to the Palestinians is the Israeli public… You can’t force Israel to make peace against its will. Israel will only make the concessions necessary to peace if they believe that the Palestinians are sincere about making peace so I can see that saying to the Palestinian leadership or saying to the Saudi leadership or Egyptian leadership, look we need to do a lot of unpopular things in Palestine to demonstrate to the Israeli public that the Palestinians have finally accepted their historic position and are now ready to make the peace that the Israelis can trust– now I’m not saying we’re anywhere near that situation, I’m answering your hypothetical question– that might make the United States a great deal more unpopular in the Arab world. It might increase terrorism in the Arab world…

Here’s a much simpler example actually. I think that bin Laden and 9/11 were to some degree inspired by U.S. support of Israel. I think a great deal of the terrorist attacks and the sort of pool of potential terrorists who want to attack the United States are inspired by the United States support for Israel. I’m not saying we shouldn’t support Israel for that reason. I’m saying, Dammit if that’s the price we have to pay, then I’m willing to pay it. I’m just saying Let’s be honest about it. Let’s not pretend that it’s unimaginable that the two states can be in conflict because if these two states happen never to be in conflict it would be the only time in history that ever happened, and yet we all treat it as if it’s a given.

Strauss-Kahn. Israel every morning

Jul 08, 2011

Philip Weiss

I’m announcing my new Jewish identity project today. Well actually it’s my old project, but dressed up a little. This is from Haaretz today, Anees of Jerusalem spotted it. Who knew?

Although his alleged sexual exploits are making waves, it is Israel, not women that is in former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s heart. In an interview with the newspaper “Liberation” back in April, just over a month before he made headlines for attempted rape charges (that are looking increasingly shaky), DSK told the French daily that only three things could prevent him from becoming the next president of France – his money, his women and his Judaism.

The fallen-from-grace financier recounted an interview he gave some years back with the “Tribune Juive”(The Jewish Tribune), in which he said “I wake up every morning and think about how I can help Israel.”

And does this kind of affection have any consequences? You tell me. Don’t be conspiratorial now.

Amira Hass, the flotilla, & Jewish stereotype

Jul 08, 2011


Amira Hass has written an important article in Haaretz originally titled The Flotilla and the Jewish Stereotype. I mention “originally” because within the 10 minute interval of drafting this post for you last night Haaretz has changed the title to “In dealing with flotilla, Israel is anything but smart”.  Which is true of course, in dealing with flotilla, Israel is anything but smart. Hass discusses why and how in the article; read the whole thing, especially the end: “blocking the flotilla only increased their motivation to keep placing the Palestinians’ demand for freedom at the forefront of the international agenda.” But the article is a jewel, a keeper, because of what she says about the Jewish stereotype, or the one lacking lately in the public image.

In anti-Semitic caricatures, the cunning Jew is doomed to lose and his control over the world is fated to come to an end. But Israel’s government is revising the caricature and sketching a glorious victory. A war of attrition, in the form of mysterious breakdowns and unprecedented red tape by the Greek authorities, thwarted the flotilla’s original plan to anchor off the Gaza coast. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly thanked the Greek government, he knew full well what he was thanking it for.


This is a convenient time to be using pressure tactics. Greece’s socialist government is in a fragile situation, as the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are forcing the country to adopt an austerity plan that most of its people oppose. True, the fact that Greece has become a subcontractor of the Israeli army did not bring the masses into the streets, but there is no doubt about it: The sympathy of the Greek soldiers who arrested the Tahrir’s passengers and of the bureaucrats who delayed them was with the flotilla and with Gaza, not with their government’s orders. That’s all we need: another country whose government gets along well with Israel in complete opposition to popular sentiment.

The flotilla’s organizers added a term from the world of business and globalization to their description of Israel’s domination of the Palestinians. Israel, they said,was outsourcing the industry of the blockade on Gaza. In exchange for reward, a foreign government – Greece – took on an active role and adopted a deliberate policy of keeping the Gaza Strip one huge prison.

Logic dictates that a government whose policy validates anti-Semitic stereotypes ought to worry Israelis and Jews worldwide. But the Israeli government is doing what its voters want and believe in. For there is one stereotype that has not been recycled here: that of the wise Jew.

(my bold)

It’s not often I disagree with Hass and she is brilliant in this article. But I think perhaps she discounts the fact many of the flotilla activists are Jews (wise ones).

Do not miss this article. What’s the reason Haaretz changed the title (original found here)?

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

House Overwhelmingly Approves Record $649 Billion Military Spending Bill



Fretting Over Deficit, House Still Approves Record Budget

America’s economy is continuing to struggle. With talk of a “double-dip recession,” massive unemployment and a budget deficit so large that financial analysts are openly talking about the US defaulting on its national debt, all spending is subjected to serious scrutiny.

Except for the Pentagon, where after days of debate about amendments finally came to an end and both parties came together to overwhelmingly approve a $649 billion military spending bill, assuring the upcoming military budget is, as it has been in so many recent years, the largest in human history.

House Republican Policy Committee chair Tom Price (R – GA) praised the vote, saying approving the hike in military spending proved “responsible leadership” for a nation fighting several wars.

In reality, however, it shows the stark disconnect between Congress’ feigned seriousness about tackling the budget deficits and the enormous military budget. Most other NATO member nations are rushing to cut their military spending to get the financial houses in order. In America, this debate has been all but shelved in favor of what is perceived as the politically safe move, spending two thirds of a trillion dollars that they don’t have.

Posted in USAComments Off on House Overwhelmingly Approves Record $649 Billion Military Spending Bill

Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,

The initial 3 items of the 8 below report the inauguration of an exciting and timely movement: “a call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel.”  This will take time to build up, but surely is a huge step in the right direction.  Item 1 is the announcement, item 2 the Free Gaza movement endorses the initiative, and item 3 the Guardian briefly reports it.  We have to roll up our sleeves and help this move.  Surely Americans in these days of economic stress should be able to convince Barak Obama that the United States needs for domestic purposes the $3billion in military aid that it sends Israel yearly.

Item 4 is on an entirely different subject.  About an hour ago Pnina Feiler phoned me.  She has just recently returned from Greece, she at 88 and another person who was 86 and a few others were told that they should not continue the trip.  She stressed that all the news in Israel yesterday about one of the boats being under the Sierra Leone flag, and about Israel convincing Sierra Leone to tell the Greeks that the boat was not allowed to fly Sierra Leone colors was fake.  A brief report of this fake news follows Dror Feiler’s remark.  I was  unable to reach Dror, but according to Pnina, the boat might already be on its way to await other of the boats.  Apparently, we have not  yet heard the last of the flotilla.  The coming days will tell.

Item 5 is an interesting and informative article on ‘flotillas and the law.’

I have included item 6 purely because of one statement.  The item reports that Israel and Turkey will meet to try to find a formula for the UN report on the Mavi Marmara flotilla that both can agree on.  Highly unlikely unless Turkey drops 2 of its demands—one that Israel apologize, the other that the report declare that the blockade is illegal (in red below).

Item 7 “The tactic of arresting children” is about Israel’s middle of the night arrests of children.  The report is mainly about these activities in Silwan.

Item 8 is Today in Palestine.  Please at least glance through so that you have some idea of what is happening in the West Bank as well as in Gaza.

I really wanted to include a few additional items, but realize that it’s unlikely that you’ll have time to read even these below, so they will wait till tomorrow or another time..

All the best,



1. From: Michael  July 9, 2011

Palestinian civil society, as broadly represented within the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), has today issued an international call for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

The BNC is asking activists and organisations to get in touch to plan and discuss initiatives designed to achieve the implementation of a military embargo.

“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law,” reads the BNC’s call.

Youth activists delivered the demands of the call to UN offices in Ramallah (see photos).

The BNC has today also released a detailed legal and political analysis of international military relations with Israel, their impact and the obligation of the international community and civil society to take action.

The call, released to commemorate the anniversaries of the ICJ ruling on the wall and the BDS call, has been supported by Nobel Peace prize winners and prominent political figures. The Brazilian and South African trade union federations CUT and COSATU have released statements of support for the military embargo call, and dozens of arms campaign and Palestine solidarity organisations and NGOs are due to announce actions they plan to take in support of the call over the weekend and on Monday.

Organisations that are issuing statements of support or announcing campaigns as part of the launch are kindly requested to send links to relevant material to

More info:

Hind Awwad and Michael Deas
Coordinators, Palestinian BDS National Committee

Press release:



The largest Palestinian coalition encompassing all Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and mass organisations, the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), today called for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

“A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law,” reads the BNC’s call.

The call comes amidst mounting pressure to hold Israel accountable to international law, including from the Freedom Flotilla 2 and the Welcome to Palestine “Fly-in” which began arriving at Tel-Aviv airport this morning amidst chaotic scenes despite many activists being prevented from flying from Western airports.

Palestinian activists with the Hirak Shababi youth movement gathered in front of the United Nations office in Ramallah to symbolically deliver the call along with evidence of international military collusion with Israel.

Youth activist Aghsan said: “We face Israeli repression and violence on a daily basis. Our generation has grown up under occupation and seeing friends and relatives killed, injured or imprisoned.  We demand that the international community stops funding and profiting from the military and security apparatus that sustains the colonial Israeli apartheid regime. All trade and cooperation must stop. Young Palestinians demand a comprehensive military embargo now”

Supporters of the military embargo call include Nobel Peace Prize winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. Alternative Nobel Prize winners Walden Bello and Chico Whitaker and best-selling Canadian writer and journalist Naomi Klein have also supported the demands of the call.

“I endorse this call for an arms embargo because we desire peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis through non-violent ways,” said Archbishop Tutu.

Trade union confederations such as the South African COSATU and the Brazilian CUT, have announced their support for the campaign.

A spokesperson for COSATU said: “States and inter-state organizations, such as the United Nations, have a legal obligation to ensure that Israel complies with international law, but they have failed to do so. Impunity emboldens Israel while its international military trade relations bankroll and entrench its continued violence, militarism and expansionism..”

Civil society groups from more than a dozen countries are set to announce their support for the campaign and the actions they intend to take over the course of the launch.

The European Network Against the Arms Trade will announce its support of the military embargo call on Monday.

The call has been released to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling confirming the illegality of Israel’s West Bank apartheid Wall and the sixth anniversary of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.

The BNC has today published a detailed legal and political analysis of international military relations with Israel and their impact.


In Palestine:              00970-598921821
In Europe +44 (0) 2032 392 170

* Lo-res photos available on Flikr. Hi-res photos from the delivery of the demands today in Ramallah will be available on request from

* A copy of the full call to action by the BNC, and detailed background paper on the arms trade with is available at or email

* A background document published today by the BNC argues that military cooperation with Israel is a key form of international complicity with Israeli violations of international law. In 2010, approximately 80% of Israel’s military production output was exported, and exports by Israeli arms companies totaled $7.2bn. From 2000 to 2009, the United States gave to Israel $24.1bn in military aid. Using this public money, the United States delivered weapons and related equipment valued at $18.9bn during the same period. From 2003 to 2008, European Union member states approved licenses worth over 1 billion euros in arms sales to Israel.



JULY 9, 2011

Free Gaza Movement Supports Call for

Military Embargo on Israel

(London, 9 July 2011) – The Free Gaza Movement welcomes, endorses, and supports the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) call for an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

Freedom Flotilla II, and Israel’s attempts to thwart it through outrageous acts of intimidation, lies, threats of violence, and sabotage, has reminded the world that the criminal blockade on the Gaza Strip is still in force, depriving Palestinian civilians of their basic rights.

Last May Israel used its arsenal to launch a full military assault on Freedom Flotilla I, killing nine of our colleagues and injuring over 50. This violent assault on an unarmed civilian convoy in international waters was just another example of Israel’s unlawful use of military force and its blatant disregard for international law.

It is through the use of military force that Israel maintains its occupation and colonial apartheid regime in Palestine. Further, every Israeli military operation is used as an opportunity to showcase and promote its weapons to the global arms market thus ensuring the profits needed to support its unlawful actions.

It is with this backdrop, and on the 7th anniversary of the historic International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision ruling the Apartheid wall illegal, that we support the call for a military embargo on Israel.

In doing so, we join hundreds of civil society organizations representing millions of people from all across the globe, including trade union confederations such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the Brazilian Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), anti-arms trade, and justice and solidarity campaigns who have announced their support for the campaign.

The appeal for an embargo is issued at a time of growing civil society mobilisation and pressure on Israel. The Freedom Flotillas, the growing Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, and yesterday’s ‘fly-in’ to Ben Gurion airport, all serve to highlight the continued injustices faced by the Palestinians and the resolve of international civil society to take action to bring these wrongs to an end.

The call finds legal legitimacy in the form of the ICJ decision which stated that all states are obligated “not to render aid or assistance” in maintaining the situation created by Israel’s violations of international law. It aims to target the complicity of state and inter-state organisations in Israel’s violent repression of Palestinians and the bankrolling of Israel’s colonial regime through the partaking in military trade relations.

Supporters of the call, including Nobel peace laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire, believe that a comprehensive military embargo, like the one imposed by the UN Security Council against the apartheid regime in South Africa, is an essential step to pressure Israel to abide by international law.

For further information go to:


3.  The Guardian,

8 July 2011

Palestinians launch campaign to embargo arms sales to Israel

Today marks seven years since the international court of justice ruling that the apartheid wall being built by Israel in the occupied West Bank is illegal and should be torn down. Yet the wall continues to be built, cutting children off from schools, farmers from their land and families from each other, devastating virtually every aspect of Palestinian life. A military embargo of Israel is long overdue.

Today, Palestinian civil society and its supporters worldwide are launching a global campaign for a comprehensive, military embargo against Israel, similar to that imposed against apartheid-era South Africa. The UK government continues to sell millions of pounds of arms to Israel in violation of its own arms export policy. In 2010, the UK government approved licences for arms exports to Israel worth £23.7m.

The government also buys military equipment from Israel which is “battle-tested” against Palestinians living in the occupied territories. By selling arms to Israel the UK is giving direct material support for Israel’s aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions. A complete arms embargo between the UK and Israel must be implemented immediately.

Hind Awwad Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee

Sarah Colborne Palestine Solidarity Campaign


4.Begin forwarded message:

From: Dror Feiler <>

Date: July 9, 2011 2:20:49 PM GMT+03:00

To: Pnina Feiler <>, Noga Löwenstein <>, Gunilla Sköld Feiler <>, Tigran Feiler <>

Subject: Fight the outsourcing of the siege to Europe

There is a media war ouside and we need all your support. Israel and its allies are spreading fauls info, dont belive all you read about ships being stopped, detained and other rummors.

We are Swedish onboard, Jabar Amin, Maria-Pia Boetius and Stellan Vinthagen on the Juliano and me Dror Feiler on the French boat Dignite.
Both boats hve the needed pappers and are ready to sail. We are waiting other boats to be ready (maybe) and for a weaker wind. Make your voices heard all over. Protest against the outsourcing of the siege to Europe.

Dror Feiler
Bjurholmsgatan 1B
11638 Stockholm

Tel : +46 8 6442717
Tel : +46 70 2855777 (mobile)

One incident that Dror refers to as being Media War is Israeli radio news claim that Israel had foiled an attempt of one of the boats to sail, as below.  According to Pnina (Dror’s mother) he claims that the ship never sailed under a Sierra Leone flag.  I was unable to reach Dror for comment, but it appears likely that the boat will sail to meet with other vessels and continue to Gaza.  In any event, it seems that we have not yet heard the last of the flotilla.


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli pressures on Freetown succeeded in foiling the sail of a Sierra Leone flagged ship, a part of the Freedom Flotilla II, from Greece to the Gaza Strip.

The Hebrew radio said on Saturday that Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman made a telephone contact with the president of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma and asked him to take whatever steps necessary to block the sail of the Juliano ship, which is flying the flag of his country and which is anchoring at a Greek port, claiming that its sail to Gaza would be a provocation.

It pointed out that Koroma ordered the removal of the ship’s flag which gave the Greek authorities the pretext to deny it sailing right.


5.  [forwarded by Esther R]

07 July 2011 On Flotillas and the Law

By Lawrence Davidson, Reader Supported News

Reader Supported News | Perspective

Part I – Civil Society Movements vs. Corrupt Politics

When it comes to the struggle against Israel’s policies of oppression there are two conflicting levels: that of government and that of civil society. The most recent example of this duality is the half dozen or so small ships held captive in the ports of Greece. The ships, loaded with humanitarian supplies for the one-and-a-half million people of the Gaza strip, are instruments of a civil society campaign against the inhumanity of the Israeli state. The forces that hold them back are the instruments of governments corrupted by special-interest influence and political bribery.

Most of us are unaware of the potential of organized civil society because we have resigned the public sphere to professional politicians and bureaucrats and retreated into a private sphere of everyday life, which we see as separate from politics. This is a serious mistake. Politics shapes our lives whether we pay attention to it or not. By ignoring it we allow the power of the state to respond not so much to the citizenry as to special interests. Our indifference means that the politicians and government bureaucrats live their professional lives within systems largely uninterested in, and sometimes incapable of, acting in the public good because they are corrupted by lobby power. The ability to render justice is also often a casualty of the way things operate politically. The stymieing of the latest flotilla due to the disproportionate influence of Zionist special interests on US and European Middle East foreign policy is a good example of this situation.

There are small but growing elements of society which understand this problem and have moved to remedy it through organizing common citizens to reassert influence in the public sphere. Their efforts constitute civil society movements. Not all of these efforts can be deemed progressive. The “Tea Party” phenomenon in the United States is a radical conservative movement that aims at minimizing government to the point of self-destruction. But other movements of civil society, in their expressions of direct action in the cause of justice, are much healthier. The worldwide movement for the boycott, divestment and sanctioning (BDS) of Israel, of which the flotilla movement is an offshoot, is one of these.

Part II – The Forum of International Law

The resulting struggle between the corrupt politics that keeps the West aligned with the oppressive and racist ideology that rules Israel and the civil-society movement that seeks to liberate the victims of that ideology goes on worldwide and in many forums. One is the forum of international law. Presently, the debate revolves around the legality of Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the effort of the flotilla movement to defy it. Let us take a look at this aspect of the conflict.

1. The well-known American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a strong defender of Israel, has blatantly stated, “Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law – anyone who tries to break it can be arrested and prosecuted in a court of law.” Of course, Dershowitz is not an expert on international law. Rather he has made his reputation as a defense lawyer with a passion for murder cases (which makes him quite suited to defend the Israeli state). This being said, what is the basis for his assertion that the Gaza blockade is legal?

2. The argument for the legality of the blockade is based on the 1909 Declaration of London and the 1994 San Remo Manual on Armed Conflict at Sea. Both are part of an international treaty system that sets down the parameters of much international law. According to these documents two states engaged in armed conflict can legally blockade one and other for clear military reasons. However, any blockade would cease to be legal if “damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade.” Defenders of Israeli actions such as Dershowitz do a very superficial reading of the documents and reason that Israel is in an armed conflict with Hamas, which is the ruling authority in Gaza, and so Israel can legally blockade Gaza so as to stop the importation of weapons and “terrorist” fighters.

3. The holes in this reasoning are big enough to sail a flotilla of small ships through (if only they were not imprisoned in Greek ports). Thus, Israel certainly does not consider itself engaged in an armed conflict with another state. If you doubt this just ask any member of the present Israeli government whether he or she would define Palestine, including Gaza, as a state. In truth, the proper definition of Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza is that of an occupying colonial power whose policies and actions are stark violations of the Geneva Conventions. That is, by virtue of their colonizing actions and treatment of residents of the Occupied Territories, their presence in Palestine beyond the 1967 borders is not legal (one can also argue over the legality of Israel within the 1967 borders). That means those they are in armed conflict with are those resisting illegal occupation. There is no international law that makes it legal for Israel, itself acting illegally, to blockade those legally resisting its actions. The arbitrary labeling of those resisting as “terrorists” does not change this legal situation.

4. As noted above, “legal” blockades must have a military objective and must not do excessive harm to the civilian population. Yet there is evidence that Israel’s goals for the blockade are not primarily military but are, instead, aimed at committing excessive harm to the people of Gaza. The Gaza blockade was not done out of fear of weapons smuggling or terrorist infiltration, but rather constituted a conscious act of economic warfare against the people of Gaza for having the audacity to be ruled by Hamas, the winner of a 2006 free and fair election. There is documentary evidence for this interpretation of events. For instance, in 2006 Dov Weisglass, an adviser to then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, publicly stated that the goal of Israeli policy in Gaza was to “put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger.” Then, in June of 2010 McClatchy Newspapers published Israeli government documents attesting to the fact that Jerusalem primarily saw the blockade as an act of economic warfare, and not as a security measure. To this you can add the fact that Israeli gunboats keep shooting at Gaza fisherman who they know are doing nothing except fishing. What we have here is the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians. As such, it is not legal, it is illegal – a violation of the Geneva Conventions. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, usually so responsive to US demands, momentarily broke free and in his 2009 annual report told the Israelis they should end their unwarranted blockade. He was ignored.

Part III – We Cannot Count on Governments or International Law

So how is it that the Israelis can get away with these crimes? It is because, at the level of government, their lobbyists and advocates wield enough influence to successfully warp the policy formulation of Western governments. Against this corruptive influence, international law means very little. Even embarrassing historical analogies mean little. Nima Shirazi, whose blog Wide Asleep In America can be found at, wrote a very good piece entitled “The Deplorable Acts: The Quartet Comments on Gaza.” In this piece he points out the relative similarity between the Gaza blockade and the blockade of Boston set up by imperial Britain in late 1773. The Americans of that time labeled the action “the Intolerable Acts.” Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and her boss in the White House ought to consider this analogy, but then there is that lobby power factor that would prevent them from ever acknowledging it.

As a consequence, those who seek justice for the Palestinians must, for the moment, not place much hope in government or international law. They must act within the realm of civil society, building the BDS movement and its offshoots. Where government moves in and attempts to block civil society actions, these actions must be turned against government if only by using them as campaign tools to expand the BDS movement further. If we persist there will come a time, as was the case with South Africa, when the power of civil society will be such that politicians and bureaucrats will see the cost of defying popular opinion as greater than defying Zionist lobbies.

For all intents and purposes, when it comes to the Palestine-Israeli conflict, the United States and Israeli governments have placed themselves above all law. That means not just international law, but selective domestic law as well. The ubiquitous and improper use of such categories as “terrorist,” or “rendering material aid to terrorists,” are the corruptive vectors here. The only hope for justice and the integrity of law is in the realm of civil society, which might in the future redeem not only Palestine, but the US and Israel too.


Lawrence Davidson is a professor of Middle East history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. His blog is To the Point Analyses.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


6. Ynet Saturday,

July 09, 2011

Turkey’s Erdogan. Insisting on apology Photo: Reuters

‘Israel-Turkey talks to resume in NY’

Turkish diplomat tells Hürriyet daily that despite failure to resolve differences, countries’ representatives will hold another round of negotiations in late July,7340,L-4092936,00.html


After failing to resolve their differences during three-day talks this week, Israel and Turkey will resume negotiations later this month in New York, Özdem Sanberk, the Turkish member of the UN panel investigating the Israeli raid on the aid ship Mavi Marmara, told the Hürriyet daily on Friday.

Jerusalem and Ankara have been trying to solve the crisis in the past few months ahead of the publication of the UN report, but to no avail. The report’s release has been postponed to July 27.

The next round of talks between Israel and Turkey is also expected to be held in New York, although an exact timetable has yet to be set.

Turkey is demanding that Israel apologize for the death of nine activists onboard the Marmara ship during the IDF raid, a demand Israel has refused to accept.

But this isn’t the only problem. Sources in Turkey say Ankara won’t have the report authorize the blockade on the Gaza Strip and insists on the siege being defined as “illegal”, as determined by the UN Human Rights Council.

Israeli sources said the report would include the conclusion that Israel acted prematurely against the flotilla activists last year and used excessive power, but that its actions were legal and that the blockade on Gaza was legal. The report will also criticize Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan said on Friday it was “unthinkable” to normalize ties with Israel unless the Jewish state apologized for the killing of nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists aboard the Gaza-bound Turkish ship.


7. Al Jazeera,

08 Jul 2011 10:56

The tactic of arresting Palestinian children

The Israeli tactic of arresting and detaining Palestinian children is aimed to deter resistance.

Jillian Kestler-DAmours

Palestinian children, traumatised by the occupation, are regularly arrested, detained, and interrogated by Israeli security forces[GALLO/GETTY]

Dozens of Palestinian children clamoured excitedly in the East Jerusalem village of Silwan on June 26, each clutching the strings to as many helium-filled balloons as they could. Moments later, the children watched as the sky above this flashpoint Palestinian neighbourhood filled with red, green, black and white – the colours of the Palestinian flag – and the hundreds of balloons were taken away by the wind.

“This event is to make the children happier, as they’re letting go of these little balloons, and so they see that we’re taking care of them and support them and will always be here with them,” explained Murad Shafa, a Silwan resident and member of the Popular Committee of al-Bustan, which organised the event to commemorate International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

“These balloons represent every small child that has been arrested and beaten at the hands of police,” Shafa said. “The duty of the police is to protect children and not to try to arrest them. [We and] our children suffer greatly from the municipality and the occupation police.”

Nestled just south of Jerusalem’s Old City walls and the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, in what is known as the Holy Basin area, Silwan is the scene of weekly confrontations between some of the village’s 40,000 Palestinian residents, more than 400 Israeli settlers, and Israeli soldiers, police officers and private settler security guards who maintain a constant presence in the neighbourhood.

An average day in Silwan normally involves a sky filled with a mixture of suffocating Israeli tear gas and thick, black smoke curling up from burning tires in the road, regularly used to block Israeli army vehicles from entering the area. Israeli security forces regularly clash with Palestinian youth in the densely populated neighbourhood, and night raids, arrests, and the use of live ammunition, among other weapons, against residents is commonplace.

Children arrested and detained

In the past year, however, a surge in the number of arrests of Palestinian youth has been witnessed. According to Israeli police records, 1,267 criminal files against minors accused of throwing stones were opened across East Jerusalem between November 2009 and December 2010. This pattern has continued into 2011, as hundreds of children continue to be arrested and detained for allegedly throwing stones, especially in Silwan.

Frequently taken from their beds in the middle of the night, children have been interrogated without the presence of lawyers, their parents or other family members, and nearly all have been subjected to some form of either physical or psychological abuse during their arrest and questioning. This practice violates both international conventions, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Fourth Geneva Convention, and Israel’s own laws related to the rights of minors.

According to The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Israel’s Youth Law is routinely violated in the arrest and interrogation procedures of Palestinian children from East Jerusalem. More specifically, the law’s provisions that arresting a minor should be avoided if possible, that a minor’s arrest will be for the shortest possible period of time, and that “in any decision to arrest a minor, the suspect’s age and the impact of the arrest on his physical and mental well-being and development must be taken into account” are regularly ignored.

Further, while the age of criminal responsibility is 12-years-old, children as young as seven have been arrested in Silwan and interrogated on the suspicion of stone-throwing. “Even when the police have been aware that the minor in question was under the age of criminal responsibility, they have made no distinction between these younger children and older ones in the way they have conducted their investigations,” ACRI found in a March 2011 report.

“Children have been detained for hours on end, handcuffed, they have been threatened during interrogations, screamed at, and coerced by any means into revealing information about the incidents taking place in their neighbourhoods. In this context it is important to emphasise that the younger the child is, the greater the chance that he will experience trauma and psychological damage from such treatment,” the report continued.

According to Sahar Francis, the Director of Addameer, the Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, these arrests are not only meant to intimidate and scare youth, but are used as a political tool to discourage Palestinian political activism more generally.

“First, it’s to threaten [the children] and make them think ten times before being active in the future of any political activism. [The Israeli authorities] are aware that this experience will be with the person for the rest of his life so by one way or another, it will affect the whole community,” Francis said.

“It’s also about collecting confessions against adult activists because they know that it’s are easier to collect confessions from [younger people], and they can give names of older organisers,” she added.

