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Ukraine Rejects The Brussels Club, Opts For Trade Over Empty Promises

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | November 22, 2013

On Thursday the Ukrainian parliament reject a final set of laws designed to pave the way for  Ukraine to join the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” program as an associate EU member. The surprise move cast a shadow on the Eastern Partnership signing ceremony scheduled to take place in Vilnius, Lithuania next week.

With this move, Ukraine has signaled an end to its interest in further formal association with the European Union and a preference for participation in the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Perhaps sensing that a relationship with the EU would also involve endless meddling in internal Ukrainian affairs, the last straw for the Ukrainian parliament was a package of Brussels-demanded legislation which would have released from custody former prime minister Yulia “Gas Princess” Timoshenko, serving time on corruption charges.

The Western media marches nearly in lock-step condemning Russia’s role in “bullying” Ukraine into stepping away from the EU agreement. The Western media’s near-universal claim is that Ukraine is missing out on the deal of a century. But as usual there is far more to the story.

As European asset manager Eric Kraus points out, Ukraine opted for a reliable trading partner next door rather than an EU that is neither interested in importing Ukrainian products nor has the financial means to provide support for modernization of Ukraine’s economy.  So despite deceptive and biased Western reporting, Ukraine has settled on guaranteed trade rather than empty suggestions of possible aid.

Western media and governments cannot understand why Ukraine would not drop everything to join the Western club, the EU, but as Kraus explains in the above-linked interview:

The EU offers lots of words…what they don’t offer is what Ukraine needs, which is money…. Ukraine is not vital to the EU. It is part of a geopolitical chess game and they’d like to take that piece. But they are not going to spend a lot of money for it. They can’t. They’ve got Portugal, they’ve got Greece, pretty soon they’ve got France.

As a recent RPI report pointed out in detail, Westernized politicians from the former East like Poland’s Radek Sikorski pretend that their countries have benefited from EU membership when in fact it is predominantly the elites in these countries — often with nomenklatura ties — who have done particularly well for themselves while their countries’ economies have disintegrated. Sikorski’s Poland, for example, “enjoys” a 30 percent youth unemployment rate and a population whose only hope for the future is emigration to the UK.

As RPI contributor Christine Stone points out in the above recent report:

Cheap labour and cut-price prostitution will be Ukraine’s major exports if the Polish or Baltic model of European integration is anything to go by. Poland’s main ‘export’ is cash remittances from almost three million migrants scattered across the western EU, especially in Britain. Maybe Foreign Minister Sikorski hopes that Ukraine will replace Poland as the mega-El Salvador of Europe if it accedes to a visa-free association with the EU?

With Ukraine out of the EU’s “Eastern Partnership” program, the association includes just Georgia and Moldova, both economic basket-cases that make even Ukraine look like Switzerland. Good luck with that, Brussels.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace Breaks Out… Neocons Weep

By Chris Rossini | Neocon Watch | November 24, 2013

A peaceful agreement has been reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran. As expected, the bomb-dropping idea peddlers are crying like babies:

Daniel Pipes calls peace a disaster: “Barack Obama has made many foreign policy errors in the past five years, but this is the first to rank as a disaster.”

Jennifer Rubin hopes Israel can still find a way to bomb: “Admin needs to reaffirm final deal will comply fully with UN resolutions. If not Israel should act”.

Michael Ledeen is not losing hope for war either: “this might make war more possible, life is full of surprises.”

Michael Rubin grabs for the North Korean Bogeyman: “Iran deal risks creating another North Korea.”

Jeffrey Goldberg takes a ride in the spin machine: “This is, if nothing else, an interim victory for tough sanctions.”

Jonathan Tobin plays monday morning quarterback, and wishes Obama would’ve chose differently: “Everyone knows that the sanctions are hurting, but if Iran’s oil trade was subjected to a complete embargo…Tehran could have been brought to its knees.”

In the final analysis, neocon ideas have ruined so many lives around the Earth it’s hard to even wrap your mind around it. They’ve greatly contributed to bringing about the financial bankruptcy of the US, have encouraged so much hatred around the world by getting involved in everyone’s business, have left entire countries in total ruin, and have stuck the bills to all of us to pay.

If neocons are crying about not getting another war, it means things are going in the right direction for a change. Not attacking Syria was the first good step, and a (even if temporary) rapprochement with Iran provides another step. One more, and we can call this a trend, which is very good news indeed.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Jerusalem? — Israel’s hidden agenda

By Dan Lieberman | Online Journal | July 6, 2009

Three huge granite stones rest comfortably on the top of Midbar Sinai Street, in Givat Havatzim, Jerusalem’s northernmost district. Cut to specification, the imposing stones represent one of several preparations by the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement’s to erect a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.

Since the Islamic Wafq owns and controls all the property on the Haram al-Sharif, by what means can these stones be transferred to the Temple Mount and how can a temple be constructed there? Not by any legal means.

The stones are a provocation, which the Israel government refuses to halt. Neglect and passivity lead to a belief that an eventual Muslim reaction to the increasing provocations will give Israel an excuse to seize total control of the Holy Basin — the ultimate of the properties that Israel intends to incorporate into a greater Jerusalem.

For decades, Israeli authorities have spoken of a united Jerusalem — suggesting a spiritual quality to its message — as if Israel wants the home for the three monotheistic faiths to be solid and stable. By being guided from one central authority, a united Jerusalem also offers a preservation of a common and ancient heritage. However, by stressing the word ‘unification,’ Israel disguises the lack of a sufficiently supporting and verifiable historical narrative that could bolster its thrust to incorporate all of an artificially created greater Jerusalem into its boundaries. Coupled with inconsistencies and contradictions, Israel’s eagerness to create a greater Jerusalem under its total control becomes suspect. The intensive concentration on a ‘united’ Jerusalem reveals a hidden agenda that debases Jerusalem’s religious ingathering and heightens division, hatred and strife.

Examine the Holy Basin. The Holy Basin contains well-marked Christian and Muslim institutions and holy places that have had historical placement for millenniums. Although people of the Jewish faith had major presence in Jerusalem during the centuries of Biblical Jerusalem, which included rule by King Hezekiah and control by the Hasmonean dynasties, their control and presence were interrupted for two millennia. Extensive commentary has enabled the two thousand years of lack of control and presence to seem as if it never happened and that today is only a short time from the years of Hezekiah. Some remains of Jewish dwellings and ritual baths can be found, but few if any major Jewish monuments, buildings or institutions from the Biblical era exist in the “Old City” of today’s Jerusalem. The often cited Western Wall is the supporting wall for Herod’s platform and is not directly related to the Second Temple. No remains of the Jewish Temple have been located in Jerusalem — not even a rock.

According to Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time, she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. After the Ottomans replaced the Mamluks, Suleiman the Magnificent issued a formal edict in the 16th century that permitted Jews to have a place of prayer at the Western Wall.

The only remaining major symbol of Jewish presence in Jerusalem’s Holy City is the Jewish quarter, which Israel cleared of Arabs and rebuilt after 1967. During its clearing operations, Israel demolished the Maghribi Quarter adjacent to the Western Wall, destroyed the al-Buraq Mosque and the Tomb of the Sheikh al-Afdhaliyyah, and displaced about 175 Arab families.

Although the Jewish population in previous centuries comprised a large segment of the Old City (estimates have 7,000 Jews during the mid-19th century), the Jews gradually left the Old City and migrated to new neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, leaving only about 2,000 Jews in the Old City. Jordanian control after the 1948 war reduced the number to nil. By 2009, the population of the Jewish quarter in the Old City had grown to 3,000, or 9 percent of the Old City’s population. The Christian, Armenian and Muslim populations are the principal constituents and their quarters contain almost the entire Old City commerce.

In an attempt to attach ancient Israel to present day Jerusalem, Israeli authorities continue the attachment of spurious labels to Holy Basin landmarks, while claiming the falsification is due to the Byzantines, who got it all wrong.

King David’s Tower’s earliest remains were constructed several hundred years after the Bible dates David’s reign. It is a now an obvious Islamic minaret.

King David’s Citadel earliest remains are from the Hasmonean period (200 B. C. E.). The Citadel was entirely rebuilt by the Ottomans between 1537 and 1541.

King David’s tomb, located in the Dormition Abbey, is a cloth-covered cenotaph (no remains) that honors King David. It’s only an unverified guess that the casket is related to David.

The Pools of Solomon, located in a village near Bethlehem, are considered to be part of a Roman construction during the reign of Herod the Great. The pools supplied water to an aqueduct that carried the water to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem.

The Stables of Solomon, under the Temple Mount, are assumed to be a construction of vaults that King Herod built in order to extend the Temple Mount platform.

Absalom’s Tomb is an obvious Greek sculptured edifice and therefore cannot be the tomb of David’s son.

The City of David contains artifacts that date before and during David’s time. However, some archaeologists maintain there is an insufficient number of artifacts to conclude any Israelite presence, including that of King David, before the late ninth century. In any case any Israelite presence must have been in a small and unfortified settlement.

The Jerusalem Archaeological Park within the Old City, together with the Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center also tell the story. Promising to reveal much of a Hebrew civilization, the museums shed little light on its subject. The Davidson Center highlights a coin exhibition, Jerusalem bowls and stone vessels.

The Archeological Park in the Old City contains among many artifacts, Herodian structures, ritual baths, a floor of an Umayyad palace, a Roman road, Ottoman gates, and the façade of what is termed Robinson’s arch, an assumed Herodian entryway to the Temple Mount. The exhibitions don’t reveal many, if any, ancient Hebrew structures or institutions of special significance.

Reliable archaeologists, after examining excavations that contain pottery shards and buildings, concluded that archaeological finds don’t substantiate the biblical history of Jerusalem and its importance during the eras of a united Jewish kingdom under David and Solomon.

Margaret Steiner in an article, titled It’s Not There: Archaeology Proves a Negative, in the Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August, 1998, states: “ . . . from the tenth century B. C. E. there is no archaeological evidence that many people actually lived in Jerusalem, only that it was some kind of public administrative center . . . We are left with nothing that indicates a city was here during their supposed reigns (of David and Solomon) . . . It seems unlikely, however, that this Jerusalem was the capital of a large state, the United monarchy, as described in Biblical texts.”

West Jerusalem is another matter. With banditry prolific and Old City gates being closed before nightfall, living outside the city gates did not appeal to the population. Wealthy philanthropist Moses Montefiore wanted to attract the Jewish population to new surroundings and he constructed the first Jewish community outside of the Old City — Yemin Moshe’s first houses were completed in 1860. From that time, Jewish presence played a role in creating a West Jerusalem. Other institutions, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Russian Orthodox and Muslim soon ventured forth and owned much property in the evolving West Jerusalem.

In 1948, After the Israeli army seized absolute control of West Jerusalem, the new Israeli government confiscated all West Jerusalem property owned by Muslim institutions. Reason — enemy property. Few Muslims and no mosques remain in today’s West Jerusalem.

One contradiction. By attacking and ethnically cleansing the Christian Arab communities of Deir Yassin and Ein Kerem, Israeli forces characterized Christian Palestinians as an enemy. Nevertheless, Israel did not confiscate Christian properties, many of which are apparent in West Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Church owns extensive properties in West Jerusalem, many marked by its “TΦ” (Tau + Phi) symbol, interpreted as the word ‘Sepulchre.’

Another contradiction. Israel has cared for the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives and expanded it as a heritage site. Part of the famous Muslim Mamilla cemetery in West Jerusalem has been classified as refugee property and is being prepared to be demolished for the new Museum of Tolerance.

East Jerusalem reveals more contradictions. The repeated warning by Israeli leaders that co-existence is not feasible and that it is necessary to separate the Jewish and Palestinian communities is contradicted by Israel’s desire to incorporate East Jerusalem into Israel. Incorporation means accepting somewhere between 160,000 and 225,000 Palestinians into a Jewish state. Or does it? Whereas the older historical Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem have their character meticulously maintained or are rebuilt in their original style, the older Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem are entirely neglected (all of Arab East Jerusalem is neglected) or destroyed. How much deterioration and destruction can Palestinians absorb before they decide to leave?

Construction of Jewish homes in East Jerusalem Arab neighborhoods proceeds and destruction of Arab homes, either declared illegally constructed or illegally purchased, continues. On 44 dunums of lands confiscated from Palestinian families, a private company has constructed the gated community of Nof Zion, and conveniently separated Palestinian Jabal Al Mukabir from other parts of East Jerusalem. No Arabs need apply. The million dollar condominiums are advertised for American investors.

The Israeli ministry of Interior has approved a plan to demolish a kindergarten and wholesale market in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighborhood in order to construct a new hotel close to the Old City and near the Rockefeller Museum. The result will be the destruction of an Arab neighborhood and its replacement by Jewish interests, which will one day join other Jewish interests.

These are only two examples of a master plan to replace the centuries old Arab presence in East Jerusalem with a modern Jewish presence. The ancient Arab presence in an ancient land is further subdivided by the Separation Wall, which runs through the East Jerusalem landscape and detaches East Jerusalem from the West Bank, making it unlikely for a Palestinian state to have its capital in East Jerusalem. The master plan extends the boundaries of Jerusalem to include the large Israeli settlement (city) of Maale Adumim. Between Maale Adumim and East Jerusalem, Israel proposes to construct the E1 corridor, which joins settlements in a ring and adds to the separation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. The E1 corridor will divide the northern and southern West Bank and will impede direct transit between Palestine Bethlehem, which is south of E1 and Palestine Ramallah, which is north of E1. Construction of the E1 corridor, portions of which are owned by Palestinians, could prevent the formation of a viable Palestinian state.

So, if Israel is destroying Jerusalem’s heritage and subjugating its spiritual meaning, why does Israel want to unify Jerusalem?

Israel’s Hidden Agenda

Israel is a physically small and relatively new country with an eager population and big ambitions. It needs more prestige and wants to be viewed as a power broker on the world stage. To gain those perspectives Israel needs a capital city that commands respect, contains ancient traditions and is recognized as one of the world’s most important and leading cities. Almost all of the world’s principal nations, from Egypt to Germany to Great Britain, have capitals that are great cities of the world. To assure its objectives, Israel wants an oversized Jerusalem that contains the Holy City.

That’s not all.

Jerusalem has significant tourism that can be expanded. It can provide new commercial opportunities as an entry to all of the Middle East. An indivisible Jerusalem under Israeli control is worth a lot of shekels.

Israel competes with the United States as the focus of the Jewish people. It needs a unique Jerusalem to gain recognition as the home of Judaism.

By controlling all of the holy sites, Israel commands attention from Moslem and Christian leaders. These leaders will be forced to talk with Israel and Israel will have a bargaining advantage in disputes.

Whatever Israel gains, the Palestinians are denied. Even if Israel agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will direct its policies to limit the effectiveness of that state. Since East Jerusalem and its holy sites greatly benefit a Palestinian economy and increase Palestine legitimacy, Israel will do everything to prevent East Jerusalem being ceded to the new state of Palestine. An “indivisible” Jerusalem is part of that effort.

West Jerusalem only gives Israel a North/South capital. An indivisible Jerusalem gives Israel a forward look towards an East/West capital or a centralized capital of the land of previous biblical Jewish tribes.

The Zionist socialist ideals and the cooperative Kibbutzim received support and sympathy from idealistic world peoples for many years. Israel’s attachment to the Holocaust tragedy extended that sympathy and support to more of the world. With the end of the Zionist dream, the decline of kibbutz life and the over-popularizing of the Holocaust, Israel needs a new symbol of identity that captures world attention.

If Israel has legitimate claims to Jerusalem, then those claims should be heard and discussed in a proper forum. However, that is not the process forthcoming. The process has the Israeli government using illegal and illegitimate procedures, as well as deceitful and hypocritical methods to force its agenda. Israel is not presenting its case but is exerting its powers to trample all legal, moral and historical considerations.

In the Museum of the Citadel of David is an inscription: The land of Israel is in the center of the world and Jerusalem is the center of the land of Israel.

This self-praise was echoed at a West Jerusalem coffee house in a conversation with several Israelis. A youthful Israeli abruptly sat at the table and entered the conversation with the words: “All the world looks to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the center of the world and Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Everyone needs Jerusalem and they will need to talk with Israel.”

And that is why Israel desperately wants its greater Jerusalem.

Dan Lieberman is the editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has written many articles on the Middle East conflict, which have circulated on websites and media throughout the world. He can be reached at alternativeinsight@earthlink.net.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Still Holds Plenty of U.S. Cards

By NORMAN SOLOMON and ABBA A. SOLOMON | CounterPunch | November 25, 2013

More than ever, Israel is isolated from world opinion and the squishy entity known as “the international community.” The Israeli government keeps condemning the Iran nuclear deal, by any rational standard a positive step away from the threat of catastrophic war.

In the short run, the belligerent responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are bound to play badly in most of the U.S. media. But Netanyahu and the forces he represents have only begun to fight. They want war on Iran, and they are determined to exercise their political muscle that has long extended through most of the Washington establishment.

While it’s unlikely that such muscle can undo the initial six-month nuclear deal reached with Iran last weekend, efforts are already underway to damage and destroy the negotiations down the road. On Capitol Hill the attacks are most intense from Republicans, and some leading Democrats have also sniped at the agreement reached in Geneva.

A widespread fear is that some political precedent might be set, undercutting “pro-Israel” leverage over U.S. government decisions. Such dread is inherent in the negative reactions from Netanyahu (“a historic mistake”), GOP lawmakers like House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers (“a permission slip to continue enrichment”) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (“we’ve let them out of the trap”), and Democratic lawmakers like Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (“this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran’s nuclear program”) and Senator Charles Schumer (“it does not seem proportional”).

Netanyahu and many other Israelis — as well as the powerhouse U.S. lobbying group AIPAC and many with similar outlooks in U.S. media and politics — fear that Israel’s capacity to hold sway over Washington policymakers has begun to slip away. “Our job is to be the ones to warn,” Israel’s powerful finance minister, Yair Lapid, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “We need to make the Americans to listen to us like they have listened in the past.”

This winter and spring, the Israeli government and its allies are sure to strafe U.S. media and political realms with intense barrages of messaging. “Israel will supplement its public and private diplomacy with other tools,” the New York Times reported Monday from Jerusalem. “Several officials and analysts here said Israel would unleash its intelligence industry to highlight anticipated violations of the interim agreement.” Translation: Israel will do everything it can to undermine the next stage of negotiations and prevent a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Looking ahead, as a practical political matter, can the U.S. government implement a major policy shift in the Middle East without at least grudging acceptance from the Israeli government? Such questions go to the core of the Israeli occupation now in its 47th year.

Israel keeps building illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank; suppression of the basic human rights of Palestinian people continues every day on a large scale in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no reason to expect otherwise unless Israel’s main political, military and economic patron, the United States, puts its foot down and refuses to backstop those reprehensible policies. They can end only when the “special relationship” between the USA and Israel becomes less special, in keeping with a single standard for human rights and against military aggression.

Such talk is abhorrent to those who are steeped in the notion that the United States must serve as a reliable enabler of Israel’s policies. But in every way that those policies are wrong, the U.S. government should stop enabling them.

The longstanding obstacles to such a halt stand a bit less tall today, but they remain huge. No less than before, as William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” This certainly applies to the history of gaining and maintaining unequivocal U.S. support for Israel.

Today’s high-impact American groups such as AIPAC (which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”), Christians United for Israel (“the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S., with more than a million members,” according to the Jerusalem Post) and similar outfits have built on 65 years of broad and successful Israel advocacy in the United States.

Baked into the foundation of their work was the premise of mutuality and compatibility of Israeli and American interests. Until the end of the Cold War, routine spin portrayed aid to Israel as a way to stymie Soviet power in the region. Especially since 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been equated with support for a precious bulwark against terrorism.

Ever since the successful 1947 campaign to press for UN General Assembly approval of Palestine partition, Israel’s leaders have closely coordinated with American Jewish organizations. Israeli government representatives in the United States regularly meet with top officers of American Jewish groups to convey what Israel wants and to identify the key U.S. officials who handle relevant issues. Those meetings have included discussions about images of Israel to promote for the American public, with phrases familiar to us, such as “making the desert bloom” and “outpost of democracy.”

As any member of Congress is well aware, campaign donations and media messaging continue to nurture public officials cooperative and sympathetic to Israel. For the rare officeholders and office seekers who stand out as uncooperative and insufficiently sympathetic, a formulaic remedy has been applied: withholding campaign donations, backing opponents and launching of media vilification. Those political correctives have proved effective — along the way, serving as cautionary tales for politicians who might be tempted to step too far out of line.

The mainstream American Jewish Committee decided in 1953 that for its pro-Israel advocacy, “To the utmost extent, non-Jewish and non-sectarian organizations should be used as spokesmen.” Such a strategic approach has borne fruit for the overall Israel advocacy project in the USA. It is time-tested and mature; broadly distributing messages through organizations of most political flavors; and adept at touching almost all sizable media.

This year, Israeli leaders have intensified their lurid casting of Iran as the next genocidal Third Reich, and Israel as the protector absent for Jews during the Holocaust. For some, the theme is emotionally powerful. But it must not be allowed to prevent a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran.

From now till next summer, the struggle over talks with Iran will be fierce and fateful. All signs point to determined efforts by Israel — and its many allies in the United States — to wreck prospects for a peaceful solution.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lavrov: No need for European missile defense shield if Iran deal a success

RT | November 25, 2013

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the US will no longer have a reason to build the long-touted missile defense shield in Europe, if Iran fulfills its obligations in the recently-signed nuclear program deal.

“If the Iran deal is put into practice, the stated reason for the construction of the defense shield will no longer apply,” Lavrov told journalists in Rome.

NATO is currently rolling out its new Europe-wide missile defense shield, which will include two interceptor bases close to the Russian border in Romania and Poland, with the first of the first ground missiles becoming operational in 2015. The bases will be able to shoot down short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

Russia has long protested at the placement of such bases on its borders, but during both, the Bush era and Obama’s terms, Washington has insisted that the bases are primarily directed against a potential threat from Iran, and are too close to Russia to stop any of its nuclear warheads.

On Sunday, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for a loosening of substantial EU and US sanctions that have crippled its economy.

The initial term of the deal is six months, though both sides hope this will lead to a permanent rapprochement after a stand-off that lasted a decade, during which the West accused Iran of attempting to acquire a nuclear weapon, while Iran denied this, insisting that it was entitled to enrich uranium.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, while visiting Europe earlier this month, said that the deployment of the missile shield was not likely to be contingent on improving relations with Iran.

“Nothing has changed at this point and I don’t foresee it changing,” he said.

The current European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense system was adopted by the White House in 2009. It generally uses more established technologies than President George W. Bush’s expensive and ambitious system that first aroused Russia’s ire over five years ago. The most ambitious phase of the program, initially scheduled to begin next decade, was also canceled earlier this year.

Nonetheless, negotiations about Moscow’s potential involvement in the defense shield have broken down over a lack of trust, and the recent groundbreaking ceremony at NATO’s base in Romania was swiftly followed by an unannounced test of Russia’s newest ballistic missiles as well as international patrols by its strategic bombers.

Lavrov recently called missile defense a “burning issue” in Moscow-Washington relations, and said that Russia will soften its stance on the Eastern European bases only if NATO provides written assurances that they will never be used to shoot down Russian missiles, a request it has repeatedly rejected.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Oil prices drop after Iran’s nuclear deal

MEMO | November 25, 2013

Oil prices dropped on Monday morning in Asia’s exchange markets after Iran and world powers reached an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Iran holds the fourth largest oil reserves in the world. Brent price fell by 2.26 per cent, or $2.51 down to $108.54 per barrel, while US light sweet crude fell by 89 cents to $93.95 per barrel (a less than one per cent decline).

After five days of intense negotiations, the major world powers and Iran announced a deal on Saturday evening stipulating that Iran will curb its nuclear activities in return for an easing of the economic sanctions against it. The interim deal paves the way for a new phase of negotiations in six months’ time. Western countries and Israel suspect Tehran of secretly developing nuclear military capabilities behind its civilian programme, but this is a claim that Tehran denies.

The oil markets had been intensely following the negotiations in Geneva. Economic analysts believe the deal could eventually lead to lifting the ban on Iran’s oil exports, which would supply the markets with a million additional barrels a day and help to reduce oil prices, which have dramatically risen as a result of the Iranian crisis and the geopolitical unrest in the Middle East.

Victor Shum, the managing director of IHS Purvin & Gertz Group in Singapore, observed on Monday that: “the impact of the deal on the global oil supply will be limited in the short term because the majority of the sanctions remain.”

Experts also confirmed that if sanctions are indeed lifted, then Iranian exports will increase while Saudi exports will decrease. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

An oil expert told the Dow Jones newswire that the agreement “does not mean that we will see an influx of oil exports in the markets, because Iran is a member of OPEC and any increase in the Iranian oil supply should be done within the quota system.”

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

Institutionalising Zionism in American academia

By Dr. Sarah Marusek | MEMO | November 24, 2013

It is widely known that Israel and its allies spend millions of dollars to promote Zionism on college and university campuses across the US. Zionist organisations fund student groups like Hillel, the largest Jewish campus organisation in the world, as well as sponsor American Jewish students to travel or study abroad in Israel through programmes like Bithright Israel and MASA Israel Journey.

Israel and its allies also spend vast resources organising pro-Zionist speaking tours, both on and off college and university campuses. The Jewish National Fund works with an extensive list of Zionist scholars and professionals to, as it proudly states, “Bring the Israel experience to your next meeting, community event or conference.” Furthermore, while a doctoral student at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in Central New York, I was told that the Israeli embassy regularly contacted the administration, as well as the directors of selected programmes, to pressure them to schedule an event featuring the Israeli Ambassador to the US.

However, perhaps less is known about how Israeli universities are actively involved in institutionalising Zionism in the American academy, mainly in the form of collaborative research programmes that legitimise the right of powerful states to illegally invade and occupy Muslim and Arab lands by equating the resulting struggle for liberation with terrorism.

My own university is complicit in this project to normalise invasion and occupation through collaborative programmes with Israeli universities. In Fall 2007, our graduate magazine featured an article entitled “Trying to Change the Rules” that focused on several collaborative projects related to a partnership between the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) at Syracuse University’s respected College of Law and the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) located at the Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.

The IDC is one of Israel’s most influential security institutes and is thought to have extremely close connections to the Israeli government and military. Indeed the chairman of the ICT Board of Directors, Shabtai Shavit, is the former head of the Mossad.

The collaboration between the IDC and Syracuse University started in 2005 and expanded after Israel’s 2006 War against Lebanon. The heads of INSCT and the ITC, along with the former dean of the Maxwell School, who had previously worked for the US Department of Defence, all agreed that the existing rules of war no longer applied to the dominant forms of warfare in the 21st century, which they described as “asymmetric” because most conflicts today are conducted between state and nonstate actors that have vastly different military capabilities. The three decided that “someone should attempt to update” the rules of war and that INSCT, in partnership with the Israelis, was “well-positioned to take that on”. This resulted in a five-year collaborative research project called “New Battlefields/Old Laws” that included a two-way student exchange programme.

While most wars today are indeed “asymmetric”, it is because many of them are also illegal and should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. According to international human rights law, the case can be made that the recent wars waged by the US and Israel are all illegal, not only for being disproportionate responses to real or perceived threats, especially those that were manufactured, but also for intentionally blurring the distinction between combatants and civilians.

Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon was waged after Hizbullah launched an ambush against Israeli soldiers, capturing two of them in the hopes of negotiating a prisoner exchange, and killing three. During the subsequent aggression, Agence France Presse reports that 1,287 Lebanese died, nearly all civilians, and 4,054 were wounded. Israeli forces intentionally inflicted severe damage to civilian infrastructure including: the Rafik Hariri International Airport; various ports; a lighthouse in Ras Beirut; bridges, roads and factories throughout the country; ambulances and relief trucks; schools, orphanages and hospitals; mosques and community centres; mobile telephone and television stations; as well as fuel containers and service stations. During the final three days of fighting, and despite the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calling for an immediate cessation of the hostilities, Israel dropped up to four million cluster bomblets in southern Lebanon, and over one million remained unexploded, prompting charges from the UN’s humanitarian chief that Israel employed a “completely immoral” use of cluster bombs during the conflict. According to Lebanon’s Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, more than 400 Lebanese have been victims of these unexploded cluster munitions since the cease-fire, 115 of them under the age of 18.

On the other side, 116 Israeli soldiers were killed as well as 43 civilians, and Israel suffered severe damage to civilian infrastructure including a post office and two hospitals.

The disproportionality here is nothing less than shocking, and all the more so since it was intentional. During the war, the Israeli military employed what it called “the Dahiyah Doctrine”, named after the residential areas in southern Beirut that Israeli forces indiscriminately destroyed on the basis that “they were also used as Hizbullah command-and-control centres, and were built over Hizbullah bunkers.” In October 2008, Israeli Major General Gadi Eizenkot threatened that: “What happened in the Dahiyah quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on. We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.”

One Israeli journalist writing for Yedioth Ahronoth summed up this strategy as follows: “In practical terms, the Palestinians in Gaza are all Khaled Mashaal [the exiled leader of Hamas]; the Lebanese are all Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah [the secretary general of Hizbullah]; and the Iranians are all Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [the former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran].”

This strategy, which resulted in mass death and destruction, clearly violates the principles of war in regards to proportionality and distinction, and thus is illegal.

Nevertheless, Israeli occupation forces used the same strategy during Israel’s 2008-2009 assault against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of 1,389 Palestinians, more than half of whom were civilians and 318 of whom were minors under the age of 18. In addition, more than 5,300 Palestinians were wounded. According to the Israeli rights group B’tselem, “Israel also caused enormous damage to residential dwellings, industrial buildings, agriculture and infrastructure for electricity, sanitation, water, and health, which was already on the verge of collapse prior to the operation” due to the Israeli siege. The aggression targeted 18 schools, including eight kindergartens, with at least 262 others damaged. Israel also destroyed more than 3,500 residential dwellings, leaving more than 20,000 Palestinians homeless.

Inside Israel, Hamas rockets killed three Israeli civilians during the offensive and one member of the security forces. According to the UN, 518 Israelis were injured. Newspapers reported that 28 Israelis were made homeless, and over 1,000 claims were filed relating to damaged property.

Again, the disproportionate results of the aggression clearly indicate that Israel violated the principles of war in regards to proportionality and distinction. And when wars are illegal, they constitute crimes.

Nevertheless, Syracuse University still decided that Israel, an occupying power, was legally and ethically qualified to help devise new rules of war. Of course, this should not be surprising in the context of US empire. When accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama described the 2002 invasion of Afghanistan as a just war, even though none of the hijackers on 11 September 2001 were of Afghan origin. Thus despite not being responsible for perpetrating the 11/9 attacks, around 15,000 Afghans have died as a result. That is some twisted conception of justice.

All of this is actually connected. According to the IDC web site, Syracuse University has developed “a joint study and research programme in counterterrorism policy, homeland security and American domestic and foreign policy,” drawing parallels between the experiences of confronting Palestinian resistance to occupation and Al-Qaeda acts of terrorism.

It is not incidental that professors from Syracuse University also regularly participate in the annual counterterrorism conference at Herzliya. According to the New York writer Ira Glunts, “One of the conference days always falls on 11 September. This, of course, is timed perfectly to make the case that Israel’s battle against terrorism became America’s battle as a result of the World Trade Centre attack.”

However it is important to note that Syracuse University is not alone in partnering with Israeli universities to normalise the occupation. Earlier this month, the Electronic Intifada reported that Palestine solidarity activists in the US “are campaigning against plans by Texas A&M University to take over a college in Nazareth, the city in present-day Israel with the highest number of Palestinian citizens.” According to journalist Patrick Strickland, “Texas A&M, the sixth largest university in the US, intends to raise $70 million to assume control of the Nazareth Academic Institute.”

In October, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 and is likely to campaign again, announced the new programme alongside the chancellor of Texas A&M while the two were meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. As Strickland points out, “John Hagee, a right-wing Christian Zionist pastor leading the lobby group Christians United for Israel, is also involved in the project.”

Haaretz notes that while the college in Nazareth was established in 2010 specifically to serve the Arab population, it has suffered from a lack of state funds, thus college officials “welcomed the prestigious American university’s entry into the picture.” After all, although Arabs comprise 20 per cent of the Israeli population, they are only 11 per cent of its student body. However the Jerusalem Post indicates that, “The new institution, to be called the Peace Campus, will promote coexistence for the sake of education with a student population combining Arab, Jewish and foreign students.”

Indeed, as the Daily Beast reports, Manuel Trajtenberg, the chair of Israel’s Planning and Budgeting Committee for the Council for Higher Education, explained that he anticipates significant student interest: “Of course, we would appeal to potential students in the area, but also Jewish Israelis of all sorts.” If the goal here is not yet clear, Emily L. Hauser also draws attention to the involvement of Hagee, who once described Adolf Hitler as a hunter sent by God to “chase the Jewish people back to the land”. Additionally, Hagee has raised tens of millions of dollars “for projects in Israel and for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.” Peace Campus suddenly looks a lot like Oslo.

As Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, remarked, this is “another colonial project by Israel-to further colonize our space, whatever space is left of the Palestinian space within the state of Israel.”

Of course it is not always necessary to send American students, professors and investment to Israel in order to benefit Zionism. In September, the Electronic Intifada reported that the New York City Council has “approved a lease for Cornell University to build a major applied science engineering campus in partnership with the Haifa-based Israel Institute of Technology (better known as Technion). The 2.1 million square foot, taxpayer-funded project is to be located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, a strip of largely residential land between Manhattan and Queens.”

As scholar Terri Ginsberg points out: “A closer look at the corporations affiliated with Technion, some of which have expressed interest in this entrepreneurial venture, indicates that the project’s aims may be more sinister. These corporations have developed weapons and surveillance technology used by Israel to deny Palestinians their fundamental human rights.” She adds that Technion “has a history of cooperating with Israel’s arms industry and of helping to develop a bulldozer designed specifically for use in demolishing Palestinian homes.”

It is important to note that UK universities are not immune to this trend either. For example, the Electronic Intifada reported in September that the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London “was established as a partnership between the IDC in Herzliya” and other Israeli universities. Unsurprisingly, the majority of ICSR’s projects focus on the various expressions of “Islamic radicalism” without any mention of Zionist extremism. Even its project on North America and Europe only focuses on radicalism in Muslim communities.

All of these examples illustrate how the Zionist occupation uses the Western academy in a variety of ways to reproduce itself not only in Palestine, but also beyond.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NETANYAHU’S DEPENDENCE ON FAILED POLICIES AND ISLAMOPHOBIA

By Iqbal Jassat | Media Review Network | November 24, 2013

Johannesburg – In a desperate attempt to swing Western nations’ public opinion against Iran, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu – widely viewed in Muslim society as a major villain in promoting Islamophobia – has yet again resorted to vile anti-Islam rhetoric.

In step with an inglorious record of Zionist-colonialism, the bigotry inherent in his irrational utterances raises the specter of an ugly, emotive campaign of renewed Islam-bashing. At an event at Tel Aviv University that was also attended by French President Francois Hollande, Netanyahu contrasted “progressive Israel” with “oppressive” aspirations of “radical Islam”, which he claimed was attempting to take humanity back to the “Dark Ages.”

This brazen assault is a remarkable display by a personality who arrogantly believes that the world is beholden to him. It is symbolic of the regime he leads and represents. The notion that Israel is able to do as it pleases without any accountability to the international community is increasingly turning into a major source of irritation and embarrassment for many of its allies.

Netanyahu regards himself as a modern-day savior of Jews and in order to do so keeps unleashing his bitterness and hatred of Islam. He does so also to ensure that Israel’s enemy is clearly defined. It’s a ridiculous situation that in today’s enlightened era a rightwing leader such as him is able to spew venom and incite anti-Muslim sentiments, safe in the knowledge that neither the USA nor the UN is able to touch him.

While he continues to rant and rave about “radical Islam” he puts his hope on the gullibility of people, expecting that Israel’s hardline repressive policies against Palestinians will evoke sympathy rather than censure. It remains a misplaced expectation and reflects adversely on the fact that Netanyahu is as out of touch with reality as PW Botha (Groot Krokodil) was during his reign as apartheid South Africa’s chief.

This episode is certainly not isolated from Netanyahu’s past. He has a history of fuelling hatred against Islam and has done so by dividing Muslims into various camps and categories. As a leading Islamophobia ideologue he can claim “success” if it’s the correct term one may use to describe his influence on America’s neoconservative movement and the range of wars spawned by them across the Muslim world.

Netanyahu may be the premier of Israel, but he remains a central figure in US politics via the disproportionate dominance of AIPAC-influenced legislation in both the Senate and Congress. From the Clinton era’s “Omnibus Counter-Terrorism Act” to George Bush’s infamous “War on Terror”, Netanyahu and his rightwing gang has ensured that Palestine’s freedom struggle is criminalized as terrorism. The arguments advanced to pigeon-hole groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah as terror outfits, have had a disastrous consequence in America. On the one hand, US taxpayers have had to fund their domestic law enforcement agencies to prosecute Palestinians on behalf of Israel. On the other hand, the bastion of freedom and democracy has also had to contend with managing inter-faith relations to prevent anti-Islam sentiments from resembling anarchy in the streets.

Though some hasbara enthusiasts may find it extremely tough to admit, I’m not surprised that every element of Israel’s grip on the lives and destiny of Palestinians resembles apartheid in South Africa. And similarities can justifiably be extended to the personalities who executed apartheid policies. From Verwoerd to Vorster and Botha one will have very little difficulty to recast them as Ben-Gurion to Begin and Netanyahu. It’s truly a gallery of rogues. The Zionist cast has in fact outstripped their apartheid partners and led by Netanyahu seem hell bent to continue excelling in land theft, occupation, war crimes, apartheid barriers, weapons of mass destruction, detention without trial and Islamophobia.

How far will he be allowed to go in his wild pursuit of war is anyone’s guess. What is clear though is that Netanyahu is increasingly behaving and sounding like an idiot whose conduct is not only becoming a source of embarrassment for global Jewry, but also makes Israel’s western allies cringe.

Follow Iqbal Jassat on Twitter: @ijassat

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Cover not their blood

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Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, 1995-2011
Yesh Din | November 24, 2013

Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, aged 16, was shot and killed on January 28th, 2011, probably by a settler. The prosecution took 14 months to appoint an attorney to the case, and eventually closed it due to lack of evidence.

Many of the posts in this blog deal with the incompetence of Israeli police investigations, and it’s possible that the death of Yusuf Fahri Mussa Ahleil, a 16-year old boy from Beit ‘Ummar, will be added to this list; but for the time being, it is a story of criminal negligence on behalf of the prosecution.

On January 28th, 2011, something happened in the village of Beit Ummar in the Hebron region. The testimonies describe an assault by Israeli civilians from two different directions simultaneously. Both incidents involved shooting; the second one ended in death. Witnesses describe a large group of Israeli civilians raiding the village, among whom three fired at the Palestinians using weapons, likely M-16 assault rifles. According to one of the witnesses, the Israelis were conducting some sort of ceremony, blew a shofar, and then opened fire. The witnesses agree that no military troops were present and that they arrived only after the shooting.

When it was all over, Yusuf Ahleil, who was on his way to help his father with his work in the field, lay dead on the ground. The testimony of the father, Fahri, is worth quoting: “I work in agriculture, and that is my main profession. During their vacations the children help me. Before I went to work [on the morning of the incident] I asked my son Yusuf to come with me to work later during the day. At some point I heard the sound of gunshots; I did not know what it was about and kept on working. And then, I don’t remember the time, some people from the village came with a vehicle and asked to take me home. I did not understand why – I refused but they insisted, took me with them and brought me back home. When we arrived, I saw that most of the village was gathered next to my house. I asked what happened? I was told, your son was shot. I said, how can that be? We agreed that he should join me at work. This is how I learned that my son, while on his way to work with me, had been wounded by the settlers.” Yusuf was shot in the head, and died.

The family filed a complaint with the police that same day. From that point onwards, our monitoring tells the story. On February 16th, 2011, the police informed us that the case was under investigation. On March 14th, 2011, it told us it received testimonies and photographs, and asked that we provide any further information we may come across. On May 2nd, 2011, the police informed us that the case had been transferred to the Jerusalem District Prosecution Office.

On June 5th, 2011, we called the Jerusalem District Attorney Office to ask which prosecuting attorney is handling the case. None had yet been appointed. We asked the same office again on August 24th, 2011, i.e. almost seven months after the incident, but the prosecution did not consider the violent death – this fact is not disputed – of a 16-year old boy as something requiring the immediate attention of an attorney. We repeated our query in September 25th, 2011. We might as well be speaking to the walls.

October 24th came and went, and the death of Yusuf still did not hinder the sleep of the prosecutors. We had reached December 15th, 2011, and the boy who had dropped dead from a bullet in his head still failed to arouse the interest of the prosecutors. On January 15th, 2012, almost a year since he had been killed, Yusuf’s prosecution file was still gathering dust. We kept on pestering, and on March 20th, 2012 – that is almost 14 months since the killing – we were informed that on this happy day a prosecutor had been assigned to the case. A week later, we tried to verify with her what steps she she had taken with the case so far. We were not dignified with an answer.

We repeated the question, to no avail, two months later. We are stubborn people, studied in the ways of banging our heads against the system’s wall, so we asked once again on July 30th, 2012 whether the prosecutors made any decision – four months since a prosecutor had been assigned to the case, and more than 18 months since the killing itself, but who’s counting. We did not receive a response.

On January 3rd, 2013, nearly two years after the killing and nine months after a prosecutor was assigned to the case, she still had no answer for us. Six months breezed by, and on August 4th, 2013, the prosecutor informed us that on July 30th, 2013, she had made the decision to close the case. The police had identified four suspects; the prosecutor closed the case against three of them for lack of evidence and against the fourth, for lack of criminal culpability.

That was the beginning of August. Since then we’ve been trying to get a hold of the investigative file so we can appeal the decision to close it. Until recently, the prosecution had failed in the rather simple job of providing us with it. There were contradictory claims as to what happened to it. The prosecution said it was sent back to the Hebron Police, which in turn said they never got it back. We are happy to report, however, that recently the file was found, photocopied, and will be reviewed by us soon.

Let’s conduct a mental experiment. Let’s say the victim is still 16 years old, still residing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, but is not burdened with a foreign, Palestinian, name like Yussuf Alhleil; let’s say his name is something familiar, say Yossi Hebroni. Our hypothetical Yossi Hebroni was shot near a Palestinian village. Can anyone imagine that the prosecution would amble slowly to the case after 14 months? Or that it would need 16 more months to make up its mind?

The prosecution is entrusted, since Israel controls the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with protecting its residents from violence. When they are the victims of theft, it ought to bring the thief to justice. When they are killed, its duty is to bring justice for the dead.

The case of Yusuf Fahri Mussa Alhleil shows us how seriously the prosecution takes this duty. It removes another thin layer of the already crumbling patina of the claim that there is something you may refer to with a straight face as “rule of law” in the West Bank. Where the rule of law is absent, what we see is the law of nature, where the strong rule over the weak. The point of our social contract with the government is to overcome nature’s law, under which, to quote Hobbes, life is “nasty, brutish and short.” In the most gentle words possible, in Yusuf’s case – and, unfortunately, in far too many others – the prosecution has betrayed the social contract.

The result that there is the father who waits in vain for his son to return to him in the field, and killers who know that nothing will happen to them if they kill once more.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment