Monday, November 26, 2007
A much better schadenfreude is written by Glenn Greenwald. It's difficult not to smile at such a shellacking for Howard but the man did not really win plenty of friends amongst those in the left and even some in the centrist spectrum. And as Greenwald so poignantly noted:
"[But] nothing captures the core corruption and dishonesty of John Howard -- and that of other blind supporters of the war in Iraq generally -- quite as vividly as a May, 2003 speech he delivered to the Australian parliament, in which Howard hailed the Greatness of George W. Bush and praised Bush's "Strength and Determination" for having led the "American-led coalition" to "Decisive Victory" in Iraq...
The ignominious defeat of John Howard had many causes having nothing to do with his disgraceful pronouncements on Iraq (though his triumphant opponent, Labor's Kevin Rudd, did pledge to begin withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq). Nonetheless, it is still satisfying to witness such a well-deserved ejection from power of one of the last political leaders slavishly loyal to the disastrous Bush/Cheney/neoconservative war agenda."
Since my departure from Australia, it has been rather difficult to remain focused on Australian domestic politics. Kevin Rudd is still quite unknown in my outlook, but I am always skeptical. It is the Labour Party: they're no saints either. But he seems to be on his way to showing some backbone. As I am writing this, Rudd is planning a withdrawal from Iraq and signing the Kyoto Protocols. Now that's quite a change from the last twelve years.
Consequently, Mahir Ali describes Rudd something closer to a neo-Tony Blair or a mini-John Howard.
"In fact, Rudd’s main strategy throughout the campaign was to reassure all and sundry that in key areas of policy a Labor government would not be remarkably different from its predecessor. This was largely intended as a gesture towards voters who had grown sick and tired of Howard and his ministers, but saw no particular reason to take issue with the Liberal administration’s social or economic policies."
But Rudd's two gestures has certainly put him in the right direction so far. And a third gesture to the Aborigines of Australia is a big step towards the healing. You cannot picture Howard doing something of high temerity as this apology.
Ali's article is a good synopsis of what took down Howard.
"...arguably the biggest factor was an insidious piece of legislation dubbed WorkChoices. Its purported aim was to enhance workplace “flexibility” - which is neoliberal code for further empowering employers at the expense of employees. The Howard government, despite its best efforts, was unable to disguise the fact that this was an attempt to snatch away more of the basic rights that workers had won through long and arduous struggles during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Howard was also wrong-footed by his failure to anticipate growing popular concern over global warming: until some months ago he was an outspoken sceptic, insisting in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary that the jury was still out on the likelihood as well as the causes of climate change. He eventually switched his tune, but remained adamantly opposed to ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which reinforced the impression that the primary motivation for his unconvincing conversion lay in political realities rather than a change of heart.
The nagging suspicion has also lingered that his blockheadedness on Kyoto is not so much a matter of conviction as a measure of Howard’s obsequiousness towards the Bush administration. This embarrassing relationship is epitomized by Australia’s involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. A vast majority of the Australian public has consistently opposed this role, but this factor didn’t seriously hurt Howard electorally in the past, partly because the country’s small contingent suffered no combat casualties."
Howard had totally failed in most aspects of winning the public, and by pandering to a Bushite ladder of rich vs poor, it contributed to his spectacular downfall. The polls had him slipping in the eary months of the year, and despite some jargon that attempted to hide the discontent, Howard was deseated and with him the rejection of a ruling class that wanted to increase the growing divide between upper and lower classes. Yes, Rudd has not done anything to change it yet, and he may not do anything of major to note that could make a difference to the normal taxpayer, but it is a good feeling (an ephermeral at that) to see the back of Howard and his bullshit.
And I cannot help but rub it in, Howard was unable to even win his own seat of Bennelong.
So long Howard, and thanks for all the memories.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Lifting the veil, it is well known that this is going to go nowhere. It is being peddled by one Condoleezza Rice, who in a desperate effort to maintain diplomacy is basically backing both Olmert and Abbas in a corner. Rice is determined to see some progress in an already turbulent and misguided tenure as Secretary of State. And Bush is eager to see some rewards come his way, and what better way to do it than by brokering peace between what many has seen is a conflict that is eternally divided. But what is more evident is not that there is any real plan here, but that both Olmert and Abbas are too dependent on Washington not to go ahead and do as they're told. Olmert is hanging by a string and Abbas does not even have legitimacy with his own people. Both are pulpits of America, and both are reliant on the US to maintain their power.
But the skepticism is not just left to us analysts. Jim Lobe has reported that much of the Israel right-wing is doing its best to sabotage the Annapolis talks, and setting the stage for more failure that could prevent any hint of Israel giving up a thing (aka no territory).
"Hard-liners...close to...Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu...are mounting a concerted attack against next week's meeting which they fear could result in pressure on Israel to make territorial concessions."
There are familiar names, members of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Freedom Watch, but Danielle Pletka, the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies of AEI, "was particularly scornful of Abbas, whom she described as "powerless" and a "pretender," and of Rice who, she complained has "recently sought advice from not just Bill Clinton but, of all people, Jimmy Carter". Although Pletka did nail Abbas, seeing that he had no authority at all over the territories. (Perhaps it's because his government is illegal?) But Pletka sees that negotiating in accordance with "North Korea" is something of a terrible folly, even though North Korea did end up freezing their enrichment without a single bomb being dropped on them.
Interestingly enough, there is enough maneuvering going on that is leading to an entrapment for the Palestinians. Not only is the sole body who represents the Palestinians not invited, but Ehud Barak has already stated that if the talks fail, it is purely the fault of the Palestinians. If Israel concedes to not one single point of Palestinian contention, and if Palestinian concedes to everything but one, then it is still all the Palestinians fault.
"We mustn't allow ourselves to be blamed for the failure of the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, because we didn't make enough concessions to the Palestinians."
So can Israel be blamed at all for any failure? Or is the continued settlement construction, annexation of more land, a total completion of the Separation Barrier, the encirclement of East Jerusalem and usurpation of all the water resources just not part of the negotiation?
And what can happen if the talks fail? Well, total annexation of the West Bank.
"[I}f the summit does not yield the desired results...an increased international pressure on Israel to annex the Palestinian territories and establish a bi-national state within its borders."
That's all part of the bargain, is it not? If it were the fault of the Israelis, should the Palestinians have a claim to the Galilee and the Negev? Or how about Tel Aviv?
Those "stubborn" Palestinians are only rejecting what they are meant to reject. Every document offered to them has been totally unacceptable, and only acceptable to one who just wants a share of power, some kind of figurehead, to do another superpower's bidding. I am still unclear whether Abbas is that candidate but he sure is sidling close to it. He has been known to call for the blood of his own brothers. But he is not just another demagogue; he knows what he his doing, or he seems to know the game to play it so well. But Abu Mazen is not well-liked amongst the common people, and Hamas is on its way out also, despite the fact that they did win back in 2006. Hamas has been demonised and targeted, and they have been resilient but they are not impervious to all that is happening. They joined the political wing that was a figment of Israeli occupation, and now they're paying for being a part of it. The movement is slowly petering out, and with it, the hopes of a somewhat moderate leadership. Gaza is embroiled with tiny factions all wanting a piece of Hamas and Fatah for renouncing their armed struggle against the occupier. Now the Palestinians are caught with no one really to represent them.
So why are these talks going to fail? Ultimately, it is because they are no different from the other 'talks', that it is a 'joke' and it has no muscle in it at all. Annapolis does not discuss anything of importance to the Palestinians, and that is deliberate because every one of those points is "off the table", and are too extremist to even talk about, let alone attempt Israel to concede to it. So what are those points?
Well, East Jerusalem seems to be left out. This is the most important city for a future Palestinian state. Any process that leaves out the impending capital city is surely only a pathetic theatre of fools which leaves the West Bank totally cut off and split into isolated enclaves, all surrounded by Israel's military and their hardcore settlements. And that barrier seems unphased, and it is not going to be moved back to the Green Line, so the Palestinians are left with a fraction of what was proposed back in '67.
UN Resolution 242? Nope. This has been slowly removed from every talk until it was stripped totally. This is the core issue that sits deep down in every Palestinian, from the occupied territories and throughout the Diaspora. The omission of UN Resolution 242 further limits the context to a '67 issue, and not a '48 issue, absolving any crime that Israel perpetrated upon their Independence and what act created a refugee problem in the first place. And it is no accident that the Right of Return is left out; it is a callous act that enables Israel to do the unthinkable, and that is declare itself a state of superiority, Zionism that rules above democracy.
And that is the most odious distinction that Palestinians will ultimately reject. This insistence of recognising Israel as a Jewish state, is sure to leave plenty to scratch their heads over. For how is anyone meant to accept the fact that they are morally inferior to another ethnicity? How is a normal Palestinian meant to act when there is a state that embarks their rule over them? How is a child meant to know that he is an equal in every other country but not in Israel because the Jews have rights and you don't?
This is what Annapolis means, and the Road Map, and Olso, and etc. It is meant to deprive the Palestinians with anything remotely familiar to what we know as equality. Uri Avnery, probably the most active proponent of the two-state solution, sees through it:
"The sting is, of course, that this formula is quite unacceptable to Palestinians because it would hurt the million and a half Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The definition "Jewish state" turns them automatically into – at best – second class citizens. If Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues were to accede to this demand, they would be sticking a knife in the backs of their own relatives."
Oren Ben-Dor wrote a brilliant article over the insidious question of the Jewish state. The article needs to be read in its entirety, but Ben-Dor asks that in a post-colonial century where human rights is what is asked for in every country, then why is it necessary for the Palestinians to accept a state that regularly tramples on their human rights?
"In our world, a world that resisted Apartheid South Africa so impressively, recognition of the right of the Jewish state to exist is a litmus test for moderation and pragmatism. The demand is that Palestinians recognise Israel's entitlement to constitutionally entrench a system of racist basic laws and policies, differential immigration criteria for Jews and non-Jews, differential ownership and settlements rights, differential capital investments, differential investment in education, formal rules and informal conventions that differentiate the potential stakes of political participation, lame-duck academic freedom and debate."
Anyone pretending to adhere to human rights must not see Israel as a Jewish state, for it is the perfect anathema to a democracy. You cannot have both. Avnery has stated that there is no such thing as recognising the USA as a
"Christian" or "Anglo-Saxon state"? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a "Communist state"? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a "Catholic state", or Pakistan as an "Islamic state"?"
The two-state solution would only protect Israel, and the retooling of Zionism would only be of little importance when the Palestinians have given up that demand of a Jewish state. Ben-Dor again:
"The path of two states is the path of separation.Its realisation would mean the entrenchment of exclusionary nationalism for many years. It would mean that the return of the dispossessed and the equality of those who return and those non-Jew-Arabs who are now there would have to be deferred indefinitely consigned to the dusty shelved of historical injustices.Such a scenario is sure to provoke more violence as it would establish the realisation and legitimisation of Zionist racism and imperialism."
So if Israel is seen as a Jewish state, what was wrong with South Africa being an Apartheid state? Aren't we justifying the same thing since Israel can separate itself from non-Jews, treat non-Jews as if they had no rights in their state, and destroy any hint of resistance that could "threaten" the existence of a Jewish state? Is it not, once again from Ben-Dor,
"[an] accepted recognition of Israel right to exist is, as Joseph Massad so well puts it in Al-Ahram, to accept Israel claim to have the right to be racist or, to develop Massad's brilliant formulation, Israel's claim to have the right to occupy to dispossess and to discriminate. What is it, I wonder, that prevent Israelis and so many of world Jews to respond to the egalitarian challenge? What is it, I wonder, that oppresses the whole world to sing the song of a "peace process" that is destined to legitimise racism in Palestine?"
Everything we have fought for in the Palestinian cause would be to naught. Sure, there may be a state, or what everyone will call a state which does not resemble one, and the bloodletting may slow down immensely, but it would mean that the Palestinian is under total control of the Israelis. The Jews would have trumped non-Jews. And they would have no right to say otherwise because they have accepted Israel's right to do so. It's in their constitution. (Wait, they don't have one yet.) And not only that, the civil rights movement, the outcry against Apartheid, the struggle for equal rights for women, gay rights, human rights abuse, corporate abuse in Third World nations; all that we know and to uphold as the right thing to do is destroyed when we speak of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Partition is a flawed idea that has never worked, and right now we're seeing the true dilemmas that are ensuing because of it. The whole facade of Annapolis is only really propelled by Bush and co. trying to salvage something from an Administration that is largely known as the worst in recent history. While the record books is still for those in the future to judge him, Bush wants to leave his impression, and now just the bad one that people will recall in Iraq. Iran may be in the cards, but Israel-Palestine is definitely number one.
And with such a hollow preparation for peace, it is predicated for failure, dutifully upon the Palestinians. The cycle can only begin yet again. Nothing is asked of Israel; everything is asked of Palestine.
There may be two peoples, but they are both equal in the one land. It remains to be seen if Annapolis is going to undermine the egalitarianism we have all learned to take for granted and support those who are without rights. Whatever happened to fighting for (true) democracy? Why all the furore about Pakistan and its state of emergency, Afghanistan's repression of women, and Cuba's so-called dictatorship? Isn't it all about our belief in the equality of all men and women to live free from oppression and colonial rule? Here is the litmus test: will we pass it, or will we continue to deflect the Palestinians into something close to sub-human levels, not obligated to have any water, land, or citizenship of their own; no identity, no history and no future?
Friday, November 16, 2007
The latest report just iterated what is plain to see; after all, does it really matter if Iran were enriching to gain nuclear weapons? Perhaps if they did, it would have a deterrent that North Korea had to prevent a strike against them. But Iran is not foolish enough to provoke a (pre-emptive) retaliation that could enflict the destruction of their own regime, even though that's the intention of all this tough-talk. The intrasigent nuke-enriching is just providing the perfect pretext, along with the "supporting our enemies in Iraq" and "funding" Hamas and Hizbollah. Remind me again where Hamas is meant to get aid when there is a worldwide embargo against them?
Typically, Britian and the US also took a hit against the report, insisting that Iran "are in continuing violation of their international obligations under two unanimous UN Security Council resolutions," all the while missing the point that what Iran is doing is perfectly legal under the NPT. Unfortunately, Iran did not have the veto backing of the country who leads in vetos of UN Security Council resolutions.
So this will lead in more threats of "sanctions" and more rhetoric. Iran continues to enrich at the behest of the world, thumbing its nose at the UN because it is operating with "impugnity", or better yet, a rogue state. If only Iran could do it as good as Israel, with its good arsenal of nukes and ignorance of numerous resolutions.
What good would sanctions do anyway against Iran? Is the West going to stop trading with them for their oil and gas reserves? That seems rather far-fetched considering they are having a hard enough time keeping oil afloat in Iraq.
Monday, November 12, 2007
The documentary shines the light on how brutal the occupation can be, and how far Israel goes in trying to cover up the operations that may be a public relations disaster. Read the story of Meytal Sandler, who
"...had to handle the corpses of Palestinians...They [the authorities] then come and take the body to the clinic and tell us that before it's returned to the Palestinian Authority, we have to clean it, so there won't be any signs of blood on it, so they won't see what we've done to it. This was my task. Because he'd been struck in the head, but didn't die right away, and only bled and died slowly, he lost control of his bowels - that's what happens..."
The perversions not only get out of control, but also the lust for blood, for revenge, and for superiority. Libi Abramov was a Border Policewoman (at a checkpoint), and when her friend was a casualty during the first intifada, she punished every Palestinian, as
"[her friend] Hani in my mind. In one shift, there were as many as 70 or 80 people whom I delayed. I stood them in a line and decided that they would stay with me for the whole 12- to 14-hour shift, in the sun, in the heat. I made them stand there with me and had them do all kinds of exercises. I stood them in threes, as if they were my soldiers. I started shouting at them and asked them 'Why did you do that to Hani? What did she do to deserve it?' No one else was around except my fighters, and they accepted this; it didn't seem strange to them."
And to the point of complete humiliation; stripping down Arabs to their underwear. All of this is routine: the Palestinians are subject to the desultory IDF soldier. A bad day for a soldier could mean a disastrous one for those waiting at checkpoints, where many have called it their final breathing spot. Further in the article, after a couple of Palestinians disguised as women took a couple of lives, the women then was given the pat-down, as well as an exaggerated knife attack that got a Palestinian woman accosted and taken away (presumably for further punishment). An example of daily humiliation:
"The women are wrapped in layers and the smell is strong, and why should I be prying around their bodies? I passed a metal detector over them, including their private parts. Two or three security guards stood with their backs to me, but nearby. I tried to speak gently, but was horrified by the way I had to intrude."
Inbar Michelzon describes Gaza's checkpoints pointedly:
"It was like mouse cages. I was in shock. I'd never seen Palestinians from Gaza carrying sacks on their head, dressed in rags. The poverty stunned me. This is Israel's backyard. I had to change my skin to fit in there - everything was said there with shouting, everything's a matter of life and death."
This is a reality that Israel wants to shield from the world, and what former soldiers are finding harder and harder to come to grips with. Yarom's film shows that many do have a conscience in the actions that they undertake against the Palestinians, even though many more are rather zealous in their bigotry. The more that speak out, the more encouraging it will be for others to dare to speak out with them. Even though their crimes are well in the history books, it could provide the blueprint for more objectors to the IDF operations which violate international law and the Geneva Accords. Although still talking with a great deal of bias, which is clear from the following statement, Dana Behar's quotation does ring bells, because we can't go on pretending that nothing is wrong when there clearly is something askew with all of this, or we can't stop turning the other cheek, because
"it's important for people to know that something bad happened there. The IDF makes great efforts for it not to happen and I've never seen such big efforts made anywhere else, but still it happens. Because the reality is horrible. I want as many men and women soldiers as possible to talk about what happens there, for it to be a part of the discourse. I served there because my parents brought me up on the values of Zionism, on the idea that wherever I'm most needed is where I should go. I wanted to make a difference and I'd do it again despite everything."
Sadly for Dana and co, who are at pains to illustrate that Israelis are also victims of the occupation: a good-hearted individual who is corrupted by the violence and debasement that ensues from the trauma of battle, albiet a better off individual than the Palestinian, there are a coterie of examples that give credence to the contrary. I recall another references article from Ha'aretz, (included in another poignant piece by William Cook), that gave many testimonies of a different kind; one that suggests that the soldiers revel in the dismemberment of Palestinians.
""We Israeli Soldiers were put there to punish the Palestinians, says Ilan Vilenda, an Israeli soldier who served in Rafah during the first Intifada." "The soldiers enjoyed the 'intoxication of power', and had pleasure from using violence," according to the researchers. "What is great is that you don't have to follow any law or rule. You feel that YOU ARE THE LAW; you decide. Once you go into the Occupied Territories YOU ARE GOD." "We drove through Rafah. A man of 25 walked nearby. He didn't hurl a stone at us or anything. Then without any reason "X" shot him in the stomach. We left him lying on the sidewalk." "He captured a kid and broke his elbow. Broke the kid's elbow! Damn me if I'm not telling the truth! Then the NCO treaded on the kid's stomach three times, before he moved on. We couldn't believe our eyes But the next day we went on patrol with that guy and the soldiers started to imitate him." "A woman threw a stone at me. I kicked her with my foot at her crotch. I broke her. She can't have children any longer. Next time she won't throw sandals at me and when another woman spat at me she got the butt of my gun in her face. She can't spit now." "He was real big, some 30 years old. He refused detention. We hit him but couldn't force him down. We beat him and told him to lie down. Till he finally did. We drove to the base with him. By that time he had lost consciousness. He died some days later." These are the compassionate humanitarians that oversee the International laws that govern the responsibilities of the occupying forces. These are the soldiers we support. This is the way we protect America."
This story suggests quite a different view of what sort of integrity the IDF really purports. (Also not forgotten is the military censureship that prevents anything from going into print unless it passes the litmus test of the military, who is the body responsible to determine if the article or opinion piece is allowed to see the light of day.) The visions of granduer is not lost on those who still wish that a stint to police Palestinians is something to put in your resume. But the latter excerpt is the practice that is preached within the IDF.
The biggest difference Dana would has done is step out and take part in such a film. While it claims not to have any political stance, and it pains to do so in order to accommodate a dismal attempt at non-partisan, it still has a leaning towards the Zionist view, and the hope that something is to be done to rectify what is rotting at the Zionist core, and that speaking out is the best way to save Zionist Israel. Or possibly that is too harsh an accusation. Certainly most who are involved in the film shared the values that a Jewish State is meant for the Jews alone, but seeing what Zionism can do to the elephant in the room (the Palestinians), they could be questioning if it really is worth their humanity, or if all of this oppression is the epitome of the democracy they call Israel. It's reality like this that makes the most ardent Zionist question their values. Here I note Avraham Burg, former speak of the Israeli Knesset,
"Yes, we Israelis have revived the Hebrew language, created a marvelous theater and a strong national currency. Our Jewish minds are as sharp as ever. We are traded on the Nasdaq. But is this why we created a state? The Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or antimissile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed. It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive. More and more Israelis are coming to understand this as they ask their children where they expect to live in 25 years. Children who are honest admit, to their parents' shock, that they do not know."
It is no wonder that almost two thirds of the Jewish people choose to live elsewhere. And isn't that the way it should be? There should not be a need for a Jewish state, as a last refuge for Jewish people. They are accepted everywhere and usually reach the upper echelons of society. Because of such a progression, Zionism is now left to fade into the history books, as the allure of a haven for the Jews is rather alien when real anti-Semitism is minimal in the Western world. The inflation of anti-Semitism is a self-defeating purpose which only can hurt the Jewish population rather than help.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
"In 1997 the Netanyahu government resolved to build Har Homa, under pressure from the right wing, including Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert, now the P.M., who was adamant about the need for the development's 6500 units, for Israeli Jews.
Yasir Arafat was enraged by the plans. Har Homa would serve to cut the southern West Bank off from East Jerusalem, and would violate the Oslo accords, which called on Israel not to establish any more "facts on the ground." Arafat said Har Homa was likely to detonate an "explosion" among Palestinians and he would respond to Har Homa with the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
Arafat felt he had moved Clinton; but when he arrived at Andrews Air Force base to leave the country, he got a call from Dennis Ross. Ross informed him that Netanyahu was refusing to freeze the settlement.
Clinton did send a letter to Netanyahu asking him to postpone construction, the authors report. But Netanyahu blew that off.
The settlements have been a disaster, everyone agrees on that. And they arose from political pressures inside Israel...These settlements have been a pox on the peace process, as threatening to international security as Hamas's rise or Iran's noises about a bomb...Where is the American spine? Can you imagine an American president deferring to any other head of state in similar circumstances? The spinelessness can only be explained politically: that our government also has rightwing constituents engaged on the issue."
It's a sad fact that when a peace process is underway, with concessions forever asked of Palestinians while Israel refuses to define their borders, they accelerate their annexation, preceding to built more settlements in order to delegitimise a future Palestinian state, creating more "facts on the ground" to prevent any sovereignity, only autonomy "through the occupier". (Think Gaza.) All of this is not new. It is a testament as to how strong Israel's apologists are in the circles of policy wonks. Clinton balked. He didn't want to feel the sting of the Lobby. President Bush was helpless to halt Ariel Sharon in his continued building on the West Bank, even more so that he was called "a man of peace" for destroying more Palestinian homes and taking more of their land, at a time when Palestinian violence was rather low. Har Homa is typical. Tanya Reinhart concluded that
"But the new settlement is an irreversible act which eliminates their chances to ever get such rights [over Jerusalem]."
In conjuction, the US Government "vetoed two different UN Security Council resolutions that called on Israel to stop construction at Har Homa. The U.S. was the only country of the 15 members on the council to vote against the resolution." This along with the fact that the US (along with Israel and Micronesia) "were the only countries among the 185 members in the UN General Assembly to vote against an April 1997 resolution demanding an immediate halt to construction at Har Homa."
We hold our hopes in the mediator called the United States; but with all their actions in the Middle East, only a fool could accept such a broker in talks of peace. No one in the Third World is impressed with all the sophistry, no matter how many times you can call it "freedom", or a benevolent occupation, or a "peace envoy", it simply is not. The facts prove another result: that Palestinians are being tortured, assassinated, imprisons children, humiliated, starved, punished, prevented from leaving their homes or going to work, and "voluntarily" transferred.
But all that is necessary for the beauty that is Har Homa.
"As of 2006, there were approximately 2000 families, 8 kindergartens, 2 day care centers, 2 public grammar schools, 3 medical clinics, and 3 shopping centers."
It is important to remember that all of this construction is in violation of international law, further settlements encapsulates Zionist policy towards the West Bank, and continued annexation of Palestinian land is meant to halt any hope of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. By ignoring this, or perhaps by pre-empting such a fact of contiguity, Israel aims to halt any possibility of a state for Palestinians, that they want them off the land and driven to Jordan (or other neighbouring states). This is common knowledge, especially for any congressman in Washington. But what other state could thumb their noses at the biggest superpower today and adamantly refuse a condition that the US President maintains is an obligation towards a genuine peace settlement in this dialectic?
There are other shining examples of such dualities that seems to escape any scrutiny (but more and more people are seeing the equation for what it is). And the debate rages on. How long can people shut their eyes before they see that these people are dangerous and their cantankerous distortions of policy is detrimental to their so called desires for "peace"? Unless their true intention is an Israel hegemony over the Middle East region, to which it is not us of the left who support "terrorists" but rather the right who support "extremists", then the expose of Israel's espionage should only be intensified.
James Petras reveals in his stunning article that it was the Israel Lobby that pushed for the invasion of Iraq, and the theory of "Big Oil" only clouds the true reason that the war took place, and "[T]he price of the ‘exonerate Israel’ strategy is to overlook the powerful role that the Israel First lobby is playing" to promote future wars (ie Iran) and exculpate the occupier from their duties under the Geneva Accords.
"Analytically, the differences between Israeli state policy and the leading US Zionist organizations are, with very rare exceptions, indistinguishable... An analysis of the relationship between the Israeli state and highly placed Zionist officials in the Bush Administration reveals first and foremost that Tel Aviv laid out the strategic policies of eliminating Middle East regimes opposed to its ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories and unlimited expansion of colonial settlements in Occupied Palestine and the consolidation of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.
Mearsheimer and Walt describe the pro-Israel power configuration as a ‘lobby, just like any other US lobby’, a ‘loose collection of individuals and groups’ outside of government, acting on behalf of Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The power of Israel in the United States is manifested through a multiplicity of highly organized, well financed and centrally directed structures throughout the United States."
Although Petras may have overstated the influence of The Lobby to invade Iraq on Israel's behalf, the ratio between Bush and his corporate constituencies, Israel's good name and Cheney's lunacy is probably a question reserved for the historians of the future to analyse, it is beyond a doubt that the war in Iraq would not have taken place without the likes of "Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Madeleine Albright, Richard Holbrook, Sandy Berger, William Cohen" in Clinton's administration and "Ari Fleischer, Paul Wolfowitz, David Frum, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eliott Abrams, Irving (Scooter) Libby, David Wurmser and others" during Bush's reign calling for the attack of Iraq (and to remodel the Middle East in Likudnik style). With key players in very important posts, offensives against Lebanon last year and Syrian strikes make more sense when juxtaposed with the PNAC strategy set up for Bibi all those years ago. In addition to this, the aggressive Israeli position against the Palestinians, which provoke more retaliation and hatred, hence more "terrorism", is overlooked thanks to the many who want to control what is said about the Jewish State. The list of "anti-Semites" is growing, Zionism is losing its luster, more are aware of Israel's human rights record, and the people who count are getting sick and tired of the war in Iraq. So why is it that the only candidates we can look forward to are just as hawkish as the ones we despise today?
It is because of what we have been speaking about all this time: those settlements, that war in Iraq, the smearing of respected figures in public, contemn of those who are willing to go out of line to reveal the true nature of Israel's occupation and treatment of Palestinians, the belligerent status of Israel's position against its neighbouring states (ie Lebanon and Syria), and the looming war in Iran, one that has military experts clamouring to show that that would be a disaster that makes Iraq look like a cakewalk; the Lobby has usurped the leadership and have seduced the public into thinking that all of this is necessary for Israel's good, which equals to America's well being. We can bet on more bellicose planning for the region, all configured to benefit the Jewish State and accomodate their whims. They wanted Saddam removed: they did it for us. They want Iran to be hit: the tough talk is not just for show. They want to keep Syria at bay besides their desire to improve relations: so they bomb them and can get away with it. They want Iran to be nuke-free while they keep their nukes under wraps: done. They want the Palestinians to continue their suffering and to be decimated, forever removed from reality, removed from history, removed from consciousness: it happens as we speak. What is next can only be speculated.
Friday, November 9, 2007
"the Egyptian...had endangered world peace by neglecting Iran's nuclear programme."
Of course, it is more of a ploy, falling in line with Likudnik thinking, that dissenters either have a choice to join their ranks or be broken. With Iran being played up as the next Boogeyman out there ready to wreak havoc on "world peace", our friends are willing to strike at them for the sake of peace (without seeing the irony of making war to have peace). Naturally, El Baradei has been a thorn in every hawk's side by his findings that Iran still has no weapon, and the fact that if they do choose to proliferate, it takes them almost a decade to do so. But with Pakistan in an imbroglio, concerns about their weapons are still considerably less so than Iran's non-existent ones (or Israel's couple of hundred in their arsenal).
And who else is going to piggyback (or initiate) this attack? Why none other than our neighbour to the south, who has mobilised Iran attack plans.
"US defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent.
The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq.
Among the possible targets, in addition to nuclear installations like the centrifuge plant at Natanz: Iran's ballistic missile sites, Republican Guard bases, and naval warfare assets that Tehran could use in a retaliatory closure of the Straits of Hormuz, a vital artery for the flow of Gulf oil."
Tactical air strikes: haven't we been here before (as well as forged intelligence to suit our means)? Iraq has been blundered but that does not mean they cannot redeem themselves in Iran. After all, things have not changed one bit, have they. Here's Vice President Dick Cheney trying to withhold a report that is not to Washington's liking.
"A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear program, and thus make the document more supportive of US Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.
But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the unsatisfactory draft NIE, but without making its key findings public."
So we're back into an old loop. Bombing nations for peace. Weapons when there are none. Leaving out key findings to support the militant cause. Deriding old realists when they do not follow the script. And a sign of things to come.
"If the NIE includes both dissenting views on key issues, a campaign of selective leaking to news media of language from the NIE that supports Cheney's line on Iran will soon follow, as well as leaks of the dissenting views by his opponents."
Hubris at its best.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
""We wrote to President Bush, a man who believes in the Bible, to warn him against the terrible danger to which he is exposing his country by hosting such a conference," Rabbi Meir Druckman, one of eight signatories, told Army Radio. "The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. God punishes anyone who wants to force Israel to give up its land," he said, alluding to the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank."
Further testament that Israel is unwilling to give up anything for peace. They want to encroach the totality of historic Palestine. It is rather evident that Zionism is still prevalent, and the audacity of negogiations to give up the occupied territories will bring God's wrath to those who "force Israel to give up its land". Nevermind that it belonged to someone else for a century or so. For example, here's a peak into Benny Morris' ideology, an astute Zionist and the leading figure of the new historians:
""A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population." According to him the Zionists made a mistake to have allowed any Palestinans to remain. "If the end of the story turns out to be a gloomy one for the Jews, it will because Ben-Gurion did not complete the transfer of 1948. (...) In other circumstances, apocalyptic ones, which are liable to be realized in five or ten years, I can see expulsions. If we find ourselves (...) in a situation of warfare (...) acts of expulsion will be entirely reasonable. They may even be essential (...) If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified.""
Coupled with God's intention, the removal of Palestinians is a necessity for Israel's security, and an existential obligation. Or else face the consequences for having the temerity to offer peace:
"There is no doubt the New Orleans flood from the Katrina hurricane was God's punishment for dismantling the settlements...The recent fires in California should be considered the last warning..."
It's great to interpret things so distorted that it suits our ideology. Floods and hurricanes and forest fires; all coined for Israel's security. Even God is on their side.
Monday, November 5, 2007
In Benziman's article, he sees the mistake in collective punishment of Gazans, in the vain hope of stopping Qassam rockets terrorising Israelis in Sderot:
"Experience teaches that subjecting the Palestinians to collective punishment - roadblocks, curfews or economic pressure - has not brought the desired result. Just the opposite: it increases the terror organizations' motivation to strike at Israel, and increases the number of potential suicide bombers."
Such logic is missing in too many in these times. But those Qassams have to stopped, right?
"So what should be done to combat the Qassams? Instead of trying economic siege and power outages and limited raids and ground campaigns and targeted assassinations - how about trying to reach a comprehensive settlement with the Palestinians founded on a genuine Israeli willingness to give up the territories?"
It makes sense to me. Gaza has been the playground for Israel's demented militancy; it's a giant prison, caged in with guards and checkpoints and IDF incursions imminent every day. With the recent declarations that enable any IDF soldier to be "above the law" to enflict as much damage to Palestinians as possible (in Gaza), Qassam rockets provide the perfect pretext for any future raid into the Gaza Strip. Benziman concurs that,"
"They call the move a 'test': If it works, fine; if not, they'll think of something else."
So anything that happens in Gaza is subject to Israel's whims and desires; if we want to try out some bombs, let's do it in Gaza; if we want to try to snuff out some Palestinians, Gaza is the place to do it. It doesn't matter if it works (although it would be better if it did), because it's just Gaza: they're "hostile" people; they have brought this on themselves. Let's starve them but just enough to keep them alive (to continue starving); let's cut their power and show them how primitive they really are; let's cut their medical supplies and fuel and even curb their banking. So what if it works? I quote Benziman again,
"According to reports by Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel in Friday's Haaretz, the Israel Defense Forces recommended the sanctions even though it knew they would not achieve the declared goal: to stop the rocket and mortar shells."
It won't work but let's do it anyway.
As was showcased in video documenting the Gaza debacle, groups like Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigade, who responsible for the Qassam launchers, are involved in guerrilla warfare, all the while pushing Hamas from their moderate position into encapsulating armed resistance against Israel. In the video, the operation of Qassams were just a band of three to four people, with a tiny setup that has no centrality. A sanctions strategy is not going to deter these radicals who see violence as justified because of Israel's continued oppression and occupation of Palestinians. On the contrary, it will exacerbate an already fiery confrontation, vindicating all the rhetoric that extremist factions such as Islamic Jihad are preaching. While there are some who condemn the acts of sending Qassams (which allure Israel to strengthen its resolve), most Palestinians support them in their resistance against their occupier.
But this reality is something that the folks who unconditionally support Israel to the bitter end don't want you to read. They would rather the typical person be coccooned from all the bad things and bad people, so you can pledge your undying love to the Jewish State (while being in a foreign country). Palestinian suffering has no bearing; what counts is Israeli suffering (since they have suffered for an eternity and have finally found their way home). As of this writing, they are still giving it to Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, this time with two more pieces in the Washington Post. Philip Weiss attests that this is further evidence that such a entity as Jewish Power is an absolute in DC circles.
"I believe the Post has run a series of critical pieces on M & W. Shouldn't they give the authors or those who agree with them space to defend their point of view? (My sources tell me the Post has rejected a couple of pieces that would have backed M & W up...)"
This is only corroborated further by another piece (also commented on by Philip Weiss) that named figures such as John Hannah, Douglas Feith, Scooter Libby and Elliott Abrams as instrumental in opposing any initiative to implement the Road Map. When the Prince Abdullah (as well as Jordan's King Hussein) challenged Bush to do something about the Palestinian situation, the "cabal" in Rice's and Rumsfeld's offices opposed stating
"...that negotiation was just a reward for bad behavior. First the Palestinians had to reject terrorism and practice democracy."
So who is really impeding progress here? Any small measure to promote some kind of detente (at least) is rebuffed where it counts, and those who are not in line are derailed. The Palestinians are caught in the middle of a struggle between the elites on what is accepted and what is to be done. We're seeing a strong campaign to keep the Israeli centred viewpoint (even though it still is, most criticism directed at what would be best for Israel's survival, with the Palestinians a mere side factor in the matter), respected public figures such as Tutu, Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer continually subjected to vitriol, and the crusade hitting the institutions to prevent these people to speak (or debate), as well as an offensive against Israel's liberal newspaper which prints what is not fit to be printed. Even more dangerous is the fact that the Larry Franklin case seems to be losing momentum, thanks to more delayed tactics of the defense. This is a man who is undisputably working for Israel's benefit at the cost of American intelligence, and yet we're meant to see this as nothing wrong, all in a day's work. If there ever was a doubt that a Lobby existed to promote Israel's interests, the Franklin case is the stamp that sealed the envelope.
But this is what they don't want you to know. They'd prefer we remain the coccoon, similiar to those Israelis who are just inured to the occupation that the Palestinians don't even entitle a story in the front pages. We will be insulated from all that could potentially harm us, agnate the 9/11 aftermath that had us protected from all covert operations that had "blowback" effects. In the end this will not be the way towards anything besides mutual annihilation. There can be no understanding unless we engage with those we disgree with, and there will be no basis for peace unless Israel recognises Palestinian dolour and their birth of exile. If not then we can expect more "tests" from Israel.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
A new Jerusalem and Babylon
The relations between Israel and the the world's Jews, especially those in the United States, have always been fraught with hypocrisy. While everyone has been careful to pay lip service to Israeli democracy and its citizens' exclusive right to determine their fate, Jewish tycoons have known how to translate the millions they donate into influence and esteem.
The state, which managed to absorb millions of Jews and build a flourishing economy, continued its small-town mentality of kowtowing to the masters from overseas. The national institutions set up to prepare the future state's infrastructure - the Jewish Agency, Jewish National Fund, United Israel Appeal and World Zionist Organization - continued to be run as a hub of Israeli political interests combined with trips abroad to flatter philanthropists.
All Zionist parties are to blame for the present situation. They ceded control of national institutions to political interests and second or third-rate politicians who couldn't get elected to parliament.
A serious and open debate on the necessity and role of these bodies is long overdue. Why do we need an inflated, discriminatory organization like the JNF while forestry, environmental development and managing state lands should be the government's responsibility?
The Jewish Agency has succeeded in renovating itself in recent years by streamlining and focusing on domestic social projects, Jewish education in the Diaspora and fostering an affinity to Israel not merely for aliyah. But the JA will not be able to find a new purpose as long as it is dominated by narrow political interests and the whims of Jewish millionaires abroad.
The threat by a group of prominent donors to halt funds unless the Jewish Agency cuts itself off from the WZO - a blatant and patronizing demand as it may be - could accelerate a very necessary debate. The donors reflect the growing tendency among the large contributors to focus on visible results rather than perks.
When donors funnel millions to the United Jewish Communities, and on to the Jewish Agency, it helps them to rub elbows with the state's leaders. However, many are aware that to make any real difference, they must donate to independent groups like Taglit-birthright or Nefesh B'Nefesh. These are the ones who run the focused projects with Zionist goals.
In a way they are resorting to the methods of the great philanthropists Moshe Montefiori and Baron de Rothschild. Instead of sending money that would have barely sufficed for the Jews here to lead a meager existence, they came here and set up factories to enable independent community life.
The difference is that while those two came to a wasteland, Israel today is a sovereign state. The attempt to create an open, creative Jewish world modeled after Jerusalem and Babylon - activity centers that fertilize each other - will not work as long as the ties between Israel and the Diaspora are fixed in redundant obsolete patterns.
Raimondo points to The Lobby's effectiveness in suppressing dissent, and their ability to camouflage its intent to criticise Israel as unmerited attacks with a different agenda:
"What is this "unwritten contract" [with the US]? I'll tell you what it is: it's an agreement to censor anything and everything that offends the Lobby and its glorified, sanitized view of Israel. Here, after all, is a country that practices apartheid, imprisons children, and was founded on ethnic cleansing and bigoted religious obscurantism – and yet they present themselves to the world as a valiant little "democracy," a beleaguered outpost of "the West" in the midst of an Arab sea. It takes a lot of cosmetics to hide the true face of this dog, and that's what CAMERA is all about – prettifying an increasingly ugly reality. The Lobby reserves the right to censor any material that presents Israel in a more realistic light, and anyone who opposes them in their mission on behalf of a foreign power is smeared as an "anti-Semite."
He is relentless in his disgust at the efforts by CAMERA, who are attempting to "level the playing field" for Israel's supporters. There is simply too much outrage hitting the headlines that embarasses the Jewish State, and Levin at CAMERA is having none of it. Israel's policy is not in question: it's those who report on the atrocities are.
"Here is the totalitarian mentality of fanatic nationalists like Levin exposed for all to see: she and her fellow fifth columnists are lobbying a foreign government to interfere with freedom of the press in America, on behalf of foreign interests. It doesn't get much more disgusting than that, now does it?
Yeah, they have a "very free press" in Israel – much freer than our own, thanks to groups like CAMERA. In Israel, of course, newspapers like Ha'aretz regularly report on matters that offend the Lobby – such as, for example, the existence and unmitigated power of the Lobby itself – and CAMERA can't do a damn thing about it because their influence there is minimal. It's only in the U.S. – where they are bold enough to have called on the Israeli government to take legal action against American media – that they have the kind of power they need to close down debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East."
Everyone else can accept it, even Israel itself. But not in America. And it seems that they are steamrolling their way into attacking another Islamic nation starting with an "I". McGovern noted duly:
"The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, let the cat out of the bag while speaking at the American Jewish Committee luncheon on Oct. 22. In remarks paralleling those of Rice, Meridor said Iran is the chief threat to Israel.
Heavy on the chutzpah, he served gratuitous notice on Washington that effectively countering Iran's nuclear ambitions will take a "united United States in this matter," lest the Iranians conclude, "come January '09, they have it their own way."
Meridor stressed that "very little time" remained to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. How so?"
McGovern stresses the most important figure here calling for a strike on Iran is Dick Cheney, who is,
"a big fan of preemption, Cheney has done little to disguise his attraction to Israel's penchant to preempt, such as Israel's air strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.
Ten years after the Osirak attack, then-Defense Secretary Cheney reportedly gave Israeli Maj. Gen. David Ivri, commander of the Israeli air force, a satellite photo of the Iraqi nuclear reactor destroyed by U.S.-built Israeli aircraft. On the photo Cheney penned, "Thanks for the outstanding job on the Iraqi nuclear program in 1981.""
And Cheney seems to have a couple of tricks (or yes-men) up his sleeve in order to pull the trigger. All the Ahmadinejad talk, all the amendments that bypass Congress, and the actions that put the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organisation", connecting Iran with American casualties in Iraq, is procured to fit nicely that Iran is out to get the US in Iraq, and "wipe off" their best buddy, the Israelis. Well not on Cheney's watch. Pre-emption is the key.
No evidence. No worries. Repeat it enough times then it becomes a fact.
Here's an example:
"Less than two months after the cancellation of Mearsheimer and Walt’s talk at the Chicago Council, administrators at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, cancelled a scheduled talk by the Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu... [Julie] Swiler [an employee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas] was referring to remarks allegedly made by Tutu comparing Israel to Hitler. In the weeks after the University of St. Thomas cancelled Tutu’s appearance, it came to light that those comments attributed to Tutu were a fabrication. In paraphrasing remarks by Tutu in Boston conference, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, distorted Tutu’s remarks in a ZOA press release. The distorted version worked its way into the media and, in the words of the Jewish Daily Forward, “over time it acquired the status of a factual account.”"
Perfect fit. Put it on the page enough times and it becomes a "status of a factual account". It matters not that it was a baseless lie to vilify a person with stature. Only the marginal can be ignored. Others with prestige have to be accounted for.