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No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | January 5, 2014

niramres

The Nir Am Reservoir lies near the town of Sderot, in southern Israel. This view of the reservoir shows the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun in the background.

“How can we return the occupied territories? There is no one to return them to.”
—Golda Meir

“There are no dams in the Negev.”
—Hasbara talking point

In the week before Christmas, the Zionist-hasbara crowd came out swinging in response to comments by Palestinian officials that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza and thereby further aggravated the flood disaster then engulfing the coastal territory.

In a December 18 article published at Commentary magazine, Jonathan S. Tobin accused Palestinians of “blaming Israel for the weather” and insisted that “there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.” His article additionally included a link to my own site, richardedmondson.net, as well as to a Press TV video on YouTube, and went on to express the cheerless lament that “purveyors of Jew hatred” (presumably like myself) have come to “dominate” Palestinian politics with the result of keeping alive “false hope about Israel’s eventual destruction.”

Tobin’s article, headlined “Hamas Asks You to Buy a Dam in the Negev,” called attention to an article in the Times of Israel, also with an evocative headline—“How Hamas Used the Weather to Defame Israel”—and both articles referenced statements by two Palestinian officials in Gaza which the writers deemed as erroneous and defamatory toward Israel.

The two officials named were Yasser Shanti, chairman of Gaza’s Disaster Response Committee, and Muhammad Al-Maidana, a Civil Defense spokesperson. Shanti is said to have told journalists late in the day on December 13 that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza, causing even greater flooding within the coastal territory than what was already then taking place. And in what both Tobin, as well as his colleague at the Times of Israel, viewed as but a slight “variation” on Shanti’s comments, Al-Maidana is reported to have said that “sewage canals” (rather than dams) were opened, and that these also (or instead of) were to be found east of the Gaza Strip.

“There is only problem with these claims (sic),” said Tobin. “While Israelis have made the southern portion of the country bloom via ingenuity and clever irrigation schemes, dams are a scarce commodity in a desert region without rivers or lakes. In fact there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.”

I first became aware that something stupendous was happening in Gaza when a friend emailed me an article by Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer, headlined Gaza Returns to Donkey Days, which I posted on December 6. This was actually a few days before the arrival of winter storm Alexa, but Omer noted that homes in Gaza were already flooding due to rain, power outages, and backed-up sewage. He also noted that streets were lined with garbage because there was no fuel to run the garbage trucks, and that the job of refuse collection had been relegated to people driving donkey carts. Accompanying the story was a photo of a girl sitting on a donkey cart parked next to a pile of litter:

gazadonkey

Then came winter storm Alexa. On December 12 I posted a second report from Omer and also I began making periodic visits to In Gaza, a website that had begun posting information on the disaster that it was collecting from a variety of sources. Included in their material were some stunning photos and videos showing streets completely inundated and people paddling in boats. I thought back to the December 6 article by Omer, and it didn’t take much imagination to figure out the water that those people were paddling around in and wading through was filled with garbage and sewage.

gazaflood5

All of this I began reposting at my own site—including an article from Ma’an News Agency in which Shanti’s comments were reported. Here is an excerpt from that article:

BETHLEHEM — The Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Could Israel really have done what Shanti said they did? Does it really have the capability to flood Gaza? And if it did do this, what were its reasons? Were they as outright despicable as one might initially jump to conclude, or were there perhaps mitigating circumstances?

With all this in mind, on December 17 I put up a post entitled Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza? I made no accusations in the article. I merely asked the question. But one thing I had discovered was that if Israel did open dams or somehow divert water into Gaza, it would not be the first time, or at least it was not the first time it had been accused of such. What I had come across was a 2010 Press TV report in which Palestinians in Gaza had leveled almost identical charges to those they were making last month. The story is told in the video, which I embedded into my article and which you’ll find at the above link. With scenes of flooding as a backdrop, the Press TV reporter narrates:

The Valley of Gaza, once a dry basin, turned into a raging river on Monday night. At approximately 6 p.m. hundreds of families in the central Gaza Strip fled their neighborhoods as water gushed into their homes. Israel had opened one of its dams located to the east of the central Gaza Strip, allowing water to spill into and flood two Palestinian towns.

Just below the video I wrote the following words:

If Israel did this in 2010, does it beggar belief they would have done the same thing again this past week? If they did, the question then becomes did they do it out of a) a need to divert flooding from their own communities in Israel, or b) pure malice?

The following day, December 18, Tobin published his article in Commentary:

It should first be noted that the original sources for the claim that Israel opens dams to flood Gaza come from Iran’s Press TV. That font of journalistic integrity floated stories in 2010 and 2012 that spoke of Israeli authorities flooding Gaza by opening dams that supposedly exist to the east of the Gaza strip. But these stories provide no maps showing the site of the dams or documentation about them. Neither that shortcoming nor even a basic knowledge of the geography of the area has stopped Israel-bashers from continuing to blog or tweet links to these fallacious reports.

In the passage above, the link coded into the date “2010” is to my own article, “Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza?”, while the one almost immediately adjacent to it is to yet another Press TV video—also on dams being opened east of Gaza—this one from two years later. And here I have to give a hat tip to Tobin, for I was unaware of this second Press TV report. But like the first one, the report from 2012 features footage of flooding in Gaza (though different footage from that shown in the 2010 report) along with allegations from local residents and officials that dams were opened. Also, curiously, in both reports the flood-stricken area is more or less the same… the central Gaza valley… suggesting that in both instances the water possibly was released… again, if it was released… from the same location.

Also on December 18 we got our hasbara swarm. I would hasten to add, though, that the swarm that descended upon us was not near the size of the one that came down on Ma’an News (more about which in a moment), but at any rate our first comment was posted by “Sarah” at 11:24 a.m. She wrote:

I’m not sure if my favorite part is when they claim that the water reached 5 meters in some places (maybe they don’t know what a meter is?) or when they showed the picture of the Mediterranean Sea claiming that to be flood water. Or of course the fun non-fact that Israel opened its non-existent dams. That one had my sides almost splitting.

The water shown in the Press TV report was clearly not from the Mediterranean Sea (unless there was an unreported tsunami that day), but my reply to Sarah was as follows:

Maybe the solution, Sarah, is for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, as the UNRWA official has called upon them to do. By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it. By the way, Israel has at least one dam that I know of, the Degania Dam on the Jordan River.

My comment about the Degania Dam, located on the Jordan River at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, prompted accusations that I was either a lunatic or else clueless about geography, and that there was no way water from a dam at that location could have flooded Gaza. I, of course, had not made such a claim; I had merely pointed out to Sarah that her remark about Israel’s “non-existent dams” was not entirely accurate, and that there was at least one.

A System of Reservoirs and the Israeli National Water Carrier

As it turns out, however, there are other dams in Israel, including in the Negev. The desert region also has reservoirs. A click here will take you to a location on Google Maps showing you the town of Sderot in southern Israel. Directly to the west of the town lies the Kibbutz Nir Am, and due west of the kibbutz you will see the Nir Am Reservoir. It sits on a point overlooking Gaza. Move the map to the south and west and you will see four additional reservoirs, all lying along Israel’s border with Gaza. With a capacity of 1.5 million cubic liters of water, the Nir Am is the largest of these five reservoirs, but all are connected. The image below shows what is known as the National Water Carrier of Israel. It is a system of giant pipes, canals, tunnels and pumping stations, by means of which water is pumped from the Sea of Galilee in the northern part of the country, down to the coastal areas surrounding Tel Aviv, and finally to the Negev Desert in the south. The system is operated by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.

watercarrier

You’ll note that the blue lines represent fresh water, while the red line leading down around Gaza and into the Negev contains treated sewage. The water in this line is used for agricultural purposes.

The National Water Carrier began pumping water in 1964. Here is what the system looked like as it was being constructed.

watercarrier

Also perhaps of interest, especially to those who claim there are “no dams in the Negev,” is the system of limans—small, manmade bodies of water throughout the desert that were created for irrigation and also as a means of combatting soil erosion and desertification. Limans catch runoff from wadis when they occasionally flood. Each liman has a small dam. According to the Jewish National Fund, there are approximately 420 limans in the Negev. Below is a photo of one:

liman

But limans, as you can see, are rather small. Likewise the dams, referred to as “check-dams,” that are built into them. They’re also scattered out over a wide area, and the chance they may have been a factor in the flooding of Gaza is remote. But also at the Jewish National Fund website is a proud history of the work it has done in developing various parts of Israel, including the Negev, and including apparently dams. In the following passage, the letters “JNF-KKL” are the English and Hebrew acronyms for the organization spliced together. It is how the Jewish National Fund refers to itself in this article. Here is an excerpt:

JNF-KKL spread out to the south, to the edge of the Arava. Some 25 percent of all tree plantings in the 1980′s were carried out in the Negev, bringing its forest area to a total of 45,000 acres. Army camps that had been set up in the Negev after the evacuation of the Sinai were planted with JNF-KKL trees to create shelter from the burning sun, shield soldiers and equipment from dust storms, and provide some respite for those soldiers stationed in the harsh desert.

JNF-KKL began to focus a large part of its attention on the burgeoning water crisis during this period. Towards the end of the 1980′s, JNF-KKL carried out a number of large-scale water conservation projects, building dams and reservoirs. These vital projects allowed JNF-KKL to capture rainwater run-off when the infrequent rains did fall, water which would have otherwise been lost to the sea.  Reservoirs were built in the Arava Valley, at Reshafim in the Beit She’arim Valley, and at Kedma near Kiryat Gat. An artificial lake was built in Timna Park in the southern Negev.

Additional references to dams in the Negev—and particularly adjacent to Gaza—can also be found in a book entitled Water and Peace in the Middle East, edited by J. Isaac and H. Shuval and published in 1994 (hat tip to “Lana”, commenter number 25 ). Here is an excerpt :

Wadi Gaza which flows during the winter season, originating from the Hebron mountains in the east and ends at the sea shore south of Gaza, has been blocked by Israel. Several dams were built along the way preventing the water from flowing into the Gaza Strip which otherwise would have provided a valuable source of water to be used for irrigation and for compensation for the lost pumped out water. There are no known figures of the amount of water this wadi brings, but it would have been a great help to the irrigation in the middle zone of Gaza.

Note, of course, the words “the middle zone of Gaza.” Recall also that both Press TV reports, from 2010 and 2012, described the flooding as occurring in the central area of Gaza. Hearken back also to the announcement by Shanti this past December 13, as reported by Ma’an:

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Flooding in central Gaza, and the opening of dams there, is also mentioned in this report, posted December 15, from the Palestine Information Center:

GAZA – Hundreds of houses in central Gaza Strip were flooded as the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday afternoon opened the earth dams east of the town of Wadi Salaqa in Deir al-Balah.

The IOF established many earth dams east of the Gaza Strip to collect rainwater to use it; however in case the levels of water increase they open these dams and water flows to Gaza.

Palestinian sources told Quds Press that the rescue teams and civil defense have evacuated 40 families including 200 people from the town of Wadi Salaqa and brought them to a shelter center.

The sources added that 300 families have been moved to the shelter center of Hussein School run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees “UNRWA” in Jabalya north of the Gaza Strip.

The Municipality of Gaza appealed to the residents living in low-lying areas in the Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes before the evening for fear their houses will be flooded with rainwater.

The town of Deir al-Balah, cited in the lead paragraph above, is mentioned in a lot of other reports on the Gaza flooding as well.

floodrefuge

The area seems to have been especially hard hit. If you look at it on Google Maps you will see that it is pretty much smack dab in the middle of Gaza. But just a few miles to the south and west of there lies the town of Khan Yunis, where a 21-year-old girl named Rana lives. Rana wrote the following report… and yes, she too mentions the dams:

My name is Rana. I have lived in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip all 21 years of my life. What is happening in Gaza is not fiction but a bitter reality, which we lack the means to defend ourselves against. In the last few days, an unusually powerful storm has flooded many areas, displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Children are without shelter from the cold and rain. Entire neighbourhoods are sinking.

My family and I spent four days in darkness in below freezing weather: no electricity, no water and no heat. I was so cold, I couldn’t leave my bed and the small comfort it and my blankets provided. The cold felt like it penetrated my bones. Yet, I am lucky. I witnessed many people as they became homeless, their children desperate for food and warmth.

Friends called to tell me about the flooding and freezing in their areas. I felt bad, unable to help.

Power lines are down and our streets are filled with raw sewage. Greenhouses have been destroyed, affecting farmers and reducing the already minimal food supply we Gazans are forced to survive on.

Making conditions worse, Israel opened two dams, releasing a torrent of water that inundated many homes. As their houses sank, some of my neighbours nearly drowned. Fortunately, rescue workers came to their aid.

All of this was not enough for Israel. Its soldiers have been shooting at civilians in the village of Khuza’a, to the east of my city. Unarmed residents, women and children, attempting to flee the flooded town, were driven back for fear of being shot.

Israel’s action, assisted by the world’s silence, increases our suffering. Where is the international law we hear so many people talk about but never implement? Where is the community that talks about justice and humanitarian support? If my people are prevented from obtaining the basic requirements of life at least we should speak up and raise our voices.

Another storm is expected to hit my vulnerable homeland next week, bringing with it more suffering and more homelessness. When will the world wake up and treat us like human beings?

Rana Alshami, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip

If you once again go to Google Maps you will notice that Khan Yunis lies in fairly close proximity to two reservoirs. Of the five reservoirs Israel maintains along the Gaza border, these are the two southernmost. They are small, but if water somehow were diverted from them, the effect upon the people in the nearby Gazan villages would probably be not inconsiderable.

But of course, it isn’t only central Gaza that was inundated in the recent flood. In a story posted at Ma’an News on December 13, reporter Alex Shams reports particularly heavy flooding also in the northern Gaza Strip.

BETHLEHEM — The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

In the same article, Shams goes on to quote Chris Gunness, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, who also notes heavy flooding in the north:

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma’an, “In Gaza there is a significant problem with flooding in the north, specifically in Jabaliya, and UNRWA staff has been working all night,”

“An UNRWA staff member reported that there were three meters of water surrounding his house,” he added, pointing out that water had come up to the first floor in some areas.

Here’s Jabaliya on Google Maps. Move the map southeast by northeast and you will see the other three reservoirs. Note that all three lie in fairly close proximity to Jabaliya.

Let’s turn our attention once more to the northernmost of these—the Nir Am Reservoir.

The Nir Am Reservoir is pictured in the photo at the very top of this post. Look real closely at it. You are standing on the southeastern side of the reservoir, looking out across it, with the skyline of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun showing in the background.

Below is the reservoir as it is shown on Google Maps, with Sderot to the east, Beit Hanoun to the west, and the reservoir lying in between.

niram

And here is the Google Earth view, though from a slightly different perspective—with the side of the reservoir facing Beit Hanoun shown in the foreground.

niramres3

You can also go here and see a series of 30 photos shot as the reservoir was under construction in 1996. Click on any image to enlarge the photos, and then enlarge them even further by playing with the zoom controls that show up. The photos are under copyright of the Jewish National Fund and are in repository at the Widener Library at Harvard University.

Question: Was a means of diverting water from the Nir Am Reservoir into Gaza built into the system when it was constructed, or, alternately, has one been added since? And if the answer to that is yes, did someone, say perhaps from the nearby town of Sderot, feeling himself divinely chosen by God and aggrieved over the landing of the occasional rocket, slip out during the Alexa downpour to pull the switch, open the floodgate, and release the tide? It is probably impossible for us to know the answer to this, but very much worth keeping in mind is the National Water Carrier and its lines running parallel to Gaza’s border. Theoretically the release point, if such exists, would not necessarily have to have been to be at the Nir Am Reservoir. It could be anywhere along this line. Or, there could be more than one release point. Which might explain why especially heavy flooding was recorded in both northern and central Gaza.

Or—as I say—there may be no way of diverting any of this water, not so much as a single drop, into Gaza whatsoever… although my own personal hunch is this is unlikely.

But one thing is for certain. The hasbara crowd, ever convinced of Israel’s virtue and goodness, ever convinced also of the inviolability of their own “Jewish values,” are of the mind that a deliberate flooding of Gaza is unthinkable, and moreover seem convinced that only the vilest purveyors of “Jew hatred” could even contemplate such a thing.

“The Damn Dams Don’t Exist”

Most of us have encountered hasbara swarms on the Internet. You get to recognize them after a while. Such a swarm hit Ma’an News following publication of its initial report on the dams on December 13. A total of 77 comments were posted in response to that article. Given that it has been common knowledge for a while that Israel organizes and recruits teams of people to post comments favorable to the Jewish state on the Internet, it is not unreasonable to assume that at least some of those who descended upon Ma’an were being paid to do so. At any rate, the comments began lickety-split. The very first person to respond to the article, apparently only shortly after it was published, was “Abe.”

How far will Hamas go! Now they blame the weather on ISRAEL!!

comments

Many of the comment posters felt oh-so-acutely aggrieved—not over the fact that Palestinians were literally swimming in sewage, but that a “false” accusation had been made against Israel. The following comments, including grammatical errors and misspellings, are reproduced verbatim et literatim.

Said “Hanzie”:

Blame you Mr. Editor! The IDF are helping these Palestinians instead of these liars. Complain, complain, complain. Get a life, start to build something up, instead of this looser beheviour.

And “Ros D”:

To those asking if this is true – this article is complete and utter lies. Israel has transferred water pumps and fuel to Gaza to help them. They also transfer tons of aid given every week. As for those maintaining Israel is a terrorist state and the usual BS, all I can say is, there are gaps in their ignorance.

A common theme running through many of the comments was that there are no dams or rivers east of Gaza. Said “Lilith”:

ANYONE BEEN THERE?? I have and there are no rivers. Look on a map. Once again this has nothing to do with Israel in fact Israel took pumps in to get rid of the water. So suck it up twits.

“Sam” (who probably intended to say “west” of the Jordan River):

LOL. There are no dams or rivers east of the Jordan river. What a pathetic lie.

“yon7391”:

There are no rivers east of Gaza. So who would build dams in the wadi? Even without dams, the rains would have brought flooded wadi for a few hours. It is a fact of life in desertic flood plains. This too happens in Arizona and New Mexico and is it Israel’s fault? Probably not since Hamas does not rule Arizona… Yet.

“Michael Greenwald”:

Dear Editor, there are no rivers in Israel immediately east of Gaze. So, there are no dams. Perhaps you are referring to one or several of the wadis. These run during heavy rains as is happening now all over the Med and middle?east. The area getting?flooded is called a “flood plain,” implying “do not build there.” But every once in a while there is a flash flood and when that happens the Gazans blame it on israel.

“Natan” (apparently an Israeli):

If someone could tell me where these dams are I shall personally make a trip to photograph them and post on this site. The whole scenario is totally ridiculous – pls. people check your facts.

Other Israelis, elsewhere on the Internet, were also defending their country from the “defamatory” accusations regarding the dams. In an article entitled “Gaza and Their Dam Lies,” published December 19 at JewishPress.com, Paula Stern wrote:

I keep thinking that someone will look at this and get a real laugh. Oh, not for the tragedy of three people dying and 5,000 being evacuated…but about blaming Israel for the worst storm of the century and saying we opened the dams.

We didn’t. We really didn’t. And we didn’t – because the damn dams, damn well don’t exist. That’s right…there are no dams that we dammed up…in fact, if I’m not mistake (sic), there are no dams at all between Israel and Gaza…and, if there are any rivers that flow into Gaza, well, by the time they get anywhere near Gaza, they’re more of a tiny, tiny, tiny stream than anything that anyone would ever call a river.

Stern managed to get through her article without saying anything particularly noxious about the Palestinians, but this was not quite the case with Tobin’s piece in Commentary. The author of that article believes “Hamas blames Israel for suffering in Gaza because that is the only way it can deflect responsibility from itself for the incompetent manner with which it rules the strip,” and he goes on to assert that “Palestinians buy it because it allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own fate and for making peace.”

Or in other words, the Palestinians are irresponsible, shiftless, no-count, and lazy. It falls into the category of comment one might have heard from plantation owners during the era of slavery in the US, but give Tobin credit for one thing: he does use the word “Palestinians,” suggesting he at least recognizes they exist.

Unlike Tobin, some of the commenters at Ma’an crossed the border into open, sarcastic derision—not only in their denigration of the Palestinians, but also in their expressions of delight at the catastrophe then sweeping over Gaza.

“Adi”:

bwahahahahah now we in control of the weather as well? they to funny these choppie ignoramaces maybe we can do other things as well wooooooooo

“Walt”:

Interesting – except for Iranian and Palestinian “news” agencies, there is not a single reliable agency in the world that has reported this … because it’s a fake?

“southparkbear”:

it’s time to turn gaza to venice of the islamist world

At the same time, some professed to express sympathy for the Palestinian cause, as for instance “Dale”:

There is no dam or river. There is a reservoir and a one meter wall that can’t be opened or closed. During the storm it overflowed. Iam very disappointed that Maan would print such allegations without checking out the facts first. This destroys their credibility on other issues when they may be telling the truth. It is supposed to represent a “responsible” palestinian media. what a disappointment. when they hurt their credibility, they don’t help the palestinian cause

Although a number of Ma’an’s readers posted replies in response, some of which were quite good, the news agency itself seemed to have a policy of simply letting all comments stand on their own as posted (probably due to lack of staff). At any rate, nothing resembling an “official Ma’an response” can be found in any of the 77 comments.

This was not the case at our own site, where the hasbara swarm that hit on December 18 quickly escalated into a war of words, a war of words fueled at least as much by the direction of events in America as those in Gaza—if not more so.

“Get Your Scummy Lobby Out of My Congress”

Suppose a resolution were to be introduced into the US Senate not only increasing the likelihood of war with Iran, but also calling for the decision-making power as to whether America embarks upon such a war to be turned over to the government of Israel. Think about how you would feel if you were an American. It would probably make you pretty angry, would it not? Well, in fact such a bill was introduced on December 19, and sadly it is not the first time such traitorous legislation has come before Congress. Threatening to derail peace talks between Iran and the Obama administration by imposing even more sanctions, senate bill S.1881—the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013—contains the following provision:

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;

The bill was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and has gained 33 cosponsors (so far). Click here to see a list of Israel’s deputy ministers in the US Senate who have signed onto the legislation.

Shortly after I posted my reply to “Sarah,” wherein, recall, I pointed out the existence of the Degania Dam and suggested that an end to the Gaza blockade might be the solution to the problem and even in Israel’s best interest, a comment was posted by “George Metesky”:

Um… Richard, we would love to end the blockade if it were safe to do so. Only when Gazans declare their desire to live in peace with Israel can we consider this possibility. The Jordan River is nowhere near Gaza. When Hamas and Gazans declare their unequivocal acceptance of a Jewish state as their neighbor and partner for peace, Israel will be overjoyed, and definitely lift any siege, develop economic and cultural ties and everything else that peace-loving people want.

This was closely followed by a comment from “aReefer”:

Richard, please do me a favour and open Google Earth, and then tell me how close the Dagania dam is to the Gaza strip in your own best estimate?

I think that you are clutching at straws to defend your false assertions in your article and flying in the face of common sense and the laws of both physics and liquid dynamics. Water would need to entirely flood every city in Southern Israel before reaching the Gaza Strip from there, including filling-up several large desert canyons on the way, creating 100 meter-deep rivers in the process(!!)

Another newsflash: The Dead Sea – which this dam feeds into – is famous for one thing in particular – namely for being the lowest place on Earth, so your response makes no sense at all – unless of course water flows uphill where you live?

The comment’s very last character was a “smiley face.” I, of course, had not made any “false assertions” in my article—something I pointed out in a response directed at both posters:

Dear Impeccably Honest Zionists,

Thank you for the “news flash.” Now please tell me what about my comments “makes no sense at all” to you. The previous commenter made reference to Israel’s “non-existent dams.” I merely pointed out to her that there is at least one dam in Israel, that I know of. Please read my comment again carefully. I did not say the Degania Dam was used to flood Gaza. I do know where the Jordan River is and I do know where Gaza is.

I have the feeling that you folks are getting a little rushed in your hasbara posting efforts. Did you read what I wrote carefully? Please quote back to me what “false assertions” I made. I did not say unequivocally that Israel had flooded Gaza. I merely reported that these are the allegations that were made. Did you take note of the question mark at the end of the title line?

Um… George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza. Also get your scummy Lobby out of my Congress and stop getting us into wars. If you want a war with Iran, go fight it yourselves.

[…]

You can read the whole exchange—all 33 comments—by going here.

260 Million Cubic Meters of Water and the Inability to Self-Reflect

So is there any saving grace in all this from Israel’s point of view? Could it be believed, for instance, that the reservoirs, due to some ten inches of rain, simply broke their banks and overflowed on their own? Could the water that nearly drowned Rana’s neighbors in Khan Yunis—and the three-meter high wall of water that surrounded the UNRWA staff member’s home in northern Gaza—could all of this have been caused by the storm alone? Certainly it’s possible, but the system of reservoirs—220 altogether—and the miles upon miles of pipelines that have been built give Israel control over huge volumes of water. This is made clear by the JNF:

For many years, KKL-JNF has been working to bolster Israel’s water economy by developing alternative water sources, saving the economy millions of shekels each year, advancing Israeli agriculture, and saving palatable drinking water.

KKL-JNF’s collects and treats water from agriculture, sewage, flash floods and urban runoff for recycling, saving precious fresh water sources for drinking. With its 220 water reservoirs throughout the country, KKL-JNF has enriched Israel’s water economy by a total of 260 million cubic meters.

JNF supplies this additional information on the reservoirs:

The reservoirs that collect runoff water and those that store treated sewage water make it possible to redirect other sources of water for Israel’s water system, as the reservoirs main and primary purpose is to increase the balance of water available for use. The reservoirs produce 260 million cubic meters annually. In 2010, the water in reservoirs built by KKL-JNF provided about half of the water consumed by Israeli agriculture.

By storing effluent (partly purified sewage water) in reservoirs, the effluent is prevented from flowing into the environment, thereby preventing pollution of rivers, soil, underground water sources and bodies of water into which the waters flow (the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee – Lake Kinneret, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea). The Israeli rivers’ restoration projects would have no meaningful significance unless the flow of sewage and effluent into the rivers is stopped by means of controlled storage in reservoirs that are custom-made for the task…

Reservoir technology has improved, becoming incomparably more effective and sophisticated over the years as a result of the accompanying research and development, as well as the lessons learned by KKL-JNF from actual experience in building reservoirs in past decades.  This includes using sealing technology using plastic sheets, reservoir enginieering (sic), preventing embankments from collapsing, improvements in maintenance and access, extending previously existing reservoirs, and hydraulic control.

The National Water Carrier of Israel is a vast system, one that is still under expansion and development to this day. The direction and flow of water throughout is determined by gravity as well as strategically placed pumping stations. Click here to see what one of these pumping stations looks like. Such a system gives those who operate it a considerable amount of power over what is essentially a force of nature—the flow of water. This is a power that can be used for good, or it can be used destructively.

The claim that the Israelis “made the desert bloom” is one we often here, and when you consider the cyclopean system of limans, reservoirs, pipelines, and pumping stations, the validity to the assertion has to be acknowledged. Yet what also has to be acknowledged is that the Negev faces some severe environmental problems as well. This was the subject of a 2007 article by Rebecca Manski, who writes:

The ‘Promised Land’ has in a matter of decades become a ‘Poisoned Land,’ reveals the November 10th weekend edition of the widest-read Israeli daily, Ma’ariv.

According to the article, Israel’s 10 major polluters include industrial polluters, wealthy contractors, waste dumps, and the indigenous Bedouin of the Negev/Naqab Desert.

The charge that the Bedouin are as responsible as industrial polluters for polluting the Negev is one Manski devotes considerable attention to in her article. She notes:

Naqab Arabs share some 2.5 % of the desert with Israel’s nuclear reactors, 22 agro and petrochemical factories, an oil terminal, closed military zones, quarries, a toxic waste incinerator, cell towers, a power plant, several airports, a prison, and 2 rivers of open sewage. Due to constant exposure to toxicity and radiation, the risk of cancer for residents in this entire area is significantly higher than the rest of the country, according to a 2004 preliminary Israeli Ministry of Health study.

Yet despite all this an Israeli academic official—quoted in Manski’s article—insists that the Bedouin are at least as responsible as some of Israel’s worst polluters. The official is Alon Tal, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. “Tal prominently featured the indigenous Bedouin as spoilers of the beauty and health of the ‘Promised Land’ on ‘equal’ par with the largest regional toxic waste facility, high-rises, a superhighway, a sprawling shopping center, electro-chemical plants in Akko, and a Haifa ammonia tank,” Manski writes. She goes on to note:

Those who cast Bedouin as environmental hazards often fail to note that Negev Arabs were secured as cheap labor to construct toxic regional infrastructure on confiscated Bedouin lands, infrastructure to which they ultimately have little access, and from which they suffer major health impacts.

Tal concluded his interview with Ma’ariv with the declaration: “As someone who deals with ecology and environmentalism I have to speak the truth.”

“The Bedouin harm open areas. They create a situation of over-grazing, which brings about land erosion. There are fifty-thousand illegal structures in the Negev built by Bedouin. They are halting the development of the area since nothing can be done with land they’ve occupied. It’s not fair towards the general public, who’re supposed to enjoy these open spaces, to go on a retreat and even ride a jeep through the open landscape.” As this writer would have, Ma’ariv journalist Sarah Leibovitz-Dar queried, “So you suggest wiping out Bedouin culture so that Yuppies can drive in jeeps?”

Those ecologists that fail to see destitute Bedouin as sharing the same level of responsibility as corporate polluters flush with cash, those advocates who refuse to vilify the population suffering the worst effects of pollution in Israel – are they less honest than Tal?

Manski goes on to quote another Israeli, an unnamed official with the Ministry of the Environment, who seems to have a problem with the Bedouin having babies: “The Bedouin are an environmental hazard. They throw their trash everywhere and they’re having children all over the place. They steal our land.”

Though their styles are different, what Tal and the unnamed official have in common—along with Tobin in his article in Commentary—is a refusal to admit that Israel could have contributed in any way to the misery now being experienced by the indigenous peoples of the area. This may reflect something deeper than simply a PR tactic. It may be a genuine belief. “We didn’t. We really didn’t,” wrote Stern in her article—and one gets the feeling she is quite sincere in her conviction. Israel, despite its record of war crimes against the Palestinians, could not be capable of such an evil as opening dams and deliberately flooding a trapped population, such people seem to feel. Similar sentiments can also be detected in the hasbara comments. One commenter at our site, “Doug,” used the term “Palywood” and seemed to imply we were delusional if we believed anything reported by Press TV:

You had me with “it has been reported”. Look at your sources Press TV? Hamas? Palywood? “These are reports”? And then you proceed to write paragraphs about something that never happened?

After you could’t stretch this ‘blame israel for things it did not do’ any longer, you utter: “Israel and its supporters have unleashed an avalanche of denials”. So spreading fiction is ok, but when some people call on your nonsense, it’s not OK? Instead of: “I was wrong (and dumb to believe my ‘sources’)”, it’s Israel and its supporters who have unleashed an avalanche of denials. Let’s blame them again because they have no right to simply show how wrong you are like normal people, those people only “unleashed an avalanches of denials” as if there is a debate here.

And yes, Dgania has a dam, but don’t ask Press Tv where it is, use the Evil Empire’s Jewish-controlled Google Maps and see how far it is from Gaza.

Unbelievable

It is “unbelievable” because, of course, Jews simply don’t do such things. And by using the term “Palywood” (he presumably meant “Pallywood”), Doug seemed to be implying that the Press TV video was staged, that the people shown in it were hired as actors to pretend they were flooded, and that the waters themselves were perhaps nothing more than special effects—all done by Press TV for the purpose of victimizing Israel. Such logic suggests a fundamental inability to look inside and self-reflect, this coupled with a sense of perpetual victimhood. The twin tendencies in fact serve to sustain each other—and thus thousands of years of pogroms and expulsions have come down in the Jewish imagination as nothing more than eternally recurring outbursts of anti-Semitism directed against blameless Jews.

We might pause here and also consider the words of Menachem Begin, whose Irgun terror group carried out the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, and who later wrote that the village of Deir Yassin was a legitimate military target and that public characterizations of what occurred there as a massacre were nothing more than a lie told by “Jew haters all over the world.” (Roberta Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews, Times Books, 1983, p. 244). Begin, of course, was a bona fide, genuine “extremist” if ever there was one, but the same sort of blind spot, the same sort of Jews-can-do-no-wrong attitude, can also be seen in the comments of Tobin, Stern, and the hasbara brigades that routinely patrol the Internet.

What it comes down to is that people of this nature are equally incapable of fathoming why Americans would become angered at watching 33 US senators, at a mere snap of AIPAC’s fingers, rush to sign onto a piece of legislation like S.1881. But the anger is there. Such anger will initially be directed at AIPAC and its puppets in Congress, but in the course of things, as it diffuses through the human subconscious, it will assuredly attach itself to Jews in general.

So did they or didn’t they? Did someone with access to Israel’s National Water Carrier system release “a dam, a shmam, a valve, a clutch, a gizmo,” to cause additional flooding in Gaza? In some respects it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because that Israelis possess the level of malice necessary to induce them to such an act is a thing that most people, or a good many people at any rate, have no trouble believing. And they have no trouble believing it because the malice has been on display throughout the Jewish state’s existence. Particularly has it been manifest over the past ten years or so—palpably obvious in comments like those of Dov Weisglass, who in 2006 talked about putting the Palestinians “on a diet”; or the release in 2012 of the so-called Red Lines document, showing Israel had indeed set a “minimum number of grams and calories that Gaza residents would be permitted to consume” and that Weisglass hadn’t simply been speaking rhetorically. But of course at no time has the malice been more conspicuous and out in the open than in the brutal, war-crime atrocities of Operation Cast Lead five years ago.

All of which brings me back around to my comment to Sarah on the blockade of Gaza and its inevitable implications:

“By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it… ”

This of course is true. By imposing a blockade on Gaza, Israel in essence is assuming moral responsibility for what goes on there. If a baby dies in a Gaza hospital tomorrow night, it is Israel’s fault. When you have 1.7 million people locked up in a prison, you are responsible for them. There’s no way around that. The only way for Israel to get out from under this burden of responsibility is to end the blockade. I honestly have no love for the state of Israel, and I’m probably about the last person who would ever wish to share any advice with them of any kind, but it really is in Israel’s best interest at this point to end the blockade.

Ending the blockade at any rate would be the sensible thing to do—but of course we’re not dealing with sensible people. We are dealing with a people whose national identity has been molded and shaped by the Old Testament and its genocidal ideology, devoid of the pacific, moderating influences of the New Testament, and there’s a good chance that what has been referred to as a “slow motion genocide” could at any time, and over any pretext, quickly escalate into something even worse. In 2008, roughly ten months before Operation Cast Lead, Matan Vilnai, Israeli deputy defense minister, talked of inflicting a “shoah” (holocaust) upon the people of Gaza, and in 2012 Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, published a commentary in the Jerusalem Post calling for the Jewish state to “flatten all of Gaza.”

“The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima—the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too,” Sharon wrote.

Then there is The King’s Torah—in which it is argued that killing non-Jewish babies is permissible under certain circumstances—and other similar rabbinical writings and statements. Things of this nature tend to be kept largely under wraps by the Western mainstream media. Nevertheless they are there. They are bubbling in the background. And cumulatively, over time, such sentiments are propelling Israel closer and closer to a genocide of the Palestinian people. All of which, in turn brings me—finally—back around to my comment to George Metesky:

“Um…George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza… ”

The above is something I’ve often actually pondered. I live in a small town in the southern part of the United States. If the Israelis were to impose a blockade on my town, what would I do? And if the blockade had been ongoing for seven years, what would I do? If I were watching people around me, friends and family members, growing undernourished, ill of health, due to shortages, succumbing to treatable diseases or dying in sporadic military attacks such as the one that claimed the life of three-year-old Hala Abu Sbeika on Christmas Eve, what would I do? And if I were forced to watch my streets fill up with garbage and sewage, or endure the agony of seeing my wife or daughter obliged to wade through it, what would I do?

It’s not easy to know the answer to these questions because it’s hard for most of us to conceive of living under such conditions and under such threats as Gaza faces from Israel every day. But these are the choices confronting the people who live there. And they confront them knowing that their lives are considered expendable, that whatever horrors the Jewish state decides to unleash upon them, whether it’s opening a floodgate or dropping a white phosphorous bomb or maybe something even more monstrous yet to materialize—that whatever disaster-plagued future summons them, the world, almost assuredly, will stand by and do nothing.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq: The ‘Liberation’ Neocons Would Rather Forget

By Ron Paul | January 5, 2014

Remember Fallujah? Shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US military fired on unarmed protestors, killing as many as 20 and wounding dozens. In retaliation, local Iraqis attacked a convoy of US military contractors, killing four. The US then launched a full attack on Fallujah to regain control, which left perhaps 700 Iraqis dead and the city virtually destroyed.

According to press reports last weekend, Fallujah is now under the control of al-Qaeda affiliates. The Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, is under siege by al-Qaeda. During the 2007 “surge,” more than 1,000 US troops were killed “pacifying” the Anbar province. Although al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the US invasion, it is now conducting its own surge in Anbar.

For Iraq, the US “liberation” is proving far worse than the authoritarianism of Saddam Hussein, and it keeps getting worse. Last year was Iraq’s deadliest in five years. In 2013, fighting and bomb blasts claimed the lives of 7,818 civilians and 1,050 members of the security forces. In December alone nearly a thousand people were killed.

I remember sitting through many hearings in the House International Relations Committee praising the “surge,” which we were told secured a US victory in Iraq. They also praised the so-called “Awakening,” which was really an agreement by insurgents to stop fighting in exchange for US dollars. I always wondered what would happen when those dollars stopped coming.

Where are the surge and awakening cheerleaders now?

One of them, Richard Perle, was interviewed last year on NPR and asked whether the Iraq invasion that he pushed was worth it. He replied:

I’ve got to say I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t a decade later go back and say, well, we shouldn’t have done that.

Many of us were saying all along that we shouldn’t have done that – before we did it. Unfortunately the Bush Administration took the advice of the neocons pushing for war and promising it would be a “cakewalk.” We continue to see the results of that terrible mistake, and it is only getting worse.

Last month the US shipped nearly a hundred air-to-ground missiles to the Iraqi air force to help combat the surging al-Qaeda. Ironically, the same al-Qaeda groups the US is helping the Iraqis combat are benefiting from the US covert and overt war to overthrow Assad next door in Syria. Why can’t the US government learn from its mistakes?

The neocons may be on the run from their earlier positions on Iraq, but that does not mean they have given up. They were the ones pushing for an attack on Syria this summer. Thankfully they were not successful. They are now making every effort to derail President Obama’s efforts to negotiate with the Iranians. Just last week William Kristol urged Israel to attack Iran with the hope we would then get involved. Neoconservative Senators from both parties recently introduced the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would also bring us back on war-footing with Iran.

Next time the neocons tell us we must attack, just think “Iraq.”

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pentagon Data on Student Testing Program Rife with Errors and Contradictions

Student Privacy Compromised by Massive Program

By Pat Elder | War is a Crime | January 4, 2014

In late December, 2013 the Department of Defense released a database on the military’s controversial Student Testing Program in 11,700 high schools across the country.  An examination of the complex and contradictory dataset raises serious issues regarding student privacy and the integrity of the Student Testing Program in America’s schools.

The data was released after a protracted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

See the State ASVAB Databases and the National Database.

The DoD’s Freedom of Information office reports that 678,000 students participated in the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Career Exploration Program (ASVAB-CEP) during the 2012-2013 school year, down nearly 10% from the previous school year. The three-hour test is the linchpin of the Pentagon’s school-based recruiting program and provides the Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) an invaluable tool in prescreening candidates for military service.

The ASVAB is the military’s entrance exam that is given to fresh recruits to determine their aptitude for various military occupations. Since 1968 the test has also been used as a recruiting tool in high schools. It’s used by USMEPCOM to gain sensitive, personal information on high school students, the vast majority of whom are under the age of 18. Students typically take the test at school without parental consent and often without parental knowledge.

The Pentagon admits military testing in the nation’s schools is a crucial component of maintaining an “all-volunteer” force. In recent years military recruiting has evolved into an exceptionally sophisticated psychological campaign aimed at enticing high school children to enlist. From a myriad of social websites and a host of other sources, recruiters may know, before first contact, that a young man reads wrestling magazines, weighs 155, can bench press 230, drives a ten year-old truck, listens to “classic rock,” and enjoys fly fishing.  They know where his girlfriend stands on his looming decision to enlist. But the ASVAB opens the door to a student’s cognitive abilities, something recruiting services can’t purchase or find on line. A child’s virtual social being, his intellectual capabilities, and mechanical aptitude are combined to create a precise, virtual portrait, all before a recruiter’s first contact.

In 1974 The Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) stood in the way of the DoD’s carte blanche access to student education records. The law, which is still in effect today, requires a signed parental release statement before “education records” are released to third parties.  The Pentagon’s position, explained in the ASVAB Counselor Guide (See page 14)  is that the ASVAB is proctored by DoD personnel and that ASVAB results become education records only after the test is scored by the DoD and returned to the school.  This way, the brass argues, ASVAB results are not education records. Instead, they’re “military records”. ASVAB results are the only information about students leaving American schools without providing for parental consent.

USMEPCOM Regulation 601-4 (Section 3) identifies several options schools have regarding the administration and release of ASVAB information. These options range from Option 1, which permits test results and other student information to be released to military recruiters without prior consent, to Option 8, the only one that prevents test results from being used for recruiting purposes. The problem is that many, if not most school administrators are unaware the release options exist and USMEPCOM officials are not going out of their way to tell them. Coalition partners in several states report telling hundreds of school officials who did not know about release options.

Inaction on the part of a school will cause USMEPCOM to automatically select Option 1.
53% of all students taking the ASVAB across the country did so under Release Option 1. Students and parents may not determine which release option is used; therefore they cannot opt out of releasing the information individually.  Just 15% of students taking the ASVAB had Option 8 selected by school officials.

DoD officials wash their hands of the privacy issue. “Whether or not a school official seeks students’ or parents’ or guardians’ permission is entirely up to that school, and we don’t have anything to say about that at all,” said Curtis Gilroy, the Pentagon’s prior Director of Accession Policy during an NPR Interview in 2010.

Meanwhile, the DOD markets the ASVAB in high schools without revealing its tie-in to the military or its primary function as a recruitment tool. School counselors and administrators encourage students to take the test that many claim assists students in matching their abilities with certain career paths. It is terribly deceptive.

A Snapshot of the data

=========================================

INDICATOR                        2011-2012                   2012-2013

Total Tested                  752,758                       678,248

Total Schools                  11,754                         11,741

# Students Option 8     122,636                      105,222

% Option 8                         16.29                           15.51

# Schools Option 8           2177                            2408

# Schools Mandatory        1219                              938

==========================================

Mandatory Testing

Pursuant to the FOIA request, the data released by the DoD contains a column that identifies whether the test was mandatory for students. The data shows that 931 schools required nearly 50,000 students to take the test.

Interestingly, military regulations forbid recruiters from suggesting the ASVAB be made mandatory. According to USMEPCOM Regulation 601-4, “School and student participation in the Student Testing Program is voluntary. DOD personnel are prohibited from suggesting to school officials or any other influential individual or group that the test be made mandatory. Schools will be encouraged to recommend most students participate in the ASVAB CEP. If the school requires all students of a particular group or grade to test, the Military Entrance Processing Command will support it.”

School officials in several states are under the impression that ASVAB testing is mandated by federal law.  For instance, counselors in Nebraska have reported they’ve been told by recruiters that testing is required.

Kevin Haake of the Nebraska Coalition to Protect Student Privacy explains it this way, “We’d rather not have the military actively recruiting in our schools but I don’t see an egregious violation of civil rights when a couple of  kids voluntarily sign up to take this military test.  It’s another matter when entire classes of children are told they’ve got to take this thing and all their information is shipped to the Pentagon without mom and dad knowing about it.”

The line between mandatory and voluntary testing is blurred with U.S. Army Recruiting Command Regulation  601-107 page 25 Item 8 which ranks each high school based on how receptive it is to military recruiters. Schools are awarded extra points when they make the ASVAB mandatory.

Regardless of the perceptions of school officials concerning the voluntary or mandatory nature of the testing regime many principals and counselors are sold on the utility of the ASVAB as a useful career exploration program that assists students in determining career paths.  Critics claim 16 year-olds are generally clueless regarding the “careers” they may eventually choose. They say the test fails miserably in this regard – and they’re not alone.

The U.S. Marine Corps Military Personnel Procurement Manual contains the following, “The ASVAB is used by the Armed Forces for recruiting purposes and by school counselors for vocational guidance counseling. The ASVAB’s ability for determining civilian job skills has not yet been proven.” See Sec. 4104 3b (pg 237 of this document)

It’s mind boggling.

Once the test is administered and scored, the recruiting command sends recruiters to the schools after the tests are scored to discuss “career paths” with students.

The military has done a tremendous job marketing the program in high schools across the country.   American high schools are blanketed with posters and announcements that read like this: “Explore your interests. Expand your horizons. Realize your strengths. Realize your dreams. Start opening doors to your future. Participate in the ASVAB Career Exploration Program on (DATE). It’s free! See your counselor to register today.”  See ASVAB Snippets.   The Pentagon’s marketing to students in the high schools never explains what “ASVAB” stands for and never mentions the primary purpose of the testing regime, which is to procure leads for recruiters. Its website, http://www.asvabprogram.com/ looks nothing like a DoD site and buries any mention of the military.

Do huge numbers voluntarily take the test?

The database purports to reflect the number of schools and students that participate in mandatory testing but there are several problems with its accuracy.

The ASVAB provides the first, massive, national litmus test for enlistment.  Consider five schools in the Miami area. North Miami Beach HS tested 855. It has a minority population of 96%..  Coral Gables HS tested 695 with a minority population of 90%.   Coral Park HS had 429 take the test. It has a minority population of  96% Miami Central High School tested 645 and Miami Northwestern HS sat down 642. Both have minority populations of 99%.  None of these five schools are listed in the DoD database as having “mandatory” testing and there’s no evidence online that students were required to take the test.

Voluntary?

A web search of seven Michigan high schools listed in the newly released data as “Not Mandatory” clearly shows that students are required to take the ASVAB.  Pickford, Watersmeet, Goodrich, Manistique Lake Linden, Rapid River, and Ironwood High Schools all force students to take the test.

Munford High School in Munford Tennessee tested 855 but is listed in the database as not mandatory.  Perhaps patriotism is rampant in Munford, but how, exactly, do they manage to get 855 teenagers to voluntarily sit for three hours to take a military exam?

Scranton High School in Arkansas is listed as being mandatory for all grades but only 11 students took the test, according to the data.  Scranton has a total enrollment of 181.  It begs the question: Just how many students are required to take the test in Arkansas? Last year the state led the nation with more than 10,000 students being forced to take the ASVAB. After a robust email campaign to school officials, that number has dropped to 7,333 although 140 schools still require students to take the test.  (That’s an average of 52 per school.)  One school counselor explained that the test has always been required and no one had ever complained. Certainly there have been no complaints from the Military Entrance Processing Command in Little Rock, until now, perhaps.

Two important questions remain concerning mandatory testing, despite the data. How can we tell from the statistics furnished by the DoD exactly how many are taking the test and how do we know if a school requires students to take the ASVAB?  If the Pentagon admits there are nearly a thousand schools that require military testing, how many are there, really? There’s never been outside accountability. This is tragically ironic because we’re dealing with the most sensitive information the state can possess regarding our children.

According to the data, 6,536 schools or 56% of the total nationally, tested ten or fewer children, comprising just 6% of the total number of students tested.  Most of these children, it may reasonably be assumed if the data is accurate, were offered the opportunity to participate, rather than being required to do so.

The average American high school has an enrollment of 595 students and the average junior class has about 120 students.  If our hypothetical high school has 120 juniors what number of juniors tested might provide us a clue that the test was required?  Alternately, how small must the number of test takers be to reasonably demonstrate the voluntary nature of the exam?

There have been numerous press reports concerning student and parent dissatisfaction with mandatory military testing. Often, juniors and seniors use these ASVAB testing days to simply skip school, reducing the numbers of those being tested.  3,600 schools tested more than 50 students. Is it reasonable to assume that these students were required to do so?   Is it a stretch to suggest that the number of children in America that are forced to take the ASVAB is substantially higher than what the Pentagon publicly admits?

The U.N. weighs in on mandatory testing

In early 2013 The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child called on the Obama Administration to “Ensure that schools, parents and pupils are made aware of the voluntary nature of the ASVAB before consenting to the participation into it.”  See the  Concluding observations on the Second Report of the United States of America, Adopted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child at its sixty-second session (14 January–5 2013) regarding the  Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict
http://www2.ohchr.org/English/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC_C_OPAC_USA_CO_2.doc

The Committee had previously found that “Parents and children are often unaware of the voluntary nature of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test organized in schools or its links to the military and that in some instances students were reportedly informed that the test was mandatory.” Members of the Committee in Geneva found it incredulous that a thousand American schools force underage children to take this military test without parental consent. 

The United States ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) in 2002.  Article 3.3 of OPAC states that recruitment practices involving minors should be voluntary. Forced military testing in American public schools for recruitment purposes without parental consent violates the treaty. In late 2012 the Obama Administration denied the mandatory nature of the testing regime. The US replied to the Committee,“Participation in the ASVAB CEP is entirely voluntary. DOD does not require schools to participate, nor does it require schools to test all students within a participating school.”

The ASVAB is “free”

There is a compelling financial reason why so many take the ASVAB.  It is often the only “free” assessment on “test day”.   A third of all high school students are not college bound.  If these students are offered a choice between taking the PSAT which is a college entrance exam and involves paying a fee — or taking the ASVAB which is free, they’ll typically pick the ASVAB.  The military will list these children as voluntarily taking the ASVAB, although they’re actually forced to do so.

At Crown Point HS in Indiana, “11th grade students that wish to take the PSAT, and potentially qualify for national merit scholarships, will be required to pay $14.00.  Juniors may register to take the PSAT in room c-203 from September 7-14th.   11th grade students that do not wish to take the PSAT will be administered the ASVAB exam. The ASVAB exam is free of charge.”

Crown Point tested 469 students last year and they’re listed as not mandatory. All had their results shipped to recruiting services without parental consent.

It’s the same deal at Woodridge High School in Ohio, “Juniors may take the PSAT or the ASVAB.  The cost of the PSAT is $14, Students register for the PSAT in Guidance and the deadline is September 16, 2013. There is no cost for the ASVAB.”  The DoD lists Woodridge as “not mandatory”.

Administrative and Legislative Inroads by the DoD

New Jersey allows the ASVAB to be used as a substitute for mandatory graduation tests.  The guidelines call for receiving a 31 on the AFQT, the Armed Services Qualifying Test. The ASVAB is used to calculate the AFQT.  A 31 is the minimum score for enlistment in the Army.  A 31 on the AFQT  is roughly comparable to 5th or 6th grade proficiency in reading and math.

Kentucky calls for a 55 on the AFQT for a student to earn a diploma. A 55 on the AFQT is the same as a composite SAT score of 840, according to the widely distributed ASVAB Concordance Table provided by the recruiting command.  An 840 on the SAT won’t open college doors. It represents the bottom 5th of national SAT scores. A 55, however, opens the door to a host of military occupations.  Kentucky, it should be noted, allows the military access to all student academic records upon request by any agency of the federal or state government for the purpose of determining a student’s eligibility for military service. It’s the worst law in the nation.

Mississippi’s Department of Education is close to allowing students who score a 36 or better on the ASVAB in addition to a passing score on a state vocation test or approved industry certification to receive a high school diploma. The Magnolia State’s board of education is seeking public input and is widely expected to approve the changes in January of 2014. The proposed policy does not address privacy concerns.

In Minnesota a new policy allows students to take the ASVAB to meet graduation assessment requirements in reading, mathematics and writing.

Missouri schools now encourage the universal use of the ASVAB and track all ASVAB scores as an integral part of the state’s school improvement program.

Missouri and Kentucky alone tested 21,000 more students than they did last year.  The rapid decline in the popularity of the testing regime nationally is somewhat arrested by these developments. Meanwhile, the vast majority of these new test takers had their personal information sent to military recruiting services without parental consent, undermining the efforts of privacy advocates.

The Military Entrance Processing Command is also aided by a dozen state governors who have issued proclamations calling on all students to take the ASVAB.  In 2008 Alaska’s Governor Palin became one of the first to proclaim ASVAB Career Exploration Month although no arrangements were made in Alaska or any other state to protect student privacy.

We’re witnessing the institutionalization of a direct informational pipeline to the Military Entrance Processing Command.

Psychology 101

School officials often ask, “What’s the problem with sharing student information with the recruiting command?”

Some aren’t too smart and they can get killed would be the answer.

Military recruiting is an exceptionally sophisticated psychological program aimed at enticing high school children. The American Public Health Association (APHA) has called for the cessation of military recruiting in the nation’s high schools, citing the vulnerable stage of brain development of youth and their “limitations in judging risk at this stage in life. They are unable to fully evaluate the consequences of making a choice to enter the military.”  The APHA specifically calls for the end to military testing in the high schools.

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Patterns of Obfuscation

In 2010 Maryland became the first state to pass a law requiring the universal selection of Option 8 for all high school students taking the ASVAB.  When the bill was working its way through the legislature, the USMEPCOM Battalion Commander at Fort George G. Meade warned school officials and legislators of a “disinformation campaign” regarding the school testing program.  The Colonel wrote that the efforts to encourage schools to select Option 8 are “bent on disrupting any effort to build, support, or sustain the military.”

It is apparent the Pentagon has orchestrated a “disinformation” campaign of its own.

Guidance counselors in high schools in a dozen states across the country have said they were told by MEPS personnel that privacy concerns are misplaced because students sign a “Privacy Act Statement” that is part of the ASVAB answer sheet.  It is a very familiar refrain.  The counselors are led to believe that the Privacy Act Statement gives students notice of the release of test results to military recruiters and provides student consent for the release of information.  The statement, however, says nothing about recruiter contact. The statement is not a proper waiver of rights because it does not disclose that ASVAB test results may be used for recruitment purposes, and it does not do away with the obligation to obtain consent from a parent or guardian when a student is under age 18. This is precisely where the program runs afoul of state laws.

See the 2013 report Best Practices for ASVAB-CEP Administrationfrom Rutgers Law School. The report makes a compelling case that high school counselors have both legal and professional responsibilities to ensure that ASVAB student test information is not automatically released to military recruiters.

Another misperception spread by the recruiting command is the notion that the “Opt Out” law covers ASVAB testing.  Every fall parents of American high school children are provided the opportunity to “opt out” of information being forwarded to recruiting services pertaining to their children. If parents haven’t “opted out”, the reasoning goes, their kids are fair game for the ASVAB.   The “opt out” law is found in Section 9528 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and is limited to the release of a student’s name, address, and phone number.  The ASVAB, on the other hand, provides an in-depth cognitive picture of a student, along with detailed demographic information and social security number. ESEA doesn’t regulate ASVAB testing.

Still, another obfuscation practiced by USMEPCOM is the use of ASVAB Test Request Forms that are distributed to high school administrators that purposely leave off Option 8.  See this form distributed by the recruiting command to school administrators in Prince George’s County, Maryland.  School officials were so incensed they supported an effort that resulted in passing a law that mandates the selection of Option 8 across the state.

Another reprehensible practice involves recruiters who lurk on internet chat rooms like Yahoo Answers. It’s a way for Staff Sergeants to procure leads to meet their monthly quotas and sometimes it’s laughable. Consider this post in mid-December, 2013, “I’m a junior in high school (17) and I took the ASVAB. When I was taking the test it didn’t seem hard. Yes it was timed, and I have test anxiety. I think that’s why I did so poorly. I made a score of 16. I cried afterwards because one, I felt stupid, and two, I want to join the military and I know getting a 16 won’t qualify me for any jobs. I am planning on joining the Marine Corp. I know you’re probably going to tell me to study. But can you give me some good advice on what to do to keep my head up and keep trying?” 

A score of 16 would mean our Yahoo friend is functionally illiterate. A 16 roughly equates to a 2nd grade level and is half of the score necessary to enlist in the Army.  Several of the comments alluded to the contradiction between the claimed score of 16 and the rather well written question.  Yahoo Answers enforces Community Guidelines.  Under the heading “Exploiting the Community” Yahoo requires participants “to be responsible and don’t misrepresent yourself or claim false credentials… Yahoo Answers is a place to gain knowledge, not customers.”

Yahoo is quick to remove these miscreants and has done so a dozen times.
The question has been deleted.

The greatest fallacy perpetrated by the Pentagon is their insistence that ASVAB testing is not subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is ludicrous to suggest that ASVAB results are not education records because the military, instead of the school, proctors the test. Although the recruiting command may send one civilian employee to officially administer the exam, it is school employees who market the test over several weeks, assemble and keep track of students, and provide much of the work controlling a large group of teenagers for a few hours.

It’s unconscionable that ASVAB results are the only information leaving American schools regarding children without providing for parental consent, but the tide is turning.

Diane Wood with the Texas Coalition to Protect Student Privacy reflects common sense Lone Star State attitudes, “I support the military but I got fired up when I discovered this egregious violation of civil liberties that’s been going on entirely unnoticed.  I don’t care if it’s the Department of Defense or who ever. The thing that’s surprised me is that this privacy campaign has resonated with Tea Party activists down here.  We all see ASVAB testing as an unwarranted and illegal federal incursion into our lives.”  It’s a peculiar campaign that attracts allies on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Wood’s tireless organizing and her testimony to the nationally maligned Texas State School Board probably contributed to Texas testing 6,600 fewer students in 2012-2013 than the year before.  In Texas Option 8 rates increased from 14.7% to 15.5% while the number of students forced to take the test shrunk from 15,805 to 4,825 and the number of  schools requiring students to take the ASVAB decreased from 181 to 70.

In many states, smart, targeted community activism has been shown to translate into quantifiable results.

Barbara Harris with the New York Coalition to Protect Student Privacy has been at it for years and has helped to eliminate mandatory testing in the Empire State. “We’ve witnessed several trends here in New York. The number of test takers continues to drop, the percentage of schools that have selected Release Option 8 continues to rise, and mandatory testing has disappeared. I’m hopeful we’ll soon get the Board of Regents to mandate Option 8 across the state.”

It’s the same in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Seth Kershner with the Connecticut Coalition to Protect Students Privacy reports, “Testing numbers in Connecticut and Massachusetts have plummeted in recent years to about 4,000 in each state. There’s no mandatory testing. Nearly half of the students being tested do so under Option 8.  We’re hoping to duplicate successes in Hawaii and Maryland and have policies or laws enacted that mandate Option 8.”

Oregon’s school officials have responded to our campaign.  Don Chapin with the Oregon Coalition to Protect Student Privacy reports that 57.2 % of students taking the test have Option 8 selected. See the statistics on the National Coalition’s website www.studentprivacy.org

Will Hopkins with the Coalition in New Hampshire has lobbied to introduce a bill in the New Hampshire. HB 1321 mirrors Maryland’s law.

Outreach to moderate school board members in the north citing privacy concerns are often taken into consideration, resulting in policy changes.  In the South and the Midwest, however, many responses have been hostile, especially after school officials consult with their local military entrance processing command.

If the Pentagon called the shots across the country every high school student would be subjected to taking the ASVAB for enlistment purposes.  The program is fraudulent but it is sponsored by the military, a sacrosanct institution that remains above constitutional restraint and the rule of law in the view of many American school officials and state legislators.  We must convince them otherwise.

Pat Elder is the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy. www.studentprivacy.org      Email: pelder@studentprivacy.org

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Who Benefits from the Shatah Assassination?

By RANNIE AMIRI | CounterPunch | January 3, 2014

The burial of former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah next to assassinated ex-premier Rafic al-Hariri in Beirut’s Muhammad al-Amin mosque was as striking and deliberate in symbolism as the towering structure itself.

Last Friday’s assassination of the Hariri family’s senior advisor and one-time U.S. ambassador was by similar method: a massive car bomb detonated under his convoy as it drove through the heart of Beirut’s upscale downtown district. As if to purposefully underscore the parallels and frame the post-assassination narrative, it also occurred just a few hundred yards from the site where the billionaire Hariri was murdered in February 2005.

Just as after Hariri’s killing, the calculated recriminations of the March 14 coalition, led by the Future Movement, came fast and furious. Blame was laid squarely at the feet of Hezbollah. March 14 supporters were quick to point out that the crime took place less than three weeks before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL; the U.N.-established court tasked with investigating the Hariri assassination) was set to open proceedings against four accused Hezbollah members.

The shoddy STL investigation, relying heavily on telecommunications data wholly compromised by Israeli intelligence and their captured agents, has been previously discussed.

Did the masterminds of the Shatah assassination hope the Lebanese population would turn against Hezbollah, already facing strong rebuke for its intervention in Syria by March 14 politicians (despite that the latter have implicitly lent support to radical takfiri elements involved in the Syrian conflict since its earliest days)?

As with all political upheavals in Lebanon, the question that must be asked is, “who benefits?” Does Hezbollah? Although Shatah was a stalwart March 14 operative who decried Hezbollah’s role in Syria, he was nevertheless regarded as a relative moderate. But the increasingly virulent sectarian discourse of those on the fringes of this political alliance (and many at its center) and the cover they have extended to extremists like fugitive Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, cannot be ignored. Beirut after all, is still reeling from recent twin suicide car bombings at the Iranian embassy followed shortly thereafter by the assassination of Hezbollah senior commander Hassan al-Lakkis. On Thursday, innocent Lebanese civilians were again victims of a car bomb detonated in the Haret Hreik neighborhood of Beirut’s Shia-majority southern suburbs, known as the dahiyeh.

“Moderate” Sunni politicians like Shatah are viewed as expendable, for their killing only serves to polarize the wider Sunni community by inciting sectarian hatred and thereby marginalize more reasoned voices. Even Lebanon’s Grand Mufti was not spared as he was accosted after mourners’ passions were stoked by Sheikh Ahmad al-Omari, the cleric who delivered the sermon at the funeral of a young man also killed in the assassination. As Al-Akhbar reports, “Omari attacked Hezbollah, describing it as the ‘party of the devil.’ He called on the Shia to ‘disown’ Hezbollah ‘if they are true believers,’ and stressed the ‘patience of the persecuted Sunni sect is running out.’”

Again, does Hezbollah achieve any gain, political or otherwise, with Shatah’s demise?

The irony is that the inflammatory rhetoric and policies of March 14 parliamentary bloc members have led to the exponential growth of radical forces in the country. One only has to recall how former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Bahia Hariri and others insinuated the Lebanese Army was responsible for provoking Salafist cleric al-Assir’s armed forces to launch an attack against them this past summer in Sidon, killing 18.

Son of the late prime minister and Future Movement head Saad Hariri also did not waste any time in essentially blaming the victims themselves for Thursday’s attack: “They are at the same time victims of [Hezbollah’s] involvement in foreign wars, particularly in the Syrian war.”

The northern city of Tripoli and the Ain al-Hilwah Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon have provided extremist groups with safe refuge. Details have now emerged pointing to a possible link between those in the camp and recent events.

Just as in Iraq, moderate Sunni politicians have been singled out for assassination by takfiris who seek to exploit their spilled blood, provoke co-religionists into committing crimes against civilians and stir a simmering sectarian pot.

Who are the likely perpetrators behind Mohammed Shatah’s assassination and the dahiyeh bombing?

The very same ones the U.S. and Saudi-backed March 14 coalition have emboldened.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

British MPs raise alarm over drug trials, say only half data published

RT | January 5, 2014

British MPs have voiced concern that doctors and researchers are being denied access to around half the results from all clinical trials. An influential parliamentary committee has condemned the selectiveness as damaging medicine as a whole.

This apparently standard practice of withholding critical medical test information impairs decision-making by professionals, worsens patients’ treatment and prevents independent assessment of medicines, the MPs wrote. And the practice, they say, dates back all the way to the 1980s.

In the report, the MPs write that they are “surprised and concerned to discover that information is routinely withheld from doctors and researchers about the methods and results of clinical trials on treatments currently prescribed in the United Kingdom. This problem has been noted for many years in the professional academic literature, with many promises given, but without adequate action being taken by government, industry or professional bodies.”

“This has ramifications for the whole of medicine. The ability of doctors, researchers and patients to make informed decisions about treatments is being undermined,” said Richard Bacon, a senior member on the committee that published the report.

The MPs argue that this is a great problem also because the issue of access to clinical trials from previous years is absent from all new proposals. And test results on humans provide researchers with key evidence to support or oppose the use of a given medicine. There are unprecedented dangers when this framework is not operating as intended, they said.

Compounding the problem further, MPs say, is that aside from the non-publication of all clinical trial tests, for some reason positive results started popping up twice as much as negative ones. This is bad when all trial results on all uses of all chemicals should be provided, the report argues.

As a result, the committee’s MPs have given strong recommendations to the government and the country’s health bodies – among them, firstly, that the full results of clinical trials from now on be disseminated to all doctors and researchers in the UK, with full audits carried out regularly to check for transgressions; and secondly, that the Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ensure that all past and future trial results and the methods used to achieve them be published in a unified register for further use.

Bacon expressed alarm that the absence of past results invariably impact doctors’ decisions on treatment. “Regulators and the industry have made proposals to open up access, but these do not cover the issue of access to the results of trials in the past which bear on the efficacy and safety of medicines in use today,” he said.

The worrying implication here is that so much medicine has been tested and approved over the past few decades, but only half of it we know the full truth about, it turns out.

One particular medicine that became a focus for alarm was Tamiflu – the popular flu medicine that gained popularity in 2009-10 during the great flu pandemic. Apparently, the UK Department of Health, without having access to exhaustive information on the medicine, had made a 424-million-pound decision to stockpile it between the years 2006-7 and 2012-13.

That kind of attitude, the MPs argue, is predicated on judgment, rather than real science. There is still no agreement on how the popular medicine works and disagreement on whether full information was provided to regulators by the MHRA during the licensing process. As it turns out from studies conducted by the non-profit NGO, Cochrane Collaboration, Tamiflu “did not reduce influenza-related lower respiratory tract complications.”

The organization is now in talks with Roche to receive the full details of Tamiflu’s testing, which will be included in a thorough upcoming review on its effectiveness. Both the government and the medical bodies will take part, as MPs share the think tank’s concern when it wrote that “we find it perplexing that the regulators continue to state that they had all the available evidence.”

Regarding Tamiflu and the wider practice as a whole, Bacon recommended that “before spending money in future to maintain the stockpile, the department needs to review what level of coverage is appropriate. It should look at the level of stockpiling in other countries, bearing in mind that the patent for the medicine runs out in 2016.”

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria as a Bridge

By Robert Thompson | Axis of Logic | March 8, 2009

The good news is that two envoys have been sent by the USA to Damascus, and that they have discussed with the Syrian Foreign Minister what can be done to improve Syria’s relations with the USA, now that a new régime is in place in Washington.

The bad news is that these envoys (and their bosses) seem to have expected Syria, as part of this aim, to give up all its present diplomatic and other links with some of its principal local friends and allies in the region, especially Hezbollah, Hamas, and (above all) Iran. If this is indeed so, it shows a staggering lack of understanding, not only of Syria, but also of the whole Near and Middle East on the part of the US State Department under the direction of Mrs Hillary Clinton [who seems to think that Syria should be yoked to an alliance with U.S. backed Sunni regimes].

The Syrian Ba’ath Party remains (as its founders, Michel Aflaq and Salah-al-Din Bitar always intended) strictly secular, and its links with theocratic bodies and governments are based on practical strategic concerns and on shared interests which are not linked to any religious affinities. Beyond this, the Syrian government has the good sense to wish to remain in close touch with the vast majority of the inhabitants of all the Arab states. This is in stark contrast, very clearly, with the behaviour and policies of the many Arab rulers who, effectively to protect themselves from their own subjects, have decided to shelter under the protection of the USA and the Zionists.

The rulers of the USA must also bear in mind that a significant and strategic area of Syrian territory is still under harsh enemy occupation. We, on the sidelines, can only wonder what the Obama régime, with its ‘diplomacy’ being mismanaged by Mrs Clinton, thinks it can do, if it believes that it can bully Syria into joining the club of Arab states which have been neutered to make them do as the Zionists/Neocons wish.

The very sensible proposal put forward once again by Syria (using much more polite words than I do) is that it should serve as a bridge linking the USA, the Zionist entity and their servile allies on the one hand, and the people of the Near and Middle East on the other. If the Neocons/Zionists really wanted peace in the area, they would not hesitate a second to welcome such a proposition. Any hesitation can only be a sign that they wish merely to make much of pretending to work for peace, while doing all that they can to ensure that justice continues to be denied to the Palestinians, the Syrians, and the Lebanese, all of whom seek liberation from the atrocities inflicted on them by the Zionist war machine.

It would appear that even the Obama régime has finally understood the sheer lunacy of the expression (invented for Mr George W. Bush by Mr David Frum) ‘Axis of Evil’ in grouping Iran and Syria with North Korea. These three states are so dissimilar that it is hard to follow what this expression was intended to mean. The USA has every interest in having the best of relations with both Iran and Syria; and if they wish to get anywhere in solving the multiple problems arising from the chaos of Afghanistan, they could not do better than to cooperate closely with Iran. Both parties have similar concerns relating to that unhappy country.

To revert to the question of relations between the USA and Syria, some humility on the part of the former would not come amiss, since Syria is no threat to any of the USA’s genuine interests. It is fully understandable, though, that Syria would be extremely happy to see its turbulent south-western neighbour converted into a single democratic and secular state, based on justice, in which its citizens of any religion or none would have equal rights and duties. Apart from the benefits that the whole world would enjoy if peace could return to the Near and Middle East, the USA has no vital interests in that part of the world. The sooner they withdraw their occupation forces from the area, the better it would be for the ordinary citizen (and taxpayer) in the US, as well as for the rest of the world.

The basic problem remains, as ever, the greedy desire by the rulers of the USA to dominate the whole world, and I cannot get out of my mind the fact that the command structure based in Diego Garcia is known as CENTCOM (i.e. Central Command). I would still like a satisfactory answer to explain what it is ‘central’ to, for the USA.

My conclusion is that the USA has every interest in taking advantage of any assistance which Syria can give them, and should be grateful for it. However, I cannot see this being welcomed by the Zionist entity based on (and only held together by) its viciously rigid apartheid system!

© Copyright 2009 by AxisofLogic.com

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel rejects US proposals on Jordan Valley

Ma’an – 05/01/2014

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel rejects any US-proposed security concessions for the Jordan Valley, a cabinet member close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, as US Secretary John Kerry visited the Middle East.

“Security must remain in our hands. Anyone who proposes a solution in the Jordan Valley by deploying an international force, Palestinian police or technological means … does not understand the Middle East,” Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israeli public radio.

Steinitz’s comments came after three days of intense shuttle diplomacy by Kerry, who was trying to push a framework for final status talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

With a late April deadline looming for the negotiations that he kick-started in July after a three-year hiatus, Kerry has pledged to work even more intensively in the coming months.

US officials have refused to release any details of the proposed framework, and Kerry acknowledged it would not be agreed during this trip.

Palestinian hopes of having an international force brought in to help patrol the Jordan Valley under a peace deal had been sidelined, a Palestinian source told AFP Saturday.

Instead the US was proposing a mixed Israeli-Palestinian military presence to ensure security in the area, without setting a deadline when the Israeli troops would be withdrawn.

But Israel insists on maintaining a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Kerry has said a peace treaty will deal with all the core issues dividing the two sides. These include the contours of a future Palestinian state, refugees, the fate of Jerusalem claimed by both as a capital, security, and mutual recognition.

Direct negotiations began in July between Israel and the Palestinians in a US-led attempt to restart the deadlocked peace process.

Israel has announced plans to build thousands of homes in illegal settlements across the West Bank over the course of the talks, inhibiting US efforts.

The Palestinian negotiating team resigned in protest against continued Israeli settlement construction in mid-November, dealing a major blow to negotiations between Israel and the PLO that had already been stalled.

Negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told AFP at the time that they resigned in response to “increasing settlement building (by Israel) and the absence of any hope of achieving results,” following Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel would build 20,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

Ma’an staff contributed to this report.

January 5, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment