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Obama — still a slave of the Israel lobby

By Paul Woodward on May 20, 2010

Will sanctions against Iran work?

There seems to be a near-universal consensus that sanctions won’t persuade Iran’s leaders to abandon the Islamic republic’s uranium enrichment program — but maybe that’s besides the point. Maybe by now what would be the most cynical interpretation of the Obama administration’s objectives can also be treated as the most credible view.

In this instance, what does that mean? It means that the drive to impose sanctions on Iran has less to do with Iran than it has to do with calming the fears of the Democratic Party’s wealthiest Zionist donors ahead of this fall’s midterm elections.

Unnerved by the repeated warnings that Israel faces an existential threat, these donors won’t sign their checks until they’ve heard a sufficiently soothing answer to the question: “What are you doing about Iran?”

“We’ll do whatever it takes.” “We’re pushing for tougher sanctions than the Bush administration did.” “We’re absolutely dedicated to preventing Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.”

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

House votes 410-4 to award another $205 million to–

By Henry Norr on May 20, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives just voted 410-4 to authorize delivering an extra $205 million of our taxpayer dollars to Israel – on top of the $3 billion in military assistance already in the pipeline for FY2011. H.R.5327, the United States-Israel Missile Defense Cooperation and Support Act, was introduced just two days ago, after the Obama Administration notified Israel that it would support the authorization and appropriation of funds for Israel to purchase ten batteries of the “Iron Dome” missile defense system.

Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and nearly all the other “progressives” voted for the bill. (The complete roll call results are here.) The only “No” votes came from John Conyers, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Pete Stark. Kucinich and Paul have pretty consistently opposed aid to Israel, but Conyers’ vote is a pleasant surprise, as he has only rarely dared to stand up to the Israel lobby. Stark, the least prominent of the four, is a moderately liberal Democrat who represents the southeastern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. According to Wikipedia, he is the first, and so far only, openly atheist member of Congress. Though he hasn’t often spoken out about the Middle East, he was among the 54 reps who signed the letter to Obama in January calling for an end to the siege of Gaza. And he, like Lee, was feted at the Democratic Party function last week in Castro Valley where some of us demonstrated to demand an end to aid for Israel – we were focused on Lee, but perhaps we had some effect on Stark?

The bill specifically authorizes funding for “Iron Dome,” a high-tech system that’s supposed to defend against Katyusha rockets (fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel in 2006) and the Qassam projectiles Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza lob over the wall toward Sderot and adjacent areas. Israel has been working on the system for years, but Haaretz reported last week that “The Israel Defense Forces ducked away from funding the project with its budget, explaining that offensive readiness was a higher priority, and the Defense Ministry has been looking for other budgetary avenues.” With Obama and Congress stepping into the breach, the IDF will now be free to devote all its resources to “offensive readiness.”

The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has an action alert with useful talking points about the new bill here.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on House votes 410-4 to award another $205 million to–

PROJECTILE DYSFUNCTION

Media Lens | May 20, 2010

Last week, the BBC reported Barack Obama’s request to Congress for $200 million in military aid to assist Israel’s construction of a short-range rocket defence system, Iron Dome. The funding will be in addition to the $3 billion in military aid the US annually sends to Israel. A BBC online article explained:

“The system is designed to shoot down mortars and rockets from Gaza or Southern Lebanon with guided missiles.” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/ middle_east/8681919.stm)

Details were provided:

“Iron Dome was conceived and developed in Israel following the Lebanon war of 2006, during which Hezbollah launched about 4,000 rockets into northern Israel. Southern Israel has also come under fire, with thousands of rockets and mortars fired by Palestinian militants.”

The BBC failed to mention that during the 2006 war Lebanon was subjected to 12,000 Israeli bombing raids, 2,500 navy shells, 100,000 army shells and 4.6 million cluster bombs. (Jane’s Defence Weekly, ‘The war in numbers,’ August 23, 2006 and http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/02/17/ israel-s-use-cluster-bombs-shows-need-global-ban)

Even prior to the December 27, 2008 Operation Cast Lead offensive – when Israel attacked Gaza with hundreds of bombing raids and drone attacks, and thousands of artillery and tank shells – 14 Israelis had been killed by mostly home-made rockets fired from Gaza over the previous seven years as against 5,000 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces. Some 1,400 Palestinians were massacred in the Cast Lead assault. […]

No Logic Whatsoever

The BBC commented on the status of the Iron Dome technology:

“Israel completed tests on the system in January. Officials say the next phase in its development is its integration into the Israeli army.”

