Archive | January 10th, 2012

The Geo-Politics of the Strait of Hormuz: Could the U.S. Navy be defeated by Iran in the Persian Gulf?

NOVANEWS

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research,

After years of U.S. threats, Iran is taking steps which suggest that is both willing and capable of closing the Strait of Hormuz. On December 24, 2011 Iran started its Velayat-90 naval drills in and around the Strait of Hormuz and extending from the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman (Oman Sea) to the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Since the conduct of these drills, there has been a growing war of words between Washington and Tehran. Nothing the Obama Administration or the Pentagon have done or said so far, however, has deterred Tehran from continuing its naval drills.


The Geo-Political Nature of the Strait of Hormuz

Besides the fact that it is a vital transit point for global energy resources and a strategic chokepoint, two additional issues should be addressed in regards to the Strait of Hormuz and its relationship to Iran. The first concerns the geography of the Strait of Hormuz. The second pertains to the role of Iran in co-managing the strategic strait in accordance with international law and its sovereign national rights.

The maritime traffic that goes through the Strait of Hormuz has always been in contact with Iranian naval forces, which are predominantly composed of the Iranian Regular Force Navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy. In fact, Iranian naval forces monitor and police the Strait of Hormuz along with the Sultanate of Oman via the Omani enclave of Musandam. More importantly, to transit through the Strait of Hormuz all maritime traffic, including the U.S. Navy, must sail through Iranian territorial waters. Almost all entrances into the Persian Gulf are made through Iranian waters and most exits are through Omani waters.

Iran allows foreign ships to use its territorial waters in good faith and on the basis of Part III of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea’s maritime transit passage provisions that stipulate that vessels are free to sail through the Strait of Hormuz and similar bodies of water on the basis of speedy and continuous navigation between an open port and the high seas. Although Tehran in custom follows the navigation practices of the Law of the Sea, Tehran is not legally bound by them. Like Washington, Tehran signed this international treaty, but never ratified it.

 

American-Iranian Tensions in the Persian Gulf

In recent developments, the Iranian Majlis (Parliament) is re-evaluating the use of Iranian waters at the Strait of Hormuz by foreign vessels.

Legislation is being proposed to block any foreign warships from being able to use Iranian territorial waters to navigate through the Strait of Hormuz without Iranian permission; the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee is currently studying legislation which would establish an official Iranian posture. The latter would hinge upon Iranian strategic interests and national security. [1]

On December 30, 2011, the U.S.S. John C. Stennis carrier passed through the area where Iran was conducting its naval drills. The Commander of the Iranian Regular Forces, Major-General Ataollah Salehi, advised the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other U.S. Navy vessels not to return to the Persian Gulf while Iran was doing its drills, saying that Iran is not in the habit of repeating a warning twice. [2] Shortly after the stern Iranian warning to Washington, the Pentagon’s press secretary responded by making a statement saying: “No one in this government seeks confrontation [with Iran] over the Strait of Hormuz. It’s important to lower the temperature.” [3]

In an actual scenario of military conflict with Iran,  it is very likely that U.S. aircraft carriers would actually operate from outside of the Persian Gulf and from the southern Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. Unless the missile systems that Washington is developing in the petro-sheikhdoms of the southern Persian Gulf are operational, the deployment of large U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf would be unlikely. The reasons for this are tied to geographic realities and the defensive capabilities of Iran.

 

Geography is against the Pentagon: U.S. Naval Strength has limits in the Persian Gulf


U.S. naval strength, which includes the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, has primacy over all the other navies and maritime forces in the world. Its deep sea or oceanic capabilities are unparalleled and unmatched by any other naval power. Primacy does not mean invincibility. U.S. naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are nonetheless vulnerable.

Despite its might and shear strength, geography literally works against U.S. naval power in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. The relative narrowness of the Persian Gulf makes it like a channel, at least in a strategic and military context. Figuratively speaking, the aircraft carriers and warships of the U.S. are confined to narrow waters or are closed in within the coastal waters of the Persian Gulf. [See map above]

This is where the Iranian military’s advanced missile capabilities come into play. The Iranian missile and torpedo arsenal would make short work of U.S. naval assets in the waters of the Persian Gulf where U.S. vessels are constricted. This is why the U.S. has been busily erecting a missile shield system in the Persian Gulf amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the last few years.

Even the small Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf, which appear pitiable and insignificant against a U.S. aircraft carrier or destroyer, threaten U.S. warships. Looks can be deceiving; these Iranian patrol boats can easily launch a barrage of missiles that could significantly damage and effectively sink large U.S. warships. Iranian small patrol boats are also hardly detectable and hard to target.

Iranian forces could also attack U.S. naval capabilities merely by launching missile attacks from the Iranian mainland on the northern shores of the Persian Gulf. Even in 2008 the Washington Institute for Near East Policy acknowledged the threat from Iran’s mobile coastal missile batteries, anti-ship missiles, and missile-armed small ships. [4] Other Iranian naval assets like aerial drones, hovercraft, mines, diver teams, and mini-submarines could also be used in asymmetrical naval warfare against the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Even the Pentagon’s own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran would spell disaster for the United States and its military. One key example is the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) war game in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24, 2002 to August 15, 2002 and took almost two years to prepare. This mammoth drill was amongst the largest and most expensive war games ever held by the Pentagon.  Millennium Challenge 2002 was held shortly after the Pentagon had decided that it would continue the momentum of the war in Afghanistan by targeting Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and finishing off with the big prize of Iran in a broad military campaign to ensure U.S. primacy in the new millennium.

After Millennium Challenge 2002 was finished, the war game was “officially” presented as a simulation of a war against Iraq under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, but in actuality these war games pertained to Iran.[5] The U.S. had already made assessments for the upcoming Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Moreover, Iraq had no naval capabilities that would merit such large-scale use of the U.S. Navy.

Millennium Challenge 2002 was conducted to simulate a war with Iran, which was codenamed “Red” and referred to an unknown Middle Eastern rogue enemy state in the Persian Gulf. Other than Iran, no other country could meet the perimeters and characteristics of “Red” and its military forces, from the patrol boats to the motorcycle units. The war simulation took place because Washington was planning on attacking Iran soon after invading Iraq in 2003.

The scenario in the 2002 war game started with the U.S., codenamed “Blue,” giving Iran a one-day ultimatum to surrender in the year 2007. The war game’s date of 2007 would chronologically correspond to U.S. plans to attack Iran after the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006, which was to extend, according to military plans, into a broader war against Syria. The war against Lebanon, however, did not go as planned and the U.S. and Israel realized that if Hezbollah could challenge them in Lebanon then an expanded war with Syria and Iran would be a disaster.

In Millennium Challenge 2002’s war scenario, Iran would react to U.S. aggression by launching a massive barrage of missiles that would overwhelm the U.S. and destroy sixteen U.S. naval vessels – an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five amphibious ships. It is estimated that if this had happened in real war theatre context, more than 20,000 U.S. servicemen would have been killed in the first day following the attack. [6]

Next, Iran would send its small patrol boats – the ones that look insignificant in comparison to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis and other large U.S. warships – to overwhelm the remainder of the Pentagon’s naval forces in the Persian Gulf, which would result in the damaging and sinking of most of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and the defeat of the United States. After the U.S. defeat, the war games were started over again, but “Red” (Iran) had to operate under the assumption of handicaps and shortcomings, so that U.S. forces would be allowed to emerge victorious from the drill. [7] This outcome of the war games obviated the fact that the U.S. would have been overwhelmed in the context of a real conventional war with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Hence, the formidable naval power of Washington is handicapped both by geography as well as Iranian military capabilities when it comes to fighting in the Persian Gulf or even in much of the Gulf of Oman. Without open waters, like in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. will have to fight under significantly reduced response times and, more importantly, will not be able to fight from a stand-off (militarily safe) distance. Thus, entire tool boxes of U.S. naval defensive systems, which were designed for combat in open waters using stand-off ranges, are rendered unpractical in the Persian Gulf.

