Archive | May 20th, 2011

Zio-Nazi Historian writes of ‘pleasure’ at murder of pro-Palestinian activist



Harriet Sherwood


I was sent a link this week to a piece published in the Jewish Chronicle by historian Geoffrey Alderman, the opening sentence of which I found pretty shocking.

Under the headline This Was No Peace Activist, Alderman wrote:

“Few events – not even the execution of Osama bin Laden – have caused me greater pleasure in recent weeks than news of the death of the Italian so-called ‘peace activist’ Vittorio Arrigoni.”

Arrigoni, an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, was murdered in Gaza last month after being abducted by Islamic extremists. He was strangled with a plastic cord. Hamas subsequently killed those responsible for Arrigoni’s death.

His murder, wrote Alderman, “was immediately pounced upon by the western media as an affront to the civilised world”. This is indeed the case; many newspapers – including the Guardian – ran stories and profiles describing Arrigoni’s commitment to the Palestinian cause and the extremist stance of those who killed him.

But, wrote Alderman, “the truth is very different. Vittorio Arrigoni, a disciple of the International Solidarity Movement, had travelled to Gaza to assist in the breaking of the Israeli naval blockade. As a supporter of Hamas he was a consummate Jew-hater.”

He said Arrigoni’s Facebook page – in Italian – contained “explicit anti-Jewish imagery”.

I asked Alderman – who has occasionally contributed to the Guardian – whether he regretted recording his “pleasure” at Arrigoni’s death. “It’s still my view,” he told me on the phone from London. “He was a Jew-hater like Adolf Hitler. Yes, he deserved to die for being a Jew-hater. I rejoiced in the death of a Jew-hater. I have no regrets.”

Jeff Halper, an Israeli activist and academic, who knew Arrigoni well, said Alderman’s charges against him were “outrageous”.

“Sometimes things are so outrageous there simply isn’t a response. Vik [Arrigoni] was unique. He was political and he had strong opinions. But the idea that he would differentiate between someone Jewish and someone non-Jewish – there has never been a hint of that.”

Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told me he had no qualms about publishing the piece. “I have no problem at all with publishing it. I don’t agree with [Alderman], it’s not my view – it’s his.”

He rejected the description of Arrigoni as a “peace activist”. “He was a member of the ISM, for God’s sake. That’s not peace activism, that’s hard core Palestinian terror.”

Neta Golan, an Israeli founder of the ISM, denied the organisation supported terror attacks or backed Hamas. “The ISM supports the avenue of non-violent and popular resistance,” she told me. “It is a grassroots group, and we will work with anyone who wants to organise non-violent resistance. The ISM does not have a position on internal Palestinian politics.”

She also rejected suggestions that Arrigoni was anti-Semitic. “It was so obvious he wasn’t a racist. Absolutely he was not anti-Semitic.”

I never met Arrigoni and I don’t know what his views (if any) on Jews, as opposed to his views on Israel, were. Attempts to conflate opposition to Israeli policies with anti-Semitism are not new.

Scenes of Palestinian militants handing out sweets to celebrate suicide bombings or other deadly attacks are familiar – and sickening.

Now Alderman’s rejoicing in the death of a pro-Palestinian activist seems to me a new and repugnant development.

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European officials back Obama on 1967 borders for Palestinian state



Following Obama’s Middle East speech, German chancellor and EU foreign policy chief express support for basing peace deal on 1967 borders.


The European Union’s top foreign policy official is supporting U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to use the 1967 borders as the basis for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A spokeswoman said Catherine Ashton “welcomes the important statement delivered by President Obama.”

“We believe [Obama’s] actions and objectives find a clear echo in the work the European Union is doing,” Maja Kocijancic said on Friday.

Obama’s urged that a Palestinian state be based on 1967 borders, from before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Obama’s comments drew an immediate negative response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to meet with the U.S. president in Washington on Friday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also on Friday expressed support for Obama’s policy speech on the Middle East and said that basing a peace agreement on the 1967 borders could be the way forward

“I think the proposal of taking the 1967 border and of considering the exchange of territory – considering it and not dogmatically adhering to it – would be a good and manageable path,” Merkel told a news conference.

Germany is a strong backer of Israel but Merkel, during a visit to Israel in February, urged Israel to accommodate Palestinian demands for a halt of settlement construction.

Merkel said on Friday that the situation with regard to the peace process had changed since this year’s wave of popular uprisings in the Arab world.

“The peace process in the Middle East and the developments in the Arab area are very closely linked,” she said.

Ashton’s and Merkel’s words of support for Obama were echoed by the foreign ministers of Poland, Germany and France.

“We support (Obama’s) courageous message,” said Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski after a meeting with his French and German counterparts. “Barack Obama did what Europe has been trying to convince him to do.”

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US court: Iran must compensate terror victims’ families




A federal court in the United States ordered Iran to pay $600 million in punitive damages to the families of American citizens murdered and wounded in terror attacks in Israel.

Iran was named liable for its support of the two terror groups that carried out suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Gush Katif.

The first case involved a 2003 Jerusalem bus suicide bombing, which Hamas claimed. Plaintiffs in the case said Iran was legally liable in the deaths because it provided financial and material support to the Islamist group.

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth in Washington agreed and awarded the plaintiffs $300 million in punitive damages.

The second case – also awarded $300 million in punitive damages – involved a 1995 Islamic Jihad suicide bombing of a bus, that killed eight people and wounded dozens of others.

“The court … expresses hope that the sanction it issues today will play a measurable role in changing the conduct of Iran – and other supporters of international terrorism – in the future,” Lamberth said.

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‘West plots to cause drought in Iran’


Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the inauguration ceremony of Kamal Saleh dam in central province of Arak, Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that Western countries are plotting to generate drought in some areas of the world, including Iran.

“According to reports about climate, whose authenticity has been verified, the European countries have used certain equipment to discharge clouds and prevent rain-bearing clouds from reaching regional countries such as Iran,” President Ahmadinejad said on Thursday.

He made the remarks in the inauguration ceremony of a domestically-built dam in the central Iranian province of Arak.

Ahmadinejad said the matter would be pursued by Iran’s legal authorities, IRNA reported.

The Iranian president said such measures by European countries are aimed at creating tension and hostility in the maritime borders of regional countries.

“Just as it was said before, I believe that the war of the future will be the war over water.”

On May 16, President Ahmadinejad inaugurated a 484-megawatt solar thermal combined cycle power plant in the Iranian province of Yazd.

The solar thermal combined cycle power plant is the world’s first combined cycle plant that has used natural gas and solar energy.

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Zionist Romney: Obama ‘threw Israel under the bus’





President Barack Obama undermined the sensitive and delicate negotiations for Middle East peace with his outline for resumed talks between Israelis and Palestinians, the Republicans looking to unseat him charged Thursday.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Obama, whom he served as U.S. ambassador to China until last month, said the president undercut an opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians to build trust. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Obama “threw Israel under the bus” and handed the Palestinians a victory even before negotiations between the parties could resume. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said it “is a disaster waiting to happen.” Former Sen. Rick Santorum called the president’s approach “dangerous.”

Foreign policy has hardly been the center of the debate among the still-forming GOP presidential field. Instead, the candidates and potential candidates have kept their focus — like the country’s — on domestic issues that are weighing on voters and their pocketbooks. Obama’s speech provided one of the first opportunities for Republicans to assert their foreign policy differences with Obama and his Democratic administration.

Obama endorsed Palestinians’ demands for the borders of its future state based on 1967 borders — before the Six Day War in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. That was a significant shift in U.S. foreign policy.

“It is disrespectful of Israel for America to dictate negotiating terms to our ally,” Romney said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It is not appropriate for the president to dictate the terms.”

Instead, the United States should work with Israel to push for peace without acceding to the Palestinians, he said.

Campaigning here in the state that hosts the first presidential nominating primary, Huntsman also said the United States should respect Israel and work to foster trust between Israelis and Palestinians.

“If we respect and recognize Israel as the ally that it is, we probably ought to listen to what they think is best,” said Huntsman, who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush before surprising his party and serving Obama, a Democrat.

He acknowledged he didn’t watch Obama’s speech and was reacting to news coverage — or as he called it “the aftermath.”

Obama urged Israel to accept that it can never have a truly peaceful nation based on “permanent occupation.” That follows what other Republicans have painted as hostility from this administration toward a stalwart ally in the Middle East.

“The current administration needs to come to terms with its confused and dangerous foreign policy soon, as clarity and security are the necessary conditions of any serious and coherent American set of policies,” Santorum said in a statement.

Obama’s speech at the State Department addressed the uprisings sweeping the Arab world. Speaking to audiences abroad and at home, he sought to leave no doubt that the U.S. stands behind the protesters who have swelled from nation to nation across the Middle East and North Africa.

“We know that our own future is bound to this region by the forces of economics and security; history and faith,” the president said.

But the remarks only muddied things, especially on the dicey issue of Jerusalem, Pawlenty said.

“The city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided,” he said. “At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite who is leaning toward a run, called the border suggestions “a shocking display of betrayal” to Israel.

“Today President Barack Obama has again indicated that his policy towards Israel is to blame Israel first,” she said in a statement.

On Twitter, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin didn’t directly address the speech but urged Obama to publicly welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instead of ushering him into private meetings away from reporters, as has occurred on Netanyahu’s previous visits. The two leaders will talk Friday at the White House.

“Dear Mr. President, please allow our ally, PM Netanyahu, to respectfully arrive through the front door this time. Thanks, Concerned Americans,” she tweeted.

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Obama says U.S. will oppose U.N. acts against IsraHell




WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday rejected what he called an effort to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September.

In a Middle East speech, Obama went further than he has in the past in laying out the parameters of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but stopped short of laying out a formal U.S. peace plan.

He said any agreement creating a state of Palestine must be based on a 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. He said the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.

“For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state,” he said.

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Republicans charge Obama betrayed Zionism





WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top Republican contenders for the White House in 2012 accused President Barack Obama on Thursday of betraying staunch US ally Israel in his new long-shot push for Middle East peace.

“President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus,” thundered former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, generally viewed as the frontrunner in the race for the party’s presidential nomination.

“He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends,” Romney said in a statement.

Obama declared earlier in a sweeping speech on the Middle East that that the borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state must be based on 1967 lines, igniting an immediate clash with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has vigorously opposed a formula that would see Israel withdraw to the geographical lines in place before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and immediately rejected Obama’s formula.

The Israeli premier was to get a high-profile chance to offer his rebuttal when he addresses a rare joint session of the US Congress on Tuesday at Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, another likely 2012 contender, said in a statement that Obama’s proposal was “a mistaken and very dangerous demand.”

At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it’s never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”

Pawlenty, like many other Republicans, fretted about a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Islamist movement Hamas, branded by Washington a terrorist group.

“To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Pawlenty.

Some other potential candidates, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman — fresh off two years serving as Obama’s ambassador to China — had no immediate reaction.

But Republican Representative Michele Bachmann, who is close to the archconservative “Tea Party” movement and has been mentioned as a possible 2012 candidate, charged that Obama “has betrayed our friend and ally Israel.”

“President Obama: No friend of Israel and no friend of Middle East peace,” she said on her Facebook page.

“I believe Obama’s call for 1967 borders will cause chaos, division, and greater aggression in the Middle East and put Israel at further risk,” she said.

Support for Israel runs strong in the US public, notably among Christian conservatives who tend to back Republicans but also among Jewish voters who tend to back Democrats.

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Netanyahu prepares Zionist’s for war





Yossi Gurvitz

Netanyahu’s speech is not about peace; it is about enlisting Israelis for another Palestinian war

A few days back I participated in a Rubinger Forum event, which hosted UN special envoy to the Middle East, Robert Serry, who spoke about what might actually happen when September comes around. Serry, a professional diplomat, is someone it is a pleasure listening to, even when he’s glum; and he was rather glum.

He gave a brief description of the situation on the ground, noting that only after the Annapolis meeting did Israel officially start talking about a two-state solution (contrary to common myth, the Oslo Accords did not mention a Palestinian state). Serry said that as he sees things, and his estimate is supported by the World Bank and the IMF, the Fayyad government will manage the transformation into a state – but reminded his listeners that Fayyad controls only 40% of the West Bank. Israel rules the rest.

Serry was very disturbed by what may take place in September. To make a long story short, he estimated that the Security Council will fail to reach a decision on a Palestinian state – which is presumably Diplomatique for “the US will veto the resolution” – which may lead to a decision by the General Assembly, but the legitimacy of such a decision will be questioned. The process for such a move exists, but has never been used. Serry said that unless a political arrangement is reached by September, everything gained in the West Bank in the last few years may be lost. He elegantly avoided saying it, but he hinted a new round of violence may be upon us.

Violence does not serve the Palestinians; it serves Israel. The goal of Israel, then – once you move past the pious platitudes of “we always wanted peace” – is to goad the Palestinians into violence. Such an outburst will, Israel’s leaders seem to think, grant them legitimacy for some old ultra-violence of their own.

This seems to be supported by Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset on Monday. He set a list of conditions the Palestinians cannot accept. No Palestinian leader will accept the idea of Israeli enclaves (or, as Israel inelegantly calls them, “gushim,” blocs) inside Palestine, nor the presence of Israeli troops on the Jordan; they mean a Palestinian state both encircled and penetrated by Israel. As an aside, the Israeli demand for military presence on the Jordan is a relic of the 1990s, when the army felt threatened by an Iraqi invasion. That threat is no more; the demands are here to stay. Netanyahu refrained from speaking about a settlement freeze, East Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, demanded recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and kept referring to his opposition to the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. In short, Netanyahu stuck to his old method: Say “yes, but…” and add six impossible terms before breakfast.

There was something odd about Netanyahu’s speech (Hebrew). He spoke of a girl, who, while marching in Bil’in, carried a large house key. He waved this incident – assuming it did happen; Netanyahu’s connection to reality is somewhat frail (Hebrew) – as proof that the struggle with the Palestinians is not on the 1967 lines but rather on the 1948 ones. He said “they want our houses in Jaffa, Ramla, Haifa.” Jaffa and Ramla were Palestinian towns in 1948; Haifa had many Palestinian residents. Netanyahu did not speak of Tel Aviv, or Ein Harod, or even Jerusalem; he was speaking of towns that were clearly Palestinian in 1948, and stressed the words “our houses.” The reference to Bil’in is also puzzling: The par-excellence example of a non-violent struggle against so clear an injustice that even Israel’s Supreme Court, whose Justitia’s eyes are blindfolded with guncloth so she won’t recognize her kidnappers, noticed it and ordered it to be corrected. It can hardly be considered an error; a political speech by the prime minister – assuming it wasn’t written by Sarah Netanyahu, in which case all bets are off – is meticulously examined before he declaims it. This is no error; this is forethought.

So why did he speak as he did? I believe Netanyahu wants a clash with the Palestinians in September. Like Golda Meir in 1973, he is looking for a war, because he thinks it may let him keep the territories he holds, which for him are more important than peace. That’s why he talks about war for the home: He knows most Israelis would return Shvut Rachel or Goliath’s Testicles to the Palestinians without having to think about it twice. So he has to convince them the war is not for the loony hill settlers, but for their own homes. This is what Ehud Barak did, before he went to the talks with Arafat in 2000: Prepared the Israelis for war. He who wants war, should pretend to seek peace.

To get what he wants, Netanyahu will have to frustrate the Palestinians until they blow up: To snatch away their state, which is almost within reach. Netanyahu goes to the US, I think, to make it clear to Obama that he wants a veto in September, and that he controls congress. To Israel’s misfortune, a large segment of the American population has strong emotional ties to it. As the Chinese and the Cubans learned, this means an irrational policy by the US towards their country, a bear’s hug which is supposed to improve their situation but in fact worsens it. Netanyahu may well control congress through AIPAC, and Obama did not show, so far, a real willingness to confront him.

War, for Netanyahu, is good for two reasons: It will put an end to the two-state solution, and it will postpone for many years the necessary international debate about the only option left, a bi-national state. After all, you can’t discuss this while a war rages on, and the IDF will make sure war will always rage on. And in the meantime, Israel will do what it did best throughout most of its existence: Settle the West Bank and disinherit the Palestinians.

Israel could pull this shtick in 2000, when the IDF happily used Palestinian violence and went to town. I strongly suspect it won’t again. You can’t fool all the people all the time. One must hope the international community will realize Netanyahu’s ploy, and will say a loud “yes” to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, not an inch less or more, in September. The Palestinians, for their part, will have to commit themselves to the end of the conflict; Serry notes that Israel owes its existence to a UN resolution, and so will Palestine.

If that’s not how it will play out, if Netanyahu is allowed to win, then we’re probably done for.

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Growing Internal Debate as Pakistani Military Seethes at US Attacks


Pakistani officials have been very public in their criticism of recent anti-US border raids and drone strikes, but a much more serious debate is ongoing among the rank-and-file soldiers who view the incidents extremely gravely.

Though analysts don’t see the debate as having any major impact on the military leadership, there does seem to be a growing crisis of confidence in them, and the backlash againr for many years in a nation where the US is constantly trying to improve military ties.

The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a key city with a major military site, was a significant embarrassment, but was made doubly so when the US managed to invade and attack the compound without anyone in the military apparently noticing.

This would have been bad enough, but incidents keep cropping up which are raising the tensions. US helicopters attacked a border post in Pakistan earlierthis week, and yesterday Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Michael Mullen made a point of publicly declaring that Pakistan’s military had been “humiliated” by the US ability to attack with impunity. It is a humiliation that many will likely not forget.

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Obama, NATO Insist Gadhafi Will ‘Eventually’ Fall



Now two months in, the Libyan War is a hot topic among analysts primarily for the total lack of any concrete changes on the ground. Sites are bombed, offensives and counter-offensives stall and ultimately a war officials were warning might be a stalemate virtually from day one continues with no end in sight.

It is in this context that two high profile comments from President Obama and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen were given, in an attempt to quiet growing concerns that the war was hastily entered into.

Time is working against Gadhafi,” Obama declared, adding that he would “inevitably leave or be forced from power.” Obama’s speech did not address what is perhaps a more pressing matter on Libya, that the 60 day deadline for a war with no Congressional resolution is less than 24 hours away.

I am confident that combination of strong military pressure and increased political pressure and support for the opposition will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime,” added Rasmussen. He gave no indication as to how long “eventually” will take, but given his support for the Afghan War through 2014 and beyond it is a good bet he will continue to be confident no matter how many years go by with no progress.

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