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The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Too Complicated For Our Beautiful Minds

By LAWRENCE Of Cyberia | December 28, 2008

There are so many words written about the “root causes” of the Arab-Israeli conflict, you might think the underlying issue is difficult to understand.  But you’d be wrong.  For all the mythology that interested parties want to wrap this conflict in, it’s really not difficult at all to understand the confrontation that has been going on in Palestine for more than a century now. All you have to do is try to imagine that what happened to Palestine happened instead here in the U.S. Then ask yourself, “What would Americans do in this position?”.  And at that point, you find it miraculously stops being difficult to understand.

The problem with this approach is that American Exceptionalism has left us barely able to imagine being in other people’s shoes. So we explain the world to ourselves through ridiculous platitudes like we’re good and they’re evil, that actually explain nothing and leave us as confused as when we started. We just don’t do empathy very well.

But let’s try anyway.  Let’s try imagining that what has been going on in Palestine for the last 100 years is going on instead here in the U.S., right now.

According to Wikipedia, Jewish Americans currently comprise about 2.5% of the population of the United States.  Imagine that tomorrow morning some well-financed and politically connected Zionists in Europe will announce to you – the American people – they are going to build a “Jewish state”.  Americans aren’t known for being overly-curious about what goes on in the rest of the world, so probably wouldn’t really care one way or another about what Zionists in Europe are up to. In fact, you might well just shrug your shoulders and say “well, good luck with that”, right up until the moment they tell you that they’re going to build it … here, in the United States.

After picking yourself up off the floor, you might point out to them that the U.S. is already populated thank you very much, and that 97.5% of that population happens not to be Jewish. And that those 97.5% are going to be very strongly opposed to the suggestion that a minority, sectarian state – which automatically excludes them from equal citizenship solely because they don’t have a Jewish mom – should be forcibly imposed on them.

At first, your Zionist interlocutors might respond with some really bizarre justifications for what they’re proposing to do to you. They tell you that Canada is right next door, and suggest you should leave your home and go and live there instead.  They tell you that Canadians speak English, just like Americans; and Canada was settled by the British, just like the U.S., so you’d really be just as much at home there as in the U.S.  And Canada’s huge, there’s plenty of room for you to relocate there!

Then, when they can tell you’re not really buying these arguments about why you should vacate the only home you’ve ever had and live instead in some place you’ve never been to in the frozen north, they tell you it really doesn’t matter what you think as you’re not going to be consulted anyway.  They have powerful foreign allies and enough firepower to create the “Jewish state” in America whether you like it or not, and so they do… by expelling about half of the U.S population to Canada and inviting Jewish immigrants to live in their vacated homes, and by disenfranchising most of those indigenous Americans who stubbornly remain.

Imagine if that happened here. And imagine if it went on happening for 100 years, because the sheer persistence of the remaining non-Jewish population meant that their numbers had to be constantly culled in order to maintain the sectarian regime’s preferred “demographic balance”. What do you think those 97.5% of Americans who are excluded from equal citizenship just  because they have the “wrong” ethnic-religious background are going to think of the sectarian regime that can exist in their homeland only through their own continuing dispossession? What do you think they might do? What do you think this sectarian state in America will end up looking like?

I know exactly what it would look like. It would look just like this:

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An injured Palestinian is helped from the rubble following an Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. (Hatem Omar, AP)

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Religious Jews from the volunteer ZAKA organization collect body parts at the blood-stained scene of a Palestinian suicide bombing February 4, 2008 in the southerm Israeli town of Dimona. (David Silverman/Getty Images)

A sectarian state of America, existing in a land where many different kinds of people live, but granting the full benefits of citizenship to only one of them, would look just like this, and no American would find it difficult to understand why.  If the great Zionist experiment were happening at our expense, we would not find this conflict to be complicated, nor would we be inventing silly stories about alleged ontological defects in non-Jewish Americans to explain why so many people are dead, why our conflict is seemingly endless, and why our homeland looks like a moonscape. If this were happening to us, we would understand perfectly well that it is absurd to establish a “Jewish state” in a land where 2.5% of the population is Jewish, and to expect that the disenfranchised 97.5% is going to be just fine with that.

And now, welcome to Palestine.

The analogy I’ve just outlined isn’t as far-fetched as you might assume. When the first Zionist settlers arrived in Palestine, they claimed they were settling “a land without a people for a people without a land”.  But that wasn’t true. And we know it wasn’t true (quite apart from the testimony of the people who lived there) because starting in 1876, the Ottoman Empire compiled annual counts of the population in its subject provinces, including Palestine.

The Ottomans counted their subjects in order to tax them, and in order to conscript them.  The really interesting thing is that under the Ottoman Turks your tax rate and your liability for military service were linked to your religion.  Jewish and Christian subjects paid extra taxes, but their sons were exempt from military service. Muslim subjects didn’t pay the extra taxes, but their sons were liable for mandatory service in the army. So population counts in Palestine during the late Ottoman Empire didn’t record just the number of people there, they also recorded their religion.  Which, for the purpose of countering Zionist mythology, is remarkably helpful.

So, let’s have a look at the official statistics of the Ottoman government, to see what the “empty land” of Palestine really looked like when the first Zionist settlers arrived there to pioneer their Jewish state.  The information I’m posting is from The Population of Palestine: Population Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and The Mandate (Ch 1, Table 1.4D) by Prof Justin McCarthy (Columbia University Press, 1990):

Pal pop_first aliya

The year of the first aliya was 1299 (Muslim calendar), or 1881/2 of the Common Era.  And you can see at a glance that despite what you’ve been told, Palestine at that time was very far from being a land without a people.  In fact, there were 462,465 people living in Palestine: 403,795 Muslims; 43,659 Christians; 15,011 Jews.  In other words, Zionists were settling in a land where the pre-existing population was just 3.3 per cent Jewish, where a “Jewish state” could not possibly be established and maintained without the dispossession and disenfranchisement of those 96.7 per cent of the population that happen to have the “wrong” ethnic-religious origin, and where that dispossession would have to continue generation upon generation because of the majority population’s ability to replenish itself through its high birthrate.

And suddenly, my comparison with the U.S., with its tiny Jewish minority of 2.5%, and the question of how most Americans would react to the imposition of a minority, sectarian state in their midst, doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all.

Despite the endless propaganda we are subjected to, about Palestinians (and Arabs and Muslims) being people who are “not like us”, whose values are inimical to our own, and with whom we are condemned to be engaged in an endless clash of civilizations, the conflict in Palestine is actually rooted in the fact that Palestinians are exactly like us.

Palestinians do not accept that equal citizenship in their own homeland should be denied them because of their ethnic/religious background, any more than Americans would accept ethnic justifications for denying them equal citizenship in the United States. Palestinians do not accept that a population that is 96.7% Muslim and Christian should be ethnically cleansed to make way for a sectarian Jewish state, any more than we would accept that the 97.5% of Americans who happen to be not-Jewish should be ethnically cleansed to make way for a Jewish state here.  In short, Palestinians reject and resist Zionism because they do not accept being treated in ways that we, likewise, would never accept for ourselves.

This is not difficult to understand. And yet we wrap the Arab-Israeli conflict in complex, ontological constructs about “The Arab Mind”, about “Islamofascists” who “hate us for our freedoms”, and about mindless, irrational anti-Semites who hate Israel just because it’s Jewish and not because the overwhelmingly non-Jewish population there has to be destroyed in order to make it, and keep it, Jewish.  Complicated existential explanations to hide the simple fact that the Palestinians are doing exactly what we would be doing if we found ourselves in their situation.

I understand that if you’re a Zionist you have a vested interest in not understanding all this, and in persuading others that it’s really very complicated. But for the rest of us, really, how difficult is this to grasp?

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 3 Comments

Hollywood ‘Fight Club’ producer was Israeli spy with nuclear script

RT | November 26, 2013

Arnon Milchan, renowned producer of such Hollywood hits as “Pretty Woman,” “Fight Club” and “LA Confidential”, has come forth with perhaps his greatest story of all: he was an Israeli spy who helped boost the country’s nuclear program in the 70s and 80s.

In an in depth interview broadcast on Monday with Israel’s Channel 2 flagship investigative program ‘Uvda’ (Fact), the 68-year-old producer discussed his involvement in clandestine arms deals and efforts to buy technologies Israel allegedly needed to make nuclear weapons.

The expose followed Milchan’s career from the late ‘1960s and early ‘1970s, when he was a young and successful businessman in the United States who had a close relationship with current Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Peres, who at the time was helping set up the Negev Nuclear Research Center, tasked Milchan with acquiring equipment and information necessary to get the project off the ground.

“Do you know what it was like to be a 20-something guy whose country decided to let him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting,” the Israeli daily Haaretz cited Milchan as saying. He ran a thriving fertilizer company in Israel before finding success in Hollywood.

The report also outlined how Milchan set up bank accounts and companies in order to facilitate the transfer of materials and equipment through Lakam, Israel’s secretive Bureau of Scientific Relations. At the height of his operations, Milchan was operating 30 firms in 17 different countries.

The acquisition of nuclear triggers for Israel by Milchan’s company, Milco, almost landed him in hot water with the FBI, which discovered they had been shipped to Israel without the proper licensing. The aerospace executive Richard Kelly Smyth, who used one of Milchan’s companies to deliver triggers to Israel, was indicted in 1985 over the affair. Milchan claimed he was completely unaware Israel had ordered the triggers.

“I didn’t even know what triggers were.”

After the trigger incident, which was followed by the 1986 arrest of Jonathan Jay Pollard, a US civilian intelligence analyst who was later convicted for passing classified information to Israel, the Bureau of Scientific Relations was shut down.

Milchan further described how he once persuaded a German engineer to take home plans on how to construct a nuclear facility from a safe where he worked.

Saying the engineer “couldn’t be bought,” Milchan said he talked the scientist into leaving the plans on a table at home and when he went out to dine with his wife, someone would enter the premises and photograph the documents.

He also used his clout in Hollywood to help the South African apartheid regime clear up its international image in exchange for helping Israel acquire uranium.

Arms deals and A-list accomplices

In the 1970s, Milchan also brokered deals for hundreds of millions of dollars between Israel and US companies for helicopters, missiles and other military equipment.

Uvda showed that Milchan’s company at times made as much as 60 percent off the deals, though Milchan insisted on camera that all of the money made it back to Israel.

“I did it for my country and I’m proud of it,” AP cites Milchan as saying.

Once his activities shifted to the silver screen, he continued his clandestine activities and maintained close ties with high-ranking Israeli officials.

Once word spread that Milchan was moonlighting as an arms dealer, many in the industry were reluctant to do business with him.

“In Hollywood they don’t like working with an arms dealer, ideologically,” he said, “with someone who lives off selling machine-guns and killing. Instead of someone talking to me about a script, I had to spend half an hour explaining that I’m not an arms dealer,” The Times of Israel reports.

Milchan said upon arriving in Hollywood, “I detached myself completely from my physical activities to dedicate myself to what I really wanted – filmmaking.”

“(But) sometimes it gets mixed up,” he added.

According to Haaretz, Milchan also actively recruited other Hollywood movers and shakers to get involved in his work, most notably the late director, Sydney Pollack.

Milchan says Pollack knew exactly what he was doing when he allegedly moved to acquire firearms and military hardware for Israel in the 1970s.

“[Pollack] had to decide what he was willing to do and what he was not willing to do. On a lot of things he said no. On a lot of other things he said yes.”

Milchan also admitted trying to use an A-list Hollywood star as bait to lure a US nuclear scientist to a private rendezvous at the actor’s house. The report never clarified whether that meeting in fact took place.

Milchan, a part-owner of Israel’s Channel 10 television company and who founded the New Regency film company, has produced more than 120 movies since the 1970s. He forged an especially close relationship with Robert De Niro, who along with actors Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, was featured in the program. Milchan also helped bring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie together for the film ‘Mr And Mrs Smith.’

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How NSA Mass Surveillance is Hurting the US Economy

By Trevor Timm | EFF | November 25, 2013

Privacy may not be the only casualty of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program. Major sectors of the US economy are reporting financial damage as the recent revelations shake consumer confidence and US trade partners distance themselves from companies that may have been compromised by the NSA or, worse, are secretly collaborating with the spy agency. Members of Congress, especially those who champion America’s competitiveness in the global marketplace, should take note and rein in the NSA now if they want to stem the damage.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that AT&T’s desired acquisition of the European company Vodafone is in danger due to the company’s well-documented involvement in the NSA’s data-collection programs. European officials said the telecommunications giant would face “intense scrutiny” in its bid to purchase a major cell phone carrier.  The Journal went on to say:

“Resistance to such a deal, voiced by officials in interviews across Europe, suggests the impact of the NSA affair could extend beyond the diplomatic sphere and damage US economic interests in key markets.”

In September, analysts at Cisco Systems reported that the fallout “reached another level,” when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) told companies not to use cryptographic standards that may have been undermined by the NSA’s BULLRUN program. The Cisco analysts said that if cryptography was compromised “it would be a critical blow to trust required across the Internet and the security community.”

This forecast was proven true in mid-November, when Cisco reported a 12 percent slump in its sales in the developing world due to the NSA revelations. As the Financial Times reported, new orders fell by 25 percent in Brazil and 30 percent in Russia and Cisco predicts its overall sales could drop by as much 10 percent this quarter.  Cisco executives were quoted saying the NSA’s activities have created “a level of uncertainty or concern” that will have a deleterious impact on a wide-range of tech companies.

It is hard for civil libertarians to shed tears over AT&T losing business because of NSA spying, considering the company allowed the NSA to directly tap into its fiber optic cables to copy vast amounts of innocent Americans’ Internet traffic.  AT&T was also recently revealed as having partnered with both the DEA and the CIA on separate mass surveillance programs. It is also hard to feel sorry for Cisco, which stands accused of helping China spy on dissidents and religious minorities. But the fact that the spying is hurting these major companies is indicative of the size of the problem.

This summer, European Parliament’s civil liberties committee was presented with a proposal to require every American website to place surveillance notices to EU citizens in order to force the US government to reverse course:

“The users should be made aware that the data may be subject to surveillance (under FISA 702) by the US government for any purpose which furthers US foreign policy. A consent requirement will raise EU citizen awareness and favour growth of services solely within EU jurisdiction. This will thus have economic impact on US business and increase pressure on the US government to reach a settlement.” [emphasis ours]

Meanwhile, Telenor, Norway’s largest telecom provider has reportedly halted its plans to move its customers to a US-based cloud provider. Brazil seems to be moving ahead to create its own email service and require US companies locate an office there if they wish to do business with Brazilian customers.

Laws like this mean that companies like Google “could be barred from doing business in one of the world’s most significant markets,” according to Google’s director for law enforcement and information security at Google, Richard Selgado. Google has been warning of this as far back as July, when in FISA court documents it argued that the continued secrecy surrounding government surveillance demands would harm its business.

Many commentators have been warning about the economic ramifications for months. Princeton technologist Ed Felten, who previously at the Federal Trade Commission, best explained why the NSA revelations could end up hurting US businesses:

“This is going to put US companies at a competitive disadvantage, because people will believe that U.S. companies lack the ability to protect their customers—and people will suspect that U.S. companies may feel compelled to lie to their customers about security.”

The fallout may worsen. One study released shortly after the first Edward Snowden leaks said the economy would lose $22 to $35 billion in the next three years. Another study by Forrester said the $35 billion estimate was too low and pegged the real loss figure around $180 billion for the US tech industry by 2016.

Much of the economic problem stems for the US government’s view that it’s open season when it comes to spying on non-U.S. persons. As Mark Zuckerberg said in September, the government’s position is“don’t worry, we’re not spying on any Americans. Wonderful, that’s really helpful for companies trying to work with people around the world.” Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond echoed this sentiment last week, saying:

“The justification has been couched as ‘Don’t worry. We’re only snooping on foreigners.’ For a company like ours, where most of our business and most of our users are non-American, that’s not very helpful.”

Members of Congress who care about the US economy should take note: the companies losing their competitive edge due to NSA surveillance are mainstream economic drivers. Just as their constituents are paying attention, so are the customers who vote with their dollars. As Sen. Ron Wyden remarked last month, “If a foreign enemy was doing this much damage to the economy, people would be in the streets with pitchforks.”

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Officials Hint at Reservations on Final Nuclear Deal

By Gareth Porter | IPS | November 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – The “first step” agreement between Iran and the United States that was sealed in Geneva over the weekend is supposed to lead to the negotiation of a “comprehensive settlement” of the nuclear issue over the next six months, though the latter has gotten little attention.

But within hours of the agreement, there are already indications from senior U.S. officials that the Barack Obama administration is not fully committed to the conclusion of a final pact, under which economic sanctions would be completely lifted.

The administration has apparently developed reservations about such an “end state” agreement despite concessions by the government of President Hassan Rouhani that were more far-reaching than could have been anticipated a few months ago.

In fact the Rouhani government’s moves to reassure the West may have spurred hopes on the part of senior officials of the Obama administration that the United States can achieve its minimum aims in reducing Iran’s breakout capacity without giving up its trump cards—the harsh sanctions on Iran’s oil expert and banking sectors.

The signs of uncertain U.S. commitment to the “end state” agreement came in a background press briefing by unidentified senior U.S. officials in Geneva via teleconference late Saturday night. The officials repeatedly suggested that it was a question of “whether” there could be an “end state” agreement rather than how it could be achieved.

“What we are going to explore with the Iranians and our P5+1 partners over the next six months,” said one of the officials, “is whether there can be an agreed upon comprehensive solution that assures us that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

The same official prefaced that remark by stating, “In terms of the ‘end state’, we do not recognise a right for Iran to enrich uranium.”

Later in the briefing, a senior official repeated the same point in slightly different words. “What the next six months will determine is whether there can be an agreement that… gives us assurance that the Iranian programme is peaceful.”

Three more times during the briefing the unnamed officials referred to the negotiation of the “comprehensive solution” outlined in the deal agreed to Sunday morning as an open-ended question rather than an objective of U.S. policy.

“We’ll see whether we can achieve an end state that allows for Iran to have peaceful nuclear energy,” said one of the officials.

Those carefully formulated statements in the background briefing do not reflect difficulties in identifying what arrangements would provide the necessary assurances of a peaceful nuclear programme. Secretary of State John Kerry declared at a press appearance in Geneva, “Folks, it is not hard to prove peaceful intention if that’s what you want to do.”

The background briefing suggested that in next six months, Iran would have to “deal with” U.N. Security Council resolutions, which call for Iran to suspend all enrichment activities as well as all work on its heavy reactor in Arak.

Similarly, the unnamed officials said Iran “must come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency].”

Those statements appeared to suggest that the administration would be insisting on a complete end to all enrichment, at least temporarily, and an end to all work on Arak.

The actual text of the agreement reached on Sunday states, however, that both the six powers of the P5+1 and Iran “will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures,” apparently referring to the measures necessary to bring Security Council consideration of the Iran nuclear issue to a conclusion.

The Obama administration has yet to release an official text of the “first step” agreement, although the official Iran Fars new agency released a text over the weekend.

Iran has demonstrated its determination to achieve such an agreement by effectively freezing and even partially reversing its nuclear programme while giving the IAEA daily access to Iran’s enrichment sites.

The Washington Post story on Sunday cited Western officials in Geneva as saying that the Iranian concessions “not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected.”

But since the early secret contacts with Iran in August and September, the Obama administration has been revising its negotiating calculus in light of the apparent Iranian eagerness to get a deal.

In mid-October, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported that the White House and State and Treasury departments were interested in an idea first proposed in early October by Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, who had lobbied the Obama administration successfully for the sanctions aimed at cutting Iranian oil export revenues.

The Dubowitz proposal was to allow Iran access to some of its own money that was sitting in frozen accounts abroad in return for “verified concessions” that would reduce Iranian nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile the United States and other powers would maintain the entire structure of the sanctions regime, at least in the interim period, without any change, Goldberg reported, “barring something like total capitulation” by Iran.

The scheme would give greater rewards for dismantling all but a limited number of safeguards than for lesser concessions, according to Goldberg’s report, based on information from “several officials”.

And if Iran refused, the plan would call for even more punishing sanctions against Iran’s natural gas sector.

That was essentially the policy that the Obama administration adopted in the negotiations in Geneva. In the first step agreement, Iran agreed to stop all enrichment to 20 percent, reduce the existing 20 percent-enriched stockpile to zero, convert all low enriched uranium to a form that cannot be enriched to higher level and allow IAEA inspectors daily access to enrichment sites.

In return for concessions representing many of its key negotiating chips, Iran got no relief from sanctions and less than seven billion dollars in benefits, according to the official U.S. estimate.

But the Iranian concessions will hold only for six months, and Iran has made such far-reaching concessions before in negotiations on a preliminary that anticipated a later comprehensive agreement and then resumed the activities it had suspended.

In the Paris Agreement of Nov. 15, 2004 with the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, France, Iran agreed “on a voluntary basis, to continue and extend an existing suspension of enrichment to include all enrichment related and reprocessing activities”.

That meant that Iran was giving up all work on the manufacture, assembly, installation and testing of centrifuges or their components. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was under the impression it was an open-ended suspension and initially opposed it.

Khamenei relented only after Hassan Rouhani, then the chief nuclear policy coordinator and now president, and other officials, assured him that it was a temporary measure that would endure only until an agreement was reached that legitimised Iran’s enrichment or the determination that the Europeans were not serious, according to Ambassador Hossein Mousavian’s nuclear memoirs.

After the Europeans refused to negotiate on an Iranian proposal for a comprehensive settlement in March 2005 that would have provided assurances against enrichment to weapons grade, Khamenei pulled the plug on the talks, and Iran ended its suspension of enrichment-related activities.

The United States had long depended on its dominant military power to wage “coercive diplomacy” with Tehran, with threat of an attack on Iran as its trump card. But during the George W. Bush administration, that threat begn to lose its credibility as it became clear that the U.S. military was opposed to war with Iran over its nuclear programme.

Obama administration officials are now acting as though they believe the sanctions represent a diplomatic trump card that is far more effective than the “military option” that had been lost.

Some news stories on the “first step” agreement have referred to the possibility that the negotiations on the final settlement could stall, and the status quo might continue. But the remarks by senior U.S. officials suggest the administration may be hoping for precisely such an outcome.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dent in the ‘Special Relationship’

By Jeremy Salt – Palestine Chronicle – November 25, 2013

The agreement between the US and Iran is the best news coming out of the Middle East for some time. As Iran is not developing nuclear weapons it is not giving away too much, although it still went a long way to meeting US demands. Israel is furious. Netanyahu has done his best to prevent this point being reached and will be striving hard to make sure it goes no further. He will be appealing to Congress over the head of the president, the traditional tactic of Israeli prime ministers when they can’t get their own way. Israel’s lobbyists will be fully mobilizing for what is being represented as the greatest challenge to Israel in its history.

This is a major blow to Israel and a well-deserved slap in the face for Netanyahu. He has lost no opportunity to humiliate the US president so there is probably a personal element in all of this amidst the grander strategic considerations. But the outcome is good for the Middle East and good for the US. The agreement sets up the development of a relationship which will reconfigure geostrategic realities. By signing it the US is implicitly accepting Iran’s right to maintain its own special relationship with Syria and Hizbullah. The Syria experience has clearly been a sharp learning curve. In the name of political transition the so-called ‘Friends of the Syrian People’ have unleashed the hounds of hell at the geographic heart of the Middle East. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is only the worst of the pack. The US administration has been backing away from its involvement and now clearly accepts that Bashar staying in power is the best option.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are dismayed at the refusal of their erstwhile allies to push the assault on Syria any further. Now they have the agreement with Iran to contend with and they are furious. Some of the commentary in the Israeli media is nothing short of demented. These two states have now formed their own axis of resistance – resistance to change, resistance to peace, resistance to the end of occupation, resistance to the White House and resistance to common sense. The recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut can safely be regarded as the work of one of them if not involving both. The Saudis are completely obsessed with destroying Shi’ism and Shia across the region. If they keep going like this their own special relationship with the US is going to suffer as well but they have already dropped hints that they don’t care.

Now that the Americans are talking to Iran they might start wondering what all the fuss was about. They are getting on with the Iranian negotiators, who are far more civilized and sophisticated than shills like Netanyahu and louts like Avigdor Lieberman. Furthermore, while Israel is an occupying state that has repeatedly gone to war to defend its ill-gotten gains, Iran, as commentators are pointing out, has not launched an aggressive war for more than two centuries, so which country shapes up as the most stable ally for the US in the region?

Saudi Arabia is another story. It is one of the most reactionary states in the world. It buys people, politicians, entire governments and newspaper editors. Money is its true god. Much of the revenue from its oil has gone into arms purchases from the US and European governments, all of which know that if they want this bonanza to continue they have to remain silent in the face of Saudi Arabia’s flagrant abuses of human rights. If there ever was a case for ‘regime change’ it is surely smack bang in the middle of Riyadh.

The agreement with Iran opens the way to significant commercial, political and strategic benefits for the US. It may well not be to Russia’s liking. By comparison, Israel is a dead weight around America’s neck from any perspective. It bleeds the US Treasury of more than $3 billion in arms and economic aid every year. It spies on the US and regularly defies the US. It has killed US servicemen in pursuit of its own strategic ends. It opens no doors and is of no commercial or economic benefit to the US and the days when it might have served some purpose as an armory during US military actions in the Middle East have probably gone for good. The American people have made it perfectly clear they do not want their government to be involved in any more wars in the Middle East and peace certainly offers the US far greater rewards than war.

The nuclear issue always was a distraction. The real issue for Israel is Iran’s growing influence across the region and its refusal to back away from its strategic alliance with Syria and Hizbullah despite economic sanctions and regular threats of war. The ruins of Gaza are testimony to Israel’s determination to destroy anyone and any thing standing in its way. Palestine is the wellspring but dig deep enough into the ruins of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and you will find Israel at the bottom. It will see the whole Middle East flattened rather than retreat from the territory it has seized through its wars of aggression. Since the war of conquest of 1948 it has launched six other wars against Egypt, Syria, Gaza and Lebanon, apart from shorter incursions, assassinations and aerial attacks such as those launched on Syria this year. By comparison the only war involving the Islamic republic of Iran is the one launched by Saddam Hussein in 1980.

Israel cannot afford to alienate the US. It needs American economic aid and weapons and it will need US support if it ever gets into a war which it can’t win. Israel’s defeats at the hands of Hizbullah confirm a picture of relative military decline over the past three decades. Even Gaza with its miniscule defences has been able to withstand the fury of Israeli assaults. The fortress state is beginning to crumble at its foundations and if Israel continues to alienate even its friends the day will come when it finds itself alone with its nuclear bombs.

This is an existential moment for Israel. It refuses to change, expecting its friends endlessly to accommodate its outrageous behavior. The White House is sending signals that it has had enough and indeed the agreement with Iran may even mark the beginning of the setting of the sun on the US-Israel ‘special relationship.’

Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 More Years in Afghanistan

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | November 25, 2013

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama’s war than President Bush’s.  Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until “2024 and beyond.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the deal. Here is his list of concerns. He’d like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people’s doors at night.  He’d like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations.  He’d like innocent Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo.  And he’d like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections.  Whatever we think of Karzai’s legacy — my own appraisal is unprintable — these are perfectly reasonable demands.

Iran and Pakistan oppose keeping nine major U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, some of them on the borders of their nations, until the end of time.  U.S. officials threaten war on Iran with great regularity, the new agreement notwithstanding.  U.S. missiles already  hit Pakistan in a steady stream.  These two nations’ concerns seem as reasonable as Karzai’s.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan “as soon as possible” for years and years.  We’re spending $10 million per hour making ourselves less safe and more hated.  The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this mad operation is suicide.

When the U.S. troops left Iraq, it remained a living hell, as Libya is now too.  But the disaster that Iraq is does not approach what it was during the occupation.  Much less has Iraq grown dramatically worse post-occupation, as we were warned for years by those advocating continued warfare.

Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan — or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country — would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations, and would make us the most beloved nation on earth.  I bet we’d favor that course if asked.  We were asked on Syria, and we told pollsters we favored aid, not missiles.

We stopped the missiles.  Congress members in both houses and parties said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before.  But we didn’t stop the guns that we opposed even more than the missiles in polls.  The CIA shipped the guns to the fighters without asking us or the Congress.  And Syrians didn’t get the aid that we favored.

We aren’t asked about the drone strikes.  We aren’t asked about most military operations.  And we aren’t being asked about Afghanistan.  Nor is Congress asserting its power to decide.  This state of affairs suggests that we haven’t learned our lesson from the Syrian Missile Crisis.  Fewer than one percent of us flooded Congress and the media with our voices, and we had a tremendous impact.  The lesson we should learn is that we can do that again and again with each new war proposal.

What if two percent of us called, emailed, visited, protested, rallied, spoke-out, educated, and non-violently resisted 10 more years in Afghanistan?  We’d have invented a new disease.  They’d replace the Vietnam Syndrome with the Afghanistan Syndrome.  Politicians would conclude that the U.S. public was just not going to stand for any more wars.  Only reluctantly would they try to sneak the next one past us.

Or we could sit back and keep quiet while a Nobel Peace Prize winner drags a war he’s “ending” out for another decade, establishing that there’s very little in the way of warmaking outrages that we won’t allow them to roll right over us.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Kennedy’s assassination is the coup d’état that dare not speak its name

By Greg Felton | November 24, 2013

For an event that changed the course of world history, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy passed with barely a ripple. It featured the same sort of superficial solemnity and obligatory rehashing of canonical texts one expects at a religious observance.

At Easter, the clergy do not expect faithful Christians to question the absurdity of the Resurrection as they hearken unto ritualistic stories and watch the umpteenth depiction of the Crucifixion. The ritual is a time to reinforce official belief, not stimulate thoughtful discussion.

So it came to pass that the 50th commemoration of the Kennedy assassination was, like all the others, an exercise in a manipulative ritual designed solely to allow people to expiate their grief and honour a martyred saint. It consisted of the veneration of official iconography, hearkening unto personal testimonies, and paying homage to the absurdities of the Warren Commission, which concluded that Kennedy was killed from behind by a single bullet fired from the rifle of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Criticism of the report and expressions of alternative explanations are still anathematized like a religious heresy even though a dedicated subculture of journalists, servicemen and scholars have successfully proven that the commission’s report is a hamfisted cover-up. To refute the one-bullet theory, for example, all one has to do is watch the famous Zapruder film to see that a bullet struck Kennedy in the forehead, snapping his head back and causing a gaping exit wound in the back of his skull. Ballistically speaking, this could not have been caused by a sniper shooting from behind.

The disconnect between official dogma and reality over these 50 years has had the (perhaps intended) effect of trivializing the assassination, turning it into a cliché so that we have become deaf to its true political importance.

Who rerouted the motorcade at the last minute to make it slow down at Dealey Plaza so that the assassin or assassins could get a clear shot? Who stood to benefit the most from his assassination? Certainly not Oswald. A lot of theorists point to the CIA, the Israelis, or Vice-President Lyndon Johnson. Others say the military did it. Perhaps it was all of them and others. (For an excellent list, see “16 Mind-Blowing Facts About Who Really Killed JFK” by Carl Gibson of Reader Supported News.)

Ironically, the persecution and marginalization of heretics may offer the best clues because as Voltaire wrote: “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” An examination of two policy areas before and after the assassination gives us a good idea who really killed Kennedy and why.

Vietnam

From the outset, Kennedy had to fight an insurrection within his administration from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA, which were looking for any excuse to start a war. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when medium-range ballistic missiles were spotted in Cuba, Kennedy faced almost unanimous opposition to a non-military response. Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay, the most outspoken belligerent, typified the contempt Kennedy faced: “This blockade and political action, I see leading into war. I don’t see any other solution for it. It will lead right into war. This is almost as bad as the appeasement at Munich.”

In the end, a naval blockade and a missile trade off convinced Khrushchev to pull the missiles out, thus sparing the world the spectre of nuclear war, but despite this success Kennedy’s refusal to be stampeded into nuclear war further alienated the military-industrial complex, as President Eisenhower called it, which thought such a war inevitable and necessary. It was Kennedy’s enlightened Vietnam policy, though, that sent the warmongers over the edge and points to a motive for assassination.

In a lengthy piece to Rolling Stone, Robert Kennedy Jr, gave a candid account of that policy:

On September 2nd, 1963, in a televised interview, JFK told the American people he didn’t want to get drawn into Vietnam. ‘In the final analysis, it is their war,’ he said. ‘They are the ones who have to win or lose it. We can help them, we can give them equipment. We can send our men out there as advisers, but they have to win it, the people of Vietnam.’

Exactly one month later, Kennedy told a National Security Council meeting that there would be a partial withdrawal of 1,000 military personnel by the end of 1963 and a complete withdrawal by the end of 1965, regardless of the military circumstances. The thought of pulling out of Vietnam sent the warmongers into a frothing rage. As RFK Jr. further recounts:

Journalist Richard Starnes, filing from Vietnam, gave a stark assessment in The Washington Daily News of the CIA’s unrestrained thirst for power in Vietnam. Starnes quoted high-level U.S. officials horrified by the CIA’s role in escalating the conflict. They described an insubordinate, out-of-control agency, which one top official called a ‘malignancy.’ He doubted that ‘even the White House could control it any longer.’ Another warned, ‘If the United States ever experiences a [coup], it will come from the CIA and not from the Pentagon.’ Added another, ‘[Members of the CIA] represent tremendous power and total unaccountability to anyone.’

That coup was the assassination. Four days afterwards, Lyndon Johnson, promulgated National Security Action Memorandum 273, which authorized covert operations against North Vietnam, and these in turn would lead to the fraudulent Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which led to the widening of the war that was known to be lost before it started.

Israel

JFK abhorred nuclear weapons, and wanted to rid the world of them. He was determined to conclude a peace treaty with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, with whom he had been keeping a secret correspondence, and to implement a unilateral test ban. Most significantly, JFK refused to sell Israel nuclear weapons and demanded that Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona be completely open for inspection. On July 5, 1963, Kennedy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol (né Shkol’nik) to that effect.

The request was contemptuously ignored; four months later Kennedy was dead. Johnson proceeded to turn Kennedy’s rational policy on its head and put the U.S. on the long humiliating road to becoming Israel’s bitch. As historian Laurent Guyénot wrote:

Johnson increased [aid to Israel] from 40 million [dollars] to 71 million and to 130 million the following year. While the Kennedy administration had authorized the sale of a limited number of defensive missile batteries to Israel, under Johnson more than 70% of the aid was earmarked for military equipment, including 250 tanks and 48 Skyhawk offensive aircraft. Military aid to Israel reached 92 million in 1966, more than the total of all previous years combined.

Regarding nuclear matters, Johnson turned a blind eye to Dimona and allowed Mossad agents to begin stealing 269 kg of enriched uranium from the Numec nuclear facility in Apollo, Pennsylvania.

Johnson’s support for Israel would lead to an overt act of treason on June 8, 1967, when he abetted Israel’s premeditated 75-minute assault on the intelligence-gathering ship USS Liberty that included torpedoes, rockets, napalm and 30mm gunfire fire, even at life rafts. Thirty-four servicemen died and 172 were wounded. Presidential speechwriter Grace Halsell explains the familiar motive for why Johnson sucked up to Israel:

In 1967, President Johnson felt he needed all the support he could get to ‘win’ in Vietnam. Many American Jews were liberals outspokenly opposed to the war there. Johnson was told if he gave all out support to Israel… influential Jewish Americans would stop opposing his Vietnam policies. In a memo to the president, [speechwriter Ben] Wattenberg… said flatly that if the president came out with strong support for Israel, he would win American Jewish support for the war in Vietnam. Many American Jewish leaders are ‘doves’ on Vietnam, Wattenberg wrote, but ‘hawks’ on a war with Arab states.

No investigation of the attack has ever been carried out and the lame cover story offered up by Israel—mistaken identity—is still endorsed by official Washington.

Israel also had a political motive to kill Kennedy because of his Middle East policy. He was determined to uphold international law in Occupied Palestine, and so the U.S. delegation to the UN called for the implementation of UNGA Resolution 194, by which Israel, as part of the terms of its admission to the UN, agreed to allow the 800,000 Palestinian refugees expelled from their neighborhoods and villages in 1947-48 to return. That was on Nov. 20, 1963. Kennedy was assassinated two days later.

Summary

No event in living memory altered the course of history as profoundly or as destructively as did the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. When he died, so did the idea of a just, democratic America and a world without the threat of nuclear war. In its place arose a militaristic usurper state that would be directly responsible for a half-century of wanton slaughter, despoliation, stupidity and incompetence.

Our modern corporatist police states are the offspring of the assassination, and the Military-Industrial-Zionist Complex, our political clergy, are waging total war on civilization so that we the people do not become informed, enlightened heretics and seek to reclaim our countries.

It can’t be coincidence that the 9/11 attacks followed the same script as the Kennedy assassination: an attack on American soil, a ludicrous cover story, patsies to take the blame, media propaganda, corrupt legislation to permit war on an industrial scale, a complicit White House, and censorship of dissenters. We know for certaint that warmongers in the government and pro-Israel Jews were involved in that attack. It stands to reason that they were involved in the JFK assassination. No wonder, it got such little respect.

November 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment