With what the Guardian described yesterday as the “almost unprecedented” release of “security service reports of interviews with detainees in Guantánamo Bay and other overseas detention centres,” the coalition government failed in its attempt to persuade the High Court to bring a temporary halt to a civil claim for damages filed by six former Guantánamo prisoners, unleashing, instead, a torrent of previously classified and deeply disturbing documents.
These reveal, shockingly, how the Labour government was happy for British nationals and residents seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan to be rendered to Guantánamo by the Bush administration, and how, in one case — that of Martin Mubanga, seized in Zambia — Tony Blair’s office intervened to prevent attempts by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to have him returned to the UK, leading to his imprisonment in Guantánamo for two years and nine months.
In paving the way for its announced inquiry into British complicity in torture, the coalition government attempted, without success, to persuade the High Court that, as the Guardian put it, “proceedings should be delayed while attempts at mediation are made” before the inquiry begins. Critics had already expressed their fears that the calls for “mediation” were a smokescreen for compensation deals that would attempt to buy the former prisoners’ silence, so that the inquiry could proceed in secret without too many embarrassments.
Instead, however, the government’s intervention has precipitously kick-started the inquiry in a very public manner, after Tim Otty QC, counsel for five of the men, said that proceedings “should be allowed to continue because the documents that the government is beginning to disclose shed new light upon the role that the UK authorities played in the men’s mistreatment,” and the judge, Mr. Justice Silber, agreed.
One of the most shocking documents disclosed in the High Court proceedings was issued by the FCO on January 10, 2002, the day before Guantánamo opened. Entitled, “Afghanistan UK Detainees,” it described the government’s “preferred options” in dealing with British prisoners. “Transfer of United Kingdom nationals held to a United States base in Guantánamo is the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objectives, to ensure they are securely held,” the document explained, adding that the “only alternative” was to either hold these men in British custody in Afghanistan, or to return them to the UK.
In another shocking revelation, it was revealed that, in the case of Martin Mubanga, released documents “raise a number of troubling questions as to the role of the former Prime Minister’s office in frustrating the release of one of the claimants,” as Tim Otty described it, adding, “In the period of March and April 2002, the Prime Minister’s office apparently countermanded a desire on the part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to intervene on behalf on Mr. Mubanga.”
Mubanga, a joint British-Zambian national, had traveled from Pakistan to Zambia, where his sister lived, in February 2002, but had then been seized by the Zambian security services, and according to the documents released in court, the Prime Minister’s Office had intervened to ensure that he was not brought back to the UK. As a result, the FCO was put in a difficult position: if officials sought consular access, thereby acknowledging British responsibility for him, he would have been released to the UK authorities, directly contradicting the Prime Minister’s orders, which, as Reprieve noted yesterday, involved the Prime Minister “order[ing] the FCO to violate its international law obligations under the Vienna Convention, which requires the UK to provide consular assistance to British nationals around the world.”
At the time, an FCO document complained about “the schizophrenic way in which policy on this whole case was handled in London,” which had led to the British High Commission in Lusaka being placed “in an impossible position,” and in an email dated August 22, 2002, an FCO official, recognizing that “we broke our policy” because of direct interference from Tony Blair’s office, stated, “we are going to be open to charges of concealed extradition.”
According to Mubanga, after the British finished with him — apparently having tried and failed to recruit him as a spy — the US agent who had been dealing with him told him, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, as I think you’re a decent guy, but in ten or 15 minutes we’re going to the airport and they’re taking you to Guantánamo Bay.”
In court, Tim Otty highlighted Tony Blair’s complicity in torture by pointing out that, by the spring of 2002, it was abundantly clear that there was a considerable risk that terror suspects in US control would be subjected to rendition and torture. “Despite that,” he told the court, “someone at Number 10 saw fit to counter what the Foreign Office wished to do.”
As the Guardian also explained yesterday, this was “not the only time the Prime Minister’s Office intervened to thwart attempts by Foreign Office officials to obtain a degree of protection for British citizens.” Minutes prepared for the Home Office Terrorism and Protection Unit after a meeting in April 2002 state that the US authorities “had been informed that the British government might begin making public requests for legal access to British men held at Guantánamo.” According to the minutes, “FCO had wanted to do this (and wanted to be seen to be doing it) but had been overruled by No. 10.”
The released documents also highlight the leading role played by Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary, in shaping the policies that led to the interrogations of British prisoners in US custody in Afghanistan, prior to their transfer to Guantánamo. As the Guardian explained, in mid-January 2002, Straw sent a telegram to several British diplomatic missions around the world in which he “signaled his agreement” with the Guantánamo policy, “but made clear that he did not wish to see the British nationals moved from Afghanistan before they could be interrogated.” In the telegram, he wrote:
A specialist team is currently in Afghanistan seeking to interview any detainees with a UK connection to obtain information on their terrorist activities and connections. We therefore hope that all those detainees they wish to interview will remain in Afghanistan and will not be among the first groups to be transferred to Guantánamo. A week’s delay should suffice. UK nationals should be transferred as soon as possible thereafter.
One of these “detainees” was Shaker Aamer, the last British resident still held in Guantánamo, and as a court heard in December last year, leading to the launch of a Metropolitan Police investigation, Mr. Aamer has claimed that British agents were present in the room, in the US prison at Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan, when he was subjected to abusive treatment by Americans.
Other interrogations revealed in the documents include those involving Omar Deghayes, seized from a house in Lahore in May 2002, who was treated disdainfully by the British agents who visited him, and an unidentified prisoner held in Kabul, under the heading, “Warriors 14/1,” about whom the agents involved noted only, “Interview conditions: cold beaten up.”
Extraordinarily, these documents are only the tip of a very murky iceberg, and it is unclear at present how many more will be publicly revealed. As has been previously reported, the government has identified up to 500,000 documents that may be relevant to the former prisoners’ claim for damages, and, according to the Guardian, “says it has deployed 60 lawyers to scrutinize them, a process that it suggests could take until the end of the decade.” In this first batch, “just 900 papers have been disclosed, and these have included batches of press cuttings and copies of government reports that were published several years ago,” but as they also include these damning insights into the activities of Tony Blair, Jack Straw and the agents who interrogated British prisoners in appalling conditions, it is surely inconceivable that the government will now be able to conduct a secret inquiry into British complicity in torture, and must, instead, order a full and open inquiry.
This could take place under the Inquiries Act of 2005, like the Baha Mousa inquiry (into the murder, in British custody, of a hotel clerk in Iraq), which, as Reprieve noted when David Cameron announced the torture inquiry two weeks ago, was held under the Act and has been “a model of an inquiry functioning efficiently, including the hearing of secret evidence,” and has also allowed for document classification review proceedings that “are sophisticated and rightly allow the judge to balance the need for national security against the need for transparency.”
The time for silence, and the time for secrecy are over. To clear the air, and to draw a line under this most lamentable period in our recent history, we need an inquiry presided over by someone who is able to “balance the need for national security against the need for transparency.” For too long now — and with baleful results — the need for national security has been allowed to override everything else, inflicting grave damage on our claims to be a civilized country, and leading to devastating effects for those caught up in a “War on Terror” with few checks and balances.
Speaking during a reception for outgoing Israeli UN envoy Shalev, U.S. envoy Susan Rice says that Washington remains fully and firmly committed to Israel’s security.
The United States will continue to maintain Israel’s military advantage as well as protect it in the diplomatic arena, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Wednesday, adding that the American commitment to Israel’s security was “not negotiable.”
Speaking during a reception for Israeli Ambassadors Gabriela Shalev and Daniel Carmon, held by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York, Rice said the “United States of America remains fully and firmly committed to the peace and security of the State of Israel.”
“That commitment spans generations and political parties. It is not negotiable, and it never will be,” Rice added, saying the United States would “continue to strengthen Israel’s qualitative military advantage so that Israel can always defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.”
The U.S. UN envoy also reiterated the U.S. conviction to defend Israel in the diplomatic arena, saying that, “as U.S. President Barack Obama] pledged, we will continue U.S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of Israel—including and especially at the United Nations.”
“Our two countries have a long and extraordinary friendship, going back to the moment that President Truman made the United States the very first country to recognize the State of Israel—11 minutes after it declared its independence,” Rice said.
Referring to recent attempts to jumpstart the stalling peace process The U.S. envoy to the UN also said that in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ” recent meeting with President Obama, we will continue to work together to seek a lasting and comprehensive peace, that meets Israel’s security needs and creates a viable, sovereign Palestinian state.”
On the subject of the outgoing Israeli ambassador to the UN, Rice praised Shalev’s work, saying that while “being the American Ambassador to the United Nations isn’t always easy…being Israeli’s Ambassador to the United Nations is never easy.”
“But Gabi and I had the opportunity to work closely together on a series of important issues, from dealing with the deeply flawed Goldstone Report to seeing through the passage by the Security Council of the toughest sanctions resolution to date against Iran,” Rice said, adding that Shalev had been “a lioness in defense of Israel’s security and its legitimacy.”
Shalev, Rice said, worked tirelessly to ensure that Israel has the same rights and enjoys the same responsibilities as any other UN member state.”
Rice also went to compliment the Israeli envoy, comparing her to other Israeli greats who had served as Israel’s UN envoys, such as “Abba Eban, Chaim Herzog, and a scrappy up-and-comer named Bibi Netanyahu.”
“But I believe when the history books are written, in all honesty, historians will rank Gabriella Shalev as among the best representatives that Israel has ever had at the United Nations for her dedication, her skill, and her extraordinary heart,” Rice said at the Conference of Presidents reception.
The American ambassador to the UN also pointed out a reception Shalev hosted in honor of Israel’s independence, one that was attended by “many, many ambassadors, from all over the world were there”
“And they were there not only out of respect for Israel but deep and abiding friendship for Gabriella,” Rice said, adding that Shalev was her “kind of diplomat,” saying she was “smart, she’s creative, and above all, she always plays it straight.”
De-classified Vietnam-era Transcripts Show Senators Knew Gulf Of Tonkin Was A Staged False Flag Event
Elected Reps. chose to hide details from American public for fear of reprisals from “the big forces” that run the media and the presidency
Over 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts released this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee highlight the fact that several Senators knew that the White House and the Pentagon had deceived the American people over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The latest releases, which document skepticism over the pretext for entry into the Vietnam war, date from 1968.
Four years into the war, senators were at loggerheads with Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time Foreign Relations Committee meetings were held behind closed doors.
It would take over thirty years for the truth to emerge that the Aug. 4, 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, where US warships were apparently attacked by North Vietnamese PT Boats – an incident that kicked off US involvement in the Vietnam war – was a staged event that never actually took place.
However, the records now show that at the time senators knew this was the case.
In a March 1968 closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of former vice president Al Gore, noted:
“If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,”
Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, said in an executive session in February 1968:
“In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them,”
Other senators were keen to withhold the truth about Tonkin in order not to inflame public opinion on the war:
Senator Mike Mansfield, Democrat of Montana, stated, “You will give people who are not interested in facts a chance to exploit them and to magnify them out of all proportion.”
Mansfield was referring to the proposed release of a committee staff investigation that raised doubts over whether the Tonkin incident ever took place.
The committee decided in the end to effectively conceal the truth, with Senator Church noting that if the committee came up with proof that an attack never occurred, “we have a case that will discredit the military in the United States, and discredit and quite possibly destroy the president.”
He also noted that if the senators were to follow up on their skepticism over Tonkin, “The big forces in this country that have most of the influence and run most of the newspapers and are oriented toward the presidency will lose no opportunity to thoroughly discredit this committee.”
The LBJ Presidential tapes, declassified and released in 2001, prove that LBJ knew the Tonkin incident never happened. After dressing down his Defence Secretary Robert McNamara for misleading him, Johnson then discussed how to politically spin the non-event and escalate it as justification for air strikes.
“You just came in a few weeks ago and said they’re launching an attack on us – they’re firing at us,” Johnson tells McNamara in one conversation, “and we got through with the firing and concluded maybe they hadn’t fired at all.”
The NSA also deliberately faked intelligence data to make it appear as if two US ships had been lost in the “attack”.
Johnson used the 1964 false flag event to expand dramatically the scale of the Vietnam War by ushering in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, as well as to rope in much needed domestic support with the Congress and public.
Perhaps if the Foreign Relations Committee hadn’t been so afraid of “the big forces” controlling America, a large percentage of the almost 60,000 American soldiers and 2 million Vietnamese people wouldn’t have lost their lives.
Sadly, modern day elected representatives have failed the American people in exactly the same way over the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Muhammad Totah interviewed
On 9 July, as Israeli Border Police officers brutalized demonstrators at the weekly protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, forcing them away from a street where several homes had been seized by radical right-wing Jewish settlers, I visited the Jerusalem International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters just a few hundred meters away.
Though the din of protest chants and police megaphones could not be heard from the ICRC center, the three Palestinian legislators who had staged a sit-in there for more than a week to protest their forced expulsion from Jerusalem insisted that their plight was the same as the families forced from their homes down the street.
“All the Israeli steps in East Jerusalem are designed to evacuate Jerusalem of its Palestinian heritage,” remarked Muhammad Totah, an elected Palestinian Legislative Council member who has been ordered to permanently leave Jerusalem by the Israeli government. “Whether it’s through home demolition, taking homes or deporting us, the goal is the same.”
According to Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, the three legislators are guilty of a vaguely defined “breach of trust,” ostensibly for their membership in a foreign government. The charge leveled against them recalls nothing more than the campaign platform of the far-right Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which demanded the mass expulsion of “disloyal” Palestinian citizens of Israel.
For this reason, the Israel-based legal advocacy group Adalah described the Israeli government’s actions as “characteristic of dark and totalitarian regimes” (“Motion for Injunction filed to Israeli Supreme Court to Stop Imminent Deportation Process of Palestinian Legislative Council Members from Jerusalem,” 15 June 2010).
The lawmakers’ problems began in 2006 when they ran for the Palestinian Legislative Council in the West Bank as members of the Change and Reform list, an offshoot of Hamas. Though the Israeli government allowed the men to campaign for office and vote for the Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as soon as they were elected, Israel warned them to resign from office or face the cancellation of their status as residents of Jerusalem.
When they failed to heed the Israeli government’s demand, in June 2006, the men were arrested and sentenced to two to four years in prison. Two days after they were released, the Israeli police confiscated their identification cards and ordered them to leave Jerusalem for another part of the West Bank.
As a result of the expulsion orders, the first of their kind since 1967, the three lawmakers are virtual hostages in the city their families have lived in for generations — if they leave the Red Cross center they will be immediately arrested. Their colleague, Muhammad Abu Tir, is already in an Israeli jail cell. Despite having been separated from their families for years, they remain steadfast in their rejection of the government’s orders, fearing that their expulsion will open the door for mass deportations of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, along with the rest of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Sinai peninsula, which was returned to Egypt in a peace deal a decade later. No country recognizes Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, and the UN Security Council has declared repeatedly that Israel’s occupation of all the territories it seized in 1967 is governed by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, a treaty Israel was compelled to sign which specifically forbids an occupying power from expelling civilians from the territory it occupies. Thus the legislators’ expulsion has been issued in explicit violation of binding international law.
Totah told me that the Israeli interior ministry has a list of 315 members of Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem — academics, lawmakers, activists — whom it plans to expel in the near future on charges of disloyalty to the Jewish state. “They are trying to legalize the Nakba,” Totah remarked, using the Arabic word Palestinians use to describe their mass expulsion from their homeland in 1948.
I talked with the 42-year-old Totah for a half hour in the leafy courtyard of the ICRC headquarters. He was visibly tired, having spent the past two days in meetings with British parliamentarians, the head of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church and left-wing Israeli groups ranging from Anarchists Against The Wall to Gush Shalom. While a wiry young boy rushed around the yard, serving us a seemingly endless stream of Turkish coffee shots, Totah described to me his experience as a prisoner in his hometown.
Max Blumenthal: The Israeli government says you are guilty of a “breach of trust.” Does this mean they are accusing you of disloyalty to the state?
Muhammad Totah: The main reason they are expelling us is that we are accused of disloyalty. And every one on the list [of 315 Palestinian civil society members Israel seeks to expel] is accused of disloyalty. They want us to be loyal to the occupation. This is insane! So they are seeking any excuse to get rid of us. They want us to leave at any price. Basically, they want to finish the project that they began in 1948 because it has taken too long.
MB: Why did you decide to conduct a sit-in inside the Red Cross headquarters?
MT: We are determined to prevent the occupation from coming and taking us away. Beyond that, we are using our time here to make sure the international community hears our case. The occupation is against all international laws and we believe if the door of deportation is open in Jerusalem, it means that hundreds or even thousands will be deported. Right now, we are in danger of being arrested at any time. In fact, our colleague Abu Tir was arrested last month. So they could come at any time for us.
MB: Do you believe the Israelis would go as far as raiding a Red Cross center in Jerusalem to carry out your expulsion?
MT: The occupation will do anything. They are killing people constantly, demolishing buildings and doing what they have done for years. Ten thousand Palestinians are currently in prison. So yes, we would not be surprised by such an action.
MB: Has the international community responded to your protest?
MT: We sent a letter to [US] President [Barack] Obama and asked him to interfere and to put pressure on the Israeli side to cancel this illegal decision. So far, we have not heard a response. We have sat with [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas two times and he said that he had sent my letters to all the human rights organization and USAID [the US Agency for International Development] and sent letters to the occupation authorities and he said they’re making communications all the time time. But until now nothing on the ground. We have put out a call for international human rights organizations as well. And we have sent letters to all the leaders of Islamic and Arab states.
Our letters stress that our protest is not about our case in particular, but that it is about all the Palestinians living in Jerusalem. We believe that this decision is designed to begin a process that will empty Jerusalem of Palestinian people. The UN and international community admits that East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel, so clearly this is an illegal decision under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
MB: How much of Israel’s decision is motivated by your affiliation with Hamas and how does the tension between Hamas and Fatah effect the Palestinian Authority’s involvement in the case?
MT: This is an international case. It has nothing to do with Fatah and Hamas. There is a list of over 300 people who will be deported after us — the heart of Palestinian civil society in East Jerusalem — and for this reason all the parties in Jerusalem are united against this decision. They feel that we are the first and they will be the second. We know that the occupation doesn’t discriminate between political parties.
MB: How has your predicament affected your family?
MT: My son who is six years old does not want to leave the house anymore. He said, “I will not leave the house until my father comes back!” As soon as I was released from prison I was sent to so many meetings right away and couldn’t see my family, who I had hardly seen for four years. Now he’s having his own protest at home. “I will not leave home!” he says. This is a very big problem for me because I don’t want to break his heart. One of my children who is even younger wakes up every night screaming and crying with terrible nightmares. “Why are you crying?” my wife says. He says, “The soldiers are coming to throw me in jail!” My wife is suffering because of course we have been split for a very long time. The occupation wants to scare my family and if any information gets to my wife or children about what is happening to me they become extremely upset. This is not just my problem, though. All my colleagues are suffering this same way.
MB: How much of a burden has been placed on you by the Palestinian community in Jerusalem to resist your expulsion?
MT: The fact is that if we accept the deportation it means we accept deportation for thousand of Palestinians in Jerusalem. Even as hard as it is to be here without our families for so long we think that is the only means we have to declare that [our expulsion] is illegal and is against all international laws. We have nowhere else to go. This is our original country and our original city. My father was born here; my grandfather was born here so we have been here hundreds of years. All we are demanding is to stay in our homes and we are sure that we will get it because it’s our right and the deportation is against all international laws.
MB: If deporting you is the first step in a plan for mass deportations, what do you think Israel’s end game is?
MT: We think that there is a plan from the Israeli side to make East Jerusalem Jewish and they have many practices to do so. One of them that is the most dangerous is our deportation. If they demolish your house, you can always build another building. But deporting people — how can you talk about a city without people? What they want is to legalize the Nakba.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author working in Israel-Palestine. His articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Al-Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a writing fellow for the Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
If you want to avoid facing a tough prosecution for malfeasance, be a banker, not a biker.
That appears to be the lesson of Saturday’s front page of the Wall Street Journal, where the lead story was about how Bank of America repeatedly hid its massive bad debt holdings from regulators and investors through a creative accounting device called “repurchase agreements,” and the second story, just above the fold, was about how US Food and Drug Administration prosecutors are “Casting a Wider Net” investigating the use of steroids by competitive cyclists.
According to the BofA story, the bank, during a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the real financial condition of the nation’s biggest financial institutions, admitted that at the ends of all the quarterly reporting periods from 2007 through 2009, it had used repurchase agreements, or “repos,” to temporarily shed bad debt before drawing up and releasing its required public filings. That is to say, it managed to lie about and hide from view its weakened liquidity position all through the financial crisis.
Astonishingly, the Wall Street Journal article reports that this practice, known euphemistically in financial industry parlance as “window dressing,” is “not illegal in itself,” unless it is done with the intent of misleading investors. The article is quick to note that “Bof A said its incorrect accounting wasn’t intentional.” (The newspaper didn’t go to the SEC or to any independent source such as an academic expert or lawyer for comment on this laughable whopper.)
BofA, every three months, was transferring mortgage-backed securities briefly to a trading partner in return for a simultaneous agreement to repurchase similar securities from the same partner, once the required SEC filing had been shipped out in the mail. As the Wall Street Journal’s reporter Michael Rapoport writes, “The practice amounts to a bank renting out its balance sheet for short periods; the bank gets fees, and the client on the other end of the trade gets short-time cash.”
If this kind of thing is not deliberate fraud I don’t know what is, and yet the bank, in its statement to the Wall Street Journal, claims the “effort to manage its balance sheet” was “appropriate,” and that the intent behind the shell game was not to mislead investors or regulators, but rather was “to reduce the specific business unit’s balance sheet to meet its internal quarter-end limits for balance sheet capacity.”
How’s that for financial mumbo jumbo?
It would be interesting to see how well an ordinary citizen would fare, if he or she used a “repo” type strategy to hide half his or her income from the IRS (the equivalent scam might involve “donating” half of one’s income on December 31 of the tax year to an accommodating charity, and then taking the money back on January 1 of the next year), and then claimed that the fraud was “not intentional.”
But hey, it works for the banks. The article goes on to report that, “Apart from requiring more disclosure about its repo accounting, the SEC hasn’t taken any action against BofA over the matter. The fact that the [BofA] letter [to the SEC] was released suggests the SEC has concluded its review.”
Meanwhile, even as BofA and other financial behemoths get away with accounting murder, and are held harmless after their crooked dealings brought the US and the global economies to their knees, we’re informed that FDA legal bloodhounds are doggedly stepping up their investigation into illegal steroid use by US cyclists involved in the current Tour de France bicycle competition. The FDA is reportedly hoping to get some participants to turn in competitors who are using illegal substances to enhance their physical performance.
In this fishing expedition, the FDA, according to this second Wall Street Journal article by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell, is not out to prosecute rank-and-file riders, but rather wants to bring charges against “any team leaders and team directors who may have vacillated or encouraged doping by their riders.”
Clearly, it is viewed by the US government as being critically important that the sport of cycling be kept clean of drugs, so that the Americans who watch the race from the comfort of their sofas and barcaloungers will know that the winners really deserved to win. But it clearly is not very important for Americans to know whether the bank where they put their hard-earned savings, or in whose artificially inflated stock they have invested their IRA or 401)(k) retirement funds, is cooking its books.
It is apparently critically important to know that those who encourage the use of performance enhancing drugs, thus undermining the confidence of America’s sports viewers in the validity of their viewing experience, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It is apparently not that important at all that the people who caused a financial collapse that has pushed real unemployment and underemployment in the US up to close to 20 percent, collapsed the housing market, and put school districts, town and state governments on the brink of bankruptcy, be called to account, made to do jail time, or to perform community service.
The absurdity of this juxtaposition is made all the more clear by the fact that the FDA isn’t even able to come up with a significant charge to bring against the alleged dopers in its intensifying investigation of the cycling sport. As the Journal notes, “Federal investigators are exploring several avenues,” for possible prosecution, including “whether teams defrauded sponsors by failing to race cleanly,” or whether US Tour de France multiple winner Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team might have “misused federal funds.”
It’s the old story: steal a loaf of bread for a family and go to jail for years. Deceive national regulatory authorities and steal from a generation of pension investors and get a Troubled Asset Relief Program handout of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.
Israel’s nuclear program has been implicated in an investigation conducted in the United States by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), according to a report published on Wednesday by the researchers of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).
The investigation began in spring 2010 when the BIS charged Pelogy, a U.S. based company and its Belgian affiliate, with violating U.S. export administration regulations by attempting to export controlled goods to Israel, India, China and South Africa.
According to the investigation, in the case of Israel and India, the goods could have been used to manufacture nuclear weapons and missile programs.
The charges followed a voluntary self-disclosure by the companies.
In the case of Israel, the BIS neither identified the equipment or components purchased in America nor the suspected purchaser of these goods. No further details have been provided about the case.
It is worth mentioning that in the 1980s, regardless of Jonathan Pollards’ espionage activities for Israel, Israeli companies and individuals were involved many cases of technological espionage, stealing U.S. secrets, technology and equipment.
The most outstanding case involved Milco, a U.S. based company owned by Israeli tycoon Arnon Milchan, which bought and shipped equipment with which could have also been used as triggers for nuclear weapons.
For many years, people in our region believed that only the United States had the power and the means to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict. Year after year, actually decade after decade, of total American adoption of the Israeli illegal position were not able to shake that belief.
The Palestinian Authority, the Arab states, the European Union and many more continue to presume that if this conflict has to end one day, only the US can end it. For that reason, we have all got accustomed to accepting that Washington alone holds the keys. All have been patiently, and quite helplessly, waiting for Washington to use them. All, including the United Nations, have absolved themselves of any responsibility vis-à-vis this century-old struggle, convinced that the resolution of this conflict is Washington’s responsibility. This was accompanied by the complacent assumption that Washington has always been waiting for the right circumstances and for the mediation efforts to yield results.
Time has shown that the “right circumstances” for the US purposes would never come. The striking reality is that the chances for any meaningful US action are diminishing.
It is true that the United States is the superpower upon which Israel depends entirely and therefore could not challenge its positions without fearing adverse consequences. But the American-Israeli relations are more complex than just that. It is still the case that no American can run for high office, particularly the presidency, without first securing the support of the Israel lobby. The lobby remains very powerful and highly influential despite significant cracks.
Without any doubt, the United States has the means to discipline Israel by making it comply with the rules of international law, and therefore compel Israel to accept a settlement of its conflict with its neighbours. But without any doubt, also, no American president so far has been willing to risk his political future by confronting Israel.
The obstacles in the way are usually many. The Congress is one of them. The question, therefore, is who needs who? Is it the US that needs Israeli support or vice versa? Obviously it is the US. The huge financial and political aid that Washington offers Israel on regular basis could not be used as an instrument of pressure because it is originally offered as a price; it could not therefore be used to exact an opposite price.
Americans who compete for the top job at the White House need Israel lobby support. When they plan for a second term, they often watch every move in their first term, lest it would anger Israel or the lobby and thus jeopardise the president’s chance for a second term in office. This clearly applies to Obama now, and explains his acquiescence to Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated defiance of America’s policies towards the region.
A look at the long history of the conflict reveals that one American president after another openly took the Israeli side while pretending to honestly broker an Arab-Israeli peace settlement. Yet the belief that only America can achieve an historic breakthrough was never shaken in the Arab world.
When Obama was elected president, peculiar euphoria swept the Arab, and to a certain extent the Muslim, world that this finally is the president who would stand by the side of justice and would, therefore, end America’s trailing behind Israeli aggression and lawlessness. No amount of clear signals otherwise were enough to check the rising tide of optimism that the Obama promise of “hope and change” meant Arabs and Muslims as well.
Although Obama’s Cairo speech in January 2009 was hollow, it was hailed as the long-awaited beginning of that change. But there was no change from the way the Bush administration had handled this historic conflict. Bush was totally on Israel’s side and so is Obama. “Pro-Israel” Democrats can proclaim Obama to be “the most pro-Israel president ever”, says MJ Rosenberg (Political Correction, July 7), reminding that Bush was the last president to hold that title.
But why does Obama deserve this title? Simply because he lost every battle he tried with Netanyahu. Right from the beginning, Netanyahu rejected every American demand put to him, and his rejectionism had been rewarded.
Netanyahu got away with everything he wanted, building more settlements, expanding Jerusalem colonisation, evicting Palestinians from their homes to build recreation parks, maintaining a punitive siege on one million and a half Palestinians in Gaza and blocking every effort to resume meaningful talks while persistently calling for resuming direct negotiations.
The proximity talks, which made a second start two months ago, following massive American pressure on the Palestinians – the first attempt collapsed before it even started – were not meant to achieve results.
No one in his right mind could have expected results. Even the PA president and other advisers of his admitted no sign of progress in response to a White House signal that they were achieving something. To move from sterile proximity talks to direct talks, as Obama is demanding, is another mockery. But again, it could not be possible that anyone would expect any results, neither does it seem that results are the goal of such negotiations.
The goal is to enable a failed US policy for the region to claim any success. This could not be accomplished without additional appeasement of Netanyahu. This is what Netanyahu returned home with from his last visit to the White House, without agreeing to one single demand.
“Each leader [Obama and Netanyahu] accomplished what he needed,” says MJ Rosenberg, adding: “Netanyahu goes home looking far stronger than when he departed and without making any compromises that would offend his right flank. Obama can inform the chairs of the House and Senate campaign committees that they can tell disgruntled donors that his relations with Netanyahu are good as gold.”
That is what really matters. Not the future of the region, not stability, not even peace, not Gaza, not the rule of law, not the fate of the Palestinians, not the occupation, not the colonisation of Palestinian lands, not Lebanon, not another war against Iran. All that does not matter. What matters is Obama’s future and whether he will return to the White House for a second term with the help of the lobby.
A Palestinian family stands on top of the rubble of their home in Beit Hanina after it was destroyed by Israeli authorities on 13 July 2010. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)
The al-Rajabi family of the Beit Hanina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem were made homeless on Tuesday, 13 July, after Israeli demolition vehicles razed their home to the ground. Five other homes and structures were destroyed earlier in the day in the Issawiya and Jabal al-Mukabber neighborhoods, also in East Jerusalem.
Speaking to Sherine Tadros of Al-Jazeera English following the demolition, Linda al-Rajabi, mother of five children, said that Israeli police ordered her family to immediately evacuate their home and remove all of their belongings from inside. “They demolished the house without giving a warning or anything,” al-Rajabi told Tadros. “[The Israelis] can build 600 settlements, and I am in a shack … and they demolished it” (“Israel destroys Palestinian homes,” 13 July 2010 ).
Israeli officials ordered the demolition of the al-Rajabi home because it was “built without permits,” a long-standing policy of justification of home demolitions. In a statement, the Israeli government said the homes were “illegally built and uninhabited.” Through a court order, the buildings were destroyed.
The al-Rajabi home was rebuilt a second time last year after Israeli bulldozers destroyed the first home in 2008. With assistance from local nongovernmental organizations, including the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), the home had been reconstructed as the family worked with an attorney to obtain legal building permits — to no avail.
“The Jerusalem municipality demolished six houses in East Jerusalem claiming they were built illegally, ignoring the fact that the municipality makes it impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits in order to build legally,” ICAHD stated in a press release. “These demolitions come after an unofficial six-month halt to home demolitions in East Jerusalem, although within that period several uninhabited Palestinian-owned structures were nevertheless demolished. The suspension of demolitions came as a result of pressure from the international community, particularly from the US administration which has repeatedly criticized the practice” (“Jerusalem Municipality demolishes 6 houses across East Jerusalem,” 14 July 2010).
The US State Department, upon hearing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government demolished the homes in East Jerusalem, urged “all parties to avoid actions that could undermine trust.” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley added that the US was “concerned” about Tuesday’s demolitions.
These demolitions come on the heels of Monday’s decision by the Jerusalem municipal committee to pre-approve 32 new Jewish-only apartment units in the illegal Pisgat Zeev settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. Pisgat Zeev abuts the Beit Hanina neighborhood.
ICAHD added in its statement that Netanyahu’s government has declared new “building plans for East Jerusalem settlements,” solidifying this plan with the resumption of home demolitions. “Both actions are a clear declaration that the Government of Israel is not interested in good faith negotiations. Instead, the government and settlers continue creating facts on the ground intended to Judaize East Jerusalem and strengthen Israeli sovereignty over it, thereby preventing the possibility for a future division of the city in which East Jerusalem could form the capital of a Palestinian State,” ICAHD reported.
Palestinians in Dhammash protest against home demolitions. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)
Meanwhile, about 35 kilometers west of occupied East Jerusalem, also on Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinian, Israeli and international activists led a demonstration through the city of Ramle near Tel Aviv to protest the planned demolition of 13 homes in the Dhammash village, sandwiched between Ramle and Lydd. For months, the Palestinian residents of Dhammash have been living in constant threat of losing their homes in their village, which has been “unrecognized” by the State of Israel since 1948. Residents of Dhammash are Israeli citizens and pay taxes, but do not receive any services as the state refuses to acknowledge their presence.
The residents were able to petition the court several months ago to suspend the demolition orders while they attempted to pressure the government into officially recognizing the village, which would finally grant the village municipal services and basic infrastructure.
But that court order expired this week, and Israeli officials stated that the homes would be demolished because they still lacked the proper building permits. As the entire village is officially “unrecognized,” the government has classified the homes as “illegal,” thereby exposing them to imminent demolition. Dhammash residents told The Electronic Intifada in March that the municipality plans to construct Jewish-only condominium complexes on the village’s land.
The Petach Tikva municipal court is currently holding hearings on whether or not to go ahead with the government’s plan to raze the homes in Dhammash. Approximately 600 persons currently live in 70 houses in the village.
Tuesday’s demonstration culminated in a plan to protest outside the courthouse on Wednesday. Internationally-renowned hip hop group DAM set up a flatbed truck in the middle of the village and performed for the crowd. DAM’s members, all from the neighboring city of Lydd, have helped to organize a weeks-long summer camp in Dhammash — for local and international children and adults — to bring attention to the critical situation in the village and to build widespread solidarity.
On Wednesday, 14 July, following the demonstration in Ramle, the municipal court decided to once again freeze the demolition orders for three months and to resume court hearings in October. Members of the local popular committees stated in a press release that they believe the decision to suspend the demolitions was a direct result of expanded and successful community organizing and growing media attention focused on Dhammash. Attorneys for Dhammash residents are also planning to appeal the demolition orders entirely before the court hearings resume in October.
Several weeks ago, residents from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — where violent takeovers of Palestinian homes by Jewish settlers have been ongoing but met with sustained protest — joined dozens of activists and came to Dhammash to show unity in struggle. In turn, Dhammash villagers have been active in the regular protests in Sheikh Jarrah.
The US State Department is considering whether to designate a Turkish charity as a ‘terrorist group’ after the organization sent a ship of medical and school supplies to the Gaza Strip in May.
The aid ship was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, and nine aid workers, including one US citizen, were killed.
The Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief is a Muslim charity based in Turkey that funds humanitarian aid missions to troubled and impoverished places around the world.
Formed in 1992 with the goal of assisting Muslims in Bosnia, the charity has branched out to many places, including Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and the Palestinian territories.
Although the Israeli-based Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center says the Turkish charity is quote “a radical Islamic organization with an anti-Western orientation,” the group has never been linked to any violent activities or groups.
When the aid ship was attacked by the Israeli navy in May, the U.S. Congress issued a statement declaring full support for the Israeli act of piracy, and the Obama administration did not criticize the attack.
Despite the fact that smuggled video footage shows passengers being killed execution-style by Israeli commandos, the U.S. government has continued its policy of unquestioning support of the Israeli attack.
One of the more flamboyant aspects of the Bradley Manning arrest was the claim that he had leaked to WikiLeaks 250,000 pages of “diplomatic cables.” Those were the documents which anonymous government officials pointed to when telling The Daily Beast‘s Philip Shenon that the leaks “could do serious damage to national security.” Most commentary on the Manning case has tacitly assumed that the leaking of “diplomatic cables” would jeopardize national security secrets. But a new BBC article today contains this quote from former UK intelligence analyst Crispin Black:
Diplomatic cables don’t usually contain huge secrets but they do contain the unvarnished truth so in a sense they can be even more embarrassing than secrets.
As usual, government concern over leaks is about avoiding embarrassment and other accountability; national security harm is but the fear-mongering excuse. Similarly, a new Washington Post article today details the Obama DOJ’s prosecution of NSA whistle blower Thomas Drake, whose disclosures resulted in no claimed national security harm, but rather, was evidence of “waste, mismanagement and a willingness to compromise Americans’ privacy without enhancing security“ (leaked only after his use of the official channels resulted in nothing, as usual). As is true for virtually every whistle blower prosecution or threatened prosecution, there is no actual national security harm identified from that leak. Other than when a covert agent’s identity is blown (as happened to Valerie Plame), has anyone ever heard of any actual, concrete national security harm from any of the high-profile leak cases, whether it be the illegal NSA eavesdropping program, the network of CIA black sites, the release of the Apache helicopter attack video, or the corruption and privacy infringements revealed by Drake?
The Post today quotes Obama DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller’s justification for the administration’s escalated war on whistle blowers as follows: ”We have consistently said that leaks and mishandling of classified information are matters that we take extremely seriously.” There’s no doubt that they take such acts “extremely seriously,” but what’s the reason for it? There’s been no identified harm to national security from any of these leaks.
What these leaks have actually accomplished is to “embarrass” the Government by revealing what the intelligence analyst quoted by the BBC calls “the unvarnished truth” about the illegal, corrupt, and embarrassing acts it undertakes. In all of these cases where the Obama DOJ is persecuting whistle blowers, they’re punishing the greatest sin there is — exposure of high-level government wrongdoing — not harm to national security. Amazingly, that was even the explicit rationale used by Obama when he and the Democratic Congress re-wrote FOIA to shield photographs of detainee abuse from court-ordered disclosure: these photos would reflect poorly on the U.S. government and therefore harm national security. And, of course, the administration’s repeated, Bush-replicating invocation of the ”state secrets” privilege has been justified with vague appeals to National Security but actually motivated by a desire to shield government crimes of detention, surveillance and interrogation from disclosure and accountability.
Most of what the U.S. Government does of any significance — literally — occurs behind a vast wall of secrecy, completely unknown to the citizenry. While a small portion of that is legitimately classified, these whistle blower prosecutions and other disclosure controversies demonstrate that the vast majority of this secrecy is devoted to avoiding embarrassment and accountability. It has nothing to do with “national security” — one of the all-justifying terms (along with Terrorism) for what the Government does. Secrecy is the religion of the political class, and the prime enabler of its corruption. That’s why whistle blowers are among the most hated heretics. They’re one of the very few classes of people able to shed a small amount of light on what actually takes place.
The great irony is that there is a perfect inverse relationship between the secrecy powers of the Government (which rapidly increase) and the privacy rights of citizens (which erode just as rapidly). The citizenry meekly acquiesces to the notion that it must sacrifice more and more privacy to the Government in order to deter and expose criminality, corruption and other dangerous acts of private citizens, yet refuses to apply that same rationale to demand greater transparency from the Government itself. The Government (and its private corporate partners) know more and more about citizens, while citizens know less and less about the actions of the government-corporate axis which governs them.
The reason Iceland is poised to enact an unprecedentedly potent shield for whistle blowers and other leakers is that they realized that the oozing elite corruption that led to their financial collapse was caused by rampant secrecy. They realized that unauthorized leaks are the most effective check against the crimes of the powerful, which is precisely why such leaks in the U.S. are targeted with such a fury. What possible valid reason is there to keep classified that Apache attack video, or evidence of our civilian casualties in Afghanistan, or massive private contractor corruption at the NSA, or Bush crimes on torture and eavesdropping, or the lending programs of the Fed? The real criminals are not those who are leaking embarrassing information about corruption and wrongdoing — those whom the Obama DOJ is prosecuting with an unprecedented vengeance — but rather the political officials who are misusing powers of secrecy to hide information for which there is no legitimate secrecy basis.
The UN must assert its responsibility for all its member states.
A confluence of news stories emerged this past week that, if related, shed an unusual light on the deteriorating crisis in the mid-east, most especially on Palestine and Iran. On June 27th, Ha’aretz made this observation about discussions at the G-8 meeting in Ontario: “World leaders ‘believe absolutely’ that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons,” citing a statement made by Italy’s PM Silvio Berlusconi.
Indeed, he went on to say that “Israel will probably act preemptively.” So engaged were the representatives of the G-8 that they issued a statement “calling on Iran to ‘respect the rule of law’ and to ‘hold a transparent dialogue’ over its nuclear ambitions.” Their statement went on to say that Iran should show a ‘commitment to international law’.
On July 7th, Newsmax, in an article titled “Lieberman: US Prepared to Strike Iran to Stop Nuclear Weapons” states: “The United States may be forced to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities if diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic fail, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said Wednesday after a meeting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem.”
On July 11th, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh told Press TV that “over a 100 countries in the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency have condemned Israel for not cooperating with the IAEA. The Zionist regime has refused to sign the Non Proliferation Treaty and it is believed that the regime has about 200 nuclear warheads capable of being mounted on long-range missiles and a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.”
How are these stories related?
First, the G-8 “world leaders,” i.e. the richest 8 nations on the planet, believe that Israel could preemptively attack Iran causing undisclosed consequences to the interests of the world’s communities and economies. Press TV adds that 100 countries, not all obviously among the richest, condemn Israel’s refusal to cooperate with its neighbors in working with the IAEA to ensure a safe mid-east where no nation possesses nuclear weapons. And, finally, Senator Lieberman offers that the United States might join Israel as the military force that acts preemptively. The uniting factor in the three news items is the state of Israel and its principal supporter the United States.
Second, each cites the United Nations as a significant operative in how Israel’s potential action or that of the United States affects world events and, by implication the rightful authority in the community of nations for the consequences of the actions of these two states. Note that the “world leaders” call on Iran to “respect the rule of law,” “to hold a transparent dialogue,” and to show a “commitment to international law.” International law resides in the authority of the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as reflected in the Charter of the UN, the International Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions. Needless to say, the IAEA is an operative agent of the UN responsible for oversight of agreements related to nuclear weapons, including the non-proliferation agreement controlling such weaponry in the mid-east.
Third, despite the apparent recognition of the UN implied in these articles, the reality of what they intend versus what they state or imply suggests that Israel is not bound by a respect for the law, by the need for transparency regarding agreements or weapons, or by a commitment to international law. Only Iran is held up for condemnation as a threat to world peace and as a nation that defies UN policies and resolutions. Indeed, as Lieberman observes regarding the Iranian threat, “There is a broad consensus in Congress that military force can be used if necessary to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” This would suggest that it is not the UN that decides whether Iran is in conformance with the agreed upon policies of the member states of the United Nations, but the Congress of the US acting on behalf of its client state, Israel.
Two major concerns arise out of these observations: neither Israel or the US is held to the same standards as all other member nations of the UN, and Israel and the US determine for the member states of the UN what will be the action they can take against either the US or Israel. These are distinct yet related observations. Because the US has veto power in the Security Council it can and it does negate any actions taken by the member states against Israel or the US. This is a structural problem inherent in the powers vested in five nations that have permanent status on the Security Council. Procedurally, there is little the majority of nations can do to prevent the US protection of the Israeli state.
Since the UNGA has acted in over 160 resolutions to condemn Israeli actions, attempting to bring it in line with the UN charter and declarations, and since the UNSC has acted approximately 30 times to force some compliance, it’s obvious that the world communities have found the state of Israel to be wanting in its adherence to UN policies and agreements. Therefore one might conclude that the UN has attempted to hold Israel to the same standards as other member states, but has been thwarted by the US veto power to enforce its policies and compliance.
For virtually all of the past six decades, Israel and the US have acted as one against the wishes of the UN membership as those actions relate to Palestine and more recently to Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Today, Israel wants Iran’s ‘nuclear ambitions’ curbed, ambitions it has determined exist despite IAEA investigations to the contrary or the reality that Iran has signed the non-proliferation treaty and Israel has not. But what Israel wants, the US will provide according to Lieberman, including preemptive strikes against a legitimate member of the UN that has done nothing aggressive against either the US or Israel. Israel on the other hand, during these same 60 years, has attacked Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and continues to occupy portions of Lebanon, Syria and virtually all of Palestine. Curiously enough, during all this time, the United States has shamefacedly portrayed itself as the broker for peace in the mid-east. Nothing could be further from the truth. The US Congress and the Israeli Knesset are Siamese twins bound together by an umbilical cord of dependency through interlocking arteries of corporate and military budget lines that keep the complex alive while force feeding our representatives with blood money.
All of which brings us to this simple conclusion: Israel and the United States, the two states against peace in the mid-east, must be aborted from the decision process that determines peace in the mid-east. Consider the reality and not the illusion. Look through the eyes of the real victims not through the fractured lenses of the controlled media that fails to cover any perception but that offered by our Congress or the Israeli dominated international news. The mantra beats on—Israel has a right to defend itself and, therefore, must provide protective borders around the state of Israel. Hence it has a right to invade Lebanon to its north to ensure that no rocket, missile or person (terrorist) can enter Israel; it must blockade the sea on the west to ensure that nothing enters Israel (weapons or terrorist) from international waters; it must confiscate an eastern border from north to south to ensure that no weapons or terrorists enter Israel from Jordan despite having agreements with Jordan as a peaceful neighbor; and it must have a protective border with Egypt in the south despite having a like peaceful relationship with that nation.
Logic would suggest that Israel’s need for protection and, therefore, its need for these aggressive measures that result in stealing land from others, breaking international laws, and creating hostility throughout the region would apply to each of its neighbors. After all it is Israel that has weapons of mass destruction, though it does not reveal that reality transparently, has invaded its neighbors frequently over the years, and continues to occupy and oppress the peoples of Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. Consider what would happen should Iran or Syria or Jordan or Egypt move to strengthen their respective borders by applying the same tactics as Israel. Lebanon would invade northern Israel, Egypt would not cooperate with Israel in the south, Jordan would take Israel to the international court to object to its illegal acquisition of the richest agricultural land in Palestine given by Jordan to the Palestinians, and Syria would move to force Israel to comply with UN resolutions demanding that it return the Golan Heights.
Consider further the umbilical cord that ties the US to Israel and the 60 years of non-peace that has existed as each successive President and new Congress acts to bring a viable peace to the mid-east. It has not happened. Why not? Read Dr. Jeff Halper’s enlightening chapter in The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction, recently published by Macmillan. There the whole sordid history of intentional delays and deceits is laid bare for the world to see. The US does what Israel wants, as Lieberman so eloquently testifies. Unending war is good for the economy, at least for the elite that control it. The suffering of those destroyed by their wars is of no concern to them.
One need only consider the expansion of the American military throughout the nations in the mid-east and its placement of airbases and military installations that give it dominance throughout the region. Iran is literally surrounded by weapons of mass destruction, US weapons of mass destruction that coupled as they are with the desires of Israel to expand its borders to “greater Israel,” far beyond the boundaries provided by UN resolution 181 in November 1947, boundaries provided by an ancient g-d that served as real estate agent to Abraham, and the threat to Iran and all other mid-east nations glows like white phosphorous and is just as dangerous and life threatening. It is the US and Israel that are the ones acting out of concert with their neighbors and wreaking havoc on the world.
So what’s to be done? Precedent suggests a possibility. In November of 1947 the UNGA passed Resolution 181 partitioning Mandate Palestine into two parts, one for an Israeli state and one for the Palestinians. Despite the procedural reality of the UN this resolution was acted upon without having been acted upon in the policy sector of the UN, the Security Council. This would suggest that the UNGA has the implied power to act without concurrent UNSC action and have its resolution approved by member states subsequently. Since Israel was the benefactor of this process, it could hardly object today if the UNGA were to pass a resolution that would establish a recommending body of members, exclusive of the US and Israel, to bring forth a resolution that would effectively force a just solution to the illegally dismantled partition plan passed in 1947.
Should such a body give priority to the resolutions passed by its members since 1948, it would recognize that Israel would have to collapse its territorial acquisitions by approximately 31% from its current illegal possession of 86% of the original Mandate land offered to them by resolution 181. This would then provide a viable contiguous Palestinian state. Alternatively, Israel could and the Palestinians could decide to live together in one state with equal citizenship for all. Should the majority of UNGA member states approve the resolution offered by their committee, a solution to the crisis might be in the offing. On the other hand, should the Israeli government reject this offer, it would find itself isolated from the world community and subject to whatever sanctions might be imposed by the UN.
Understandably, not all the resolutions since 1948 have been favorable to the Palestinians. They, too, would be subject to the decisions made by the new committee deciding the fate of the Israeli/Palestinian crisis. In simple terms, the UN would have effectively removed the peace process from the two states that are, as they state themselves, one and “unbreakable” in their desires and intents and, consequently uniquely unqualified to be the arbiters of the fate of the Palestinians or of other states in the mid-east. To accomplish this end, the people of the world must view the reality of the mid-east through the eyes of those suffering the destructive power inflicted on them by the United States and Israel.
Every principle on which the United States rests from the Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution cries out against the actions of the United States and Israel as they inflict a merciless set of attacks, invasions and wars on the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, and now, Turkey and Iran. That statement recognizes the power of the Israeli lobbies on behalf of its client state, Israel, as it is more than complicit in the enforced dominance of the US in the world. No one can witness the enormous control asserted by Israel over the US Congress where almost 400 representatives and 100 senators vote in unison to support Israel’s destruction of Lebanon, its invasion of Gaza and its murder of Turkish citizens without recognizing their control. The people of America are no longer in control of their government; it has become a client state of a foreign power.
It is time for America to demand that its government respect equality of life, not destroy it wantonly through mercenaries and drones, reject wars of deception perpetrated by purported friends of the nation by seeking reconciliation with those we’ve destroyed, and, finally, withdraw support from the rogue nation of Israel that has severed America from the community of nations making it vulnerable to those who would use America for their own ends, and become once again [sic] a nation of the people and for the people not a nation of elites who use the people by inducing fear and phobia to control.
Virtually all members of the UN understand this reality as the above news items testify. As it becomes more and more clear that Israel and its compliant US Congress care nothing for the rights of other nations as their promotion of aggressive action against Iran proclaims, a virtual mirror process that brought about the war against Iraq, the world communities must face the reality that the US cannot control Israel nor its own policies. Therefore, the UN must assert its responsibility for all its member states and resolve a conflict that has plagued the world for the past 60 years. It’s time illusion gives way to reality.
- William A. Cook is Professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His most recent book, The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction is now available at Macmillan publishing or through Amazon and other book sellers. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.drwilliamacook.com.
Israeli soldiers conducted an arrest campaign targeting leaders and members of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and kidnapped nine residents, including two women, in Beit Forik Village, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Myassar Etyani, a Palestinian woman active in detainee affairs, stated that the soldiers invaded the village around 2 a.m. and broke into several homes.
The soldiers broke into the home of Abu Ghlamay and kidnapped Ayman Abu Ghalamy who was released from an Israeli detention camp a month ago after spending 4.5 years in Israeli prisons. Soldiers also confiscated the I.D. card of his father.
The soldiers also kidnapped Laith Mofeed Abu Ghalamy in addition to former female detainees Linan Yousef Abu Ghalamy and her sister Taghreed.
Etyani added that the army also kidnapped Sajed Abdul-Latif Mleitat, his brother Mos’ab, Hani Abu Al Saoud, and Hamada Hanani. Soldiers confiscated laptops and mobile phones.
Etyani said that Linan was released from an Israeli detention facility on October of 2009 as part of an agreement that was meant to reach a prisoner-swap deal that would ensure the release of prisoner-of-war, Gilad Shalit.
Linan is the widow of Amjad Mleitat who was assassinated by Israel in 2004. He was a senior member of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade, the armed wing of the PFLP.
Linan and Taghreed are the sisters of Ahed Abu Ghalamy who is serving life-term in Israeli prisons, while Ayman and Laith are his nephews.