Settler presence inflames tensions

In Silwan specifically, the purpose of arresting Palestinian children is clear: to deter Palestinian residents from resisting ongoing Israeli settlement expansion and Jewish-only control of the neighbourhood, as well as being submissive in the face of police and army violence, house demolitions, and the daily oppression that accompany this colonisation project.

Private, right-wing Israeli organisations with the stated goal of settling Jewish families in various parts of East Jerusalem have increased their presence in Silwan in recent years, including Elad and Ateret Cohanim.

According to a report released by Israeli NGO Ir Amim, the first settlers affiliated with Elad moved into the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan in 1991. Today, the organisation has acquired a number of properties and manages the City of David archaeological site, which brings in over hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

According to residents, the Jerusalem municipality has also pushed zoning and planning policies for the exclusive benefit of Jewish residents and tourists in Silwan. Plans to build a park where King David’s garden was once allegedly located, for instance, would necessitate the demolition of 88 homes in al-Bustan, in effect destroying the entire neighbourhood and evicting all its residents.

Today, it is estimated that approximately 400 Israeli settlers live amidst Silwan’s 40,000 Palestinian residents.

These settlers are provided with 24-hour private security guards – the majority employed by private Israeli security firm Civilian Intelligence (“Modi’in Ezrahi” in Hebrew), which is subcontracted by the Israeli Ministry of Construction and Housing – and cameras have been set up throughout the neighbourhood.

According to an ACRI report released in September 2010 titled “Unsafe Space”, the cost of employing private security guards for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem in 2010 alone was approximately 54.5 million NIS ($16m). This sum came entirely from Israeli taxpayers.

“From the testimony of residents, the neighbourhood perception is that security guards are abusive, both against children playing in alleyways and against adults. They employ verbal and physical violence, and even make use of loaded weapons. Moreover, according to residents, the security guards are “quick on the trigger”, and perceive themselves as holding the ultimate power to serve as arbiters of daily life in the neighbourhood,” the report found.

“Unlike police officers, whose ability to use force is limited by the strict guidelines established by law and police procedure, private security guards are not subject to these laws, nor are they obligated by the basic rules that guide the police in carrying out their duties … the result is that the security guards employed in East Jerusalem are not reined in by any clear working definitions, a situation which invites the abuse of power.”

Indeed, a seven-floor Israeli settlement named Beit Yonatan in Silwan’s Baten el-Hawa district was the site of the killing of 17-year-old Milad Ayyash in May of this year. The exact circumstances of Ayyash’s death have yet to be fully investigated. Even the Israeli state prosecutor has said the apartment block, built in 2004 by extreme right-wing settler group Ateret Cohanim, needs to be vacated as soon as possible.

In another case from September 2010, an Israeli settler security guard shot and killed 32-year-old Silwan resident Samer Sarhan under questionable circumstances. His death fuelled numerous days of riots throughout East Jerusalem and a string of arrests in Silwan for stone-throwing and other charges, all stemming from clashes with Israeli security forces.

End goal to displace Palestinians

Shortly after Israel began occupying East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, the state conducted a census of Palestinian residents and provided approximately 66,000 of them with Jerusalem identification cards. Anyone absent during the census was not given Jerusalem residency rights.

Since that time, more than 14,000 Jerusalem ID cards have been revoked from Palestinians, as a draconian system of proving that one’s “centre of life” is in the city has been enforced by the Israeli authorities. Leaving the country for seven years, or acquiring foreign citizenship, can mean losing the right to live in Jerusalem and even entering the city to work, visit holy sites or see family and friends.

This policy of revoking Jerusalem ID cards – combined with illegal Jewish-only settlement expansion, discriminatory zoning policies and home demolitions stemming from the inability of Palestinians to receive building permits – is implemented in order to safeguard the so-called “demographic balance” of the city. The Jerusalem municipality is ardently working to increase Jewish presence in Jerusalem, in particular in the Holy Basin area surrounding the Old City, of which Silwan is a part, in order to maintain a Jewish majority and limit the number of Palestinian Jerusalemites to fewer than 30 per cent.

In March 2011, Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, stated that: “The continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians is creating an intolerable situation in the part of the city previously controlled by Jordan … [and] can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing.”

Neighbourhoods such as Silwan – where resistance, political awareness and youth empowerment projects are thriving, and which sit in key areas the municipality deems in its interests to control – pose a real threat to Israel’s fulfillment of its stated, and highly sought-after, goal of “demographic balance”.

Thus, while their ultimate purpose is to intimidate and deter Palestinian Jerusalemites from resisting Israeli policies, the arrests of over 1,200 minors throughout East Jerusalem must be seen as one of the many tools being used today to facilitate the displacement of Palestinian Jerusalemites and the preservation of Jewish control over the city.

“The Israeli police supports the municipality and tries to arrest our children, and acts brutally towards them, and fires [tear] gas at them, and arrests them on the way to school or to the store,” said Murad Shafa, shortly after children in Silwan released hundreds of balloons into the air on June 26.

“But to that we say that we will remain here, and we will teach our children steadfastness and stability and permanence,” he added. “That’s why we will remain in our homes, on our land, with our lives and in our Jerusalem.”

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a Canadian freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. She regularly contributes to The Electronic Intifada, Inter-Press Service and Free Speech Radio News. More of her work can be found at

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


8.  Today in Palestine

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Somalia: Risk-Free And Above The Law: U.S. Globalizes Drone Warfare

By Rick Rozoff

Last week the Washington Post, the New York Times and other major American newspapers reported that the U.S. launched its first unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile attack inside Somalia.

The strike was the first acknowledged Pentagon military attack inside the Horn of Africa nation since a helicopter raid staged by commandos in 2009 and the first use of an American drone to conduct a missile strike there. Drones had earlier been used in the country in their original capacity, for surveillance, including identifying targets for bomb and missile attacks, one being shot down in October of 2009. But as Britain’s The Guardian reported on July 30, the strike in Somalia marked “the expansion of the pilotless war campaign to a sixth country,” as the remote-controlled aircraft have already been employed to deadly effect in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and most recently Libya.

The lethal Somali mission was reportedly carried out by the U.S. Special Operations Command, in charge of executing special forces operations of the respective units of the four main branches of the American military: The Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy. On July 4 the U.S. armed forces publication Stars and Stripes reported that there are currently 7,000 American special forces in Afghanistan and another 3,000 in Iraq, with the bulk of the latter to be transferred to the first country in what was described as a “mini-surge” of special operations troops to compensate for the withdrawal of 10,000 other troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Last week BBC News reported on the proposed transfer of drone aircraft by the U.S. to its military client states Uganda and Burundi for the war in Somalia. Citing American defense officials, BBC disclosed that four drones will be supplied to the two nations who have 9,000 troops engaged in combat operations against anti-government insurgents in the Somali capital of Mogadishu.

According to a New York Times feature of July 1: “[T]he United States has largely been relying on proxy forces in Somalia, including African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, to support Somalia’s fragile government. The Pentagon is sending nearly $45 million in military supplies, including night-vision equipment and four small unarmed drones, to Uganda and Burundi to help combat the rising terror threat in Somalia. During the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2007, clandestine operatives from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command initiated missions into Somalia from an airstrip in Ethiopia.”

On June 15 a major newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, The National, reported on the escalation of deadly U.S. drone attacks in Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia. It cited an official with the Yemeni Ministry of Defense claiming that the U.S. had launched over 15 drone strikes in the country in the first two weeks of June. The newspaper also quoted the deputy governor of Abyan province, Abdullah Luqman, decrying the attacks and stating: “These are the lives of innocent people being killed. At least 130 people have been killed in the last two weeks by US drones.”

The leader of an observation committee created to evacuate local residents added that “more than 40,000 people have left Abyan province because they feared drone strikes.”

The same defense official mentioned above warned that the “United States is turning Yemen into another Pakistan.” [1]

Recent reports in the American press reveal that the Pentagon will establish a new air base in the Persian Gulf from which to intensify drone strikes in Yemen. According to a Russian source, “The location is kept secret but some say this might be Bahrain as it already has a US base [the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet] and provides the safest route to Yemen for US drones through American ally Saudi Arabia.” [2]

The drone missile assaults in Pakistan, which caused a record number of deaths – over 1,000 – last year, are carried out by the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose last director is the new secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, a transfer that presages a yet greater intensification of the deadly attacks inside the South Asian nation.

On June 5 the 40th drone strike of the year killed at least six people in South Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, bringing the death toll this year to at least 350.

Late last month the Pakistani government ordered the U.S. to vacate the Shamsi Air Base in the province of Balochistan which had been used for drone strikes inside the nation. Washington has in the interim shifted those operations to upgraded air bases in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found that only 3 percent of Pakistanis support the drone attacks in the country’s tribal belt.

At the end of June, 28 people were reported killed by drone strikes in the South Waziristan Agency, with a local resident quoted by Pajhwok Afghan News as stating “that 20 civilians were killed and several others injured in the second attack.” [3]

Some 2,100 of the 2,500 people killed in the strikes since they began in 2004 have lost their lives since 2009, when Barack Obama became the president of the U.S. and Leon Panetta director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

On July 5 a British Reaper drone killed at least four Afghan civilians and wounded two more in a missile attack in Helmand province. The use of the Reaper, rightly referred to as the world’s deadliest drone, marks the crossing of an ominous threshold. It is the first of what is described as a hunter-killer – long-endurance, high-altitude – remote-piloted aircraft that can be equipped with fifteen times the amount of weaponry and fly at three times the speed of the Predator used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya. (The U.S. has used Reapers in Iraq since 2008 and in Afghanistan starting the following year. Toward the end of 2009 the Pentagon deployed Reapers to the East African island nation of Seychelles along with over 100 military personnel.)

On June 28 the U.S. lost the third of three drones in Afghanistan in as many days.

A recent Refugees International report stated that over 250,000 Afghans have been forced to flee their towns and villages during the last two years, over 91,000 so far this year: “Not only have NATO-led troops and Afghan forces failed to protect Afghans, but international airstrikes and night raids by U.S. Special Forces were destroying homes, crops and infrastructure, traumatising civilians and displacing tens of thousands of people.” [4]

Last month an RT feature suitably titled “US expands drone war, extremists expect new recruits” stated:

“The US has stepped up its drone attacks against militants in the Middle East, but the growing number of civilian deaths in the strikes has sparked public anger, with concern the action is driving up the number of extremist recruits.

“In Pakistan, CIA drone strikes aim at terrorists but end up killing mostly civilians. Public outrage is growing. Hatred and anger foster more terror.

“Washington now sees Yemen as the most dangerous Al-Qaeda outpost, and is planning to step up drone attacks on the country, establishing a base in the Persian Gulf specifically for that purpose.”

The source added:

“Americans are likely to have a freer hand going it alone, with the CIA to take a central role.

“As the agency is not subject to the accountability the US military is legally under, one can expect more bombs to fall on Yemen.

“There is fury in Yemen over the killing of scores of civilians by the drone strikes. In one attack there, the American military presumably aiming at an Al-Qaeda training camp ended up killing dozens of women and children. In another strike a year ago, a drone mistakenly killed a deputy governor in Yemen, his family and aides.

“With the expansion of the drone war it seems the US is seeking only a missile solution to fighting Al-Qaeda. Analysts say that some of the main features of this global chase are not having to take into account the voice of the nation that they are bombing and the lack of accountability when it comes to civilian deaths. These features add more paradox to the US strategy, with many asking whether America is fighting and fostering terror at the same time.” [5]

Analyst Denis Fedutinov told Voice of Russia last month:

“The US used drones already in the Balkans campaign, then in Iraq and Afghanistan and now in Libya. The US and Israel are the world drone leaders. Now America has several thousand drones of different classes.” [6]

In fact, last year U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Glenn Walters told an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement conference that ten years ago America had 200 drones in its arsenal, but by 2010 that number had risen to 6,000 and that by next year it would be 8,000. A fortyfold increase.

And in May of 2010 “NATO representatives from around the world” visited the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in the state of Indiana to observe drone flight tests.

By transferring control of the 110-day war against Libya from U.S. Africa Command to NATO on March 31 the Obama administration intended to, among other purposes, evade accountability to Congress (and federal law) under provisions of the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

The resolution mandates that Congress must authorize military actions initiated by the president within 60 days of their commencement or grant him a 30-day extension. The 60-day limit was reached on May 20.

The White House responded to Congressional opposition to prolonging military action in Libya by releasing a 38-page report that claimed “US military operations are distinct from the kind of ‘hostilities’ contemplated by the resolution’s 60-day termination provision.”

It also maintained that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

Which is to say, as long as American military personnel are not in harm’s way it is not a war. Legal Adviser of the State Department Harold Koh stated: “We are acting lawfully… We are not saying the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional or should be scrapped or that we can refuse to consult Congress. We are saying the limited nature of this particular mission is not the kind of ‘hostilities’ envisioned by the War Powers Resolution.”

General Carter Ham, the head of U.S. Africa Command, last month “said a Republican-sponsored bill that would block American Predator drone strikes in Libya would hurt the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance,” and “predicted that NATO would be unable to replace certain key U.S. missions, including the drone strikes and attacks to neutralize Libyan air defenses that threaten allied planes, if proposed funding cuts are made.” [7]

The launching of over 200 cruise missiles into Libya in the opening days of the war and the fact that, as the New York Times reported on June 21, “American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times” since command of the war was transferred from U.S. Africa Command to NATO – after which NATO has conducted over 14,000 air missions, more than 5,000 termed strike sorties – do not constitute armed hostilities in the mind of Mr. Koh, who stated last year that “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.” According to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top legal adviser, deadly drone attacks are “consistent with its [the U.S.’s] inherent right to self-defense.” [8] Koh cagily refers to murdering people on a grand scale by remote activation as targeted killing rather than targeted assassination, as the second is expressly prohibited under international law.

In a rare instance of dissenting from White House war policy, last month the New York Times published the following:

“Jack L. Goldsmith, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, said the Obama theory would set a precedent expanding future presidents’ unauthorized war-making powers, especially given the rise of remote-controlled combat technology.”

It further quoted Goldsmith directly:

“The administration’s theory implies that the president can wage war with drones and all manner of offshore missiles without having to bother with the War Powers Resolution’s time limits.”

Neither cruise missiles nor Hellfire missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles have pilots on board, so the lives of U.S. service members are safe as Pakistanis, Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis and Somalis are torn to shreds by U.S. strikes.

Wars of aggression are now both safe and “legal.”


1) The National, June 15, 2011

2) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
3) Pajhwok Afghan News, June 28, 2011
4) NATO airstrikes, night raids blamed for Afghan IDP crisis – report
AlertNet, June 29, 2011
5) RT, June 22, 2011

6) Voice of Russia, June 16, 2011
7) Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
8) Inside Justice, March 26, 2011

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Climate Change: Still Worse Than You Think



Jarod Carruthers/Flickr

While I was on vacation last week I took a side trip to New Haven to visit Jeff Park, an old high school friend who’s now a geology professor at Yale. We ate some pizza at Frank Pepe, walked around the campus a bit, and then dropped by his office, where he had a stack of reprints of his latest journal article. Take one, he said. Maybe it’ll be good fodder for the blog.

The title is a mouthful: “Geologic constraints on the glacial amplification of Phanerozoic climate sensitivity,” coauthored with Dana Royer. (The Phanerozoic, in case it’s slipped your mind, is the geologic eon spanning approximately the last 500 million years.) Roughly speaking, the article is an updated look at a computer model that estimates how much climate reacts to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The model originally concluded that a doubling of CO2 produces a temperature increase just under three degrees Celsius, an estimate that’s in pretty good agreement with other models. So far, so good. But 500 million years is a long time, and several researchers have proposed that climate sensitivity might vary over that period depending on whether or not the earth is in an ice age. So in the new paper, the authors modeled glacial and non-glacial eras separately. And the best fit with the data suggests that climate sensitivity does indeed change depending on glaciation. In fact, during an ice age, the most probable climate sensitivity is six to eight degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, more than twice the previous estimate.

Why do we care? As the authors drily put it, “Because the human species lives in a glacial interval of Earth history, this modeling result has more than academic interest.” You see, the most recent ice age in human history is the one that started about 30 million years ago and continues to the present day. We’re living through a glacial interval right now, and that means that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere might produce a temperature increase of six to eight degrees Celsius, not the mere three degrees Celsius most commonly estimated.

This is just one model. There are lots of parameters to fit, there are only two glacial intervals to test, and the error bars are fairly large. In other words, it might be wrong. But it’s one more data point in an increasing series of data points suggesting that climate change is worse than we thought—though “worse” is something of an understatement. Six degrees isn’t just a bit warmer here and there; it’s a global catastrophe that would likely produce mass extinctions, dead oceans, large-scale desertification, coastal cities underwater, and billions dead. And unless something changes, we’re well on pace for a doubling of CO2 before the end of the century. Buckle your seat belts.

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