Making the Strait of Hormuz Redundant to Weaken Iran?

The entire world knows the importance of the Strait of Hormuz and Washington and its allies are very well aware that the Iranians can militarily close it for a significant period of time. This is why the U.S. has been working with the GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the U.A.E. – to re-route their oil through pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz and channelling GCC oil directly to the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, or Mediterranean Sea. Washington has also been pushing Iraq to seek alternative routes in talks with Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

Both Israel and Turkey have also been very interested in this strategic project. Ankara has had discussions with Qatar about setting up an oil terminal that would reach Turkey via Iraq. The Turkish government has attempted to get Iraq to link its southern oil fields, like Iraq’s northern oil fields, to the transit routes running through Turkey. This is all tied to Turkey’s visions of being an energy corridor and important lynchpin of transit.

The aims of re-routing oil away from the Persian Gulf would remove an important element of strategic leverage Iran has against Washington and its allies. It would effectively reduce the importance of the Strait of Hormuz. It could very well be a prerequisite to war preparations and a war led by the United States against Tehran and its allies.

It is within this framework that the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline or the Hashan-Fujairah Oil Pipeline is being fostered by the United Arab Emirates to bypass the maritime route in the Persian Gulf going through the Strait of Hormuz. The project design was put together in 2006, the contract was issued in 2007, and construction was started in 2008. [8] This pipeline goes straight from Abdu Dhabi to the port of Fujairah on the shore of the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea.

In other words, it will give oil exports from the U.A.E. direct access to the Indian Ocean. It has openly been presented as a means to ensure energy security by bypassing Hormuz and attempting to avoid the Iranian military. Along with the construction of this pipeline, the erection of a strategic oil reservoir at Fujairah was also envisaged to also maintain the flow of oil to the international market should the Persian Gulf be closed off. [9]

Aside from the Petroline (East-West Saudi Pipeline), Saudi Arabia has also been looking at alternative transit routes and examining the ports of it southern neighbours in the Arabian Peninsula, Oman and Yemen. The Yemenite port of Mukalla on the shores of the Gulf of Aden has been of particular interest to Riyadh. In 2007, Israeli sources reported with some fanfare that a pipeline project was in the works that would connect the Saudi oil fields with Fujairah in the U.A.E., Muscat in Oman, and finally to Mukalla in Yemen. The reopening of the Iraq-Saudi Arabia Pipeline (IPSA), which was ironically built by Saddam Hussein to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and Iran, has also been a subject of discussion for the Saudis with the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

If Syria and Lebanon were converted into Washington’s clients, then the defunct Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline) could also be reactivated, along with other alternative routes going from the Arabian Peninsula to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea via the Levant. Chronologically, this would also fit into Washington’s efforts to overrun Lebanon and Syria in an attempt to isolate Iran before any possible showdown with Tehran.

The Iranian Velayat-90 naval drills, which extended in close proximity to the entrance of the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden off the territorial waters of Yemen, also took place in the Gulf of Oman facing the coast of Oman and the eastern shores of the United Arab Emirates. Amongst other things, Velayat-90 should be understood as a signal that Tehran is ready to operate outside of the Persian Gulf and can even strike or block the pipelines trying to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.

Geography again is on Iran’s side in this case too. Bypassing the Strait of Hormuz still does not change the fact that most of the oil fields belonging to GCC countries are located in the Persian Gulf or near its shores, which means they are all situated within close proximity to Iran and therefore within Iranian striking distance. Like in the case of the Hashan-Fujairah Pipeline, the Iranians could easily disable the flow of oil from the point of origin. Tehran could launch missile and aerial attacks or deploy its ground, sea, air, and amphibious forces into these areas as well. It does not necessarily need to block the Strait of Hormuz; after all preventing the flow of energy is the main purpose of the Iranian threats.

The American-Iranian Cold War

Washington has been on the offensive against Iran using all means at its disposal. The tensions over the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf are just one front in a dangerous multi-front regional cold war between Tehran and Washington in the broader Middle East. Since 2001, the Pentagon has also been restructuring its military to wage unconventional wars with enemies like Iran. [10] Nonetheless, geography has always worked against the Pentagon and the U.S. has not found a solution for its naval dilemma in the Persian Gulf. Instead of a conventional war, Washington has had to resort to waging a covert, economic, and diplomatic war against Iran.


Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
 is a Sociologist and award-winning author. He is a Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. He specializes on the Middle East and Central Asia. He has been a contributor and guest discussing the broader Middle East on numerous programs and international networks such as Al Jazeera, Press TV and Russia Today. Nazemroaya was also a witness to the “Arab Spring” in action in North Africa. While on the ground in Libya during the NATO bombing campaign, he reported out of Tripoli for several media outlets. He sent key field dispatches from Libya for Global Research and was Special Correspondent for Pacifica’s syndicated investigative program Flashpoints, broadcast out of Berkeley, California. His writings have been published in more than ten languages. He also writes for the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) in Moscow, Russia.

Notes

[1] Fars News Agency, “Foreign Warships Will Need Irans Permission to Pass through Strait of Hormuz,” January 4, 2011.

[2] Fars News Agency, “Iran Warns US against Sending Back Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf,” January 4, 2011.

[3] Parisa Hafezi, “Iran threatens U.S Navy as sanctions hit economy,” Reuters, January 4, 2012.

[4] Fariborz Haghshenass, “Iran’s Asymmetric Naval Warfare,” Policy Focus, no.87 (Washington, D.C.: Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, September 2010).

[5] Julian Borger, “Wake-up call,” The Guardian, September 6, 2002.

[6] Neil R. McCown, Developing Intuitive Decision-Making In Modern Military Leadership (Newport, R.I.: Naval War College, October 27, 2010), p.9.

[7] Sean D. Naylor, “War games rigged? General says Millennium Challenge ‘02 ‘was almost entirely scripted,’” Army Times, April 6, 2002.

[8] Himendra Mohan Kumar, “Fujairah poised to be become oil export hub,” Gulf News, June 12, 2011.

[9] Ibid.

[10] John Arquilla, “The New Rules of War,” Foreign Policy, 178 (March-April, 2010): pp.60-67.

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Federal Grants Pay to Militarize Local Cops

 by American Free Press.

By Keith Johnson

Since Sept. 11, 2001, thousands of communities across the nation have taken advantage of more than $34 billion in central government grants to
equip police and sheriffs’ departments with assault rifles and exotic weaponry.

In 2011 alone, approximately $2 billion in grants were awarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with $500 million more allocated to existing programs.

The accounting for this expense was recently compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting and detailed in a report, “America’s War Within: Homeland security and the first 10 years of the war on terror.” After reviewing records from 41 states and interviewing over two dozen police officials and terrorism experts, researcher G.W. Schulz concludes that police departments “have transformed into small army-like forces.”

Federal grants are just one avenue police are using to get weaponry like armored vehicles, grenade launchers and M-16 assault rifles, suited to use on a battlefield. In fiscal year 2011, the Department of Defense gave away a record total of more than $500 million worth of military surplus to law enforcement through its little-known (to the public) “1033 program.”

“Passed by Congress in 1997, the 1033 program was created to provide law-enforcement agencies with tools to fight drugs and terrorism,” writes Benjamin Carlson in a recent article for The Daily. “Since then, more than 17,000 agencies have taken in $2.6 billion worth of equipment. . . paying only the cost of delivery.”

That trend is showing no signs of slowing, according to Carlson.

So why is the government supplying cops with these dangerous toys? The much-touted threat of terrorism is no justification. The National Safety Council notes: “You are eight times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist.”

A crime wave can’t be blamed either. Since the early 1990s, the incidence of violent crime has steadily been on the decline, as more and more law-abiding citizens arm themselves. Violent crime peaked in 1991 at 758.2 per 100,000 people. In 2010, there was nearly half that number—403.6 per 100,000. The same can be said for officers killed in the line of fire. The number of deaths peaked in 1980, at 104 per 100,000, compared to a low of 50 per 100,000 in 2010.

The real reason these lavish gifts are being provided is that it makes police chiefs and sheriffs more accountable to the federal government than to their own states and local communities. Those agencies may soon be called upon to integrate with federal troops—who may soon be allowed to patrol U.S. streets, pursuant to the passage of the so-called National Defense Authorization Act.

There is also a growing effort by the drone or unmanned aerial vehicle industry to market its products to local law enforcement. In their 2011 annual report, General Atomics (GA), the nation’s leading manufacturer of Predator drones, made it clear their future growth depends upon pursuing new applications that will help create opportunities “beyond the military market.” Meanwhile, GA spent in excess of $2 million last year lobbying Congress on behalf of defense appropriations bills and larger DHS budgets.

Though normal American manufacturing and production is at an all-time low, the defense industry is booming. According to the Homeland Security Research Corp., “The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009.”

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Painful Deaths

NOVANEWS

Hi All,

Deer in the Scottish Highlands are being left to die slow, painful deaths at the hands of amateur hunters.No matter what you think about deer culls in general, letting countless deer suffer is just wrong.

Save Scottish deer from an unethical, unjust slaughter. »

Without the experience or motivation to shoot and swiftly kill the right animals, freelance hunters after a quick profit or a quick thrill are busy killing and injuring deer indiscriminately.

The bounty does not even have the intended effect. Although the amateur hunters are injuring more deer, they are killing far fewer than their professional predecessors. Plus, hundreds of fawns are being left orphaned when hunters shoot their mothers.

Even professional deer stalkers in the area are condemning the bounty.

Tell Scotland that this is not just unnecessarily cruel; it is also completely useless. »

Thanks for taking action!

Kathleen

ThePetitionSite

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Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Day of reckoning’ settlers who attacked IDF base have friends in gov’t

Jan 09, 2012

Annie Robbins

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The five right wing activists (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

What started out as a brazen attack by extreme rightwing Jewish zealots on a military base last month is turning into a full-on extravaganza. Going well beyond the ‘hilltop youth’, it now involves the government. There are reports of the infiltration of Israeli military intelligence, the tracking of Israeli army movements via intelligence contacts, and the possible involvement of at least two Israeli MK’s.

Thus far five Israeli rightwing extremists (above, photo from Ynet) have been indicted for the attack on the base near the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia. The purpose of the attack was to deter the dismantling of an illegal outpost to the settlement Yitzhar, an outpost the GOI intended to evacuate the night of December 12, that is, until the plan was deterred by the attack. Yitzhar is home to Rabbi Yosef Elitzur of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva (who “explicitly called for operations like the arson at the Yasouf mosque”). Yitzhar itself is a legit colony, in the eyes of the state; it is included in the National Priorities Map and generously funded by the GOI.

  Ynet:

An indictment filed on Sunday against five right wing activists reveals their organized modus operandi that is based on a communications system that streamed information via text messages from the defense forces, politicians and those in the know to the people in the field.

The five defendants – Akiva HaCohen, elad Meir, Epraim Chaykin, Meir Etinger and David Eliyahu – are accused of gathering military intelligence, reports of troop movements in the West Bank, conspiracy to riot, entering a closed military zone and deceiving a public figure.

This is the same gang. So where’s the investigation? Haaretz

The indictment applies to members of a gang who carry out attacks on mosques and Palestinian property, Shin Bet security service officials and police investigators suspect. The indictment’s review of the systematic fashion in which right-wing zealots monitor Israel Defense Forces and police preparations to evacuate illegal settlement outposts is worrisome, as is the description of the scope of the extremist right-wing group’s influence on the West Bank.

Haaretz juxtaposes the treatment afforded to the rightwing extremist to the prosecution of Anat Kam, who leaked classified military documents to Haaretz regarding assassinations of Palestinian militants in the West Bank (note Alex’s references to Uri Blau).

There are startling differences between the seriousness with which the GOI investigates leaking classified information when it involves Palestinians and when it involves settlers. In the settlers’ case, they are all through IDF units– sometimes  referenced as Yesha Council of settlements’ “special forces.”

More from Haaretz:

On Sunday, for the first time, the state exposed problems it faces defending classified information against encroachments perpetrated by the political right. That sensitive IDF information is readily available to West Bank settlers is well known; but when such sensitive data fall into the hands of extremists …. the problem of keeping secret information under wraps seems more urgent.

In order to closely monitor IDF preparation for the evacuation of settlement outposts, right-wing activists maintain close contacts with a large number of sources from IDF units. Revelations in this indictment explain why Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, who is designated to be the IDF’s central region commander, has recommended that soldiers who have clear ideological affiliations be kept at some remove from classified information regarding outpost evacuation. ….

Why the Military Police have not formally launched an investigation into the leaks remains unclear.

1381391866
MK Uri Ariel Photo by: Tess Scheflan / Jini

Unclear? Well, maybe because doing so would entail investigating two Israeli MK’s who have admitted giving extremists information on IDF movements as well as probing those IDF units affiliated with the settler movement. That shouldn’t be to hard to figure out.

They could start with Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin and then National Union MK Uri Ariel:

“If a person who transfers information about IDF movements is a spy, then I am a spy,” Ariel said during a discussion on law enforcement in the settlements. “If others were arrested, I should be arrested as well.”

This is all part and parcel of what Yossi Gurvitz calls the political arm of Jewish Terrorism. The ‘bring it on’ eagerness of many of these fanatics (we’ve written about them before ) is reflected in their talk of civil war–or what the recently indicted call the day for reckoning‘.

They are upfront about advocating an end to democracy, and these MK’s are aligned with them.  That ‘democracy’ is becoming more and more illusory all the time.

Gurvitz:

Now, Elkin is obviously not a spy, just as the “price tag” people who gathered information on the army’s activities aren’t. The question whether Elkin is a traitor, however – in the moral sense of the word, not, naturally, the legal one – is more complicated. Elkin took an oath to maintain “loyalty to the State of Israel and to faithfully execute [his] calling in the Knesset.” When he gave information to the “price tag” people, which was supposed to derail military activity ordered by the lawful government, did he commit treason, or not? Let’s just say that Elkin is lucky to be a Jew and not an Arab; Otherwise the Knesset would already be discussing the removal of his immunity. As he is a Jew, it’ll be a surprise if even the Ethics Committee bothers itself with his perfidy.

Needless to say, No Palestinian or Palestinian Israeli MK would be afforded such intransigence over their loyalty. They’d be jailed, assassinated or in hiding somewhere in Lebanon forcrossing a red line. The hypocrisy is astounding.

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The five right wing activists (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

(Hat tip Paul Mutter)

Hey Quartet, Netanyahu left a note for you on the door

Jan 09, 2012

 Paul Mutter

opportunist
(Photo Credit: Unknown. First seen here.)

Lieberman plan to strip Palestinian citizenship mirrors liberal demographic fear mongering

Jan 09, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is in the press again for suggesting that Palestinian citizens of Israel should be stripped of Israeli citizenship under a two-state agreement. He says in an AP report, “Any other arrangement is simply collective suicide. This has to be clear and I think it is time to say these things out loud.”

The Haaretz coverage of the Lieberman proposal includes Haneen Zoabi’s cutting response. She lays out the choice precisely — it’s either a Jewish state or democracy:

Israeli Arab politicians responded furiously Sunday to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s suggestion suggesting that “disloyal” members of that sector should take Palestinian citizenship.

The question of Israel’s citizens needs to be one of the central issues on the negotiating table, in light of the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Lieberman said ahead of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Recognizing Israel as uniquely Jewish is one of the key demands by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest peace talks with the Palestinians, which began earlier this month.

“We can’t continue to ignore issues like that of Hanin Zuabi, who identifies completely with the other side,” Lieberman said, , referring to an Israeli Arab member of Knesset was stripped of her parliamentary privileges after sailing aboard a pro-Palestinian aid convoy attacked by Israel en route to the Gaza Strip.

“It’s as if someone sells you a flat and then demands that his mother-in-law continues living there,” he said. “Any Israeli you takes pride in his citizenship should be able to serve in any post, but people like Hanin Zuabi should in my opinion be Palestinian citizens elected under Hamas in Gaza.”

In response to Lieberman’s remarks, Zuabi declared: “We [Israeli Arabs] represent the only possible democratic option, while Lieberman represents apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

“Lieberman bases his claims on a doctrine of racism, while I base mine on the principle of full equality among citizens – but both of us agree that there needs to be a discussion on the question of Palestinians in Israel and how to classify the state in any negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” she added.

While I agree that Lieberman’s proposal is racist and anti-democratic, I am less clear on how this is much different from liberal advocates for the two-state solution who warn of a similar “collective suicide” by invoking the “demographic threat” Palestinians represent. Here’s J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami from his recent book A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation (pps 88-89):

The third factor that makes the lack of a two-state solution a more serious threat to Israel over time is demography. . .

In other words, roughly half of the people living in the area under Israel’s political control are not Jewish. Given demographic trends, at some point soon the number of non-Jews in the area will exceed the number of Jews, who as a minority will then be exercising political control over a majority that is denied equal political rights on the basis of their ethnic background.

Given these threats — the improved technology, the deepening extremist ideology and the inexorable march of demography — Israel finds itself at a critical fork in the road, facing a choice of existential proportion: Either end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now through a two-state solution or cling to an untenable status quo that leads to the decline of its Jewish character, its democratic values and its international standing.

Sounds like “collective suicide” to me. While I imagine Ben Ami would never support Lieberman’s proposal, how would he feel in a two-state future when the Palestinian population of Israel is approaching 51%? It’s also interesting that he seems to openly acknowledge that Palestinian citizens of Israel are currently “denied equal political rights on the basis of their ethnic background,” but he seems okay with it because the numbers are still in the Jewish Israelis favor.

Israel’s national theater to bring ‘Merchant’ to World Shakespeare Fest in May

Jan 09, 2012

Eleanor Kilroy

Habima National Theatre
Habima National Theatre

Unlike many post-Oslo normalization programs that claim to promote peaceful co-existence and respect the ‘Green Line’ – thereby obfuscating the reality of colonial power relations –, the case of the Israeli national theater company Habima presents event organizers and the public with a clear-cut ethical issue.

The Israeli group Boycott from Within sets out the Israeli theatre company’s unapologetic collusion with Israeli state violations of international humanitarian law in a letter to the directors of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012:

Israel’s Habima Theatre is due to present, in [May in] your forthcoming festival, “The Merchant of Venice”. As noted on your website, this play includes the role of “Shylock, the most famous and controversial Jewish character in the theatre canon”… In the past year, two large settlements – Ariel in the northern part of the West Bank and Kiryat Arba in its south – set up “Halls of Culture” and asked theatres to come and present their plays there…. on this issue the management of Habima has taken a position which is remote from any kind of social engagement. Claiming to be “non-political”, the management has reiterated its decision to perform in West Bank settlements, “like everywhere else”… We cannot help seeing the positions taken by Habima Theatre on the two issues – presentation of “The Merchant of Venice” in London and regular performances in West Bank settlements – as inherently incompatible.

Furthermore, Habima’s repertoire is reportedly Hebrew-only, and all plays chosen by the theatre are either Jewish-Israeli, European or North American (none of them Palestinian or Arab). The ensemble is predominantly Jewish-Israeli, and the management is entirely Jewish-Israeli. ‘Habima… feels that this is an honorable accomplishment for the State of Israel in general and for the national theater in particular,’ General Manager Odelia Friedman is quoted in Ynet as saying.

Regardless, Shakespeare’s Globe responded that Habima will not be excluded because,

[T]he festival was intended as, and has become, a celebration of languages and not – with the exception of the group from South Sudan – a celebration of nations or states. Habima are the most well-known and respected Hebrew-language theatre company in the world, and are a natural choice to any programmer wishing to host a dramatic production in Hebrew. They are committed, publicly, to providing an ongoing arena for sensible dialogue between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.

To what kind of dialogue are Israeli cultural producers committed? As Nicholas Rowe writes inRaising Dust: A Cultural History of Dance in Palestine, the 1994 bilingual Ha-khan Theatre/ Al-Kasaba Theatre co-production of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, in which Jews were cast as Montagues and Arabs as Capulets, provoked a more vociferous Palestinian boycott of cultural interaction with Israel within occupied Palestinian territory:

Promoted as a cooperative venture between Israelis and Palestinians, this production subsequently toured Europe, sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs…The familial Montague-Capulet conflict was particularly disdained [by Palestinian artists] as a metaphor for the dispute between Zionists and the indigenous population of Palestine as it did not reflect the actual imbalance of power inherent to foreign colonization and military occupation, and suggested the conflict was simply based on an ancient ethnic and religious tribal hatred.

An even more succinct rationale for cultural boycott can be found in The Independent today, where Suhail Khoury, director of Gaza’s Edward Said Conservatory, asks of the West-Eastern Divan orchestra: “What is this orchestra telling the world – that Palestinian and Israelis can play together? We know that.”

The Gazan conservatory was severely damaged during Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ bombardment in 2008-9, and today the only way prizewinning musicians can perform in music competitions is by video link – because students cannot leave the besieged Strip.

A British scholar of sixteenth century literature, whom I asked to comment on Habima’s proposed performance at the festival, wrote the following:

‘If we suppose for a moment that Habima were willing to engage artistically with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, how might the company’s politically and morally-conscious production of The Merchant of Venice look? Without damage to the text, Shylock at the end of the trial, the point at which an audience is normally made to sympathise with him, (sometimes by a prolonged scream as in the last performance I saw at Stratford) could be recognisably Palestinian and join a shuffling queue behind iron cage bars (like those at Israeli military checkpoints), which could form the stage backdrop throughout the performance. That would genuinely show that exclusion, appropriation and oppression of other peoples is something that can be practised by Christian against Jew, or Zionist against Palestinian. It would allow the actors to express their frustration at becoming performers within an encircling ring of control. Shylock’s unhappiness is over losing half of the deeds of his house, an issue with profound resonance for many Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem:

You take my house when you do take the prop
That doth sustain my house; you take my life
When you do take the means whereby I live. (IV.1.371-3)

‘Of course, the play is, arguably, not so much about Jews and Christians as two conceptions of justice: an eye for an eye (proportionate Old Testament justice) and the New Testament idea of mercy triumphing over this. That is why the last scene carries echoes of the Easter hymn, the Exsultet, which celebrates the exodus, the escape of the Israelites from Egypt, and all men from the slavery to sin. ‘In such a night’ (in hac nocte in the Latin hymn) is repeated eight times in the last scene of the play (the number of the resurrection). There’s only one way out of an endless cycle of tit-for-tat violence, and that’s mercy: and marriage, here as always, symbolic of unity and love. It’s important to say that the play is about justice, and the attempt to exact justice in the traditional human way of revenge leads nowhere but to loss. In my view the play is not about Christians and Jews ethnically, but about two views of justice, (of course it may well have been performed for lawyers in the Inns of Court, like so many of these plays including Twelfth Night), and a production of the play could stage both the process of exclusion, appropriation of land and housing and means of living, and to take up the symbolically hopeful signpost of the end of the play. Shylock’s daughter steals from his house, breaks out of the cycle of retribution, and marries a Christian. This is a comedy, a play that ends with unity, unlike Romeo and Juliet.

‘To perform this play as if it is only about the shocking past of mistreatment of Jews is to miss the point of a play that carefully balances justice, and shows the scales come down on the side of mercy, because the other way leads only to death. The present scandal of the illegal appropriation of Palestinian land, the reduction of Palestinians to shuffling queues of migrant workers, cowed civilians dodging sniper fire from towers, demands that an acting group confronting the text, interpret it in the light of one of the worst injustices of our time. The pursuit of ‘merely justice’ in the play (exacting Shylock’s bond of a pound of flesh) would lead to bloodshed, which the law does not allow. It is not difficult to apply this to the Israeli treatment of Palestinian land, even if by some bizarre and convoluted argument they could say that it belonged to them.’

Please contact the festival directors at info@shakespearesglobe.com, to register your own opinion of these plans.

Trying to save two-state consensus, ‘Washington Post’ invokes ‘demographic’ threat

Jan 09, 2012

Philip Weiss

Santorum
Santorum

After Rick Santorum’s surge had the result of publicizing his view that no Palestinians live in the West Bank–that’s Israel, too–Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post did an emphatic “fact-check” of the statement, showing how deluded Santorum is. What I find interesting about the piece is its need to save the two-state consensus in Washington at all costs.

This is one case where Washington is living in an alternate reality, Hunky-Doryland. There is not a word about the occupation– no sense that Palestinians are killed for trying to regain an occupied village’s access to its water supply! No sense that 20 years of peace process have produced further dispossession. The Post invokes Israelis’ sense that things are movin right along on the West Bank:

Moreover, because of a series of agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians have now acquired self-government over tracts of West Bank territory. A map on the [Israeli] Foreign Ministry Web site shows the sections of the West Bank that are subject either to full Palestinian military and civilian control or just civilian Palestinian control….

 In other words, Israel makes no claim that the Arabs residing in the West Bank are Israelis and in fact has already given up some governmental control to Palestinian self-rule — with the implication that even more territory will eventually form a Palestinian state…

Then notice how the Post attaches Santorum’s one-state idea to the belief of Palestinians like Ali Abunimah (its link), ignoring the many non-Palestinians who also have called for democracy.

Santorum, by labeling the Palestinians as “Israelis,” appears to be adopting a position similar to that favored by some Palestinians increasingly skeptical of a two-state solution — a one-state solution that would grant equal rights to Jews and Arabs.

What about the late Tony Judt, a Jew. Or Virginia Tilley. Or Peter Beinart, who says that West Bank Palestinians should be able to vote for the government that rules their lives.

And finally, notice (my emphasis) how this idea of “equal rights,” only favored by Palestinians, forces Kessler to put forward a racial argument that he would never offer so neutrally in the context of American liberal democracy. Imagine expressing such concerns about the black majority in Washington, D.C.!

Under such a [one state] proposal, demographic changes might  lead to a greater Arab population than a Jewish population in the single entity, which is why some Israeli politicians, such as opposition leader Tzipi Livni, have accepted the need for a separate Palestinian state.

P.S. The Washington Post has more work to do. The National Review has run this evangelical Jewish piece by Barbara Lerner: Instead of the ‘two-state solution,’ restore what God gave Abraham’s people. Abraham’s people are not Muslims, no, Lerner is into the religious war: “This war began in the seventh century, when Muhammad, believing that God had ordered him to conquer and rule the whole world in the name of Islam, first used Taqqiya to trick and then slaughter Jews in Saudi Arabia who did not bow to his new religion…”

Gaza students discuss ‘Occupy Wall Street’

Jan 09, 2012

Yousef M. Aljamal

husain 1
Amin Husain (right) speaking to activists in Zuccotti Park.
(Photo: AP/ Mark Lennihan)

The Occupy movement is an international protest movement which is primarily directed against economic and social inequality. The first Occupy protest to receive wide coverage was Occupy Wall Street in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, which began on September 17, 2011. It was noticed that many of the participants in the movement were pro-Palestinian, and took to the streets holding banners that read “Occupy Wall Street Not Palestine”. The movement received support and solidarity from The BDS National Committee and the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign.

The protests should not be interpreted in isolation from the entire context of the issue, in which Americans feel sick of their government’s policies of intervening in other countries’ affairs. A group of activists gathered to discuss the movement in relevance to Palestine at CPDS, a Gaza-based think-tank. Amin Husain, a Palestinian activist living in New York City and one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street talked by video link about the main goals of the movement and the context in which it was established.

Those who follow mass media in the US notice that the movement went unnoticed at the very beginning. “Mass media like CNN and Fox News is controlled by people whose interests are against the goals of the movement like Robert Murdoch”, said Husain. “They are the 1% who own wealth. We used social media and made visits to churches, mosques and synagogues to get our voices heard”, he added.

Known for its strength and influence in decision-making circles in the US, students wondered if the Zionist lobby played a major role in putting the movement down. Rawan Yaghi, a 18-year old English-Literature student at the Islamic University of Gaza asked about its role. “The movement was against lobbies whatsoever” replied Husain.

The lecturer invited the participants to make use of the movement to the serve the Palestinian cause. He added that a great number of Occupy Wall Street activists feel sick of their country paying Israel $3 billion dollars a year as Americans graduates from colleges and universities are not able to find  jobs to make a living.

“As Palestinians, we should make use of the momentum it received to serve our issue and expose Israel’s violations of human rights and the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Making use of non-violent means, which were used in the movement to protest occupation would be useful”, he added.

The movement, which was partially inspired by The Arab Spring adopted non-violent methods to get its goals achieved. Though, many tried to introduce violence to harm its image and serve their own ends.

“It’s important to keep the movement non-violent for many try to pull it to the circle of violence to defame its image and get it away from its goals”, said Iyad Al-tahrawi, a 22-year old IT student at Al-Azhar University.

This video link is the first in series of links, seminars and lectures to be held at CPDS to discuss global issues related to Palestine in the presence of Palestinians and Internationals to raise Palestinians’ awareness of global issues and causes taking place in the world, with the entire region in flux.

US millionaire Kenneth Abramowitz funds settlers linked to attacks on IDF

Jan 09, 2012

Alex Kane

kennethabramowitz
Kenneth Abramowitz (center) at a Westchester County, New York event for the Israeli military (Photo: Israelsoldiers.org)

The narrative that Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition is “cracking down” on those wild West Bank settlers is falling apart with Haaretz‘s revelation that the leader of Netanyahu’s political party passed on information about Israeli military movements to settlers seeking to block moves against outposts.

What’s more is that a separate Haaretz investigation published over the weekend reveals that Kenneth Abramowitz, a New York-based millionaire and the national chairman of American Friends of Likud, founded an organization linked to recent settler attacks on the Israeli military. Abramowitz is also a board member for the major US fundraiser for the Israeli military, Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. In addition, Abramowitz is a major donor to Likud Knesset members Yisrael Katz and Yuli Edelstein.

These revelations further blur the line between the settlers and the state–and also indicates that the Netanyahu government’s recent moves against radical settlers is a show for the international community. Close friends and members of the Likud Party are the very same people linked to the recent settler attacks on the Israeli military.

The Haaretz piece was written by the crusading Israeli journalist Uri Blau, who only recently returned to Israel after being threatened with prosecution for his journalism. Some choice excerpts from Blau’s piece:

The announcement was posted three weeks ago at 1:23 in the morning on the popular Israeli website Rotter.net (Hebrew only): “Tonight again, warning about [Israeli] forces in Samaria. Roadblocks in the direction of Yitzhar.” The post continued: “Tatzpit [Observation] news agency reports that police and army forces are now deployed across Samaria. The report received by Tatzpit cites roadblocks in the Yitzhar area. It is also reported that right-wing activists who followed a police convoy that was traveling toward Samaria were detained by the police.”

This wasn’t the only report by Tatzpit in recent months that was aimed at updating activists seeking to block the possible evacuation of settlers in the West Bank. Forty-eight hours earlier, during a wild night that saw right-wingers invade the base of the Ephraim Brigade, Tatzpit reported on its Facebook page: “The police forces have just stopped between Shilo and Eli. The forces are escorting two bulldozers, a bus and jeeps.” Also: “Jinspot junction near Ramat Gilad has been blocked to movement of Jews. The fear of demolition tonight is mounting!”

Who solicits donations for this group, which aids the right-wing struggle against the Israel Defense Forces? An investigation by Haaretz Magazine finds that the donations to Tatzpit and to several other right-wing groups pass through an organization called the “Israel Independence Fund [Hakeren Le’atzmaut Yisrael] – Public Benefit Company Ltd,” founded in 2007. The chairman is Nachman Eyal, from the settlement of Psagot, a well-known activist who is also the director general of the National Union party. One member of the company’s board of directors is attorney Dafna Netanyahu, the prime minister’s sister-in-law…

The [Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a branch of the Israel Independence Fund], which in 2010 received donations totaling NIS 940,000 (an increase of nearly 50 percent over the previous year), is headed by the same Nachman Eyal of the IIF. About NIS 870,000 was donated in 2010 to the Legal Forum by the Central Fund for Israel (AK: see Mondoweiss’ reporting on CFI here), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization – a conduit for the transfer of funds to right-wing groups in Israel – and about NIS 40,000 came from the IIF…

A U.S. millionaire and illegal land grabs

In 2008, the Israel Independence Fund was founded in New York. The nonprofit’s declared areas of activity are philanthropy, volunteering and distributing grants. The person behind the fund is Kenneth Abramowitz, a New York businessman and partner in NGN Capital, which describes itself as “a venture capital firm dedicated to health-care investing.”

Abramowitz is also national chairman of American Friends of Likud and donated thousands of shekels to the campaigns of Yisrael Katz and Yuli Edelstein in the last party primaries. He also appears on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “list of millionaires” − i.e., potential donors to Likud’s 2007 primaries. The existence of the list was exposed last year by the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Abramowitz is also a hefty donor to Israel’s Media Watch ‏(in which Dafna Netanyahu, as mentioned, is a member‏). The donation is used to fund a journalism prize in his name. At the awards ceremony last year he said that apart from the freebie Israel Hayom, financed by Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the media in Israel are not objective.

A Year of Foreboding: What next for the Arab Spring?

Jan 09, 2012

Deepak Tripathi

Syria
Ongoing protests in Syria are just one question facing the region in 2012
(Photo: AP/Muzaffar Salman)

An old BBC colleague who was a distinguished Africa expert used to say, “When the mainstream media focus on one half of the story in a continent full of brutal and corrupt dictators who have been bought by foreign powers, it becomes the duty of a journalist to tell the other half of that story.” His advice was worth heeding.

The year gone by has been one of civil protests, upheaval and violence in many parts of the world. Old wars continued, most notably in Afghanistan and Iraq. Peaceful awakening movements that sprang out with much hope in Algeria and Tunisia turned violent as they spread east from North Africa to the Gulf region. A brief and bloody war in Libya, with an overt display of NATO’s military power on behalf of the anti-Gaddafi forces, resulted in his overthrow and brutal killing. For NATO, the Libya war was over, but not for Libyans. A fledgling government now competes with warlords for territorial control and legitimacy in a fragmented country.

External intervention in Syria is more vocal internationally, but shrouded in secrecy on the ground. Accounts of the conflict are based on claims and counterclaims and not much independent evidence to corroborate. If detractors are to be believed, the Ba’athist regime of President Basher al-Assad is on the brink of collapse. The outcome of the Syrian conflict will have profound consequences for the balance of power in the Middle East, in particular for Syria’s ally Iran, as well as in Lebanon and Palestine.

Human aspirations for liberty and freedom from oppression defined the year 2011. Paradoxically, great powers who played a role in sustaining oppressive systems, and still do where it suites them, declared themselves on the side of liberty in other places. The result is confusion, division, conflict and a more insecure world. Afghanistan and Iraq in the last decade were America’s “bleeding wounds,” a term first coined by Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. With both Iraq and Afghanistan far from stable, there is an unwelcome prospect of Libya and Syria also extracting a high price in terms of security threats and energy costs in the current decade.

Past events cannot be reversed, nor are their consequences easy to contain. So I have in mind events which I believe the world in 2012 would be better off without. In the United States, from President Obama and administration hawks to his Republican opponents have been talking about punitive action against Iran and others in this election year. Powerful voices in the ruling circles of Israel, France and Britain are egging the American president on. The gap between rhetoric and posturing can lead to something far more serious. How civil movements can be manipulated by external forces for their own interests has been demonstrated during the current upheaval in the Arab world.

The overthrow and killing of Gaddafi may have resolved the conflict in Libya in the West’s view. Now the prospect of real power remaining with the militias, and an ineffective Western-supported government, reminds of Afghanistan following the 1992 collapse of the last Communist leader Najibullah. Libya, with its porous borders, surrounded by Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Egypt, is vulnerable itself and threatens others. The year 2012 could be decisive, not only for Libya, but for the region and beyond.

The situation in Syria is very dangerous. Unlike Libya, Syrian state institutions are more robust. The regime’s friends are not many, but Russia and China are taking a much tougher line with the West. Iran, its ruling allies in Iraq, and Lebanese and Palestinian groups have huge stakes in Syria. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, supported by the West, are determined to see the end of the current Syrian regime.

Turkey, a NATO member, has moved from its previous “independent” position to a stance much more in tune with the Western interests in the Middle East. Once a close ally of Syria, Turkey hosts the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army and allows the group to train its fighters and orchestrate attacks inside Syria. The Turkish military guards the Syrian rebel base, and a refugee camp, just across the Syrian border.

For Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party, which professed to seek close relations with its neighbors, this is a complete about face. Two factors appear to be at work here. The Sunni support base of the party is one. The prospect of joining the European Union, an idea that France and Germany in particular oppose, may be the other.

How far Turkey’s moderate Islamic government will go is difficult to predict. It has its own Kurdish insurgency to contend with, so the strategy is risky. Turkey’s growing involvement in Syria reminds of the 1980s when, from a small beginning, Pakistan, in the midst of ethnic insurgencies, became a base for anti-Communist Afghan forces. The consequences were disastrous.

The conflict in Syria continues to simmer. The sanctions on Iran are steadily being tightened. The talk of military action is persistent and the risk of a weak U.S. president facing reelection being pushed into a war against Iran is haunting. Sectarian violence in Iraq is on the rise. The country faces a new political crisis after an arrest warrant was issued for the Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges, prompting the mainly Sunni party al-Arabiya to boycott parliament. And the Syrian conflict threatens further instability in Lebanon and the wider region.

In these circumstances, a war against Iran will be long and catastrophic. From Libya in North Africa to Pakistan on the edge of South Asia, the region has seldom been so explosive. The year ahead is going to be one of foreboding developments.

Loury says Iran attack talk is ‘anti-Islamic hyper-pro-Israeli genuflection’

Jan 09, 2012

 Scott McConnell

 

Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, two of the country’s leading (and very mainstream) black intellectuals have a fascinating talk about Ron Paul. One of my favorite parts is the way they rather delicately refer to the general weirdness of the Israel lobby’s extreme influence on American discourse (between 3:00 and 6:00)—though so far as I know neither man has made writing about the Mideast any kind of priority. Also revealing and impressive is their dismissive attitude towards the “Ron Paul is a terrible racist” camp; they view Paul as certainly implicated in the newsletters and find them unfortunate but seem to perceive (and why shouldn’t they have some sixth sense about this?) that racism is not at all an important part of who Ron Paul is. I have to admit, though I’ve read and admired Loury and McWhorter’s pieces for many years, there is something about this video which makes me almost choke up with gratitude for America’s civil rights movement.

From the video:

LOURY: [Paul asks] ‘Why do you want to go bomb Iran?’ Can you give me an answer other than genuflection at some politically-correct nonsense? Will you please tell me why you’re going to war with Iran, rather than this anti-Islamic hyper-pro-Israeli pandering? That’s completely contemptuous of the people listening to this political discussion that you would talk in those terms.

So he deserves to be refuted rather than written out because he farted in church… He’s very important to the political discussion.

McWHORTER [echoing]: Suppose a child asked you, ‘Why are you going to bomb Iran?… Why are we so concerned with not ruffling the feathers of Israel?’ Just a child… Ron Paul’s…capable… of asking questions like that… It’s sad that a person who asks questions on that level and is not afraid to and is clearly somebody of intelligence could not be elected….

A personal appeal– PennBDS needs your help

Jan 09, 2012

Annie Robbins

Everyone who has ever met me can attest I am a totally cool, calm and collected person. Not! I am completely beside myself about attending the PennBDS conference next month. I can’t wait and am counting the days. I registered and booked my plane ticket! The idea of being at the conference with so many of us together in one place; focused, directed and empowered by the growing global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, in solidarity, has me bursting at the seams in anticipation.

CONFERENCE SQUARE1
(Graphic: pennbds.org)

Have you noticed the level of shrill discourse from hasbarists lately? The other side is freaking out because our diverse coalition united, empowered and in strength creates a political firewall they cannot compete with, and they know it. We know that they are hearing us when they use terms like warfare and weapons to combat the growing non-violent threat we have become.

Check out the line up of speakers assembled by the team at PennBDS?  Out of the ballpark!(Okay okay, I know I should calm down but I can’t). But that isn’t why I am writing here today….

The organizers could really use some additional donations as they gear up to pay for a bunch of big expenses. The registration fee for this conference is so cheap (seriously, I was aghast when I went to register online, it’s like the cost of 2 movie tickets for the friggin’ weekend!), but unfortunately the overhead isn’t. So if everyone and anyone who can afford it can justhead on over to PennBDS website and make an extra donation that would be simply splendiferous and very much appreciated.

From Remi Kanazi’s spoken word :

“Palestinian civil society has spoken

don’t cross this picket line or cash in that paycheck signed apartheid

put down Stolen Beauty

cancel that gig

and join the rest of us on the right side of history.”

Preliminary Agenda

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

RELIGION MINISTER FEARS JEWISH DIVIDES

NOVANEWS

Shas’ Yakov Margi says Israeli society could be torn apart if disputes between haredim, less observant Jews continue to heat up

ynet

Israeli society could be torn apart if disputes between ultra-Orthodox and less observant Jews continue to heat up, Israel’s religious services minister said on Wednesday.

In a telephone interview, Yakov Margi, who also serves as director-general of Shas, a religious party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government, condemned an incident last month in which zealots seeking gender separation spat at a schoolgirl they accused of dressing immodestly.   That attack was disclosed by an Israeli television station, whose report on the violence stunned many in the Jewish state, where concerns over religious coercion are mounting among its mainly secular population.

Margi said such incidents and ultra-Orthodox protests – in the latest, last Saturday, children were dressed as Nazi Holocaust victims to suggest public persecution of the community – had been overblown in the media.

“If they ganged up on an eight-year-old girl, this is something that must be uprooted. We have a police force, courts – anyone who is violent must be dealt with. But we don’t have to go crazy,” he said.

Margi accused media outlets of fuelling the religious-secular dispute by covering in detail ultra-Orthodox protests.

“If we have a problem in Israeli society we should deal with it through dialogue,” he said. “I call on all people in the media and the extremists on both sides, crazy people: ‘Climb down off the roof.’”

He said he feared that failure to do so “will tear Israeli society apart,” and pointed to banners at a recent secular demonstration where protesters voiced their fear that Israel could become like Islamist-ruled Iran.

“Every morning I go to look at the window and check whether I see some pro-Khomeini protest at my doorstep,” he said referring to the religious leader who led the 1979 Iranian revolution. “All I see are green fields, a good atmosphere and good neighbors.”

That view contrasts sharply with a cautionary note sounded last month by President Shimon Peres, who said the country was in the grip of a battle for its soul.

Back of the bus

An emotional national debate has been raging over issues such attempts to segregate sidewalks in areas where devout Jews live and back-of-the-bus seating for women on public buses that ply religious neighborhoods and which are patronized by ultra-Orthodox passengers.

Turning to coalition politics in which his Shas party has traditionally been a king-maker, Margi said he was “very disappointed” in Netanyahu’s right-wing government, where a major partner has promoted contentious legislation governing marriage.

The bill introduced by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party would give Israelis a freer hand at choosing rabbis to register them for marriage.

Jewish marriage in Israel is administered by Orthodox rabbis, whose refusal to register mixed couples poses difficulties for Yisrael Beitenu’s considerable Russian immigrant constituency, some of whom are not Jewish according to ritual law.

“Nobody expects the Jewish state to permit mixed marriages,” Margi said.

With 11 lawmakers in Netanyahu’s 66-member coalition, Shas has enough sway to stand up and be heard as it helps assure the government of majority support in Israel’s 120-seat legislature.

The next parliamentary election is not due until 2013, but Netanyahu has scheduled an early Likud leadership ballot for January 31, raising speculation the date of a national vote might be brought forward.

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SHELDON ADELSON GIVES $5 MILLION TO PRO-GINGRICH GROUP

NOVANEWS

American billionaire and close ally of Zionist PM Naziyahu makes contribution to super PAC named ‘Winning Our Future’; has previously supported Gingrich’s claim that Palestinians are ‘invented people.’

Haaretz

American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owner of the Israeli daily Israel Hayom, has given $5 million to an independent group backing Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid.

A person familiar with the situation said Adelson — founder and majority owner of Las Vegas-based company that owns Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem — made the contribution Friday to Winning Our Future, a pro-Gingrich super PAC. The person said Adelson would spend heavily to assist whichever candidate wins the Republican nomination.

Adelson is a longtime supporter of GOP candidates and has been a friend and backer of former House Speaker Gingrich for many years. Gingrich’s campaign has struggled since a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney spent $3 million on ads attacking him in Iowa.

Last month, Adelson said he agreed with Gingrich’s controversial remarks that the Palestinians are an invented people.

Gingrich’s “invented Palestinians” remarks to the Jewish Channel, a U.S. cable TV network, earlier this month were met with widespread criticism.

Addressing a Hanukkah celebration for hundreds of youths visiting Israel as part of the Taglit Birthright program on Sunday, Adelson said, “Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why [Newt] Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people. There are a number of Palestinians who will recognize the truth of this statement.”

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PERRY: “I WOULD SEND TROOPS BACK INTO IRAQ”

NOVANEWS

cbsnews.com

Rick Perry said he would send U.S. troops back to Iraq at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire on Saturday.

“The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasures, both in blood and money, that we have spent in Iraq- because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal leftist base, and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that time frame. I think it is a huge error for us,” Perry said at the debate, sponsored by ABC News/Yahoo!/WMUR-TV.

This is the not the first time that the Texas governor has been critical of President Obama’s foreign policy in Iraq, but it is the first that he has suggested sending troops back after their withdrawal last month.

At a campaign stop in Iowa in December, Perry said on Iraq, “Giving your enemy is a timeline of which you’re going to withdraw is really bad tactics.”

Perry was bolder at the ABC News/Yahoo GOP presidential debate Saturday, citing Iran as a potential problem in Iraq.

“We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in, and all of the work we’ve done — every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing. Because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region,” Perry said.

After a disappointing fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday, Perry hinted he might end his campaign, but said the next day he would remain in the race. Perry has essentially written off New Hampshire, which holds the first in the nation primary Tuesday, and is instead focusing on the January 21 primary in South Carolina, where voters are more likely to be receptive to his social conservative message.

Still, Perry faces a tough road forward and after a surging in the polls several months ago, Perry has steadily declined.

His argument for sending troops back to Iraq may not help. In a recent CBS News poll, three out of four American supported Mr. Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

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Tell Zionist puppet Obama and Congress: End indefinite detention and close Guantanamo.

Dear All

 

Take action!

Take action now!

 

 

 

Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but the War on Terror is still being used as an excuse to sacrifice our values and our rights.

On New Year’s Eve, President Obama signed a bill into law that gives him and future presidents the power to use the U.S. military to pick up and indefinitely detain civilians accused of supporting terrorism — including American citizens — anywhere in the world without charges and without a trial.

This represents a further entrenchment of the Guantanamo mindset that jettisons our most cherished values and our constitutional rights all in the name of national security.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

The president and all members of Congress need to see that Americans are outraged by the support in all three branches of government for this outrageous attack on our constitutional rights.

Even if your representative or your senators voted against the bill that allows indefinite detention, they need to hear from you.1

What’s more, they need to see a groundswell of support behind a renewed effort to shut down the shameful American gulag at Guantanamo.

Guantanamo is a black mark on our national conscience that started under George W. Bush in the wake of 9-11. But it has only continued, despite promises to the contrary, under President Obama.

Tomorrow marks the tenth anniversary of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It’s long past time we shut it down.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Indefinite detention without charges or trial is fundamentally contrary to the democratic values that our system of government rests upon.

For that reason alone, President Obama could have and should have vetoed legislation that prevented the closure of Guantanamo and allowed for the indefinite military detention of American citizens.

But Congress also must shoulder much of the blame.

There is a disturbing degree of elite consensus that the War on Terror justifies rolling back our civil liberties and our obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

While there are many elected officials who to their credit have spoken out against this, the recent defense bill that allows for the indefinite military detention of Americans passed with large, bi-partisan majorities in both chambers of Congress.

The worst thing we can do in the face of this is remain silent.

We need to speak up and make sure that our elected officials know we are watching, and we must demand that they live up to the best of our nation’s values.

Tell President Obama and Congress: Close Guantanamo and end indefinite detention. Click below to automatically sign the petition:

http://act.credoaction.com/r/?r=366370&id=33281-3104098-fzlVCDx&t=10

Thank you for speaking out.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager

CREDO Action from Working Assets

1 Click here to see how members of the House voted on the defense bill that authorized the indefinite military detention of American citizens. To see the Senate roll call vote on the bill, click here.

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SECOND ZIO-NAZI MKKK ADMITS TO HAVING GIVEN ZIONIST SETTLERS INFORMATION ON IDF MOVEMENTS

NOVANEWS

National Union’s Uri Ariel says ‘if a person who transfers information about IDF movements is a spy, then I am a spy’; Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin was found to having given right-wing activists information on IDF earlier Sunday.

Haaretz

National Union MK Uri Ariel confessed last week to giving Israeli settlers information on the Israel Defense Forces’ movements, even before it was discovered Sunday that Likud MK and coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin divulged similar information.

Ariel, during a Knesset committee meeting last Thursday, said that numerous times he had transferred information to settlers on IDF movements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“If a person who transfers information about IDF movements is a spy, then I am a spy,” Ariel said during a discussion on law enforcement in the settlements. “If others were arrested, I should be arrested as well.”

Earlier Sunday, Haaretz revealed that Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin contacted right-wing activists to inform them of IDF movements in the West Bank.

Earlier in the day five right-wing extremists were charged by Jerusalem’s District Prosecutor’s Office with tracking Israel Defense Forces operations in the West Bank in an attempt to disrupt attempts to evacuate illegal outposts.

The five allegedly formed an intelligence hub based on telephone communications, utilizing 30 different sources, including active IDF service members.

However, the list of sources used by the activists and revealed to Haaretz indicated later Sunday that these sources also included right-wing Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin.

According to police investigation materials, an unusual movement of army forces was noted by several of the intelligence hub’s sources on Sunday, December 11, 2011.

Activists then suspected that it was the army’s intent to demolish structures in either the Ramat Gilad or the Mitzpe Yitzhar outposts, settlements which the state was obligated to evacuate due to a High Court of Justice ruling.

Eventually no evacuation took place, but records kept by the defendants indicated that in the midst of uncertainty as to the army’s movements MK Elkin reported to the group: “It isn’t Ramat Gilad.”

If indeed Elikn tipped off the right-wing activists, it would serve to affirm claims made by several of the defendants’ aides that their activity represented legitimate and open protest, in which several MKs such as Elkin took part.

In response, Elkin told Haaretz that “since I was involved in the inner workings of the Ramat Gilad affair and there were rumors that they were going to evacuate it I checked with whomever I checked with that it wasn’t true and I texted Orit Struk and [Shomron council head] Gershon Mesika about it and I think that’s it.”

“I said it wasn’t Ramat Gilad and that the rumors that the deal is going to be undone aren’t true,” Elkin added.

 


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ANTI-SEMITISM IN WAKE OF CHILE FIRE DECRIED

NOVANEWS

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com

 

Zionist Mu-Barak

In letter to Chilean Ambassador to US, B’nai B’rith International says blaming State of Israel or Jewish people as whole for alleged actions of tourist is ‘absolutely unacceptable and irrational’

ed note–in the unlikely case that the rest of the world has not figured it out, please let me explain the reasons for these ’unacceptable and irrational’ allegations against Jews as a people.

Whenever (and I do mean WHENEVER) a Jew or group of them is caught RED FREAKING HANDED in the middle of some type of criminal behavior, obvious before all 12 billion eyes of planet earth, the Jewish community says ‘What? Who? Us? NEVER. We did nothing wrong. Your eyes are playing tricks on you Gentiles’ long enough for the guilty to hop on a plane to Israel where they know they will be safe.

And thus it has always been. Even for the smallest things, they deny their guilt before the world, and so what happens as a result is that they collectively earn a reputation as liars and enablers for criminal behavior, to the point that when one of them gets caught in the middle of something such as the fires that broke out in Chile, that it is assumed those charged are guilty and even if there ISN’T any evidence supporting such a charge.  

Ynetnews

B’nai B’rith International has sent a letter to Chilean Ambassador to the United States Arturo Fernandois, expressing “our grave concern over the outburst of anti-Semitic activity that has occurred in Chile after the arrest of a 23-year-old Israeli backpacker, who is suspected of having accidentally ignited the fire of the Torres del Paine National Park.”

B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin wrote, “Undoubtedly, the fire is a national tragedy, and we share the Chileans’ sorrow for this very unfortunate incident. But blaming the State of Israel or the Jewish people as a whole for the ‘alleged’ actions of a tourist is absolutely unacceptable and irrational.”

In the wake of the fire in Chile’s Patagonia region, the outburst of anti-Semitic attacks and charges included outrageous claims made by Chilean politicians.

The vice president of the Christian Democratic Party wrote on his Twitter account, “I bet that the Israeli ‘tourist’ that burned Torres del Paine is one of those sent by his State after killing Palestinian children.”

Taunts of “filthy Jew” were reportedly yelled as the suspect was escorted to court.

In the letter to the ambassador, B’nai B’rith calls on the democratic government of Chile to clearly denounce these malicious and shameful anti-Semitic and anti-Israel accusations.

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