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Testing the Limits of Freedom of Speech: Ernst Zundel Speaks Out

An exclusive interview with one of Europe’s most well-known political prisoners

By Kourosh Ziabari | Foreign Policy Journal | April 30, 2010

Ernst Zundel is a German author and historian who has spent seven years of his life behind bars as a result of expressing his controversial viewpoints and opinions. He is a revisionist who has denied the Holocaust as described by most historians. He has been one of the most prominent political prisoners in Europe and has been jailed in three countries on two continents.

After his arrest in the U.S. in 2003, he was deported to Canada, where he was kept in prison as “a threat to the national security” for two years. After deportation to Germany in March 2005, he was convicted and sentenced in 2007 to five additional years of imprisonment on charges of holocaust denial.  He was finally released on March 1, 2010.

This is the first interview Ernst Zundel has given since his release.

Firstly, I would like to extend my congratulations on your recent release. Were you ever mistreated or subject to any type of mental or physical punishment in breach of international conventions?

My entire treatment these past seven years by those arresting me, trying and convicting me, and keeping me in prison has been in brutal breach of international conventions.  I was arrested in broad daylight on American soil by officials of the U.S. government who acted as hit squads for a nefarious lobby. There was no arrest warrant. I was not read my rights. I was whisked away in handcuffs without being allowed to get my wallet, to call my attorney, to be allowed to make my case before an American Immigration Judge or even hug my wife goodbye.

I was incarcerated in six different prisons on two continents in three countries—the USA, Canada, and Germany—without relief of any kind. In effect, I have had 10 percent of my life stolen from me – and for what “crime”? For having “overstayed my U.S. visa”?

Throughout my imprisonment, basic human rights principles were trampled underfoot repeatedly and with impunity. The worst prisons were the Canadian detention centers at Thorold, Ontario and at Toronto West, where I was held for two long years in isolation cells, ice-cold in the winter, no shoes or socks allowed. The electric light in these cells, bright enough to be able to read, was kept on 24 hours a day. Through a glass slot in the door I was checked every 20 minutes, and my activities were meticulously noted by the guards: one sheet for every day.  No dignity, no privacy. My toothbrush was kept in a plastic bin in a hall. I was not allowed to speak to other prisoners. Bed sheets were changed only after three months. No pillows. No chairs. When I wrote to my wife or to my attorneys, I had to sit on a makeshift pile of my court transcripts. No radio, no television, not even an electrical outlet to sharpen my pencils. No ball point pens, only pencil stubs, cut in half with a saw. No spoons, forks, or knives were permitted; only a white plastic spoon with a fork called a “spork” that had to be returned every time at the end of the meal. With very few exceptions when furtive guards showed me some kindness away from the surveillance cameras, I was treated as though I was the worst of criminals. That’s Canada for you, where I have lived and worked without a criminal record for more than 40 years.

It was somewhat better, but not much, in the United States. In Germany, it was quite a bit better in terms of the basic necessities, but personal mail was routinely withheld – 1,700 letters for up to five years – even after I forced a court to order that it be given to me. My so-called trial in Mannheim was a political show trial in the Stalinist mode in that my guilt was a foregone conclusion. I requested that exculpatory exhibits be allowed as validation for what I believed and had written and said. No meaningful defense was allowed. I could not put on record any forensic evidence, any historical documents, or even expert witnesses, That very request to be allowed to offer evidence was held to be a new offense of criminal behavior and could have resulted in new criminal charges – as were, in fact, lodged against my lawyers during that very trial who tried to overcome these restrictions.

Along with the rest of EU members, Germany regularly criticizes other countries for violations of free speech and human rights. However, your case demonstrated the emptiness of such claims within Europe. What’s your take on that? Is Europe really a utopia of liberty and freedom of speech?

Most European countries have only selected free speech for officially approved and sanctioned views on history. Almost all EU countries have laws in place that restrict freedom of speech under the guise of one fig leaf or other, such as the prevention of racist or neo-Nazi activities. The state decides selectively who is and what is racist.  These laws are hypocritical, in Germany’s case superseding even their own Basic Law.

Dissidents are allowed very little opportunity to be read or heard in the mainstream corporate media channels of the West. The control mechanisms of the press are many, often subtle but widely understood and obeyed – fear of loss of jobs, diminished circulation, the withholding of government advertisements etc. There is no longer unrestricted freedom in any Western country, not even in the U.S. with its wonderful Constitution and Amendments such as the Bill of Rights.

Allow me here to point out to your readers the outline of a censorship practice known by its neutral term “rendition”, but more honestly defined as political kidnappings to force the silencing of dissident speech or alternate thoughts.  Renditions in the West are ever more frequently practiced not only against alleged “terrorist suspects” but against ordinary political activists and writers whose viewpoints are frowned upon by such outfits as AIPAC and similar Zionist lobby and interest groups, B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress etc.

In order to spell out what I can only describe to you in broad strokes, I’d like to briefly shed light on the period preceding my arrest in the U.S. and Canada, the conniving and the similarity in other cases like mine, where an innocuous or alleged infraction is used as a fig leaf to silence a political opponent.

Viet Dinh, a Georgetown University law professor and director of their Asian Law and Policy Studies Program who helped craft the Patriot Act, put it succinctly, as reported in an American publication called Wired that deals with freedom of speech on the net. That interview reads:

Wired News: An estimated 5,000 people have been subjected to detention since 9/11. Of those, only five — three non-citizens and two citizens — were charged with terrorism-related crimes and one was convicted. How do we justify such broad-sweeping legislation that has resulted in very few terrorist-related convictions?

Dinh: I’ve heard the 5,000 number. The official numbers released from the Department of Justice indicate approximately 500 persons have been charged with immigration violations and have been deported who have been of interest to the 9/11 investigation.

It may well be that a number of citizens were not charged with terrorism-related crimes, but they need not be. Where the department has suspected people of terrorism, it will prosecute those persons for other violations of law, rather than wait for a terrorist conspiracy to fully develop and risk the potential that that conspiracy will be missed and thereby sacrificing innocent American lives in the process.

This is exactly what happened to me. The initial reason given was an alleged immigration infraction – namely a “visa overstay”. I was no terrorist; I was a dissident writer. My political detractors knew perfectly well that I was in America legally, awaiting adjustment of status due to my marriage to an American citizen. I was in Immigration Adjustment of Status proceedings, meticulously following all the prerequisite steps. I was living openly in a rural area in Tennessee and was listed by address in the local telephone book. The U.S. government had given me a Social Security number, a work permit, a document that allowed me to leave the country and return unmolested. I had undergone and passed an FBI check and a health clearance.  The only last step missing was a personal interview by an immigration official to ascertain a valid marriage to my American citizen wife.

We had been notified in writing that this interview could take as long as three years, and that no status report would be given. We were patiently waiting for that last step, a routine interview with an immigration official. Our immigration attorney had requested such an interview in writing – twice!  Under oath, he testified that he had written those letters.  These letters have mysteriously disappeared from our immigration file.  When I was arrested, it was claimed that I had negligently “missed a hearing” which gave them grounds for an arrest due to a visa overstay. In other words, a simple bureaucratic loophole was found or fabricated that has cost me seven years of my life.

What happened to me in the context of a deliberate state policy of deception has also happened to others.  Similar ruses via false accusations were used in cases like Germar Rudolf, likewise married to an American citizen, El Masri of Germany, Maher Arar of Canada, Gerd Honsik of Spain, Siegfried Verbeke of Belgium, David Irving, and now Bishop Williamson of England, to name only a few individuals who were caught between the grind stones of a criminal policy possible only under the Patriot Act in the U.S. and similar legal instruments in other countries. Embedded in that background of a widespread covert policy and practice to force political conformity, my case makes eminent sense. We are no longer dealing with an aberration. These extrajudicial renditions give 9/11 and the Patriot Act a new light as a global policy instrument of brutal censorship of unpopular thinkers and writers.

The thrust of a prestigious publication such as yours would normally deal with the policies of foreign governments, renditions, kidnappings, and incarcerations not only of foreign enemies but, as in the case of Vanunu, an Israeli-born- and-raised atomic scientist. He was no neo-Nazi, no racist, no Holocaust Denier, yet he was relentlessly pursued by the Mossad and ultimately kidnapped and jailed for 18 years.

The patterns of the breaking of international law and conventions, the use of false identities, and the brazen practice of breaking and entering by spy and intelligence agencies, etc. – these criminal activities are daily in the news. This sets the stage and makes my case a logical progression of an old, established policy, with this one difference: we are no longer talking about hunting and kidnapping alleged “Nazi war criminals” like Eichmann or stone-throwing Palestinians or even “Arab terrorists”, but instead the targeting of writers and other political dissidents in Western countries calling themselves “democracies”.

My story does not even end there. In my case, my “Holocaust Denier” profile was convenient, but passé. It was not even, as is so commonly and falsely claimed, “Denial of the Holocaust” or even more bizarre, my “visa overstay”!  I was told what actually happened by a friend of ours with high-level UN connections. In his own words: “It was the Blue Booklet that did it! That’s when it was decided at the very highest level to take you out for good!”

Here is what happened, briefly: In the early months post-9/11 my wife, an avid Internetter, discovered a compelling research document entitled Stranger than Fiction: An Independent Investigation of 9/11 and the War on Terrorism by Anonymous, 11-11-2. She gave it to me over breakfast. I read it, found it interesting, and ran a few copies off on my printer for people on my mailing list. I did not write that lavishly footnoted paper. I did not research it. I merely copied it.  Somebody must have concluded that I, with my background of thorough forensic investigations in other areas, showed more than ordinary interest in 9/11 as a potential political false flag common in intelligence agency operations!

During my trial in Mannheim, ostensibly for “Holocaust Denial”, portions of my monthly newsletter, where I mentioned this booklet and the 9/11 topic, were referenced by the prosecution as criminal offenses. Only after it became clear that I welcomed the opportunity to have my attorneys present forensic evidence of a potential 9/11 cover-up were those portions of the accusation against me hastily dropped, and my trial became a “Holocaust Denial” show trial in the traditional Stalinist mode, “… accuse wildly but don’t allow a defense!”

As we later found out through various freedom of information requests in various countries, there was in place for years a deliberate, convoluted plan to arrest and detain me under false pretenses so as to take me out and put me behind bars.

I mention this only as an overarching, logical example as to how diabolically clever my political opponents are in using the accusation of “Holocaust Denial” and persecution of Holocaust Revisionists as arrows in their arsenal of weaponry to shore up, consolidate, and protect their deceptively acquired power and influence.

What’s the reality behind Holocaust? Didn’t it happen at all? What about people such as Elie Wiesel, Thomas Blatt, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski and Leopold Engleitner who are Holocaust survivors and describe their own accounts of those painful days, when they personally witnessed the heart-rending demise of their parents in concentration camps and bone-crushing machines. How should we resolve these contradictions?

I will not answer this question.  I would risk five more years in jail if I answered these questions honestly and truthfully. However, in the age of the Internet, others less known than I am find ways to simplify a painful, multifaceted problem, as the cartoon below makes plain:

Many people of other countries have come to the categorical conclusion that the Western world is a beacon of liberty and unrestricted freedom of speech. But it sometimes seems that the reality is something else, and that people can be easily prosecuted merely for publishing views that are disliked. The booklet you published, Did Six Million Really Die?, is an example. What do you think?

Here is just one more example of what I already outlined above: We have faxes and other documents that prove on official embassy letterhead that the much vaunted and propagandized U.S. Judiciary has run interference for these kidnappers and renditioners via behind-the-scenes ex parte communication, thus engaging in a cover-up and whitewash worse than the ones practiced by those the U.S. government always blames for human rights violations in their hypocritical press campaigns, like against China in Tibet, Lukashenko in Belarus, Putin in Moscow and, of course, Iran during the recent so-called Green Revolution.

Many Zionist websites have introduced you as a white supremacist. Is that a fair characterization?

This claim is a convenient character assassination technique. I have never been a white supremacist and have stated so for decades, publicly, in countless interviews, newsletters, speeches, broadcasts, etc. It is my opponents’ modus operandi to broad-brush complex issues by politically expedient demonization.

You’re opposed to the regime of Israel because of its discriminatory and atrocious approach against the nation of Palestine. You consider yourself a pacifist who advocates stability and peace; aren’t these beliefs incompatible with your viewpoint regarding Hitler, who is internationally considered to be a notorious dictator and relentless killer? How can your peace-seeking stance come together with your approval of Hitler?

I cannot answer this question due to legal restraints.  An honest and complete answer would land me in jail as a re-offender very quickly. Implicit in your question is the toxic image of me that my detractors would like you to have.  To be called a Nazi is worse than being called a leper. For decades I have been on the receiving end of just such a targeted character assassination campaign. I have been jailed many times not for advocating an ideology but for expressing a dissident, alternative viewpoint on many topics, including Adolf Hitler’s role in history.  Revisionism is not an ideology.  It is merely a scientific method of re-examining historical events and of trying to understand the movers and shakers who made history a footnote to their personalities.

Let me answer your question this way:  I have always abhorred any kind of violence in the pursuit of political goals.  By anyone! Politically, I was and am a pacifist, much in the Gandhi style. I advocate a sober, neutral look at history, including the period known as the Third Reich. The peoples of the world, regardless of what system of government they live under, owe it to themselves to emancipate themselves of the simplistic images of propaganda and deceit posing as history.

On May 1995, your Toronto residence was the target of an arson attack which resulted in $400,000 worth of damage. A few days later, some of your extremist opponents were caught trying to break into your property. Again a few days later, you received a parcel bomb which the Toronto police detonated. Have you ever tried to lodge a complaint against them? Have they ever been lawfully sentenced?

This is the flip side of some of the questions above. While I have never advocated or engaged in violence, egregious acts of violence have been repeatedly practiced on me, of which the political kidnapping in 2003 was merely the latest. As to the fire and the bomb, no, nothing was ever resolved. The police apprehended the bomb builders and senders, but the charges laid were stayed. There seems to have been no political will at the highest levels of the Canadian government. There was no political coin to be garnered by prosecuting Jewish arsonists, who even confessed to the deed.

Do you differentiate between the Zionists  and Jews as the followers of a divine, monotheistic religion?

Yes, the two are totally different. Some Orthodox Jews who are united against Zionism, such as the Neturei Karta, believe that also. They know the godfathers of Communism and Zionism followed identical policies. The guiding spirit behind the two systems is the same. Neturei Karta rabbis attended the 2006 Teheran Conference sponsored by your President in an attempt to distance themselves from what they consider to be a dangerous atheist clique in the pursuit of illegal politics of conquest of which they want no part.

The mainstream corporate media, while having already vilified you, remained silent about your release. What do you think about this? Are you going to continue your ideological path or would you prefer to keep a low profile and forget about the intellectual activities?

Ironically, that was exactly what I intended to do when I moved to Tennessee and married Ingrid; keeping a low profile and turning to private endeavors such as my love for art and music.  I felt that my revisionist outreach was finished, concluded to my inner satisfaction. Let others read both sides and then judge for themselves. All the arguments, all the information needed on the Holocaust is out there, on the Internet, in tens of thousands of websites, all for the taking. How often do you have to dig up an archeological site to find yet one more bone, yet one more implicating shard? My wife likes to say that you don’t have to eat a camel to know what a cutlet tastes like. I was quite ready to retire and satisfy my creative needs and desires. I could leave the political mopping-up activities for others to complete. But could my political opponents bring themselves, as rational people might have, to likewise call it quits? No; that is simply not in their nature.

As you point out so cogently, a powerful vilification campaign is still going full blast. It keeps my name in the media for people to decide for themselves who I am. Upon my release, my wife has collected thousands and thousands of letters from readers, only three of which were negative! Not a bad record, of the millions of dollars spent and millions of words dispersed in an attempt to paint me as as a devil with horns.

Let me ask you – would your prestigious publication have cared to interview me if you thought that I deserved the label of Evil Incarnate?

[Editor’s note: The views and beliefs of Ernst Zundel are his own, and not those of Foreign Policy Journal. It is the policy of FPJ to uphold the principle of freedom of speech, which means freedom to say things that others may find despicable. It is otherwise a meaningless principle. It is also the position of FPJ that both sides to a story deserve to be heard. It’s up to readers to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgments.]

Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and the author of Book 7+1. He is a contributing writer for websites and magazines in the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. He is a member of Stony Brook University Publications’ editorial team and Media Left magazine’s board of editors, as well as a contributing editor for Finland’s Award-winning Ovi Magazine. As a young Iranian journalist, he has been interviewed and quoted by several mainstream mediums, including BBC World Service, PBS Media Shift, the Media Line network, Deutsch Financial Times, L.A. Times and Sky News. He is a contributing writer of Tehran Times newspaper. His articles and interviews have been translated into numerous languages, including Spanish, Italian, German and Arabic. Contact him at kourosh@foreignpolicyjournal.com. Read more articles by Kourosh Ziabari.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , | 2 Comments

France implicated in Hariri murder case

Press TV – May 1, 2010

A witness who gave false testimony in the case of the murder of the former Lebanese premier says France had provided him with a forged passport to help him get away with perjury.

A report by the Volatairenet website said that France had provided Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq — the key witness in the case of Rafiq Hariri’s murder — with a forged passport to grant him immunity from prosecution.

The report came amid accusations by the US and Israel against Syria and Hezbollah, claiming that traces of their involvement were found in Hariri’s assassination in 2005.

According to the report, a UN probe committee headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis had relied on the testimony given by Siddiq, who claimed to be a former senior Syrian intelligence official.

In his testimony, Siddiq had accused the Syrian and Lebanese presidents of masterminding the murder. He also accused seven Syrian and four Lebanese generals of organizing the assassination.

After presenting his testimony, Siddiq took refuge in the Spanish property of Rifaat al-Assad, who is the pro-US uncle of incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Siddiq was then offered support by the French General Directorate for External Security (DGSE).

While being under the protection of DGSE, the French police department eavesdropped on his telephone calls and found out that Siddiq had lied to the tribunal tasked with probing Hariri’s murder case that he was a senior Syrian official.

It was later reported in Lebanese media that Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt had paid him to commit perjury.

In their defense, Hariri and Jumblatt denied paying for perjury, but admitted to having encouraged Siddiq to testify, believing he was sincere.

Siddiq was then arrested in France under an international arrest warrant issued by the Lebanese judiciary but was later released with Paris refusing to extradite him to Lebanon.

He was living in Paris for a while but later vanished into thin air in March 2008. The French government did not provide any explanation on the issue.

Siddiq was then traced in the UAE, where he was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison for carrying a forged Czech passport.

After being released from prison in the UAE, Siddiq told reporters that he received his passport from the office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to escape Lebanese justice.

Hariri was Lebanon’s most prominent politician since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war. He was killed in a massive truck bombing that set off a spiral of political turmoil in Lebanon.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on France implicated in Hariri murder case

Obama Administration Gives Priority to Bioweapons Research

By Sherwood Ross | BLACKLISTED NEWS | 05-01-2010

The priorities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the area of bacteriology have been “catastrophically re-ordered” by emphasizing bioweapons research over non-bioweapons research, a prominent authority states.

Giving priority to bioweapons research at NIH, started under the Bush Administration and continuing under President Obama, “diverts resources from critical public-health and scientific objectives,” says Richard Ebright, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

“The negative impact has been most severe in bacteriology, in which NIH research priorities have been catastrophically re-ordered—with research on bacterial bioweapons receiving more support than research on the top five bacterial causes of death combined—and in which non-bioweapons research has suffered catastrophic losses in resources and personnel,” Ebright said.

Ebright cited the examples of research into two bacterial pathogens: “Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, which claim 40,000 and 20,000 U.S. lives each year, respectively. Each kills more Americans than HIV-AIDS (15,000 U.S. lives) “but neither of these bacterial pathogens is on the list of NIAID Priority Pathogens,” Ebright pointed out. (NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the subdivision of NIH responsible for infectious-disease research.)

“These two killer bacterial pathogens are not in NIAID’s ‘Category A’, with the anthrax bacterium and the smallpox virus, or even in NIAID’s ‘Category B’ or ‘Category C,’” Ebright says. “Something is wrong—very wrong—when NIAID fails to prioritize the top infectious cause of U.S. death,” he said in an email to this reporter.

Other top bacterial causes of U.S. deaths include Enterococcus faecium/faecalis, Clostridium difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. “Of these, only the last is on the NIAID Priority Pathogens list and this pathogen is only in Category C,” Ebright said.

Asked “What is the mood of the scientific life sciences community at this time toward the Administration?” Ebright responded, “Hopeful expectation” but “growing concern that, thus far, there has been more continuity [from the Bush Administration] than change.”

The scope of the government’s involvement in bioweapons research, may be gauged from its estimated expenditure of $70 billion since 9/11 and the fact that, according to Ebright, more than 400 U.S. institutions are engaged in such work.

Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, said that in constant dollars the $70 billion “is twice what they spent on the Manhattan Project to develop the A-bomb—ergo, this is a weapons program.”

Boyle, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 for the U.S., said President Bush “turned the NIH into a front organization for biowarfare work,” and “(President) Obama is simply continuing the Bush policies” and is “now even exporting biowarfare capabilities to Third World Countries.”

Asked about the scope of the nation’s biowarfare activities, Boyle estimated there are “about 13,000 death scientists involved…(so) Dr. (Josef) Mengele has arrived on American campuses all over and the universities’ Institutional Review Boards (to review biowarfare research programs) are a joke and a fraud, too.” (Mengele was a German SS officer and physician who, during WWII, performed diabolical experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.)

Boyle said, “There is so much money involved that universities simply are not going to turn down these proposals no matter how reprehensible they might read…”

At his own University of Illinois, Boyle said, previous biowarfare research and development contracts with the Pentagon clearly stated: “We have selected pigs (to gas with biowarfare agents) because they have a circulatory system and a respiratory system similar to human beings.”

Boyle said, “I am sure similar type biowarfare contracts that are clearly anti-human, anti-ethical, illegal and criminal on their face alone have been approved all over (at) American universities by now. Money talks. Ethics walks.”

#

Sherwood Ross formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News and contributed regular columns to Reuters and UPI. His articles on biowarfare have been published in The Humanist and other magazines. Reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 3 Comments

Chas Freeman: Israel is useless to US power projection

By Chas Freeman on April 30, 2010

The other day Stephen Maher published a piece at Electronic Intifada saying that American thirst for hegemony in the region, and not the Israel lobby, is the prime motivator of US policy in Israel and Palestine. What follows is an excerpt of a private email exchange responding to Maher’s post, reprinted by permission of the author, Chas Freeman, a former assistant secretary of defense.

Maher’s account is far from novel on any score but he is describing Japan’s, the UK’s, or Qatar’s role in US strategy, not Israel’s. A few facts to ponder when considering his assertion that Israel is a huge and essential asset for US global and regional strategy:

— the US has no bases or troop presence in Israel and stores only minimal military supplies in the country (and these under terms that allow these supplies to be used essentially at will by the IDF).

— Israeli bases are not available for US use.

— none of Israel’s neighbors will facilitate overflight for military aircraft transiting Israeli territory, let alone taking off from there. Israel is useless for purposes of strategic logistics or power projection.

— Israel is worse than irrelevant to the defense of Middle Eastern energy supplies; the US relationship with Israel has jeopardized these supplies (as in 1973), not contributed to securing them.

— US relations with Israel do not bolster US prestige in Middle Eastern oil-producing countries or assist the US to “dominate” them, they complicate and weaken US influence; they have at times resulted in the suspension of US relations with such countries.

— Israel does not have the diplomatic prestige or capacity to marshal support for US interests or policies globally or in its own region and does not do so; on the contrary, it requires constant American defense against political condemnation and sanctions by the international community.

— Israel does not fund aid programs in third countries to complement and support US foreign or military policy as other allies and strategic partners do.

Japan provides multiple bases and pays “host nation support” for the US presence (though that presence as well as the fact that Japan is paying for a good deal of it are growing political issues in Japan). The air base in Qatar from which the US directs air operations throughout the region (including in both Iraq and Afghanistan) was built and is maintained at host nation expense. So too the ground force and naval facilities we use elsewhere in the Gulf. The US is paid for the weapons and military services it provides to its European and Asian allies as well as its Arab strategic partners. Washington has never had to exercise a veto or pay a similar political price to protect any of them from condemnation or sanctions by the international community. Japan and various Arab countries, as well as European nations, have often paid for US foreign assistance and military programs in third countries or designed their own programs specifically to supplement US activities.

Washington has made Israel our largest recipient of foreign aid, encouraged private transfers to it through unique tax breaks, transferred huge quantities of weapons and munitions to it gratis, directly and indirectly subsidized the Israeli defense industry, allocated military R&D to Israeli rather than US institutions, offered Israeli armaments manufacturers the same status as US manufacturers for purposes of US defense procurement, etc.. Almost all US vetoes at the United Nations and decisions to boycott international conferences and meetings have been on behalf of Israel. Israel treats its ability to command support from Washington as a major tool of diplomatic influence in third countries; it does not exercise its very limited influence abroad in support of US as opposed to its own objectives.

As others have said with greater indirection than I have here, one must look elsewhere than Israel’s strategic utility to the United States for the explanation of its privileged status in US foreign policy, iniquitous as Maher considers that policy to be.

~

Electronic Intifada and the mudkicker

By M. Idrees | Pulse Media | May 1, 2010

The Electronic Intifada has on its front page a ludicrous, factually challenged and logically flawed attack on John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s work — work that has been pivotal in shifting the debate on US Middle East policy. It is not clear to me what EI was hoping to achieve with this self-defeating move. But I don’t blame the author of the article — the fellow is clueless, he has cobbled together his screed from arguments and quotes randomly lifted from Noam Chomsky’s writings — I blame EI’s political and editorial judgment. At a time when Israeli colonization is intensifying, with the land in the grip of a neo-Fascist government, one’s priorities must be seriously upside down to spend precious time impugning the invaluable work of allies. It appears for some supporters of Palestine the need to feel self-righteous takes precedence over the imperative to be effective. Now, it is beneath me to respond to someone who freely purloins others’ work, misuses sources, and constructs a slipshod argument. But I’ll give two illustrative examples of the kind of deliberate distoritions that keep resurfacing in these ideological assaults on M & W (in both cases the specific claims have been ‘borrowed’ from Chomsky):

Chomsky has long maintained that the war in Iraq was for oil. He always produces the same evidence to support his case. A state department document from 1945, a quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski and another from George Kennan. Chomsky argues that Middle East oil is ‘a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history’ (State Department), and anyone who controls Iraq’s vast oil reserves gains ‘critical leverage’ (Brzezinski), indeed ‘veto power’ (Kennan), over competitors. All of this is indisputable: the United States would no doubt like to control Iraqi oil; it recognizes the ‘critical leverage’ the control affords it; and the critical leverage no doubt would grant it ‘veto power’. Now here is the problem: The State department document Chomsky cites is about Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. And it recommends that, precisely because Saudi oil is so important, US must always maintain friendly relations with the kingdom. Also, it does not follow that regime change is the only means to achieve these goals. Indeed, all of these claims have been just as true the past half century, but they did not necessitate war. The US has long preferred shoring up authoritarian regimes which could ensure its dominance and maintain a stable flow of oil.

Secondly, The Iraqi government was not withholding its oil; it was the US-led sanctions that were preventing it from reaching the markets. There is no evidence that Iraq was unwilling to cede control of its oil to the United States. Indeed, in the months leading up to war Saddam Hussein’s government made several attempts to stave off war by offering the United States exclusive concessions to its oil reserves. If oil was indeed the motivation, then one would expect plentiful evidence of oil interests influencing policy, or at least in selling the war. Chomsky offers none. Nor does he inform readers that Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man whose words he cites as evidence of Iraq as a ‘resource war’, was one of its most vocal opponents. Bzrezinski has called the war ‘a historic, strategic, and moral calamity…driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris’.

In his peculiar reading of Brzezinski, Chomsky ascribes him a view that is an inversion of what he actually says. Brzezinski, who saw the invasion as an unnecessary war by the pro-Israel neoconservatives, avers:

American and Israeli interests in the region are not entirely congruent. America has major strategic and economic interests in the Middle East that are dictated by the region’s vast energy supplies. Not only does America benefit economically from the relatively low costs of Middle Eastern oil, but America’s security role in the region gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region. Hence good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates…is in the U.S. national interest. From Israel’s standpoint, however, the resulting American-Arab ties are disadvantageous: they not only limit the degree to which the United States is prepared to back Israel’s territorial aspirations, they also stimulate American sensitivity to Arab grievances against Israel. (my emphasis)

Since the EI scrivener reproduces Chomsky’s exact interpretation of the ‘critical leverage’ quote along with Kennan’s on ‘veto power’, it is clear that he hasn’t even bothered reading the original sources. The same is true of his other comment about Israel serving as an offshore base for the US (which he mistakenly attributes to Chomsky, who is in fact quoting Alexander Haig). What this fellow doesn’t know is that the comment was uttered in a certain context: i.e., Haig’s bureaucratic struggle against Reagan (whom he saw as an intellectual inferior) in which he was keen to enlist Israel lobby support. (For more on this, see Patrick Tyler’s excellent A World of Trouble or my review of it). So long as the de-contextualized quotes fit preconceived notions, who cares what was actually said or done?

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim called this the ‘ideological method’: the use of ‘notions to govern the collation of facts, rather than deriving notions from them’. In the a-historical writings of these analysts-on-the-cheap, one frequently finds that two and two add up to yield twenty-two. If US support for Israel and its interests in the region’s oil have remained constant over the years, it must mean the two are complementary. They aren’t. As I explained elsewhere:

United States Middle East policy has been defined since World War II by the tension between two competing concerns: the strategic interests which require good relations with Arab-Muslim states, and domestic political imperatives which demand unquestioning allegiance to Israel. That the US interest in the region’s energy resources has remained consistent, as well as its support for Israel, leads some to conclude that somehow the two are complementary. They aren’t. US President Harry S. Truman recognized the state of Israel the day of its founding over the strenuous objections of his State Department in order to court the Jewish vote and, more significantly, Jewish money for his re-election campaign. Every president since — with the exception of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, who saw no cause to feign balance — has sought to address this tension with attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. All these efforts have so far foundered. A study of US policy in the region over the decades, then, is inevitably a study of the causes of these failures [among which the Israel lobby looms largest].

It is not clear to me why The Electronic Intifada would undermine years of valuable work by giving platform to this discreditable piece of charlatanry. It has certainly made me reconsider any future association with the publication. We are at a juncture that calls for political maturity, to make the most of the openings recently created. This type of reactionary posturing and myopic absolutism merely serves as an alibi for inaction.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Chas Freeman: Israel is useless to US power projection

Electronic Intifada and the mudkicker

By M. Idrees | Pulse Media | May 1, 2010

The Electronic Intifada has on its front page a ludicrous, factually challenged and logically flawed attack on John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s work — work that has been pivotal in shifting the debate on US Middle East policy. It is not clear to me what EI was hoping to achieve with this self-defeating move. But I don’t blame the author of the article — the fellow is clueless, he has cobbled together his screed from arguments and quotes randomly lifted from Noam Chomsky’s writings — I blame EI’s political and editorial judgment. At a time when Israeli colonization is intensifying, with the land in the grip of a neo-Fascist government, one’s priorities must be seriously upside down to spend precious time impugning the invaluable work of allies. It appears for some supporters of Palestine the need to feel self-righteous takes precedence over the imperative to be effective. Now, it is beneath me to respond to someone who freely purloins others’ work, misuses sources, and constructs a slipshod argument. But I’ll give two illustrative examples of the kind of deliberate distortions that keep resurfacing in these ideological assaults on M & W (in both cases the specific claims have been ‘borrowed’ from Chomsky):

Chomsky has long maintained that the war in Iraq was for oil. He always produces the same evidence to support his case. A state department document from 1945, a quote from Zbigniew Brzezinski and another from George Kennan. Chomsky argues that Middle East oil is ‘a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history’ (State Department), and anyone who controls Iraq’s vast oil reserves gains ‘critical leverage’ (Brzezinski), indeed ‘veto power’ (Kennan), over competitors. All of this is indisputable: the United States would no doubt like to control Iraqi oil; it recognizes the ‘critical leverage’ the control affords it; and the critical leverage no doubt would grant it ‘veto power’. Now here is the problem: The State department document Chomsky cites is about Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. And it recommends that, precisely because Saudi oil is so important, US must always maintain friendly relations with the kingdom. Also, it does not follow that regime change is the only means to achieve these goals. Indeed, all of these claims have been just as true the past half century, but they did not necessitate war. The US has long preferred shoring up authoritarian regimes which could ensure its dominance and maintain a stable flow of oil.

Secondly, The Iraqi government was not withholding its oil; it was the US-led sanctions that were preventing it from reaching the markets. There is no evidence that Iraq was unwilling to cede control of its oil to the United States. Indeed, in the months leading up to war Saddam Hussein’s government made several attempts to stave off war by offering the United States exclusive concessions to its oil reserves. If oil was indeed the motivation, then one would expect plentiful evidence of oil interests influencing policy, or at least in selling the war. Chomsky offers none. Nor does he inform readers that Zbigniew Brzezinski, the man whose words he cites as evidence of Iraq as a ‘resource war’, was one of its most vocal opponents. Bzrezinski has called the war ‘a historic, strategic, and moral calamity…driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris’.

In his peculiar reading of Brzezinski, Chomsky ascribes him a view that is an inversion of what he actually says. Brzezinski, who saw the invasion as an unnecessary war by the pro-Israel neoconservatives, avers:

American and Israeli interests in the region are not entirely congruent. America has major strategic and economic interests in the Middle East that are dictated by the region’s vast energy supplies. Not only does America benefit economically from the relatively low costs of Middle Eastern oil, but America’s security role in the region gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region. Hence good relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates… is in the U.S. national interest. From Israel’s standpoint, however, the resulting American-Arab ties are disadvantageous: they not only limit the degree to which the United States is prepared to back Israel’s territorial aspirations, they also stimulate American sensitivity to Arab grievances against Israel. (my emphasis)

Since the EI scrivener reproduces Chomsky’s exact interpretation of the ‘critical leverage’ quote along with Kennan’s on ‘veto power’, it is clear that he hasn’t even bothered reading the original sources. The same is true of his other comment about Israel serving as an offshore base for the US (which he mistakenly attributes to Chomsky, who is in fact quoting Alexander Haig). What this fellow doesn’t know is that the comment was uttered in a certain context: i.e., Haig’s bureaucratic struggle against Reagan (whom he saw as an intellectual inferior) in which he was keen to enlist Israel lobby support. (For more on this, see Patrick Tyler’s excellent A World of Trouble or my review of it). So long as the de-contextualized quotes fit preconceived notions, who cares what was actually said or done?

The French sociologist Emile Durkheim called this the ‘ideological method’: the use of ‘notions to govern the collation of facts, rather than deriving notions from them’. In the a-historical writings of these analysts-on-the-cheap, one frequently finds that two and two add up to yield twenty-two. If US support for Israel and its interests in the region’s oil have remained constant over the years, it must mean the two are complementary. They aren’t. As I explained elsewhere:

United States Middle East policy has been defined since World War II by the tension between two competing concerns: the strategic interests which require good relations with Arab-Muslim states, and domestic political imperatives which demand unquestioning allegiance to Israel. That the US interest in the region’s energy resources has remained consistent, as well as its support for Israel, leads some to conclude that somehow the two are complementary. They aren’t. US President Harry S. Truman recognized the state of Israel the day of its founding over the strenuous objections of his State Department in order to court the Jewish vote and, more significantly, Jewish money for his re-election campaign. Every president since — with the exception of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush, who saw no cause to feign balance — has sought to address this tension with attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. All these efforts have so far foundered. A study of US policy in the region over the decades, then, is inevitably a study of the causes of these failures [among which the Israel lobby looms largest].

It is not clear to me why The Electronic Intifada would undermine years of valuable work by giving platform to this discreditable piece of charlatanry. It has certainly made me reconsider any future association with the publication. We are at a juncture that calls for political maturity, to make the most of the openings recently created. This type of reactionary posturing and myopic absolutism merely serves as an alibi for inaction.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Irish activist arrested and injured at anti-CRH protest in West Bank village

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign | April 30, 2010

Irish activist and documentarian Tommy Donnelan, 63, was this afternoon wounded and detained for two hours by the Israeli Military in the West Bank.

CRH placards lead the demoCRH placards lead the demo

While filming a non-violent protest against the role of Irish cement multinational CRH in building Israel’s apartheid wall in the village of Bil’in, Mr. Donnellan was rushed by an Israeli snatch-squad of 4 or 5 soldiers. His throat and shirt were grabbed, his gas mask was torn off, and after being wrestled to the ground he was arrested. During the arrest he sustained a 3 inch gash to his right leg and was bleeding hevaily from his left ear, from which a piece was torn off. About two hours later he was released without charge.

Speaking after his release, Mr. Donnellan stated: “Thank the Lord I’m ok now. I’ve lost a chunk of my ear – but not my dignity. I was plainly in the role of journalist, videoing the proceedings, I should not have been arrested, especially in such a violent manner.”

Mr. Donnellan continued: “This is yet another example of the impunity and inhumanity with which the Israli occupation forces operate on a daily basis. It is also shines an unflattering light of the shameful activities of the Irish cement company CRH, who are directly involved in the building of this monstrous wall and thus complicit in what happened to me today, and in the regular human rights abuses – including murder of anti-Wall activists – by the Israeli military in Bil’in and elsewhere.”

Every Friday afternoon residents of the West Bank village of bil’in, along with Israeli and International activists stage a non-violent protest against the construction of the Wall on their land.

Today’s demonsration focused on the role CRH plays in the building of the Wall – CRH owns 25% of Israel’s sole cement company, (Mashav) Nesher Cement. Palestinians led the demonstration – carring placards calling on CRH to divest from its Israeli cement subsidiary – to the spot where 31-year-old Bil’in resident Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed by the Israeli military last year.

At this spot, Mr. Iyad Burnat, coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee, addressed CRH dirctely saying “You are complicit in the murder and killing of my friend Bassem, and all the other non-violent activists that have been killed and injured for resisting this horrendous wall. CRH is directly implictict. I, as a Palestinian, am asking the Irish people to join the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and get involved in the divestment campaign against CRH. This complicity must end.”

This year the CRH Annual General Meeting starts at 11am Wednesday May 5th, in the Royal Marine Hotel, Marine Road in Dun Laoghaire. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) is organising a protest outside. We will be assembling at at 10.15am at the Catholic church plaza.

Find petition at link: http://www.ipsc.ie/crhdivest

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Irish activist arrested and injured at anti-CRH protest in West Bank village

Nato troops kill three Afghan women

Al-Jazeera | April 30, 2010

Two women and a girl have been killed and two men injured after Nato troops opened fire on a car in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Afghanistan’s interior ministry said that the victims were traveling on a highway in Zabul province on Friday when foreign troops opened fire, killing three of the five civilians in the car.

“A foreign forces convoy opened fire on a vehicle coming the other way, thinking they were Taliban,” Zemarai Bashary, the interior ministry spokesman, said.

“Two women and one girl were killed and one other woman was wounded.”

‘Investigation underway’

A spokesman for the Zabul governor said the troops were part of Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and had stopped on the road to defuse a bomb.

“ISAF had to defuse a roadside bomb near a bridge when a small vehicle approached. ISAF told them to stop, fired a warning shot, then shot at the car,” Mohammad Jan Rasul Yar, the spokesman, said.

Eyewitnesses said that the troops, were carrying out house-to-house searches in a village, opened fire first without firing warning shots.

Nick Carter, the ISAF regional commander, said that the military was investigating the allegations but gave no further details.

Friday’s incident is the latest in a long list of civilians mistakenly killed by US-led troops fighting the Taliban. It comes just weeks after US troops opened fire on a bus in the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual capital, killing four civilians and sparking angry public protests. It also comes one day after the French military admitted that its troops accidentally killed four children in eastern Afghanistan on April 6 in a missile attack.

May 1, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment