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New study debunks IPCC myths about Amazon rain forests

By Richard Taffe | March 11, 2010

(Boston) — A new NASA-funded study has concluded that Amazon rain forests were remarkably unaffected in the face of once-in-a-century drought in 2005, neither dying nor thriving, contrary to a previously published report and claims by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We found no big differences in the greenness level of these forests between drought and non-drought years, which suggests that these forests may be more tolerant of droughts than we previously thought,” said Arindam Samanta, the study’s lead author from Boston University.

The comprehensive study published in the current issue of the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters used the latest version of the NASA MODIS satellite data to measure the greenness of these vast pristine forests over the past decade.

A study published in the journal Science in 2007 claimed that these forests actually thrive from drought because of more sunshine under cloud-less skies typical of drought conditions. The new study found that those results were flawed and not reproducible.

“This new study brings some clarity to our muddled understanding of how these forests, with their rich source of biodiversity, would fare in the future in the face of twin pressures from logging and changing climate,” said Boston University Prof. Ranga Myneni, senior author of the new study.

The IPCC is under scrutiny for various data inaccuracies, including its claim – based on a flawed World Wildlife Fund study — that up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically and be replaced by savannas from even a slight reduction in rainfall.

“Our results certainly do not indicate such extreme sensitivity to reductions in rainfall,” said Sangram Ganguly, an author on the new study, from the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute affiliated with NASA Ames Research Center in California.

“The way that the WWF report calculated this 40% was totally wrong, while [the new] calculations are by far more reliable and correct,” said Dr. Jose Marengo, a Brazilian National Institute for Space Research climate scientist and member of the IPCC.

Paper available here (PDF)

Richard Taffe
rtaffe@bu.edu
617-353-4626
Boston University Medical Center

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | Comments Off on New study debunks IPCC myths about Amazon rain forests

Climategate: the IPCC’s whitewash ‘review’ is the AGW camp’s biggest mistake yet

By Gerald Warner | The Telegraph | March 12, 2010

It looks as if the tottering IPCC has just made its biggest mistake yet. Twenty-four hours after the announcement of an “independent” inquiry into certain aspects of its activities it is possible to make a considered assessment of its significance. By any reasoned analysis, it is not only a whitewash but one in which the paint is spread so thinly as to be transparent.

First, who appointed this review body? Those two iconic standard bearers of climate science objectivity, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC head (still!) Rajendra Pachauri. There is nothing like being judge in your own cause – it secures a less damaging verdict. Ban Ki-moon is the clown who, on a visit to the Arctic last September, despairingly proclaimed that “100 billion tons” of polar ice were melting each year, when the sea-ice around him had just extended itself by half a million square kilometres more than at the same time the previous year. Pachauri, among many other solecisms, is also the buffoon who denounced criticism of the IPCC’s absurd claims about melting Himalayan glaciers as “voodoo science”.

Then there is the review’s terms of reference. It has four remits: to analyse the IPCC process, including links with other UN agencies; to review use of non-peer reviewed sources and data quality control; to assess how procedures handle “the full range of scientific views; and to review IPCC communications with the public and the media. So, most of its activity will relate to reorganisation of the IPCC’s propaganda operation and how it can be beefed up.

Nowhere are there proposals for it to revisit, in depth, the IPCC’s 3,000-page 2007 report and repudiate the vast range of inaccuracies and downright fabrications it contains. Instead, the review panel has to report by August so that its meaningless conclusions on a variety of irrelevant issues can be used to sanitise the IPCC’s next report, to be prepared at a meeting in October.

As for the personnel, the review will be conducted by the Inter-Academy Council and headed by its co-chairman Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, who recently broadcast on Dutch radio a complacent statement about the “consensus” on climate science. The Inter-Academy Council is a representative body for a number of national academies of science, most of which are committed to the climate change cause.

So, a very obvious whitewash and presumably very satisfactory to the IPCC camp. Nevertheless, I repeat, it is probably the most serious mistake the AGW fanatics have so far made. This is because they have seriously underestimated the amount of trouble they are in. Any competent political spin doctor (and the AGW scam is pure politics, not science) would have told them that, as things stand in 2010, they had one last chance – and only one chance – to salvage their bogus crusade.

That was to allow a genuinely independent investigation, including highly qualified sceptics, to analyse the 2007 report and expose all its fallacies – which are already in the public domain in any case. They could then have apologised, sacked Pachauri (which they will probably do anyway) and prepared an equally mendacious but more sophisticated report, jettisoning the more extravagant scare-mongering for the time being, and so clawed back wavering support among the public.

Instead, they have opted for a very obvious whitewash, discredited from the day of its launch, that will provoke hilarity and increased scepticism when it reports. After that, there will be no road back. We should be grateful that the arrogance and over-confidence engendered by their longstanding immunity from challenge (but not any more) prompted the AGW fraudsters to create so inadequate a smokescreen.

This investigation is very good news for sceptics – not because it will denounce any significant flaws in the AGW imposture, but because it will not. AGW credulity is already a minority faith; but there is a further constituency of waverers, ready to break off like a melting iceberg from the main floe, whose final defection will mean the AGW movement is deprived of critical mass. This pathetic attempt at a cover-up could well be the catalyst for that decisive departure. Think about it and be glad.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | 1 Comment

Ahmed Moor: Why I am for academic boycott

Two moral principles that compel us to boycott Israeli academia

By Ahmed Moor | March 12, 2010

The boycott of Israeli academics and academic institutions has always made me a little uneasy. We all read books by Israeli academics that at their humanist best elucidate and inform, and at their racist worst reveal something about the Zionist zeitgeist. I read Ha’aretz, Ynet and the Jerusalem Post on a daily basis – and communicate pretty regularly with Israelis through email (the majority of whom admittedly, are anti-Zionists). Despite all this, I do support the academic boycott. The issue is very muddy, however.

The issue of academic boycotts has achieved renewed attention here in Beirut after a Beirut-based publishing house decided to translate Amos Oz’s novel “A tale of Love and Darkness.” Oz’s books have previously been published in Arabic in both Egypt and Jordan, but the context is a little different here; Lebanon is still at war with Israel and anti-normalization currents remain strong, as they should. More recently, a professor at the American University of Beirut, Sari Hanafi, co-authored a book with two Israelis at Tel Aviv University – something that has angered many people here. Lebanese civil society is currently organizing around the issue, which is an explosive one. Hanafi appears to have made a poor decision.

Academia is usually a bastion of (relative) liberalism anywhere in the world. A recent study helped explain why; it’s something to do with type-casting. Opponents of the academic boycott of Israeli institutions can plausibly argue that Israeli academics mostly need our support and historically resist the jingoistic anti-intellectualism that runs rampant in Zionist society vis-à-vis non-Jewish human rights and anti-Zionism. I am sympathetic to their arguments, which is why I have so much trouble with this issue. But academia is easily segregated into different global disciples. What I mean to draw attention to is the fact that engineers are not post-colonial scholars and vice versa. That fact enables us to draw finer distinctions.

There is a straightforward case for boycotting Israeli engineers and others who directly enhance the occupation by, for instance, building unmanned drones. These are not the cases I wish to discuss here.

Instead, I’ll put forth a hypothetical case. Dr. Z is an anti-Zionist history lecturer at an Israeli institute of higher learning who actively contributes to the delegitimization of Zionism through his research. He feels strongly that Palestine/Israel ought to be one country and that Jewish privilege has no place in a modern democratic state. He is, in every way, an ally to the cause for equal rights in Palestine/Israel. So, why do I feel he should be boycotted?

After a lot of thought and discussion with friends, I managed to identify two principles that offer a decision-making framework on the issue of academic boycott: coercion and parity.

Boycott is a coercive measure adopted to influence the behavior of different actors. Because Israel is a democracy for Jews, it follows that Jewish people in Israel have an opportunity to correct the racist government policies of their government and society. However, there is no evidence that most Israeli Jews have the desire to relinquish Jewish privilege in Palestine/Israel. Many Israelis will decry the evils of occupation and military administration of a civilian population, but very few of those are actively willing to confront the extremists in their midst or in their government. Therefore, our boycott effort is specifically aimed at making the lives of Israeli thought leaders more difficult, so that they can exert the democratic pressure that is their sole purview to bear. It is this coercive element of BDS that compelled Avraham Burg to describe BDS as a form of violence.