It seems there are no investigative journalists at the BBC willing to check the claim that tests on the system have been “completed” so that the system is ready for action. As for questioning who might stand to gain from hyping this expensive technology, that is also not within the remit of BBC journalism. By contrast, the Jerusalem Post quotes the view of Tel Aviv University professor and noted military analyst Reuven Pedatzur:

“The Iron Dome is all a scam. The flight-time of a Kassam rocket to Sderot is 14 seconds, while the time the Iron Dome needs to identify a target and fire is something like 15 seconds. This means it can’t defend against anything fired from fewer than five kilometers; but it probably couldn’t defend against anything fired from 15 km., either.” (http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=175042)

Pedatzur adds:

“Considering the fact that each Iron Dome missile costs about $100,000 and each Kassam $5, all the Palestinians would need to do is build and launch a ton of rockets and hit our pocketbook.”

A second rocket system, David’s Sling, is even less workable, according to Pedatzur:

“Each one of its missiles costs $1 million, and Hizbullah has well over 40,000 rockets. This issue has no logic to it whatsoever.”

Venturing even further beyond the BBC sphere of thinkable thought, we can note that the whole issue of missile defence – which has so far cost US taxpayers alone $100 billion – has long been awash with fraudulent claims. As Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association, has noted:

“Getting to ground truth on strategic missile defense is a bit like looking for a faithful reflection in the distorted mirrors of a carnival fun house – nothing is quite what it seems.

“Performance details are shrouded in secrecy on both strategic ballistic missile defenses and the countermeasures that would be used to defeat them. Neither strategic ballistic missile offenses nor defenses have been used in combat. Many experts to whom the public has access have a vested interest in spinning evaluations of their capabilities.” (Greg Thielmann, Arms Control Association, ‘Strategic Missile Defense: A Reality Check’; http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/ TAB_StrategicMissileDefense.pdf)

During the 1991 Gulf War, the mostly male armchair generals of the media swooned before the power and precision of the Patriot anti-missile interceptor. The Guardian gushed:

“The Patriot, a surface-to-air missile, is first among equals of the equipment demonstrated in the Gulf conflict. Although Raytheon and the Pentagon credited the Patriot with only a ‘secondary anti-missile capability,’ it has succeeded against Iraqi Scuds on each occasion it has been called on. Its performance belies concerns which led the Israelis to decide against buying it.” (Francis Tusa, ‘War in the Gulf: Patriot makers race to keep pace with booming demand,’ The Guardian, January 22, 1991)

Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent:

“We are all beginning to feel rather fond of the Patriot missile… The Patriots have performed almost as well as the maker’s advertisements would have you believe. In Saudi Arabia, the best estimate of its success is 12 out of 16 Scuds destroyed.” (Fisk, ‘Crumpled stovepipe that could still break up the coalition,’ The Independent, January 24, 1991)

Thanks to comments such as these appearing right across the media, the US defence industry was “on a high”, Larry Black noted in the Independent:

“Each time the trading-room television monitors replay those videos of cruise missiles attacking a Baghdad bunker, demand for General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas stock explodes. For every Scud knocked out of the sky by a Patriot missile, America’s defence-electronics contractors notch another dollar on their share prices.” (Black, ‘US defence industry on a high,’ The Independent, January 26, 1991)

Cynics might have put two and two – the claims of knocked out Scuds and the exploding stocks – together. The Patriot system was declared fully 98% successful in intercepting and destroying Scud missiles during the war. Professor Ted Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was subsequently asked by Congress to investigate the 98% claim. Postol commented:

“It became clear that it wasn’t even close to intercepting +any+ targets, let alone some targets.” (Postol, Great Military Blunders, Channel 4, March 2, 2000, original emphasis)

Last year, Obama similarly hailed a new generation of antimissile defenses, as “proven and effective.” These comments were based on a Pentagon assessment that the SM-3 (Standard Missile 3) had intercepted 84 per cent of incoming targets in tests. Alas, an examination of results from 10 of the allegedly successful tests – again by Postol working with George N. Lewis – found only one or two successful intercepts – a success rate of 10 to 20 per cent. Postol’s comments were again sobering:

“The system is highly fragile and brittle and will intercept warheads only by accident, if ever.”
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/ world/18missile.html?th&emc=th)

In an article for the Arms Control Association, Lewis and Postol reviewed a key document published by the Obama administration in February: the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report:

“… a review of the actual state of missile defense technologies reveals that this new vision put forth by the report is nothing more than a fiction and that the policy strategy that follows from these technical myths could well lead to a foreign policy disaster… the ground-based midcourse ballistic missile defense (GMD) system, which, according to the report, currently protects the continental United States from ICBM attack… has only been tested in carefully orchestrated scenarios that have been designed to hide fundamental flaws and produce appearances of success”.
(http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_05/Lewis-Postol)

Full article

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | Comments Off on PROJECTILE DYSFUNCTION

The continuing power of Walt & Mearsheimer

By Philip Weiss on May 20, 2010

Ezra Klein has an interesting note about Walt and Mearsheimer. He reports that Jon Chait of the New Republic started writing about Israel because of Walt and Mearsheimer, he was so angry about them; and Klein says he also was drawn into the topic by Walt and Mearsheimer, the Chait-ian reaction against them, which he regarded as “fearful tribalism.” Talk about the power of ideas.

I’m in Klein’s camp. I started writing this blog in March 2006 just before W&M published their incredible paper. I’d finally decided to write about Israel (after avoiding the topic all my life) because of a comment a relative made to me in 2003: “What do you think about this war [Iraq]? I demonstrated against the Vietnam War, but my Jewish newspaper says this war could be good for Israel.” I was shocked and disturbed by the comment. But it was Walt and Mearsheimer who gave me courage. Their bombshell paper echoed the political truth of my relative’s statement. Walt and Mearsheimer said that the neocons, the braintrust for George Bush’s disastrous war, were motivated by Zionism. I remember the day Scott McConnell emailed the paper to me, he had gotten it from Mike Desch that morning, in Texas. The shock of recognition went round the world.

The reaction was vicious. “In Dark Times Blame the Jews,” the Forward wrote at the time, a disgraceful headline. Yivo Institute held a panel to denounce the authors as anti-Semites.

Chait was defensive but Klein is not defensive. And Klein will win. Some day there will be an open conversation inside the Jewish community about the Jewish role in the Iraq war, specifically, ultra-Zionists’ role in selling a policy of permanent war in the Arab world as an American interest. Peter Beinart just further opened the door to this conversation by making it clear that his politics are fueled by Zionism, Beinart who pushed the Iraq war as “the good fight”–a book in whose index the words Israel and Palestine did not appear.

Agree with them or not, Walt and Mearsheimer’s book changed the discourse. They blew the bridge. They opened up a space where no one said you could go. Two realists, they spoke feelingly about the Nakba and the humiliations of the occupation–which all the liberals like Beinart and Ken Pollack and Lawrence Kaplan and Paul Berman had dismissed out of hand.

When their book came out in 2007, I compared it to Silent Spring and Unsafe at Any Speed, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I think that was an understatement.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Israel planning re-entry, mass detention camps in Gaza?

By Helena Cobban | Just World News | May 20, 2010

Amir Buhbut reported in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv on Tuesday that,

the IDF and Military Police forces are training for the possibility that the IDF would stage an offensive on the entire Gaza Strip, including Gaza City and other Palestinian cities, and would be compelled to govern them for an extended period.

The translation comes from INN.

Buhbut quoted an un-named military source as saying that an officer has already been chosen to be the military governor of Gaza under this scenario.

And this:

The contingency plan also calls for setting up detention facilities that will be able to hold thousands of Palestinian detainees who are suspected of terrorist activity. “In order to hold them for a lengthy period of time, and under acceptable conditions, the preparations must be made in a clear and careful way,” the military source added.The Military Police intend to make use of an advanced biometric system that the IDF and Defense Ministry operated prior to Hamas’s rise to power in the Gaza Strip, in order to enable the entry of Palestinians to work in Israel, and to examine those who returned through the border terminals.“The biometric documentation process began a long time ago, but it will soon be renewed in order to ease matter for the Palestinian population that reaches Israel along with monitoring the population registry, and if we are called upon to classify the detainees or the population that is not involved in terror, we will do so successfully,” explained a military official who is involved in the training series, in preparation for the possibility of a deterioration in the Gaza Strip.

The mass detention operation, the “monitoring” of the population registry, and the “classifying” of the detainees or the population in general are all highly coercive steps, reminiscent of some of the most abusive moments in world colonial history like the “Pipeline” system that the British deployed against Kenyan nationalists (including Pres. Obama’s own grandfather) back in the 1950s.

Or, reminiscent of the steps the U.S. military took in Iraq in general, or in Fallujah or Tel Afar in particular.

Of course, Israel has its own long record of running mass detention operations. Today it holds some 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners, many of them for long periods and without charge or trial. Those thus detained include more than tree dozen members of the Palestinian parliament elected (in an election held with U.S. and Israeli approval) in January 2006.

The many different detention operations Israel ran in Lebanon during its 22-year occupation of the country, 1978-2000, were also notable. The prison it ran along with its proxy forces in Khiam was particularly notorious for the tortures enacted therein. In addition, in the aftermath of Israel’s large-scale 1982 aggression in Lebanon, it established three major detention camps, including the notorious Ansar I camp, in which it held thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese detainees.

(None of those detention/torture operations in Lebanon helped Israel to consolidate its rule in Lebanon. Instead, they further fueled the will of the Lebanese to resist the occupation, which coalesced in particular into the establishment of Hizbullah, which had not even existed prior to 1982. Now, 28 years later, Hizbullah holds a respected position in Lebanon’s parliament and government. Next week marks the tenth anniversary of the last Israeli ground forces slinking out of Lebanon in some disarray, back in May 2000.)

I do have a question, regarding this latest report from Buhbut, as to both why the military/sources “leaked” this information to him, and why the report was “allowed” to pass through Israel’s all-pervasive military censorship system.

Was it leaked, in fact, as a way of trying to scare Gaza’s population and the elected Hamas government in Gaza into making some concessions in, for example, the on-again-off-again negotiations over a prisoner release? If so, I doubt if it will have much effect.

But it does seem that some people in the Israeli military are still so frustrated and angry over the fact that the assault they waged against Gaza 18 months ago that they’re trying to figure out how to plan and launch another version of that assault that will actually succeed in dismantling Hamas’s structures in the Strip completely.

Ain’t gonna happen. (See Lebanon, above.)

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

Oyoun Qarra Massacre, 20 May 1990

20/05/2010 — reham alhelsi

In the early hours of Sunday, May 20th, 1990, a group of 100 Palestinian labourers from the Gaza Strip were waiting at the Oyoun Qarra (Rishon Lezion) bus stop to be transported to their working place. An Israeli occupation soldier, Ami Popper, from nearby Rishon Lezion Zionist colony approached the workers and asked them for their IDs. After making sure all the workers were Palestinians, Popper lined them up, asked them to kneel down in 3 lines and using his M16 sub-machine gun he opened fire killing 7 on the spot and injuring others. When the Israeli police finally arrived to the scene of the massacre, they started beating the Palestinians workers who had survived the death machine. On that day, later known as “Black Sunday”, at least another 6 Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces in subsequent demonstrations while protesting the massacre.

As with all massacres committed by Zionists, the Israeli government rushed to declare Popper deranged. But when it was proven that he wasn’t, he was tried and charged with murder in 7 cases. However, while in detention, the terrorist Popper receives “special treatment”; he was allowed to get married, had 3 children with his wife and is allowed 48-hour furloughs. In 1997, the Israeli government reduced the prison sentences of 4 Zionist terrorists convicted of murdering Palestinians and ordered the release of a fifth Zionist terrorist. Popper’s sentence of 7 life terms was reduced to 40 years.

The 7 Palestinian martyrs were all refugees. Their parents were expelled from their homes and villages in 1948 by Zionist terrorists. To feed their families, these Palestinians were forced to work as slaves for the Zionists who had made refugees out of them. The martyrs of Oyoun Qarra massacre are:

Abdil Rahim Mohammad Salim Baraka, 23 yrs, from Khan Younis

Ziyad Mousa Mohammad Swe’id, 22 yrs, from Rafah

Zayid Zeidan Abdel Rahim Al-’Mour, 33 yrs, from Khan Younis

Suleiman Abdel Raziq Abu ‘Anza, 22 yrs, from Khan Younis

Omar Hamad Ahmad Ad-Dahleez, 28 yrs, from Khan Younis

Zakariya Mohammad Qdeh, 35 yrs, from Khan Younis

Yousif Ibrahim Mansour Abu Daqa, 36 yrs, from Khan Younis

Palestinian martyrs killed by the IOF in subsequent demonstrations on 20.05.1990:

Iyad Ismail Abdallah Saqir, 17 yrs from Ash-Shati’

Shifa’ Naim Ali Al-Hummus, 23 yrs, from Khan Younis

Mousa Ibrahim Abdel-Hay Hassounah, 27 yrs, from Ash-Shati’

Ali Mahmoud Mohammad Az-Za’amrah, 21 yrs, from Halhoul

Husam Abdel Rahman Abdallah Ghazal, 14 yrs, from Qabatia

Wail Mohammad Al-Badrasawi

© http://avoicefrompalestine.wordpress.com

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Oyoun Qarra Massacre, 20 May 1990

The Tory/Lib-Dem Government endorses actual change

By Glenn Greenwald| May 21, 2010

Over the past couple years, I’ve written numerous times about the serious left-right coalition that had emerged in Britain — between the Tories and Liberal Democrats — in opposition to the Labour Government’s civil liberties abuses, many (thought not all) of which were justified by Terrorism.  In June of 2008, David Davis, a leading Tory MP, resigned from Parliament in protest of the Government’s efforts to expand its power of preventive detention to 42 days (and was then overwhelmingly re-elected on a general platform of opposing growing surveillance and detention authorities).  Numerous leading figures from both the Right and Left defied their party’s establishment to speak out in support of Davis and against the Government’s growing powers.  Back then, the Liberal Democrats’ Leader, Nick Clegg, notably praised the right-wing Davis’ resignation, and to show his support for Davis’ positions, Clegg even refused to run a Lib Dem candidate for that seat because, as he put it, “some issues ‘go beyond party politics’.”

Now that this left-right, Tory/Lib-Dem alliance has removed the Labour Party from power and is governing Britain, these commitments to restoring core liberties — Actual Change — show no sign of retreating.  Rather than cynically tossing these promises of restrained government power onto the trash pile of insincere campaign rhetoric, they are implementing them into actual policy.  Clegg, now the Deputy Prime Minister, gave an extraordinary speech last week in which he vowed “the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832.”  He railed against a litany of government policies and proposals that form the backbone of Britain’s Surveillance State, from ID Card schemes, national identity registers, biometric passports, the storing of Internet and email records, to DNA databases, proliferating security cameras, and repressive restrictions on free speech and assembly rights.  But more striking than these specific positions were the general, anti-authoritarian principles he espoused — ones that sound increasingly foreign to most Americans.  Clegg said:

It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide.  It has to stop. . . . And we will end practices that risk making Britain a place where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question. . . . This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state. . . .

And we will, of course, introduce safeguards to prevent the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.  There have been too many cases of individuals being denied their rights . . . And whole communities being placed under suspicion. . . . This government will do better by British justice.  Respecting great, British freedoms . . . Which is why we’ll also defend trial by jury.

Clegg also inveighed against the oppressive criminal justice system that imprisons far too many citizens and criminalizes far too many acts with no improvement in safety, and also pledged radical reform to the political system in order to empower citizens over wealthy interests.  To underscore that this was not mere rhetoric, the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition published their official platform containing all of these proposals, and the Civil Liberties section begins with language inconceivable for mainstream American discourse:  “The Government believes the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused fundamental human rights and historic civil liberties.”

Most striking of all, the new Government (specifically William Hague, its conservative Foreign Secretary) just announced that “a judge will investigate claims that British intelligence agencies were complicit in the torture of terror suspects.”  More amazing still:

The judicial inquiry announced by the foreign secretary into Britain’s role in torture and rendition since September 2001 is poised to shed extraordinary light on one of the darkest episodes in the country’s recent history.

It is expected to expose not only details of the activities of the security and intelligence officials alleged to have colluded in torture since 9/11, but also the identities of the senior figures in government who authorised those activities. . . . Those who have been most bitterly resisting an inquiry — including a number of senior figures in the last government — may have been dismayed to see the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition formed, as this maximised the chances of a judicial inquiry being established.

What an astounding feat of human innovation:  they are apparently able to Look Backward and Forward at the same time!  And this concept that an actual court will review allegations of grave Government crimes rather than ignoring them in the name of Political Harmony:  my, the British, even after all these centuries, do continue to invent all sorts of brand new and exotic precepts of modern liberty.

Most readers have likely been doing so already when reading these prior paragraphs, but just contrast all of this to what is taking place in the United States under Democratic Party rule.  We get — from the current Government — presidential assassination programs, detention with no charges, senseless demands for further reductions of core rights when arrested, ongoing secret prisons filled with abuse, military commissions, warrantless surveillance of emails, and presidential secrecy claims to block courts from reviewing claims of government crimes.  The Democratic-led Congress takes still new steps to block the closing of Guantanamo.  Democratic leaders push for biometric, national ID cards.  The most minimal surveillance safeguards are ignored.  Even the miniscule limits on eavesdropping powers are transgressedAnd from just this week:  “Millions of Americans arrested for but not convicted of crimes will likely have their DNA forcibly extracted and added to a national database, according to a bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday”.

Can anyone even imagine for one second Barack Obama standing up and saying:  “My administration believes that the American state has become too authoritarian”?  Even if he were willing to utter those words — and he wouldn’t be — his doing so would trigger a massive laughing fit in light of his actions.  While Nick Clegg says this week that his civil liberties commitments are “so important that he was taking personal responsibility for implementing them, and promised that the new government would not be ‘insecure about relinquishing control’,” our Government moves inexorably in the other direction.

I don’t want to idealize what’s taking place in Britain:  it still remains to be seen how serious these commitments are and how genuine of an investigation into the torture regime will be conducted.  But clearly, what was once a fringe position there has now become the mainstream platform of their new Government:  that it’s imperative to ensure that their country is not “a place where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question.”

That’s exactly what the U.S. has become, as each new Terrorist attack (or even failed attack) prompts one question and one question only, no matter which party is in power:  “which rights do we give up now”?  And  each serious government crime engenders new excuses for vesting political leaders with immunity.  And no new government power of detention, surveillance, or privacy-invasion is too extreme or unwarranted.  Unlike in Britain, the term “civil liberties” or the phrase “the state has become too authoritarian” is, in the U.S., one which only Fringe Purist Absolutists utter.  Unlike in Britain, efforts to impose serious constraints on unchecked government power are, in the U.S., the exclusive and lonely province of The Unserious Losers among us.  And unlike in Britain, the notion that political leaders should actually do what they vowed during the campaign they would do is, in the U.S., a belief held only by terribly un-Pragmatic purist ideologues.  Whatever else is true, it is encouraging that a major Western country — one that has been the victim of a horrific terrorist attack and that has a substantial Muslim population — has a government that is explicitly advocating (and, at least to some extent, implementing) these ideals.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | 1 Comment

Why the U.S. and Israel are such good friends

By Carmen Yarrusso | Online Journal | May 21, 2010

Many Americans wonder why we continue to give Israel 3 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars every year instead of spending those billions on our own needy. Many Americans wonder why we give Israel billions more in bunker-busting bombs, Apache attack helicopters armed with TOW missiles, and other such advanced weapons. Many Americans wonder why we always thwart UN resolutions against Israel’s actions even when those actions unambiguously violate international law. In short, many Americans wonder why the U.S. and Israel are such inseparably good friends.

Why? Because the U.S. and Israel have so much in common. Who in the U.S. doesn’t love knishes or latkes? The U.S. and Israel are two peas in a pod.

Both nations worship the AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee), which functions as a heavenly messenger between two very good friends. Israel tells the AIPAC exactly what it wants and the AIPAC tells members of Congress to grant it unquestioned (if they’d like to keep their jobs).

Both nations obviously share the same deep moral values. For example, both agree on the moral way to take out a terrorist cleric in a wheelchair (TOW missile launched from an Apache helicopter, duh!). It wouldn’t be right to walk up and shoot a cripple in the head (sincere apologies to those within 50 feet of the wheelchair).

Both nations demonize “terrorists” who use suicide bombers (not just to kill, but to terrorize). Sure, the U.S. and Israel often recklessly kill innocent people (hey, shit happens), but they don’t stoop to terror (apparently being stalked by Apache helicopters or Predator drones that can blow you away any second, before you can even detect them, has a soothing effect on one’s mind).

But the most significant thing the U.S. and Israel have in common (what binds them like brothers) is the way both nations were created. The U.S. and Israel followed a strikingly similar path in establishing their respective nations.

A little history

The major problem establishing both the U.S. and Israel as nations was what to do with the indigenous people. So it was only natural for Israel to go to its new friend, the U.S., and ask, “How did you handle your indigenous people? Since we share the same deep moral values, we want to treat our indigenous people the same way.” Realizing they had so much in common, the two nations became fast friends.

The first thing needed to establish a nation is land. Unfortunately for both the U. S. and Israel, the land they needed was already occupied by people who had lived on and worked that land for centuries. But fortunately for both emerging nations, neither the Native Americans nor the Palestinians were particularly well armed.

At first, both the U.S. and Israel tried to politely reason with their respective indigenous people. Both nations said something like, “Yes, you’ve worked this land for many centuries and consider it your home, but could you please pack up your shit and move someplace else because we need your land.” How much more polite and reasonable can a request be?

In both cases, the indigenous people were clearly informed that God had given us their land. You’d think any reasonable Palestinian would say, “Oh, God gave you this land, why didn’t you say so, just let me take a last look at the fields I’ve worked all my life, and at the olive groves my great, great grandfather planted, and I’m out of here.”

But instead (just like the stubborn Native Americans) the Palestinians got all pissy and indignant (just because Israel was blatantly stealing their land using military force). Clearly, some ethnic groups are just a little too sensitive. Just like the stubborn Native Americans, many Palestinians had the chutzpah to actually resist being violently thrown off their land. Amazing! Reasoning with such people is obviously futile.

The U.S. then suggested Israel might bring the Palestinians to their senses by massacring a few of their villages (this tactic had often proved a convincing argument for Native Americans stubbornly occupying U.S. land). Unfortunately, many Palestinians still refused to leave (and those who did leave hold a grudge to this day). Amazing! Reasoning with such people is obviously futile.

Both the U.S. and Israel eventually forced hundreds of thousands of indigenous people off land they’d occupied for centuries. Both nations conceded “sovereign” territories for the displaced natives, but almost immediately began violently stealing that land too.

Both nations encouraged illegal settlements on these “sovereign” territories, inexorably forcing many indigenous people to struggle in squalor on worthless, arid land. Those who dared to resist were labeled “savages” by the U.S. and “terrorists” by Israel (of course, exterminating “savages” and “terrorists” is perfectly moral).

Why are the U.S. and Israel such good friends? Obviously the U.S. and Israel share the same deep moral values. What better basis for a close friendship than sharing the same deep moral values?

Carmen Yarrusso lives on a river in a small town in New Hampshire and often writes about uncomfortable truths.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal



May 21, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 7 Comments

Israel Expels Palestinian Legislator From Jerusalem

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – May 21, 2010

The Israeli Police decided, Thursday, to expel Palestinian Legislator, Mohammad Abu Teir, from occupied East Jerusalem and claimed that he lost his residency right in the city after he decided to run for the Palestinian Legislative Elections in 2006.

Abu Teir is an elected legislator of the Hamas movement. He was informed that he has until June 19 to implement the order and leave the city.

The decision also poses a threat on legislators Mohammad Totah and Ahmad Attoun and former Jerusalem Affairs Minister, Khaled Abu Arab.

Abu Teir was handed the order at the al-Maskobiyya police station in Jerusalem, and as he was leaving the station, a number of fundamentalist settlers of the Eretz Yisrael Shelano (Our Land Israel) fundamentalist group, tried to attack him and shouted “terrorist” at him and that “he would have been hanged in a normal country”.

He was imprisoned by Israel for 43 months and was approached by police only a few hours after he was released.

Abu Teir was interrogated at the al-Maskobiyya before he was handed the illegal order.

The Hamas movement and its government in Gaza said that Israel is pushing the area towards further escalation by targeting and expelling the Palestinians in Jerusalem and their elected leaders.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Israel Expels Palestinian Legislator From Jerusalem

Japan backs Tehran declaration

Press TV – May 21, 2010

As Washington is trying to impose new sanctions on Tehran, Japan’s foreign minister has backed a nuclear declaration signed by Iran, Turkey and Brazil.

During the separate teleconference with his Turkish and Brazilian counterparts, Katsuya Okada stressed the importance of implementing the new initiative in settling Iran’s nuclear issue, Kyodo News quoted Japan’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday.

The declaration was signed by the foreign ministers of Iran, Turkey, and Brazil in Tehran on Monday.

It commits Iran to deposit 1,200 kilograms of 3.5% low-enriched uranium in Turkey, which would be exchanged for 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched nuclear fuel for the Tehran research reactor, which produces radioisotopes for cancer treatment.

Okada called on Ahmet Davutoglu and Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim to keep in close consultation with Iran on the declaration.

The foreign ministers said that the declaration “provides a chance to settle the standoff diplomatically,” the ministry added.

The talks came as the top Japanese diplomat is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Tokyo on Friday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

US officials have stressed that despite the declaration they will continue pursuing the imposition of more UN restrictions on Iran and have stepped up efforts to garner the support of veto-wielding members of UN Security Council on a draft sanctions resolution.

Iran argues that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it is entitled to a civilian nuclear program.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Japan backs Tehran declaration

Pentagon Plan to Beef Up Afghan Base Near Iran May Rile Regime

By Tony Capaccio | Bloomberg | May 21, 2010

A U.S. plan to upgrade its airbase in southwestern Afghanistan just 20 miles from Iran’s border will likely rile the Islamic regime, bolstering suspicions the West is trying to pressure it with military might, analysts say.

The Defense Department is requesting $131 million in its fiscal year 2011 budget to upgrade Shindand Air Base so it can accommodate more commando helicopters, drone surveillance aircraft, fuel and munitions.

Plans to expand the base come as the U.S. works to strengthen the militaries and missile defenses of allies in the region and presses at the United Nations for a new round of sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to curb its nuclear program.

U.S. military officials say the base is only to support U.S. and Afghan military operations in Afghanistan. Iran will likely view the Shindand buildup as another step to squeeze it, said Kenneth Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“Whatever U.S. intentions, the Iranian regime will see it as a threat — as another American effort to surround Iran with U.S. military forces,” Pollack said in an interview.

“The Iranians are almost certainly going to assume that a beefed-up intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance presence is really about spying on them,” he said.

Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, shares that view.

“The positioning of the base gives us the opportunity to monitor any efforts by Iran to serve as a sanctuary for anti- government Taliban and allied forces, and to support operations in Iran itself if that were to become necessary,” he said.

Sanctions

The Pentagon planning for Shindand comes as the U.S. is helping to strengthen missile defense systems in Israel and allied nations in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. Navy is coordinating its ship-borne Aegis missile defense with Israel’s land-based systems, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other top U.S. military officials have encouraged Persian Gulf nations to strengthen and coordinate their individual defenses.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also are upgrading their air, ground and naval forces, spurred by Iran’s military buildup.

The United Arab Emirates has spent $18 billion since 2008 on U.S.-supplied training, munitions and equipment such as the Patriot missile defense built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Fighter Jets, Missiles

Saudi Arabia has bought 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets and is in negotiations to buy 24 more. The nation also has bought Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided equipment to enhance the accuracy of its air-to-ground missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and U.S. kits to upgrade Apache helicopters and armored personnel carriers.

“We have worked hard in the region to build a network of shared early warning, of ballistic missile defense and of other security relationships,” General David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in the Middle East and Central Asia, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16.

Strengthening Gulf partners is important because containing Iran “will be a challenge as long as Iran’s theocracy keeps building asymmetric forces, moving towards nuclear capability and using proxies and non-state actors in neighboring states,” Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said.

Asymmetric forces are used in an attempt to offset the capabilities of a more advanced military foe. Iran might deploy speedboats in a swarm to attack U.S. warships, military officials have said.

Containment Strategy

Iran will view the U.S. base expansion and acceleration of “missile defense and other systems in the Gulf states” as part of a containment strategy, said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst with the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

The U.S. should be prepared for what could be a vigorous reaction, he said. “‘Iran will almost certainly respond by stepping up weapons shipments to Taliban militants in Herat and Farah provinces, and Tehran might direct these militants to use the assistance to attempt attacks on the airfield,” he said.

Pollack gave a similar warning. “We need to go in with eyes wide open that we could be provoking them,” he said. “We should not be expanding our operations in this area unless we are ready to deal with the potential.”

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst for the Brookings Institution who is in Afghanistan, said he heard from U.S. military officials that Shindand is in line for “a limited tactical expansion for Afghan-specific purposes.”

“I think it would be a big mistake to provoke Iran with an airfield actually designed for possible operations there and potentially encourage Tehran to up its involvement in Afghanistan,” O’Hanlon said. “So I am hoping that we have no such designs and doubt that we do in fact.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News, Militarism, Wars for Israel | 7 Comments