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Kirk-Menendez-Schumer Wag the Dog Act of 2014

By Jim Lobe | LobeLog | December 18, 2013

Copies of the bill that Sens. Kirk, Menendez, and Schumer hope to introduce in the Senate this week — presumably to be pressed for passage after the Christmas/New Year recess — are circulating today around Washington, and, as predicted, it is clearly designed to sabotage last month’s first-phase deal (the Joint Plan of Action) on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as prospects for a final agreement. The bill is called the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013, although I would prefer to call it the Wag the Dog Act of 2014, given the implicit discretion it gives to Bibi Netanyahu to commit the U.S. to war with Iran. Its key provisions, as described by the sponsors, are laid out at the end of this post.

A couple of very quick observations about the bill first:

1) Despite its prospective application, it is definitely a sanctions bill and thus violates at least the spirit — if not the letter — of the Joint Plan of Action.

2) It requires that any final agreement include the dismantling of all of Iran’s enrichment capabilities — a condition, which Iran has made clear repeatedly, is a non-starter.

3) As noted below, it expresses a “Sense of Congress” that “America will have Israel’s back if Israel acts in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” (Mind you, not against an actual or imminent attack, but against “Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” which, so far as Israel and the co-sponsors are concerned, Iran already has.) More specifically, the bill states:

…if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence…

At least, Congress will have to approve an authorization to use military force (AUMF) before it can actually be employed.

4) As I’ve noted in past posts, the two main co-sponsors of this legislation are also two of the biggest recipients of campaign funding from “pro-Israel” political action committees (PACs) associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in the U.S. Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets website. By a wide margin, Kirk was the biggest recipient of pro-Israel PAC money in Congress since 2002; in his most recent campaign (2012), Menendez received more than $340,000 from pro-Israel Pacs, beating out all other Senate candidates. Schumer, a major rainmaker for other Democratic candidates (which poses a very serious challenge to the Obama administration in keeping his party in line on any vote on this bill) ranked fifth in his 2010 race at more than $260,000, far behind Kirk, the year’s winner at nearly $640,000. Let there be no doubt about it: this bill was approved by AIPAC and is thus as close to the position of the Israeli government as its followers here believe will be politically palatable. (Saudi Arabia will also be pleased.)

There will likely be much more meticulous analyses of the Wag the Dog Act of 2014 that will no doubt point up other highly problematic elements, but here’s the summary of the bill that’s circulating on Capitol Hill today:

Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013

 

I. Findings and Sense of Congress. The bill expresses the following key principles:

1)      The Government of Iran must not be allowed to develop or maintain nuclear weapon capabilities, and all instruments of power and influence of the United States should remain on the table to prevent the Government of Iran from developing nuclear weapon capabilities;

2)      The Government of Iran does not have an absolute or inherent right to enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and technologies under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty;

3)      A violation by Iran of any interim or final agreement with respect to the nuclear program of Iran should result in the immediate imposition of economic sanctions;

4)      The United States should continue to enforce sanctions on the Government of Iran and its terrorist proxies for their continuing sponsorship of terrorism, ongoing abuses of human rights, and actions in support of Bashar al-Assad in Syria; and

5)      America will have Israel’s back if Israel acts in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

 

II. New Contingency-Based Sanctions to Protect Against Iranian Deception

The bill does not violate the Joint Plan of Action.  New sanctions would only be imposed if Iran violates the interim agreement or does not reach a final agreement regarding its nuclear program.  Such deceptive Iranian behavior would be met with the following new sanctions:

A)    Sanctions on Condensates, Fuel Oil and other Unfinished Oils from Iran. Requires a significant reduction in the import of all petroleum products extracted, produced or refined in Iran, including lease condensates, fuel oils and other unfinished oils on top of crude oil.

B)     Reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum to de minimis levels. To avoid sanctions, countries must at a minimum reduce their purchases of Iranian-based petroleum products by 30% within one year and further reduce purchases to de minimis levels within two years.

 

C)    Strategic Sector Sanctions on Iran’s Engineering, Mining, and Construction Sectors. Expands business and financial sanctions targeting Iran’s strategic economic sectors to include Iran’s engineering, manufacturing, and mining sectors.

 

D)    Sanctions on Foreign Exchange Transaction by Designated Iranian Actors. Imposes sanctions with respect to transactions in foreign currencies with or for the Central Bank of Iran, a designated financial institution, or a person that is part of a strategic sector of Iran.

 

E)     Sanctions on Countries Illicitly Diverting Goods to Iran.  Authorizes sanctions against countries permitting diversion of goods and services to Iran that may be used to make a material contribution to Iran’s development of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons; ballistic missile or advanced conventional weapons capabilities; support for terrorism; or a strategic sector of Iran.

 

F)     Sanctions on Human Rights Abusers, Sanctions Evaders & Other Illicit Actors. Requires visa denial and asset blocking of those enabling Iran to evade sanctions, as well as senior officials of the Office of the Supreme Leader, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, the Council of Ministers, Ministries of Defenses and Justice, and others.

III. Suspension of Sanctions – Explaining the Contingencies

A)    During the first 180 days of negotiations, the President can suspend the sanctions contained in this bill so long as he certifies to Congress every 30 days that—

  1. Iran is complying with and transparently, fully, and verifiably implementing the provisions of the Joint Plan of Action and Iran has not breached the terms of or any commitment made pursuant to the Plan;
  2. any suspension or relief of sanctions provided to Iran pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action are temporary, reversible, and proportionate to the specific and verifiable steps taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and related weaponization activities;
  3. Iran has not directly, or through a proxy, supported, financed, planned or otherwise carried out an act of terrorism against the United States or U.S. persons or property;
  4. Iran has not conducted a ballistic missile test with a range exceeding 500 km; and
  5. the suspension of sanctions is vital to the national security of the United States.

B)    After these 180 days are up, 2 additional 30 day periods –

  1. If the President certifies the above and certifies that a final agreement is imminent (and that such agreement will fully and verifiably dismantle Iran’s illicit nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities, the heavy water reactor and production plant at Arak, and any nuclear weapon components and technology), sanctions can be delayed for another 30 days;
  2. Then, if the President certifies the above AND certifies that such a final agreement with Iran is still imminent, sanctions can be delayed for another 30-day period.

C)    If after this total period of 240 days there still is no final agreement with Iran as described above, sanctions are re-imposed, but President can waive sanctions for 120 more days.  The bill provides the President with four 30-day national security waivers to delay the sanctions – ending at the 1-year mark from the start date of this bill.  Sanctions must be re-imposed thereafter.

 

D)    If at any time the President cannot certify the criteria listed above (that is, Iran violates the interim agreement or no final agreement is imminent after 180 days) –

  1. sanctions waived or suspended under the interim agreement are re-imposed; and
  2. the new sanctions in this bill must be implemented.

E)    If a final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program is reached –

  1. Subject to a Joint Resolution of Congressional Disapproval, the President may suspend new sanctions for one-year if he certifies to the Congress that a final and verifiable agreement has been reached with Iran that will
    1.  i. dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, including enrichment and reprocessing capabilities and facilities, the heavy water reactor and production plant at Arak, and any nuclear weapon components and technology, such that Iran is precluded from a nuclear breakout capability and prevented from pursuing both uranium and plutonium pathways to a nuclear weapon;
    2. ii. bring Iran into compliance with all United Nations Security Council resolutions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including Resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), and 1929 (2010), with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the Security Council’s consideration of matters relating to Iran’s nuclear program;
    3.  iii. resolve all issues of past and present concern with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program;
    4. iv. permit continuous, around the clock, on-site inspection, verification, and monitoring of all suspect facilities in Iran, including installation and use of any compliance verification equipment requested by the IAEA, so that any effort by Iran to produce a nuclear weapon would be quickly detected; and
    5. v. require Iran’s full implementation of and compliance with its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, including modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements to the Agreement, ratification and implementation of the Protocol Additional to the Agreement Between Iran and the IAEA for the Application of Safeguards in Connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, done at Vienna December 18, 2003 (commonly referred to as the ‘‘Additional Protocol’’), and Iran’s implementation of steps in addition to the Additional Protocol that include IAEA verification of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing facilities, including raw materials and components, and Iran’s uranium mines and mills.
  1. If Congress enacts the Joint Resolution of Congressional Disapproval, any sanctions suspended under a final agreement would be re-imposed.
  1. Additional 1-Year Suspension PeriodsIf Congress does not disapprove, the President must still renew the suspension of sanctions every year by certifying that Iran is complying with the final agreement criteria described above.

IV. Expedited Processing of Religious Minorities Fleeing Iran: Re-authorizes the Lautenberg Amendment, which expired earlier this year, until September 30, 2014.

UPDATE: You can find a copy of the bill, as introduced Thursday, here.

Co-sponsors include:

Kirk Schumer Graham Cardin McCain Casey Rubio Coons Cornyn Blumenthal Ayotte Begich Corker Pryor Collins Landreiu Moran Gillibrand Roberts Warner Johanns Hagan Cruz Donnelly Blunt

The White House and all those who want to save the diplomatic track have their work cut out for them.

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Senate panel approves aid to military governments

Press TV – December 19, 2013

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill facilitating the provision of aid to countries ruled by post-coup military governments.

The bill would require the US government to determine when a democratically-elected government has been removed by force, Foreign Policy reported on Wednesday.

The Senate Committee passed the Egypt Assistance Reform Act by a 16-1 vote on Wednesday and the key supporters of the bill, Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), say the congressional legislation would authorize the US administration to maintain ties with strategically important countries like Egypt even after military forces overthrow a democratically-elected government.

“This legislation reaffirms the enduring U.S. commitment to our partnership with the Egyptian government by authorizing continued assistance and endorsing the importance of ongoing cooperation,” said Menendez, the chairman of the Committee.

On July 3, Egypt’s powerful military ousted former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi who was the country’s first democratically-elected head of state.

The administration of US President Barack Obama refused to call the military-led ouster of Morsi a coup because such acknowledgement would trigger an automatic congressional ban on the US aid to the Egyptian military.

Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Law prohibits aid to countries run by post-coup military governments.

Nevertheless, if the new bill makes it into law, the US government would not find itself in the same situation in the future because it is tasked with making a coup determination.

The bill, which was drafted in consultation with the White House, was criticized by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who said, “Instead of holding the Egyptians accountable, this bill will make it easier for the US to send tanks and F-16 fighter jets to a country that suffers endemic violence against political opponents and religious minorities.”

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spinning Iran’s Centrifuges: A Quick Lesson in Alarmism

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Alseep in America | December 14, 2013

On December 12, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on last month’s interim nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, which means there was a tremendous amount of ignorant bluster, conventional wisdom, wishful thinking, staggering ignorance, and shameless posturing for lobbyist money on display. In other words, Congress members were speaking about Iran.

While nearly every single word uttered by the Treasury Department’s David Cohen and Undersecretary Wendy Sherman – the State Department’s number three and lead U.S. negotiator in Geneva – and her Senatorial inquisitors could (and should) be fact-checked and debunked, in the interest of time and sanity, I will address only a single statement that cried out for correction (and will maybe get to more at another time).

Midway through the hearing, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee claimed Iran is “wreaking havoc” in the Middle East, lamented that the United States is “ceding much of Middle Eastern activities to them,” and expressed his frustration with the recent deal and any prospect of alleviating sanctions for fear that Iran may not be seen as a “rogue nation,” but rather “part of the international community.”

Corker further opined that the P5+1 deal has “no sacrifice on their part whatsoever, none. They’re still spinning 19,000 centrifuges every single day.”

This has recently become a canard in mainstream, usually hawkish, discourse on Iran’s nuclear program.

In October, Joel Rubin of the Ploughshares Fund, who is described by Voice of America as an “Iran expert,” said that Iran “does have 19,000 centrifuges spinning.”

Following the release of yet another speculative study by career alarmist David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and an error-riddled USA Today article noting that Iran currently has “19,000 centrifuges” installed in its two enrichment facilities, this talking point gained even more traction.

On October 29, neoconservative operative Kenneth Timmerman wrote in The Washington Times that “the [Iranian] regime now has 19,000 centrifuges, including several thousand high-performance, new-generation machines they are still testing,” and has already amassed a stockpile of uranium that, “with further enrichment… is enough for roughly 10 bombs.”

In late November, Sarah Stern – head of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), an extreme right-wing Zionist messaging organization that proudly describes itself as an “unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank,” and who serves as an advisor to the creepy propaganda outfit The Clarion Fundclaimed that, for Iran, the interim accord “keeps every one of its 19,000 centrifuges spinning.” A graphic on the EMET website states that, as part of the deal, “Iran gets… 19,000 cylinders spinning enriching uranium.”

On December 1, Senator Jim Inhofe called the deal a “reckless gamble” that, among other things he doesn’t like, “allows [Iran] to keep its nearly 19,000 centrifuges spinning.”

The very next day, KT McFarland, a Fox News contributor and former aide to Henry Kissinger and Ronald Reagan, declared, “It’s just crazy, there are 19,000 centrifuges spinning in Iran, that’s twice as many centrifuges in Iran as there are Starbucks in America.”

Spooky, right? Well, they’re wrong.

According to the most recent assessment – from mid-November – by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which conducts routine inspections of its nuclear program, Iran is reported to have installed roughly 19,000 centrifuges in its two enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

But they’re not all spinning. Not even close.

The IAEA even provided a handy little graph along with its report showing the difference between what Iran has installed and what is actually operational. At most, Iran has about 10,000 operable centrifuges, all of which produce enriched uranium far below levels required for a nuclear weapon.

Furthermore, the IAEA notes, “Not all of the centrifuges fed with UF6[feedstock] may have been working.”

Moreover, Iran’s Natanz facility is designed for a fully operational capacity of 50,000 centrifuges.  So far, fewer than 15,500 centrifuges have been installed and fewer than 9,000 are actually functional.  Of the 2,710 centrifuges installed at the Fordow site, only about 700 are operational.

Roughly 1,000 second-generation centrifuges have also been installed, but not a single one has yet been used.

So, while Bob Corker and the rest sound pretty serious when they fret about Iran’s 19,000 “spinning” centrifuges, they’re overselling what Iran is actually doing in order to gin up their required hysteria.

What a surprise.

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian media forum condemns NBC plan to produce drama series in Jerusalem

Palestine Information Center – 19/12/2013

GAZA — Palestinian media forum (PMF) has strongly condemned the plan of American TV company (NBC) to film a drama series, in partnership with the occupation municipality, in Silwan in occupied Jerusalem.

PMF said in a statement on Thursday that NBC is preparing to produce and broadcast a drama series in the “City of David”, with the aim of strengthening the Israeli narrative about the city of Jerusalem, which would give legitimacy to Israel’s policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and colonization in occupied Jerusalem.

According to Israeli and American media, the NBC network is cooperating with Israeli authorities, film makers and the Keshet Media Group to produce an action series entitled DIG mainly in occupied East Jerusalem, near the Old City.

Most of the filming will take place in the so-called “City of David national park”, which is established on Palestinian property in the neighborhood of Silwan and which is operated by the Israeli settler organization El’ad and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.

The PMF asserted that the production of this drama series comes within the framework of the falsification of history and the Judaization of Jerusalem.

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Poor Man’s Sheep

Soldiers break into the wrong house at night, go on a rampage – and make off with a woman’s savings from 15 years of work

One night in early September, the members of the Kavajeh family in Tarqumiya were woken by IDF troops breaking into their house. According to the despicable custom of the last few years, some of the soldiers wore ski masks; before our apathetic eyes what used to be the premier line of fashion among criminals has become common military attire.

From this moment on, everything went as per the routine – a routine known to every soldier who has ever served in the occupied territories: the soldiers gathered all the family members in one room, not giving them time to dress properly. They then searched the house, found nothing, and as they left, the head of the family, ‘Issa, heard the soldiers say to one another that they had raided the wrong house. Needless to say, the soldiers did not apologize to the family. The soldiers told them not to leave the house while they were still present.

When the family realized the soldiers were gone, they began to estimate the damage. Here the words of Issa are worth quoting: “We began moving around the house and saw the horror.” The contents of the cupboards had been spilled, and the soldiers had thrown bedding, clothes and equipment onto the floor. The kitchen was the real calamity zone: the soldiers made certain to spill the flour on the floor, mix the sugar, the lentils and the salt together, poured the tahini into the kitchen sink, and, finally, broke the eggs.

Now, certainly some IDF spokesperson, whether an official or a self-appointed one, will manage to find a way to explain why there was a pressing military need behind this wanton destruction of food; we’ll probably find a fool who would explain why there was a need to break the eggs – how do you know what they might have hidden in there? And anyway, why don’t you show us what happened before? And do you know what happened in 1929?

But as the family members finished examining the results of the small green storm that passed mistakenly through their home, the real disaster was discovered: the savings of one of the family members, Thahani, had been stolen. These were two gold bracelets and a gold ring. Thahani had saved the money to buy the jewelry from working in a seamstress shop since 1998.

Fifteen years of savings. Fifteen years of painstakingly gathering, day by day, an ounce of meager pay. A slow collection culminating in 65 grams of gold, each one of them worth 60 Jordanian Dinars, each Dinar the equivalent of about $1.7 USD. Fifteen years of savings left Thahani with some $8,005 USD; a bit more than $385 USD a year, or $1.25 USD a day. This was Tahani’s portion of all her labor. Now it lies in the pocket of a soldier. Perhaps he’ll give them to his lover, who will be grateful and not ask where he got such gold bracelets and such a ring; perhaps they’ll end up in a pawnshop. Perhaps, loyal to the value of comradeship, he already split the loot with other troops in his section.

In the morning, the family complained both to the Red Cross and the Israeli police. This was a futile gesture: good luck finding the looter among dozens of troops, some of whom were hooded and all well-versed in covering for one another. But before the MPCID rushes to close the case claiming it couldn’t find a suspect, one more thing must be said.

Looting is a war crime. It is defined as such in the Fourth Geneva Convention. During wartime, armies often harshly punish looting soldiers, if only because looting is bad for military discipline. At best, looting soldiers have to lie to their commander, which opens the door to more lies; at worst, the commander will take a commission off the loot. Armies who don’t punish looting harshly quickly cease to become armies and turn into militias at best, gangs at worse.

Israel, as is well known, does not have laws against war crimes on its books. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t commit them. And as long as the MPCID does not shake itself up and find the thief, and as long as Israel does not compensate Tahani, it allows a war criminal – not a mere thief, but a war criminal – to roam freely. And since we know nothing of him but the colors of the uniform he wore, he besmirches through his act all those who wear them. And if the IDF wants to remove this stain from its uniform – admittedly, they are spotted with quite a few of them – it had better find the guilty party, and throw the book at him. Hard.

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debating the Holocaust: A New Look At Both Sides

By Thomas Dalton, Ph.D

Book Review

This is a book about the Holocaust, and about two competing views of that event. On the one hand we have the traditional, orthodox view: the six million Jewish casualties, the gas chambers, the cremation ovens and mass graves. Traditional historians have thousands of surviving witnesses and the weight of history on their side. On the other hand there is a small, renegade band of writers and researchers who refuse to accept large parts of this story. These revisionists, as they call themselves, present counter-evidence and ask tough questions. They are beginning to outline a new and different narrative.

Thus there has emerged something of a debate, a debate of historic significance. This is no peripheral clash between two arcane schools of thought, regarding some minutiae of World War II. It is about history, of course, but it also speaks to fundamental issues of our time: freedom of speech and press, the operation of mass media, manipulation of public opinion, political and economic power structures, and the coercive abilities of the State. It is an astonishingly rancorous and controversial debate, with far-reaching implications.

Most of the reading public is only dimly aware of this debate, if at all. Everyone knows that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis, and that gas chambers were used in the killing. But few have any idea about the origins of this story, its rationale, and its justification. Fewer still know that serious questions have been raised against the traditional view; if they have heard of such questions, it is in the context of a few right-wing neo-Nazi anti-Semites who are trying to attack the Jews by questioning the Holocaust. And not more than a handful of people know about the serious issues raised by the revisionists, and the attempts by certain traditionalists to respond.

The fact that so few are aware of what may be called the Great Holocaust Debate is perhaps not surprising. Much has been invested in the conventional story. Textbooks and encyclopedias have been written about it. Historians have staked their personal reputations on it. Politicians have passed laws defending it. And wealthy and powerful interests have good reason to sustain it. In short, very few of those in positions of influence want to acknowledge any kind of legitimate debate. There is no incentive to publicize it, and strong disincentive. Those in the public eye know that, should they broach this subject, they will suffer the consequences. Advertisers will drop out. Financial backers will disappear. They may be sued. They will lose access. They will be shunned. And it will all be legal.

Only a dramatic turn of events can force this debate into the public realm. Such a turn occurred in early 2006, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that there would be a Holocaust conference in Teheran. The purpose would be to examine its scientific and technical basis with an eye to reinterpreting the facts. Reaction was rapid and fierce. Most called it a Holocaust denial conference, dismissing it as so much anti-Semitic raving. But Ahmadinejad followed through, and the conference was held in December of that year. The sky did not fall, and hoards of crazed lunatics did not rise up and slaughter Jews around the world. But the topic broke through the wall of silence; and more people now than ever suspect that all is not well with the traditional story hence the need for a book such as this.

* * * * *

The Great Debate is marked by a striking partisanship. The traditional story is defended primarily by survivors, Jewish writers and researchers, and those who suffered at the hands of Nazi Germany in other words, by people with a self-interest in sustaining the dominant view of a genocidal Nazi regime and an innocent and victimized Jewish people. Of the thousands of books on the subject, the vast majority are by Jewish authors. The revisionist perspective is promoted by a very small number of people, primarily Germans, people of German origins, and those who are ideologically inclined to be pro-German or anti-Jewish again, not an unbiased group.1 Charges of lies, conspiracy, and hoax are frequently launched by both sides. This leaves the vast majority of the public in a quandary: the average person is faced with partisan advocates on both sides, and rarely, if ever, gets a complete and balanced picture.

My goal is to remedy this shortcoming. I intend to present an objective, impartial look at this debate. I will discuss the latest and strongest arguments on both sides, examine the replies, and offer an unbiased assessment. This is a challenging task, to say the least, but I believe that I am reasonably well suited for it. Unlike the vast majority of writers on the Holocaust, I am not Jewish either by religion or ethnicity; nor are any of my family members. I am not of German descent. No one in my immediate family suffered or died in World War II. I am neither Muslim nor fundamentalist Christian, so I have no religious bias. My background is as a scholar and academic, having taught humanities at a prominent American university for several years now. I have a long-standing interest in World War II, and in the present conflict in the Middle East. In the end, whether I have succeeded in offering an objective analysis of this debate will be for the reader to judge.

This book is targeted at the general educated reader, but holds to a high standard of scholarship. Hence it is as suited for university use as for general readership. In examining the writings of the two opponents, I have taken nothing for granted. To the extent possible, I have verified all quotations, checked all calculations, and noted errors though I must say that the level of scholarship on both sides has been laudably high. I have attempted to use commonly available sources, should the reader wish to confirm any statements or quotations I offer here.2 I have concentrated on English language sources; this has its drawbacks, but fortunately most of the important sources are in English, so the problem is not too great. Where relevant, I have cited essential non-English writings as well.

I have also shown a preference for hard-copy publications books and journal articles over Internet publications. Web-based material is always questionable. It can change from one day to another, and disappear the next. Such sources are typically less well researched, and often rely on other, equally unreliable, Web-based sources for their arguments. On the other hand, much controversial material can be published only on the Web, and this point must be noted. It is very convenient, for example, that several of the key revisionist texts complete books are available free online. (This very fact should mitigate the notion of a profit motive of the revisionists.) And the rise of YouTube and online video services allows access to audio-visual material that can have a greater impact than printed works. Thus, as appropriate, I have included relevant Web page information.

Finally, I use terminology indicating the provisional nature of claims about the Holocaust. My use of alleged, so-called, scare quotes, and similar devices simply is meant to indicate that I am withholding assent until the case is fully examined. I tend to be skeptical of most things told to me by those in positions of power and influence, and this subject is no different. I recommend that the reader do the same. As for my occasional quips, jabs, and weak attempts at humor, I can only say that this is not intended as insult or dismissal. I aim to take a sometimes plodding and tedious debate and make it interesting and readable. But when one makes outrageous claims, or puts forth obvious nonsense, and then expects to be taken seriously then a sarcastic jab may be entirely appropriate.

* * * * *

Some might question the relevance of this whole topic. They might point out that the event under discussion happened over sixty years ago, that most who experienced it are dead, and that the enmities of the war are long gone. America and the European nations are friends, and at peace (with each other, at least!). Japan is an important trading partner, and poses no military threat. So why bother with the Holocaust? What’s the big deal? Yes, the Jews suffered, some may say. So just leave them alone. Let them have their ol’ Holocaust.

I think it does matter, and not only to those who have a vested interest. First, there is the straightforward question of history. Regardless of what one may think, the Holocaust was an event of major historical importance. As with any historical event, it is important to get the facts straight, and to develop consistent and coherent views about what happened. To understand what did, or did not, happen is important for understanding the world of the twentieth century, and by extension, the world of today.

Second, we are not allowed to forget about it, even if we wanted to. Coverage of the Holocaust is standard fare in every school curriculum.3 Children the world over read The Diary of Anne Frank, Number the Stars, Waiting for Anya, and Butterfly. Students learn about the gas chambers and the six million, about the Nazi atrocities.4 We watch Holocaust miniseries on television, Schindlers List, and documentaries like Night and Fog. We celebrate Holocaust Education Week, and we acknowledge January 27 each year as the International Day of Commemoration of Holocaust victims, as declared by the UN in 2005. School children collect six million pencils, or six million paperclips.5 We visit Holocaust museums. We take college courses from endowed chairs in Holocaust studies. This is not by accident. It is a deliberate plan, to make sure we never forget. And if we can never forget, then we should at least get the story straight.

Third, there is the drama of the debate itself. It is unlike anything else the name-calling, the suppression of ideas, the jailing of dissenters, the burning of books. It is a debate that can scarcely be mentioned in polite company. It is, in a real sense, one of the last taboos in Western civilization. But as we know, taboos never last. They are the product of a given era, of specific social and political forces. When those forces shift, as they inevitably do, the taboo is lifted. Now is perhaps such a time.

Fourth, we have the underlying issue of free speech. I take a position in support of radical free speech. Speech is an (almost) absolute right. There is virtually no topic that should be out of bounds. Barring only such obscure cases as an immediate threat to human life (one thinks of the contrived example of crying fire in a crowded theater ), no words or ideas should be beyond discussion. I support vigorous and open debate on every conceivable topic, the Holocaust included. Suppressing speech only drives it underground, and can only lead to unethical and reprehensible manipulation of the public’s ability to think for itself. Those in power always have reason to fear free speech all the more reason to defend it.

Fifth is the monetary angle. Billions of dollars have been given as restitution, to Israel, to individual survivors, and to Jewish organizations. These are tax dollars, provided by the workers of the affected nations primarily Germany and Switzerland (to date). Restitution claims have not ended, and will likely not end in the foreseeable future; as recently as March 2008, the Belgian government agreed to pay $170 million to survivors, their families, and the Jewish community. This is rather astonishing, given that Belgium was a victim of the war, not an aggressor! (The official reason: Belgium failed to resist hard enough against Nazi deportation of Jews.) Compensation money, arising directly from the conventional Holocaust story, in turn flows back to sustain it. Restitution money buys political clout, where in the U.S. at least it ends up as campaign contributions and issue ads. It encourages lawmakers to legislate in support of Israel and against revisionism and they do.

Sixth, there are the far-reaching conflicts in the Middle East that stem, in large part, from the Holocaust in a number of important ways. First, the state of Israel itself is due largely to the persecution of Jews in the war (Israel was created in 1948).6 Its creation sparked the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, which led to several wars and ultimately to the present Israeli occupation of the West Bank and other Palestinian lands. This occupation in turn is a crucial factor in the global war on terror, and in the present bloody conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, it is a crucial factor in the United States giving $6 billion per year, every year, to Israel in the form of military, economic, and indirect aid. Third, if there is a future conflict with Iran, it too will stem in part from conflicting views of the Holocaust;7 Ahmadinejad knows this, hence his willingness to challenge the traditional account. And finally, the influential group of people who promote and defend the Holocaust are by and large the same people who supported the wars in the Middle East. The same ideology “militant right-wing Zionism” is a major factor in both. Thus by better understanding their thinking and actions we may perhaps head off future wars.

Seventh: If we can be misled or fooled, or deceived, or lied to about the Holocaust, what other events might we be misled about? The same social forces that could give rise to, and sustain, a deficient Holocaust story could produce countless other stories that might be exaggerated, embellished, distorted, or falsified.

Finally, the Great Debate tells us something important about the power structure of Western nations. Revisionists challenge not only orthodoxy; they challenge the power of the State. Advocates for the conventional view are in positions of great influence. They are wealthy. They have many supporters, and virtually unlimited resources. They are able to turn the power of the State, and public opinion, against revisionism. The revisionists, few in number and poor in means, have only ideas. But, as the masked man once said, ideas are bulletproof. They have a power of their own, unmatched by money, military, or government. Ideas can penetrate to the heart of truth. This is the promise of revisionism. Whether it succeeds, time shall tell.

* * * * *

To repeat, I attempt here to take an impartial look at this clash of views. Arguably this is doomed to failure. I can be sure that both sides will accuse me of biased thinking, of disregarding important points, of undervaluing critical issues. Trying to remain neutral in this cantankerous debate is rather like taking a stroll through no-mans-land amidst trench warfare. I am guaranteed to be shot at by both sides.

Nevertheless, I am not concerned with befriending either camp. The hardcore partisans of both sides are few in number, even if one side wields disproportionate power. My concern is the vast middle ground of people, neither Jew nor Muslim nor German, who are directly and indirectly affected by the Holocaust, and who deserve to hear all perspectives on the matter. I stand with that group.

I am not a revisionist, and I do not endorse their claims. I am a bystander in this debate, observing and commenting on a collision of ideas. This book is not a book of revisionism. It is a book about revisionism, and about two competing views of the truth. It addresses the ability of each side to marshal evidence, and to create a clear and consistent picture of the past.

The revisionist view of events is so shocking, so far from what we have been told, that we have a hard time comprehending its possibility. A colleague once told me that he would be no more shocked to find no Eiffel Tower in Paris than he would to learn that the revisionists were right. Yet we can scarcely avoid asking ourselves this question: Is it really possible that the traditional Holocaust story is wrong? And not merely a little wrong, but significantly and fundamentally flawed? This is for each reader to decide. My objective is not to impose an overall conclusion, but rather to illuminate and articulate the main points, and to comment on their validity. The reader must decide.

I sense a turning point in the debate. It seems to be moving out of the shadows and into the realm of serious and legitimate discourse. Revisionists have strong arguments in their favor, and, despite book burnings and jail terms, they are not going away. Traditionalists seem of late to have lost their momentum. Perhaps they have no more counterarguments. Perhaps they have tired of defending the conflicting stories of survivors and witnesses. Perhaps they have reached the limit of their ability to fashion a comprehensible picture of those tragic events of sixty years ago. The debate will reach a new resolution, and I suspect that the result will be something different than we presume today.

NOTES

1. Of course there are other revisionists not among these groups. Prominent revisionist Germar Rudolf has argued that, proportionately, the French are the most represented group.

2. Wherever possible, quotations include in-text citations. For example, (Hilberg 2003: 29) refers to page 29 of Hilbergs 2003 publication (The Destruction of the European Jews), which can be found in the bibliography at the rear. Such citations both let the reader know the time frame of the quotation, and avoid an excessive multiplication of footnotes. (Recent scholarship, especially by the revisionists, is footnote-crazy. This is useful from a scholarly perspective, but can make for awkward reading.) The end objective, after all, is to clearly cite reliable and verifiable sources, and I think I have achieved this goal. And, unlike most books on the subject (of either side), I have included a full and complete index and bibliography.

3. One example: On November 7, 2008, the British Times Online reported that every secondary school [in the UK] is to get a Holocaust specialist to ensure that the subject is taught comprehensively and sensitively. Ten percent of these specialists will receive a masters degree in Holocaust education. The scheme is part of a wider Holocaust education project funded by the Government and a national charity. The project will also send two sixth-formers [ages 16 and 17] from every school to Auschwitz each year.

4. In February 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed strengthening an existing mandate to teach the Holocaust; his idea was that every fifth grader will have to learn the life story of one of the 11,000 [Jewish] French children killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust. (New York Times, February 16) The proposal was rejected by the Education Ministry five months later. Yet we should ask what might have compelled Sarkozy to attempt this. One factor could be his family background; his grandfather was Jewish, and he clearly views himself as a friend of Israel. Another might be the strong Jewish minority in France; the country has the third-highest percentage of Jews outside Israel (though small”just under one percent”it is nonetheless very influential; see Chapter 12).

Furthermore, we should consider the numbers involved. The standard definition of a child victim is anyone under age sixteen. Most traditionalists claim that children represented about one third of all victims. So 11,000 child deaths implies about 30,000 French Jews in total. (Of course, we dont know if Sarkozy is using a different definition of child “perhaps only those of middle-school age.) But a figure of 30,000 is far less than that mentioned by, for example, Gilbert (1988: 244), who claims 83,000 French Jewish deaths. As so often happens in the Debate, ill-defined numbers are thrown around that are rife with contradiction.

If the total was 30,000, French Jews accounted for just 0.5 percent of the six million victims”virtually insignificant in the overall picture. (If 83,000, then 1.4 percent.) And they would represent only 6 percent of all 500,000 French war casualties.

5. On September 20, 2004, the AP reported on a middle school in Tennessee, where, back in 1998, students hoped to collect 6 million paper clips”one to remember each person killed in the Holocaust. Thanks to global publicity, they had collected 30 million clips by 2004. In that same year Paper Clips, an award-winning Miramax documentary, was released. Regarding the pencils, a Texas junior high school issued a press release on May 15, 2007: Six million pencils for Holocaust project. They hope to get 167,000 per month, achieving their total by 2010.

6. It is true, however, that the Zionist push for a Jewish homeland had begun in earnest as early as 1900; the Balfour Declaration of 1917 declared British support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. The process was thus in motion several decades before the end of World War II, but it was the Holocaust that was the last straw, inducing the UN to create the state of Israel in 1948.

7. The Holocaust is often invoked in the Iranian conflict, both in reference to Ahmadinejad’s denial of it, and to a future attack on Israel. The threat of military action comes from both the United States and Israel (but from nowhere else). A recent example: On August 7, 2008, Time magazine reported the story Israel Preparing for Iran Strike. The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister is quoted as saying, Israel takes Mahmoud Ahmadinejads statements regarding its destruction seriously. Israel cannot risk another Holocaust.

http://www.amazon.com/Debating-Holocaust-Thomas-Dalton/dp/1591480051/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233028884&sr=8-1

Michael Santomauro
Editorial Director
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December 19, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 11 Comments