Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Iran rejects Louvre Museum claims

Press TV – April 28, 2011

Iran’s National Museum has rejected claims made by France’s Louvre Museum about the lack of an agreement on holding exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the National Museum of Iran said that a cultural agreement was signed between Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and the Louvre Museum on October 31, 2004, under which the two museums were supposed to hold exhibitions in the Iranian and French capitals.

The agreement, which is in English, Persian and French, has clearly stated that the two museums can exchange experts and cooperate in research and educational activities, IRNA reported.

According to the third article of the agreement, the Iranian and French museums agreed to hold exhibitions in Tehran and Paris.

Iran kept its promise and held two exhibitions at the Louvre, one showcasing objects from the Safavid era and the other introducing the ancient Persian Civilization.

The French side, however, has not shown any commitment to the promises it made.

The statement also says that the agreement between the two museums expires at the end of June this year and that the Iranian side will no longer cooperate with the Louvre Museum.

Iran announced earlier in April that it had severed all ties with the Louvre Museum because the French art center had not shown any commitment to the promises it made.

Head of ICHTO Hamid Baqaei had warned Louvre officials in January that Iran would only wait until the beginning of the Persian New Year (March 21, 2011) for them to give an exact date for their exhibition in Iran and the artifacts they would send to the country.

This is not the first time that Iran has encountered such a problem with international museums.

In February 2010, Tehran severed ties with the British Museum as it had not sent the Cyrus Cylinder for an exhibition in Iran as promised.

In April 2010, the ICHTO demanded USD 300,000 in compensation for the delay by the British Museum.

The Achaemenid relic was finally displayed at the National Museum of Iran last September after being escorted by a delegation headed by Keeper of the Middle East collections of the British Museum John Curtis to the exhibition site where it was displayed for the first time in 40 years.

The Cyrus Cylinder was initially sent to Iran for a four-month exhibition ending on January 10, 2011, but the event was extended until the end of Nowruz (Persian New Year) holidays.

Iran also won in appeals court concerning a collection of Persepolis tablets which was loaned to Chicago University to be studied in 1937.

Although some of the tablets have been returned to Iran, the dispute broke out when an American Federal Judge ordered the tablets to be confiscated and auctioned in order to compensate the Israeli victims of the 1997 al-Quds (Jerusalem) bombing.

A US federal appeals court overturned the lower court order in March 2011, recognizing the 2,500-year-old relics as part of Iran’s cultural heritage.

The 41-page document at the seventh appeals court admitted that the former order was “seriously flawed.”

The tablets, which were discovered by the archeology team of the University of Chicago in 1933, bear cuneiform inscriptions recording administrative details of the Persian Empire from about 500 BCE.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Iran rejects Louvre Museum claims

Bernard-Henri Levy, philosopher and hypocrite

By Gilad Atzmon | Redress | 29 April 2011

What makes one a philosopher?

Probably, the capacity to aim at the essence of things, while celebrating the love of wisdom (philo-sophos).

Although Bernard-Henri Lévy presents himself as a French philosopher, he seems to lack that elementary capacity. Unlike a true philosopher, Levy engages in an endless spin, typical of a hasbara – Israeli propaganda – agent.

On 2 February the Huffington Post gave a platform to the so-called “philosopher” Levy.

Levy doesn’t approve of the Boycott, Disinventment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. He claims that the campaign is “anti-democratic”.

Levy the Israeli propagandist

I would have expected Levy eloquently to advocate freedom of speech and human rights, but the Zionist “intellectual” failed miserably. Levy followed the well-trodden Judaeo-centric Zionist template and spouted half-baked ideas that hardly form an argument. Pathetically, Levy’s ranting is mostly counter-productive to his own cause.

“First of all” he said, “one boycotts totalitarian regimes, not democracies… One can boycott Sudan, guilty of the extermination of part of the population of Darfur. One can boycott China, guilty of massive violations of human rights in Tibet and elsewhere. “

For some bizarre reason, Levy seems to be convinced that his beloved Jews-only state is an “exemplary democracy”. He says: “One does not boycott the only society in the Middle East where Arabs read a free press, demonstrate when they wish to do so, send freely-elected representatives to parliament and enjoy their rights as citizens.”

I guess that Levy either doesn’t know or pretends not to know that in the “Jews-only democracy” laws are racially orientated. The Law of Return, for instance, favours Jews and Jews only.

Levy should also learn about the case of Azmi Bishara, the Arab citizen of Israel and member of the Israeli parliament, who had to run for his life for suggesting that Israel should be transformed into a “state of all its citizens” based on equality for all.

But it actually goes much further.

Levy’s argument is totally flawed and counterproductive to his Zionist cause. It is actually democracies, rather than dictatorships, that should be subjected to humanitarian boycotts because in democracies the people are complicit in their governments’ crimes.

We must boycott Israel because in the Jewish state every citizen is culpable in the war crimes committed by the democratically-elected government. We must boycott Israel because 94 per cent of its Jewish population supported the Israeli armed forces’ genocidal tactics during Operation Cast Lead against the people of Gaza. We must boycott Israel because its state-terror policies are a reflection of the public’s true will as proven in opinion polls and democratic elections.

According to Levy, in a democracy the voters have the power to sanction, modify and reverse the position of their government. It would be fabulous if Levy could enlighten us and suggest how exactly the Jews-only democracy is progressing towards an acceptance of universal rights for all.

Apologist for racism

As with all hasbara agents, Levy is outraged by the attempt to delegitimize Israel, yet, the philosopher in him fails to tell us what is exactly so wrong in delegitimizing a racially-driven, murderous collective. I also wonder what is so unacceptable about delegitimizing a state that was illegitimate to start with.

Levy doesn’t approve of the “one-state” enthusiasts. He far prefers to divide the land into two states. Someone had better remind this lame mind that Israel is currently one state that is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Those who support one state are actually far from being radical. They have their feet on the ground. They accept Israel as one state, with one international dialing code and one power grid.

However, the supporters of one state also realize that one-state Israel is dominated by Jewish Talmudic racism that is far more vicious than Nazi ideology. Proponents of the one state also realize that by the time Jewish racist ideology is defeated this one state between the river and the sea will become Palestine.

Levy is furious with one-state advocate Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, who, according to him, “does not hesitate to compare Israel to Nazi Germany”. It would be a little bit more useful if “philosopher” Levy is kind enough to suggest to us once and for all what is so wrong with comparing the Jews-only state with the Aryans-only state also known as Nazi Germany.

Towards the end of his Huffington Post article, Levy comes up with something that could almost pass for an argument. For Levy, the Western world should have hoped to be “cured of its worst criminal past”. It would be helpful and productive if Levy and other Zionists grasp that it is actually the West’s problematic past that shapes our criticism of the murderous Israeli present. It is our troubled past that makes us into enemies of racist Israel.

I was looking forward to read a Zionist “thinker” advocating for Israel. Levy obviously failed.

However, I admit that, as with Levy, I also have reservations regarding the BDS movement.

For instance, I believe that if the demand to boycott Israeli academics is valid, then we should also boycott academics and intellectuals who advocate Israeli policies and Zionism worldwide, because Israel is racist to the bone and racism must be opposed. If the BDS movement is taking itself seriously, then it should also demand the boycott of Levy, Alan Dershowitz, David Hirsh and many others.

On the one hand, this would underline the BDS movement’s integrity. But as an advocate of freedom of speech, I actually want Dershowitz, Hirsh and Levy to speak their minds. I believe that together with Mark Regev, they are the best promoters of Zionist tribal morbidity.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Ali Abunimah: Questions about “Hamas-Fatah reconciliation”

By Ali Abunimah – Electronic Intifada – 04/27/2011
  • Elections: What is the point of having elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip once more under conditions of brutal Israeli military occupation, siege and control? Neither the West Bank government nor the Gaza government are truly in control of the fate of Palestinians. The power lies in Israel’s hands. As I wrote recently, such elections only further the illusion of self-governance while doing nothing to challenge or change actual Israeli control. And, when there is so much political repression in the West Bank, and indeed in Gaza, how can we have a guarantee of free elections?
  • Reform of the PLO: If Hamas and Abbas made a deal to reform the PLO which just includes adding Hamas to the dead body of the PLO how will that serve the Palestinian people? What about elections for the Palestinian National Council that include ALL Palestinians, including the majority which does not live in the 1967 occupied territories? A deal where Abbas and Hamas make a cozy deal to share seats in an undemocratic PLO is simply unacceptable.
  • More broadly, the goal for Palestinians should not be “unity” among factions, but unity of goals for the Palestinian people. What is the purpose and platform of the planned “transitional government” other than merely to exist? A real Palestinian strategy that unites all segments of the Palestinian people has been articulated by the BDS movement:

(a) an end to occupation and colonization of the 1967 territories; (b) full equality and an end to all forms of discrimination against Palestinians in the 1948 areas (“Israel”); and (c) full respect and implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Notably neither Fatah Abbas nor Hamas have endorsed this campaign, and neither has articulated a realistic strategy aimed at restoring the rights of all Palestinians. … Full post

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments

Zuckerman rag prints bald-faced lies on upcoming flotilla to Gaza

By Alex Kane and Nima Shirazi | Mondoweiss | April 28, 2011

It comes as no surprise that a newspaper owned by Mort Zuckerman, an ardent Zionist, would be anti-Palestinian and that it would strongly oppose efforts to break the Israeli naval blockade by sending a flotilla of ships to Gaza.  But a recent editorial printed by the Zuckerman-owned New York Daily News is a particularly egregious example of U.S. media’s aversion to the facts on Israel/Palestine.  The bald-faced lies–which follow recent Israeli pronouncements about the “terrorists” organizing the upcoming international flotilla to break the Israeli blockade–printed would be laughable only if it wasn’t going to be read by thousands of people.

The editorial states:

Sponsors of the flotilla are happily playing with fire, as they did a year ago in sailing into the blockade under the guise of delivering medicines and the like to Gaza. In fact, some of those ships carried suicidal fighters instead of useful goods. Nine of the brigands died when Israeli commandos were forced to board and came under assault.

To claim that those aboard the Mavi Marmara were the aggressors is to completely invert reality. The attack was conducted in international waters after Israel cut off all communications from the ships and surrounded the flotilla with over 20 naval vessels and warships, along with multiple helicopters. In addition to the 45 highly-trained and heavily-armed commandos who rappelled onto the largest ship, the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, murdering at least 9 civilians and wounding about 60 more, about 650 other Israeli troops, including surveillance and support troops alongside those who actually boarded the ships, took part in the illegal assault on the flotilla.

And then there’s these howlers:

No one of any credibility disputes that Israel’s blockade is legal under international law. In coordination with Egypt, Israel barred sea-going shipments into Gaza in 2009 after years of Palestinian mortar and rocket attacks on Jewish soil.

As a board of inquiry put it:

“Israel imposed the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip for military-security reasons, which mainly concerned the need to prevent weapons, terrorists and money” from entering.

The UN has recognized the blockade’s legitimacy under international law. Now, it must prevent this perilous propaganda ploy.

First of all, the naval blockade has been in place since 2007, along with the land and air blockade–not 2009 as the editorial claims.  The “board of inquiry” the Daily News refers to is the Turkel Commission, the name for the Israeli investigation into the flotilla events–hardly a neutral source of facts about the blockade of Gaza.

And finally, it appears that Zuckerman’s newspaper likes to make up facts.  The UN has not “recognized the blockade’s legitimacy under international law.”  In fact, various UN reports have labeled the blockade illegal.  The UN fact-finding mission on the 2008-09 Gaza conflict, known as the Goldstone report, stated that the blockade was a form of collective punishment and that it was therefore in “violation of the provisions of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”  The UN report on the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara also clearly states that the blockade is illegal.  In 2009, the Associated Press reported that “U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has accused Israel of violating the rules of war with its blockade stopping people and goods from moving in and out of the Gaza Strip.”

~

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his own website, WideAsleepInAmerica.com.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States at alexbkane.wordpress.com.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on Zuckerman rag prints bald-faced lies on upcoming flotilla to Gaza

Republican and Democratic Plans for Healthcare Misguided

Privatization Will Accelerate Costs and Deaths

By Margaret Flowers / Dissident Voice / April 28th, 2011

Leadership in Washington recognizes the damage our soaring health care spending is doing to our entire economy. Although their rhetoric differs, recent budget proposals from both Republicans and Democrats mistakenly place the blame on Medicare and Medicaid. Cuts to and privatization of these important public insurances will place us on a dangerous path that will leave health care costs soaring and more patients unable to afford necessary care.

Medicare and Medicaid must be left out of the discussion entirely until leadership has the courage to address the real reasons why our health care costs are rising, the toxic environment created by investor owned insurances and the profit-driven health care industry.

Health care spending in the United States is the highest in the world and in some cases is two times higher than spending in other industrialized nations, which achieve nearly universal coverage with better health outcomes than the U.S. Our soaring health care costs outpace our growth in GDP, inflation and wages. By any measure it is an unsustainable situation.

If we look at the various health care models in the United States, we find that the rise in spending is lower for traditional (non-privatized) Medicare and Medicaid than it is for the private sector. Our public insurances are our most efficient insurances with administrative costs of around 3%, despite the fact that they cover our most vulnerable and least healthy populations. Administrative and marketing costs for private plans are 15% or more, and the plethora of private plans further increase cost and complexity as patients and health professionals try to navigate their arbitrary and ever-changing rules.

Medicare and Medicaid are the victims of our current fragmented and profit-driven model of paying for health care which has resulted in high prices for health services and medications.

Private health insurers are financial institutions designed to create profit by obstructing, denying and restricting access to health care. They add no value to our health and in fact their business practices have polluted health care financing causing all insurances to adopt their practices in order to ‘compete’. They have also fragmented the health care market and thus the ability to negotiate for fair prices for goods and services leading to the highest prices for pharmaceuticals and procedures.

The commonsense solution is to eliminate wasteful and costly private health insurance and adopt a universal health care system modeled on the strengths of Medicare and given the power to negotiate for reasonable prices.

It is counterproductive to even discuss cuts to Medicare and Medicaid before addressing the fundamental reasons for rising costs. Yet, both Democrats and Republicans have focused on cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in their budget proposals.

The Ryan budget proposal, the Path to Prosperity, would fully privatize Medicare by moving to a voucher system in 2022 forcing all seniors to purchase private insurance. The vouchers are not designed to keep up with the rate at which health care costs are increasing so that over time seniors will either have to pay more out of pocket for health insurance premiums or will choose skimpier insurance plans that leave them unprotected should they have a serious illness or accident. Nearly half of Medicare enrollees have an income that is less than twice the federal poverty level and so have little room to absorb an increased share of health care costs.

Medicaid is significantly limited under the Ryan budget proposal which plans to cut overall Medicaid spending by $800 billion over ten years and change to block grants for each state. Block grants will mean that individual states will continue to be under economic pressure to limit who and what services are covered. As fewer are covered by Medicaid, they will have to either purchase private insurance through the exchanges or either seek a waiver from or be penalized for not purchasing insurance.

The Obama administration supports cuts to Medicare through the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) which is tasked with keeping per capita Medicare spending below a target level which is set to be lower than the current rate of health care cost inflation. Rather than blatantly privatizing Medicare as called for in the Ryan proposal, the President’s plan will slowly strangle Medicare leaving seniors struggling to find physicians able to care for them.

The IPAB was actually created in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The President’s budget proposal would increase the power of the IPAB to cut Medicare costs. Medicaid spending is also capped under the President’s budget.

Sadly, the Peoples Budget put forth by the Congressional Progressive Caucus rubberstamps the President’s approach to cutting Medicare and Medicaid spending.

Underneath cuts to Medicare and Medicaid is a dangerous trend of increasing privatization of health care in the U.S.

There is a growing trend to put more of our population into private insurances and a growing privatization of our public health insurances. Over the past few years as the number of people able to afford employer sponsored health insurance has fallen, private health insurance profits have continued to grow as they move into providing insurance to or administering plans for the Medicare and Medicaid populations.

The ACA puts more people into the private insurance market by mandating that all uninsured who do not qualify for public health insurance purchase private insurance through the exchanges starting in 2014 and subsidizes the purchase of private insurance using public dollars.

Half of the newly insured under the ACA are eventually supposed to come from an expansion of Medicaid eligibility. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has already allowed state expansions in Medicaid coverage to lapse. A recent White House Fact Sheet also supported allowing states to place their Medicaid population into private insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

Privatization of health care is a failed experiment in the United States.

The United States differs from other nations in allowing investor-owned corporations to profit at the expense of human suffering and lives. After decades of experience with this unique privatized model of financing health care, the results are clear and startling.

The United States has the highest per capita health care costs, the highest prices for medical goods and services (and lower overall usage rates) and no control over health care spending. Despite attempts to patch the current health care situation, the number of uninsured and those with skimpy health insurance that leaves them unable to afford health care or at risk of medical bankruptcy continues to grow. Suffering and preventable deaths are higher in the U.S. than in other industrialized nations.

In addition, there have been no significant gains in important measures of health such as life expectancy and infant and maternal mortality rates. Our health disparities continue to grow, especially for those who have chronic conditions. And our health care workforce continues to be inadequate as health professionals quickly burn out from trying to practice in our complex and irrational health care environment.

It is time to recognize the failure of the market model of paying for health care and embrace comprehensive and effective health reform. The model for our ‘uniquely American’ solution lies in traditional Medicare, a single payer health system for those who are 65 years of age and over. Since its inception 45 years ago, Medicare has lifted seniors out of poverty and improved their health status.

Physicians for a National Health Program advocates for an improved Medicare for all health system, one that builds on the strengths of Medicare such as its universality, administrative efficiency and the patient’s freedom to choose a health provider, and also corrects the weaknesses of Medicare such as the lack of comprehensive benefits, out of pocket costs and low reimbursement rates.

Both Democrats and Republicans are missing the point by putting the emphasis on controlling Medicare and Medicaid costs without effectively addressing the reasons for our rising health care costs. Rather than embracing the Republican rhetoric which blames our public insurances, Democrats would do well to call out the real reason for our health care spending crisis, our current fragmented and profit-driven model, and advocate for a national improved Medicare for all.

Margaret Flowers, MD is a pediatrician who serves as the Congressional Fellow for Physicians for National Health Program.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Exposing ‘Democracy’ Promotion in the Middle East

argonium79 | April 28, 2011

Middle East analyst and investigative journalist Maidhc Ó Cathail exposes US governmental and quasi-governmental agencies that have been involved behind the scenes in encouraging “democratic” reform in the Middle East.

http://thepassionateattachment.com

Mentioned:
Al-Jazeera, Tahrir Square, Washington Post, George Soros, Barack Obama, Eastern Europe, Color Revolution, Open Society Institute, USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, The International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute, Mohamed ElBaradei, Muslim Brotherhood, International Crisis Group, Mondo Weiss, Israel Lobby, Arab Protests, Serbia, Srdja Popovic, Otpor, Slobodan Milosevic, April 6th Youth Movement, Belgrade, Facebook, Internet, Twitter, Canvas, Colonel Robert Helvey, Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy, Autocracy, Georgia, Ukraine, Orange Revolution, Peter Ackerman, Wall Street, Drexel Burnham Lambert, Michael Milken, Albert Einstein Institution, International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, Freedom House, Thomas A. Dine, AIPAC, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Max Kampelman, JINSA, The Jewish Institute For National Security Affairs, PNAC, Project for the New American Century, Neoconservative Movement, Trotskyism, Kenneth Adelman, Paula J. Dobriansky, Joshua Muravchik, Mark Palmer, Ronald Reagan, Crusade for Freedom, Allen Weinstein, Dr. Wiliam Robinson, CIA, Breaking the Real Axis of Evil, Herzliya Conference, Radical Islam, Uzi Landau, Avigdor Lieberman, Ariel Sharon, Judith Miller, Ahmed Chalabi, Steven Emerson, Council for a Community for Democracies, Frank C. Carlucci, The Carlyle Group, Jared Cohen, Google Ideas, Condoleezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, CyberDissidents.org, James Prince, Democracy Council, David Keyes, Natan Sharansky, The Case for Democracy, Withdrawal from Gaza, New Anti-Semitism, Israel, Zionist, Bernard Lewis, Iraq War, Dick Cheney, Clash of Civilizations, Nazism, Bolshevism, Christendom, Islam, Lebanonization, Iran, Ronald Lauder, WJC, World Jewish Congress, World Trade Center, 911, Anti Defamation League, ADL, Hungary, Austria, CME, Central European Media Enterprises, SignalOneTV, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Larry Diamond, Justice and Development, AK Party, Turkey, Gradual Democratiszation, Moderate Liberal Islamic Democracy, Carl Gershman, Oligarchy, Baathists, Islamists, Israel, Jewish People, Unemployment, Corruption

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Exposing ‘Democracy’ Promotion in the Middle East

Eric Cantor and AIPAC

By DAVID SWANSON | CounterPunch | April 28, 2011

In May 2009, Congressmen Eric Cantor (R., Va.) and Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) wrote to President Barack Obama about U.S. policy toward Israel. Their staff sent the letter as a PDF but forgot to change the name of the file to something other than “AIPAC Letter Hoyer Cantor May 2009.pdf.”

AIPAC stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a group widely recognized as one of the most effective at lobbying Congress, and a group that consistently promotes the positions of the rightwing party of the Israeli government. AIPAC also has the distinction of having lobbied against accountability for an Israeli attack on a U.S. ship and in favor of leniency for a man convicted of selling U.S. secrets to Israel. In a separate case, six years ago, two AIPAC employees were indicted for obtaining U.S. secrets from a U.S. military employee who pled guilty. After powerful Congress members like Jane Harman (D., Calif.) lobbied on their behalf, the charges were dropped.

That’s what it means to be an effective lobby group: having your way. Need sanctions on Iran? You got em. Support at the United Nations for illegal settlements in Palestine or a blockade and bombing of Gaza? Not a problem. In fact, it would be our pleasure to provide the weapons needed, whether it’s for bombing Gaza, bombing Lebanon, or killing Turkish and American peace activists on an aid ship as happened last year. We’d be honored, and don’t let cost be a consideration! That would be an insult in these times of huge budget surpluses in Washington! (Warning, this paragraph contained sarcasm.)

We give $3 billion in “military aid” to Israel every year, more than we give to any other country. This is justified by the need to protect Israel from all the other countries in its region, most of which we also give or sell arms to. Last fall, when pressure was building in Washington to cut off foreign aid spending, Congressman Cantor proposed making an exception for Israel that would help guarantee it $30 billion over the next decade by hiding that funding in the U.S. “defense” budget. That proposal didn’t fly, but neither has any funding of Israeli weapons been cut.

Is there any spending here in Virginia that Congressman Cantor has defended this tenaciously? Would there be if we could afford it?

Cantor is listed on Maplight.org as the top recipient of campaign money from “pro-Israel” groups in the U.S. House of Representatives, having taken in over $200,000. These groups, most of them affiliated with AIPAC, dump tens of millions of dollars into U.S. elections each cycle. And they certainly appear to get what they pay for. In February, continuing a decades-long pattern that has made the United States the leader in U.N. vetoes, President Obama instructed U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to veto and overrule the other 14 Security Council members’ backing of a resolution condemning as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The problem here is more specific than the wild-west financing of U.S. elections. The problem is that the interests of the Israeli government, far from always representing the Israeli people, in no way represent those of the American people or the people of Virginia. Our views may align or diverge. But the Israeli government’s hostility toward Iraq or Iran, Lebanon or Palestine, or to independent democratic rule in Egypt and the rest of the region, need not be our own. That should be for us to decide, open to foreign input, but free of foreign financial pressure. AIPAC raises its money in the United States but advances the agenda of a foreign nation, diverging often from the majority views of both Americans at large and Jewish Americans in particular.

Later this month, Congressman Cantor will be a featured speaker at AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington DC, but over 100 peace and justice organizations will be holding a counter-conference called “Move Over AIPAC.” I wonder if Eric Cantor will get the message.

David Swanson is an author and blogger in Charlottesville, Va.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

I’ll take the reactionary over the murderer, thanks

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | April 27, 2011

Ron Paul is far from perfect, but I’ll say this much for the Texas congressman: He has never authorized a drone strike in Pakistan. He has never authorized the killing of dozens of women and children in Yemen. He hasn’t protected torturers from prosecution and he hasn’t overseen the torturous treatment of a 23-year-old young man for the “crime” of revealing the government’s criminal behavior.

Can the same be said for Barack Obama?

Yet, ask a good movement liberal or progressive about the two and you’ll quickly be informed that yeah, Ron Paul’s good on the war stuff — yawn — but otherwise he’s a no-good right-wing reactionary of the worst order, a guy who’d kick your Aunt Beth off Medicare and force her to turn tricks for blood-pressure meds. By contrast, Obama, war crimes and all, provokes no such visceral distaste. He’s more cosmopolitan, after all; less Texas-y. He’s a Democrat. And gosh, even if he’s made a few mistakes, he means well.

Sure he’s a murderer, in other words, but at least he’s not a Republican!

Put another, even less charitable way: Democratic partisans – liberals – are willing to trade the lives of a couple thousand poor Pakistani tribesman in exchange for a few liberal catnip-filled speeches and NPR tote bags for the underprivileged. The number of party-line progressives who would vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama wouldn’t be enough to fill Conference Room B at the local Sheraton, with even harshest left-leaning critics of the president, like Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, saying they’d prefer the mass-murdering sociopath to that kooky Constitution fetishist.

As someone who sees the electoral process as primarily a distraction, something that diverts energy and attention from more effective means of reforming the system, I don’t much care if people don’t vote for Ron Paul. In fact, if you’re going to vote, I’d rather you cast a write-in ballot for Emma Goldman. But! I do have a problem with those who imagine themselves to be liberal-minded citizens of the world casting their vote for Barack Obama and propagating the notion that someone can bomb and/or militarily occupy Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Libya and still earn more Progressive Points than the guy who would, you know, not do any of that.

Let’s just assume the worst about Paul: that he’s a corporate libertarian in the Reason magazine/Cato Institute mold that would grant Big Business and the financial industry license to do whatever the hell it wants with little in the way of accountability (I call this scenario the “status quo”). Let’s say he dines on Labradoodle puppies while using their blood to scribble notes in the margins of his dog-eared, gold-encrusted copy of Atlas Shrugged.

So. Fucking. What.

Barack Obama isn’t exactly Eugene Debs, after all. Hell, he’s not even Jimmy Carter. The facts are: he’s pushed for the largest military budget in world history, given trillions of dollars to Wall Street in bailouts and near-zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve, protected oil companies like BP from legal liability for environmental damages they cause – from poisoning the Gulf …  and mandated that all Americans purchase the U.S. health insurance industry’s product. You might argue Paul’s a corporatist, but there’s no denying Obama’s one.

And at least Paul would – and this is important, I think – stop killing poor foreigners with cluster bombs and Predator drones. Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize winner-in-chief, Paul would also bring the troops home from not just Afghanistan and Iraq, but Europe, Korea and Okinawa. There’d be no need for a School of the Americas because the U.S. wouldn’t be busy training foreign military personnel the finer points of human rights abuses. Israel would have to carry out its war crimes on its own dime.

Even on on the most pressing domestic issues of the day, Paul strikes me as a hell of a lot more progressive than Obama. Look at the war on drugs: Obama has continued the same failed prohibitionist policies as his predecessors, maintaining a status quo that has placed 2.3 million – or one in 100 – Americans behind bars, the vast majority African-American and Hispanic. Paul, on the other hand, has called for ending the drug war and said he would pardon non-violent offenders, which would be the single greatest reform a president could make in the domestic sphere, equivalent in magnitude to ending Jim Crow.

Paul would also stop providing subsidies to corporate agriculture, nuclear energy and fossil fuels, while allowing class-action tort suits to proceed against oil and coal companies for the environmental damage they have wrought. Obama, by contrast, is providing billions to coal companies under the guise of “clean energy” – see his administration’s policies on carbon capture and sequestration, the fossil fuel-equivalent of missile defense – and promising billions more so mega-energy corporations can get started on that “nuclear renaissance” we’ve all heard so much about. And if Paul really did succeed in cutting all those federal departments he talks about, there’s nothing to prevent states and local governments — and, I would hope, alternative social organizations not dependent on coercion — from addressing issues such as health care and education. Decentralism isn’t a bad thing.

All that aside, though, it seems to me that if you’re going to style yourself a progressive, liberal humanitarian, your first priority really ought to be stopping your government from killing poor people. Second on that list? Stopping your government from putting hundreds of thousands of your fellow citizens in cages for decades at a time over non-violent “crimes” committed by consenting adults. Seriously: what the fuck? Social Security’s great and all I guess, but not exploding little children with cluster bombs – shouldn’t that be at the top of the Liberal Agenda?

Over half of Americans’ income taxes go to the military-industrial complex and the costs of arresting and locking up their fellow citizens. On both counts, Ron Paul’s policy positions are far more progressive than those held – and indeed, implemented – by Barack Obama. And yet it’s Paul who’s the reactionary of the two?

My sweeping, I’m hoping overly broad assessment: liberals, especially the pundit class, don’t much care about dead foreigners. They’re a political problem at best – will the Afghan war derail Obama’s re-election campaign? – not a moral one. And liberals are more than willing to accept a few charred women and children in some country they’ll never visit in exchange for increasing social welfare spending by 0.02 percent, or at least not cutting it by as much as a mean ‘ol Rethuglican.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, for example, has chastised anti-Obama lefties, complaining that undermining – by way of accurately assessing and commenting upon – a warmonger of the Democratic persuasion is “extraordinarily self-destructive” to all FDR-fearing lefties.

“Just ask LBJ,” Drum added. The historical footnote he left out: That LBJ was run out of office by the anti-war left because the guy was murdering hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. But mass murder is no reason to oppose a Democratic president, at least not if you’re a professional liberal.

There are exceptions: Just Foreign Policy’s Robert Naiman has a piece in Truth Out suggesting the anti-war left checking out Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who’s something of a Ron Paul-lite. But for too many liberals, it seems partisanship and the promise – not even necessarily the delivery, if you’ve been reading Obama’s die-hard apologists – of infinitesimally more spending on domestic programs is more important than saving the lives of a few thousand innocent women and children who happen to live outside the confines of the arbitrary geopolitical entity known as the United States.

Another reason to root — if not vote — for Ron Paul: if there was a Republican in the White House, liberals just might start caring about the murder of non-Americans again.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on I’ll take the reactionary over the murderer, thanks

Worldwide Demonstrations in front of Israeli embassies: May 15

Palestinian Popular committees

To friends of freedom and justice ,to Peace Lovers , to all our friends. We hope you will participate in demonstrations all over the world in front of Israeli embassies to affirm the right of the Palestinian people to live freely like other people in the world. We confirm that the Palestinian people want peace and look for a just peace, but at the same time refuse to give up or to die silently.

Please share and participate.

USA-Boston Israeli Consulate
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210024405683124

Germany- Israelische Botschaft Auguste-Viktoria-Str. 74-76 14193 Berlin
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=118993821513426

Italy-Ambasciata d’Israele, via Michele Mercati 12, Roma
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=178215672227437

Dublin, Ireland
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=205349512829240

Israeli Embassy, 2 Palace Green, London W8 4QB
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197040297000383

USA-Consulate General of Israel, 6380 Wilshire blvd. Suite 1700, Los Angeles CA, 90048 & Consulate General of Israel, 456 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 94104
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=140344946036616

Starbucks corner by the Galleria
Post Oak Rd.
Houston, TX
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123540217721453

Israelische Botschaft, Alpenstrasse
Alpenstrasse 32
Bern (Bern, Switzerland)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=168998889823873

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | 3 Comments

In Light Of Palestinian Unity Deal, U.S. Threatens To Cut Aid To P.A.

By Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – April 28, 2011

The United States issued a statement on Wednesday denouncing the provisional unity deal signed between the rival Fateh movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Hamas movement. The U.S. said that such a deal could lead Washington to cut U.S.. aid to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.).

According to Your Jewish News, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. House Affairs Chairwoman, issued a statement denouncing the unity deal, and stating that under existing U.S. laws, the P.A. cannot receive funds from the U.S.

Ros-Lehtinen further stated that Abbas’s reaching out to Hamas, and his efforts for reconciliation “with a group considered by the U.S.. as a terrorist organization, will oblige Washington to end its aid”.

She said that should the P.A. in the West Bank reconcile with Hamas, “it will be aligning itself with a terrorist group that seeks death and destruction to Israel”.

Since the P.A. was established in mid-nineties, the United States has provided it with financial aid that amounts to more than $3.5 billion. It is also the largest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the region. Israel receives more than 3.6 Billion a year from the United States.

The Jewish News said that a White House official also dubbed Hamas as a terrorist group, adding that any government in Palestine must “renounce violence” and respect previously signed peace deals.

Several Republican and Democratic congress members are pushing towards freezing all aid to the P.A. under the claim that the Fateh-Hamas unity is “a recipe for terror”. … Full article

See also:

Obama regime rejects Palestinian reconciliation bid

Ma’an – 28/04/2011

WASHINGTON — The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms “which promote the cause of peace,” the White House said Wednesday after Hamas and Fatah signed a deal in Cairo.

Hamas, however, “is a terrorist organization which targets civilians,” said spokesman Tommy Vietor.

“To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” he said.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | 1 Comment

Bahrain Issues Death Sentences for Four Protesters

By Batoul Wehbe | Al-Manar | April 28, 2011

Bahrain’s military court has sentenced four anti-government protesters to death for the killing of two policemen during demonstrations last month, in a move to further crush the ongoing revolutionary movement in the tiny Persian Gulf country.

Thursday’s verdicts are the first related to the uprising against the Gulf kingdom’s ruling family, which began in February.

The seven defendants were tried behind closed doors on charges of “premeditated murder of government employees”, which their lawyers have denied.

Opposition official named the young men sentenced to death as Ali Abdullah Hasan, Qasim Hassan Mattar, Saeed Abdul Jalil Saeed, and Abdul Aziz Abdullah Ibrahim.

He told the AFP news agency that Issa Abdullah Kazem, Sadiq Ali Mahdi, and Hussein Jaafar Abdul Karim were sentenced to life in prison.

February 14 Youth Coalition issued a statement in which it warned of executing the verdicts against the Bahraini activists. The coalition, in its statement, held the Saudi occupation and the US administration responsible for the sentences, and warned of a strong retaliation which would come with the new phase of struggle.

Authorities have detained hundreds since martial law was declared last month to quell dissent. This comes while the Manama regime rejects reports by a number of human rights groups on massive rights violations in the country.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Bahrain Issues Death Sentences for Four Protesters