Archive | June 28th, 2010



Gillard reassures the Jews that she loves Israel to death

 28 Jun 2010

This week’s Australian Jewish News:

Within the Jewish community, discussions about Julia Gillard often include the whispered question: “She might support Israel now, but have you heard what she was like in her university days?”

So, when we spoke to her last August, while she was still Deputy Prime Minister, The AJN decided to explore Gillard’s days in student politics. Where did she stand in debates about Israel when she was president of the now-defunct Australian Union of Students (AUS)?

“The AUS in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s was racked by conflicting views over Israel and Palestine,” Gillard explained during an interview with The AJN in her Melbourne office on Friday. “It caused many Jewish students around the country and their representative organisation – the Australasian Union of Jewish Students – to become anti-AUS.”

Gillard commenced studying an arts and law degree in Adelaide in 1979, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later, when she transferred her studies to Melbourne, that she launched into the quagmire that was student politics at the time.

“When I came into the AUS, sensible people – and I put myself in that category – were saying ‘Well people will have their individual views about this question, it is a democracy, people can debate and try and persuade each other, but this is not business for AUS’.”

Gillard went on to become a leading figure in the movement and she supported the AUS members’ vote to discard their Middle East policy and not replace it.

“I supported that – the union not having any formal policy on that – as a way of concentrating, or trying to concentrate, the union on the things that make a difference. That was always my position on it.”

The Middle East debate, she added, was at its height a few years before she joined the AUS and her time there was during the tail end of the controversy.

With her early relationship with Israeli politics established, Gillard told The AJN about her recent trip to Israel.

Last July, she led the Australian delegation to the Australia-Israel Leadership Forum in Jerusalem.

Speaking highly of that forum, the first of its kind between the countries, she compared it with the prestigious Australia-American Leadership Forum.

“[The Australian-American Leadership Dialogue] has done so much to drive connections between the two countries: at a political level, at a business level, at a social level, at a scientific level. So to be there for the start of what you would hope will grow into something like that, I thought that was a tremendous privilege and opportunity.

“While it is early days and it was the first meeting, I thought all the signs were good.”

The contents of the forum were, unfortunately, confidential.

But one can imagine the debate that took place between Gillard, former treasurer Peter Costello, Liberal shadow minister Christopher Pyne and other Australian MPs sitting across the table from members of the Israeli Knesset, journalists and other ­decision-makers.

Writing in the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange newsletter, a journalist called the event an “invigorating, candid and often amusing collaboration”.

Gillard said the forum and the rest of her time in Israel demonstrated to her that, excluding the security situation, the two countries had wide-ranging commonalities.

“I think both countries visualise themselves as having a highly skilled, high-tech, high-innovation future,” Gillard said.

She echoed a thought that appears to be verbalised more and more in recent months: that Australia has a lot to learn from Israel, particularly in the high-tech field.

Speaking on education, a matter close to her heart – as well as Deputy Prime Minister, she holds the portfolios of education, employment and workplace relations and social inclusion – she said Australia and Israel would benefit from sharing ­knowledge.

“Both countries are working through how do you keep improving quality, particularly in circumstances where you’ve got large numbers of migrants into the nation from different places,” she said.

“They have had to have an education system aspiring for excellence, but dealing with a lot of diversity and our education system is the same. I think the possibilities for exchange there are very strong.”

Throughout the interview, Gillard was relaxed and comfortable talking about Israel, emphasising recent meetings with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leaders.

“To have a discussion about economic issues, security issues, world events generally, that was a great privilege,” she said.


Gillard and the Zionist lobby are completely separate (or not)

 28 Jun 2010

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is asked on ABC Melbourne radio about a news story today regarding her blind support for Israel and her partner’s job with the Zionist lobby.

Even Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt sees an issue:

Gillard said on ABC 774 this morning that as Deputy Prime Minister she excused herself on decisions on Israel that might raise this conflict of interest. How could she possibly do the same as Prime Minister? I’m surprised she doesn’t instantly see how inappropriate this arrangement now is.

And this:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has defended the right of her partner Tim Mathieson to work for a property group owned by a pro-Israel lobbyist.

Mr Mathieson is employed as a real estate salesman at a company owned by Melbourne developer Albert Dadon, a prominent pro-Israel lobbyist.

Ms Gillard said her public condemnation of Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli territory during the Gaza intervention occurred well before there had been any suggestion of Mr Mathieson working for Mr Dadon.

Mr Mathieson was his own person with his own life and his own job, she said.

Mr Gillard said she had taken advice on the issue because she did not want to make an inappropriate decision in cabinet.

“I have made all the necessary declarations and disclosures.”

Ms Gillard said her becoming prime minister indicated to the nation that this was a different age, adding the personal situation of her predecessor Kevin Rudd had also broken new ground.

“Kevin was the first prime minister, as I understand it, to have a partner with her own career, and a formidable and successful career it is,” she said.

Ms Gillard said she was the first prime minister with a male partner who had his own career and job.

“I hope that people would understand that, that he’s got a right to live his life too.”


Free Palestine in Warsaw’s Jewish area

 28 Jun 2010

Yesterday, Israeli and Polish activists met in the ruins of Warsaw’s old Jewish Ghetto.

The activists sprayed ‘Liberate All Ghettos’ in Hebrew, followed by ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ in English on a wall of an original block in the ghetto. The block is across the street from the last fragment of the remaining perimeter wall of the Ghetto. They also hung Palestinian flags from the wall.

This was first time such an action took place in the ghetto.


Gillard and Israel are like peas in a pod

 28 Jun 2010

It’s very healthy to see some critical thoughts over new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her tight connection to the Zionist lobby. Much more transparency is required. Watch this space:

A former Australian ambassador to Israel has accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of being silent on the ”excesses” of Israel, and has questioned why her partner has been given a job by a prominent Israel lobbyist.

In a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, Ross Burns, who was ambassador in Tel Aviv between 2001 and 2003, said Ms Gillard had been ”remarkably taciturn on the excesses of Israeli actions in the past two years”.

He questioned Ms Gillard’s stance given that she led an Australian delegation to Israel last year for the inaugural meeting of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum. ”It looks a bit funny when you go on this tour to promote bilateral relations, but you don’t seem to have any reservations about the issue that was number one on the horizon,” Mr Burns said.

He also questioned the propriety of Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, being employed as a real estate salesman by the founder of the Australia Israel Forum, Melbourne property developer Albert Dadon.

Mr Dadon is close to prominent pro-Israel Labor MP Michael Danby, who was influential last week in the coup that installed Ms Gillard as Prime Minister.

Ms Gillard disclosed her partner’s appointment to Mr Dadon’s Ubertas Group in a letter to the registrar of MPs’ interests in December, saying the job had started the previous month. A spokeswoman for Ms Gillard said at the time that she did not expect any perceived conflict of interest to arise from the job.

But Mr Burns said in his letter the perception that Ms Gillard’s support for the Australia Israel Leadership Forum was linked to Mr Mathieson’s job was unavoidable. ”Happy coincidence? In this new world of ‘whatever it takes’ ALP federal politics, is this a new benchmark in ‘jobs for the boys’?” Mr Burns wrote.

The first meeting of the Australia Israel Leadership Forum last June came six months after Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza in December 2008, in which more than 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

Ms Gillard, who was acting prime minister when the invasion took place, put out a statement at the time criticising Palestinian group Hamas for firing rockets into southern Israel, but pointedly declining to criticise Israel for causing civilian casualties.

”Clearly the act of aggression was engaged in by Hamas which commenced shelling with rockets and mortars into Israel,” Ms Gillard said at the time. ”That is what breached the ceasefire, and Israel responded.”

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith have since expressed unease at the  subsequent blockade of Gaza by Israel.

“She went there for a couple of days of talks and I don’t think made any critical comment about the blockade of Gaza or treatment of Palestinians in general,” Mr Burns said.

“And now we learn from both Rudd and Smith that there were concerns within the Australian Government about the blockade, that we didn’t agree with the blockade. Well, we never said so at the time, and she didn’t say so,” Mr Burns said.

Mr Burns was supported in his criticism of the government’s attitude towards Israel by another former Australian ambassador to Tel Aviv, Peter Rodgers, who served in the Israeli capital from 1994 to 1997.

Mr Rodgers told The Age last night that under successive governments, Australia’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had become increasingly unbalanced, and that this was unlikely to change under Ms Gillard’s stewardship.

“There’s been a marked swing away from the old attempt to be evenhanded on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to a much more determined pro-Israeli position, and I think Gillard is part of that,” he said.


Punishing Palestinian independence

 28 Jun 2010

Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, doesn’t want his territory to become like another US-backed wasteland, Afghanistan:

The Hamas co-founder was bitterly critical of Western policy towards Hamas and Gaza over the four and half years since the Islamic faction won the last Palestinian elections. “Why did the Western people boycott Hamas after the election?” he asked. “Because they want a new Karzai in Palestine”. He was equally contemptuous of Western support for the blockade imposed by Israel when Hamas seized control in a short but bloody civil war with its Fatah rivals and coalition partners in June 2007. He claimed the closure of Gaza conformed to Western definitions of “terrorism” by using “violence” to change the attitudes of its victims. “I am asking you, why did you accept this process four years ago?”


How Rolling Stone should spread its wing

 28 Jun 2010

I’ve talked extensively here about Michael Hastings’ piece in Rolling Stone that helped fire General Stanley McChrystal (more savvy comments here).

But what of the magazine itself? The Guardian comments:

The resignation last week of General Stanley McChrystal had the impact of a pterodactyl egg dropping on the US news agenda from 30,000 feet. A Rolling Stone magazine interview by the freelance writer Michael Hastings documented the insubordinate attitudes of the McChrystal camp towards the Obama administration and caused the general’s dismissal. US generals, Rolling Stone, ill-conceived conflicts, weekly magazines setting the agenda; it only lacked the involvement of Joan Baez and Walter Cronkite to complete the feeling that we had woken up in 1968.

Not since the days of Hunter S Thompson has Rolling Stone made itself so unpopular with the White House. But the magazine’s story management prompted media analysts to wonder if, in fact, nothing had essentially changed for the publication in the past 40 years. Although the ownership of the amazing scoop was always clear, its rapid dissemination around the web after Rolling Stone had “teased” news outlets with a few advanced copies left the publisher out of the conversation it had provoked.

Not available to readers until three days after McCrystal’s sacking, Rolling Stone had taken the decision that by seeding “buzz” in other news outlets, but hiding the story from its readers until the issue hit newsstands, it would maximise revenues. This might still be the case, but the overall effect of ignoring the invention of the internet was that Rolling Stone ceded all control of how its own story unfolded, and potentially compromised any associated benefits it might have harnessed in terms of online readership and revenue.

News agencies, blogs and newspaper websites all made hay with the McChrystal conversation whilst Rolling Stone’s own website initially did not even acknowledge the story’s existence, only weakly posting the piece once the western world had already read it.

The problem Rolling Stone encountered was a direct result of not understanding what the purpose of its web presence is. If it understood it to be marketing – to lure subscribers, engage readers, advertise writers, trail its content – then it ought to have been very explicit which route to take, and presumably that would not have included handing all its marketing over to other outlets. If, however, the primary purpose was to raise advertising, gather readers and distribute content, then it should also have been clear that some form of publication of the material was better than none.

The embarrassing stasis does suggest it defined one potential purpose of the website as selling magazines. And the best way of selling magazines, or newspapers, in the minds of some publishers, is to establish a web presence but to stop people reading your content. This is a perfectly reasonable view to take, but there is little or no evidence that it works in the way envisaged by Rolling Stone.


Believe it, BDS is biting

 28 Jun 2010

So you’re an Israeli who does business with the international community. The Jewish state is facing increasing criticism and isolation but what to do?

An Israeli publication offers some handy tips to beat the issues and still turn a profit.


Divide and rule in Jerusalem

 27 Jun 2010


The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

The committee’s proposal would codify the municipality’s planning policy for the entire city. In essence, Jerusalem would uniformly apply its zoning and construction procedures to both halves of the city.


Reporters are not supposed to thank the establishment at the end of the day

 27 Jun 2010

Journalist Michael Hastings believes in journalism. You know, asking questions, not protecting military men because they’re in the military and telling things how they are. Crazy ideas, I know. Others, like The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, rather like war and Israel and like to contribute to the Middle East being filled with the former as much as possible.

So, here’s Hastings explaining his Rolling Stone piece:

And here’s CNN’s Lara Logan getting all upset that Hastings dared to actually report fairly on the military rather than protecting the honest men and women in uniform:

Obama is a barrier to any kind of Middle East peace

 27 Jun 2010

Even if this story is accurate, that US/Israeli relations are struggling, other reports indicate Washington is very happy to continue carrying the water for Tel Aviv, even if it means not releasing Gilad Shalit because it would strengthen Hamas.

First, this:

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, denied painting a dark picture of U.S.-Israeli relations during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem last week.

Israeli diplomats say Oren described the current situation as a “tectonic rift” in which Israel and the United States are like continents drifting apart.

Oren’s comments come in the run-up to the July 6 meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

Oren visited Israel over the past week, briefing Israelis at the ministry’s North America and research divisions. Five Israeli diplomats, some of whom took part in the briefing or were informed about the details, said Oren described relations between the two countries in bleak terms.

According to the Israeli diplomats, Oren said relations between the two countries are not in a crisis because a crisis is something that passes. Oren opted to use terms from geology: “Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.”

Oren noted that contrary to Obama’s predecessors – George W. Bush and Bill Clinton – the current president is not motivated by historical-ideological sentiments toward Israel but by cold interests and considerations. He added that his access as Israel’s ambassador to senior administration officials and close advisers of the president is good. But Obama has very tight control over his immediate environment, and it is hard to influence him.

“This is a one-man show,” Oren is quoted as saying.

Then this:

Ali Abunimah blogs that a diplomatic source has told him that George Mitchell directed the Israelis not to make a deal for Gilad Shalit’s freedom, as it would only strengthen Hamas.  In addition, this report from Yediot Achronot (Hebrew) notes that Shalit’s freedom would come at the expense of freeing Marwan Barghouti on the Palestinian side.  The latter would become the defacto popular leader of Fatah and thus displace the U.S. crony Abbas, which this administration wishes to avoid.

And Ali Abunimah on some realities in the Middle East that our kind and friendly corporate press are unlikely to report:

I had some interesting conversations with what I can refer to as diplomatic sources familiar with these matters and thought the following points worth sharing:

  • Despite all the talk of ending/easing the blockade of Gaza, there is no way in the foreseeable future of a shift in Quartet policy toward Hamas. Rather, the EU and other peace process stakeholders are waiting for US envoy George Mitchell to pull a white rabbit out of his hat (i.e by restarting “peace talks” leading to a two-state solution). At the same time, no one really believes that is going to happen. So essentially, nothing serious is happening on the diplomatic front.
  • World Bank figures due to be published in coming weeks are likely to show that economic growth in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2010 has exceeded that in the West Bank. While virtually all economic growth in the West Bank is a result of foreign aid, much of the growth in Gaza is attributable to a “parallel economy” that has emerged thanks to the tunnels. This has even created a small new class of nouveaux riches in Gaza.
  • Many Palestinian Authority employees in the Gaza Strip are having their salaries paid by the EU in order NOT to go to work. If they go to work (and therefore legitimize the Hamas government) their salaries are cut off.
  • Palestinians have already succeeded in breaching the US-financed underground steel wall being built along the Gaza-Egypt border.
  • Press reports that US envoy George Mitchell once again put severe pressure on Egypt and other parties not to allow a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal to proceed are accurate. The logic is that the US wants to avoid any legitimization of Hamas and focus on the “proximity talks” leading to “direct talks” (leading to nowhere?).
  • Press reports from last December that Mitchell vetoed a prisoner swap deal between the Netanyahu government and Hamas mediated by the Germans are accurate. (So if Israelis want to whine about the fact that Gilad Shalit is still a prisoner of war in Gaza they can direct their ire at their “best friend” the United States which nixed the German-brokered deal). Same warped logic – to avoid giving Hamas a victory.
  • Salam Fayyad’s “state building” initiative is a hollow shell. All he is is a pass through for foreign funds and a ceremonial ribbon-cutter and has not developed any independent or credible institutions and none are in the offing.

Some of this information was already known or obvious, but useful to have it further confirmed by people with direct knowledge.

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الاستقواء الفلسطيني على لبنان

قرأت قبل يومين مقالا يروي فيه فلسطيني أميركي معاناته لاستئجار منزل في لبنان، وكيف انه يتفوق قليلا على اقرانه ومواطنيه لانه يحمل جواز سفر اجنبيا. ويضيف متحدثا عن عنصرية اللبناني تجاه الفلسطيني اولا، ومن ثم تجاه العمال الاجانب.
من حق الفلسطينيين ان ينعموا بحياة رفاه وطمأنينة لم تتوافر لهم في ارضهم ولا في الاراضي العربية حيث يقيمون، فحركتهم مقيدة في مصر، وقد عانوا الامرين في الاردن، وطردوا من الكويت، وهم مراقبون بدقة في سوريا التي تؤثر في حركتهم الجسدية والسياسية، اي انهم يعانون التمييز في معظم الدول العربية، لكنهم لا يتجرأون على الكلام عن اوضاعهم الا في لبنان، لا لان معاناتهم اكبر، وهذا صحيح نسبيا، بل لانهم يدرون في قرارة انفسهم انهم لن يحاسبوا على كلامهم وكتاباتهم، ولن يتم حجزهم في المطار او على الحدود البرية، لان في لبنان حرية لم يعرفوها ولم يعيشوها مذ طردوا من ارضهم.
حاول الفلسطينيون عيش حريتهم – الفوضى على ارض لبنان، وحجبوا عن اللبنانيين حقوقهم في التعبير وفي حرية التنقل والاقامة وغيرها، وبدل ان يسعوا الى تحرير ارضهم وبلادهم، عملوا لاقامة الدولة البديلة وطريقها تعبر في جونيه لا على الحدود الجنوبية.
لا نريد نكء جراح الماضي كلما اثير الموضوع الفلسطيني، فالحق الانساني حقهم، وعلى لبنان السعي الجدي لتأمين بعض هذه الحقوق وفق الامكانات المتاحة التي لا تؤثر سلبا على مواطنيه.
لكن في المقابل، هل بذل الفلسطينيون جهودا لاثبات حسن النية تجاه لبنان؟ هل ضبطوا الارهاب في مخيم نهر البارد قبل ان يضطر الجيش لخوض اقسى معاركه ويبذل اكثر من مئة شهيد؟ هل سلموا مطلوبا للعدالة لجأ الى مخيم عين الحلوة؟ وهل منعوا ارهابيا من التسلل لتفجير محال تجارية في قرى شرق صيدا؟ وهل عملوا على ضبط وتسليم السلاح خارج المخيمات تنفيذا لمقررات مؤتمر الحوار الوطني حفاظا على هيبة الدولة اللبنانية؟ وهل نالوا اذنا من الجهات المختصة لاقامة مناوراتهم العسكرية في قوسايا وغيرها؟
هل المطلوب دائما من لبنان ان يتنازل وان يتحمل، ثم يأتي من يحمله المسؤولية، ويتهم حكومته ومواطنيه بالعنصرية؟ في كل دول العالم يعامل الفلسطيني كأي مواطن آخر لانه يشبه الآخرين، لكنه في لبنان متفوق عليهم، لانه فوق القانون.
فكفى، وألف كفى، بيانات وخطابات رنانة ومقابلات تلفزيونية لتنظيمات وجمعيات وهمية، او هي في الحد الاقصى تمثل مئة شخص لا اكثر، فيما الاكثرية فالتة من قبضتها ومن قبضة العدالة، وكفى تجريحا بلبنان، وتدميرا لكيانه وهويته. واما المزايدات الاعلامية التي يطلقها لبنانيون فلا تعدو كونها مزايدات كما يدل اسمها، وهي غالبا ما تكون احراجا للآخرين تسديدا لاثمان او لفواتير مسبوقة الدفع لم تعد تنطلي على احد بعدما ذاب الثلج.
واخيرا ما دامت السلطة الفلسطينية قائمة حتى تاريخه، فلماذا لا تصدر جوازات سفر رسمية لكل الفلسطينيين على ارض لبنان فيتم احصاؤهم والتعرف على هوياتهم، ثم ينالون اذون عمل وحقوقا كأي مواطن عربي آخر.
هل يجرؤون على هذا الطرح؟ او بالاحرى هل يتفقون على المطلب؟ وهل تلبي السلطة؟ بالتأكيد لا، واذا كانت النتيجة محسومة سلفا فهل يظل “الحق على لبنان”؟

نايلة تويني     

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Sen. Kerry: McChrystal-Rolling Stone Ought Not Distract from ‘Mission at hand”

June 22, 2010

by Michael Leon

Sen. John F. Kerry

What was that ‘mission at hand’ again?

Kerry Statement On McChrystal Rolling Stone Profile

Give the President and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission” 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) released the following statement today in response to Rolling Stone’s profile of General McChrystal:

“When General McChrystal called me this morning, I emphasized that my concern is our policy in Afghanistan and what it will take to be successful there. I respect General McChrystal as a soldier and always have. What’s most important is the 94,000 American troops serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan .

 Their safety and their mission should be the priority we stay focused on above all else. The Commander in Chief and his national security team, including his top commander on the ground, must have confidence in each other and confidence in the path forward in Afghanistan . It would be a grave mistake to allow this unfolding news drama to distract anyone from the mission at hand.

Now is not the time for Washington to be sidetracked by chatter. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and give the President and his national security team the space to decide what is in the best interest of our mission, and to have their face-to-face discussion tomorrow without a premature Washington feeding frenzy.”



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Obama Mistaken for a Pharaoh

June 22, 2010

by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Can Obama stick to his Cairo speech and deliver on his promises

President Barack Obama and a statue of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Four months after he took office, and in what seemed as a spontaneous and creative initiative, President Obama flew to Cairo and delivered a direct appeal to the Islamic and Arabic world for a “new beginning” with the United States, acknowledging historical mistakes made over centuries in the name of culture and religion that he said are now overshadowed by shared interests.

When President Obama- or the new king Tut, as some of the Egyptians liked to call him – called for a “new beginning” in U.S. relations with the Muslim world a year ago, he picked Cairo as the setting for his speech for what Egypt enjoyed as being the cradle of a unique ancient pharaonic civilization and modern geopolitical power respected by most African, Muslim and Arab nations. Nevertheless it was a provocative choice, since it was the capital of a close ally of the United States but also of the three-decades-old autocracy of Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak

When Obama declared his commitment to “governments that reflect the will of the people” and said that leaders “must maintain your power through consent, not coercion,” Egyptians thought they heard a subtle reference to their aging leader. One enthusiastic Egyptian shouted, “Barack Obama, we love you!”

People in the Arab world were really beginning to love Obama, they applauded his eloquent Cairo speech and saw in it, a new U.S reaching out to them, with the promise to become a fairer player in the arena of the Arab – Israeli conflict and hopefully supports – in a peaceful way – their longing for democracy which they are striving for.

President Barack Obama sounded like he was up to charting a new course on U.S. relations with the Middle East by implementing peaceful policies that encourage genuine democratic reform in the region, Obama undertook a bold mission of shattering the 9/11 myth of the clash of civilizations as we heard him in the speech quoting John Adams, the Koran, the Bible and the Talmud and stating that “as long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity.”

And may be that was one of the major criteria upon which Obama was nominated and granted the 2009 Nobel peace prize.
His address left the Egyptians heartened by his promise to listen to and understand the hopes and aspirations of Arabs and Muslims, despite the skepticism of many Arab observers of Obama’s stance on the Middle East policy.

That skepticism was understood because The United States, for half a century, has frequently supported repressive regimes that routinely violate human rights, and that torture and imprison those who dare criticize them and prevent their citizens from participation in peaceful civic and political activities.

U.S. support for Arab autocrats was supposed to serve U.S. national interests and regional stability. In reality, it produced a region increasingly tormented by rampant corruption, extremism, and instability.

Where did the U.S go wrong?

And this exactly where the U.S went wrong, it allayed with the dictators rather than the people of the Arab and Muslim world, thus it turned its back on Middle East democracy. This not only hurt the credibility of the United States, dismayed democrats and emboldened extremists in the region, but also sent a powerful message to autocrats that they could reassert their power and crush the opposition with impunity.

Such is the case with Egypt,– where an 81-year-old strongman, Hosni Mubarak, is ailing; where a solid and growing pro-democracy movement has gained hundreds of thousands of supporters; and where a credible reform leader has suddenly appeared, in the form of the Nobel Prize-winning former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei. The movement he leads is pressing Mubarak to lift an emergency law — imposed 28 years ago — that blocks political organizing and freedom of assembly, and to change the constitution so that next year’s presidential election can be genuinely democratic.

Mohamed Elbaradei, 2005 Nobel laureate for peace.

Meanwhile, Mubarak is in ill health and may not even make it to the next fall 2011 presidential election. His regime has systematically excluded or discredited new leaders who enjoy any public support, leaving the field of potential successors- except for his son, Gamal – deliberately impoverished.

One would think that under the circumstances both Egyptians and the U.S. government – with the Obama`s earlier assertion to support any emerging Mideast democracy – would be working to put in place an open political process so that any new leader could win the support of the people and thus ensure order in this important nation.

But the Egyptian government is paralyzed by the aging Mubarak’s refusal to look beyond his own rule. And the Obama administration, in pursuit of an illusory stability, stands mute and passive as the prearranged Egyptian presidential election dark consequences draws nearer.

Obama’s Cairo speech had the admirable goal of improving relations with the Muslim world, but the manner in which the administration has pursued this goal has been flawed from the beginning. It has focused almost exclusively on building bridges with leaders and governments. Yet in Egypt, a gap has developed between the government and the citizenry.

Obama has strengthened ties with the aging Mubarak while ignoring the concerns of Egyptians who looked up to him as a fair world leader and endowed him with pharaonic titles.

Could Obama stick to his Cairo speech and deliver on his promises, could he regain the spontaneity and the creativity that he lost somehow on the road to where he is today, could a president of the United States of America for once stand on the right side of history and ally with people in the Middle East, would Obama follow the trail of immortal humanists and peace maker politicians and earn his Nobel prize.

Some people argue that Obama’s face looks like pharaoh Akhenaten’s, a dignified Egyptian monotheist king whose reign and policy changed the whole world, but could Obama prove himself worthy of the resemblance.


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Israel as a Macabre Monster Losing Its ‘Horror Power’

June 22, 2010

by Michael Leon


Is Israel Chuckie –

There’s a joke of sorts among Israel observers that the Massacre on the Mediterranean epitomizes Israel’s weakness—Turkish human rights workers try to calm down over-weight Israeli commandos bent on the macabre acts of vicious children resembling characters in a bad Chuckie movie, the 1990s American horror film series.

Writes Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, “Terrified women with wounded babies in their arms, men with amputated limbs, demolished homes. When one sees a hundred pictures like that for every picture that shows another Israel, Israel becomes a monster.”

A monster indeed, losing its ability to frighten even as it becomes more desperate and deadly. Even as rightest thugs attack and beat Avnery.

Israel has become this murderous doll, Chuckie.

How long we keep the sick thing alive depends on how seriously we Amercans take the notion that all human beings the world-over have rights, worthy of our respect. 

Our national destiny depends on how we work to create the real world in which we all live, where the acts of a Chuckie are just some uninteresting film that we don’t have to see.

From Uri Avnery in CounterPunch:

Night. UTTER darkness. Heavy rain. Visibility close to nil.

And suddenly – a flash of lightning. For a fraction of a second, the landscape is lit up. For this split second, the terrain surrounding us can be seen. It is not the way it used to be.

* * *

Israel’s action against the Gaza aid flotilla was such a lightning flash.

Israelis normally live in darkness as far as seeing the world is concerned. But for that instant, the real landscape around us could be seen, and it looked frightening. Then the darkness settled down over us, Israel returned to its bubble, the world disappeared from view.

This split second was enough to reveal a dismal scene. On almost all fronts, the situation of the State of Israel has worsened since the last flash of lightning.

The flotilla and the attack on it did not create this landscape. It has been there since our present government was set up. But the deterioration did not start even then. It began a long time before.

The action of Ehud Barak & Co. only lit up the situation as it is now, and gave it yet another push in the wrong direction.

Uri Avnery at June Rally Before Being Attacked by Rightwing Thugs.

How does the new landscape look in the light of Barak’s barak? (“barak” means lightning in Hebrew.)

* * *

THE LIST is headed by a fact that nobody seems to have noticed until now: the death of the Holocaust.

In all the tumult this affair has caused throughout the world, the Holocaust was not even mentioned. True, in Israel there were some who called Recep Tayyip Erdogan “a new Hitler”, and some Israel-haters talked about the “Nazi attack”, but the Holocaust has practically disappeared.

For two generations, our foreign policy used the Holocaust as its main instrument. The bad conscience of the world determined its attitude towards Israel. The (justified) guilt feelings – either for atrocities committed or for looking the other way – caused Europe and America to treat Israel differently than any other nation – from nuclear armaments to the settlements. All criticism of our governments’ actions was branded automatically as anti-Semitism and silenced.

But time does its work. New tragedies have blunted the world’s senses. For a new generation, the Holocaust is a thing of the remote past, a chapter of history. The sense of guilt has disappeared in all countries, except Germany.

The Israeli public did not notice this, because in Israel itself the Shoah is alive and present. Many Israelis are children or grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and the Holocaust has been imprinted on their childhood. Moreover, a huge apparatus ensures that the Holocaust will not disappear from our memory, starting from kindergarten, through ceremonies and memorial days, to organized tours “there”.

Therefore, the Israeli public is shocked to see that the Holocaust has lost its power as a political instrument. Our most valuable weapon has become blunt.

* * *

THE CENTRAL pillar of our policy is our alliance with the United States. To use a phrase dear to Binyamin Netanyahu (in another context): it’s “the rock of our existence”.

For many years, this alliance has kept us safe from all trouble. We knew that we could always get from the US all we needed: advanced arms to retain our superiority over all Arab armies combined, munitions in times of war, money for our economy, the veto on all UN Security Council resolutions against us, automatic support for all the actions of our successive governments. Every small and medium country in the world knew that in order to gain entrance to the palaces of Washington, the Israeli doorkeeper had to be bribed.

But during the last year, cracks have appeared in this pillar. Not the small scratches and chips of wear and tear, but cracks caused by shifts of the ground. The mutual aversion between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu is only one symptom of a much deeper problem,

The Chief of the Mossad told the Knesset last week: “For the US, we have ceased to be an asset and become a burden.”

This fact was put into incisive words by General David Petraeus, when he said that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is endangering the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The later soothing messages did not erase the significance of this warning. (When Petraeus fainted this week at a Senate hearing, some religious Jews viewed it as divine punishment.)

* * *

IT IS not only the Israeli-American relationship that has undergone a fateful change, but the standing of the US itself is changing for the worse, a bad omen indeed for the future of Israeli policy.

The world is changing, slowly and quietly. The US is still by far the most powerful country, but it is no longer the almighty superpower it had been since 1989. China is flexing its muscles, countries like India and Brazil are getting stronger, countries like Turkey – yes, Turkey! – are beginning to play a role.

This is not a matter of one or two years, but anyone who is thinking about the future of Israel in ten, twenty years must understand that unless there is a basic change in our position, our position, too, will decline.

* * *

IF OUR alliance with the US is one central pillar of Israeli policy, the support of the vast majority of world Jewry is the second.

For 62 years, we could count on it with our eyes shut. Whatever we did – almost all the world’s Jews stood at attention and saluted. In fire and water, victory or defeat, glorious or dark chapters – the world’s Jews did support us, giving money, demonstrating, pressuring their governments. Without second thoughts, without criticism.

Not anymore. Quietly, almost silently, cracks have appeared in this pillar, too. Opinion polls show that most American Jewish young people are turning away from Israel. Not shifting their loyalty from the Israeli establishment to Israel’s liberal camp – but turning away from Israel altogether.

This will not be felt immediately either. AIPAC continues to strike fear into Washingtonian hearts, Congress will continue to dance to its tune. But when the new generation comes to man key positions, the support for Israel will erode, American politicians will stop crawling on their bellies and the US administration will gradually change its relations with us.

* * *

IN OUR immediate neighborhood, too, profound changes are underway, some of them beneath the surface. The flotilla incident has exposed them.

The influence of our allies is decreasing constantly. They are losing height, and an old-new power is on the rise: Turkey.

Hosni Mubarak is busy with his efforts to pass power to his son, Gamal. The Islamic opposition in Egypt is raising its head. Saudi money is trumped by the new attraction of Turkey. The Jordanian king is compelled to adapt himself. The axis of Turkey-Iran-Syria-Hisbollah-Hamas is the rising power, the axis of Egypt-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Fatah is in decline.

* * *

BUT THE most important change is the one that is taking place in international public opinion. Any derision of this reminds one of Stalin’s famous sneer (“How many divisions has the pope?”)

Recently, an Israeli TV station showed a fascinating film about the German and Scandinavian female volunteers who flooded Israel in the 50s and 60s to live and work (and sometimes marry) in the kibbutzim. Israel was then seen as a plucky little nation surrounded by hateful enemies, a state risen from the ashes of the Holocaust to become a haven of freedom, equality and democracy, which found their most sublime expression in that unique creation, the kibbutz.

The present generation of idealistic youngsters from all over the world, male and female, who would once have volunteered for the kibbutzim, can now be found on the decks of the ships sailing for downtrodden, choked and starved Gaza, which touches the hearts of many young people. The pioneering Israeli David has turned into a brutish Israeli Goliath.

Even a genius of spin could not change this. For years, now, the world sees the State of Israel every day on the TV screen and on the front pages in the image of heavily armed soldiers shooting at stone-throwing children, guns firing phosphorus shells into residential quarters, helicopters executing “targeted eliminations”, and now pirates attacking civilian ships on the open seas. Terrified women with wounded babies in their arms, men with amputated limbs, demolished homes. When one sees a hundred pictures like that for every picture that shows another Israel, Israel becomes a monster. The more so since the Israeli propaganda machine is successfully suppressing any news about the Israeli peace camp.

* * *

MANY YEARS ago, when I wanted to ridicule the addiction of our leaders to the use of force, I paraphrased a saying that reflects much of Jewish wisdom: “if force does not work, use brains.” In order to show how far we, the Israelis, are different from the Jews, I changed the words: “If force doesn’t work, use more force.”

I thought of it as a joke. But, as happens to many jokes in our country, it has become reality. It is now the credo of many primitive Israelis, headed by Ehud Barak.

In practice, the security of a state depends on many factors, and military force is but one of them. In the long run, world public opinion is stronger. The pope has many divisions.

In many respects, Israel is still a strong country. But, as the sudden illumination of the flotilla affair has shown, time is not working in our favor. We should deepen our roots in the world and in the region – which means making peace with our neighbors – as long as we are as strong as we are now.

If force doesn’t work, more force will not necessarily work either.

If force doesn’t work, force doesn’t work. Period.

– Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism. –







June 22, 2010

 by Gordon Duff ·


By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Do we actually call what we are doing in Afghanistan a war?  Recent estimates are that 88% of the people support what we call “the enemy.”  The German’s were much more popular than us during their occupation of France during World War 2.  What does that say about our friends?  Even Petain and Laval, the French Vichy traitors, had more public support that Karzai has in Afghanistan.

There is some indication that Afghanistan would rather have us change sides, fight Karzai, our Indo-Israeli puppet, and let us leave, believing we had won.  What have we accomplished?  We have created the greatest narcotics empire in the history of the world, recruited tens of thousands to fight against us and have bankrupted, not only ourselves but fragile Pakistan, whose flirtation with democracy is being smothered. 

 We could have simply attacked ourselves and cut out the middle man, unless, of course, the plan was for things to end up exactly as they are right now.


It isn’t like we have an excuse for forgetting Vietnam.  Even though all but 700,000 of the nearly 3 million veterans are dead, countless poisoned by Agent Orange, still, enough are around that remember the reality over the myth.  Vietnam was another American “Karzai,” a hated puppet, first Diem and then Thieu, extremists, weak, men of no vision nor character, the perfect match for their Washington DC counterparts. 

An honest casualty figure for Vietnam would make it the most costly war in human lives in American history. 

Hiding the fact that over one million Americans died of causes directly related to the war has been critical in denying, not only the cost of war as national policy but also as a massive social and psychological disaster, one America never recovered from. 

 When we lost our “best and brightest” in that generation, this wasn’t simple rhetoric.  The post Vietnam era has been the most significant period of backpedaling, personal income, standard of living, human rights and personal freedoms and, in particular, our lost vision of a great country.  “I went to Vietnam and all I got was Reaganomics, cancer and this t shit.”


Our only surviving questions are not about if we have a problem or if we can survive but which aspect of our failures secured our doom.  I could see it coming as soon as politicans and big haired preachers got close to a TV camera, we were in for it.  What started out as a mixture of Josef Goebbels and Elmer Gantry, tuned in to maximize racial hatred, soon morphed into the social disease of apocalypse myth, Islamophobia and the fruition of the hatreds Nixon and Agnew yanked from the darkest recesses of America’s soul.

I also knew we were doomed when many of the remaining elites, many Jews, began siding with the “know nothing” crowd of cross burning rednecks and grifters.  How I hate using the term “elite” when describing anyone with a remote understanding of human morality. 

The “norm” for “non-elites” was a clear indication of the regression after Vietnam, that the creative minds, the courageous hearts and the strong backs had been replaced by the mudane, the fearful and a generation of shirkers, big thieves at the top, little thieves at the bottom and the ignorant and self righteous in the middle, picked clean as a Safeway “chittlin’.  We had become a nation willing to believe anything, never looking at the real picture. 


Anyone remember that terrible president named Jimmie Carter?  Remember the high interest rates and how much the newspapers hated him, how Iran kidnapped our diplomats and how badly our military failed when called upon to help?  What you don’t remember is that when he left office America was 800 billion dollars in debt and it wasn’t going up. 

Reagan got in, instituted economic voodoo designed to build a country out of investors who opened mail, not workers who built things.  Now we are over 13 trillion dollars in debt and have nothing to show for it other than prisons overflowing, colleges our kids can’t afford to attend and poverty at levels not seen since the great depression.  If we ever put out a $3 bill, Reagan’s picture should be on both sides.  What we also bought was a love affair with baloney, much of it kosher.  Our biggest bite of the bad side of the apple was 9/11.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have said this but after 9/11 and the aftermath of continual lying, Jimmie Carter may have been our last president with gonads.  The proof?  The same news that tell us Iraq had nukes, Arabs with box cutters did 9/11 and that slavery is good for us tells us Carter was a bad president.  We stopped really looking back, but everything since that time has been debt, disaster and, quite frankly, fascism.


Some Americans still believe we attacked Afghanistan over 9/11, those who get their news only from sources approved by Senator Josef Lieberman, (I-srael), America’s new censorship guru.  With the stories about perjury and massive withholding of evidence that caused commission members to call for and investigation of their investigation and broad criminal prosecutions, being censored from the news as “bad for the war on terror,” nothing presented in mainstream news represents anything more than press releases written by people who belong in prison themselves. 

There is absolutely no conclusive proof that anyone who had ever been to Afghanistan had been involved in 9/11 and not a single shred of hard evidence tying Osama bin Laden to 9/11.  In fact, there is some hard evidence that does prove that a conspiracy involving domestic terrorists supported by Israeli nationals may have been entirely responsible for 9/11. 

 I am sick of hearing the phony Arab with box cutter story.  It has the ring of Tel Aviv fiction all over it, kosher baloney.


The easiest thing for an American to do is end up in prison.  Millions are locked up for everything from being poor to using drugs.  As with the savings and loan and Iran contra scandals of the Reagan presidency, the Bush/Obama regime has a warm place in its heart for drug runners, war criminals and banksters. 

 With an estimated 50,000 felons, unindicted and stealing tens of millions each day and an entire government, not just the Bush administration but new faces as well, war criminals, torturers, profiteers though fraud, bribery and potential complicity in world terror, we lock up Bernie Madoff, one guy.  We lock him up but don’t look for his missing $20 billion.

Americans, more of them than you can count, are up to their necks in the $65 billon dollar heroin business in Afghanistan.  With nearly $300 billion missing in audits of spending in Afghanistan, much of the same crowd, you would think they had taken enough.

With veterans living under bridges here in America, more going to prison every day and the financial criminals ramping up for their next “pump and dump” you would think that, at least Karl Rove or Dick Cheney would get a tax audit at least?

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June 22, 2010

 by Gordon Duff


By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

“…we’re talking about an event that was run by a rogue organization in the Israeli intelligence community” (Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren on the Jonathan Pollard  spy case)

In a shocking revelation today, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren admitted that super-spy Johnathan Pollard, responsible for the murder of 100 CIA agents and the turnover of 360 square feet of vital intelligence to the Soviet Union wasn’t really working for Israel at all. 

 In 1998, the government of Israel admitted that Jonathan Pollard was a spy for Israel, having stolen nearly every NATO defense plan needed to assure a Soviet victory in case of war.  Israel claims that a defense agreement, not in evidence, makes any information held by the United States, found useful to Israel, no matter its security classification, property of the State of Israel.  The Israeli news agency Haaretz quotes as follows:

“Israel’s ambassador to the United States on Monday said that convicted spy Jonathan Pollard was not working for Israeli government spymasters but for a rogue intelligence agency – apparently contradicting an official state position.”

In this instance, secrets meant to defend NATO from Soviet invasion were useful to Israel who traded them in order to get Jews released from Russia and allowed to immigrate to Israel.  Israel contended that it was their inherent right to that information because they had a vital need for it.  In that information, along with locations of all vital NATO nuclear facilities, were the names of all CIA operatives working behind the Iron Curtain and details on their contacts. 

 After this information went to Israel, then to Russia, all involved, CIA handlers, agents and their families were murdered, the biggest intelligence disaster in American history.

As a result of the Pollard incident, a reminder of the slaughter of the crew of the USS Liberty in 1967, many members of the FBI, CIA and US military had become extremely resentful of Israel.  The payment of $1 million to Pollard by the Israeli government in 2001, just prior to 9/11 and his status as Israel’s greatest living hero, was seen as proof of official sanction for his spying, sanction backed by the 1998 admission. 

Now, however, Ambassador Oren has announced this was simply cover for Israel’s embarrassment at its inability to control a massive rogue operation, not only of spies but special operations groups of every kind, working around the world but in no way, whatsoever, answerable to the Israeli government. 

Thus, the suppression of Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks, including the arrests in New York of Israeli operatives as terrorists involved in the attack, and their subsequent release, can now be understood.  As to what part this rogue organization that has misrepresented itself as government sanctioned, typically as Mossad, was involved in the planning of 9/11 is unclear other than their foreknowledge of the attacks. 

Were Israeli’s warned in order to incriminate Israel? An examination of casualty figures for the 9/11 attacks shows a number of victims with Jewish names but no holders of Israeli passports, although many were employed in the World Trade Center, the largest group of foreign passport holders by far.   Citizens of 57 countries perished on 9/11.

 By far the foreign country with the largest loss of life was the United Kingdom, with 67 deaths (excluding the overseas territory of Bermuda). India had 41, South Korea had 28 and Canada and Japan had 24 each. Colombia had seventeen and Jamaica, Mexico and the Philippines had sixteen each. Australia and Germany had eleven each, while Italy had ten.

There is absolutely no evidence that a rogue intelligence operation had contacted Israeli passport holders or given out any warning at all.  However, when the fact of the bizarre statistical anomaly in 9/11 casualties came to light immediately after the attack, news organizations universally misrepresented these facts, now in “public domain.”


With the admission of a conspiracy, operating worldwide with one goal, the destabilization of the State of Israel, not by attacks on Israel but by attacks done in Israel’s name, we enter a new region in the analysis of security threats.  Most serious, of course, is the door this opens regarding culpability for 9/11, something Israel has been increasingly subject to. 

Now it has become  clear that the ties between groups that were involved in the proven demolition of Building 7 and the Israeli terrorists arrested by the NYPD in no way lead to the Israeli government.  As to whether the companies owned by Israeli nationals whose catastrophic series of security failures on 9/11 contributed to the disaster are part of this terrorist ring is, in no way clearly established either.

A similar set of circumstances during the 2009 Christmas “crotch bombing” in Detroit may, however, bring into question the possibility of a pattern of conduct within this organization that Ambassador Oren has exposed. 

It remains to be seen how many terrorist operations that have been tagged as Mossad can be tied to the group Oren refers to.  Attempts to get details from the Israeli embassy in Washington on the make-up of these groups, whether they are Israeli nationals, Americans of Jewish heritage, former Mossad or IDF has not yielded results. 

Whether operations like the PKK attack on Turkey or the assassination of an Hamas agent in Dubai can be credit to this group remains to be seen.


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Sand flies infect U.S. forces with parasite that leaves them with ‘Baghdad Boil’

June 22, 2010 

by Michael Leon


Sand Fly

By Eric Athas in the Post

Mason Alsaleh was sound asleep when he was attacked at a U.S. Army outpost in northwest Iraq.What happened that August night last year left the 48-year-old interpreter disfigured and unable to sleep, his mind muddled with paranoia, his temper short.

 But Alsaleh’s injuries — including what look today like third-degree burns on his neck and arm — weren’t caused by gunfire or an explosion. His enemy that night was a tiny insect that injected a flesh-eating parasite into his skin.

Alsaleh, a Jordanian-born military contractor who works for Falls Church-based Global Linguist Solutions, is a victim of leishmaniasis, a disease carried by sand flies that is sometimes called Baghdad Boil. He remembers that when he first got to his mattress in an old building on a contingency base, it was covered in sand flies. He brushed them away.

“It looked like a bug bite,” Alsaleh said of the lesions he got on his neck and elbow while the brigade he was working with was based northwest of Mosul. “And it grew and grew and grew, and then started to ooze. Then it gets bigger and starts to ooze again.”

The disease, which the World Health Organization says affects 12 million people worldwide, received considerable media and political attention in 2003 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when hundreds of soldiers began to spot red bumps on their skin that swelled for weeks before rupturing into seeping wounds. The number of cases dropped to a handful a month by last year, but as more U.S. troops make their way into Afghanistan, doctors and military personnel are warning that the number of cases could tick back up.

Although it’s not commonly found in the United States, leishmaniasis is considered endemic in 88 countries and is most prevalent in Afghanistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sudan, Bolivia, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

When an infected sand fly bites a human, it injects the parasite under the skin, explains Col. Glenn Wortmann, chief of the Infectious Diseases Service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Ironically, the parasite stays alive by hiding inside the human body’s center of immunity: white blood cells.

“They multiply, they burst out of that macrophage [white blood cell], infect other macrophages, and there’s a progressive infection, eventually causing an ulcer in the skin,” said Wortmann.

But Alsaleh discovered that the treatment he began in March was almost as traumatizing as the disease itself. The medication that is commonly recommended by doctors is Pentostam, which is administered in 20-injection doses and is “associated with a tremendous number of side effects,” said Wortmann.

Most patients who use Pentostam are plagued for months by an aggravated pancreas and liver, as well as severe muscle and joint pains, said Wortmann. It isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration: U.S. military patients can get the drug only at Walter Reed, and civilians such as Alsaleh must obtain it through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other methods used to get rid of Baghdad Boil include a pill called fluconazole, sold under the name Diflucan, which Wortmann said is normally used for fungal infections. For leishmaniasis, it’s taken once a day for six weeks, but it’s not nearly as effective as Pentostam, said Wortmann.

In September 2003, one of the highest months of leishmaniasis infection among U.S. troops in the past seven years, the Defense Department issued a memorandum asking health-care personnel to “increase their level of suspicion for this disease among redeploying personnel from Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas where leishmaniasis is endemic and sandflies are prevalent.”

Soldiers were required to apply a DEET-based product to their bodies and to treat their uniforms with a repellent called permethrin. Col. Peter J. Weina, the director of the Leishmania Diagnostics Laboratory at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, said those rules, along with having more soldiers sleeping in buildings rather than in tents, have reduced the number of infections.


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Palestine Think Tank

Free Minds for a Free Palestine  .HomeContactPTT TVRESISTANCE &

STRATEGYAbout.Rich Forer – Cutting Through the Confusion about Israel/Palestine

By Guest Post • Rich Forer Jun 21st, 2010 at 16:16 •

[A letter I wrote to a college student who had written the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel asking the group to remove a billboard that said “Tell Congress. Stop Killing Children. No More Military Aid to Israel.” The billboard was erected in Albuquerque in the Spring of 2009 after the Gaza catastrophe.  I was the spokesperson.]

[If you click the link, the billboard in question is shown. D]

Hi J,

Thank you for your letter. First, I assume you are Jewish. Is that correct? Before I get into the specifics of your letter I want to talk about a few things you might find interesting. I do so because everyone involved in the Israel-Palestine issue has the potential to change the world from an arena of Us against Them into one of peace and respect.

But that requires undeviating self-honesty, which leads to compassion, clarity and understanding. Most people do not take up the challenge of looking deeply within for fear of what they might find. They revert to the safety of their presumed identity and the beliefs and images that make up and reinforce their identity.

Attachment to a limited or exclusive identity always carries with it the consciousness of Us against Them. The consciousness of Us against Them requires that there be unending conflict.

Perhaps you have it within yourself to look beyond what you currently see as all sides of the issue. I hope so because the lives of those who suffer on either side of the conflict depend upon people like you. Peace is only possible when we care for people on both sides equally. We do not have to like the other but we have to recognize that he is just as entitled to self-determination as us, that he has the same human needs for respect and dignity as do we.

 We also have to begin to understand and ask why the other acts as he does. Does his motivation arise in a vacuum or does it arise in relationship to our own behavior. Have we played roles in inciting his behavior? Until we take responsibility for the parts we play in the drama of human suffering and as it relates to the Israel-Palestine conflict, peace has no chance; and the people we claim to care about will continue to suffer and die, now and into the bloody future, in Israel, in Palestine and throughout the world.

They will die and suffer because our true goal is not their well being; our true goal is to maintain our presumed identity; it is to confirm the beliefs and images that we incorrectly associate with our personal and collective identity.

As long as we believe in a world of Us against Them we will see a world of Us against Them. Our emotions, our attitudes toward others, the way we interpret events, what we notice and what we don’t notice will mirror our world view, thereby confirming and reinforcing it.

In short, individually and collectively, we create the world we live in. Thus, the great struggle all of us must take on, if we truly want peace and respect between peoples, is to transform our consciousness from Us against Them to one of tolerance and understanding.

To be honest your letter can only fully be answered with a comprehensive look at the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The book I have completed would be a good reply but that is beyond the scope of our discussion for now. Obviously you are very passionate and concerned about this situation.

With that in mind I have included at the end of this letter a list of some well-researched books on the subject. Most of these writers have come to similar conclusions. Most of them are Jewish. Cypel and Hirst are famous journalists from France and England respectively. Cypel lived in Israel for ten years and his father was a Zionist leader. Ben-Ami, a historian and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Internal Security, was Barak’s chief negotiator at Camp David. Pappe, Shlaim, Segev and Morris are all famous Israeli historians and among the group known as “new” or “revisionist” historians because of their access to the primary archives and their refutation of common Zionist myths.

Reinhart and Kimmerling were two of the most renowned and courageous sociologist/historians in Israeli academia. King is an expert on collective non-violent action who has worked with Martin Luther King (no relation) and Jimmy Carter. Swisher was a VIP security guard at the Camp David talks in 2000.

He interviewed many of the participants. Baltzer, an American, is one of the most compassionate people I have ever had the honor to meet. She is brilliant, fair and honest. She cares about Israelis as well as Palestinians.

And even though he is particularly controversial, Norman Finkelstein, despite his blunt critique of Israel’s defenders, is included because of his genius and meticulous research.  You can watch him on YouTube.  I researched a great deal of the claims he makes by reviewing his sources. In every case he checks out perfectly.

I saw no distortion, obfuscation or deceit. Additionally, one cannot ignore the sources he cites. Truthfully, if one wants to criticize Israel, deceit is unnecessary. The words and confessions of Israeli leaders are more than enough.

Again, before I respond to the points you make about Gaza, let me tell you a little about me. I was born a few months before Israel declared its statehood. Both of my parents were first generation Americans. My mother lost 17 relatives in the Holocaust. My father and his family never discussed anything about that horror. My younger brother is president of one of the largest Jewish congregations on the east coast. My identical twin brother is an ultra-Orthodox Jew who lived for a few years in Israel.

Both of his daughters are married with children and live in Jerusalem. Some of their friends are militant Jews from Hebron and other messianic communities, who believe that the sixth commandment, which they translate as “Thou shalt not commit murder,” cannot be violated by killing any Arab, since Arabs are inherently predisposed to want to murder Jews; and Arabs are not human anyway.

One of my brother’s sons recently served in the IDF. I have a friend who lives in Ma’ale Adumim, in occupied territory outside of Jerusalem. She was a member of Kach (Meir Kahane’s group) for 15 years. She now holds Palestinian-Israeli dialogue groups and prefers a one-state solution.

I was extremely “pro-Israel” my entire lifetime. I was utterly supportive of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006. I joined AIPAC and donated to the Jewish Federation. Midway through the war in Lebanon, after arguments with close friends who were critical of Israel, I decided to actually engage myself in a real study of the Israel-Arab conflict.

My purpose was to alleviate my suffering and to find more historical arguments to refute the claims my friends were making. Up to that point in time I had only read Joan Peters’ highly influential book From Time Immemorial, a book that I learned has been universally debunked and called a “hoax,” “phony,” “worthless,” “recycled Zionist propaganda,” “previously modified and discredited Zionist propaganda,” etc. by scholars from Israel, Europe, the U.S. and the Jewish World Congress.

 I had used Peters’ research to justify my claim that there never were a Palestinian people; that Israel had always treated the so-called Palestinians kindly and had always bent over backwards for peace.

During my research that began in the midst of the Second Lebanon War I chose to study Jewish scholars only, knowing that if I studied the subject from the perspective of any Arab or Muslim scholar I would suspect bias. My study became a full-time and daily practice to this very day.

As mentioned above, many of the scholars I studied had access to the most primary of sources, among them the Israeli state, IDF, Ben-Gurion, Haganah, Palmach, and Central Zionist archives. I read the arguments of many Israeli officials, including a number of heads of Shin Bet (Israel’s Internal Security Agency) and I read numerous respected international publications (none Arab) including the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Yediot Aharonoth.

I also studied the websites of the Israeli ministries of Defense, Internal Security, Foreign Affairs and Health as well as respected Human Rights organizations such as B’Tselem, HaMoked (Center for the Defense of the individual), Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, OCHA (The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), UNICEF, the International Red Cross, National Lawyers Guild, Goldstone Report, etc., all of which (including the two Israeli NGO’s) at one time I would have suspected of being anti-Semitic.

I read from both sides of the divide including Alan Dershowitz, Aaron David Miller, Dennis Ross, Shlomo Ben-Ami, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and more. If I wasn’t sure who a source was I checked it out. I discarded anyone whose claims I could not verify through further research and I discarded anyone who appeared anti-Semitic and/or seemed to be promoting their own prejudices without, at the very least, solid proof from reputable sources.

I also randomly checked the sources of virtually all of the articles, books and publications I examined to make sure the author was not taking quotes out of context, was not distorting the real message his source was conveying or was not simply lying. All of the actual historians checked out well; and the human rights organizations, independent of each other are of a very similar mind. I doubt there has ever been a more solidly documented conflict in world history than the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Other than Peters the one author who was clearly distorting history for his own purposes is Alan Dershowitz. Anybody can debunk The Case for Israel. At one time Dershowitz was someone I admired but his spiteful and slanderous participation in the Israel-Palestine issue has only inflamed Zionists and given them apparent justification for their unjustified verbal attacks against not only Palestinians but honest and courageous scholars as well as Jimmy Carter, who is committed to a fair peace between both sides and without whose help in brilliantly brokering the Camp David Accords Israel would not exist in its present form.

 Remember, Dershowitz is not a historian; he is an attorney and his book is written with the mind of an attorney. He ignores and distorts evidence that could convict his client; and he obfuscates where obfuscation clouds any issue that could also convict his client. Unlike historians who start out with a hypothesis and do research to confirm, modify or deny the hypothesis, and who allow the facts to determine their conclusions, Dershowitz decides on the conclusions and then researches (or not) accordingly. To cite only two examples out of many, on page 184 he quotes Raji Sourani:

Even Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza and a strident critic of Israel, says that he remains “constantly amazed by the high standards of the legal system [sic].” [Dershowitz cites Greg Myre, “Trial of Palestinian Leader Focuses Attention on Israeli Courts,” NY Times, May 5, 2003].

Here is the actual quote from the NY Times:

Despite his many frustrations with the Israeli courts, Mr. Sourani says he remains “constantly amazed by the high standards of the legal system.” “On many issues,” he said, “when the courts are dealing with purely Israeli questions, like gay rights, I admire their rulings. But when it comes to the Palestinians, these same people seem to be totally schizophrenic’” (emphases added).

On page 42 Dershowitz says the following without citing source material:

The developing clash between the Jews of Palestine, led by David Ben Gurion, and the Muslims, led by the uncompromising Jew-hater, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, was not over whether the Jews or Muslims would control all of Palestine . . . . Instead, it was – realistically viewed – whether the remainder of Palestine was to be given exclusively to the Muslims of Palestine or whether it would be fairly divided between the Jews and the Muslims of Palestine, each of whom effectively controlled certain areas.

What is particularly egregious about this quote, which is nothing more than Dershowitz’s own made-up version of history, is that his primary source, Benny Morris, shows that Ben-Gurion’s intention was the opposite of what Dershowitz attempts to deceive his reader into believing. Dershowitz quotes Morris’s Righteous Victims 59 times in the first 83 pages of his book.

 He quotes Morris a total of 87 times within the 244 pages of the book. Here is what Morris (who is a Zionist and believes that Palestinians are “psychopaths” and “serial killers”) says in Righteous Victims, p. 138:

[Weizmann and Ben-Gurion] saw partition as a stepping stone to further expansion and the eventual takeover of the whole of Palestine . . . . [Ben-Gurion] wrote to his son, Amos: ‘[A] Jewish state in part [of Palestine] is not an end, but a beginning. . . . Our possession is important not only for itself . . . through this we increase our power, and every increase in power facilitates getting hold of the country in its entirety. Establishing a [small] state . . . will serve as a very potent lever in our efforts to redeem the whole country.

The above passage by Ben-Gurion expresses a common intention that he and the majority of Zionists shared for more than a decade before 1948. Confirmation of this can be found in many books on the subject.

Even though I am going to disagree with you I appreciate the fact that you are doing your own research. One bit of advice that I think is important for everyone is: Do not believe a thing anyone tells you about this issue. Find out for yourself through the most objective research possible, as I did and be sure to do it out of a sense of integrity.

Do not demean yourself by selectively researching the subject in order to prove to yourself that what you believe is accurate. Otherwise you will never discover your role in the suffering of others, nor will you discover how to alleviate that suffering. And you will never resolve your own anxiety and suffering. As a Jew you will always be left with the dilemma of victimization: Why does the world not understand my people and why is the world anti-Semitic juxtaposed against compelling evidence that is impossible for all but the willfully deaf and blind to ignore.

J, all that I am going to say here can be found in the many sources I list above or in sources available in my forthcoming book. I cannot divulge these readily available sources at this time because I want to protect the integrity of my book. I also want you to know that I have provided more than twenty Jewish supporters of Israel with evidence similar to what I provide in this letter.

I have asked them to examine my evidence and to read one book to either confirm or deny the beliefs they take for granted. Not one has been willing to read a book. Not one was willing to challenge his beliefs. All claim concern for their Jewish brethren, yet none have compassion for the Palestinians. I try to impress upon them that as long as people continue to distort the history of the Israel-Palestine problem and character assassinate the Palestinian people – as has been going on for over sixty years – peace will not be possible.

Their response is to ignore me or accuse me of being anti-Israeli. Denying reality, perpetuating an illegal and brutal occupation, character assassinating the people you need to make peace with is a road to more suffering, not just for the weak but also for the strong. Acknowledging the truth and working to restore integrity is indeed a road to peace. Who really cares about Israel and who really cares more about holding onto false and unexamined beliefs?

You start your letter with the statement that “we must look at both the Palestinian side and the Israeli side.” I agree but you have not really looked at the Palestinian side. Take, for example, the letter you quote from Tom Adam of Sderot. Yes, he has had to deal with fear of rocket attacks but why? Without condoning these rocket attacks we have to ask: Why have Palestinian groups launched these rockets?

Has Israel incited them? Is the launching of these primitive rockets the only way they know to let the world know that their parents, grandparents and children are being oppressed from birth to death? What about Palestinian children, whose lives are at the mercy of the Israeli military? Many of these kids have seen their father’s beaten by Israeli soldiers, their mothers humiliated and called “whores,” have seen violence committed by Israeli soldiers or settlers on a regular basis, yearn for a glass of uncontaminated drinking water, are malnourished, maimed, deaf, blind, paraplegic, amputees, have endured Israeli sonic booms that cause all kinds of trauma including bedwetting, nausea, miscarriages, nosebleeds, anxiety, muscle spasms, temporary loss of hearing, heart and breathing problems.

These Palestinian children are the lucky ones because they are not dead, the victims of rockets, bullets, white phosphorus and Israel’s common refusal to allow medical supplies into Gaza. Also, you should know that Israel fortified public buildings and constructed shelters to protect its Jewish population in the line of rocket attacks. You should also know that Israel did nothing to protect its Palestinian-Israeli citizens in their villages in the line of these same attacks.

You say the $30 Billion Coalition “depicts Israel as the perpetrator and sole cause of the atrocities committed during Operation Cast Lead.” I do not agree that the Coalition depicts Israel as the “sole cause of the atrocities,” the vast majority of which were in fact perpetrated by Israel. Rather they see Israel as the primary cause.

Israel, as military and civil and illegal occupier, whose force is thousands of time more powerful than the Palestinians, is the party that has the power to make peace. What is particularly counter-productive is Israel’s refusal to abide by international conventions and laws, which are designed to bring about a degree of civility between peoples.

Speaking of peace I will mention only one example of Israel’s continual sabotage or ignoring of peace proposals since 1948. That is the 2002 Roadmap for Peace that the Palestinians accepted in full. Israel “accepted” but with fourteen prerequisites. Among them:

[C]essation of incitement against Israel, but the Roadmap cannot state that Israel must cease violence and incitement against the Palestinians.” “The waiver of any right of return of refugees to Israel; No discussion of Israeli settlement in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza or the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem; No reference to the key provisions of U.N. Resolution 242.

Any objective research leads to the inescapable conclusion that Israel has never wanted peace; what Israel has always wanted is more territory. Israel’s greed has necessitated the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in order to grab their territory.

You may not be aware, for example, that Israel conspired with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1987 to create Hamas. Israel also armed Hamas. It wanted an alternative to the PLO. The First Intifada began in 1987. It was primarily nonviolent on the part of Palestinians (not Israelis). Israel arrested or deported most of the nonviolent leaders while allowing Sheik Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, to distribute anti-Jewish hate literature calling for the violent overthrow of the Zionist government.

It is far easier for Israel to portray the Palestinians as psychotic killers in order to divert the world’s attention from its strategy of land theft and ethnic cleansing and thereby deceive the world into believing the Israeli army is merely defending itself than it is to justify land theft and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians when their resistance is nonviolent.

You need to do a lot more research if you want to discover, as close as possible, the truth. Your research looks like it comes from either public Israeli government sources, which are notoriously unreliable, or Israeli apologists who have a record of justifying virtually anything Israel does. You also need to more carefully review the Goldstone Report. Israel committed terrible atrocities against civilians. Just because Hamas is also guilty of terror (to a significantly less extent than Israel) does not exonerate Israel of anything.

Israel has a National Information Directorate whose purpose is to coordinate the various sectors of the government apparatus into disseminating self-serving messages (propaganda) to the public. I do not trust the Israeli government to publicly admit to their crimes.

 To do so would hurt their image to Jewish supporters around the world who still believe in Israel’s “purity of arms” and it would implicate its leaders in war crimes for which they could eventually be prosecuted. Israel has always lied about its actions. Its history of lies is astonishing. I prefer to rely on sources that have nothing to gain and everything to lose with their admissions of honesty. Benny Morris:

For decades Ben-Gurion, and successive administrations after his, lied to the Israeli public about the post-1948 peace overtures and about Arab interest in a deal. The Arab leaders (with the possible exception of Abdullah) were presented, one and all, as a recalcitrant collection of warmongers, hell-bent on Israel’s destruction. The recent opening of the Israeli archives offers a far more complex picture. *

Akiva Eldar:

Without lies, it would be impossible to talk about peace with the Palestinians for 36 years while at the same time seizing more and more Palestinian land. Without lies, it would be impossible to claim that there is no partner for the road map, while at the same time injecting more and more money into outposts that the road map calls for dismantling. Without lies, it would be impossible to promise “painful concessions” in exchange for peace, while at the same time terming people who concluded such an agreement “traitors.”

Former Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence, General Yehoshafat Harkabi:

We must define our position and lay down basic principles for a settlement. Our demands should be moderate and balanced, and appear to be reasonable. But in fact they must involve such conditions as to ensure that the enemy rejects them. Then we should manoeuvre and allow him to define his own position, and reject a settlement on the basis of a compromise position. We should then publish his demands as embodying unreasonable extremism.

Moshe Dayan:

[The state of Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no – it must – invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge. . . . And above all – let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.

You say that the “fundamental truth is that this is a two-way conflict.” The Palestinians could end the conflict by lying down and allowing Jewish settlers, with the support of their government, to overrun them, allow them to take the remainder of their agricultural lands, their villages and their homes, and drive them out of the country into generations of poverty and homelessness. Is that a real peace?

The fundamental truth is that Zionism, and the lies perpetrated by its founders, leaders and supporters from the days of Theodore Herzl on, has initiated and perpetuated this conflict. If someone attacks you, tries to steal everything you own, abuses and humiliates your children and then tells the world that you are a liar who never owned the land in the first place would you accept that?” I do not know any person or country in the world who would passively accept the theft of their land. In 1948 Jews owned about 6% of the land of Palestine.

They now control 78% of the land outright, which both the PLO and Hamas have de facto accepted as irreversible. Additionally Israel has illegally seized or controls about half of the West Bank. And Israel maintains land, sea and air control over the Gaza Strip. In short the Palestinians subsist on about 10% of their indigenous homeland.

Mostly Ashkenazi Jews fought the British and the Arabs for a Jewish National Home. Their connection to the land called Palestine was far less than the connection Palestinians had and still have to that same land. Yet I know of no Jewish supporter of Israel who does not applaud the acts of the Haganah, Irgun and even Stern Gang for their roles in establishing Israel.

I know of no Jewish supporter of Israel who resents the uprising of Polish Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto against their Nazi oppressors. In order to dissociate Palestinian resistance from Jewish resistance Israel supporters have to make up myths to portray the Palestinians as not a real people, as inherently anti-Semitic, as murderous and hateful, as not the real owners of the land, as a psychotic society etc., etc. These myths are designed to deceive all of us.

They deprive Jews and others of their natural intelligence and compassion. Palestinian resistance, while mostly nonviolent, is similar to the resistance of any occupied people throughout history.

Israel did kill almost 400 children in Operation Cast Lead. I am not saying that Israel’s leaders said “let’s go kill Palestinian children” but there is no question that Israel’s leaders knew perfectly well that hundreds of Palestinian children and other civilians would die. Gaza is, after all, the third most densely populated place on earth, with 50% of its inhabitants less than sixteen years of age. Gaza has been a closed military area since 1967.

 Its citizens have nowhere to go to flee Israeli bombs and rockets. I suggest you look up Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine (or Strategy), which is designed to punish a civilian society for the actions of its leaders (a war crime). As General Gadi Eisenkot said after Lebanon:

We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.

Israel’s most eminent military strategist, Zeev Schiff said: “the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously… the Army . . . has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets … [but] purposely attacked civilian targets.” Former chief-of-staff Mordecai Gur, a moderate, admitted that Israel always targeted civilians (see Hirst).

Rafael Eitan, chief-of-staff during Israel’s destruction of Lebanese society in the early 1980s was an extreme hawk who served for years as Ariel Sharon’s second-in-command. He was responsible for the murders of hundreds of Egyptian POWs at the end of the Suez War. He proposed that for every incident of stone throwing Israel should build ten settlements. He said “the only good Arab is a dead Arab.” He was founder of the extreme right ultra-nationalist Tzomet party (Movement for Zionist Renewal).

Later in life he admitted to ordering his troops to brutalize prisoners and impose collective punishment upon Palestinians (both war crimes). He said: “I don’t believe in peace, because if they had done to us what we did to them we’d never agree to make peace.” Think of the implications of that statement. Yitzhak Rabin admitted that “ruling over another people has corrupted us.”

Operation Cast Lead was not “a reaction due to the Islamic Resistance Movement.” It was collective punishment designed to intimidate a people into rejecting Hamas; and it was a reestablishment of the deterrent force Israel relinquished to a certain extent in Lebanon. Ephraim Halevy, former head of Mossad and former National Security Director said: “If Israel’s goal were to remove the threat of rockets from the residents of southern Israel, opening the border crossings would have ensured such quiet for a generation.” 

Yuval Diskin, head of Shin Bet, acknowledged that Hamas is willing to accept a long-term ceasefire on the 1967 borders.

Amira Hass reported in Haaretz: “The Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said on Saturday his government was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.”

Jimmy Carter:

But one of the things that they [Hamas] committed to me that was very significant, and they announced it publicly, by the way, to Al Jazeera and others, was that they would accept any agreement that’s negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians if it’s submitted to a referendum in the West Bank and Gaza, and the Palestinians approve it.

That means they would accept Israel’s right to exist if that’s in the agreement and so forth.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times:

Henry Siegman, the president of the U.S./Middle East Project, whose chairman is [Brent] Scowcroft . . . told me that he met recently with Khaled Meshal, the political director of Hamas in Damascus. Meshal told him, and put in writing, that although Hamas would not recognize Israel, it would remain in a Palestinian national unity government that reached a referendum-endorsed peace settlement with Israel.

Regarding Hamas’s use of hospitals the Goldstone report states:

“The Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes.”

In 2006 Israel made a similar claim that Hezbollah embedded their forces within civilian areas in order to attract Israeli firepower. That claim was debunked by Human Rights Watch which clarified that most of Hezbollah’s rockets were “stored in bunkers and weapon storage facilities located in uninhabited fields and valleys.”

You are correct that “Eighty percent of the weapons used were precision guided, and 99% of all strikes hit their targets.” Yes, these precision guided rockets destroyed or killed civilians, whole neighborhoods, minarets where there was no room for any fighter to hide and launch rockets, and UN buildings. B’Tselem reported: “Whole families were killed; parents saw their children shot before their very eyes; relatives watched their loved ones bleed to death; and entire neighborhoods were obliterated.”

A United Nations General Assembly report quoted the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross): “The Israeli military ‘failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.’ Israel made no effort to allow civilians to escape the fighting.”

The Goldstone report is particularly damning. Again, please read through it. Goldstone rejected the HRC’s request to investigate possible war crimes by Israel until they altered the wording to include Hamas as a possible perpetrator.

The Israeli government acknowledged his “record of impartiality.” His findings are in line with the numerous human rights groups I mentioned earlier in the letter. IDF soldiers have testified to deliberately killing civilians, just as they have testified to similar brutalities in Hebron. The evidence is overwhelming. If Goldstone had not been head of the Mission there is a high likelihood that the Report would have been even more critical of Israel.

Goldstone, as any reasonable person knows, is not an anti-Semite. Eliyahu Yishai was Deputy Prime Minister during Operation Cast Lead. At the beginning of the invasion he urged the IDF to “bomb thousands of houses, to destroy Gaza.” Nine months later, as Minister of the Interior, Yishai slandered Goldstone as an “abominable anti-Semite” for heading a mission that concluded that the IDF did exactly what Yishai wanted them to do. Yishai is not a reasonable person.

Israel’s internal investigations were designed to cover up their atrocities. Chief-of-Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is not going to implicate himself or other Israeli officials in possible war crimes and crimes against humanity. Amnesty International responded to the IDF “internal investigation:”

The information made public only refers to a handful of cases and lacks crucial details. It mostly repeats claims made by the army and the authorities many times since the early days of Operation “Cast Lead . . . . It does not even attempt to explain the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths nor the massive destruction caused to civilian buildings in Gaza.  . . . [T]he army’s claims appear to be more an attempt to shirk its responsibilities than a genuine process to establish the truth. Such an approach lacks credibility.

Regarding rocket and mortar fire, from 2000 through 2008 Palestinian groups launched 8,088 unsophisticated rockets and mortars against Israel. From 2001 through 2008 eighteen Israelis were killed as a result of these attacks. Contrast those figures with the 7,700 sophisticated rockets that Israel launched against Gaza in nine months, between September 2005 and June 2006. From 2005–2007, 1,290 Gazans, including 222 children, were killed as a result of these kinds of attacks. Who is the perpetrator and who is the victim?

Your statement that “Israel warned the Palestinian people that election of Hamas to the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) would only cause more conflict” is a reflection of an authoritarian mentality that places one party in control over the lives of another. It is the same mentality that is at the root of this conflict.

 Hamas was elected in a fair election that the U.S. pushed for. Who is Israel to decide for the Palestinians who their leaders should be? Hamas is not monolithic, is not particularly corrupt as is Fatah, and is not a collaborator with the Israeli government. That is why they were elected and that is why Israel wants them removed.

 Hamas makes the continued dispossession of the Palestinian people more difficult. What you call Israel’s warning was actually a threat. Hamas has repeatedly stated its willingness to establish a long term truce. Ephraim Halevy and American strategists said that Israel and the U.S. have the ability to strengthen Hamas’s moderate wing and engage them in a peace process. But, as Moshe Dayan states above, Israel is not interested in a peace process.

If you honestly are looking for the truth your study of Operation Cast Lead is simply not thorough or objective enough. With regard to the ceasefire, if you read the analysis of The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC) you will learn that “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations, in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters). Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire.”

Israel never really adhered to the ceasefire. They only allowed the average number of trucks entering Gaza to increase from seventy per day to ninety, not the five hundred per day that crossed before Israel instituted its blockade. On November 4, 2008 IDF troops entered Gaza and killed six or seven Hamas soldiers because they were allegedly digging a tunnel for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Hamas said its members had been digging the tunnel for defensive purposes.

 On November 5 Israel sealed all crossing points into Gaza. Yossi Alpher, former Mossad official and former adviser to then Prime Minister Ehud Barak:

[The blockade is] collective punishment, humanitarian suffering. It has not caused Palestinians in Gaza to behave the way we want them to, so why do it. . . . I think people really believed that, if you starved Gazans, they will get Hamas to stop the attacks. It’s repeating a failed policy, mindlessly.

On December 14 a high-level Hamas delegation met with Egyptian Minister of Intelligence Omar Suleiman who, as mediator, had helped negotiate the June to December ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Hamas offered to end all rocket attacks in return for Israel ending its raids into Gaza and re-opening the border crossings.

Suleiman conveyed Hamas’s proposal to Israeli authorities. On December 19, Robert Pastor, a senior adviser at the Carter Center, met with Khaled Mashaal, who made the same offer. The next day Pastor passed Mashaal’s offer on to a “senior official” in the IDF, who told Pastor he would get back to him. He never did. As for the Egyptian offer, it is unclear whether Israel ignored the offer or rejected it outright. At an Israeli cabinet meeting on December 21, Yuval Diskin, said: “Make no mistake, Hamas is interested in maintaining the truce.” Diskin said that if Israel ended the blockade, Hamas would restore the ceasefire.

If you’ve gotten this far, I can tell you the billboard you object to was taken down by Lamar Advertising on April 28, 2009. It was designed to provoke reaction from a mostly apathetic public in the wake of a brutal invasion.

Calls from AIPAC supporters influenced Lamar’s decision. Rather than seeing themselves and Israel as victims these AIPAC people would be far more effective if they took the time to actually look at the evidence. None whom I have met have any intelligent knowledge of the actual history. For them, the childhood myths they were raised with supersede years of honest and objective research.

Their attitude is identical to fundamentalist Christians who believe non-Christians will go to Hell for their failure to accept Jesus Christ into their lives. They claim to care about Israelis but their continued support of a brutal occupation only demeans an entire people and perpetuates conflict for both sides of the issue. It also paints Judaism, once known for its commitment to ethics and justice, as a religion and culture of hypocrisy and bigotry.

Please do not fall into the trap that so many who remain unconscious of their participation in the suffering of others have fallen into. Please do not allow bigotry to influence you as it has influenced them. I urge you to avoid losing your humanity. Commit yourself to the truth. It is the only path that will free you of your own suffering and free others less fortunate than you of the suffering imposed on them by others.    Sincerely, Rich Forer

                                                         BOOK LIST

Anna Baltzer, Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories

Anna Baltzer, DVD: Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos

available at Excerpts on YouTube.

Shlomo Ben-Ami, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy

Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid

Sylvain Cypel, Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse

David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East

Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 

Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History

Baruch Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians

Mary Elizabeth King, A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance 

Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 

Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine 

Tanya Reinhart, The Road Map To Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003

Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948

Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: Israelis and the Holocaust

Tom Segev, 1949: The First Israelis

Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall

Clayton Swisher, The Truth About Camp David: The Untold Story about the Collapse of the Middle East Peace Process 

* Abdullah was king of Jordan.

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Haaretz, June 28, 2010

Jerusalem master plan: Expansion of Jewish enclaves across the city. The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve a master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

By Akiva Eldar and Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

The committee’s proposal would codify the municipality’s planning policy for the entire city. In essence, Jerusalem would uniformly apply its zoning and construction procedures to both halves of the city.

Before giving the go-ahead, the committee will give objectors to the plan 60 days to submit their reservations. This is the decisive stage in the planning process, because only rarely are plans altered.

Once the 60-day period expires, the plan’s approval is a fait accompli. Such a development would probably invite a hail of criticism from the Palestinians, Arab countries and the international community.

The United States has recently communicated its expectation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will prevent any change in the city’s status quo pending the conclusion of final-status talks with the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington early next month.

For over a decade, dozens of architects have worked to draw up the latest Jerusalem master plan, meant to replace the one in effect since 1959, eight years before the Six-Day War. While the plan did not attract opposition from the international community and leftist organizations, political developments over the last year – including the spat with the United States over the Ramat Shlomo building project – are likely to touch off renewed diplomatic tensions.

According to a document prepared by Ir Amim, an NGO that “seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city,” the master plan vastly underestimates the construction needs of the Arab population in the city. While the plan calls for 13,500 new residential units in East Jerusalem for Palestinians, updated demographic studies indicate that this amount barely represents half the minimum needs for the Arab population by 2030.

Ir Amim officials also said that while the plan allows for Palestinian construction in the north and south of the capital, it barely provides for an expansion of Arab construction projects in the center of the city, particularly in the area next to the holy basin.

The group added that the plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city. Ir Amim warns that the plan is likely to be perceived as an Israeli provocation because most of the Jewish building projects are designated for areas east of the Green Line.

In October 2008, the district committee opted to promote a master plan submitted by Moshe Cohen, formerly the chief Jerusalem planner at the Interior Ministry. Right-wing political parties in Jerusalem protested to Interior Minister Eli Yishai over the plan’s intention to add significantly larger residential areas for the benefit of the Arab population at the expense of green areas.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat instructed his subordinates to alter the plan in line with his policy of thickening the Jewish presence around the holy basin and the eastern half of the city.

Despite the National Planning and Building Committee’s decision to designate the City of David – which sits in the heart of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – as “a national park,” the new master plan allows for the construction of residential units in the area.

The Ir David Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase Jewish settlement in the City of David and whose heads are close associates of the mayor, has in recent years bought houses near the Old City in an effort to “Judaize” the area.

Last week, the Jerusalem municipality’s planning and building committee approved a controversial plan for the Silwan neighborhood that calls for razing 22 Palestinian homes built without permits and constructing a tourism center in their place. Barkat said the illegal construction in the area is preventing the municipality from building a tourism center, which would include restaurants and boutique hotels.

Earlier this year planning officials received an internal memo circulated by Cohen, who was later dismissed as head of the master plan staff. Cohen wrote that the plans for the City of David are an example “of the district committee’s ambitious intention to satisfy contradictory positions.” He warned that this would not pass legal muster.

Cohen objected to the city’s decision to convert 2,500 dunams that were listed as “open areas” into residential neighborhoods.

A Jerusalem municipality spokesman said in response: “Indeed, the plan will be brought for a discussion before the district committee.” A spokesman from Yishai’s office said: “Professional deliberations are taking place in an effort to approve the plan.”

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East Jerusalem fracas leads to heavy clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians

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 Akiva Eldar Nir Hasson


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