Archive | March 7th, 2012

Marching Toward Syria with Eyes Cast Towards Iran

NOVANEWS

 

 By Ben Schreiner

While all the incessant warmongering directed toward Iran at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington was grabbing the headlines, the momentum for Western intervention into Syria continued to steadily build.  All those neo-con “real men,” it appears, just might prefer to go to Tehran via Damascus.

Taking to the Senate floor on Monday, Arizona Senator John McCain, one of the first supporters of arming the Free Syrian Army, upped the ante by calling for a U.S.-led air campaign against Syrian military targets.  McCain deemed such an escalation necessary to establish “humanitarian corridors.”

“The United States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces,” the intervention-hungry McCain declared.

And as the Washington Post reported in late February, Obama administration officials have made it clear that “additional measures” might still be considered in order to oust Assad.  That favored refrain of all options being on the table appears to be in effect in regards to Syria.

Indeed, for according to CNN, the Pentagon has already composed “detailed plans” for military action inside Syria.  As the network reported, the Pentagon has especially focused on securing Syrian chemical weapons sites, with one scenario in particular calling “for tens of thousands of troops to potentially be used for guarding the installations.”

Although, according to a December email recently published by Wikileaks from the U.S. global intelligence firm Stratfor (known as a private C.I.A.), special operations forces from the U.S., U.K., France, Jordan, and Turkey are already on the ground in Syria.  And as the email states, these forces are actively “training the Free Syrian Army.”  Additional measures indeed!

Not wanting to be left behind in any march on Syria, the U.S. corporate media has largely begun to join the ranks of the recently ascendant intervention hawks.

In an editorial on Friday, the New York Times, although ruling out military force, called for providing greater tactical assistance to the Free Syrian Army.  As the paper wrote: “The United States and its allies should consider providing the rebels with communications equipment, intelligence and nonlethal training.”  Of course, a mission providing such tactical support would ultimately transform into more explicit military involvement.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post also editorialized on Friday for a more credible threat of force against Assad.  As the paper wrote:

The Obama administration’s public arguments against the use of force in Syria are simply encouraging a rogue regime to believe it can act with impunity.  Until he is faced with a credible threat of force, from the opposition or outsider powers, Mr. Assad’s slaughter will go on.

The Christian Science Monitor has likewise called for the U.S. to help “forcefully” end Assad’s rule.

Of course, the driving force behind such intense Western interest in Syria is Iran.  Let there be no doubt, the ouster of Assad is not driven by some great humanitarian impulse, or “responsibility to protect.”  Nor does the bloodletting and slaughter inside the country disturb U.S. elites.  After all, the U.S. had no qualms with laying siege to Fallujah.  Rather, all the contrived moralizing is being utilized in an attempt to garner support for imposing Syrian “regime change,” which would deal a strategic defeat to Tehran.  It’s all nothing more than realpolitik.  The Syrian people and their revolution are being cynically recruited as means to imperial ends, and thus would be wise to resist all foreign intervention.

For instance, when the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg stated in a recent interview with President Obama, “But it would seem to me that one way to weaken and further isolate Iran is to remove or help remove Iran’s only Arab ally,” the president responded, “Absolutely.”

Similarly, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy has argued, “The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace to international security and well-being.”

It’s target Iran, albeit on a Syrian battlefield.  Therefore, that anti-Iran propaganda machine that is the U.S. media revs up.

Writing in the Washington Post, stenographers Joby Warrick and Liz Sly reported over the weekend that:

U.S. officials say they see Iran’s hand in the increasingly brutal crackdown on opposition strongholds in Syria, including evidence of Iranian military and intelligence support for government troops accused of mass executions and other atrocities in the past week.

The Post’s report was, of course, based solely on three anonymous U.S. officials.  And as Warrick and Sly even admit in their piece, “such accounts are generally difficult to verify independently.”  Thus they don’t.

On Monday, though, a similar piece of propaganda appeared at CNN.  Penned by CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, it also reports of Iranian infiltration into Syria, although Starr only relies on two anonymous U.S. officials.  What hay a seasoned propagandist can make with such limited sources!

Yet amidst this mounting drive for Western intervention into Syria, President Obama spoke on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to tamp down all such notions, going so far as to call military intervention a “mistake.”  As the president went on to state, “the notion that the way to solve every one of these problems is to deploy our military, that hasn’t been true in the past and it won’t be true now.”

Such reassurances aside, actions do, as the president himself implored in his AIPAC speech over the weekend, speak louder than words.  And so while the president publicly posits that military intervention would be a mistake, his military readies for intervention into Syria, while continuing its larger ongoing build-up in the region.

The march towards Syria with eyes cast towards Iran continues on.  For as Albeit Einstein once remarked, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”

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Purim 2012: Kill the “Anti-Semites”

NOVANEWS
By Michael Hoffman
On Purim 1994 Brooklyn-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein slaughtered 40 Palestinians while they prayed in Hebron.
On Purim 2003 the U.S. invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, officially to eliminate illicit weapons of mass destruction but in reality to neutralize a possible Iraqi threat to the Israeli government. Nearly 5,000 dead Americans and a trillion dollars later and Iraq has been totally neutered, just as the Israelis and their American agents had hoped, notwithstanding the damage to the US economy and our service men and women.
In the run-up to Purim 2012, which begins on Wednesday evening March 7, Senator John McCain has called for a deficit-ridden America to undertake a multi-million dollar bombing of Syria, while Senator Joseph Lieberman, speaking at the Israeli lobby’s AIPAC conference, demanded a U.S. attack on Iran if the government of that Persian nation will not stop its non-existent nuclear weapons program. The German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel observed that the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
Ancient Race War Revived
J.D. Longstreet on the website of the “Save America Foundation: Patriots in Action” states: “Before Iran was renamed Iran it was Persia. The rift between the Jews and the Persians is not new. It goes back many centuries…It is impossible to read the book of Esther this week, especially, and not see the parallels between an ancient Jew approaching a great potentate asking for help to save the lives of the Jewish people. One can only hope Obama reacts as did King Ahasuerus and that Obama and Netanyahu can both enjoy a few of those famous “Haman’s Ear” cookies in celebration of the special occasion when the Jews were saved and Haman, the evil prime minister of Persia, did not succeed in his plot to kill all the Jews…”
On Sunday March 4 Herb Keinon wrote in the Jerusalem Post: “Netanyahu…will meet with US President Barack Obama on Monday to discuss how to stop a Persian tyrant interested in killing Jews. The meeting is just two days before Purim, a holiday retelling a similar tale, involving a Persian tyrant intent on killing Jews thousands of years earlier. Do not be surprised if Netanyahu somehow connects those two dots during public comments he will make in Washington.”
Why are we not surprised that, according to Israel National News, during the three hours that President Barack Obama spent with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the White House on March 5, “Netanyahu took the opportunity to draw a parallel between the narrative in the Book of Esther – wherein the wicked Haman seeks to destroy the Jewish people throughout the Persian Empire – with Israel’s modern day conflict with Iran…Iran is geographically Persia and the Iranians are descendants of the ancient Persians.”
A race war thousands of years old is invoked in deliberations of the President of the United States concerning our nation’s war policy. The modern nation of Iran is identified with the ancient nation of Persia by the Israeli Prime Minister and his supporters in the Zionist press and American “patriot” right wing. The high Persian official Haman is likened unto the officials of present day Iran. This would be little more than Grade B schlock movie fare were it not invested with international gravitas before our very eyes. The ancient racial stereotyping against which the rabbis and the media howl when applied to “the Jews,” is freely applied to the Iranians in the name of Israeli national survival and self-defense.
This contemporary racial targeting becomes more ominous when we consider that Haman was identified as part of the nation of Amalek which God ordered annihilated. In Christian teaching, the nation of Amalek is no longer mentioned. This belief is in accordance with the Bible at Deuteronomy 25:17-19 “to blot out the memory of Amalek from under Heaven.” Since Amalek is gone from the face of the earth and Bible-believers are to blot out his memory, those who keep the memory alive are in violation of God’s prophetic will. This defiance emanates from the Babylonian Talmud, which envisions an on-going war with Amalekites who are defined by 21st century rabbis as the anti-semites among us, meaning anyone who thwarts Zionism or Judaism.
In addition to the grave threat of extermination that this warped belief presents to the dehumanized people of Iran, it is also a warrant for the murder of all the opponents of Talmudic Judaism and the apartheid “State of Israel” who are classed as “anti-Semites,” whether or not they are Iranian.
“Amalek was the first anti-Semite”
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed is a leader of the violence-prone Israeli settler movement and the head of Yeshivat Har Bracha in the occupied West Bank of Palestine. He is esteemed as an authority on rabbinic law. His major works include his legal treatise, Pininei Halacha. Melamed uses his weekly column in the Israeli newspaper Basheva to advocate attacks (“vengeance”) on Palestinians by the Israeli government and the military: “We don’t aspire to private vengeance, but to state vengeance led by the Israel Defense Forces and all the systems of government.” (Cf. Haaretz, March 18, 2011).
Rabbi Melamed has declared that those who worship Jesus Christ are idolaters: “…they (Christians) still embrace idolatry, believing that ‘oto ha’ish’ [Jesus] is god and the messiah, who will be resurrected to redeem the world… This delusion that Jesus is the mashiach (messiah) is indeed a false belief. As we learned from the words of the Rambam (Moses Maimonides, Laws of Kings 11:4): ‘Jesus the Christian, who thought he was the Messiah… was the subject of a prophesy in the Book of Daniel (11:14): ‘…also the renegades of your people will exalt themselves to fulfill the vision – but they will stumble.’ Could there be a greater stumbling block than this [Jesus]?” (Emphasis supplied).
For Purim 2012, Rabbi Melamed has made the following declaration:
“Although the main mitzvah of wiping-out Amalek rests upon the community in general, every individual Jew is also obligated to fulfill this mitzvah. Therefore, if one comes upon an Amalekite and has chance to kill him, but does not – he has annulled this mitzvah (Sefer HaChinuch, 604). Amalek was the first anti-Semite…Today, the seed of Amalek has been lost; however, if (it) becomes clear that a certain person is an Amalekite, following in their ways, it would be a mitzvah (blessed deed) to kill him (see Kol Mevaser 2:42)…Only after evil is eradicated from the world can there be complete joy. Thus on Purim, after the obliteration of Haman and his sons, happiness is especially great.” Cf. Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, “Amalek: War Against the Root of Evil,” Israel National News, Feb. 28, 2012 (emphasis supplied).
Rabbi Melamed then creates an escape clause in case some people might be horrified at the notion of killing anyone labeled an “anti-Semite”: “…if an Amalekite decides to take upon himself the fulfillment of the Seven Mitzvoth of Noah’s Sons, according to Jewish law, there is no longer an obligation to kill him…”
The “Seven Mitzvoth of Noah’s Sons, according to Jewish law” (i.e. Talmudic law and successive halachos derived from it), decree death for idolaters. In Judaism worship of Jesus Christ is defined as avodah zorah (idol worship). “Anti-semitic” Amalekites and those who worship Jesus are subject to death. They can only escape capital punishment by accepting the Seven Mitzvoth of Noah’s Sons and denying that Jesus is God. This is what it means to “take upon” the “Seven Mitzvoth of Noah’s Sons” (Noachide Laws): the messiah status and divinity of Jesus Christ must be denied. The U.S. Congress is on record (Public Law 102-14) recommending the enactment of these misnamed “Noah” laws (in Orthodox Judaism the patriarch Noah is derided as a low character; cf. Judaism’s Strange Gods [2011] p. 108).

Purim Bacchanal: Judeo-Dionysiac debauchery
Like other pagan religions based on concepts derived from the ancient worship of strange gods which Yahweh abominates (Exodus 20:2-3), the pagan anti-Yahweh religion of Judaism venerates the god Dionysus in his incarnation as Bacchus, during the drunken Bacchanal conducted during Purim, when intoxicated Judaic men dress up as women, Arab terrorists (complete with mock suicide bomb belts), clowns and various animals.
Dionysius’ most common cult name in Greek was Bakch(e)ios; in Latin Bacchus, from which is derived the name of a drunken revel, the “Bacchanal.” The rites of Dionysus feature wearing masks, cross-dressing, impersonation and illusion. Walk the streets of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem or the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York during Purim and you will observe these rites being enacted. Dionysiac festivals in ancient times were accompanied by public drunkenness. Alcoholic intoxication is condemned by the Bible in Proverbs 20:1; 23:20; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18; I Cor. 6: 9-10. Everyone from Rick Santorum to Patrick J. Buchanan refers to the civilization that originally gave rise to Europe and the United States of America as “Judeo-Christian.” They apply this term out of blatant disregard for the fact that Purim, one of the religion of Judaism’s holiest days, commands alcoholic intoxication and is marked by masquerading and cross-dressing.
In the Babylonian Talmud (BT) we read:
Rava said: One must become so intoxicated on Purim that he cannot distinguish between “Cursed is Haman” and “Blessed is Mordechai.” Rabbah and Rav Zeira celebrated the Purim feast together. They became intoxicated. Rabbah arose and slaughtered Rav Zeira. The next day, Rabbah prayed for mercy on Rav Zeira’s behalf and revived him. The following year, Rabbah said, “Let master come, and we will celebrate the Purim feast together.” Rav Zeira answered, “Not every time does a miracle occur.” (BT Megillah 7b).
In the preceding Talmudic account, a great “sage” of the Gemara declares that Judaics must get blind drunk on Purim. Another “sage” obeys and becomes so intoxicated that he slaughters another rabbi, and yet the killer merits having his resurrection wish agreed to by God: the rabbi who was killed by the drunk comes back from the dead. What part of this Judeo-Dionysiac debauchery and nonsense rightfully comprises a hyphenated partnership with Christians as represented by the term “Judeo-Christian”? (2 Cor. 6:14).
The “positive” side of Purim drunkenness: “Basic happiness is revealed”
“Although in general drunkenness is disgraceful, nevertheless, its positive sides cannot be ignored. As a consequence of intoxication, basic happiness is revealed, expressing physical, unrestrained joy, filled with power and vitality. Normally, however, the lust and depravity of drunkenness obscures its positive side, and as a result, it causes wildness and numerous obstacles. But on Purim, when we drink and take joy in the salvation of Hashem, remembering the miracle that was done by means of the feast, the positive sides of drinking are revealed.” –Rabbi Eliezer Melamed (Israel National News, March 3, 2012).
Alexander Hislop penned a best-selling book, The Two Babylons, which is a staple volume in some Protestant households. It is full of quotes and illustrations purporting to show that Roman Catholicism is allegedly a religion imbued with paganism. Most of these same Catholic-despising Protestant households are stubbornly yoked to one degree or another with the Talmud of Babylon and its rabbis, and will not acknowledge or seriously consider books that document that Judaism is a Babylonian belief system which uses the Bible only as a cover for its heathen madness and occult delusions.
As in 2003 under the administration of Republican President George W. Bush, in 2012 under the administration of Democrat President Barack Obama, pagan Purim continues to set the agenda for our nation’s foreign policy.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

 

The 4 contents of this message are not from newspapers, but are important.

 

The first one is particularly vital as counter to the hanky-panky going on at the AIPAC conference and the Obama-Netanyahu talks.  Glenn Greenwald brings data to bear that indicates how false are the claims that Iran is a nuclear threat to Israel or anyone else.

 

Item 2, “Threatened,” is a link to an article from the New Yorker in which David Remnick discusses the internal threat to Israeli democracy.  Thanks to David M for calling attention to this thought provoking piece.  Remnick does not offer solutions, but these are implied in the problem itself.

 

Item 3 offers a policy paper on stopping military aid to Israel.  Scroll down to “Executive Summary.”

 

Item 4 is ‘Today in Palestine’ for Tuesday, March 6, 2012.  It contains a section on prisoners, including several pieces on Hana Shalabi, now in her 20th or 21st day of hunger strike.  Other prisoners have joined.  Additionally, the section on Analysis/Op-ed has a number of pieces worth reading and viewing.

 

What a day!  When will the Jewish supporters of AIPAC and the US Congress realize that Israel is no safe-haven for anyone, including Jews, that it never will be until justice is done to the Palestinians, including the ROR (right of return).   If and when that time comes, then we shall all be able to think of a future unburdened by wars and misery.  Till then this poor blood-soaked land will be tortured with more episodes of killing and demolitions and uprooting of trees and and and.

 

Still hoping for better days.

 

Dorothy

+++++++

1 Forwarded by Elana

 

AlterNet Tuesday, March 6, 2012  |

 

http://www.alternet.org/news/154415/glenn_greenwald_tears_apart_the_propaganda_driving_the_insane_push_for_war_with_iran

 

By Joshua Holland

Glenn Greenwald Tears Apart the Propaganda Driving the Insane Push for War With Iran

 

There are similarities in the run up to the Iraq war, but there is also a key difference — this time, the driving force for the push for war with Iran isn’t Washington.

 

Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP

 

Iran is diplomatically isolated, has a weak and antiquated military relative to Israel and the United States, and its economy is being squeezed hard by international sanctions. The consensus among both American and Israeli intelligence agencies is that an attack on the country would be disastrous, and might lead to a regional nuclear arms race.

 

But that view seems to have a limited impact on the mainstream discourse surrounding Iran. Last week, Glenn Greenwald, writing on Salon, noted that for months, “Americans have been subjected to this continuous, coordinated, repetitive messaging from israeli officials, amplified through the US media.”

This is generally how the establishment American media conducts the debate over whether to attack Iran: here are Israeli officials explaining why an attack is urgent and why the US must conduct it. Now here are American officials explaining why an attack can wait a little while longer but that it will happen if necessary to stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon.

Greenwald appeared on this week’s AlterNet Radio Hour to discuss the push for war with Iran. The transcript of his interview has been lightly edited for print.

 

Joshua Holland: Are we seeing the same kind of run-up to war with Iran as we saw in 2003 during the lead-up to our attack on Iraq?

Glenn Greenwald: There are obvious similarities. The claims basically are the same. The principal claim in the lead-up to the war in Iraq was that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, specifically nuclear weapons. This was the claim that probably made the most number of people willing to support it. That is the same claim being made about Iran — that they are too developing nuclear weapons, even though American intelligence agencies and virtually everybody else, including Israeli intelligence, says there is no evidence that Iran has actually decided to build a nuclear weapon.

It’s their nuclear program that is causing the concern. I think the core similarity is that we are talking about a nation that hasn’t attacked any other nation and that isn’t threatening to attack any other nation. So it’s not a preemptive war; it’s actually a preventative war. That’s what the Iraq war was, and the Iran war would be.

 

I think the big difference though is that the run-up to the attack on Iraq was really driven by the US government. The Bush administration conceived this war, decided they wanted to do it, and then pushed for it, whereas I think the Obama administration is clearly pretty reluctant about involving itself in a war with Iran, and is instead being led by Israel and various neo-conservative factions in the US to push the US government into this war. That’s a pretty big difference. The US government is not in the lead in disseminating this; in beating the war drum.

 

JH: Now just to establish a baseline of reality, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the IAEA has suspended its right to process uranium, but only pending certain inquiries that they have. There are unsettled issues. Can you unpack the status today?

 

GG: It is true that Iran is a signatory to the NPT, and one of the core

provisions of that treaty that induced so many non-nuclear power states to sign on was that they have the absolute right to develop nuclear programs for energy and civilian purposes. Part of the obligation of the treaty members is that they subject themselves to inspections by the IAEA to make sure that whatever nuclear research they have is not being geared toward weapons development.

 

Now that is the most important fact about Iran. Iran has completely opened up all of its nuclear facilities to the IAEA. There are inspectors on the ground at each of its nuclear facilities, and it’s impossible for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon without it being immediately known to the inspection regime that’s on the ground. The IAEA is doing a careful job in making sure there are certain processes that aren’t being invoked in terms of uranium and plutonium enrichment that would be a signal that Iran is going in the direction of weaponizing their nuclear power. They do have some questions, but the IAEA has never concluded that there’s evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. It is true that the IAEA has expressed concerns, it’s their job to express concerns, but there’s no definitive conclusion.

 

JH: I want to also talk about the likely outcome of an attack on Iran, whether it was from the Israeli Air Force or with the assistance of the United States. I feel like in our discourse it’s assumed, given our technological superiority and Israel’s technological superiority, they could simply wipe out their nuclear capacity like they did in Iraq in 1981.

 

Ephraim Halevy, Mossad director until 2002, said, “An attack on Iran could affect not only Israel but the entire region for 100 years.” He said that while Iran should certainly be prevented from becoming a nuclear power, its capabilities are, “far from an existential threat.” His successor, Meir Dagan said, “A military attack will give the Iranians the best excuse to pursue the nuclear race.” He called possibility of an Air Force attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities, “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

 

Isn’t there this huge disconnect between these opinions and our media’s portrayal of the likely outcomes? Are we being given an idea of what is at risk here?

 

GG: One of the things that traditionally happens in American political discourse about war is that it is often depicted as this very clinical, clean and easy mission. The reason it’s able to be sold that way is because such a small portion of the population actually has any experience with war because American wars are fought with such a tiny fraction of the population actually anywhere near the scene of the combat. I do think Americans have this image of war being something where you send drone planes, or even manned aircraft, over Iran and drop a few bombs and their nuclear program is destroyed. The reality is much different as those quotes you just read from those Mossad officials indicate.

 

I think there is an even broader point. There’s an interesting op-ed in the Washington Post from Colin Kahl (here), who is a former Pentagon official under the Obama administration, who explained that the Israeli attack in 1981 on a nuclear facility in Iraq — which at the time Iraqis said was only for civilian purposes but the Israelis said it was going to be used to build a bomb — actually completely backfired. It turned out that in 1981, when the Israelis attacked Iraq and dropped bombs on that Iraqi facility, Saddam was nowhere close to building a bomb, and it was that attack that made him realize that the only way he would ever get respect on the world stage was by developing a nuclear weapon. In 1991 when the Americans were able to overrun Iraq and drive them out of Kuwait they were able to get access to some of those labs and were shocked to discover just how close Iraq was to actually building a nuclear weapon. This is really what we’re doing. Through this aggression, through these constant threats, we’re making the motivation very high for these states to develop nuclear weapons.

 

The task that the Israelis had in 1981 was extremely difficult: to fly to Iraq and destroy that nuclear facility. The task of doing that to Iran is infinitely more difficult. There’s a far greater distance; it stretches the refueling ability of Israeli jets. There are numerous nuclear facilities, not just one, dispersed throughout the country. Some of them are very far under mountainous regions, embedded into mountains that would require extreme levels of explosives to get to. The outcome is completely unpredictable, which is what those military planners and Mossad officials are afraid of. Iran has a much greater retaliatory capability than the Iraqis had. So what you’re talking about is a major, major attack that would probably involve lots of ground activity as well as air activity, and that very well may not set back the Iranian nuclear program at all. It may have the opposite effect of accelerating it.

 

JH: I think it would also unify the country around the Iranian regime, wouldn’t it?

 

GG: That’s probably the worst reason to do it. The reality is a lot of times in the American media discussion; we like to depict the Iranian opposition as this pro-Western, liberalized political faction, and to some extent they are. But the reality is that all political factions are staunchly in favor of continuing with the nuclear program on the grounds that Iran has the absolute right to develop a nuclear energy program, and governments around the world agree with Iran on that.

If you look at what happened with the September 11th attack, which was a one-day attack by non-state actors, the entire country, including huge numbers of people who had previously strongly disliked George Bush and the Republican Party, unified around the government and around its leader, which was George Bush and Dick Cheney and the Republican Party. That’s what happens whenever a nation is attacked by an external force. So nothing could be better for the hard-line conservative mullahs and ruling elite in Iran then for it to be attacked by some combination of Israel and the United States. It would completely save them from the rising citizen discontent over the economy and other factors by unifying them behind those conservative leaders. Not just in Iran but in the entire Arab world.

 

JH: The consensus in the intelligence community in both the United States and Israel is that Iran is not trying to produce nuclear weapons. Most analysts believe that they are trying to reach so-called “breakout capacity” where they can produce a nuclear weapon if they choose. Yet I’ve seen dozens of news stories in the American media that take it as a given that Iran is pursing nuclear weapons and not just trying to achieve that breakout capacity.

 

I want to talk a little bit about this idea. You quote a New York Times article by Israeli journalist Roland Bergman in January. In his lead, he wrote, “The Iranians are, after all, a nation whose leaders have set themselves a strategic goal of wiping Israel out.” This seems to be a central part of the propaganda push. It’s the idea that whereas deterrence was enough to prevent nuclear armageddon during the Cold War when we were facing off with the Soviet Union (which had equal capacity, or at least some semblance of parity), mutually assured destruction would not be an effective deterrent with these “mad mullahs” because they don’t mind being martyrs and hanging out with 71 virgins in the case of a retaliatory attack from Israel.

Tell me about this assumption that they’re somehow beyond human concern for their own lives and the lives of their citizens.

 

GG: Think about how incredibly deceitful this is in such obvious ways. For one thing, if the Iranians were this regime that wanted to exterminate Jews, and didn’t care what the repercussions were, there’s a very easy way for them to get a really good start on that which is to take the 25,000 Iranian Jews who are living quite peacefully and prosperously inside of Iran and simply round them up and kill them. Yet that doesn’t happen. I don’t want to depict this in this incredibly romanticized way, but there’s an Iranian Jew in Iran’s Parliament, they have freedom of religion in that country, and they exercise most of the civic rights of citizenship. So if Iran were some sort of second coming of the Nazis, none of that would be true.

More to the point, if you want to posit that a country is essentially suicidal, let’s be very clear: if Iran were to use nuclear weapons against Israel or the United States its obliteration as a country would basically be guaranteed. Israel has a second strike capability. You could launch nuclear weapons at Israel and they have all kinds of devices that are guaranteed to destroy whatever country had done it. The United States would certainly be involved in that as well. So you’re talking about literally positing the idea, if you don’t believe containment is possible of a nuclear-armed Iran, that they are literally suicidal and are willing to risk the complete destruction and annihilation of their country.

 

If that were true, one would presumably see evidence of that at some point in the last 31 years since the Iranian Revolution installed these mullahs in power. Yet there’s none of that. Iran has not during that time even invaded another country, unlike Israel and the United States which has invaded and bombed many. They have been very shrewd and calculating about cultivating alliances around the world with China, Russia and other countries like Venezuela. They’ve been very calculated and very cunning about holding onto power. These are leaders who have demonstrated repeatedly that they care about the things that typically political leaders care about, which is maximizing their power and ensuring their own continuation. That’s the ultimately rational mentality that the Iranian leaders have displayed.

 

JH: Continuing on this theme, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad certainly makes some explosive statements. I think he’s a right-wing religious fanatic. I think right-wing religious fundamentalists are inherently dangerous, whatever their religion and culture. But it’s important for people to understand that he doesn’t have control over the Iranian military, does he?

 

GG: No. The person who runs all of Iran, especially its foreign and military policies, has the title Supreme Leader. I think that title is self-explanatory. Ahmadinejad may be the third or fourth most powerful person in the country, if that. In fact there were just elections [last weekend] in which most of his allies were defeated at the polls, including his own sister who was running for Iranian Parliament. He’s been weakened by rivals in all kinds of ways.

Let’s just take a step back and look at the broader context. Oftentimes much is made of the comment “we want to see Israel wiped off the map.” If you look at some of the United States’ closest allies in that region, the ones we arm, fund and help prop up, bolster and protect, those countries are run by far-right-wing religious fanatics — countries like Saudi Arabia and others as well.

 

If you go to the Web site of the United Arab Emirates, one of the closest American allies for quite some time, you will see on their immigration page a statement that no Israeli immigrants are permitted, and the word “Israelis” is in quotes, because they don’t recognize the right of that country to exist. They believe that the right map of the world is one that excludes Israel. This is true for many countries in that region.

 

So Ahmadinejad, although he tends to be more flamboyant, obnoxious and offensive in his political rhetoric — it’s just the kind of politician that he is — is basically reciting what is standard political doctrine among many of these extremist Muslim states. Which is that Israel is not a legitimate state and that the policy goal of these Muslim states is to remove it from that map, to eliminate it.

 

But that is universes away from suggesting that they would militarily attack Israel in order to eradicate it, and it’s even more universes away from the idea that they would be able to do so without destroying themselves. So one of the things that a smart, civilized and strong power does is it looks at the political rhetoric and decides what it needs to take seriously and what it doesn’t. The idea that simply because Iran doesn’t believe in Israel’s right to exist means that they need to attack, or that there’s an existential threat to Israel is absurd, given how common that sentiment is in that part of the world.

 

JH: I certainly don’t want to defend Ahmadinejad, but Juan Cole, a Middle East scholar, does say that this was a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini. That it was something he said in the ’70s and it was taken out of context.

I want to talk a little about the US position. You wrote this week that in his interview with Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Barack Obama, “issued his most absolute and inflexible threat yet to attack Iran — not if Iran attacks or is about to attack another country, but merely if it appears to be developing a nuclear weapon.” I wonder isn’t that quite a bit of difference? A significant difference from the Israeli position, which is that the attempt to reach breakout capacity is itself unacceptable? Here we have Obama saying that only when they attempt to make a weapon will the US find that that’s a red line that’s being crossed.

 

GG: Well, there have been some mixed signals on this from the Obama administration in terms of what the “red line” is, which means basically the point beyond which Iran cannot go without prompting a US attack. There have been statements from Hillary Clinton and others in the administration that have used the Israeli formulation that it is “unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability,” meaning the ability to develop a nuclear weapon in some short period of time, the breakout capacity that you have talked about.

 

President Obama, however, has been careful to define the red line as being the pursuit of a nuclear weapon. The decision to build a nuclear weapon, and then the action taken toward its construction. Now that’s the reason that Israel and the United States are currently at loggerheads. It’s because Israel is arguing that if a certain point in time passes it will then become impossible for them to attack Iran themselves any longer, because Iran will have the capability to develop a nuclear weapon and will be sufficiently fortified from Israeli military capabilities to prevent an Israeli attack. They would essentially be dependent on the United States, and Israel is saying we don’t want to be in a position where we’re dependent upon the United States to do this for us. We don’t want to wait.

 

And Obama is saying you shouldn’t be worried about that because I’m giving you my absolute word, I’m issuing this threat, that if Iran ever starts developing a nuclear weapon we will attack. In that interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, he said, “I think I’ve proven that as president I don’t bluff.”

 

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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2 “Threatened,” is an article in the New Yorker  in which David Remnick outlines the threat to so-called Israeli democracy.  Thanks to David M for calling attention to this important piece.

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3  

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Policy Paper

U.S. Military Aid to Israel -- Policy Implications & Options -- By Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

LIVE BRIEFING TODAY:
Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 1:00 pm (EST) we are holding a public briefing to launch this policy paper and respond to audience questions. To participate, you can watch the live stream and submit questions to the moderator below, or via our event host, TheJerusalemFund.org, or you can RSVP to attend the briefing at the Palestine Center, 2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20037. Printed copies of the policy paper are being distributed at the briefing. This event is part of the four-day conference Occupy AIPAC, organized in Washington, DC, by US Campaign member group CODEPINK.

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If you miss the live event today, you may watch the recording later at any time.

About the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of nearly 400 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.

For additional information, please visit or contact us:
www.endtheoccupation.org
uscampaign@endtheoccupation.org
PO Box 21539
Washington, DC  20009
202-332-0994

About the Author

http://www.aidtoisrael.org/img/original/policypaper_jrmugshot.jpgJosh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He is a former Analyst in Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service. His analysis on U.S. foreign policy appears often in the media, including NBC, ABC Nightline, CSPAN, MSNBC, USA Today, The Hill, Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, Huffington Post, Middle East Report and more.

Acknowledgements

The author would like to acknowledge a profound debt of gratitude to two interns—Ramah Kudaimi and Amanda McQuade—who provided immeasurably helpful, thorough, and thoughtful research and writing support for this policy paper.

He would also like to thank authors Phyllis Bennis and Nadia Hijab for their invaluable edits and suggestions; intern Robert Fitzpatrick for assistance with image selection and graph making; and Joshua Hough for his layout and graphic design expertise.

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NOVANEWS

Gaza sends two trucks of date bars to the West Bank — first business between the two territories since 2007

Mar 05, 2012

Kate


Israel okays first Gaza-West Bank trade in 5 years
AFP 5 Mar — Israel on Monday allowed the Palestinians to export two truckloads of date bars from Gaza to the West Bank in what was the first such trade between the territories since 2007, the military and an NGO said. The rare move was permitted as part of a World Food Programme (WFP) initiative to feed Palestinian school children, Israeli NGO Gisha said in a statement, which hailed the trade as “an important step.” But the military said it was a “one-off” trade and did not mean its nearly five-year ban on exports between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank was being lifted.
link to ca.news.yahoo.com

Land theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid

In Photos: Economic exploitation in the Jordan Valley
AIC 3 Mar — The Alternative Information Center (AIC) entered the Israeli settlement of Tomer in the Jordan Valley and collected stories about the working conditions of the Palestinian labour force exploited inside. The settlement of Tomer is located about 20 kilometers north of Jericho, and since its creation in 1978 has grown visibly, confiscating land and water resources from the Palestinian communities of the Jordan Valley. Like most settlements of the area, the population of Tomer is very limited. Less than 300 inhabitants live in an area of 366 dunams. This means that every settler owns more than 1000 square meters of land … The day of Palestinian workers in the Jordan Valley settlements starts before sunrise. At 5:30 am you can already see workers on both sides of Road 90, waiting for a means of transport to enter the settlements. They sit silent around a small fire, wearing dark jackets and caps. Others, who live in the northern cities of the West Bank, wake up even before. At 4 am they get on overcrowded buses heading for the Jordan Valley. Every day they face a long journey and endless queues and searches at the checkpoints which isolate the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank.
link to www.alternativenews.org

Foundation: Landslide risk in Silwan amid Israeli digs
[photos] JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — The Al-Aqsa Foundation said on Sunday it had gathered evidence showing that an East Jerusalem neighborhood risked landslides amid Israeli digging in the area. A landslide northeast of the Ein Silwan Mosque has formed a crater next to the building, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Waqf and Heritage said, providing images of the site. Palestinian neighborhood Silwan lies south of the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Compound) housing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and is the site of Israeli archaeological work that has drawn sharp criticism from residents for destabilizing their homes … The Al-Aqsa Foundation said the images show a network of tunnels being dug under Silwan in several directions, which intend to connect the area to Jewish facilities around the Haram al-Sharif.
link to www.maannews.net

Silwan Centre warns of collapses due to Israeli excavations
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 5 Mar — Fractures were discovered Monday in the Wadi Hilweh playing ground in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, prompting residents to warn of imminent collapses in structures in the area due to Israeli excavations, according to the Wadi Hilweh Information Centre.
link to english.wafa.ps

Christian Jerusalemites’ challenges following settler attacks
AIC 3 Mar — Recent Israeli settler attacks on Christian holy sites and churches have highlighted the specific struggle faced by Christian Palestinians in Jerusalem … Christians have inhabited Jerusalem since the time of Christ and his followers and have always lived amongst Muslims and Jews. Although the number of Christians in Jerusalem has never been high, primarily due to the conversions occurring during the advent of Islam and the big wave of Christian emigration in the aftermath of the 1947 and 1967 wars, this already restricted number of Christians continues to shrink … “The sharp decline in the number of Christian Jerusalemites is the result of the implementation of Israel as a de facto state on this land,” Yusef Daher, Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches, says. “The Israeli government policy throughout the whole history has been unilateral: turning Jerusalem both into a Jewish city and into the capital of Israel, while getting rid of all the Christian (and Muslim) Palestinians.”
link to www.alternativenews.org

Buildup of Israeli forces, new surveillance cameras
Silwan, Jerusalem (SILWANIC) 5 Mar — A heavy buildup of Israeli armed forces has been reported in recent days throughout Silwan, particularly at the entrances to its neighborhoods. A number of new surveillance cameras have also been set up near Silwan Club, adjacent to the Israeli settlement in Ras al-Amoud district. The settlement has been attempting to take over the nearby Palestinian family home of Jadallah, in what is viewed by residents as moves to expand the reaches of the settlement apparatus in Ras al-Amoud.
link to silwanic.net

Mixed Israeli city marketing homes to religious Jews only, says rights group
Haaretz 4 Mar — Arab residents of Acre claim the municipality aims to attract new religious Jewish residents in order to alter the mixed Arab-Jewish character of the city … Juhaina Safi, a social and political activist in Acre, told Haaretz that housing preoccupies the city’s populace, particularly Arab residents. “We are talking about a veteran population in Acre, both Jews and Arabs, who do not have housing solutions. In the Old City, they are selling to the wealthy.
link to www.haaretz.com

Israeli court to consider evacuating Hebron settlers
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Israel’s supreme court on Monday will consider whether to evacuate settlers from two properties in Hebron’s old city, the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee said Sunday. “An Israeli court is going to reconsider evacuating settlers from Palestinian stores which they occupied,” HRC said. “The stores were shut down by Israel in 2000 and belonged to Abdul Jawad al-Ewiwi and Abdul Razik al-Ewiwi.” HRC is committed to preserving the cultural identity of Hebron’s old city, as well as reviving its infrastructure.
link to www.maannews.net

Violence / Raids

Palestinian youth seriously wounded in clashes with IDF soldiers
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — A Palestinian youth was seriously wounded on Monday during clashes between Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and citizens at the Atara roadblock to the north of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses told Quds Press reporter that Mohammed Awad, 19, was hit with a gas bomb in his head, which was fired directly at him by the soldiers. A medical source in the Ramallah government hospital said that Awad suffered fractures in his skull and his condition was described as serious. The confrontations erupted at Atara after citizens headed to the roadblock to mark the first anniversary of the death of an entire Palestinian family in the same place a year ago. Awad is the brother of Bassam who died in the car crash in that area along with his seven-member family after an Israeli army vehicle collided with his car.
www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Reporters without Borders shocked at Israeli raid on Ramallah TVs
PARIS (WAFA) 3 Mar — Reporters Without Borders Friday expressed ‘deep shock’ at an Israeli army raid on two Palestinian television stations in Ramallah, seizing their equipment and forcing them to close, according to a statement. “These arbitrary and illegal operations served yet again to intimidate Palestinian media and journalists, the victims of repeated attacks by the Israel Defense Forces,” it said. “We urge the Israeli military to return the confiscated equipment and allow the two stations to resume broadcasting.” The French foreign ministry had also condemned the raids.
link to english.wafa.ps

WAFA: Israeli forces commit 25 violations against journalists in February
IMEMC 5 Mar — The report stated 11 journalists were injured during the 25 violations. The majority of injuries were a direct result of the military firing tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. 11 other cases of detention and arrests by Israeli troops against journalists were documented by WAFA. WAFA noted in its report that the Israeli military attacked three Palestinian media companies during the month of February.
link to www.imemc.org

IOF soldiers occupy building in Jenin
JENIN (PIC) 4 Mar — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed and occupied a building in Jenin city at dawn Sunday and detained all inhabitants in one room until the early morning hours. Local sources said that special forces accompanied the IOF troops, identifying the owner of the building as Nasser Al-Fourman.
Other units of special forces and troops spread in the city and Jenin refugee camp in addition to the nearby village of Qabatiya, the sources said.
IOF soldiers also stormed Khader town near Bethlehem at dawn Sunday and served summonses to two Palestinians, locals said.
They said that the soldiers broke into the home of late Suleiman Salah and severely beat up his liberated daughter Sanaa’.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk

Gaza

Press TV video: Gaza flooded after Israel opens dam gates
4 Mar — Dozens of homes were flooded in central Gaza by untreated sewage water after Israel opened a dam located in the eastern side of the impoverished territory which leads to the Gaza Valley off the Mediterranean. With Egypt’s refusal to allow fuel into the blockaded coastal enclave, it was extremely difficult for rescue crews to tackle the problem. Families in the flooded area have been struggling since the early hours of the morning trying to retrieve their belongings .Some area residents described the flooding of as another Israeli aggression demanding international protection.
link to presstv.com

Dozens of Gaza homes at risk of flooding
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Civil defense crews in the Gaza Strip said Sunday that dozens of homes in the Gaza Valley area are at risk of flooding due to heavy rainfall. Yusuf al-Zahar, director general of the Civil Defense, told Ma‘an that water levels have reached nearly two meters and they have been creating earth-mounds to protect houses from flooding. Extra equipment will be brought in to drain water and protect homes, al-Zahar added. The Gaza Valley is located in the central Gaza Strip and is home to wetlands and a diverse coastal ecosystem.
link to www.maannews.net

Hamas: Egypt to deliver fuel to Gaza via Rafah
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Gaza’s energy authority on Monday announced an agreement with Egypt to import fuel via the Rafah crossing to ease the power crisis. The Hamas-run authority said Egypt’s General Petroleum Authority would initially deliver diesel meant for cars through the terminal until industrial diesel could be transferred. Pipes, pumps and tanks to receive the fuel will be prepared Tuesday morning, the Gaza authority said in a statement. The announcement follows weeks of critical power shortages in the Gaza Strip. Since Egypt shut off fuel deliveries via underground tunnels in February, Gaza’s power plant has shut down twice and the 1.7 million residents of the coastal strip face up to 18-hour blackouts each day.
link to www.maannews.net

Gaza factories threatened with shutdown due to power crisis
GAZA (PIC) 4 Mar — Head of the federation of Palestinian industries Ali Al-Hayek warned of the serious repercussions of the power outages on the local industrial production in the besieged Gaza Strip. Hayek said that dozens of factories, especially those which work in the fields of construction and food, would shut down because of the insufficient fuel supplies used to generate the power needed to operate their industrial machinery.
www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Zakarneh: Employee salaries available on Monday
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Head of the government employees union Bassam Zakarneh told Ma‘an on Sunday that employee salaries will be available on Monday via ATM machines and in banks on Wednesday. Zakarneh confirmed that the finance ministry has sent salary statements to the relevant banks. The Hamas government will distribute salaries on Monday, marking the first time in months that salaries have been paid on time.
link to www.maannews.net

Let there be light / Pam Bailey in Gaza
[photos] 4 Mar — There are so many basic things most of us take for granted….like, electricity. But in Gaza — especially these days — it’s a precious commodity … Power (of the electrical kind) has been rationed to some extent ever since I started visiting Gaza in 2009. … However, on this, my sixth, trip to Gaza, power is in particularly short supply. In fact, the average house is now being forced to live with a six hours on-12 hours off schedule, compared to an average of say, 12-12 before. Combine that with an unusually harsh stretch of cold and wind and rain (which turned to ICE yesterday — a phenomenon not seen in Gaza for 10 years) — and you have a recipe for hardship of a more severe kind.
link to paminprogress.tumblr.com

Cancer patient denied access to essential treatment
Al-Haq 1 Mar — On 19 February, Israeli authorities prevented 24-year-old cancer patient, Kamel Hikmat al-Taramsi, from traveling from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem to receive medical treatment. Despite being in severe discomfort due to his illness, Kamel was detained and questioned for five hours at Erez crossing (north of the Gaza Strip). Background: In 2001, Kamel, a resident of Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, was diagnosed with cancer of the pituitary gland. Kamel has been suffering from severe headaches and has been bedbound for long periods of time. Despite receiving treatment from both international and local doctors, his condition has continuously worsened.
link to www.alhaq.org

Report: 2 homemade projectiles fired from Gaza
TEL AVIV (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Two homemade rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel early Saturday, Israeli media reported. Both rockets exploded in open fields in Eshkol Regional Council, Israel’s Ynet news site reported. No injuries or damage were reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Hanaa’ al-Shalabi

Shalabi to continue hunger strike despite sentence reduction
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — Hana Shalabi said Sunday that she will continue her hunger strike despite an announcement by Israel’s Ofer military court that her prison time will be reduced by two months. Lawyer Fadi Qawasmi visited Shalabi at Hasharon prison and informed her of the court’s decision on Sunday to reduce her imprisonment time by two months. Shalabi told him that she would continue her hunger strike protest in order to achieve her demands to end administrative detention. She has been on hunger strike for 18 days and her condition is said to have worsened recently. Addameer prisoners society says that Shalabi was issued a 6-month administrative detention order on Feb. 23. Ofer military court refused Qawasmi’s request to call witnesses to speak about the assault of Shalabi during her interrogation, he said. Qawasmi also requested that a Shin Bet representative, the military commander who led the arrest and the soldier who carried out the strip search on Shalabi be called to the stand. The court refused his demands.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli authorities deny appeal by hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner
IMEMC 5 Mar — A day after reducing the sentence of Palestinian political prisoner Hana Shalabi from six months to four months, Israeli authorities denied a request by the Palestinian Prisoner support group Addameer demanding that the arresting officer and two others accused of torturing Shalabi be forced to testify … In the latest legal briefing filed by Addameer, the group demanded that three Israeli officers who allegedly beat, brutalized and interrogated Shalabi during the course of her abduction be forced to testify in court. Israeli authorities have accused Shalabi of being active in the Islamic Jihad resistance movement, a charge which she denies.
link to www.imemc.org

Army prevents medical committee from visiting hunger-striking detainee
IMEMC 4 Mar — …In a press release issued Sunday morning, the Palestinian Prisoners Society reported that the prison administration at the Ha-Sharon Prison prevented the medical team from visiting Ash-Shalabi to examine her. The committee consists of Palestinian and International health care professionals. The committee said that it decided to visit Ash-Shalabi after the prison administrations refused to have her examined, or even moved to hospital due to the deterioration in her health condition.
link to www.imemc.org

Red flags over Gaza: Palestinian leftists rally for Hana Shalabi / Joe Catron
[photos] Mondo 5 Mar — Hundreds of Palestinians, mainly from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and other leftist factions, rallied for administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, now on her 19th day of an open hunger strike, outside Gaza’s International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) this morning, ahead of International Women’s Day Thursday.
link to mondoweiss.net

Other political detention / Exile / Court action

14 detained in West Bank, 5 minors arrested in Silwan
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Israeli forces detained 14 people overnight Sunday across the West Bank, Israel’s army and Palestinian security sources said. Four people were detained in the Ramallah area, two in Qalqiliya, two in Nablus and six in the Hebron area, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. All those detained were taken for security questioning, the spokeswoman said.
The Wadi Hilweh Information Center said that five minors were arrested in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. Shadad al-Awar, 12, Sahib al-Awar, 13, Elias al-Awar, 14, Ahmad Salah, 14 and Islam al-Awar, 17, were named as those arrested.
link to www.maannews.net

IOF renews administrative detention of PLC secretary MP Ramahi
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has renewed the administrative detention of Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, secretary of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC). Human rights sources told Quds Press that the military court in Ofer passed the renewal ruling on Sunday against Ramahi for the fourth time running.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk

Erekat calls on UN, EU to intervene to end administrative detention
JERICHO (WAFA) 4 Mar — Fatah Central Committee Member Saeb Erekat Sunday called on the United Nations and the European Union to promptly intervene to end the policy of administrative detention, which was cancelled during the British Mandate in 1948. In two separate meetings with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry and EU Representative to the Palestinian Territory John Gatt-Rutter, Erekat called to save the life of Palestinian prisoner, Hana’ Shalabi, 30, who has been in an open-ended hunger strike for 19 days, protesting her administrative arrest.
link to english.wafa.ps

3 people detained while visiting relatives in prison
QALQILIYA (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — The Palestinian prisoners society said Sunday that three people were detained while visiting relatives in Ramon prison. Diala Matar, 26, and her brother Saad Mustapha, 15, were detained while visiting their brother Muhammad Mustapha Tharra, who is serving a life sentence. Yosra Adel, 30, was also detained while visiting her brother in jail. Witnesses told the prisoners society that prison guards used force against the family members. The reason for their arrest is unclear.
link to www.maannews.net

Israeli forces arrest three relatives of prisoners including two women: another prisoner starts hunger strike
RAMALLAH (PIC)– Israeli security guards at the Raymon jail have arrested three relatives of detained Palestinians on Sunday and deprived the remaining relatives of visitation on that day.
In another development a Palestinian detainee started a hunger strike five days ago demanding treating him as a “war prisoner”.
Human rights sources said that Kifah Hattab from Tulkarem was waging the hunger strike to be treated as war prisoner and thus allow him to receive visitors, meet lawyers, and go to the clinic without wearing the prison uniform in addition to not standing for the daily count. The sources affirmed that Hattab would continue in his hunger strike until all his demands are met.
Meanwhile, three other administrative detainees in the Israeli Shatta jail went on hunger strike on Sunday protesting their detention without trial or charge.
www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Israeli court hearing today against Palestinian mother of three kids
AL-KHALIL (PIC) 5 Mar — A Palestinian woman, Mufika Al-Qawasmi, who was kidnapped recently from her home in Al-Khalil, will stand trial on Monday in the military court of Ofer jail, her family said. The family added that Israeli troops kidnapped her from her home in Ras Al-Jura neighborhood in Al-Khalil city two weeks ago to pressure her husband Ihab Al-Qawasmi, who was jailed several days earlier, into making alleged confessions. Mufika, is a mother of three children, and her husband is the brother of two Palestinian martyrs who carried out seven years ago commando operations in Al-Khalil city.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Israeli military court indicts four Palestinians including three minors
RAMALLAH (PIC) 5 Mar — An Israeli military court has filed an indictment list against four Palestinians, including three minors, from Balata refugee camp to the east of Nablus, the Hebrew radio said. The radio said that the first trial hearing was held a few weeks ago at Salem military court but not published for security reasons, adding that the four were indicted for planning resistance attacks on Israeli targets.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Video provided by B’Tselem leads to indictment of three settlers for property damage and threats in al-Lubban al-Sharqiyah
B’Tselem 28 Feb — On 15 February 2012, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office indicted a soldier and two young women, charging that on 7 February 2012, they destroyed property and sprayed malicious graffiti against Palestinians in a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, a village in the Nablus District. The defendants, who reside in settlements in the northern West Bank, are Moriah Goldberg, Oriyan Nazri, and Azariya Tene, a soldier in the Golani Brigade. The indictment also accuses the soldier of using his gun to threaten villagers who tried to stop his car, in which the three had entered the village in the middle of the night.
link to www.btselem.org

Aruri: All Palestinian prisoners to go on hunger strike in April
BEIRUT (PIC) 4 Mar — Political bureau member of Hamas and in charge of the prisoners file in the movement said that Palestinian prisoners were preparing for an open ended hunger strike in April. Aruri said in a TV statement on Saturday evening that Hamas has put five conditions for the improvement of prisoners’ conditions including ending solitary confinement, allowing family visits, improving living conditions within the detention cells and wards, and allowing newspapers into the wards … He said that the Israeli occupation authority had pledged to improve prisoners’ conditions as part of the exchange deal.
http://www.palestine-info.co.uk

Mass wedding for 13 prisoners deported to Qatar
DOHA (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — Thirteen Palestinian prisoners who were freed and deported to Doha in the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap joined hands in a mass wedding in the Qatari capital Friday evening. Palestinian ambassador to Qatar Muneer Ghannam attended the wedding along with Hamas’ chief in exile Khalid Mashaal, who delivered a speech to mark the occasion … The Emiri Court of Qatar funded the mass wedding. The brides were Palestinians living in Qatar, and others from the West Bank.
link to www.maannews.net

Elon Moreh: Stabbing attack foiled; 2 arrested
Ynet 5 Mar — IDF forces arrested two Palestinians near Elon Moreh Monday, after they were found to be in possession of large knives. Security forces believe the two were planning a stabbing attack in the settlement. The two suspects were spotted trying to enter Elon Moreh, a West Bank settlement located northeast of Nablus. During the ensuing pursuit, led by Golani forces, the two fled towards the nearby Palestinian village of Azamut. They were refused shelter by several of the resident and eventually turned over to the IDF by the headmaster of the local school. Both men, who are residents of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, were turned over to security forces for interrogation.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Rally: Free Arab Israelis who murdered IDF soldier
Ynet 3 Mar — Hundreds in Arara call on Israeli government to release killers of Avi Bromberg. … The demonstration, which was organized by the Palestinian Prisoners movement and theBalad party, was held in an event hall in the northern village of Arara. Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said the Arab-Israeli inmates should have been included in the prisoner exchange deal that secured Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity. “I think 30 years in jail is enough. On the one hand the government says (the prisoners) are not Palestinian, so they should not be released under any (agreement), but on the other hand (the government) tells them they are not Israeli either.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Activism / Solidarity

New community school in Samra
JVC 3 Mar — See our photos of the new school in Khirbet Samra on flickr here Today, March the 3rd 2012, a group of volunteers from Jordan Valley Solidarity joined the community of Khirbet Samra in the north of the Jordan Valley, they built a new tent school for the children in the community. There are twenty five children who will  benefit from this new achievement. These are all children who have not been able to attend school, because the nearest one is 20 km from Samra, and the community have reported regular abuse from settlers and soldiers..
link to www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org

International solidarity: Photos for the liberation of Shuhada Street
ISM 5 Mar — On February 20th, International Solidarity Movement put out a call for the international community to express their solidarity with the people of Al Khalil (Hebron) and the cause to open Shuhada Street. Individuals from all over the world took part in this symbolic campaign, which came just as locals in Al Khalil launched a week of activities and rallies to invoke the resilience of Palestine and its resistance against apartheid in their communities. [Be sure to click on the Mandela Park photo to see pictures from the UK, France, New Zealand, the US, South Africa, Australia, Czech Republic, Réunion, etc.
link to palsolidarity.org

Video: UCLA students stage walkout at StandWithUs event featuring Israeli soldiers
EI 5 Mar — During Palestine Awareness Week last week, students at UCLA held a memorial for Palestinians killed during Israel’s 2008-09 attacks on the Gaza strip. Days later, Israel lobby organization StandWithUs and the campus group “Bruins for Israel” held an event featuring presentations by two Israeli soldiers. As the soldiers began their presentation, they acknowledged that there was going to be a walkout taking place. As soon as one of the soldiers mentioned Operation Cast Lead (“in 2008, Israel said ‘enough is enough’”), activists stood up, placed tape over their mouths, and held signs with the names of some of the more than 350 children killed in Israel’s attacks. They then silently walked out of the auditorium. The action was organized by UCLA’s Students for Justice in Palestine. This latest walkout comes just about a week after a similar action at a StandWithUs-sponsored event at Michigan State University
link to electronicintifada.net

International assassination

Israeli-French film to poke fun at assassination of senior Hamas official
Haaretz 5 Mar — Israeli and French filmmakers are preparing to shoot a comedy based on the 2010 assassination of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.The killing – in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates – was widely attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s espionage service. The title of the film, “Kidon” (Javelin ), is the film’s purported code name for the assassination hit squad. In real life, the assassination generated widespread media coverage, including closed-circuit camera footage allegedly showing members of the assassination team in tennis garb in Mabhouh’s hotel.
link to www.haaretz.com

Refugees

Baraka asks Iraqi ambassador to improve conditions of Palestinian refugees
BEIRUT (PIC) 5 Mar — Representative of Hamas in Lebanon Ali Baraka has conferred with Iraqi ambassador to Lebanon Omar Barazanji on Monday for an overall discussion of conditions in the region. A Hamas statement said that Baraka, who accompanied three Hamas officials with him, conferred with Barazanji on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Iraq. It added that Baraka asked for improving living conditions of those refugees and granting them special passports to facilitate their movement and travel. The ambassador, the statement said, promised to convey the requests to the Iraqi government, adding that he would do whatever he could to help the “Palestinian brothers” living in Iraq and alleviate their suffering. He affirmed that those refugees are guests in Iraq until their return to their homeland.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk/

Political news

Abbas says will not be PM if illegal, problematic
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 4 Mar — President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that he is not fixed on taking up the prime ministerial post in the unity cabinet, after the new government was postponed in the face of uproar in Hamas ranks. In an interview with Al-Jazeera satellite channel in Qatar, Abbas said that neither party dictated his candidacy, but he and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal agreed he lead the interim government. The Fatah leader said he agreed on the position on the basis that the government is transitional, technocratic, and has a limited remit of preparing for elections and reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. He added that if his appointment raises political or legal problems, he will not insist on keeping the leadership role. The cabinet is currently on hold at the request of Mashaal, who said the time was not right due to a disagreement with Hamas on proceeding, he told the channel.
link to www.maannews.net

Fatah, Hamas officials shift blame for delay in unity govt
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Fatah and Hamas officials traded accusations on Monday over the delay in forming a unity government. Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told Palestine Radio that President Abbas was waiting for Hamas to form a new government, adding that he had not requested any delays … Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan responded that Abbas was responsible for forming the new government because it was agreed that he would be the head.
link to www.maannews.net

Islamic Jihad will ‘not oppose’ reconciliation
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — Secretary-general of the Islamic Jihad movement said Monday that the group will not oppose any aspect of reconciliation agreed upon between Fatah and Hamas. “If both rivals reach agreement, we will not oppose any step related to the government as long as our solid principles are not interfered with,” Ramadan Abdullah Shallah told Ma‘an. The senior Islamic Jihad member said that the groups’ participation in the PLO is still dependent on further internal meetings to discuss the organizations’ restructuring.
link to www.maannews.net

PFLP: Syria offices remain open
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 3 Mar — The head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in exile says the faction has no plans to shutter its offices in Damascus, despite unrest in Syria. Maher al-Taher said Saturday the leftist faction’s offices in the Syrian capital are operating as usual and that he will return to Damascus after Gaza, where he arrived last week marking his first visit to the coastal enclave.
link to www.maannews.net

Knesset reprimands Tibi over ‘Shahid Day’ speech

Ynet 5 Mar — Arab lawmaker reportedly said in Ramallah ‘blessed are the martyrs inside the Green Line, those whom the occupier wants to refer to as terrorists’ … Tibi told the committee that the video of his speech was taped over a year ago, adding that it was edited in such a way that distorted the true meaning behind his remarks. According to Tibi, the “shahids” he mentioned in the speech did not kill anyone.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Knesset to consider parliamentary committee to investigate activities of Arab members
MEMO 5 Mar — Israel’s Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said yesterday that the country’s parliament, the Knesset, is to look into an unprecedented proposal submitted by extreme right-wing parliamentarian Danny Danon. The Likud MK wants the Knesset to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate the activities of its elected members who belong to Arab parties because of what he claims are “extremist activities”. The move is also intended to investigate the overseas trips made by Arab MKs to neighbouring countries, as well as their various comments and the decisions of Israeli courts not to file complaints or indictments against them.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk

Obama: All options remain on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran
Haaretz 4 Mar by Barak Ravid — U.S. President Barack Obama addresses AIPAC conference in Washington; staunchly defends his administration’s record on Israel, citing strong security and diplomatic assistance.
link to www.haaretz.com

Erekat: PA disappointed by Obama speech
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 5 Mar — PLO official Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority was disappointed with US President Barack Obama’s recent speech at an AIPAC conference. “This speech is part of Obama’s election campaign,” Erekat told Ma‘an. “Unfortunately, the speech ignored the requirements for peace as it did not touch on urging Israel to accept the two-state solution, halt settlement activities, and stop imposing facts on the ground.” Erekat said the speech at AIPAC’s policy conference in Washington on Sunday showed “unprecedented support” to Israel, and the PLO official urged Arab nations to give priority to Arab interests just as the US supported their own interests abroad.
link to www.maannews.net

Settler MK Uri Ariel calls for one-state
972mag 5 Mar — Knesset member joins other rightwing leaders in call for annexing West Bank, one state solution. One of the well-known figures in the settler movement, Knesset Member Uri Ariel from the radical rightwing National Union Party, is publicly calling for a one-state solution as an alternative to the construction of a Palestinian state, the independent news siteSrugim reported. Ariel is calling on Israel to annex the West Bank immediately and give all Palestinians living there the status of residents in Israel, similar to those of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which was annexed to Israel in 1967. According to the plan, Gaza will not be made part of Israel.
link to 972mag.com

Other news, Opinion

Video: Are Israelis boycotting Palestinian goods? / Dahlia Scheindlin
972mag 5 Mar — Although Israelis spend hundreds of millions of dollars on Palestinian goods each year, these products are usually sold under Israelis labels, since Palestinian-marketed goods are a tough sell. A video item on the Media Line today tells of a Tel Aviv trade fair designated to help open doors for Palestinian agricultural products such as olive oil, to break into the Israeli market – in their own name. It turns out that Israelis are happy to buy Palestinian goods, says reporter Arieh O’Sullivan (sales were reported at $300 million last year) as long as they’re not flaunted as Palestinian.
link to 972mag.com

Ahmed Moor in WaPo: Harvard One State conference informed by the uncontroversial view that all people are created equal
Mondo3 Mar — Ahmed Moor writing in the Washington Post: The degree to which the country is a single, indivisible unit is sometimes underscored by the most mundane experiences. A Palestinian friend recently told me about being pulled over for speeding in the West Bank. The person who ticketed him was an Israeli army official. Yes, Palestine has been colonized out of existence, and the Israeli army is busy policing traffic. The army’s nearness to the average Palestinian extends beyond settlements.
link to mondoweiss.net

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

Red flags over Gaza: Palestinian leftists rally for Hana Shalabi

Mar 05, 2012

Joe Catron

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Hundreds of Palestinians, mainly from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and other leftist factions, rallied for administrative detainee Hana Shalabi, now on her 19th day of an open hunger strike, outside Gaza’s International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) this morning, ahead of International Women’s Day Thursday.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Their presence bolstered the numbers of a protest tent already erected at the ICRC entrance, and maintaining a continuous presence there, to support Shalabi.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Among the crowd, different kinds of red flags mixed easily with the black and yellow ones of Shalabi’s Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.

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(Photo: Joe Catron)
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(Photo: Joe Catron)

Meanwhile dozens of Palestinians continued their weekly vigil for family members imprisoned by Israel, demanding that the ICRC fulfill its obligations to protect their rights.

 

Dershowitz, Cotler and Wiesel line up behind terrorist-linked Iranian oppo group

Mar 05, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Ron Kampeas at JTA:

Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel — three prominent Jewish activists who have joined with other prominent people in a bid to remove a group with a blood-soaked history from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The names on the growing list of influential American advocates to de-list the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK — known in English as the National Council of Resistance of Iran — suggest an effort to give the bid a pro-Israel imprimatur.

On the record, the people involved insist there is no Israel element to what they say is a humanitarian endeavor to remove the movement’s followers from danger.

“I don’t see any Israel issue at all,” Dershowitz told JTA in an interview, instead casting it in terms of Hillel’s dictum, “If I am only for myself, who am I?”

Off the record, however, figures close to the campaign use another ancient Middle Eastern dictum to describe the involvement of supporters of Israel: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

A source close to the effort to bring pro-Israel voices into the initiative cited reports that Israel has allied with the MEK, which reportedly maintains agents in Iran and in the past has published details of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The organized pro-Israel community, however, has been reluctant to sign on. One official at a pro-Israel group said pushing to de-list MEK without a full review could undercut efforts to keep groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah on the list.

“They’re listed as a terrorist group, and until the U.S. government says otherwise, we’re not going to deal with them,” said the official, whose group otherwise counsels a tough posture against the Iranian regime.

The MEK, an Iranian exile group that some accuse of being a cult, has maintained a presence in Iraq since 1986, when Saddam Hussein welcomed it as a useful thorn in the side of his deadly enemy. From its border encampment, Camp Ashraf, it conducted operations against the theocracy in Iran. The MEK claims to have ended military activities in 2001.

Kampeas adds that the effort to delist MEK is joined by John Bolton, Howard Dean, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Mukasey and Tom Ridge. For more background on the MEK, and the effort to get them off the State Department terrorist list, see this June, 2010 Mondo post where contributor Kamran saw this coming from a mile away.

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IsraHell cannot afford to wait much longer on Iran

NOVANEWS

Zio-Nazi prime minister warns of the dangers of a nuclear Iran, which he says will provide a ‘nuclear umbrella’ to terrorists; in earlier meeting, New York Times reports Obama said talk of war is increasing oil prices.

Haaretz

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the AIPAC conference in Washington on Monday, called on the international community to acknowledge the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

“Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical research. Yeah, right,” Netanyahu said.

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?  That’s right, it’s a duck. But this duck is a nuclear duck and it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck,” he said.

Netanyahu reiterated the fact that Israel reserves its right to protect itself. He added that for Israel all options remain on the table. “I will never gamble with the security of Israel.,” he explained.

Netanyahu warned of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. “A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella,” he said. “That means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack America, Israel, and others because they will be backed by a power with atomic weapons.”

Drawing a parallel with arguments against attacking Iran, Netanyahu said the War Department explained that such an operation at Auschwitz could provoke “even more vindictive action by the Germans”.

“Think about that, even more vindictive action than the Holocaust,” Netanyahu said. He dismissed arguments that an attack on Iran would exact too heavy a toll by provoking Iranian retaliation. He held up a copy of a 1944 letter from the U.S. War Department rejecting world Jewish leaders’ entreaties to bomb the Auschwitz death camp because it would be “ineffective” and “might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.”

“My friends, 2012 is not 1944,” Netanyahu said. “Today, we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future.”

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House and said that Israel has not made any decision on attacking Iran to stop its nuclear program.

Sources who were briefed on the meeting afterward said Obama and Netanyahu agreed to increase their coordination on Iran. Israel’s Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz is to visit Washington in two weeks to discuss the issue with U.S. officials.

During their meeting, Obama told Netanyahu that Israel and the United States have an identical goal with regard to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

“I have no intention of trying to contain the Iranian issue,” Obama reportedly told Netanyahu.

“I think that there’s time for diplomacy and in any case I am not taking any options off the table, including a military option.”

The New York Times reported that Obama said that discussion of a possible strike on Iran was leading to global oil price increases, and was undermining sanctions on Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded that U.S. officials’ remarks against an Iran strike may be showing weakness to the Iran regime, according to the New York Times report.

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Canada Zionist Puppets bans all dealings with Syrian central bank, closes Syria embassy

NOVANEWS

Haaretz

Canada imposed fresh sanctions on Syria on Tuesday, banning all dealings with the central bank and seven cabinet ministers as part of a campaign to stop President Bashar Assad’s crackdown against rebels.

The measures also prohibit the provision or acquisition of financial or other related services to or from anyone in Syria or those acting on Syria’s behalf.

Canada also announced on Monday that it was closing its embassy in Syria. Britain, the United States and France also have already closed their embassies in the country. Canada has been advising its citizens to leave for some time.

“The continuing, appalling violence perpetrated by the Assad regime on the people of Syria compels us to again tighten the vice on those responsible … Our message remains clear: Assad must go,” Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement.

The sanctions are the sixth round imposed by Ottawa on Damascus.

Earlier on Monday, China said on it will send an envoy to Syria in a fresh bid to help staunch violence there that has divided Beijing from Western and Arab powers demanding stronger action to rein in the forces of President Bashar Assad.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Li Huaxin, the country’s former ambassador to Syria, will visit there for two days from Tuesday, promoting a six-point plan that Beijing issued on the weekend as the basis of a solution to the violence.

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John McCain: U.S. should bomb Syria

NOVANEWS

politico.com

Arizona Republican John McCain on Monday became the first senator to call for  U.S.-led air strikes to stop the slaughter of unarmed civilians being carried  out by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Providing military assistance to the Free Syrian Army and other opposition  groups is necessary, but at this late hour, that alone will not be sufficient to  stop the slaughter and save innocent lives. The only realistic way to do so is  with foreign airpower,” McCain, a Vietnam War veteran and the top Republican on  the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“Therefore, at the request of [opposition forces], the United  States should lead an international effort to protect key population centers in  Syria, especially in the north, through airstrikes on Assad’s forces.”

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen.  Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), two of McCain’s closest allies on foreign policy,  issued a statement Monday night saying they backed McCain’s position toward  Syria.

An estimated 7,500 Syrians have been killed by Assad’s military during the  past year, including hundreds in the city of Homs which has been targeted by  tank and artillery attacks.

McCain, the GOP presidential nominee in 2008, said the goal of the U.S. air  strikes should be to “establish and defend safe havens” in Syria where  opposition forces can organize and plot political and military attacks against  Assad. The international community could also deliver humanitarian and military  assistance to these safe zones, including food, water, weapons and training.

“Increasingly, the question for U.S. policy is not whether foreign forces  will intervene militarily in Syria. We can be confident that Syria’s neighbors  will do so eventually, if they have not already. Some kind of intervention will  happen, with us or without us,” McCain said. “So the real question for U.S.  policy is whether we will participate in this next phase of the conflict in  Syria, and thereby increase our ability to shape an outcome that is beneficial  to the Syrian people, and to us.

“I believe we must.”

So far, the Obama administration has opposed military intervention in Syria,  believing that tougher economic sanctions and greater diplomatic pressure will  drive Assad from power.

But McCain said the U.S. has little to show after a year of diplomatic  efforts, which have failed to halt what the senator called Assad’s “killing  spree.” McCain drew comparisons between Syria and Libya, where NATO forces  conducted air strikes against the armed forces of dictator Muammar Qadhafi.

“The kinds of mass atrocities that NATO intervened in Libya to prevent in  Benghazi are now a reality in Homs,” McCain said. “Indeed, Syria today is the  scene of some of the worst state-sponsored violence since Milosevic’s war crimes  in the Balkans, or Russia’s annihilation of the Chechen city of Grozny.”

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS


Watch liberal Zionists realise the Israeli experiment has become a nightmare

 

Posted: 05 Mar 2012

 

Naturally enough it takes two astute American academics, Steve Walt and John Mearsheimer, authors of The Israel Lobbyto explain in the Financial Times that Iran isn’t the real issue for Israel:

On Iran, Mr Netanyahu is convinced it wants nuclear weapons, and that this goal threatens Israel’s existence. He does not think diplomacy can stop Iran, and wants the US to destroy its nuclear facilities. If Mr Obama refuses to order an attack, the Israeli leader would like a green light to do so.

Mr Obama and his advisers – including the military – see things differently. They do not want Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, but they do not believe a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel. After all, Israel has its own nuclear arsenal, and could obliterate Iran if attacked. US intelligence is also confident Tehran has not yet decided to build nuclear weapons. Indeed, US leaders worry that, no matter who does it, an attack would convince Iran it needs its own nuclear deterrent. They are correct.

In fact, the Palestinian issue is the real existential threat to Israel. More than 500,000 Israeli Jews now live in the occupied territories, and continued settlement building will lead to a single state between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. Given demographic trends, this “Greater Israel” could not be both a Jewish state and a full democracy. Instead, it would be an apartheid state, threatening Israel’s legitimacy and long-term survival. As Ehud Olmert, former prime minister, said in 2007, if the two-state solution fails, Israel “will face a South African-like struggle for equal voting rights”. And if that happens, he warned, “the state of Israel is finished”.

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Obama have clashed repeatedly on the Palestinian issue, and each time Mr Obama has backed down. He is unlikely to press the issue between now and November’s election. Instead, he will act as if the US and Israel remain the closest of allies.

If only this were true.

It seems that nearly every week we now read of liberal Zionists, often in America, suddenly realising that their beloved Israel, a nation they’ve publicly supported for years, has turned into Frankenstein’s monster. No kidding. Here’s the New Yorkereditor David Remnick:

There is another state in the region [Israel] that is embroiled in a crisis of democratic becoming. This is the State of Israel. For decades, its citizens—its Jewish ones, at least—have justifiably described their country as the only democracy in the Middle East. Although Israel as imagined by Theodor Herzl and built by the generation of David Ben-Gurion was never intended to be a replica of the Anglo-American model—its political culture, even now, is closer to that of the European social democracies—its structures of governance are points of pride. And yet, as an experiment in Jewish power, unique after two millennia of persecution and exile, Israel has reached an impasse. An intensifying conflict of values has put its democratic nature under tremendous stress. When the government speaks daily about the existential threat from Iran, and urges an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, it ignores the existential threat that looms within. Reactionary elements lurk in many democracies. Ask the Dutch, the British, the Austrians, the French. The Republican Party has flirted with several in this election cycle. But in Israel the threat is especially acute. And the concern comes not only from its most persistent critics. The former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert have both warned of a descent into apartheid, xenophobia, and isolation.

The political corrosion begins, of course, with the occupation of the Palestinian territories—the subjugation of Palestinian men, women, and children—that has lasted for forty-five years. Peter Beinart, in a forthcoming and passionately argued polemic, “The Crisis of Zionism,” is just the latest critic to point out that a profoundly anti-democratic, even racist, political culture has become endemic among much of the Jewish population in the West Bank, and jeopardizes Israel proper. The explosion of settlements, encouraged and subsidized by both Labor and Likud governments, has led to a large and established ethnocracy that thinks of itself as a permanent frontier. In 1980, twelve thousand Jews lived in the West Bank, “east of democracy,” Beinart writes; now they number more than three hundred thousand, and include Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s wildly xenophobic Foreign Minister. Lieberman has advocated the execution of Arab members of parliament who dare to meet with leaders of Hamas. His McCarthyite allies call for citizens to swear loyalty oaths to the Jewish state; for restrictions on human-rights organizations, like the New Israel Fund; and for laws constricting freedom of expression.

A visitor to Tel Aviv and other freethinking precincts might overlook the reactionary currents in the country, but poll after poll reveals that many younger Israelis are losing touch with the liberal, democratic principles of the state. Many of them did their military duty in the Occupied Territories; some learned to despise the Occupation they saw firsthand, but others learned to accept the official narratives justifying what they were made to do.

Last year, a poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that fifty-one per cent of Israelis believed that people “should be prohibited from harshly criticizing the State of Israel in public.” Netanyahu encourages the notion that any such criticism is the work of enemies. Even the country’s staunchest ally, the United States, is not above suspicion. The current Administration has coöperated with Israeli intelligence to an unprecedented extent and has led a crippling sanctions effort against Iran, yet Netanyahu, who visits Washington this week, has shown imperious disdain for Barack Obama. In fact, the President is a philo-Semite, whose earliest political supporters were Chicago Jews: Abner Mikva, Newton and Martha Minow, Bettylu Saltzman, David Axelrod. He was close to a rabbi on the South Side, the late Arnold Jacob Wolf. But to Netanyahu these men and women are the wrong kind of Jew. Wolf, for example, had worked for Abraham Joshua Heschel, the rabbi most closely associated with the civil-rights movement and other social-justice causes. Wolf brought Martin Luther King, Jr., to speak in his synagogue, marched in Selma, and, in 1973, helped found Breira (Alternative), one of the first American Jewish groups to endorse a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu has distaste for such associations; his gestures toward Palestinian statehood are less than halfhearted. (After he spoke of giving Palestinians their own state, his father, the right-wing historian Benzion Netanyahu, shrewdly observed, “He supports it under conditions that they will never accept.”) To Netanyahu, the proper kind of ally is exemplified by AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson—the longtime casino tycoon and recent bankroller of Newt Gingrich—who owns a newspaper in Israel devoted to supporting him. Netanyahu knows that young American Jews are split, with the growing Orthodox community solidly in his corner, and the less observant and secular majority—a majority that is increasingly assimilated and uninterested in Jewish learning—losing their attachment to Israel. The Prime Minister clearly feels that the fervor of the few offers him more than the disillusion and drift of the many.

“The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation,” Obama has said. Netanyahu and many of his supporters believe otherwise; too often, they consider the tenets of liberal democracy to be negotiable in a game of coalition politics. Such short-term expedience cannot but exact a long-term price: this dream—and the process of democratic becoming—may be painfully, even fatally, deferred.

#Occupy deserves drone monitoring?

 

Posted: 04 Mar 2012

 

Welcome to 21st century America, a reality that helps private companies reap the financial rewards while acting in the “national interest”. Stephen Salisbury in TomDispatch on the latest example of disaster capitalism on crack:

All told, the federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security-related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. To conclude, though, that “the police” have become increasingly militarized casts too narrow a net.  The truth is that virtually the entire apparatus of government has been mobilized and militarized right down to the university campus.

Perhaps the pepper spray used on Occupy demonstrators last November at University of California-Davis wasn’t directly paid for by the federal government. But those who used it work closely with Homeland Security and the FBI “in developing prevention strategies that threaten campus life, property, and environments,” as UC Davis’s Comprehensive Emergency and Continuity Management Plan puts it.

Government budgets at every level now include allocations aimed at fighting an ephemeral “War on Terror” in the United States. A vast surveillance and military buildup has taken place nationwide to conduct a pseudo-war against what can be imagined, not what we actually face. The costs of this effort, started by the Bush administration and promoted faithfully by the Obama administration, have been, and continue to be, virtually incalculable. In the process, public service and the public imagination have been weaponized.

Farewell to Peaceful Private Life

We’re not just talking money eagerly squandered.  That may prove the least of it. More importantly, the fundamental values of American democracy — particularly the right to lead an autonomous private life — have been compromised with grim efficiency. The weaponry and tactics now routinely employed by police are visible evidence of this. 

Yes, it’s true that Montgomery County, Texas, has purchased a weapons-capable drone.  (They say they’ll only arm it with tasers, if necessary.) Yes, it’s true that the Tampa police have beefed the force up with an eight-ton armored personnel carrier, augmenting two older tanks the department already owns. Yes, the Fargo police are ready with bomb detection robots, and Chicagoboasts a network of at least 15,000 interlinked surveillance cameras. 

New York City’s 34,000-member police force is now the ground zero of agrowing outcry over rampant secret spying on Muslim students and communities up and down the East coast.  It has been a big beneficiary of federal security largess.  Between 2003 and 2010, the city received more than $1.1 billion through Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program. And that’s only one of the grant programs funneling such money to New York.

The Obama White House itself has directly funded part of the New York Police Department’s anti-Muslim surveillance program. Top officials of New York’s finest have, however, repeatedly refused to disclose just how much anti-terrorism money it has been spending, citing, of course, security.

Desperation of prostitution in Kabul

 

Posted: 04 Mar 2012

 

Fascinating yet disturbing insight into a hidden world inside Afghanistan (via Channel 4):

In a Kabul suburb we have come to a woman’s house. We’ll call her Habiba. She’s playing with her daughter on the carpet, a toddler. There’s a small but modern flatscreen TV in the corner. A house of several bedrooms. In her headscarf and jeans she is very westernised by Afghan standards. On several occasions Channel 4 News meets Habiba and films and talks to her, with her husband not present. Even meeting an Afghan woman at all in her home would be quite unthinkable in most parts of this country and most of this city too – let alone doing so with no husband in the room.

But what we shall witness in this house goes so far beyond the norms of Afghanistan’s conservative society – so far beyond the norms of British society come to that – it is hard to find words to frame it.

Habiba, in her late 20s, is a schoolteacher. Her husband, a civil-servant. Or at least they were.

Some months back her husband’s epilepsy and other health problems forced him to leave his job, he said. And then he took to drink. And he also took to beating Habiba up if she declined to do his bidding.

By any standards in any society that bidding is extraordinary. He has forced her to leave the classroom and become a prostitute. He, the husband, is now also the pimp.

“I hate this life,” she says, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Right now I hate myself and my husband. I think I am the worst person in the world. It is horrible. And what about my daughter?”

Not all young Jews embrace Israeli occupation

 

Posted: 04 Mar 2012

 

Bravo:

On March 4, 2012, 22 year old member of Young Jewish and Proud (the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace) Liza Behrendt stood up at the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference in a breakout session called “The Struggle to Secure Israel on Campus” to call attention to the silencing of Palestinians— and young Jews who support them — on U.S. campuses.

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IsraHell’s Best Friend

NOVANEWS
By 

The only question I have when it comes to President Obama andIsrael is whether he is the most pro-Israel president in history or just one of the most.

Thomas L. Friedman C.I.A agent
Josh Haner/The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

Why? Because the question of whether Israel has the need and the right to pre-emptively attack Iran as it develops a nuclear potential is one of the most hotly contested issues on the world stage today. It is also an issue fraught with danger for Israel and American Jews, neither of whom want to be accused of dragging America into a war, especially one that could weaken an already frail world economy.

In that context, President Obama, in his interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg and in his address to Aipac, the pro-Israel lobby, offered the greatest support for Israel that any president could at this time: He redefined the Iran issue. He said — rightly — that it was not simply about Israel’s security, but about U.S. national security and global security.

Obama did this by making clear that allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons and then “containing” it — the way the U.S. contained the Soviet Union — was not a viable option, because if Iran acquires a nuclear bomb, all the states around it would seek to acquire one as well. This would not only lead to a nuclear Middle East, but it would likely prompt other countries to hedge their commitments to the global Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The global nuclear black market would then come alive and we would see the dawning of a more dangerous world.

“Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon isn’t just in the interest of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States,” the president told The Atlantic. “If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, this would run completely contrary to my policies of nonproliferation. The risks of an Iranian nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorist organizations are profound. … It would also provide Iran the additional capability to sponsor and protect its proxies in carrying out terrorist attacks, because they are less fearful of retaliation. … If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, I won’t name the countries, but there are probably four or five countries in the Middle East who say, ‘We are going to start a program, and we will have nuclear weapons.’ And at that point, the prospect for miscalculation in a region that has that many tensions and fissures is profound. You essentially then duplicate the challenges of India and Pakistan fivefold or tenfold.” In sum, the president added, “The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world.”

Every Israeli and friend of Israel should be thankful to the president for framing the Iran issue this way. It is important strategically for Israel, because it makes clear that dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat was not Israel’s problem alone. And it is important politically, because this decision about whether to attack Iran is coinciding with the U.S. election. The last thing Israel or American friends of Israel — Jewish and Christian — want is to give their enemies a chance to claim that Israel is using its political clout to embroil America in a war that is not in its interest.

That could easily happen because backing for Israel today has never been more politicized. In recent years, Republicans have tried to make support for Israel a wedge issue that would enable them to garner a higher percentage of Jewish votes and campaign contributions, which traditionally have swung overwhelmingly Democratic. This has led to an arms race with the Democrats over who is more pro-Israel — and over-the-top declarations, like Newt Gingrich’s that the Palestinians “are an invented people.”

And it could easily happen because money in politics has never been more important for running campaigns, and the Israel lobby — both its Jewish and evangelical Christian wings — has never been more influential, because of its ability to direct campaign contributions to supportive candidates.

As such, no one should want domestic electoral politics mixed up with the Iran decision, which is why it was so important that the president redefined the Iran problem as a global proliferation threat and grounded his decision-making in American realism, not politics.

Reports from the Aipac convention this week indicated that those advocating military action were getting the loudest cheers. I’d invite all those cheering to think about all the unintended and unanticipated consequences of the Iraq war or Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon. That’s not a reason for paralysis. It’s a reason to heed Obama’s call to give diplomacy and biting sanctions a chance to work, while keeping the threat of force on the table.

If it comes to war, let it be because the ayatollahs were ready to sacrifice their whole economy to get a nuke and, therefore, America — the only country that can truly take down Iran’s nuclear program — had to act to protect the global system, not just Israel. I respect that this is a deadly serious issue for Israel — which has the right to act on its own — but President Obama has built a solid strategic and political case for letting America take the lead.

Posted in USA1 Comment

Dorothy Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

 

As you can imagine, a main topic in the international and domestic press today is the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu.  Links to some of the reports on this are below, if you care to read them.

 

Two articles, both commentaries, stand out from all the rest: Akiva Eldar’s “Obama and Netanyahu’s White House masquerade ball” and Avi Shlaim’s “Obama must stand up to Netanyahu.”  They are items 1 and 2 below, and are the only items plus the links to reports that you might wish to glance through.  Of the latter, the Guardian’s is a blow by blow account.  All of the reports are more or less of the same tenet.

 

Not so with items one and two.  But, before going to them, I would like to briefly express my own thoughts about Netanyahu’s obsession with Iran.  My personal feeling (which item one slightly confirms) is that all of the hullabaloo that Netanyahu is stirring up against Iran is a smoke screen to hide what Netanyahu’s government is doing on the ground in the OPT, and, perhaps even more, is to keep Obama from harping on deliberating with the Palestinians, and on ending colony construction.  The Palestinians have, for the time, disappeared from the US-Israel dialogue, or at least we hear nothing of it.  Does Netanyahu’s use of Iran as a smoke screen to hide Israel’s crimes and to keep the subject of 2 states off the ledger mean that Israel won’t strike Iran?  I don’t trust Netanyahu and clan as far as I can throw a rock—and I can’t throw far at all.  I tend to think that with all his talk about Iran, he will talk himself into undertaking another foolish and harmful venture, just as he did years back with the tunnel (if you are unfamiliar with that episode, seehttp://www.stopmoskowitz.org/article0080.shtml ).

 

Whether I am right or wrong in my assessment of why all this fuss about Iran, the fact is that Israel is doing all in its power to make life unbearable for Palestinians, notwithstanding the relative calm for the time being.  Just how long that calm will last, no one knows.

 

In item 1 Akiva Eldar regards the present Obama-Netanyahu talks to be a masquerade.  Item 2 is Avi Shlaim’s scathing diatribe against Netanyahu—which the latter has well deserved.

 

All the best,

Dorothy

 

1 Haaretz

Monday, March 5, 2012

 

Obama and Netanyahu’s White House masquerade ball

If the United States does eventually decide to do the work itself and attack Iran’s nuclear reactors, the citizens of Israel will have to pay for all the noise and fuss.

 

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/obama-and-netanyahu-s-white-house-masquerade-ball-1.416522

 

By Akiva Eldar

Even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu crosses the threshold of the White House Monday, the importance of his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama can be said to “lie in the very fact that it is taking place.”

 

This is the phrase that spokesmen typically reserve for high-ranking diplomatic meetings that go nowhere, or for those whose content is kept secret. Netanyahu will not hear anything from Obama that he has not heard before from the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the national security adviser: Obama will make sure that Netanyahu has absorbed the message that attacking Iran before the U.S. presidential elections in November is tantamount to attacking the incumbent president. And for this time-out, Obama will be prepared to pay generously.

 

What are your thoughts on this issue? Follow Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views.

 

During election season in the United States – when Netanyahu’s friends, the wheelers and dealers, come out in full force – Netanyahu can dress up as Samson the nebech and play the part of the Jewish victim. And, in the spirit of this week’s Purim festival, the joint press conference that will take place after the meeting will be a masquerade ball. Obama will wear a friendly expression and pretend to be Netanyahu’s best friend. He will utter familiar declarations about his commitment to Israel’s security, and about preventing Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. He will look in Netanyahu’s direction, but he will be winking the whole time at his Jewish donors, and at the floating voters in Florida’s retirement homes. Obama will not be satisfied merely with a second term; it is also important to him that the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC grant favors to the Democratic candidates for the two houses of Congress. And so, until November, Obama will be singing the tunes that the wheelers and dealers want to hear. The bill will arrive in December. Perhaps.

 

The real issues, though – the tough ones, the ones that Netanyahu and the Jewish activists don’t want to hear – those Obama will keep to himself on Monday. He won’t reiterate the statements he made at the end of his meeting in September 2010 with Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – one of the many meetings in which it was agreed that there would be “accelerated negotiations about a final status arrangement.”

 

The alternative to the status quo is not acceptable, Obama told journalists at the time, noting a chance to change the strategic landscape of the Middle East in a way that would help to deal with Iran – which does not want to forgo its nuclear program – and with the terrorist organizations in the region.

 

Obama stressed that an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not only in the interest of the two sides, but also a U.S. interest and an interest of the rest of the world.

 

In order to bring these remarks up to date, in order to adjust them to the reality of the current situation in March 2012, Obama would have to say to Netanyahu Monday: “I have seen the grocery list you presented to the Palestinians as a list of ‘Israel’s positions.’ I have read the latest report from our consulate in Jerusalem about the creeping annexation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. I regret that you are sticking to the status quo and missing the opportunity to influence the new strategic landscape of the Middle East. We have heard that your Foreign Ministry has also warned that the Palestinian Authority could collapse and that a third intifada could ensue, which would undermine stability in the region. You are demanding of us that we intensify the struggle against Iran, even as your settlement policy and your foot-dragging in negotiations with the Palestinians are not only making it difficult for us to put together an Arab and Muslim coalition against Iran, but are actually fueling terrorist organizations. I have told you many times that an arrangement with the Palestinians is also a U.S. strategic interest. A failure to establish a two-state solution to this conflict is a personal failure to defend this interest of mine.”

 

From Netanyahu’s point of view, Monday’s meeting with Obama succeeded even before it took place. This will be the first time that the president does not nag him about the Palestinian state, about the 1967 borders, about freezing the settlements. Who has the patience now for the Palestinian bomb that is ticking right under our noses? The important thing is that all the newspapers report that Netanyahu succeeded in ironing out the disagreements with Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue.

 

In Tehran they are aware that “the little Satan” is the one that is busy undermining negotiations with it, and that it is busy beating the drums of “the big Satan.” If the United States does eventually decide to do the work itself and attack Iran’s nuclear reactors, the citizens of Israel will have to pay for all the noise and fuss. That is the real significance of Monday’s meeting.

+++++

2 Avi Shlaim: Obama must stand up to Netanyahu

He views relations with the Arab world as one of conflict, a struggle between light and darkness

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/avi-shlaim-obama-must-stand-up-to-netanyahu-7536456.html#

 

Avi Shlaim

 

Monday, 5 March 2012

It is clear what kind of Israeli prime minister President Obama will be receiving at the White House today. Benjamin Netanyahu is a bellicose, right-wing Israeli nationalist, a rejectionist on the subject of Palestinian national rights, and a reactionary who is deeply wedded to the status quo. Nationalism has an in-built tendency to go to extremes and Netanyahu’s brand is no exception. A nation has been defined as ‘a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbours’.  This definition fits the Likud leader on both counts: he has a selective and self-righteous view of his own country’s history and he is driven by distrust and disdain, if not outright hatred towards the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular. This hostility towards Arabs is the central thread that runs through his public utterances, books, and policies as prime minister.

 

Netanyahu does not believe in peaceful co-existence between equals. He views Israel’s relations with the Arab world as one of permanent conflict, as a never-ending struggle between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.  In his 1993 book – A Place among the Nations: Israel and the World – the image he presents of the Arabs is consistently and comprehensively negative. Nor does he admit any possibility of diversity or change.  The book does not contain a single positive reference to the Arabs, their history or their culture. Autocracy, violence, and terrorism are said to be the ubiquitous facts in the political life of all the Arab countries. A democratic shift on the Arab side is a precondition to genuine peace with Israel, wrote Netanyahu, in the confident expectation that such a shift is beyond the realm of possibility. The Arab Spring has proved him wrong.

 

The coalition government headed by Netanyahu is the most aggressively right-wing, diplomatically intransigent, and overtly racist government in Israel’s history. His Foreign minister is Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu, Israel is Our Home. Lieberman has set his face against any compromise with the Palestinians and he also favours subjecting Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens to an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state. Netanyahu’s Defence Minister is Ehud Barak who destroyed and then defected from the Labour Party to form a small break-away faction called Independence. A former chief-of-staff, Barak suffers from a déformation professionelle: he regards diplomacy as the extension of war by other means. Barak is a bitkhonist, a security-ist who wants 100 per cent security for Israel which means zero security for the Palestinians.

 

The ideological make-up of this coalition government militates against a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians. It is a government of militant nationalists whose aim is to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel. The government is democratically elected but by putting nationalism above morality and international legality, and by relying on military power to subjugate another people, it is in danger of drifting towards fascism. And it is already drifting away from the common values that constitute the foundation of the special relationship between the United States and the State of Israel.

 

On 14 June 2009, Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar-Ilan University in which, under strong American pressure, he grudgingly endorsed a ‘Demilitarized Palestinian State’. This was hailed as a reversal of his government’s opposition to an independent Palestinian state. But the change was more apparent than real. Judged by his deeds rather than rhetoric, Netanyahu remained the relentless rejectionist that he had been throughout his singularly undistinguished political career. The litmus test of commitment to a two-state solution is a freeze of settlement expansion on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, the capital of the future Palestinian state. Under Netanyahu’s leadership, however, settlement expansion has gone ahead at full tilt, especially in and around Jerusalem.

 

Jerusalem is the most sensitive issue in this tragic, hundred year-old conflict. By putting Jerusalem at the forefront of his expansionist agenda, Netanyahu knowingly and deliberately blocks progress on any of the other ‘permanent status issues’ such as borders and refugees. Netanyahu is not a peace-maker; he is a land-grabber who rides roughshod over Palestinian rights. It is he who has turned the so-called peace process into an exercise in futility. He is like a man who pretends to negotiate the division of a pizza while continuing to gobble it up.

 

Barrack Obama reiterates at regular intervals that the bond between America and Israel is ‘unbreakable’. If anyone can break this bond, it is Benjamin Netanyahu. Early on in his presidency, Obama identified a settlement freeze as the essential precondition for progress in the American-sponsored peace process. During his Cairo speech, on 4 June 2009, he made it clear that ‘The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements’. Obama had three confrontations with Netanyahu over the demand for a settlement freeze and he backed down each time. Moreover, Obama has all but turned over to Netanyahu the American veto on UN Security Council. Since 1978 America has used the veto forty-two times to defeat resolutions critical of Israel. The most egregious abuse of this power happened in February 2011 when a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion was supported by fourteen members and killed by America. That was a veto of America’s own foreign policy.

 

How can a jimcrack politician from a small country defy the most powerful man in the world and get away with it? At least part of the answer lies in the enduring power of the Israel lobby. Ever since 1967 the lobby has opposed every international plan for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli dispute that was not to Israel’s liking. But any proposal for a military strike against Israel’s enemies can count on the support of Israel’s friends in Washington, Iraq in 2003 and Iran today being the most obvious examples. In the case of Iran, Netanyahu is the war-monger in chief and he is doing his utmost to drag America into a dangerous confrontation that cannot possibly serve American interests. The region is like a tinder box and one spark could set off a major conflagration.

 

On 5 March, President Obama is due to receive the Israeli prime minister in the White House. At their first meeting, on 19 May 2009, Obama’s priority was Palestine whereas Netanyahu only wanted to talk about the Iranian threat. Subsequently, Netanyahu succeeded in imposing his agenda on his ally. Today the peace process is in tatters and the war hysteria against Iran is gathering force. The challenge for Obama is to reign in his reckless junior ally and to reorder American priorities in the Middle East. The main threat to regional stability is not Iran but the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. And the main source of hostility towards America throughout the Arab and Muslim lands is Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and America’s complicity in this oppression. If Obama cannot stand up to Bibi Netanyahu in defence of vital American interests, who will he stand up to? His own credibility as the leader of the free world is on the line.

 

Avi Shlaim is an Emeritus Professor of International Relations at Oxford University and the author of Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Verso).

++++

Links

 

Guardian  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/mar/05/barack-obama-

 

Independent Obama pledges US loyalty to Israel http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-pledges-us-loyalty-to-israel-7537520.html#

 

LA Times Obama to Netanyahu: ‘Still a window’ for diplomacy on Iran

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-obama-netanyahu-israel-iran-20120305,0,3526399.story

 

NY Times Obama Cites ‘Window’ for Diplomacy on Iran Bomb

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/world/middleeast/obama-cites-window-for-diplomacy-on-iran-bomb.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

 

Washington Post Obama Cites ‘Window’ for Diplomacy on Iran Bomb

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-to-netanyahu-at-white-house-got-your-back/2012/03/05/gIQAWoLnsR_story.html?hpid=z1

Al Jazeera  Netanyahu, Iran and the fundamentals of policy

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/20123395724716603.html

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