Archive | March 8th, 2012

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS
The proper way to treat the IDF on campus

Posted: 06 Mar 2012

Understanding PNG and how the resource curse infects everything

Posted: 06 Mar 2012

During my recent visit to the country, not a day passed when a land-owner or NGO didn’t complain about the negative effects of Western corporations on daily lives; exploitation supported by a corrupt political elite.

Some recently released documents via Wikileaks provides a grim picture. Both are written by Australian journalist Philip Dorling.

The most recent in Asia Sentinel:

When Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, was unceremoniously removed from office last August, the private US intelligence company Stratfor was desperate for inside information to pass to its clients, especially international companies with interests in PNG’s burgeoning resources sector. 

Stratfor had one well connected operative who could provide insight on PNG politics, a Brisbane based consultant closely engaged in business in Port Moresby. “Source CN65” was quickly tasked and his subsequent reports, released by WikiLeaks, provide a direct insight into the chaotic and often corrupt PNG political scene. 

CN65 didn’t mince words about PNG’s new Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill. In an email to his Stratfor “source handler,” CN65 suggested the new prime minister had a keen sense of personal financial interest. 

“Quite corrupt. I know him. … O’Neill is not any more pro-Western than anyone else up there. As long as he makes money for himself (he has significant business investments in mobile phones, among other things), he couldn’t really care less.” 

Asked what the new Prime Minister would want from Australia, CN65 gave a succinct reply: “He’ll be interested in just one thing – money. He will be wanting increased aid from Australia, and untied aid, i.e. direct budgetary support as opposed to aid tied to particular projects and administered by Australia.” 

PNG is Australia’s largest recipient of foreign aid and with more than A$480 million allocated in 2011-12. 

Stratfor’s Source CN65 was revealed by WikiLeaks last week to be the former Australian Senator, Bill O’Chee. A Queensland National Party Senator from 1990 to 1999, O’Chee was the first ethnic-Chinese Australian to serve in the Australian Parliament and was also the youngest person to serve as a senator. He remains active in the Liberal National Party in Queensland. 

Reporting on PNG’s international relationships, O’Chee expressed the view that domestic political turmoil was unlikely to have much effect. Asked about PNG’s growing ties with China, he observed that “the links between PNG and China won’t be changed by who is in power, as China already has a substantial foot in the resources sector – Ramu NiCo and Marengo Mining, for example, as well as sniffing around PNG LNG.” 

“The main factor limiting China’s ability to reach into the country is the inability of the PNG politicians to be efficient in receiving aid offers. For example, most of a US$200m loan facility remains undrawn because they can’t work out how to utilize it. The thing about Melanesia is that politicians are not pro-active, and certainly not policy active. They are instead led by people from outside. The factors that determine future direction are: first and foremost, how Australia throws aid around; and what other countries put on offer.” 

More broadly O’Chee concluded: “The real challenge for PNG is that it is too corrupt to develop efficiently. … The standard of the political class is clearly lower than it was 15 years ago. The old guys got corrupt and lazy, and outdated. The newer guys have been obsessed with personal wealth, and lack the respect for the offices they hold, which the previous generation had. This, at least, was the view presented to me privately … by one of most senior diplomats.”

Wikileaks Cablegate from last year in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Papua New Guinea is trapped in ”Ponzi politics” being practised by deeply corrupt politicians who have enriched themselves on resource revenue and Australian aid , according to US diplomatic reports.

Australian government officials are reported as saying generational change in PNG politics following the departure of founding father and former prime minister Sir Michael Somare was a ”false hope”, and the PNG government was a ”totally dysfunctional blob”.

The damning assessments of political and economic life in Australia’s nearest neighbour are contained in confidential US embassy cables leaked to WikiLeaks.

In a November 2008 briefing, the US embassy in Port Moresby noted that resource revenues and Australian aid have served ”more to enrich the political elite than to provide social services or infrastructure. There are no large-scale local businessmen, but numerous politicians are relatively well off.”

PNG is Australia’s largest recipient of foreign aid and in 2011-12 will receive more than $480 million from the country.

Anxious to avoid diplomatic offence, Australian government ministers and officials rarely talk openly about corruption and maladministration in PNG, preferring to speak of ”strengthening governance” and helping ”institution building”.

The leaked US cables are ambiguous about Sir Michael’s financial interests and their effect on political decisions and public policy. However, they noted a ”strange” shift in PNG government policy that potentially increased its financial exposure in legal action being taken by Bougainville residents against company Bougainville Copper. ”Given the way things are done here, the general suspicion is that PM Somare has been given a financial incentive to reverse the previous government’s position on the case. Certainly, it would be very typical of Melanesia if what the government saw as in its nation’s interest also redounded to the individual benefit of its leadership. It is worthy of note that Paul Nero (sic, Nerau), a plaintiff and the current PNG [consul-general] in Brisbane, is very much a Somare man.”

The US cables confirm that, privately, Australian officials have no illusions about the state of the PNG government. After a mid-2007 discussion on political and economic developments with Australian high commission staff in Port Moresby, the US embassy reported: ”One Australian analyst described generational change as a ‘false hope’, while other Australian officers described the PNG public service as a ‘totally dysfunctional blob’ that is great at planning but appalling at implementation.”

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Stop the War leaders and Libya: you can’t expel the truth

NOVANEWS
Record numbers turn out to vote and show their support for President Bashar Al Assad and his government. Damascus, 26 February 2012
Record numbers turn out to vote and show their support for President Bashar Al Assad and his government. Damascus, 26 February 2012

 

Download this article as a statement

By attempting to unconstitutionally rescind CPGB-ML’s affiliation to the Stop the War coalition, StW ‘leaders’ are behaving in a criminally sectarian and cowardly manner.

Cowardly, because the Labour party, Counterfire and CPB leaders who dominate our coalition’s executive seek, by unconstitutionally expelling the CPGB-ML, to silence criticism and avoid having their failed policies on Libya in particular, and lack of consistent anti-imperialism more generally, scrutinised and overturned.

They seek to avoid answering to the coalition’s membership and having the truth behind these failures exposed: that their cosy relations with ‘left Labour’ (German-Benn, Murray-Corbyn, etc) and their personal political stock-in-trade are more dear to them than the stated aims of the StW coalition they purport to uphold.

That is why, at the crucial moment, rather than leading British workers to oppose Nato’s genocide in Libya, their personally cherished ideas and relations led StW to parrot the predatory propaganda of British imperialism, which was hell-bent on waging war upon Libya and the devastating this beautiful, historic, cultured and formerly most prosperous sovereign African nation – all in pursuit of Nato’s strategy of capital aggrandisement, regional and world domination.

All of which begs the question: can an anti-war movement be effectively led by members and supporters of a party that condones and conducts those wars?

Libya – a betrayal

Throughout the Libyan crisis, the conduct of the Stop the War Coalition was shameful, bringing us nothing but ignominy in the eyes of the world’s oppressed and struggling masses.

Prior to Nato’s bombardment, when US/British/French intervention was a little less blatant (very much in the vein of its current plot against Syria), conducted via MI6, CIA and other covert operatives, and through the funding of motley feudal and criminal elements, StW organised a demonstration. But this ‘anti-war’ demonstration was not against imperialism and its mercenaries in Benghazi, but against the Gaddafi government!

Owen Jones wrote on the StW website: “Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive. In both his anti-western and pro-western incarnations, his record is that of a brutal and unquestionably slightly unhinged dictator. I will not caricature supporters of the bombing campaign as frothing-at-the-mouth neocons.

Andrew Murray, wrote in the Morning Star, while Nato’s blitzkrieg was underway, that “it is wrong to assert that the rebellion based in Benghazi was some sort of pro-imperialist plot from the outset”.

Is that so?

CPGB-ML, a member of the Stop the War Coalition since its inception, did not fall for this pro-imperialist whitewash, and on 11 March 2011 we issued a leaflet calling for the defence of Libya and its government. This was a principled and coherent anti-imperialist stance, which has stood the test of time. We are proud to have promoted it, among British workers and activists – including those of the StW coalition – as part of our activity to oppose illegal and genocidal Nato wars, in Libya and elsewhere.

The text of our March 2011 ‘Hands off Libya! victory to Gaddafi!’ statement is freely available.

Further, in August 2011, we issued a leaflet calling on workers to “support the resistance” and “denounce StW treachery”.

It contained the following – remarkably restrained – criticism of StW’s position:

Some people and organisations, such as Stop the War, have been bamboozled by the non-stop and ubiquitous Goebbelsian propaganda that has spewed forth from the imperialist media ever since Gaddafi’s regime was put in place into believing that he is some kind of a monster who must be overthrown at all costs. In view of his record in defending the interests of the Libyan people, such an approach is absurd.

Stop the War, dominated as it is by organisations that devote themselves to spreading illusions in social democracy (ie, futile hopes that solutions for the working class and oppressed people are to be found within capitalism), still finds itself cheerleading for Gaddafi’s opponents: their only reason for opposing imperialist military intervention is that it may be harmful to the cause of imperialism’s local agents in Libya!

Down with social-democratic treachery; down with imperialism!

John Rees and the ‘Don’t Mention the War’ campaign

With the lack of political will to defend Libya from imperialist attack, there was a corresponding dearth of activity on the ground. What happened to ‘our’ alleged ability to mobilise 2-million-strong marches, like the one held in February 2003 before the invasion of Iraq, which is so often cited and trumpeted? This kind of capitulation before the Nato juggernaut has made us an increasing irrelevance to British workers.

As tomahawk cruise missiles, bunker busters, white phosphorous and depleted uranium rained down on Libya, pulverising Tripoli and Sirte, targeting all progressive Libyans, and in particular Col Muammar Gaddafi – whose infant grandchildren were among the early victims of Nato’s dark forces – John Rees apparently felt no shame, declaring (in a similar vein to Liam Fox and William Hague) on a YouTube interview that “nobody is going to shed a tear for the fall of this brutal dictator [Gaddafi]”.

He further advised the quisling ‘Transitional National Council’ (in reality a front forTrans-National Corporations) to gain credibility by “telling the major powers where to get off” – ie, to adopt his own tactic of dressing up an imperialist campaign in ‘anti-imperialist’ colours. No doubt this would have been convenient for Rees, but the heartless clerics had another agenda.

During the bombing campaign, StW leadership belatedly declared its half-hearted opposition to the imperialist bombing campaign – not because they disagreed with Nato’s aims, but because it believed their methods were not effective enough. Bombing, they said, “would merely serve to bolster Gaddafi’s position, and thus undermine the cause of the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime” – which principle aim of imperialism in Libya, ‘Stop the War’ leaders continued to cherish and support.

We published a statement on 8 September, pointing out that with ‘anti-war friends’ like these, the Libyan people might well ask, ‘Who needs enemies?

StW leaders – as the 2012 national conference agenda attests – barely make reference to their betrayal of Libya, as despite some mild queasiness and reservations they remain broadly in support of Gaddafi’s lynching.

Nor is the struggle in Libya – like the struggle in Iraq – over. Resistance is regrouping, even after the wholesale slaughter of the flower of Libya’s anti-imperialist leadership. The Green flag has been raised in Bani Walid, Tripoli, Sirte and elsewhere – long after Hilary Clinton stopped cackling with glee over the gruesome imagery of Gaddafi’s murder.

For while the feudal thugs of Nato’s TNC run amok in Libya, committing mass violations of its citizens’ rights, including (among other things) kidnapping, raping and murdering Libyan women, and lynching anyone with black skin, while helping Nato bandits to help themselves to Libya’s oil and financial wealth, there can be no peace.

Let us all reflect – if there was previously any room for doubt – that these are not the actions of a popular-democratic revolution, but the pogroms of a decaying, imperialist-backed feudal movement attempting to divide and destroy the unity and progressive sentiment built over 40 years among the formerly free Libyan people. Their gains can only be temporary; their ultimate defeat is certain.

Genocide and ethnic cleansing have been perpetrated, a nation stolen, its resources subsumed into the coffers of imperialist finance capital. The issue for us to address is that all the criticism from our ‘anti-war’ group was directed, not against Obama, Cameron, Clegg, Miliband, Balls, or the hosts of retainers without whom the war could not have been waged, but against its victims.

A ‘broad’ movement – the cry was ‘Unity’!

StW leaders frequently call for unity. It is interesting to compare their words with their deeds. Their response to CPGB-ML criticism of their anti-Libya propaganda was not reason or even attempted justification, but sectarian bureaucracy.

On 23 September, the CPGB-ML received an email from the Stop the War Coalition informing us of a decision by the “officers group” to “reject the affiliation” of our party. We were told that this was on the basis that the CPGB-ML had been “publicly attacking Stop the War Coalition” in its publications.

We again brought the debate back to the real issues, in our October statement.

Lindsey German sent a follow-up email clarifying that “the officers” felt that our “reported recent characterisation of some of them, including our chair Jeremy Corbyn, as ‘pro imperialists’ or ‘traitors’ was unacceptable from an affiliated organisation. We understand that sometimes debate on issues becomes heated, but feel that we could only consider affiliating you if there were assurances that you would not make such remarks in the future.

But when did StW declare its ‘officers group’ to be above criticism – on pain of expulsion? In what statute or officers group meeting minute is this ruling secreted away? We are certainly not aware of it. And how is the policy of a broad coalition to be corrected, if it errs, without criticism?

John Rees, speaking at StW’s 2010 AGM, which had just passed the CPGB-ML’s ‘No cooperation with war crimes’ resolution thundered:

“I personally support the call for victory to the resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan – but I also know that the strength of our campaign comes from its breadth … And if this slogan puts off our affiliates – like the Quakers – then I am against it, and oppose the resolution.” (From memory)

Here is a fine thing. Counterfire leader John Rees opposing his own fervently held beliefs to hold a broad coalition together – for how can we have an anti-war movement without Quakers? (Incidentally, no Quaker we have ever spoken to – and we have spoken to a surprising number, although admittedly not at StW meetings – disagrees with the idea that an oppressed nation or people has the right to defend itself.)

Consistent anti-imperialism is just too far ahead of the curve, you see. Obviously, Rees is well up for the fight against British imperialism, but you know, these Quakers just aren’t gonna go for it, so – regrettably – the deal’s off. His speech, delivered to a carefully managed but highly spirited conference, was just enough to (narrowly) defeat the motion.

The choice: oppose Nato or compromise with imperialism

The real choice, of course, is not ‘Quakers or communists’, but whether the aim of StW can be reconciled with the class interests of the capitalists who wage these wars. If we are serious about actually stopping war, the CPGB-ML believes that we must oppose the capitalist imperialist system that on a daily and weekly basis engenders war – and campaign to raise British workers’ awareness of the actions of their own ruling class at home and abroad. This inevitably involves confronting groups and cliques that directly or indirectly support social democracy with the contradictions in their own political position.

Logically, that includes challenging the social-democratic ‘leaders’ of left Labour whotalk of their opposition to war while in practice make their careers out of sitting in the parties of war and asking workers to support those parties at every juncture. We cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

Learning lessons for the future – defend Syria!

All this is not simply an academic exercise in point scoring. There are very real practical consequences for our work next week, next month and next year, which make it of vital importance that the coalition should learn lessons and correct its stance.

Since the fall of Libya, all Stop the War’s national efforts have been directed at pointing out the threat of war against Iran. And while that threat is very real, and must certainly be mobilised against, such activity cannot be allowed to act as a cover for ignoring the much more imminent threat against that other sovereign anti-imperialist nation in the Middle East: Syria.

As well as carving out an independent economic path free from the diktat of the IMF and World Bank, Syria is home to the headquarters of many Palestinian resistance movements, and a firm supporter of Lebanon’s anti-imperialist resistance movement, Hizbollah. Millions of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees have made their homes there, and the country is Iran’s strongest regional ally, as well as being an implacable foe of Israel. Although described by western media as a ‘dictator’, President Bashar al-Assad is actually the leader of a broad-based coalition government of national unity, which comprises many political parties, including communists. All of which makes the country a prime target for imperialism’s guns.

The aggressive war being prepared by Nato and its regional stooges against Syria is using all the same tricks that were applied in the case of Libya. Nato is funding, training and arming disparate opposition and terrorist groups and parachuting in covert special forces to give them vital support, while Nato’s leaders push through UN resolutions about ‘democracy’ and the ‘safety of the people’ and, of course, orchestrate a hysterical media campaign of lies and disinformation.

And while some people do seem to have learned a lesson from the carnage in Libya, the Stop the War leadership does not yet seem to be among their number. Yet again, the coalition’s leaders are failing to take a consistently anti-imperialist and anti-war position; yet again, they are failing to stand up against the media lies and declare themselves to be on the side of the Syrian masses against Nato imperialism.

Instead of standing firmly against war on Syria, Stop the War leaders prefer not to talk about it. The recent picket for Iran and Syria didn’t feature a single speaker for Syria on the platform, and its recent emails refer to Syria only in passing.

Instead of standing up to imperialist propaganda, the Stop the War website carries articles referring to “Bashar al-Assad’s killing machine” while John Rees uses his television show to consistently denounce the legitimate government and legitimise Nato’s stooges, including the MI6-backed ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’. Once more, Stop the War’s ‘opposition’ to Nato seems to be based more on tactical grounds than on any real ideological difference.

Let no-one be under any illusion: not only is a beautiful, cultured, independent country and its people under threat, but the illegal war already being waged by covert forces in Syria is a stepping-stone to even bloodier war against Iran, and from there to war against China and Russia. In a very real sense, Syria today stands in the same place as did the Spanish republic in 1936. British workers and progressive people need to stand side by side with the Syrian masses, demanding: Hands off Syria! Victory to Assad!

And above all, we must start to use our collective power to prevent the British ruling class from taking part in this criminal and barbaric conflagration.

CPGB-ML’s work on Libya and Syria:

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Obama goes to AIPAC: a scorecard

NOVANEWS

The president offered carefully crafted remarks on Iran while writing off the Palestinians

President Obama smiles during remarks at the AIPAC conference in Washington.

President Obama smiles during remarks at the AIPAC conference in Washington. (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

TOPICS:

President Obama held his ground on Iran during the last several days of dueling I-love-Israel speeches, making clear that the U.S. position did not match the Israeli demand for an immediate military strike against Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program. But Prime Minister Netanyahu scored a big victory as well, with Iran-as-a-threat completely dominating the discussion, and Israel’s occupation of Palestine off the agenda.

AIPAC and the rest of the pro-Israel lobby remain influential despite the extraordinary shift in public opinion and popular discourse over the last several years that has put the lobby on the defensive everywhere but Congress.  Obama’s AIPAC speech reflected that influence and the perceived need of mainstream politicians to adhere to its demands, especially during the pressures of an election cycle. It would give, he and his advisers hope, a powerful boost to his campaign.

But on the critical question of Iran, his speech also highlighted the small but significant divide that continues to split U.S. from Israeli policy.  Obama offered a rhetorical embrace, but a much less-than-desired military promise to Israel on Iran, while delivering a slap in the face to human rights, international law, and any U.S. responsibility for ending support for Israel’s anti-Palestinian occupation and apartheid policies.

The Atlantic’s longtime correspondent James Fallows noted “what I found odd about the AIPAC performance is that an American president was expected to make similar pleas about his reliability in support ofanother country’s government.”  But that denies the longevity and intensity of the U.S.-Israeli “special relationship.”  As that relationship was consolidated during the post-1967 Cold War years, it was shaped by the mutually reinforcing influences of the pro-Israel lobby and those of the powerful military-strategic forces, from the Pentagon to the weapons manufacturers to members of Congress.

As a result, that exact expectation of presidential reliability in supporting Israel began to be taken for granted.  What was in fact more odd than the usual verbal genuflections to Israeli interests was the fact that his actual policy assertion towards Iran differed significantly from what Netanyahu was so insistently demanding.

The rhetorical obeisance, for sure, was beyond full-throated. Responding to his Republican challengers and other critics who claim he has been too tough on Israel (and not tough enough on Iran), Obama proudly catalogued his long list of support, bragging that “when the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” He reminded skeptical Israel supporters that U.S. military and intelligence cooperation with Israel “has never been closer.” With U.S. military assistance to Israel higher than ever, $30 billion over these ten years, Obama reasserted his commitment to “preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge,” and boasted about his administration’s additional funding of Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system. He bragged of protecting Israel in the UN, where U.S. vetoes defend illegal settlements and U.S. opposition prevents Israeli military and political leaders from being held accountable for potential war crimes.

In an unmistakable recognition of how civil society activism is cutting into the once-uncritical pro-Israel discourse of the United States, Obama won applause for his declaration that “when there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to de-legitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them.”

President Obama also endeared himself to the crowd by referring to the “Jewish state of Israel.”  In the last couple of years Washington has accepted Israel’s demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” as a new precondition to restarting the long-failed peace talks.  But accepting Israel as a “Jewish state” is widely viewed as legitimizing the inequality of rights and privileges available to Jews and not to Palestinians both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

Bomb Iran?

The president was clear that the Iran war gap between Washington and Tel Aviv remains. On the critical question of whether the U.S. would join, defend, participate in, or even lead an Israeli military strike, Obama made it clear at AIPAC that he really doesn’t want to go to war against Iran. It shouldn’t be a surprise, given what $5.00/gallon gasoline would do to his November re-election prospects.

Obama’s talk was rhetorically tough–“The entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon”–but he rejected Israel’s demand, reasserting the U.S. position that only the actualacquisition of a nuclear weapon by Iran might trigger a U.S. military response. For Tel Aviv (along with AIPAC and several U.S. senators), thatred line is Iran reaching nuclear weapons capability, which really means the scientific know-how (remember Israeli officials’ chortling over those assassinated scientists?) and enrichment facilities.

Israel’s political leadership, especially Prime Minister Netanyahu, claim Iran has already reached capability, and their demand is for a U.S. commitment to back an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear power infrastructure.  In fact, Israel wants a military strike really soon, on the grounds that Iran is building some of its enrichment facilities in a mountainside. Tel Aviv is outraged that Iran is thus creating a “zone of immunity,” as if Iran were somehow obligated to build its legal enrichment facilities within easy air-strike access.

But Obama clearly rejected that demand. He described every possible future use of U.S. military force as “preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” not preventing weapons capability. His rejection of containment was similarly in favor of “a policy to prevent Iran fromobtaining a nuclear weapon.” The words “capability” or “capacity” did not appear in the speech.

In fact, any U.S. military strike against Iran, whether or not Iran moved towards weaponization, would still be in violation of the UN Charter, requiring powerful opposition even now.  But the U.S. version still differs significantly from Israel’s demand.  In that context, Obama’s justification for using force “when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests” – he didn’t say “the U.S. and its allies” – was significant, as was his reminding the AIPAC audience that “there is too much loose talk of war.”

So despite his rhetorical escalation in political pandering, Obama at AIPAC did not show any willingness to acquiesce to Israel’s demand for a military assault on Iran.

Palestine out in the cold

But if the speech did not include new threats of military force against Iran, it did demonstrate the breadth of problems in U.S. policy towards Iran, Israel, Palestine and the region as a whole. Along with claiming legality for what would under any circumstances still be an illegal U.S. military strike against Iran, Obama reasserted the legitimacy of U.S.-led sanctions. He admitted that sanctions have only been “slowing” Iran’s nuclear energy program (which is legal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and remains under inspection by the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency), but bragged they have been “virtually grinding the Iranian economy to a halt.”  Sanctions that aim to “cripple” the economy on which 74 million people depend, are clearly in violation of international law.

It’s good that President Obama reminded AIPAC that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon – but how much more powerful it would have been if he had reminded them that Israel, the only actual nuclear weapons state in the Middle East, does have an arsenal of several hundred nuclear warheads, which remain out of reach of UN or any other inspectors. How much more important would this speech have been, bringing it to the level of global game-changer, if he had used the occasion to add U.S. support to the urgent global call for creating, now, a nuclear weapons-free zone throughout the Middle East – with no exceptions?

Aside from the rhetorical pandering on Iran, perhaps the biggest failure in Obama’s AIPAC speech was in its giving Israel a get-out-of-accountability-free card. Clearly Israel has no reason to worry about any possible U.S. pressure to end its occupation and apartheid policies. Any Obama administration commitment to working to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over, at least till after the elections. Yes, everyone knew that the main focus of his speech would be Iran, but those few defensive lines mentioning the Palestinians made all too clear that the days of at least rhetorical calls for a settlement freeze (however lacking in real pressure), the recognition of the 1967 borders (however spurious by acceptance of Israeli-determined “swaps”), the willingness to admit that maybe Israel had some obligations (see the lack of real pressure, above…) – all that is over. Maybe until the presidential election, maybe for good.

So what’s the score? No additional threats of war against Iran, that’s good.  And yes it’s AIPAC. No one expected a serious condemnation of Israeli occupation and apartheid. No one expected a robust defense of human rights and equality in Israel and Palestine.No one expected the president to be even even-handed.  But really – abandoning even the pretense of concern for Palestinian rights, or even a sotto-voice admission that ending Israel’s occupation just might help bring some level of stability, if not peace, in the region?

President Obama really missed his chance here, to take advantage of the degree to which the public discourse has changed so dramatically on this issue in these last few years. Criticizing Israel hasn’t meant political suicide for quite a while now. One of the Washington Post’s top political analysts, Walter Pincus, wrote that the U.S. “needs to reevaluate its assistance to Israel” and the sky didn’t fall. Salon has reported that  “The media consensus on Israel is collapsing” noting that “across the political spectrum, once-taboo criticism is now common.”

Members of Congress remain frightened of the lobby’s campaign financing clout – but AIPAC doesn’t hold the loyalty of nearly the percentage of Jewish voters it once did.  Maybe Obama is afraid of the money clout too – AIPAC, like the Israeli prime minister, pretty clearly favors Republicans these days (every Republican candidate except the anti-intervention Ron Paul was featured on the AIPAC dais).  So maybe the answer is that the Obama administration and his campaign strategists are just too nervous to acknowledge that discourse shift that has been so evident since he’s been in office. It’s just more change than the president is ready for.

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Barak recommits IsraHell to Middle East peace

NOVANEWS

After meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak puts the peace process back on track.

Fulfilling a campaign promise to reignite the Middle East peace process, Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt
Friday, and was planning to meet with King Abdullah II and President Clinton early next week.

Barak, the 57-year-old career warrior against Israel’s Arab neighbors, has tilted in the direction
of peace, despite some concerns that he was “Bibi-compatible” — reciting
moderate rhetoric but in fact sharing Netanyahu’s hard-line stance on the peace process.

Vestiges of that concern were still echoed by Palestinian negotiators after Barak
and Mubarak exchanged a warm handshake amid the snapping flashbulbs in Alexandria
Friday. “What we heard from Barak at the press conference was more music than
words,” Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath told the Associated Press.
“We want to see him starting the peace process with implementation of Wye, and a
real cessation of settlement activity.”

But among his supporters in Israel and among Western leaders, the meetings this
weekend mark a dramatic turnaround from the Netanyahu era. In his first steps as
prime minister, and in the formation of his ruling coalition, Barak has sent a
clear message that peace is once again at the top of the Israeli political agenda.

The key clue comes from Barak’s decision to include the ultra-religious, but
relatively dovish Shas party in his coalition instead of the Likud. After the aged
hawk Ariel Sharon, who succeeded Netanyahu as Likud leader, demanded control
of the peace process, Barak turned him down and went with Shas.

Shas, an ultra-religious Sephardic (Middle Eastern Jewish) party, is by far the
fastest-growing political party in Israel. It grew from 10 to 17 Knesset seats
(out of 120) in the last election, putting it just behind Likud (19 seats and
falling) as the third-largest party in Israel.

Shas is dovish almost solely because its founder, spiritual leader and
all-powerful decision maker, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, believes that the Torah requires
that parts of the holy land of Israel be sacrificed if this will save Jewish
lives. While Shas follows Yosef’s dictates, most of its supporters — many of whom are
religious, but less so than the Shas leadership — tend to be more nationalistic
and less willing to give up land.

Unlike other religious parties, Shas is not involved in sending Israeli settlers
into controversial new Israeli housing projects in the West Bank. United Torah
Judaism, an ultra-religious Ashkenazic (European Jewish) party, is also in the
government, and has loose but growing ties to the settlements. Its policy on the
peace process tends to be hawkish, but not automatically so.

The party that, more than any other, represents the settlers is the National
Religious Party. It has also joined the Barak government — mainly to safeguard, to
whatever extent it can, the settlements’ welfare. The NRP is against giving up
any land, but it also recognizes that a large majority of the Israeli public
wants the peace process to continue, so it has become increasingly pragmatic. If
Barak gets to the point where he’s making extensive concessions of land to the
Palestinians and Syrians, the NRP is likely to leave the government. UJT might
also leave. Shas, however, is a good bet to stay — because of both its dovishness and
its abject dependence on government money to finance its social and educational
network in Israel’s slums, from which the party draws most of its support. As the
largest of the three religious parties, Shas is the most important to Barak. If
Shas leaves, Barak would probably have to reach out to Likud to keep his
government from crumbling.

On the domestic front, Barak has turned away from Israel’s experiment with
Thatcherism by reappointing Rabin’s finance minister, Avraham Shochat — who became
the Netanyahu government’s whipping boy because he had dared to spend the
taxpayers’ money on schools and roads. (He had even wanted to put a tax on stock
market winnings!)

Barak also elevated the most dovish Zionist party of all, Meretz, and gave it
control of the most coveted ministry of education.

To make his radical moves — to give up most, if not all, of the land conquered in
1967, and uproot possibly tens of thousands of settlers from their homes, in
return for peace on every border — Barak is convinced he needs wide support among
the various warring tribes of Israel.

So far, he’s gotten it. He’s crafted a broad-based coalition which includes
religious and right-wing parties that are not friends of the peace process. But at
the same time he’s built the engine of the government out of dovish parties like
One Israel (the reconstructed Labor Party), Meretz and others. Barak placed all
the decisive ministries — including defense, which he kept for his own party —

in liberal hands. His politics have always hewed as close as possible to the
mythical Israeli center, but faced with forming a government, he had to make a
choice between right and left, and he chose left.

But if his reputation is to be believed, Barak’s motives may have more to do with
self-interest than any particular ideological bent. He is notorious for his
excessive appetite for power and control, earning the nickname “Napoleon” among
his countrymen.

He left some of the most talented, popular Labor Party figures out of the upper
reaches of his cabinet, showing a preference for reliable loyalists. Out of 17
ministers, he appointed only one woman, and no Arabs (who make up one-sixth of
Israel’s population). This is in keeping with backward Israeli tradition; Barak
isn’t any worse than his predecessors, but then he built his campaign around the
promise of “change.”

In front of a crowd or on television, he hardly ever manages to inspire, and then
only mildly. Most of the time he’s so leaden that his supporters applaud strictly
to be polite, or obedient. Barak comes with no trumpets or doves; those left with
Rabin, and they won’t return until the soldiers come home from Lebanon, or the
peace is finally nailed down with the Palestinians, or maybe until Assad gets off
a plane at Ben-Gurion Airport. Israelis won’t be easily impressed by Barak, and,
because they’re Israelis, will be quick to run him down.

Barak said all along that he wanted an inclusive government, including left,
right and center; religious, ultra-religious and secular. He believes Rabin was
plagued, and ultimately killed, because he tried to make a revolution with only
half the country behind him. Barak wants to complete the revolution — to draw a
final border between Israel and the Palestinians and let the two peoples go their
separate ways.

Barak has also made it clear he wants to make peace with Syria. That will likely
mean giving back the strategic, and symbolic, territory of the Golan Heights,
which Israel annexed after 1967′s Six-Day War. A return of the Golan would
allow Israel’s soldiers in Lebanon, who have been fighting since 1982, to finally
get out.

But Barak is by no means a peacenik. In his 35-year army career, he got to know
Arabs mainly as blood enemies. (So, of course, did Rabin.) He remains obsessed
with security precautions, with holding on to that radar station on yonder hill,
and he means to make a deal with the Palestinians that Israelis will accept. The
problem — the old, familiar problem — is this: What Israelis are ready to give up
isn’t even close to what will satisfy the Palestinians.

The Palestinians’ line remains unchanged: Arafat has called for a return of all
the land Israel won from Jordan in the Six-Day War to create a Palestinian
state that includes East Jerusalem as the state capital. There
are roughly 350,000 Israelis living in those places now; it is inconceivable to
ask all of them to live under Palestinian rule, or to move them all out. Both
sides are going to have to soften their positions a great deal. Barak, who
swears never to give up any part of East Jerusalem, and wants to hold on to
substantial parts of the West Bank, has a long way to go before he can meet the
Palestinians somewhere in the middle. Nobody knows if he — or Arafat — is willing
to go that far.

What is known is that for the first time in three years, Israel has a prime
minister who treats Arabs, even Arafat, with respect — and a prime minister known to

keep his word. This alone gives the peace process a strong, symbolic jolt — though much

of the hard negotiating remains

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Barak recommits IsraHell to Middle East peace

IsraHell prepare for war with Iran

NOVANEWS

Even ex-Mossad chief who opposes an attack on Iran seems to have given up

Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan no longer warns against attacking Iran

Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan no longer warns against attacking Iran

After bombs went off near Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi, and a man with an Iranian passport accidentally blew himself up in Bangkok, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Yediot Aharonot, the country’s most widely read newspaper, reported Wednesday

An updated list of talking points distributed by the national advocacy desk in the Prime Minister’s Office  sought to connect the wave of terror with the international community’s efforts at tightening sanctions on Iran, and also to prepare the ground for a military option to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

According to Yediot, the new talking points read: “Iran and Hizbullah are behind these terror attempts. If this is what Iran is doing now, imagine what it will do if its nuclear arms project reaches the goal.” The tabloid’s story was headlined “Iran’s long arm,” and the subhead read, “Israel to the world: ‘Terror acts show nuclear Iran cannot be allowed.’” The story’s ominous tone meshed perfectly with the talking points.

Israel’s whole body politic – politicians, media, influential public figures and public at large – is  now leaning into a war with Iran. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recently reported opinion that Israel would likely strike between April and June is shared, give or take a month or two, by countless others.

The consequences of such an attack range from a bilateral missile war and intensified international terror attacks, to a regional war involving weapons of mass destruction. Israel may not pull the trigger, of course. But at this point, that seems the only realistic working assumption.

Israeli talking points are coming faster and sharper. Iran’s nuclear project is marching toward the “zone of immunity,” says Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “It is our duty to rely on ourselves when we are concerned with a threat to our very existence,” says Netanyahu. Their apparent aim is to create an aura of inevitability around an imminent Israeli strike. Leading the drive, Netanyahu and his one-time army commando unit leader, Barak, want full support at home and no serious opposition from the U.S. if and when they send the jet bombers on their mission. Naturally, they would prefer that the U.S. do the job – inflicting lasting damage on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure could well be beyond Israel’s military capability – but from here, at least, the American military option looks unlikely, certainly within a time frame Israel accepts.

Some skeptics think Netanyahu and Barak may just be engaging in psychological warfare aimed at keeping Western economic pressure on Iran, the goal being to force or scare the Tehran regime into giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons, which it denies pursuing. But it’s hard to imagine anything short of visibly destroyed hardware on a massive scale that might convince Israel’s leadership that the nuclear threat had been lifted.

Yet while there is skepticism about the leadership team’s true intentions, there is virtually none being expressed here about the wisdom of going to war. The paucity of dissent is remarkable, not to say depressing, in a country that prides itself on being a “vibrant democracy.”

At the end of last week, the media were talking about which towns had good bomb shelters and air raid sirens and which didn’t. The likelihood that Israel would soon be attacking Iran had begun to sink in. An antiwar demonstration was held across the boulevard from the Defense Ministry compound in Tel Aviv. About 25 people showed up. They held signs that read, “Don’t bomb – talk” to the evening rush hour traffic going past. One driver honked.

I asked a sidewalk passerby, a woman in her mid-20s pushing a baby carriage, what she thought of a possible government decision to bomb Iran. “They sit up there, they’re smarter than me, whatever they decide, I’ll support,” she said. A fellow of about 20 on a skateboard said: “I’m not for war, I’m against war. But if somebody is going to attack you, if your enemy is going to attack, don’t you think you have to attack him first, for the sake of survival?” I asked if he thought Iran would attack Israel first. “I don’t know, I’m not privy to all the information. But good luck,” he said, and skated off.

For all the famous outspokenness of Israeli politicians, not one is speaking out against an attack, not from the moderate opposition nor the “peace camp.” Peace Now, a group that has organized huge demonstrations going back 30 years against the Lebanon War and the occupation, has said not a word about the extraordinarily high-risk war of choice that looms in the very near future.

The news media, with the exception of the liberal Ha’aretz newspaper, is fully on board. The mainstream media reflect and reinforce public opinion, which shows weariness with settlement-building and settlers, but automatic support for any decision taken in the name of security, especially in the face of a nuclear threat from a regime like Iran’s.

The tone is set by the red-on-black scare headlines in the tabloids and the grim facial expressions and bracing reports from correspondents on Channel 2, which dominates TV news. On the night of the Bangkok bombing, Ehud Ya’ari, dean of the country’s so-called Arab affairs correspondents, reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was expected on Wednesday to inaugurate the uranium enrichment facility in Fordo, a site built deep underground in the side of a mountain. “Thus,” said Ya’ari, “Iran’s nuclear project enters what Defense Minister Ehud Barak calls the ‘zone of immunity.’” Draw your own conclusions, folks.

Except for Gideon Levy at Ha’aretz, no well-known newspaper columnist or TV commentator has come out against a war; nearly all are worried and noncommittal. But one of the most influential columnists, Yediot’s Sever Plocker, a passionate centrist with long-standing contacts around the Israeli establishment, wrote a column Tuesday titled “Israel won’t blink first.” Declaring that “the State of Israel, as the national home of the Jews, has decided to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons,” Plocker maintained that unless Iran freezes its nuclear weapons program and allows international inspectors into the underground sites and even the “secret” ones, “zero hour” will soon arrive. “No begging will stop Israel at that point. There will be a war,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the literary triumvirate of Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, Israel’s loftiest voices of peace and enlightenment, have remained silent. President Shimon Peres, who has put his days as a peacemaker far behind him, is warning only about the dangers of a nuclear Iran and not at all about those of an Israeli attack.

So what’s going on? What is this lockstep march to war in a country that made peace with Egypt and Jordan; that at times tried to make peace with the Palestinians; that absorbed missile attacks from Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War yet held its fire at America’s behest; that had “warriors for peace” in the Prime Minister’s Office, “peace governments” and a “peace camp”?

It’s all gone. Since the Palestinian intifada ended the “peace process” in 2000, Israelis blame everything that goes wrong, every political dispute, violent or nonviolent, completely on the other side. No politician, commentator or other public figure who seeks mainstream approval can be thought of as “weak on security” or “naïve about the Arabs.”

Yet the reaction to the Iranian nuclear threat has deeper roots than that. While Netanyahu is known for his Holocaust analogies on this issue, his predecessors going back to Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago have all lobbied the world to stop Iran from going nuclear, which has been marked “unacceptable.” Since Menachem Begin ordered the 1981 attack on Iraq’s reactor (over the opposition of Peres and war heroes Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weizman), Israel has lived by the doctrine that no enemy in the Middle East will have nuclear weapons. After the 1981 attack, it acted on this doctrine a second time in 2007, under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (and defense minister Barak), with the airstrike on Syria’s embryonic nuclear facility.

So the issue for Israel isn’t just the Iranian regime’s jihadist craziness and Holocaust denial. Israel bombed the Iraqi reactor when Saddam Hussein was the Reagan administration’s man in the Gulf against Iran. It bombed the Syrian installation before Bashar Assad started slaughtering Syrians en masse, when he was offering Israel land-for-peace negotiations.

While it’s true that Iran isn’t just any Middle Eastern enemy, the Israeli doctrine applies to all of them.

Only one person has made a real effort to reverse the country’s course, and lately he’s given up, too. At the start of last year, upon finishing his legendary tenure as Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, then the country’s unchallenged supreme warrior, did the unprecedented. He began speaking out openly against an attack on Iran, calling it “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” and warning that afterward, “the regional challenge that Israel would face would be impossible.” He was going public, he explained, because “there is no one to stop Bibi and Barak” from undertaking such a “dangerous adventure” now that he and the other military and intelligence chiefs, who had the clout to rein in the political leadership, were retiring.

Last week, after months of silence, Dagan resurfaced to announce he’s heading a new NGO to change Israel’s parliamentary system – an old chestnut of the good government movement that seems conspicuously irrelevant now. For nearly a year, Dagan raised a flag, and when he saw hardly anyone behind him, he lowered it. A few high-level ex-warriors, including two former army chiefs of staff, warned against the consequences of attacking Iran. But these were isolated remarks that got very little attention; in the public’s mind, the antiwar movement began and ended with one man.

I asked a retired army general who agrees with Dagan’s views why he and the many others like him didn’t get together and sign a letter in a major newspaper, or hold a press conference, or do something that might start a public debate over this fairly fateful matter; after all, Israelis listen to generals. He replied that he and his fellows didn’t have the information that those around the cabinet table had, they didn’t know if the government really intended to order an attack, and they didn’t want to take the chance that this was all “psychological warfare,” which they would be undercutting if they spoke out.

“You have to understand,” he said, “Israel is a small community, everybody knows everybody else’s opinion, so you have to be responsible. That’s the way I was educated.”

No opposition – that’s what Netanyahu and Barak want, and at home, that’s what they’re getting.

As for opposition from the Obama administration, it has been awfully muted. The Republican presidential candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) have  been gung-ho, which has much to do with the administration’s wariness toward Israel in this election year. But then how strong an argument for restraint can the administration make to the Israelis, after repeating for years that a nuclear Iran is “unacceptable” and that “all options are on the table”?

Posted in IranComments Off on IsraHell prepare for war with Iran

As Naziyahu pushes for war, IsraHell starts to balk

NOVANEWS

The prime minister has cowed Washington on Iran but he hasn’t convinced his own people

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Naziyahu


 To Americans, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must look like some invading giant. Backed by an army of AIPAC lobbyists and Republican presidential candidates, he came to Washington this week and put President Barack Obama on the defensive, using threats of imminent war on Iran to coerce his host into threatening his own war on the Islamic republic, albeit further down the road than Netanyahu would like.

At home, however, Netanyahu is not so strong, not as a prospective wartime prime minister, at any rate. Having no formidable rival, he is secure in office, but his public image, more and more, is that of an indecisive, deceitful, endlessly suspicious leader who’s under the sway of his wife, Sara. In a series of scandals in the prime minister’s office, the last one surfacing just before he left for Washington, he comes off like a weaker version of Richard Nixon.

What’s more, signs are that he doesn’t have the Israeli public behind him for a unilateral attack on Iran, and his military/intelligence chiefs, along with the great majority of his cabinet ministers, are showing no eagerness to board the war train. Just three weeks ago Israel seemed to be leaning hard toward war. Since then, though, there’s been a softening of Israel’s posture (if not Netanyahu’s) – due to the scandals, rising American opposition to a solo Israeli attack, and the sinking in to the public that the war they’ve been hearing about for years may actually be at hand.

So the leverage Netanyahu purports to wield over Obama – a readiness to attack Iran in the coming months unless he is satisfied that the president will do so himself by an acceptable deadline – may not be all it seems. It’s questionable whether the Israeli leader, whatever his intentions, has the necessary domestic backing to start such a daunting war in the near future, especially with the president promising repeatedly that if all else fails, America will do the job.

In his AIPAC speech, Obama said the best approach is to “Speak softly. Carry a big stick.” Netanyahu, given his diminished leadership stature and the fretful mood at home, could be doing just the opposite.

On the weekend that Netanyahu left for the U.S., the top story in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s largest selling newspaper, was built around an exhaustive interview with Uzi Arad, who was Netanyahu’s most loyal lieutenant and head of the National Security Council until he was forced out a year ago. Arad describes a prime minister’s bureau in Jerusalem brimming with intrigues, where aides scare the boss about the supposed schemes of their rivals – “and Netanyahu is easy to scare,” says Arad. He goes on to say that Sara Netanyahu accused him of being an “informer,” and complained to him through a prime ministerial aide that his secretary was a “leftist.”

In the following edition of Yediot, Nahum Barnea, co-author of the story and the country’s most prominent journalist, said that during the series of interviews with Arad, what troubled him was “essentially one question: Is Netanyahu, as revealed in this interview, a man whom Israelis can trust with the decision of whether to attack Iran or not?”

Netanyahu replied to Arad’s charges in lordly fashion, citing the proverb: “A man shall not be judged on words spoken in time of distress.” To this, Barnea wrote: “But a man shall be judged on weakness of character, on the panic that strikes him every time his wife gets upset, on an absence of leadership, on hypocrisy and lack of credibility. These are the issues that should worry every [Israeli] on the way to a decision on Iran.”

Amir Oren, national security columnist for Ha’aretz, agreed, arguing that in view of Arad’s “proximity to the events and his reliability,” his story indicates “that Israel, on the verge of an adventurous war, is in untrustworthy hands.”

On the same day that Yediot published Arad’s revelations, Ha’aretz’s lead story was that Netanyahu had been questioned for hours by the powerful state comptrollers’ office over the scandal known as “Bibi-Tours,” in which the Netanyahus allegedly took extravagant trips abroad on the tab of the prime minister’s acquaintances and donors. As in past entanglements, Netanyahu said politically motivated journalists and other enemies cooked the whole thing up.

The Arad and Bibi-Tours affairs come less than two weeks after the “Eshel affair,” in which Netanyahu blamed three top aides for going first to law enforcement instead of to him with a secretary’s accusations of sexual harassment against his chief of staff (and his wife’s close confidant), Natan Eshel. The three reportedly said law enforcement authorities instructed them to keep it secret from their boss for fear he would tell Eshel and undermine the investigation. In a public statement upon Eshel’s resignation under censure, which he tendered to avoid prosecution, Netanyahu praised him for his “dedicated service.”

The character issue – Netanyahu’s duplicity, disloyalty, arrogance and rashness, as testified to by numerous former colleagues and supporters – went a long way toward losing him the 1999 election after three years as prime minister. During that term, cabinet minister Dan Meridor said upon quitting his post that Netanyahu had fostered a “culture of lies.” Cabinet minister Benny Begin (son of Menachem Begin) said Netanyahu was “shameless” in his dishonesty. (Meridor and Begin, however, are ministers in the current cabinet.)

Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, military chief of staff during most of Netanyahu’s first term, said upon retiring from duty and entering politics that Netanyahu was “a danger to Israel.” He and another cabinet exile, ex-defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, said they’d had to rein Netanyahu in from undertaking untold “adventures” – just as retired Mossad chief Meir Dagan said he and other military/intelligence chiefs had to do with Netanyahu (and his alter ego Defense Minister Ehud Barak) during the current term.

Now the character issue is dogging the prime minister again. As the Arad affair echoed in the media, I asked Lipkin-Shahak, who opposes a strike on Iran, if he trusted Netanyahu to act wisely in what is being called the most fateful a decision an Israeli prime minister has ever had to make.

“I think Netanyahu, as he’s been depicted lately, is still a danger – in many respects,” said Lipkin-Shahak over the phone. “Time after time he shows himself to be someone who has difficulty making a decision, as a prime minister who gives in to pressure. He used to say that he remembered seeing the British soldiers in their red berets when he was a child in Jerusalem. The British left Jerusalem before he was born. I’m not comfortable with a prime minister like that.”

Lipkin-Shahak added that to the best of his knowledge, the current chiefs of the military and intelligence services oppose an attack on Iran – which has been reported repeatedly about the heads of the military, military intelligence, Mossad and Shin Bet, and has never denied by any of them.

This brings up the other crucial weakness in Netanyahu’s march to war that’s been coming into focus: The public doesn’t want Israel to attack Iran on its own. A poll published last week by University of Maryland Prof. Shibley Telhami and the Dahaf Institute, Israel’s leading polling agency, found that 81 percent of the public opposes an Israeli strike on Iran without American support. The reason is clear: fear of retaliation. Fifty-one percent of those polled thought the ensuing war would last months or years, compared to 37 percent who expected it to last weeks or days. Sixty-eight percent thought Hezbollah, with its estimated 50,000 missiles, would join Iran in striking back at Israel.

For the last few years, this country has been almost free of terror, while the economy, at least for the top half of the population, has never been better – and Israelis are in no hurry to give that up. Military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi made headlines recently with his statement that 200,000 enemy missiles are pointed at this country at any given time; the message seems to have sunk in.

In November, after hearing an estimate from somewhere that 50,000 Israelis would be killed in the blowback from an attack on Iran, Defense Minister Barak tried to calm the public in a radio interview. “There is no scenario for 50,000 dead, or 5,000 dead — and if everyone stays in their homes, maybe not even 500 dead.” he said. No sigh of relief was heard over the land.

Among the 35,000 residents of Dimona, the Negev desert town near Israel’s nuclear reactor, which is a natural target for Iranian retaliation, a lot of people are naturally worried about the day after an Israeli attack.

“It’ll be the end of the world. Iran, Syria, Hizbullah, Hamas, everybody will be against us,” said Meir Turgeman, an elderly man sitting in the city square.

Dimona’s mayor, Meir Cohen, supports an attack if sanctions and diplomacy don’t stop Iran’s nuclear program, and when I asked if he was concerned about the consequences for his town, he replied: “I think that today, all of Israel is one big target.” Not much relief there, either.

In his remarks at the White House before meeting with Obama on Monday, Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s absolute right to be “master of its own fate” – i.e. to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities even if America disapproved. That evening, in his speech to the AIPAC convention, the prime minister rolled out yet another Holocaust analogy to drive home his point. “Never again will the Jewish people be powerless and supplicants for our fate and our very survival. Never again.”

Netanyahu has been talking like this his whole life; he was bred on this worldview, it’s in his genes. Israel’s prime minister is a true believer, and if he could start a war with Iran just on his own ideological zeal, the attack might have been launched a while ago. But he will need a lot more than zeal to overcome the opposition of his war council, of many in his cabinet, of the U.S., of the rest of the world, and finally of his own people.

It would take an amazingly strong leader to pull that off, and Bibi Netanyahu does not fit the description, to say the least. Which means there’s reason for hope after all.

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American Human Right’s: UN top torture official denounces Bradley Manning’s detention

NOVANEWS
FILE - In this file photo taken Dec. 22, 2011, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.

FILE – In this file photo taken Dec. 22, 2011, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md.  (Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(updated below)

In December, 2010, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on torture announced a formal investigation into the conditions of Bradley Manning’s detention that endured for the eight months he was held at a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. The Army Private has been detained since May, 2010, on charges that he leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks, but has not yet been tried. Yesterday, the U.N. official overseeing the investigationpronounced  that “Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation“ to which he was subjected at Quantico. That official, Juan Ernesto Mendez, heads the U.N. office  created by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, bestowed with the mandate “to examine questions relevant to torture.”

The extreme conditions of Manning’s detention were first reported herein December, 2010, and included Manning’s being held 23 out of 24 hours a day in solitary confinement for what had then been five straight months, along with other plainly punitive measures. Thereafter, Manning was stripped of his clothing and forced to stand nude for morning inspection , and a special Marine investigation (ultimately rejected by brig officials) concluded  that “that Manning’s jailers violated Navy policy by keeping him on suicide watch after psychiatrists concluded he was not a threat to himself.” In the wake of what had become a worldwide controversy that led to the resignation of the State Department’s spokesman, Manning was moved  in April, 2011, to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where his detention conditions apparently improved.

Over the past year, the U.N. torture investigator repeatedly complained  – including in official reprimands  – that his investigation was being obstructed by the Obama administration, which refused to provide unmonitored access to interview Manning. About this refusal to allow an unmonitored interview with Manning, the U.N. official said: “Such a condition violates long-standing rules that the UN applies for prison visits and for interviews with inmates everywhere in the world.” In reporting on this U.N. grievance, The Guardian wrote : “It is the kind of censure the UN normally reserves for authoritarian regimes around the world”; indeed, “the vast majority of states allowed for visits to detainees without conditions.” Just to underscore how unusual was this obstruction: the Bush administration allowed investigators with the International Committee of the Red Cross private interviews even with the most “high-value” detainees at Guantanamo: that is, once they emerged from the CIA “black sites” where they were kept for almost three years beyond the reach of the ICRC (see p. 3 of the ICRC report ).

Despite this obstruction of his investigation, the U.N. torture rapporteur, speaking at a  U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, condemned Manning’s treatment as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” specifically citing “the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico.” He also rejected the defenses offered by Obama officials for what was done to Manning: “the explanation I was given for those eight months was not convincing for me.”

Once the oppressive conditions of Manning’s detention were reported here, an intense controversy resulted. In January, 2011, Amnesty International wrote a letter  to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gatesprotesting  that the conditions “are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment” and “breach the USA’s obligations under international standards and treaties.” In March, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley was asked  at a small Q-and-A session at MIT by a PhD student: “There’s an elephant in the room during this discussion: Wikileaks. The US government is torturing a whistleblower in prison right now.” Crowley replied  by denouncing the abuse of Manning as “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” That, in turn, led to President Obama’s being asked at a Press Conference  about Crowley’s criticisms by ABC News‘ Jake Tapper (Obama replied that brig officials “assured” him Manning was being handled properly), and to Crowley’s “resignation”  shortly thereafter.

Beyond human rights groups and the U.N., criticisms over Manning’s detention condition were widespread and vehement. Leading newspapers editorialized against it, with the LA Times denouncing  it as “inhumane,” while The New York Times, under the headline “The Abuse of Private Manning,” editorialized  that the Obama administration” has been treating [Manning] abusively, in a way that conjures creepy memories of how the Bush administration used to treat terror suspects. Inexplicably, it appears to have President Obama’s support to do so.” The NYT Editors added: “Far more troubling is why President Obama, who has forcefully denounced prisoner abuse, is condoning this treatment.”

The only support for Manning’s treatment came from far-right neocon outlets that have long reflexively supported torture [The Weekly Standard  (“Don’t Cry for Bradley Manning”) and RedState  (“Give Bradley Manning His Pillow and Blankie Back”)], along with Obama’s hardest-core,the-Leader-does-not-err followers who echoed those neocons almostverbatim, such as this front-page writer at the liberal blog Crooks & Liars  (“the meme  o the day seems to be on Manning’s so-called torture, to which I say ‘boo hoo“), and this former Obama campaign press aide  and current daytime MSNBC contributor (“Bradley Manning has no pillow??? GTFOH!”). It’s revealing indeed how often those two factions are in lock-step agreement. Atrios asked the right question about such individuals here .

It is remarkable that the administration of President Obama, who repeatedly railed against and vowed to end detainee abuse, first obstructed the investigation of the U.N.’s top torture investigator, only to be now harshly condemned by that investigator for “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”: treatment that endured for eight full months until the controversy became too intense to permit it to continue any longer. Last month, it was announced that Manning was one of 231 individualsofficially nominated  for a Nobel Peace Prize by at least one person with formal nominating rights vested by the Nobel Committee. In GuardianOp-Ed in December , I argued that the abuse of Manning was part of the larger war on whistleblowers being waged by the Obama administration, and that “for what he is alleged to have given the world, Manning deserves gratitude and a medal, not a life in prison.”

 

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on American Human Right’s: UN top torture official denounces Bradley Manning’s detention

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Brandeis SJP protests outside ‘Israeli Peace Week’ Tel Aviv club party

Mar 06, 2012

Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine

Brandeis
Brandeis SJP protesting Tel Aviv Club Night (Photo: Zena Ozeir)

This past Saturday, some 20 members of Students for Justice in Palestine held a protest on the Brandeis University campus outside a party organized by the Brandeis Zionist Alliance. The title of the party was Tel Aviv Club Night and it marked the end of Israeli Peace Week. Israel Peace Week is the “Pro-Israel” response to Israeli Apartheid Week. It is an international initiative of Zionist organizations, including propaganda organizations such as Stand With Us and Hasbara Fellowships – an affiliate of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The week aimed to show a “more positive” picture of Israel, and by doing so to counter arguments that Israel is an apartheid state.

Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine sees Israel Peace Week as an attempt to whitewash Israel’s crimes, and as a gross misuse of the word “peace”. In response to the problematic nature of the week, SJP activists took to protest outside the week‘s closing event. The activists held a mock-wall and banners such as “political prisoners can’t party. Free Hana Al-Shalabi” in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoner who is on her third week of hunger strike, and chanted slogans such as “this beat is really great, but Israel is an apartheid state!” and “they say ‘party’ we say ‘apartheid’!”.

In a statement, which was handed to the party attendees, SJP explained why they chose to protest outside a party:

Why are we such party poopers?

It is normal to see demonstrations when Israeli officials are speaking, when racist, Islamophobic or anti Semitic speakers are invited to campus, but why on earth do we protest a party?

In order to answer this question, we need to ask ourselves what Israel Peace Week is all about? 8 years ago grassroots Palestine solidarity activists started an annual tradition of Israeli Apartheid Week. This initiative is aimed at raising awareness about the systematic oppression of Palestinians in the West Bank, in the Gaza Strip and in Israel. Hasbara organizations such as the David Project, Hasbara Fellowship, CAMERA, Stand With Us, and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs initiated Israeli Peace Week and contributed funds to Zionist organizations on campus, including Brandeis Zionist Alliance, as an attempt to counter IAW and to spread a more favorable image of Israel.

Rather then countering the arguments made, IPW and other Hasbara attempts are trying to divert the conversation and refer to the achievements and the positive sides of Israel.

We will not deny the contributions of Israel to innovation in medicine, high tech, and the military industry. Indeed, many countries rely on Israeli industries, and many technologies that are being used widely were developed in Israel.
All of the above does not change the fundamental fact that Israel is an apartheid state. In order to maintain Jewish superiority, Israel implements a military occupation upon millions of Palestinians, that are denied the right to citizenship, and systematically discriminates 20% of it’s citizens, which Israel defines as a demographic threat to the Jewish state.

Tel Aviv is one of the best cities in The world. It is known worldwide for it’s vivid nightlife. Internationally renowned artists such as Lady Gaga and Madonna are performing in Tel Aviv, and all diamonds in the world are refined in Ramat Gan.
As glamorous and fabulous as Tel Aviv is, it does not change the fact that if you take a 1 hour drive South, there are tens of thousands of Arabs living in unrecognized villages; A 40 minute drive south brings you to the Gaza Strip, where one and a half million Palestinians are living under blockade in the biggest open prison on earth; 25 minutes East in the West Bank and you’re where 3 million Palestinians are denied citizenship, and living under military dictatorship; 15 minutes South East and there’s Lod, Ramla and the unrecognized village, Dahmash; Or right in the back yard, in Yaffa, where you’ll see Palestinian houses being demolished, and housing permits not granted to Palestinians. Tel Aviv may be a grand and modern city, but it is surrounded by pain and suffering on all sides.

Students for Justice in Palestine is trying to bring to campus the reality which Palestinians are facing under the Israeli regime. BZA, although self-identified as a cultural club, are part of the widespread attempt to whitewash apartheid, namely, trying to divert the attention from criticism towards Israel. A Tel Aviv party as part of Israeli Peace Week and as a response to Israel Apartheid Week is a political statement. It is political because it is a response to another political statement, and it is political because they are making their own judgment of Israel, that of a peaceful, happy, partying country. A Tel Aviv Party Night distracts students from the realities of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians by drawing attention to Israel’s vibrant nightlife. SJP is here, as usual, to show people the reality that they will not see on their Birthright trip, which is a fundamental part of the beautiful Israel that they know, and that we all know and care for deeply.

A Palestinian student asks, ‘Can I go on Birthright?’
Mar 06, 2012

Jamil Sbitan

Karmi Siegel
Ghada Karmi and Ellen Siegel protesting in front of the Israeli Consulate in London, 1973.

Walking around campus these past few weeks, I couldn’t help but notice advertisements outside of Warren Towers and the Hillel House telling students to go register for Taglit-Birthright’s free 10-day trip to Israel that is happening this summer.

Birthright Israel is a program that is designed to take Jewish young adults on exclusive free trips to Israel through which, according to its website, it seeks to build a bond between the “land and the people of Israel,” among other things. The Israeli government, and other organizations and individual funders sponsor the program.

Birthright, although sounds like a harmless free trip, actually has stark similarity to the state it seeks to cement a bond with: one of maintaining ethnoreligious supremacy and settler-colonial apartheid. Indeed, the trip sounds similar to a hypothetical scenario, in which Apartheid South Africa is funding exclusive trips for young whites to go visit the country’s white enclaves, while denying its history of colonialism and its then-present apartheid structure.

In light of the political motives of these trips, my friend Francesca Contreras, a Mexican- American Jew who is active in the Palestine Solidarity Movement, and I decided to go to Hillel and see what they would tell us, a Palestinian and a Jew, ostensibly expressing interest in going on the trip.

Speaking to the representative, we quickly realized how naive she was about the historical context and the current situation in Israel-Palestine, and noted certain borderline racist things she said.

Birthright
Taglit-Birthright participants, 2009 (Photo: Chelsey Lichtman)

With an Israeli flag draped in her background, she spoke to us for about twenty minutes and explained, according to her, what the trip is about. She said the trip begins in the (occupied) Golan Heights and Tiberias, and then they would go to Jerusalem, hike Masada, go to the Dead Sea, among other activities. She essentially painted a beautiful image of a country I had long heard about in stories, seen in pictures and in films but never been to due to a political reality. I wondered how my grandmother would feel about this program. I remembered the often-recounted story of when her and her family visited their stolen home in the village of Ramle a while after the creation of the State of Israel. The feeling of loss embodied in the key her mother held, while looking at her home now occupied by settlers epitomizes the type of privilege and supremacy this colonial project has created.

“What are the requirements?” Francesca asked.

The Birthright Coordinator confirmed our biases; she said the requirements are to have at least one Jewish grandparent and to consider oneself Jewish (without practicing any other religions), and having not gone on any previous peer-organized trips to Israel. She told Francesca (although having lived in Israel for three years when she was younger) that she is still eligible to go.

Jamil Sbitan: “So, what about non-Jews? Why are they not allowed to go?”

Birthright Coordinator: “The whole premise of this trip is connecting Jewish young adults to the land of Israel, to their heritage, to the Jewish state.”

I asked her why they don’t go to the West Bank on this trip, and she replied that they do. I was skeptical, so I rephrased my question. I then asked her if they go to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and she said that they don’t.

JS: “So, where would you go usually?”

BC: “The person who runs the organization, the trip organizer, they live in the West Bank in a settlement. So, he usually invites us over for dinner. It’s really pretty, you can see Jordan from there. It’s really cool.”

Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are continuously eating up Palestinian land, are considered illegal, not “cool,” under international law. This, along with the fact that she informed us that eight Israeli soldiers take time off of facilitating continuous colonization and enforcement of apartheid to vacation with them, further confirms the fact that this trip is designed to create unconditional support for Israel and to sugarcoat its atrocities.

I asked whether she felt it important that Palestinians connect with their heritage and culture. She said that she does, but doesn’t know what their “communities provide for them.” This said, despite the fact that Israel ethnically cleansed 750,000 Palestinians to create a majority-Jewish state in 1948, and barred them from returning to their homes, in violation of UN resolution 194, which guarantees their right to return.

Jamil: “It just seems really unfair that people who are raised in other countries and have no connection to the land other than a religious one, can go and tour for free, whereas there are Palestinians who are living in refugee camps that are barred from entering or returning to their homes.”

BC: “Unfortunately, that’s the reality because of terrorism.”

The BC also said that there are Palestinians who claim to be Palestinian but are originally from Egypt and Jordan, denied the existence of historic Palestine, and said that land was offered to the Palestinians in 1948 but “they didn’t want to make peace, they didn’t want to have a state.”

Contrary to her orientalist use of the red herring word “terrorism,” the refugees were denied their return simply because they were not Jewish. Indeed, this is the nature of Israeli Apartheid. In order to maintain a Jewish state, the demographic within the country needs to maintain a Jewish majority, and separate laws are created for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as are discriminatory laws targeting the Palestinian minority in Israel created to choke the Palestinians’ lives and pressure them to leave.

Juxtaposed, the image of young white Americans roaming wildly between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea, while Palestinian refugees wait in ghettos of refugee camps longing to return, is sickening. Just recently, a thirty-year old Palestinian friend from the West Bank told me of how liberating it was when he finally visited the sea in Jaffa for the first time, solely because Israel had granted him an entry permit to apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy. He said that he had been to the sea before when he traveled to Europe, but not in his historic homeland. And Palestinians living in the diaspora have recounted to me their horrifying experiences being racially profiled, strip searched and interrogated for hours while trying to visit the country.

Birthright embodies this exclusive apartheid nature of the state, which Israel is and continues to be. The fact that Israel practices apartheid has been articulated by figures like former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and renowned South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu. The Palestinians are engaged in a justified anti-apartheid movement for equality, self-determination and human rights, and those supporting ethno-religious supremacy and colonialism are on the wrong side of history.

Francesca: “So I’ll apply [to Birthright], and he won’t?”

BC: “Okay.”

‘Commentary’ says amount of US political money coming from Jews is ‘staggering’

Mar 06, 2012

Philip Weiss

I used to be shy about talking about Jewish money in the election process. But Sheldon Adelson has liberated us all. Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin agrees that Jewish money is an issue, even if it makes Jews “cringe.” He says 1/3 of Democratic money, when the estimates have actually been closer to half or more– 60 percent, from the Washington Post.

Note the obvious corollary of this truth, per Commentary; Obama is making all these pledges of support for Israel because he doesn’t want to alienate the Democratic donor base. Tobin:

Estimates of the amount of money Jews have donated to American politicians, parties, and causes are even less accurate than the loose estimates of Jewish votes, but there is little question that the figure is staggering. It is impossible to determine precisely the grand total contributed to only presidential candidates by individual Jewish donors, but it may well be as much or more than one third of all Democratic money and a lesser though still impressive percentage of the funds raised by Republicans…

Nevertheless, even though Jewish votes are important, Americans should expect far more media attention paid to Jewish fundraising. Thus, the true audience for the Democrats’ massive effort to convince Jews that Obama has stayed true to Israel may well not be the Jewish electorate but the Democrats’ base of Jewish donors. Reports about how his stance on Israel may affect his ability to raise money for his reelection are mixed so far. Anecdotal evidence and quotes from fundraisers about declining enthusiasm for the president are everywhere. But the vast majority of Jewish bundlers for both parties are not typical swing voters. They are in fact the most intense partisans. Given the proven willingness of many liberal Jews to grade any Democrat’s performance on Israel on a steep curve, it may be that Obama’s fundraising will not be substantially affected.

By the start of 2012, it was clear that even if reports of the Obama campaign’s ambition to raise a billion dollars were unrealistic, the amount of donated money would be enormous, if not record-setting. The same might be true of his Republican rival. Neither party nor the vast array of independent committees assisting the candidates’ efforts will lack funds in 2012.

Given the new freedom to spend money on advocacy as a result of Citizens United, one can expect that during the course of the 2012 campaign the question of the untoward influence of Jewish money will be raised repeatedly by Israel’s critics. This will make many Jews cringe, no matter where their political loyalties lie, but they should not shrink from defending the right of groups to highlight issues of importance….

Gas prices have shot up 13% since AIPAC’s victory in Senate

Mar 06, 2012

Philip Weiss

Last fall, the Israel lobby group AIPAC led the charge for stiffer sanctions against Iran.

The Obama administration, including Treasury Sec’y Timothy Geithner, said the legislation would send gas prices higher. As Reuters said, “The Obama administration’s chief concerns appear to be that the amendment could be a blunt instrument that might send oil prices higher…”

Obama sent two high officials to the Hill to testify against the legislation. On December 1:

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who also appeared at the hearing, said the administration’s analysis concludes that “there is absolutely a risk that in fact the price of oil would go up..”

But the Obama opposition to the Israel lobby-sponsored legislation didn’t matter.

AIPAC has bragged that it could get 75 Senatorial signatures on a napkin if it wanted to, and it did even better than that: The Senate passed the sanctions amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, by 100-0.

And AIPAC celebrated the amendment, with tweets and victory parties.

Average gas price, December 1: $3.30.

Today: $3.71.

Is AIPAC tweeting about that?

Hasbarapocalypse at Ynet: ‘Zionism will only cease being demonized when the West stops demonizing colonialism’

Mar 06, 2012

Adam Horowitz

Jews Sans Frontieres tweeted out the following article with the challenge, “Ynet, or The Onion? You decide!” Please register your vote in the comment section.

From the article “Addressing anti-Zionism“:

The root of anti-Zionism must be sought elsewhere [from antisemitism] – in anti-colonialism. The belief that colonialism was an absolute evil is so deeply engrained in the contemporary Western psyche that all enterprises bearing any parallels to it are automatically censored. This explains why people whose heroes are Bolivar and Gandhi instinctively side with the Palestinians.

To these people, claims that God promised the Land of Israel to the Jews reek of religious fanaticism. To make the argument that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East invites allegations that it pursues apartheid policies. To counter all these claims is time-consuming and requires a taste for nuances. But why should anyone trade nuances for the facile certainty that colonialism is inherently evil?

Zionism will only cease being demonized in the politically correct corners of the West once our schools and film industry cease to demonize colonialism. The politically correct depiction of the colonialist as a racist and covetous brute must give space to the majority of well-meaning administrators that helped build roads, schools, and hospitals for the natives.

It must be shown that colonialists administered law and justice far more fairly than most pre-colonial chieftains or post-colonial despots. It must be taught that human development indicators plummeted in the majority of African and Asian countries following independence.

Once an honest discussion about colonialism is tabled, hostility to Zionism will wane in leftist circles. Not because they will shed the belief that Zionism is a form of colonialism, but because it will be possible for them to appreciate the merits of Zionism.

‘Blackwashing’ and the Israel lobby

Mar 06, 2012

Today in Palestine

 

Ethnic Cleansing / Land Theft & Destruction / Apartheid

Israeli settlement waste ‘poisoning Palestinians’
NABLUS (Ma’an) — Sewage from Israeli settlements near Salfit in the northern West Bank is flowing into nearby Palestinian communities and causing serious disease, a health ministry official said Tuesday. Speaking at an environmental conference in Salfit, the head of Salfit’s ministry of health office said the situation had become “intolerable” for communities affected by disease from the sewage, including cases of cholera.
link to www.maannews.net

Israel Legalises Settlement Outpost in West Bank
Shvut Rachel, one of the oldest and largest settler outposts in the West Bank, was recently legalised by Israel. This move was strongly criticised by both Palestinian and Israeli activists ahead of talks scheduled for Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American President Barack Obama.
link to www.alternativenews.org

Report: Israel to dissect W. Bank with rail network reaching 1948 occupied land
The land research center said the IOA plans to annex vast tracts of Palestinian land in the West Bank to construct a railroad extending from its West Bank settlements to the 1948 occupied territory.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOA planning to turn Islamic museum into synagogue
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) is planning to turn an Islamic museum adjacent to the Aqsa mosque in occupied Jerusalem into a Jewish synagogue.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Buildup of Israeli forces, new surveillance cameras
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

West Bank Becoming “Settler State”
Last week, one of the West Bank’s oldest and largest settler outposts, Shvut Rachel, received legal status from the Israeli government. Under Israeli law, outposts – unlike settlements – have no legal status and are illegally built. According to Shvut Rachel’s acting mayor, Yaakov Moshe Levi, the Israeli government provided retroactive legal approval to Shvut Rachel’s 115 apartments and authorized the building of 500 more. Shvut Rachel was founded in 1991. According to the Associated Press, 95 families currently live in Shvut Rachel. The move was condemned by both Israelis and Palestinians.
link to english.pnn.ps

The highway robbery of Palestinians in Area C
Akiva Eldar – Haaretz – Israel is responsible for all civil affairs in Area C, and to develop infrastructure for all residents – around 300,000 Jewish residents and 150,000 Palestinians. Here is an example of how this equality is carried out in practice.
link to www.haaretz.com

Violence & Aggression

Medics: Blast kills 2 children near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Two children were killed Tuesday as a mortar left by Israeli forces exploded near Hebron, medics and police said. Hamza Zayed Jaradat, 12, and Zayed Juma Jaradat, 12, were killed in the blast in Wadi Reem, east of Hebron in the southern West Bank, medics told Ma’an. Hebron police chief Ramadan Awad said the boys were killed when an old Israeli mortar exploded. Natheer Juma Jaradat, 16, and, Yasser Muhammad Jaradat, 19 and Hisham Zayed Jaradat were injured in the explosion and taken to Hebron Governmental Hospital. The group had been playing in a field filled with scrap metal in the nearby village of Sier, Awad said. The Israeli military was investigating the report, a spokesman said.
link to www.maannews.net

IOF soldiers assault citizens in Jordan Valley for collecting wild plant
Israeli occupation forces (IOF) attacked a group of Palestinians while harvesting a favorite wild plant in the Jordan Valley on Monday.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Israeli policemen break into mosque in occupied Jerusalem
Israeli occupation police forces and intelligence officers broke into the Mohammed Al-Fateh mosque in Ras Al-Amod suburb in occupied Jerusalem on Monday evening.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

B’Tselem: Suspicion: Soldiers attacked Akram Hanatsheh in the village of a-Tabaqa, south-west of Hebron, on February 3, 2012
Akram Hanatsheh, 19, from the village of a-Tabaqa south-west of Hebron complained to B’Tselem that he was severely beaten by Israeli soldiers and attacked by an army dog. According to his testimony, on Friday afternoon, February 3, 2012, Hanatsheh, left his home in order to collect his car from a garage near the village. As he was walking near the village cemetery, he came across a clash between village youth and soldiers. The youth were throwing rocks at the soldiers, who reacted by firing riot control weapons at them. In his testimony to B’Tselem, Hanatsheh stated that he attempted to leave the area, but an army dog chased him, bit his arm and wouldn’t let go. Then, with the dog’s teeth still in his arm, some soldiers came over to him. Hanatsheh recounted that two soldiers held him down and another began punching and kicking him. At that point, a resident of the village alerted Akram Hanatsheh’s father and he arrived at the scene within minutes. In his testimony to B’Tselem, the father described what he saw.
link to www.btselem.org

Head of Israel’s anti-settlement Peace Now reports death threats
The head of Israel’s prominent anti-settlement group Peace Now filed a police complaint on Tuesday after an anonymous caller left a message on his phone apparently threatening to kill him.
link to english.alarabiya.net

Hana Shalabi & Other Hunger Strike News

Palestinian woman Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike since 16 February 2012 in protest against her detention without charge or trial by the Israeli authorities. They have not yet responded to her lawyer’s request to transfer her to a hospital for medical treatment, even though she is said to be increasingly weak.

link to www.amnesty.org

20 Days On, Hana Shalabi is Still Steadfast
Photos by Dylan Collins and Silvia Boarini   Hana Shalabi is on her 20th day of a hunger strike, protesting against the grossly unfair practice of administrative detention through which Israel holds Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial.

link to www.palestinemonitor.org

Hana al-Shalabi’s health worsens after 19 days hunger strike against no-charge detention by Israel, Ali Abunimah
Amnesty International has expressed concern over the worsening health of Hana al-Shalabi, a Palestinian woman who has been on hunger strike since 16 February against her detention without charge or trial by Israeli occupation authorities.
link to electronicintifada.net

Four administrative detainees join Shalabi’s hunger strike
Four Palestinians held in Israeli administrative custody have joined the hunger strike that was started by detainee Hana’a Shalabi 18 days ago, the prisoners’ studies center said in a statement.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

‘Support Al-Shalabi on Intl. Women’s Day’
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and various other groups have called for this year’s International Women’s Day to be declared a day of solidarity with imprisoned Palestinian activist Hana Al-Shalabi.
link to www.presstv.ir

Other Detainee & Prisoner News

IOF soldiers round up 13 Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli occupation forces rounded up 13 Palestinians in various West Bank areas on Tuesday in line with its routine arrests of Palestinian civilians alleging they were planning resistance attacks.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Soldiers detain 20 across West Bank
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained 20 people across the West Bank on Monday night, locals and security officials said. Seven people were detained in the southern city of Hebron in the evening, after they clashed with troops in the Johar mountain area. Locals named six of those detained as Munjed Yaraqan, Muhammad Al-Rajabi, Rafiq Az-Zarou, Wahid and Farid Abu Qweider and Munjed Al-Rajabi.
link to www.maannews.net

Report: Forces seize 2 near Nablus settlement
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma’an) — Israeli troops detained two Palestinians carrying knives near an Israeli settlement in the northern West Bank on Monday, Israeli media reported. The pair, from Balata refugee camp in Nablus, fled from Elon Moreh settlement to Palestinian village Azmut, but were turned over to forces, Israeli news site Ynet reported.
link to www.maannews.net

Report: “Army Kidnaps Palestinians For Training Purposes”
The International Solidarity Institution for Human Rights reported that Israeli soldiers have been recently invading Palestinians area, breaking into homes at night and kidnapping Palestinian youths, in order to train new army recruits.

link to www.imemc.org

Israel extends administrative detention of MP Abu Tir
An Israeli military court on Monday renewed the administrative detention of Palestinian lawmaker Mohamed Abu Tir, who was exiled by force from his native city Jerusalem to Ramallah city.

link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

IOA renews administrative detention of PLC secretary MP Ramahi
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has renewed the administrative detention of Dr. Mahmoud Al-Ramahi, secretary of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC).

link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Int’l campaign blames world silence for persistent IOA practices against MPs
The international campaign for the release of Palestinian MPs detained in Israeli jails has blamed the world’s silence over the IOA persistence in its detention of Palestinian lawmakers.

IOA blackouts prisoners’ cells in Ofer
The Israeli administration of Ofer jail shut down power at the Palestinian prisoners’ rooms on Saturday despite the freezing weather.

link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Gaza

Thousands of workers to lose their jobs due to power outage
The general syndicate of workshop owners in Gaza Strip has warned that thousands of workers would lose their jobs in the event the electricity crisis persisted in the enclave.

link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Oxfam: Over 300 Gaza families affected by storm flooding
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — More than 300 families were affected by flood damage in the Gaza Strip last week, an international aid group said Tuesday. Severe storms and heavy rainfall destroyed the homes of seven families and 15 families were evacuated in northern Gaza town Beit Lahiya, Oxfam said. Several families refused to move into temporary housing for fear their homes would not be repaired if they vacated, the aid group added. Gaza authorities have set up telephone line for families in need of help.
link to www.maannews.net

Solidarity / Activism / BDS

Introducing Bil’in: The ritual of resistance and oppression
Today we went to Bil’in, a small village 17 km from Ramallah. For decades it has been harassed by the Israeli army. When the Apartheid Wall was constructed, it separated the farmers from their land. Seven years ago, the villagers succeeded in moving the wall a bit towards the settlements again and gained back a few meters of the land where their great grandparents already lived. Every Friday after that, there where demonstrations organized. For my friend and I, this was our  first demonstration in the West Bank. Luckily we had a bit of an idea about what to expect because the others told us about the situation. When we arrived in Bil’in we gathered together with the villagers and went together to the place where the demonstration was held. One of the villagers we met there had been already arrested 3 times. Still that doesn’t stop him for going on with fighting for his land and his people.
link to palsolidarity.org

Young activist disrupts AIPAC panel about ‘Israel on Campus’,  Adam Horowitz 
Liza Behrendt, 22 year old member of Young Jewish and Proud, the youth wing of Jewish Voice for Peace, stood up during 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.  Liza stood on stage and unfurled a banner that read, “Settlements Betray Jewish Values” and “Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof,” the Jewish text from Deuteronomy meaning “Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue.”
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/young-activist-disrupts-aipac-panel-about-israel-on-campus.html

Protesters disrupt conference of Israeli lobby group in Washington DC
The annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, held this weekend in Washington DC, was attended by US President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who both pledged unwavering support for the state of Israel. But the conference also faced a large group of protesters who gathered both outside and inside the conference itself to challenge US aid to Israel.
link to www.imemc.org

Washington, D.C.–Iran, Iran, Iran. Tensions between Israel and Iran over Iranian nuclear energy is dominating this year’s AIPAC conference. President Barack Obama’s speech yesterday to the annual conference was mostly devoted to Iran, and “announced no new initiatives” on the Israel/Palestine front, as Inter Press Service’s Mitchell Plitnick reports.Similarly, as we reported, Jeffrey Goldberg spent 45 minutes interviewing Obama, and not one of the questions were about Palestine.
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/palestine-absent-not-at-occupy-aipac.html

Report Denounces Weapons to Israel as AIPAC Assembles
Washington, DC (Monday, March 5) — As members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) prepare to lobby tomorrow on Capitol Hill for more U.S. weapons for Israel, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation will launch its first policy paper, which calls for the United States to end military aid to Israel. The report release comes after President Barack Obama stated yesterday at AIPAC’s policy conference that “Despite a tough budget environment, our security assistance [to Israel] has increased every single year.”
link to blog.endtheoccupation.org

Why won’t the ADL trust Jewish students and community media?, Ali Abunimah
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) loudly condemned Israeli Apartheid Week events, and last weekend’s One State Conference at Harvard. With its latest smears, it is trying to conceal the fact that its fearmongering is failing to intimidate students, including Jewish students who attended and participated with open minds.
link to electronicintifada.net

Maradona: `I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people`
NET2 News – “I am the number one fan of the Palestinian people. I respect them and sympathize with them. They need that we all stand by them,” said embattled Argentine superstar Diego Maradona in Dubai, where he coaches the al-Wasl football team. “I grew up on struggle and standing against injustice” he said.
link to www.medianet2.com

Racism
Knesset to consider parliamentary committee to investigate activities of Arab members
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
The Stream – ‘Blackwashing’ and the Israel lobby 
Are pro-Israel groups recruiting minority students to thwart human rights critics? In this episode of The Stream, we speak with journalist and author Max Blumenthal and Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of Breitbart.com

Political Developments & Other News

Hamas rules out military support for Iran in any war with Israel
Senior figures say Gaza-based Islamic militants would not launch rockets into Israel at request of Tehran, a key sponsor. Hamas will not do Iran’s bidding in any war with Israel, according to senior figures within the militant Islamic group. “If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war,” Salah Bardawil, a member of the organisation’s political bureau in Gaza City, told the Guardian. He denied the group would launch rockets into Israel at Tehran’s request in response to a strike on its nuclear sites. “Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region,” said Bardawil. “Our strategy is to defend our rights”
link to www.guardian.co.uk

Gas pipeline explosion in Egypt
The main gas pipeline sending supplies from Egypt to Jordan and Israel is attacked, causing a large explosion, officials say.
link to www.bbc.co.uk

Egypt tightens security in and around gas export facilities in Sinai
The Egyptian authorities have tightened security measures in and around gas export facilities in northern Sinai Peninsula to ward off future threats.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk  

Hamas: Ending political arrests in W. Bank vital for the national reconciliation
Hamas said one of the most important steps for the success of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation is to end the political arrest of citizens carried out by its Fatah rival in the West Bank.
link to www.palestine-info.co.uk

Peres says discussed Pollard pardon with Obama
Israeli president tells convicted spy’s wife he pleaded with American counterpart to free her husband; Netanyahu also expected to raise issue during White House meeting.
link to www.ynetnews.com

Analysis  / Op-ed

Debate: Attacking Iran, AIPAC, Israel-Palestine and Obama with Rashid Khalidi and Jonathan Tobin
President Obama addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, assuring the pro-Israel lobbying group he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and reiterating his unwavering support for Israel. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Obama at the White House today, we host a debate between Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University and Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin. “It is true [Iran does not] have the weapon now, the question is are we going to wait until … they are one screwdriver away from doing it or not,” says Tobin. “[Iran’s] policy has been to forthrightly proclaim it wishes to destroy Israel — to wipe it off the map. Letting it have nuclear weapons is a threat to the entire region.” But Khalidi argues that war with Iran “would guarantee that no responsible Iranian leadership in the future would allow Iran to be without a nuclear weapon after it had been attacked in an unprovoked fashion either by the U.S. or Israel.” Khalidi adds, “It will be a disaster that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look like tea parties.” Tobin and Khalidi also debate the relationship between Iran and Syria.
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/5/debate_attacking_iran_aipac_israel_palestine

The Hunger Strike Defeated the Secret Evidence: The Case of Khader Adnan
With a hunger strike lasting 66 days, Khader Adnan, a Palestinian baker from the village of Arabeh in the West Bank, successfully undermined the seemingly incontestable system of administrative detention in Israel and revealed the injustice of secret evidence. Administrative detention, a form of punishment in which a person can be detained on the basis of secret evidence and held in prison without charge, is based on three sources of law: Military Order No. 1591 Regarding Administrative Detention – 2007 that applies in the West Bank; the Emergency Powers (Detention) Law – 1979 that applies in Israel; and the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law – 2002. Most administrative detentions are imposed in accordance with Order No. 1591, which authorizes any military commander to incarcerate Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) for a period of six months, which can then be extended for additional periods of time by the military courts.
link to www.jadaliyya.com

California congresswoman: ‘Some would call that apartheid’, Philip Weiss
People are talking about Linda Gradstein’s report at JTA on a delegation of six congresswomen brought to the occupied territories by J Street. Piece is notable for Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) likening the prospective political situation in the territories to apartheid (it’s there already, if only reporters would say what they see…). And by a settler telling the politicians to forget about the two state solution. And by Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson saying the situation is a powder keg.
http://mondoweiss.net/2012/03/california-congresswoman-some-would-call-that-apartheid.html

Audio: Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe keynote speeches at Harvard One State Conference, Ali Abunimah
On March 3 and 4 many speakers gave presentations and took part in discussions at the Harvard One State Conference. The two keynote speeches, by Ali Abunimah and Ilan Pappe, were captured by participants.
link to electronicintifada.net

Movie Review: The Law in These Parts
To anyone with a history of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians, the mainstay concept that Israel so proudly applauds itself on being a democratic state is met with derision and refutations, especially to the Palestinians who are still living under the military system that has entered its 45th year. The Law in These Parts is an innovative award-winning film by Israel director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, a momentous factual work of art that talks about a subject whose mechanisms are relatively esoteric to the general public. The documentary does not seek to explain the history of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and colonialism of the indigenous population of Palestine, but rather sheds an important and much needed light on the foundations of the Israeli military legal system that continues to govern the 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to this day.
link to www.palestinemonitor.org

UK university launches new Palestinian research center
The launch of a new Palestinian study center in London has raised hopes for greater academic cooperation on Palestinian issues. The Center for Palestine Studies (CPS), part of the London-based School of Oriental and African Studies’ Middle East Institute, aims to focus on Palestinian politics, history, economics, law, and culture, according to the news agency WAFA. “Though we are just starting, my plan is to expand cooperation on Palestine studies,” the CPS’ inaugural chair Gilbert Ashcar said. Though structurally unrelated to existing centers at the universities of Exeter in the UK and Columbia in the US, Ashcar said they hoped to work with other organizations. Ilan Pappe, chair of the University of Exeter’s European Center for Palestine Studies, spoke at the CPS’ launch. Ashcar said he had high hopes the new center would help bring justice for Palestine.
link to english.al-akhbar.com

Palestinians taken aback by Obama embrace of Israel, but expect little in US election year
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Palestinians say they are disappointed in President Barack Obama but not surprised by his especially warm embrace of Israel in an election year., Still, his weekend speech to the powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was perceived in the West Bank as unprecedented in its show of support for Israel. It raised eyebrows even among hardened skeptics who have lost faith in Washington’s ability to serve as an honest Mideast broker.
link to www.washingtonpost.com

Israel, Democracy and the Arabs
The prolongation of the Arab-Israeli conflict is all about the illegal occupation, expropriation, colonization, and annexation of Arab territory by Israel. And beneath the armor of the Israeli military machine is the systematic exclusion of the Other — the Arabs. Jewish Israelis are xenophobic towards Arabs not so much because they fear them as an existential military threat, as Likud and Labour are prone to repeat, but rather because of the intrinsic demographic threat they present to the national identity of a Jewish State.  The Balfour Declaration helped create Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people; it did not stipulate a Jewish state. The exclusive nature of Israel’s national identity would consolidate over the decades with contradictory implications for representative democracy.
link to palestinechronicle.com

AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent
Chris Hedges – Truthdig – AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business. [Text of the speech, March 3, at the Occupy AIPAC protest of CODEPINK Women for Peace and other groups.

Posted in Nova NewsletterComments Off on Mondoweiss Online Newsletter

URGENT ACTION PALESTINIAN ACADEMIC RECEIVES THIRD DETENTION ORDER IN NAZI CAMP

NOVANEWS


Palestinian academic Ahmad Qatamesh received a new six-month administrative detention order on 1 March. He has been held without charge or trial since 21 April 2011.

Ahmad Qatamesh was given a third administrative detention order on 1 March, the day that his second administrative detention order was due to expire. At the judicial review of the order, which took place on 5 March 2012, the military prosecutor sought the confirmation of the order by the military judge. It is expected that the military judge will confirm the detention order in the coming days.

Ahmad Qatamesh, together with other administrative detainees at Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank, have declared that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the military courts and administrative detention procedures, and have refused to attend judicial hearings. Because the judicial review normally takes place in the presence of the detainee, the prosecution insisted that Ahmad Qatamesh be brought to the court room on 5 March 2012. He again reiterated his rejection of the military court process and immediately returned to his cell.

According to both his wife and his lawyer, Ahmad Qatamesh has been interrogated for no more than a total of 10 minutes by Israel Security Agency (ISA) officers, who alleged that he was a member of the political office of a leftist Palestinian party which has an armed wing: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). While Ahmad Qatamesh was a political and intellectual supporter of the PFLP in the 1990s, he says he has not been involved with them for 13 years. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, he has never been involved with PFLP-affiliated armed groups or advocated violence. His latest work focuses on political solutions that put an end to the violent conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, which he calls a “nightmare”.

It is Amnesty International’s assessment that the reasons for Ahmad Qatamesh’s arrest and continued administrative detention are his peaceful expression, in his writing and teaching, of non-violent political views and the fact that he is considered a mentor for left-wing students and political activists, some of whom may be affiliated to the PFLP. As such, his detention may be part of the Israeli authorities’ strategy to put pressure on the PFLP organisation. Therefore, Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Please write immediately in Hebrew or your own language: 
n        Expressing concern that Ahmad Qatamesh is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression, and calling for his immediate and unconditional release;
n        Calling on the authorities to end the use of administrative detention.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 17 APRIL 2012 TO:
Military Judge Advocate General
Major General Avihai Mandelblit
6 David Elazar Street
Hakirya, Tel Aviv, Israel
Fax: +972 3 569 4526
Email: avimn@idf.gov.il
Salutation: Dear Judge Advocate General

Commander of the IDF – West Bank
Major-General Avi Mizrahi
GOC Central Command
Military Post 01149
Battalion 877
Israel Defense Forces, Israel
Fax: +972 2 530 5724
Salutation: Dear Major-General Avi Mizrahi

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence
Ehud Barak
Ministry of Defence
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: + 972 3 69 16940 / +972 3 691 7915

Salutation: Dear MinisterAlso send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:
Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation
Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the third update of UA 127/11. Further information: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/031/2011/en

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Mark Dankof’s America

NOVANEWS

 

False Flag Operation Prototype for the Coming War with Iran: The Kuwaiti Incubator Baby Deception

Mark Dankof in Washington, D. C. in November of 2011

Last night at the gym after my usual stint at the pullup bar and the leg extension and leg curl machines, I proceeded to the treadmill.  I was there for one hour at varying speeds and inclines throughout the 60 minutes.  The ceiling-suspended television sets for treadmillers at this particular training location in San Antonio always involve ESPN; one of the major networks when it offers a bad soap opera or sit-com; and the incessant droning of the CNN newsroom where the presence of Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper proves especially annoying and wearisome, although informative in ways not intended by the Masters of Corporate Media.

Last night was more of the same.  I was stationed in front of CNN during my treadmill session.  Wolf Blitzer was interviewing a Fred Burton of Stratfor Global Intelligence based in Austin, Texas.  Mr. Burton is their Vice-President for Counterterrorism and Corporate Security.  The subject was the mysterious January 16th, 2012 killing of Iranian medical student Gelareh Bagherzadeh, age 30, a woman with a profile as an activist in the Iranian women’s rights movement and professionally based at Houston’s world-famous M. D. Anderson Medical Center. She was found slumped over the wheel of her car after being shot in the head once by an unknown assailant.  The crime took place at the site of the wealthy housing estate in Houston where her family lived. Houston police summoned after the gunfire found Ms. Bagherzadeh’s vehicle crashed into the door of a garage with the engine still running and the tires spinning.  She had apparently been speaking on her mobile phone to an ex-boyfriend at the time of her death.  It is still unclear whether she had been followed home, or the victim of an assassin lying in wait for her as she arrived.  No one is presently in custody.

Gelareh Bagherzadeh
Who really killed Gelareh Bagherzadeh?

She was a coordinator of a Houston-based protest organization called SabzHouston.  Cursory scan of their web site reveals a strong affiliation with the Green Movement and the past Presidential campaign in Iran of Mir Hossein Mousavi.  The site alleges massive fraud in the Iranian election of June 12, 2009.  The site’s section dedicated to the memory of Gelareh Bagherzadeh asks for all to refrain from speculation about motivation for the tragedy.

Someone forgot to inform CNN about the avoidance of baseless speculation.  Wolf Blitzer’s line of questioning led Fred Burton of Stratfor into a line of analysis which revealed that although Mr. Burton had no factual basis for what he was implying, he was clearly hopeful that viewers would infer the direct probable involvement of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), both in the Bagherzadeh tragedy and in the allegations surrounding the supposed involvement of Tehran in a most improbable and counterproductive scheme to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States in Washington.  This is all on top of the assumptions made by many Americans about Iranian involvement in reported recent acts of terror in Bangkok and Delhi aimed at Israel according to CNN and other media outlets.  Gareth Porter’s recent article should be a word of caution on this.  Ditto for Richard Sale’s recent piece on Israel and the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq(MEK/MKO/PMOI) chronicling this Demonic Dynamic Duo’s  program of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and other related criminal acts of terror.  My recent interview with the Habilian Associationchronicled at Iran Interlink contains other articles and leads that may provide a completely different set of suggestions as to where to look for possible motives and answers in the Gelareh Bagherzadeh murder case in Houston.  Be advised.

There is much CNN did not say last night, or today, when Fred Burton of Stratfor was brought on again to spin the story of the Gelareh Bagherzadeh assassination.

CNN viewers are not told about the biography of Wolf Blitzer for openers.  As recently chronicled by theWashington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA):

     “Blitzer is a former employee of AIPAC, Israel’s behemoth Washington, DC lobby (see former Sen. James Abourezk’s “Wolf Blitzer, AIPAC, and the Saudi Peace Initiative” in the July 2007 Washington Report, p. 16, also posted on our Web site). The CNN anchor also is the author of Territory of Lies: The Exclusive Story of Jonathan Jay Pollard: The American Who Spied on His Country for Israel and How He Was Betrayed (the title seeming to imply that it was Pollard, rather than his native country, who was betrayed).”

Neither does CNN mention the strong links between Stratfor and the Israeli intelligence and journalistic communities.  The Austin-based intelligence oriented think-tank was begun by Zionist Texas academic Dr. George Friedman and figures prominently in some of the leaked cables emanating out of the Wikileaks/Bradley Manning case.  Even stranger, a controversy has recently emerged on the American populist Right regarding charges that Texas-based populist radio commentator Alex Jones isStrafor linked.  While that controversy remains in the realm of unproven allegation, Michael Collins Piper’s new book, “The Confessions of An Anti-Semite,” does provide possible context to Alex Jones’s attacks in recent years on members of the anti-Zionist American Right and his occasional apologies for Israel on page 23 of that volume:

     “On October 6, 1940, The New York Times featured a revealing story reporting that Arthur Greenwood–deputy leader of the British Labor Party and member without portfolio in the British War Cabinet–had ‘assured the Jews of the United States that when victory was achieved an effort would be made to found a new world order [emphasis added] based on the ideals of ‘justice and peace,’ and that–as the Times assessed it–’after the war an opportunity would be given to Jews everywhere to make a “distinctive and constructive contribution” in the rebuilding of the world.’  The Times not only featured the phrase ‘New World Order’ in the headline, as shown above, but in a secondary subhead repeated the concept:  ‘New World Order Forecast.’  As anyone who understands the special role of the Times as a voice for Jewish interests–and the New World Order–knows, this specific phraseology was no accident.

     “Now, today, long after Hitler and the Nazis were vanquished in World War II, they are still the subject of constant discussion by Alex Jones–the self-described ‘biggest name’ in the ‘truth movement,’ whose lucrative career was launched by a Jewish-owned television station in Texas and now sponsored by the Jewish-owned radio giant Sirius–and by Glenn Beck, the television and radio rabble-rouser made into a superstar by Zionist billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.  . . .”

I now take the reader back to last evening and the gym treadmill.  As Blitzer and Fred Burton of Stratfor were conversing, their discussion receded from my mind even as I continued watching the screen while speed walking.

Suddenly, in my mind, I was back in my late godfather’s house in suburban Washington, D. C. in October of 1990.  I had come out to see him for a couple of months after leaving Seattle for good in August of that year, the same month and year that Saddam Hussein and Iraq made a fateful decision to attack Kuwait claiming the latter’s guilt in a horizontal drilling scheme illegally siphoning Iraqi oil. President George Herbert Walker Bush was pushing for an American invasion and land war against Iraq, but polls at the time revealed a public division in the United States on the wisdom of this move.  The division was roughly a 50-50 split.

In this instantaneous mental reversion to October of 1990, I was suddenly seeing my godfather and I watching television in his den in Olney, Maryland. He had a fantastic mahogany bar in that den, to complement the considerable stash of liquid goodies.  While he nursed a martini, I was imbibing courtesy of a bottle of German Weissbier.  We were watching the evening’s replay on a local Washington station of some very interesting testimony before the House Human Rights Caucus that had transpired on a day far more pivotal in American and world history than either of us could possibly have imagined then.

The young lady we watched testifying almost 22 years ago with great visible emotion in the voice and welling tears in the eyes was a 15 year old Kuwaiti testifying under the pseudonym “Nurse Nayirah.”  The alleged reason for the phony name was “fear of reprisals.”  The thrust of the testimony was her supposed firsthand knowledge of war crimes and atrocities being committed in Kuwait by the Iraqi army.  The clincher in that day’s riveting witness by Nurse Nayirah is reprised here via transcript.  It goes as follows:

I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital.  I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where 15 babies were in incubators.  They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die. [emphasis added]“

After the performance was over, I asked my late godfather, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and past denizen of Air Force Intelligence what his reaction was to the hearing. There was a moment of silence while he downed the remaining portion of the martini.  Then he opined, “Sounds like these Iraqi soldiers would be great employees in a routine day at an American abortion clinic.  Aside from that, this woman’s testimony strikes me as total bullshit.  That’s my reaction.  Maybe we should have switched channels to watch pro wrestling.  . . .”

The Colonel passed away seven years later in 1997.  He now rests in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.  He was a great man in more ways than can possibly be recounted here, but that single evening of watching Washington D. C. news in his den over drinks cemented the brilliance of his political instincts.  The iron clad proof of his cut-to-the-chase discernment appeared in December of 1992.

Now forgotten by a brain-dead American public is that in December 1992, there was the airing of a documentary produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and its television show entitled The Fifth Estate.  The documentary is entitled, To Sell a War.  That program, largely suppressed in the United States, revealed that Nurse Nayirah was none other than Nijirah al-Sabahthe daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States, Saud Nasir al-Sabah.  She was never a nurse.  Her entire testimony was a complete fabrication.  Her lines, and her dramatic presentation, were the result of the coaching of PR firm Hill and Knowlton.  This corporate exercise in perjury before Congress, a criminal offense, was joined by the obvious moral duplicity of the Bush Administration and other elements of the War Party, including Corporate Zionist News Media Incorporated.

But it worked.  Honest historians note that Nurse Nayirah, a. k. a. Nijirah al-Sabah, and her coached charade before the fawning House Human Rights Caucus, was the turning point in King George Herbert Walker Bush’s public relations campaign to rally the American public for a war mired in false premises, and for a campaign of two decades plus of duplicity, death, displacement, and destruction that appears headed for final consummation in Israel’s demand for preemptive war with Iran and the genesis of World War III.  I reiterate what I have said continuously.  It will begin with a False Flag Operation par excellence, likely to supersede 9-11 in galvanizing force and deception.  Its endgame is to bring the United States into Netanyahu’s Crusade with the full backing of a comatose and moronic American electorate.  Eretz Yisrael is the objective, as it always has been in American foreign policy in the Middle East.

It is in light of this grim reality and circumstantial evidence surrounding recent events in Delhi, Bangkok, Mexico, and now Houston, with the advent of the Gelareh Bagherzadeh assassination, that the Wolf Blitzer/Fred Burton roadshow on CNN in the last 24 hours must be suspiciously evaluated.  CNN now has Mr. Burton of Stratfor mentioning Gelareh Baghderzadeh’s past history in Paris as a possible point of intersection with what he claims is a major European center for intelligence operations of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mr. Burton omits what is far more provable, and what points in the opposite direction.  Paris is a major point of intersection for the operations and presence of both the Israeli Mossad and the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK/MKO/PMOI).  Why does he fail to consider the possibility that the Baghderzadeh killing is the work of the latter, in a developing campaign of ongoing false flag incidents designed to convince Americans that Tehran is in the process of commencing an all out war of terror in the United States as a means of providing the Zionist State and its backers in the American government and media with their own effective version of the Kuwaiti Incubator Baby Deception?

I will reiterate the pattern I enumerated in my recent piece entitled, Fort Sumter, False Flags, and The Empire’s Coming Crusade Against Iran.”  This pattern is a recommended grid to utilize in evaluating everything that emerges in what may be the greatest unfolding tragedy in all of human history:

     “The pattern of Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Bush, and Obama has essential components and ingredients.  Chief among these are: 1) The understanding of each of these Presidents that their continuance as a Chief Executive of the United States necessitated the furtherance of the power agenda of a central banking cabal; 2) This furtherance would require the involvement of their nation in a war; 3) Hostilities would commence courtesy of a false flag incident, used to disguise the identity of the real perpetrators and their agenda;  4) The war would of necessity involve the employment of mass media in legitimizing the rationale for the conflict among the masses with a barrage of viscerally powerful images and metaphors soaked in notions of moral crusade, absolutism, the sanction of Divine Providence, blind nationalism, and religious visions containing distorted notions of Manifest Destiny, messianic fervor, and millennial fanaticism; 4) Legitimate dissent from the Crusade, rooted in sounder notions of Constitutional restraint, diplomacy, and what Jesus Christ actually teaches about the Kingdom of God, would be met with demonization, economic impoverishment, persecution, imprisonment, and death.  What worked for Lincoln in this final regard, is being arranged nicely for Obama in the form of the National  Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as demonstrated recently by Jonathan Turley in The Guardian (UK).  Building on the foundations of the two Patriot Acts, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the jettisoning of Posse Comitatus laws, the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretap program, and the circumventing of the  Federal Court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the NDAA has formally codified George W. Bush’s observation that the Constitution of the United States is nothing but a “Goddamned piece of paper.”  Presumably the lives and liberties of American citizens, not to mention The Empire’s victims abroad, fall into the identically condemned status and subsequently fateful demise.”

Well, Wolf and Fred, what do you think?

Barack Obama strides to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stage in Washington.

 

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