I respectfully disagree with Burg; Zionist Israelis can hardly be counted on to relinquish their racial privilege in the absence of pressure. More importantly, BDS is an expression of Palestinian agency which is non-violent according to more traditional definitions of violence. I hope the reader will forgive me for not attempting to define violence in this context.

The case of Dr. Z is resistant to the coercive component of our analysis. As an anti-Zionist Israeli who actively contributes to undermining Zionism, his behavior already conforms to liberalism’s standards, which are our standards. I do not agree with those who argue that if Dr. Z is truly an anti-Zionist, he must leave Israel and all it stands for behind, like the awesome Ilan Pappe. On the contrary, the Palestine/Israel I hope to see one day will rely on these people. Nor does the argument that Dr. Z is a necessary casualty in a sledgehammer boycott, which by definition is all-encompassing, sit well with me. The idea of collateral damage is inherently illiberal and immoral in my view.

This is where the parity principle can be engaged. Much of the important revisionist (post-Zionist?) scholarship that emerged in the past twenty years from Israel – which we rely on a great deal – emerged from an exclusivist Zionist state framework. The archival material available to Israeli researchers is simply not available to Palestinian scholarship. The Zionist state, through its institutions, has created a structural bias for Jewish scholarship in Israel. Whether that material bias is employed by Dr. Z to undermine the state or not is irrelevant in this context. Dr. Z is afforded access, exclusively because of his privileged role as an Israeli Jew. That access is not available to scholars from the Islamic University in Gaza or Birzeit University in the West Bank, for instance. The much more obvious restrictions on movement imposed by Israel on Palestinian scholars only underline my point here.

Forgetting the state of war that exists between Lebanon and Israel for a moment, let Dr. Hanafi travel abroad to promote his book with Israelis when he is capable of traveling abroad to promote a book with Palestinians from the occupied territories. Let Dr. Z promote his anti-Zionist scholarship in tandem with his peers from Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip.

This is the principle of parity as I understand it.

Putting aside the theoretical framework, there are particulars which merit discussion. When Benjamin Netanyahu presented his dissembling and obfuscatory vision for a ‘two-state solution,’ Bar Ilan University provided him with a platform for his dissembling and obfuscation. The fact that Bar Ilan University embraced such an intellectually dishonest policy is important (and my claim that Bar Ilan embraced the policy by providing a platform is debatable) but not unique. Academia is supposed to provide a safe haven for competing (but illiberal? Harvard and Kramer?) ideas, and the free marketplace of collective idea adoption by laypeople acts as the litmus test by which all ideas (and products) are tested.

But I believe that the Zionist state has co-opted the intellectual legitimacy afforded by academia to its own ends. One strong example of this was Ehud Barak’s decision to upgrade the status of Ariel College, which sits in an illegal settlement, to Ariel University. In that case, the military governor of the occupied territories made a political decision to enhance the prestige and increase the funding of an institute of higher learning for whatever reason – it’s not important why he did it. To its credit, the Israeli academy strongly protested Barak’s decision.

I am making a personal judgment here that the reader may disagree with, that Israeli academic institutions are not independent of the Zionist states political aims and goals. I believe that Israeli institutions of higher learning are actually Zionist institutions of higher learning partly as a result of structural issues (funding, tenure, access, etc…), but also as a result of lived experience. The daily lives of academics and the environments they exist in inform their scholarship. In the case of Zionist Israel, that experience taints scholarship. It is true that there are Neve Gordons in Israel, but their scarcity and marginalization in the dominant Jewish Israeli society reinforces rather than disqualifies my judgment. Again, the reader may disagree here.

I mentioned earlier that we have relied on Zionist Israeli scholarship for our own understanding of history. And it is true that Zionist Israeli scientists have provided crucial breakthroughs for the material advancement of humanity; an Israeli woman – Ada Yonath –  recently received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her pioneering work in that field. But the gains they have helped us make in medicine, technology, and numerous other fields are subordinated to liberal considerations. Scientific research is already restricted by our ethics. Psychology research, for instance, cannot expose subjects in a study to harm, construed broadly. This was not exactly the case when Stanley Milgram conducted his experiments on human suffering and proximity, from which we learned a lot, but our societies have grown since then. Israeli technology may one day cure me of cancer, but do I really want to live in world where those advancements are evaluated independently of the repressive regime in which they are realized?

To sum up, I believe that there are two moral principles that compel us to boycott Israeli academia. First, we seek to coerce Israeli thought leaders, a large portion of whom are academics, into behaving humanely towards their neighbors by more closely binding their individual activity to that of their state. Second, we seek to enforce parity across scholarship. The Zionist Israeli state is largely responsible for the extant disparities, and we are obliged to treat its academics in the same way.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

The Decline of Israel: Interview with Jonathan Cook

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By New Left Project | March 12, 2010

In a wide-ranging interview with the New Left Project, Nazareth-based journalist Jonathan Cook describes the increasingly repressive nature of Israeli society and the prospects for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict

NLP: What did you make of Ehud Barak’s recent comparison of Israel to South Africa?

JC: We should be extremely wary of ascribing a leftwing agenda to senior Israeli politicians who make use of the word “apartheid” in the Israeli-Palestinian context. Barak was not claiming that Israel is an apartheid state when he addressed the high-powered delegates at the Herzliya conference last month; he was warning the Netanyahu government that its approach to the two-state solution was endangering Israel’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world that would eventually lead to it being called an apartheid state. He was politicking. His goal was to intimidate Netanyahu into signing up to his, and the Israeli centre’s, long-standing agenda of “unilateral separation”: statehood imposed on the Palestinians as a series of bantustans (be sure, the irony is entirely lost on Barak and others). Barak knows that Netanyahu currently has no intention of creating any kind of Palestinian state, even a bogus one, despite his commitments to the US.

The last senior Israeli politician to talk of “apartheid” was Ehud Olmert, and it is worth remembering why he used the term. It was back in November 2003, when he was deputy prime minister and desperately trying to scare his boss, Ariel Sharon, into reversing his long-standing support for the settlements and adopt instead the disengagement plan for Gaza. Olmert’s thinking was that by severing Gaza from the Greater Israel project – by pretending the occupation had ended there – Israel could buy a few more years before it faced a Palestinian majority and the danger of being compared to apartheid South Africa. It worked and Sharon became the improbable “man of peace” for which he is today remembered. (Strangely, Olmert, like Barak, defined apartheid in purely mathematical terms: Israeli rule over the Palestinians would only qualify as apartheid at the moment Jews became a numerical minority.)

Barak is playing a similar game with Netanyahu, this time trying to pressure him to separate from the main populated areas of the West Bank. It is not surprising the task has fallen to the Labor leader. The two other chief exponents of unilateral separation are out of the way: Olmert is standing trial and Tzipi Livni is in the wilderness of opposition. Barak is hoping to apply pressure from inside the government. Barak is eminently qualified for the job. He took on the mantel of the Oslo process after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and then tried to engineer the final separation implicit in Oslo at Camp David in 2000 – on extremely advantageous terms for Israel.

Can he succeed in changing Netanyahu’s mind? It seems unlikely.

NLP: Avi Shlaim recently described Tony Blair as ‘Gaza’s Great Betrayer’. What do you make of Tony Blair’s role as Middle East peace envoy?

JC: Blair is a glorified salesman, selling the same snakeoil to different customers.

First, he is here to provide a façade of Western concern about mending the Middle East. He suggests that the West is committed to action even as it fails to intervene and the situation of the Palestinians generally, and those in Gaza in particular, deteriorates rapidly. He sells us the continuing dispossession of the Palestinians in a bottle labelled “peace”.

He is also here as a sort of European proconsul to advise the Americans on how to repackage their policies. The US has become aware that it has lost all credibility with the rest of the world on this issue. Blair’s job is to redesign the bottle labelled “US honest broker” so that we will be prepared to buy the product again.

His next task is to try to wheedle out of Israel any minor concession he can secure on behalf of the Palestinians and persuade Tel Aviv to cooperate in selling an empty bottle labelled “hope” as a breakthrough in the peace process.

And finally, he is here to create the impression that his chief task is to defend the interests of the Palestinians. To this end, he collects the three bottles, puts them in some pretty wrapping paper and writes on the label “Palestinian state”.

For his labours he is being handsomely rewarded, especially by Israel.

NLP: You have described how Israel is becoming increasingly repressive regarding its own Arab population. In what ways?

JC: Let’s be clear: Israel has always been “repressive” of its Palestinian minority. Its first two decades were marked by a very harsh military government for the Palestinian population inside Israel. Thousands of Bedouin, for example, were expelled from their homes in the Negev several years after Israel’s establishment and forced into the Sinai. Israel’s past should not be glorified.

What I have argued is that the direction taken by Israeli policy since the Oslo process began has been increasingly dangerous for the Palestinian minority. Before Oslo, Israel was chiefly interested in containing and controlling the minority. After Oslo, it has been trying to engineer a situation in which it can claim to no longer be responsible for the Palestinians inside Israel with formal citizenship.

This is intimately tied to Israel’s more general policy of “unilateral separation” from the Palestinians under occupation: in Gaza, through the disengagement; in the West Bank, through the building of the wall. Israel’s chief concern is that – post-separation, were Palestinian citizens to remain inside the Jewish state – they would have far greater legitimacy in demanding the same rights as Jews. Israelis regard that as an existential threat to their state: Palestinian citizens could use their power, for example, to demand a right of return for their relatives and thereby create a Palestinian majority. The problem for Israel is that Palestinian citizens can expose the sham of Israel’s claims to being a democratic state.

So as part of its policy of separation, Israel has been thinking about how to get rid of the Palestinian minority, or at the very least how to disenfranchise it in a way that appears democratic. It is a long game that I describe in detail in my book Blood and Religion.

Policymakers are considering different approaches, from physically expelling Israel’s Palestinian citizens to the bantustans in the territories to stripping them incrementally of their remaining citizenship rights, in the hope that they will choose to leave. At the moment we are seeing the latter policy being pursued, but there are plenty of people in the government who want the former policy implemented when the political climate is right.

NLP: The frequent claim by Israeli officials is that Israel is a democracy and that Israeli Arabs are afforded the same rights as other citizens. What is your view?

JC: The widely shared assumption that Israel is a democracy is a strange one.

This is a democracy without defined borders, encompassing parts of a foreign territory, the West Bank, in which one ethnic / religious group – the Jewish settlers – has been given the vote while another – the Palestinians – has not. Those settlers, who are living outside the internationally recognised borders of Israel, actually put Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman into power.

It is also a democracy that has transferred control over 13 per cent of its sovereign territory (and a large proportion of its inhabited land) to an external organisation, the Jewish National Fund, which prevents a significant proportion of Israel’s own citizenry – the 20 per cent who are Palestinian – from having access to that land, again based on ethnic / religious criteria.

It is a democracy that historically gerrymandered its electoral constituency by expelling most of the indigenous population outside its borders – now referred to as the Palestinian refugees – to ensure a Jewish majority. It has continued to gerrymander its voting base by giving one ethnic group, Jews around the world, an automatic right to become citizens while denying that same right to another ethnic group, Palestinian Arabs.

This is a democracy that, despite a plethora of parties and the necessity of creating broad coalition governments, has consistently ensured that one set of parties (the Palestinian and anti-Zionist ones) has been excluded from government. In fact, Israel’s “democracy” is not a competition between different visions of society, as you would expect, but a country driven by a single ideology called Zionism. In that sense, there has been one-party rule in Israel since its birth. All the many parties that have participated in government over the years have agreed on one thing: that Israel should be a state that gives privileges to citizens who belong to one ethnic group. Where there is disagreement, it is over narrow sectoral interests or over how to manage the details of the occupation – an issue related to territory outside Israel’s borders.

Defenders of the idea that Israel is a democracy point to the country’s universal suffrage. But that is hardly sufficient grounds for classing Israel as a democracy. Israel was also considered a democracy in the 1950s and early 1960s – before the occupation began – when a fifth of the populace, the Palestinian minority inside Israel, lived under a military government. Then as now, they had the vote but during that period they could not leave their villages without a permit from the authorities.

My point is that giving the vote to 20 per cent of the electorate that is Palestinian is no proof of democracy if Israeli Jews have rigged their “democracy” beforehand through ethnic cleansing (the 1948 war); through discriminatory immigration policies (the Law of Return); and through the manipulation of borders to include the settlers while excluding the occupied Palestinians, even though both live in the same territory.

Israeli academics who consider these things have had to devise new classifications to cope with these strange features of the Israeli “democratic” landscape. The generous ones call it an “ethnic democracy”; the more critical ones an “ethnocracy”. Most are agreed, however, that it is not the liberal democracy of most Westerners’ imaginations.

NLP: You describe the long time anti-occupation activist and writer Uri Avnery as being a “compromised critic” of Israel. What do you mean by this? What is wrong with Avnery’s position on the occupation?

JC: There’s nothing wrong with Avnery’s position on the occupation. He wants to end it, and he has worked strenuously and bravely to do so over many decades.

The problem derives from our, his readers’, tendency to misunderstand his reasons for seeking an end to the occupation, and in that sense I think his role in the Palestinian solidarity movement has not been entirely helpful. Avnery wants the occupation to end but, it is clear from his writings, he is driven primarily by a desire to protect Israel as a Jewish state, the kind of ethnocratic state I have just described. Avnery does not hide this: he has always declared himself a proud Zionist. But in my view, his attachment to a state privileging Jews compromises his ability to critique the inherent logic of Zionism and to respond to Israel’s fast-moving policies on the ground, especially the goals of separation.

In a sense Avnery is stuck romantically in the 1970s and 1980s, the heydey of Palestinian resistance. Then the Palestinian struggle was much more straightforward: it was for national liberation. In those days Avnery’s battle was chiefly inside the Palestine Liberation Organisation, not inside Israel. He favoured a two-state solution when many in the PLO were promoting a vision of a single democratic state encompassing both Palestinians and Israelis. As we know, Avnery won that ideological battle: Arafat signed up to the two-state vision and eventually became the head of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian government-in-waiting.

But with Oslo, and formal Palestinian consent to the partition of historic Palestine, Avnery had to switch the focus of his struggle back to Israel, where there was much more resistance to the idea. While the Palestinian leaders were willing, even enthusiastic participants in the Oslo process, Israel’s leaders were much more cynical. They wanted a Palestinian dictatorship in the OPTs, led by Arafat, that would suppress all dissent while Israel would continue exploiting the land and water resources and the Palestinian labour-force through a series of industrial zones.

Because of his emotional investment in the separation policy of Oslo, Avnery has been very slow to appreciate Israel’s bad faith in this process. As the horrors of the wall and the massacres in Gaza have unfolded, I have started to see in his writings a very belated caution, a hesitation. That is to be welcomed. But I think looking to Avnery for guidance about where the Palestinian struggle against the occupation should head now – for instance, on the question of boycott, divestment and sanctions – is probably unwise. On other matters, he still has many fascinating insights to offer.

NLP: You are an advocate of a one state solution to the conflict. Given the overwhelming opposition of most Israelis to such a solution how is this to come about?

JC: Let me make an initial qualification. I do not regard myself as being an “advocate” for any particular solution to the conflict. I would happily support a two-state solution if I thought it was possible. I do not have a view about which technical arrangement is needed for Palestinians and Israelis to live happy, secure lives. If that can be achieved in a two-state solution, then I am all in favour.

My support for one state follows from the fact that I have yet to see anyone making a convincing case for two states, given the current realities. Those in the progressive community who advocate for the two-state solution seem to do so because their knowledge of the conflict is based on understandings a decade or more out of date, and typically because they know little about what drives Israeli policies inside Israel’s internationally recognised borders – which is hardly surprising, given the dearth of reporting on the subject.

This relates to the question of how Israelis can be won over. If the criterion for deciding whether a solution is viable is whether it is acceptable to Israeli Jewish public opinion, then the two-state crowd have exactly the same problem as the one-state crowd. There is no popular backing in Israel for a full withdrawal to the 1967 borders; a connection between the West Bank and Gaza; open borders for the Palestinian state and the right for it to forge diplomatic alliances as it chooses; a Palestinian army and air force; Palestinian rights to their water resources; Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital; and so on. Almost no Israeli Jews would vote for a government advocating that solution.

When we hear of polls showing an Israeli majority for a two-state solution, that is not what the respondents are referring to: they mean a series of bantustans surrounded by Israeli territory and settlers; severe controls on Palestinian movement between those bantustans; Palestine’s capital in Abu Dis or some other village near Jerusalem; Israel’s continuing control of the water; no Palestinian army; and so on. The Israeli public’s vision of Palestine is the same as its leadership’s: an extension of the Gaza model to the West Bank.

So we might as well forget about pandering to Israeli public opinion for the moment. It will change when it is offered a different cost-benefit calculus for its continuing rule over the Palestinians, as occurred among white South Africans who were encouraged to turn against the apartheid regime. That is the purpose of campaigns like boycott, divestment and sanctions. Let’s think instead about workable solutions that accord with the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live decent lives.

Interestingly, despite the mistaken assumption that Israelis favour a (real) two-state solution over a one-state solution, there are now indications that a broad coalition of Israelis accept that the moment for a two-state solution has passed. Meron Benvenisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, is one from the Zionist left. But surprisingly he was recently joined by Tzipi Hotovely, an influential MP from Netanyahu’s Likud party, who argues for granting citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank.

NLP: Other writers such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein argue in favour of a two-state solution, pointing out that world opinion and international law is firmly on the side of such a solution. How do you respond?

JC: Much as I respect Finkelstein and Chomsky, I find those arguments unconvincing.

“World opinion” in this case means little more than opinion in Washington, and as Chomsky has eloquently pointed out on many occasions the US, along with Israel, is the rejectionist party to the conflict. In fact, it is precisely because the US and Israel are the rejectionist camp that we should be wary of accepting that a two-state arrangement is a viable solution to the conflict now that the leaderships of both countries ostensibly support it.

Rather I would argue that the US and Israel pay lipserve to a two-state solution to provide cover for the emerging reality on the ground, in which Jewish privilege is being maintained in a unilaterally imposed one-state solution by Israel. Without that cover, the apartheid nature of the regime and the creeping programme of ethnic cleansing would be blindingly obvious to everyone.

Since Oslo, Barak, Sharon, Olmert and Livni all understood that “world opinion” could be kept at bay only as long as Israel appeared to favour a two-state solution. Netanyahu has embarrassed the West, and the US in particular, by dropping that pretence. It is why he is so unpopular and why we are starting to see more critical coverage of Israel in the media. Things are not worse, at least in the occupied territories, than they were under Olmert and co (in fact, it could be argued that they are moderately better), but it is much easier for journalists to cover some of the reality now. I guess this is a way of bringing Netanyahu into line.

The international law argument in this context is not much more helpful. While international law offers a discrete and invaluable set of principles when it comes to determining the rules of war, for instance, matters are not so straightforward when related to borders and territory.

Which bit of international law are we referring to? Why not take as our reference point the 1947 partition plan, which would see nearly half of historic Palestine returned to the Palestinians, and Jerusalem under international control? And what are we to make of UN Resolution 242, which refers to “the acquisition of territories” in the English version and “the acquisition of the territories” in the French version? Should the Palestinians be offered 28 per cent of their homeland or less than 28 per cent? And what do the Oslo accords mean in practice for Palestinian statehood, given that the final status issues were left open?

One can argue over these points endlessly, and dwelling on them to the exclusion of all other considerations is a recipe for helping the powerful in their struggle to ensure that the status quo – the occupation – is maintained.

The primary goals of international law are twofold: to safeguard the dignity of human beings; and to ensure their right to self-determination. In my view, those aims cannot be realised in a two-state solution, given both the realities on the ground and the conditions on Palestinian sovereignty being demanded by Israel and the international community.

Instead we should look to international law to provide a frame of reference for finding a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it should not tie our hands. The objective is to find a practical and creative political arrangement that has legitimacy in the eyes of both parties and can ensure that Israelis and Palestinians lead happy, secure lives. The goal here is not a technical solution; it is an enduring peace.

NLP: British media coverage of the conflict is typically more sympathetic towards Israel than towards Palestinians and generally fails to give proper historical background to the conflict. Why do you believe the British media behaves in this way regarding the conflict?

JC: There are various reasons that are sometimes difficult to disentangle. For the sake of simplicity, I will separate them into three categories: practical issues facing journalists covering the conflict; expectations imposed by the supposed “professionalism” of journalism; and ideological and structural constraints that reflect the fact that the dominant journalism practised today is a journalism cowed by corporate interests.

Of the practical issues, one of the most important – though least spoken of, for obvious reasons – is the fact that foreign desks prefer to appoint Jewish reporters to cover the conflict. In part the preference for Jewish reporters reflects an assessment, and probably a correct one, by editors that Israel, not the Palestinians, makes the news and that Jewish reporters will fare better as they negotiate the corridors of power in a self-declared Jewish state. Faced with candidates for the job, a foreign editor will often take the easy choice of a Jew who speaks fluent Hebrew, has family here who will provide ready-made contacts, and has some sort of commitment to living here and gaining a deeper understanding of (Israeli) life. Of course, those are precisely the reasons why an editor ought to judge the reporter unsuitable, but in practice it does not work that way.

I know from my own experiences that most Israeli officials try to find out whether you are Jewish before they will build any kind of intimacy with you as a reporter. That works to the advantage of Jewish reporters when a job comes up in Jerusalem.

I should add that the historical tendency of the British media to appoint Jewish reporters has diminished in recent years, possibly because the desks have become more self-conscious about it. But it is still very strong among the American media, and it is the American media that set the news agenda on the conflict. The NYT’s Ethan Bronner is fairly typical on that score and the paper’s indulgent decision to allow him to continue in his posting after revelations of a clear conflict of interest – that his son has joined the Israeli army – simply highlights the point.

A second practical issue is the location of British bureaus: in Jewish West Jerusalem. That results in a natural identification with Israeli concerns. It would be just as easy, and cheaper, to locate journalists a short distance away in Ramallah, or even in a Palestinian neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, but few if any do so.

Then there are the local sources of information that a reporter relies on. He or she reads the Israeli media, most of which have English editions, and comes to understand the conflict through the analyses and commentaries of Israeli journalists. This is even more true for those reporters who read Hebrew. Are there any British journalists reading the Palestinian media in Arabic? I doubt it.

Similarly, Israeli spokespeople are much more likely to be sources of information: they usually speak English; they are accessible, especially if you are Jewish and seen as “sympathetic” to Israel; and they are authoritative from the point of view of the correspondents. By contrast, the Palestinians are in a much weaker position. Who counts as a Palestinian spokesperson? Usually reporters turn to the Palestinian Authority for comments, even though the PA’s agenda is severely compromised and Palestinian opinion is deeply divided. In addition, official Palestinian spokespeople are often hamstrung by a rigid bureaucracy, lack of accountability, problems of language, and little knowledge of the decisions being taken in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem that shape their lives.

Issues deriving from journalism’s so-called “professionalism” must be factored in too. The professional training of journalists encourages them to believe that there are objective criteria that define what counts as news. A consequence is that professional journalists are expected to follow similar lines of inquiry and turn to the same groups of “neutral” contacts. This justifies both the hunting-in-packs philosophy that underpins most mainstream journalism and the reliance on establishment sources whom journalists use to interpret the news story.

In the case of Israel-Palestine, we end up with very similar looking accounts of the conflict that are usually filtered through the perspectives of a narrow elite of politicians, academics and diplomats who share in the main fanciful assumptions about the conflict: that there is a meaningful peace process; that Israeli leaders are acting in good faith; that the occupation is unpleasant but temporary; that the Palestinians are their own worst enemies or genetically prone to terrorism; that the occupation in Gaza has ended; that the Americans are a neutral broker in the conflict; and so on.

“Balance” is also seen as an essential quality in any professional news report. Balance of the “Israel said-the Palestinians said” variety encourages a view that the two sides in the conflict are equal. It favours the status quo, which favours Israel because it is the dominant party.

Another issue that skews coverage is the fact that professional journalists are supposed to take directions in their coverage from senior editors, usually thousands of miles away. The mainstream media is very hierarchical and few journalists will risk engaging in repeated fights with senior editors if they wish to be successful. The problem is that those editors have formed their views of the conflict in part by reading influential columnists, particularly those in the US who are considered to be close to the centres of power. That means that Zionist commentators like Thomas Friedman and the late William Safire shape British editors’ understanding of the region and therefore also the sort of coverage they expect from their reporters. Professional journalists do not usually invent things to satisfy their editors but they do steer clear of certain topics and lines of inquiry that conflict with their editors’ assumptions.

This tendency is strongly reinforced by the pro-Israel lobby in Britain, which gives reporters and their editors a hard time whenever they depart from common, and usually erroneous, assumptions about Israel. The sheer weight of the lobby, both in terms of its leaders’ connections to the British elites and its large number of foot soldiers, makes it very intimidating to the media. Minor matters of interpretation by a reporter can quickly be blown into a full-scale scandal of biased reporting or accusations of anti-Semitism. Even accurate reporting that is critical of Israel can be damaging to a journalist’s reputation, as Jeremy Bowen found out last year when absurd complaints against him were upheld by the BBC Trust.

The effect of the lobby in Britain is further heightened by the far greater power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US. British editors, as we have already noted, look to US commentators for guidance about the conflict. So the US lobby, in shaping the views of the American media, also affects the British media’s conceptions too.

These last problems are closely related to the much larger structural and ideological issues affecting modern journalism that direct the coverage of Israel-Palestine.

In my early career working for British newspapers, I was a very traditional liberal journalist. Only when I turned freelance, moved to the Middle East and started covering the Israel-Palestine conflict from a Palestinian city did I discover that most of my life-long assumptions about the liberal British media were untenable. It was a period of rapid and profound disillusionment. Out here, I was faced with a stark choice: report the conflict in the same distorted and misleading manner adopted by the mainstream reporters or become a so-called “dissident” journalist. I struggled with the first option for a while, publishing in the Guardian and the International Herald Tribune when I could, but it was with a heavy conscience. It was during this period that I heard about the propaganda model of Ed Hermann and Noam Chomsky, as well as websites like Media Lens, which finally made sense of my own experiences as a journalist.

The structural problem of modern journalism is a huge subject I cannot do more than outline here.

Professional journalism exists in its current state because it is subsidised by fabulously wealthy owners and fabulously wealthy advertisers, both of whom share the interests of the corporate elites that rule our societies. The corporate-owned media ensures its journalists share its corporate values through a process of “filtering”. Journalists who make it to a position like Jerusalem bureau chief, for example, have gone through a very lengthy selection process that weeds out anyone considered undesirable. Typically an undesirable journalist fails to abide by the implicit rules of the profession: she is not intimidated in the face of power and authority, she looks beyond the elites to other sources of information, she rejects the bogus idea of objectivity and neutrality, and so on. Such journalists either get stuck in lowly jobs or are pushed out.

The result is a sort of Darwinian natural selection that ensures corporate, clubbable journalists rise to the top and select in their image those who follow behind them.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dubai Investigation Exposes Israeli Ops in USA

By Michael Gillespie / March 11th, 2010

An ongoing investigation by the Dubai Police force into the assassination of a high-level Hamas official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in January has drawn back the curtains of secrecy and deception to reveal yet again the contours of Israel’s massive and ever-expanding espionage operations in the United States.

The murder of Mahmoud Al Mabhouh in his room at the Al Bustan Rotana, a 275-room five-star luxury hotel, in Dubai on January 19 has been widely perceived to be a Mossad operation involving, by the most recent count, 27 suspects traveling on fraudulently obtained and falsified European or Australian passports.  In late February and early March, the plot thickened suddenly and significantly when major US media outlet reports connected the crime and many of those involved in it to the USA and to corporations based in the USA and Israel and revealed that some of the suspected assassins, apparently members of a Mossad kidon team, had entered the USA after leaving Dubai.

ABC News reported on February 24 that Dubai police had identified 15 new suspects as part of a ring that killed Al Mabhouh.

“Fourteen of the suspects purportedly used credit cards from META Bank, a regional American bank, to pay for hotel rooms and travel arrangements. … Dubai police linked META Bank to a New York-based company called Payoneer, which provided prepaid MasterCard credit cards issued by META Bank. According to its Web site, Payoneer has a research and development center in Tel Aviv,” reported ABC.

The TV network report noted that some of the additional suspects played a central role in the crime while others were accused of “‘providing prior logistical support and preparations to facilitate,’ making a series of trips to Dubai in advance” of the assassination.

The New York Times reported on March 1 that, “At least two suspects in the killing of a Hamas official in a hotel here in January traveled to the United States afterward, according to a person familiar with the investigation.”

“One suspect traveling on a British passport arrived in the United States on Feb. 14; the other used an Irish passport and arrived on Jan. 21, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case. He did not say where the men entered the country, and added that there was no known record of their leaving,” wrote Robert F. Worth in a story filed from Dubai.

Worth’s report noted that if the suspected assassins who entered the U.S. presented foreign passports, they would have been photographed and finger printed upon arrival.

The Wall Street Journal’s Chip Cummins filed a similar report from Dubai on the same day attributing the information to “people familiar with the situation” and “records shared between international investigators.”  In many previous news reports from Dubai information about the investigation had been attributed to Dubai’s Police Chief Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim.

Neither report explored the rather remarkable news that the suspect carrying a British passport in the name Roy Allan Cannon was confident enough to travel on the falsified document more than three weeks after the assassination and to present it upon arrival in the USA, where passport controls are generally assumed to be most stringent.

“At one time it was possible to produce false identity documents with little or no regard for what is referred to as backstopping as data bases at national points of entry were unsophisticated and were generally unlinked to any central sources of information.  That has all changed in the past eight years.  European and American passports in particular can all be verified from central data bases that include information that is also drawn from other public record sources,” wrote former CIA officer Philip Giraldi in a February 25 column for Antiwar.com.

On March 3, Al Jazeera TV reported that Tamim, “said he would ask the Dubai prosecutor to issue arrest warrants for [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the head of Mossad [Meir Degan].”

Tamim’s investigation, which has been described by Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble as “thorough,” has seriously inconvenienced and embarrassed the Israeli government and its espionage organization.

The Money Trail

The Independent Monitor contacted MetaBank’s corporate headquarters in Storm Lake, IA to ask why an Iowa bank would provide credit cards to 14 suspected members of a death squad.

MetaBank’s Lisa Binder, Vice President for Investor Relations and Corporate Communications responded via telephone and e-mail with a statement saying, in part, “The Meta cards in question were issued in conjunction with a Meta Payment Systems program, not at a retail bank location.  Meta Payment Systems, which has issued more than 150 million prepaid cards, markets its payroll cards through various Program Managers─in this case, Payoneer─to offer reputable US companies network branded payroll cards with which American companies can pay expatriates, employees and contractors of their company who live in the US and in foreign countries.  The cards in question were ‘loaded’ by the companies using direct deposit for payroll, disbursements, and other compensation.”

The Independent Monitor attempted to contact Payoneer offices at 410 Park Avenue in New York City but found that the only phone answered at Payoneer headquarters was a customer support line for Payoneer’s Birthright Israel customers.

Birthright Israel provides first time educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26.  The program sends “thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift in order to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and to strengthen participants’ personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people,” according to the organization’s website.

Funding for Birthright Israel is “provided by our partners: private philanthropists through The Birthright Israel Foundation; the people of Israel through the Government of Israel; and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod and the Jewish Agency for Israel). …

“Taglit-Birthright Israel requires that all participants pay their deposit through Payoneer. … If you lose your Payoneer card while in Israel, it can be immediately blocked and will be replaced with a new card within 24 hours. … You will not need to contact your bank back home or worry about making many calls. One call to our Customer Support center and you are all set,” says the www.birthright.payoneer.com website.

Payoneer’s Birthright customer support center declined to provide the Independent Monitor with contact information for Payoneer founder and CEO Yuval Tal or for Payoneer corporate communications/media relations personnel.

“Since the assassination, Tal has been shielded by a wall of public relations representatives and does not respond to media requests for comments. … Tal’s public relations representatives in New York have refused to comment on his past and relations with Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad,” wrote Abbas Al Lawati, a staff reporter for Gulf News.com on March 3.

“Tal is referred to by his associates in Israel as ‘an outspoken Israeli patriot’ despite having lived in New York for over ten years.  In a 2006 Fox News interview about Israel’s summer war on Lebanon, Tal was presented as a ‘special ops commando’ on Fox and Friends, and stated that ‘this is a war Israel cannot (afford to) lose,’” wrote Al Lawati.

Payoneer’s website proclaims that the company is “a registered MasterCard Merchant Service Provider (MSP), and partner with MetaBank or Choice Bank Limited to deliver our services.  Privately held, our funding partners include Greylock Partners, Carmel Ventures, and Crossbar Capital.”

The Independent Monitor found that all three of Payoneer’s funding partners are venture capital firms that have offices in or strong connections to Israel.

Charlie Federman, Managing Partner of Crossbar Capital, previously co-founded BRM Capital in 1999, headed its New York office, and served as a Managing Director of the Israel and New York based fund until 2007.  BRM Group, headquartered in Herzliya was founded by Nir Barkat, mayor of occupied Jerusalem.

Carmel Ventures is also headquartered Herzliya.  Greylock Partners, founded in 1965, “operates in a number of global centers of innovation, including Boston, China (Beijing), India (Bangalore), Israel (Herzliya) and Silicon Valley. … Current Greylock portfolio companies include Data Robotics, Digg, Facebook, Imperva, LinkedIn, Palo Alto Networks, Pandora, Picarro, Redfin, Workday and ZipCar,” according to the firm’s website.  Greylock’s investment activities in Israel were launched in 2002 by partner Moshe Mor, who “served six years in the Israeli Army as a Captain in the Military Intelligence branch.”

Tal almost certainly possess information that could be of value to U.S. law enforcement and counter-intelligence investigators, but whether their political masters, many of whom have been effectively co-opted by Israel, will allow U.S. investigators to pursue any sort of meaningful investigation is an open question.  Thus far there has been little to indicate that U.S. officials are seriously interested in investigating the funding of travel expenses and hotel accommodations of suspected Israeli assassins through U.S. corporations, despite the reported entry of at least two of the suspects into the U.S. on fraudulent, falsified passports.

When the Independent Monitor contacted the Department of State (DoS) for comment about the news reports, a DoS press officer declined to comment and referred questions to the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) press offices.  A DoJ press officer also declined to comment and referred questions to a DHS press officer who has not responded to an e-mail message sent on March 5.

The Sayanim Network

Any substantive U.S. investigation of the suspected Dubai killers’ connections to the USA would likely focus on members of the Mossad’s worldwide network of sayanim, diaspora Jews who provide a wide variety of services to the Israeli intelligence and special operations agency.  In his books, By Way of Deception (1990) and The Other Side of Deception (1994), former Mossad field officer or katsa Victor Ostrovsky described the sayanim network.

“Sayanim─assistants─must be 100 percent Jewish,” wrote Ostrovsky in 1990.

The Mossad’s helpers, chosen because they are well placed, willing, and able to provide valuable assistance to Israeli agents, are businessmen, doctors, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police officers, intelligence officers, politicians, government bureaucrats, university professors and administrators, media professionals, information technology specialists, any occupation, profession, or position in which a sayan might prove useful in support of Israeli espionage operations.

Though they do not live in Israel, their first loyalty is to Israel.  They do whatever Mossad officials, field officers, or assassins ask of them in behalf of Israel against the enemies of Israel or those who are seen as opposed to Israeli policies.

“Often the loyalty of sayanim is abused by katsas who take advantage of the available help for their own personal use.  There is no way for the sayan to check this,” wrote Ostrovsky.

“The one problem with the [sayanim] system is that the Mossad does not seem to care how devastating it could be to the status of the Jewish people in the diaspora if it was known.  The answer you get if you ask is: ‘So what’s the worst that could happen to those Jews?  They’d all come to Israel?  Great,’” wrote Ostrovsky.

“A sayan will rent a car or pass money to a kidon with no questions asked,” said Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon’s Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad (1999) in a report by Alun Palmer of the Mirror (UK) on February 18.  Thomas, who has estimated that there are at least 20,000 sayanim in the US and Great Britain, writes that all Mossad assassinations are authorized by the office of the prime minister of Israel.

The illegal use of U.S. banks and credit card companies to fund the movements and other expenses of a Mossad death squad in the Middle East indicates an alarming expansion of Israeli espionage operations on US soil and reveals to an unprecedented extent the foreign intelligence agency’s penetration of major U.S. financial institutions, developments that limn the breadth, depth, and success of the Mossad’s desperate efforts to expand and consolidate Israel’s malignant influence over the Washington foreign policy establishment and sway within a broad range of U.S. institutions, despite growing popular opposition to Israel’s the brutal and patently illegal occupation of Palestine and the punishing siege of Gaza.

The Myth, Cult, and Culture of Redemptive Violence

The supposed clash of civilizations, the conflict between the putatively modern Western Judeo-Christian tradition and radical Islam, the Bush administration’s Global War on Terrorism later rebranded by the Obama administration as Overseas Contingency Operations, and the suppurating wound that is Israel’s long-running illegal occupation and systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine are evidence of a retrograde social and political dynamic that now threatens the continued progress and future of human civilization.  That dynamic is epitomized by the myth, cult, and culture of redemptive violence.

“The myth of redemptive violence defends the belief that violence saves, that war brings peace. It is one of the oldest stories in the world.  It misappropriates the language, symbols and scriptures of Christianity.  Its God is the tribal God worshipped as an idol.  Its offer is not forgiveness but victory.  Its good news is not unconditional love of enemies but their elimination.  Its salvation is not a new heart but a successful foreign policy.  It is blasphemous.  It is idolatrous.  And it is immensely popular,” writes Dr. Walter Wink, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City.

Wink might have added that while Christian scripture is tainted by the myth of redemptive violence, the Hebrew Old Testament scriptures, attached at the spine of the Holy Bible to the New Testament, are Christianity’s primary source of the pernicious mythology of redemptive violence.  Only about 10 percent of the New Testament is devoted to Jesus’ teachings about the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, the kingdom of Heaven, the happiness of peacemakers, and forgiveness and mercy as moral and spiritual imperatives.

True religion opposes violence as a technique of social evolution, but many Christians have been and are today all too willing and ready to embrace Hebrew Old Testament teachings that glorify war and the wholesale slaughter of innocents and ascribe such acts to the commands of a wrathful God that is both vengeful and violent.  The popularity of the myth of redemptive violence in the West and the attitudes and policies it engenders in political and economic spheres of activity severely undercuts the supposed moral superiority of Western modernity and culture in relation to other traditions and cultures.

U.S. leaders often attempt to justify their wars with self-serving declarations that they are fighting for peace.

“One day the Iraqi people will understand that we came in peace,” averred Secretary of State Colin Powell in March 2003 as U.S. troops advanced on Baghdad after a devastating and enormously destructive “Shock and Awe” air assault on the city.

If the status of a civilization can be accurately gauged by the fairness of its courts and the integrity of its judges, resort by national leaders to extra-judicial killings conducted by intelligence agency death squads is emblematic of the West’s glorification of war and ruinous reversion to militarism─autocratic, cruel, and savage.  Rigidly ultranationalistic Israel, more an army and an espionage agency with a country than a country with an army and an espionage agency, clearly intends to be the West’s model and instructor in this regard.

A feature article by Associated Press reporter Matti Friedman published in the Washington Post on March 4 quoted Jonna Mendez, who worked for the CIA for 27 years and became the agency’s chief of disguise.  Mendez “believes the Dubai perpetrators took the fallout into account, all of it: the TV footage, the blown aliases and the head shots. The agents, she said, clearly knew they were under surveillance─they had simply decided it was unavoidable and a price worth paying.

“‘You can be sure they knew they were being surveilled. Likewise, they would assume that the documents they were using would be made available after the fact,’ said Mendez. ‘What does this mean? It means it didn’t matter. The faces and the documents that were captured by the cameras will probably never be seen again.’

“The fact that the perpetrators had to take the identities of real people rather than simply invent false identities is a symptom of the new world facing modern-day spies, one of databases and traceable passport information, she said.

“The real agents likely don’t resemble the faces in the photos, she said … And if they do, plastic surgery, dental implants and hair grafts can ensure they are unrecognizable afterward.

“‘Steal the identity, disguise the participants, be ready on the other side with another set of identities and documents, and embrace and conceal the protagonists on their return,’ she said.

“‘With that goal in mind this may, in fact, be the operation of the future,’” wrote Friedman.

Thinking Americans have an increasingly clear choice.

They can join the cult of redemptive violence, kneel before a Zionist tribal God of vengeance, and watch their country and its culture revert to the law of nature as militarism runs amok and Israeli spies and assassins, protected by corrupt and co-opted political leaders, roam America at will.

Or they can embrace and actively support not the savagery of assassins but the rule of law.  They can cultivate the wisdom, insight, and foresight that are indispensable to the endurance of nations.  They can persevere in their efforts to elect honest, wise, and progressive leaders.  And they can continue to strive to live up and into the noblest ideals of their religions.

Michael Gillespie, in addition to his regular freelance work for Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, is also a contributing editor and the Des Moines, IA correspondent for The Independent Monitor, the national newspaper of Arab Americans, published by Sami Mashney in Anaheim, CA.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Dubai Investigation Exposes Israeli Ops in USA

Israel’s Lobby Imposes Crippling Sanctions on America — Again

By Grant Smith, March 12, 2010

The Israel lobby’s campaign against US and international corporations doing business with Iran is gearing up this week.  The tip of the spear is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee sponsored expansion of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996.  If signed into law by president Obama, the legislation would institute onerous new monitoring to ensure exports never enter Iran, along with mandatory divestment from and penalties for any corporations discovered doing business in Iran. A new type of “office of special plans” at the Treasury Department that AIPAC and its think tank lobbied to create by executive order in 2004 is also on the warpath.  Stuart Levey, the head of the office of “Terrorism and Financial Intelligence” is traveling to Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman “pointing out that they face dramatic risks by doing business with Iran.”   Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon finished a long set of meetings urging the US National Security Council to impose harsh sanctions on Iran.

The New York Times started the week with a list of corporations doing business in Iran and their US government procurement revenues.  Most companies on this list long ago appeared on hit lists compiled by AIPAC for quiet divestment campaigns in state legislatures across the country.  The New York Times ominously highlights in red any company that may be a “possible violator of the Iran Sanctions Act.” National Public Radio’s Scott Simon, after reading it, was apoplectic.  He fretted aloud on the air whether US companies and subsidiaries on the target list were “betraying their country’s national security interests.”

What should Americans make of this drive to label all companies doing business with Iran unpatriotic smugglers?  First, they should consider the source of the multi-tiered Iran sanctions drive.  Then, they should start getting angry.

The proto Israel lobby was born in the cradle of a real arms theft and smuggling operation [pdf] that relentlessly preyed on the United States in the 1940s.  Violating US arms export controls and bans on weapons transfers to the Middle East, this network certainly did “betray national security” — but managed to establish a small state in Palestine.  The Director of US Central Intelligence judged that “U.S. national security is unfavorably affected by these developments and that it could be seriously jeopardized by continued illicit traffic in the implements of war.” That was an understatement, but none of the financiers of the arms smuggling network ever faced any consequences.  When The Pledge, a tell-all book about the smuggling network, was published in 1970 the Department of Justice received public protests about the vast unpunished arms smuggling.  The Internal Security Section duly wrote and internally circulated a 9-page book report about the people, dates, and crimes committed.  The Chief of the Foreign Agents Registration Unit then responded to one protester that any arms smuggling prosecutions would be barred by the statute of limitations, though he did forward complaints to the FBI and State Department.

The Israel lobby further developed the ethos that “no crime for Israel would be punished in the US” when it allegedly stole and smuggled US weapons grade uranium from NUMEC, “an Israeli operation from the beginning” according to CIA Tel Aviv station chief John Hadden.   A secret nuclear arsenal would allow Israel to initiate “The Samson Option” pulling down the entire world if it were ever threatened — a capability judged worth all the stealing and law breaking.

Isaiah L. Kenen, a propaganda officer for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in New York in 1948, made it his business to infiltrate Israeli government mandates into US political party platforms while dodging Department of Justice orders that he register and conduct his business openly as an Israeli foreign agent.  Like AIPAC this week, Kenen even used the New York Times as a trumpet in his November 2, 1961 Near East Report to deny that Dimona was a nuclear weapons plant.  Six weeks after the DOJ cracked down with its final Foreign Agent order on Kenen and company in 1963 after a massive (Israeli-funded) stealth propaganda and lobbying campaign that rivaled the one currently unfurling in the US, Kenen was forced to abandon his American Zionist Council front for the Israeli government, and incorporated AIPAC in Washington, DC.  AIPAC went on to stage a full assault on US governance — from attacking the sanctity of our electoral process to trafficking in classified national security information — all to acquire unprecedented power on behalf of its foreign principals.

The most relevant example of AIPAC-Israeli government tag-team law-breaking went on display this week in the form of 49 declassified FBI files.  In 1984 71 major US corporations and worker organizations said “no” to an earlier AIPAC economic power grab (a demand to lower all US import barriers to Israeli products while allowing Israel to continue blocking US exports).  Israeli minister of economics Dan Halpern stole [pdf] a US government document containing proprietary information and business secrets supplied by US industries most opposed to the Israel Lobby’s economic power grab.  Halpern passed it to AIPAC, which made great use of it to undermine the entire advice and consent process.  Douglas Bloomfield, AIPAC’s top lobbyist, even made an illicit copy of the classified document after AIPAC was explicitly ordered to return it to the US government (rather than ever do time in jail, Bloomfield now fantasizes about militarily playing the United Arab Emirates off Iran).

The aftermath of this earlier economic crime against US industry has now become clear.  By locking many US products of export quantity out of Israel, the trade agreement has delivered an $80 billion dollar cumulative deficit (adjusted for inflation) to the US since enacted.  In contrast, last year all other (legitimate) bilateral agreements with such countries as Singapore and Morocco actually produced a $86.33 billion total trade surplus to the US.  AIPAC’s trajectory clearly indicates it is a true believer of Julius Caesar’s dictum “If you must break the law, do it to seize power, in all other cases observe it.”  But does such ill-gotten might make right?

Americans should be outraged that a foreign lobby like AIPAC is actually trying to write the rules — when warranted application of the law would have abolished it years ago. AIPAC and other nodes of Israel’s lobby successfully broke important US laws to seize power in America.  They now expect US private enterprise and workers — the world’s best — to open their own little “offices of special plans” to carefully track company products, profits, and investments in the name of Israel.  But this new tax ignores some mighty important facts.

Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and there’s no evidence that it is anywhere near producing nuclear weapons.  Non-signatory Israel, with its vast secret arsenal of nuclear weapons — likely built with uranium stolen (but never paid for) from the United States — suddenly demands rule of law from America.  Laws drafted by AIPAC.  (And by the way, it’ll cost taxpayers at least $76 million to clean up the nuclear waste at NUMEC.)

Israel and its US lobby actually think Americans will go for all of this, that we’re a forgetful and obedient lot, who don’t care much about our laws, economy, or jobs — who are just aching to get into AIPAC’s newly fabricated economic straightjacket.

Better think again.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Sending a laptop to Gaza

Ahmed Moor writing from al-Arish, Egypt, Live from Palestine, 12 March 2010
Underground tunnels along the border with Egypt have become the main way for besieged Palestinians in Gaza to receive the most basic goods. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

I sat outdoors at a cafe on the Mediterranean Sea in al-Arish, a dusty seaside town in Egypt’s northern Sinai. I drank a tea and smoked a water pipe; it gave me something to do while I waited for Ismail — that’s not his real name — an Egyptian Bedouin tunnel smuggler who was going to deliver a package for me into Gaza.

It’s been nearly ten years since I’ve been to Palestine. I vividly remember the summer of 2000 when I left Palestine with my family. We passed through the Rafah crossing into Egypt. A long Mercedes taxi — they’re ubiquitous in Egypt and Palestine — carried us from Egyptian Rafah to al-Arish and finally to Cairo. From there, we boarded a flight to New York. Most of our extended family remained — they have nothing approaching our freedom of movement because we hold the American passport.

Much has changed since I’d been there last. The second Palestinian intifada flared, raged and then died. Hamas won a majority of seats in the 2006 parliamentary elections and was nearly overthrown by Fatah a year later. When the coup didn’t go as planned the people of Gaza were shut in.

Israel imposed its siege on Gaza in June 2007, after the Fatah coup attempt. The tunnel trade between Egypt and Gaza became the chief mode of transferring commodities into the tiny coastal territory. Flour, gasoline, soda, toys, electronics and yes, small arms are moved into Gaza through hundreds of subterranean tunnels.

I went back to Egypt several weeks ago. A friend in Cairo mentioned that he had a laptop and some CDs that were intended for a friend of his in Palestinian Rafah. He knew that I planned to go to al-Arish, and if I could make it past the checkpoints, to Egyptian Rafah, and asked if I could arrange to have the items smuggled to Gaza. I agreed; the siege is an expression of moral bankruptcy and responsible human beings are compelled to undermine the regime in every way. Furthermore, the Palestinians of Gaza have very few options when it comes to receiving basic goods.

A few days later, I caught a bus to al-Arish. I arrived at about 10pm and checked into my hotel. My friend in Cairo had given me Ismail’s number after speaking to him about me and when I’d be going. So, the next morning I called Ismail and we agreed to meet at a cafe in the afternoon.

Some time later, I made my way to the beach and sat at the seaside cafe when a man approached; it was Ismail. He smiled broadly as we shook hands and introduced ourselves. The deep-brown skin in the corner of his eyes crinkled. His dark hair was short and neat and combed to the side. He reminded me of my father. I ordered a second tea as he sat down on the chair beside me so that we both had a view of the sea’s expanse.

We started talking:

“You know I’m from Gaza,” I said, “Tal al-Sultan in Rafah.”

“Oh, I’ve been there. I have family in Jabaliya.”

We chatted for some minutes about the weather and al-Arish and families we knew in common. He’d been working in the tunnel trade since the siege began. It was a natural way to earn income for him — as a Bedouin, he moved more freely than others in the Sinai, and his relatives in Gaza provided a secure trust network.

Indeed, many Palestinians from Gaza have relatives in Egypt, and vice versa. My own paternal grandmother is a Sinai Bedouin. The extensive kinship networks and intermarriage thrived until Israel occupied the territory in 1967, when it became harder for people to cross the new borders.

Ismail explained how he would deliver the package, stating that “I’ll take it back to [Egyptian] Rafah in my car and hand it over to someone who will give it to a Palestinian from the tunnel. ‘B’ [the person for whom the package is intended] will call the guy and meet up with him. He’ll pay him on that end.”

My package would cost 50 cents to $1 a kilo, but bigger loads would have a cheaper rate. It would take a day or two to deliver at a total cost of roughly $10 — not too expensive by American standards but a considerable sum in Gaza.

Ismail explained that although the tunnels were owned by Palestinians and they did all of the work to construct them — typically at night — the traffic was usually only one way: Egyptian goods into Gaza.

He was deliberately vague about whether the Egyptian army knew the locations of the tunnels and received bribes to allow them to operate. “You have to be careful,” Ismail said, referring to offering bribes to the authorities, “sometimes you can do that but sometimes no. It depends but there isn’t any way to know.”

When I asked about the new wall being constructed underground between Egypt and Gaza with the assistance of the US Army Corps of Engineers, he was dismissive. Ismail explained that it had yet to affect trade and that “some guys have already cut through it.” He noted however that “it hasn’t reached the part of the border where most of the tunnels are. And people are coming up with ways to get around it.”

As our meeting drew to a close Ismail offered me a ride back to town all the while apologizing for not offering me a ride to Rafah. Security on the main road was tough he explained and he couldn’t afford to be subjected to too much scrutiny with a foreigner in the car. He also warned me, saying, “If you make it to Rafah, don’t tell anyone that you’re a journalist — don’t talk to anyone. It’s all mukhabarat [intelligence]. Just say you’re going home.”

I did make it to Rafah later that day. What I saw wasn’t so much a town as a military encampment. Heavy equipment, likely tied to the subterranean wall, was everywhere. Dusty day laborers swarmed the tea shops. Armored personnel carriers patrolled the streets while checkpoints closed off access towards Palestine and the Mediterranean.

It wasn’t long before some men approached me and started asking questions in a non-official, but probing and intrusive way. “Who are you? Where are you from? How did you get here?” Motioning to the military, they asked, “Did they clear you?” I answered the way Ismail told me and decided to leave pretty soon after that; my paranoia got the better of me.

My trip back to al-Arish was uneventful and it gave me an opportunity to reflect about the events of the day and how my home has become a concentration camp. The pressures on the Palestinians in Gaza are immense, but they have not succumbed to the pressure.

By the time I reached Cairo the next day, my friend had confirmed that the laptop was received by his friend in Gaza. Even with billions of dollars expended and complete military siege, Palestinians choose not to die and this story is evidence of that.

Born in the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed Moor graduated from university in Philadelphia, after which he spent three years working in finance in New York. He is currently based in Beirut, Lebanon.

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Monsanto May Lose Bid to Halt Argentinean Soy Imports

By Stephanie Bodoni | Bloomberg

March 9 — Monsanto Co., the world’s biggest seed company, can’t rely on a European patent for its Roundup Ready soybeans to block imports of Argentinean soy meal, an adviser to the European Union’s highest court said.

The European patent for the trait that makes soybeans resistant to some herbicides doesn’t extend to soy meal made from the patented seeds, Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi of the European Court of Justice said in a non-binding opinion today.

Argentina, the world’s third-biggest soybean exporter after Brazil and the U.S., is one of the few countries where Monsanto doesn’t hold a patent on the herbicide-resistant seeds. A ruling the European patent is enforceable may allow the company to block imports of Argentinean soy meal and related products.

“This is quite a blow to Monsanto,” said Stijn Debaene, a partner at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP in Brussels who isn’t involved in the case. The advocate general “is quite severe.”

Monsanto said it was “disappointed” by today’s outcome and will wait for the court’s final decision. Rulings tend to follow within six months of an opinion.

“The only reason we have this case is because of a very arbitrary and controversial decision 15 years ago to throw out all existing patent applications in Argentina,” denying the company its local patent on Roundup Ready soybeans, Lee Quarles, a Monsanto spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have tried to find ways to be properly compensated for quite a while. This was one of those steps.”

Amsterdam harbor

During 2005 and 2006, St. Louis-based Monsanto had shipments of soy meal from Argentina impounded in Amsterdam harbor. Tests showed the products contained some of the patented seed traits and Monsanto sued the importers for infringement. A Dutch court hearing the dispute in 2008 sought the EU tribunal’s guidance.

While Monsanto argued the patented trait in the soybeans remains under its protection after the beans have been processed into soy meal, the importers argued the patent’s scope isn’t that wide under EU biotechnology rules.

“The protection for patents that cover genetic sequences is limited to situations where the genetic information is currently performing the functions described,” Mengozzi wrote. The Luxembourg-based EU court typically follows the advice.

Patent Limits

“There is a limit to how far Monsanto can stretch its patent protection,” said John J. Allen, a partner in the Amsterdam office of law firm NautaDutilh who represented the importers. The suit against the importers “is not the right way to settle Monsanto’s dispute with Argentina.”

Unlike in Argentina, Monsanto is compensated for the use of its patents in other countries, such as in Brazil, because of its patents or accords with farmers. In 2008, 68.5 percent of Argentine exports of soybeans and soy products went to the EU, according to data compiled by the Rosario Cereals Exchange.

“If the court decided that Monsanto can invoke its rights in the EU against soy meal originating from Argentina, nothing could stop it to then use its rights against soy meal coming from other countries,” said Mengozzi.

Ian Karet, an intellectual property lawyer with Linklaters in London who isn’t involved in the case said the opinion could be “quite important” for biotechnology patents because it “has the capacity to restrict significantly the scope of protection for genetic sequences.”

The case is C-428/08 Monsanto Technology LLC v. Cefetra BV, Cefetra Feed Service BV, Cefetra Futures BV and State of Argentina and Monsanto Technology LLC v. Vopak Agencies Rotterdam BV and Alfred C. Toepfer International GmbH.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net

March 12, 2010 Posted by | Economics | Comments Off on Monsanto May Lose Bid to Halt Argentinean Soy Imports