By Prof. James Petras | July 15, 2008
“My strong preference here is to handle all this (US conflict with Iran) diplomatically with the other powers of government, ours and many others as opposed to any kind of strike occurring… From the US perspective, from the United States military perspective in particular, opening up a third front (Israeli and/or US act of war against Iran) would be extremely stressful to us” testimony of Admiral Michael Mulligan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. July 2, 2008.
“If Iran continues its nuclear arms program – we will attack it. The sanctions aren’t effective. There will be no choice but to attack Iran to halt the Iranian nuclear program.” Shaul Mofaz, Israeli Minister of Transportation in Yediot Ahronot, June 6, 2008.
“The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves. Iranian businesspeople who would not be able to land anywhere in the world would pressure the regime.” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, speaking to US House Speaker, Senator Nancy Pelosi in favor of a unilateral, pre-emptive US naval blockade of Iran. (Haaretz May 21, 2008.)
“It was a triumphalist conference. Even this powerful organization (AIPAC), the most powerful group in the US Israel lobby, had never seen anything like. Seven thousand Jewish functionaries from all over the United States came together to accept the obeisance of the entire Washington elite. The three presidential hopefuls (Hillary went too) made speeches, trying to outdo each other in flattery. Three hundred senators and members of Congress crowded the hallways. Everybody who wanted to be elected or re-elected to any office came to see and be seen.” Uri Avnery, London Review of Books, July 3, 2008. page 18
House Resolution 362 received unanimous support from all the Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations including the 7,000 delegation attending the AIPAC Conference in Washington DC on June 2-4, 2008.
“Resolution 362 became our chief legislative priority”, according to AIPAC’s website, June 4, 2008.
“The President should prohibit the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products imposing stringent inspection requirements in all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo ships enters and departing Iran .” US House Resolution 362 introduced May 22, 2008.
Resolution 362 gained 170 co-sponsors or nearly 40% of the House and 19 co-sponsors in the Senate in less than a month.
Zionists and their allies in Congress authored, implemented and enforced sanctions against Iran, which hinder the ambitions of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies. Israeli war exercises and public declarations threatening a massive air assault on Iran have pushed petroleum prices to world records. This spring 2008, the most powerful pro-Israel Jewish Lobby in the US , AIPAC held their annual conference and secured the support and commitment of both major US Presidential candidates and the majority of US members of Congress for an Israeli initiative to impose extreme economic sanctions on Iran with threats of a US/Israeli military attack. In early summer 2008, the AIPAC operatives, who wrote this US Congressional resolution, successfully rounded up Congressional leaders’ support of an air and naval blockade of all critical imports into Iran – a blatant act of war.
Israel adopts a ‘peace policy’ designed to isolate Iran in preparation for an attack – and then immediately violates its terms. The entire spectrum of major Jewish organizations unquestioningly and unconditionally give their active support, as they have in the past, to AIPAC’s domination of the US Presidential candidates as well as to the twists and turns in Israel’s war preparations via military exercises and phony peace gestures.
In the entire history of US relations with oil and gas-producing countries, there is not a single previous case in which it sacrificed profitable investments by its major oil companies at the behest of a foreign power ( Israel ) and its “lobby” – the Zionist Power Configuration.
Israel ’s Two Track Policy Toward Iran
Israel ’s policy to obliterate Iran , in much the same way that the US has devastated Iraq , has followed a carefully planned multi-prong strategy. Israel has relied on direct military attacks, all out wars, economic blockades and the use of overseas Zionist front organizations to destroy Iran ’s allies and strangle its economy.
The Israeli strategy is directed at undermining, weakening and enticing Iranian allies to politically and militarily isolate Tehran , in order to facilitate a full-scale massive air assault without having to deal with military fallout from Iranian allies on its borders.
In pursuit of this ‘isolate and destroy’ strategy, Israel launched a full-scale invasion and massive air and missile bombing of Lebanon knocking out critical civilian infrastructure in the hopes of obliterating Hezbollah, a staunch Iranian ally. Israeli preparation for its Lebanese war began a full year before its sneak attack, using a common minor border incident to invade Hezbollah strongholds in Southern Lebanon . Israel ’s offensive against Hezbollah made no sense from the point of view of its border security. No Israeli military official ever envisioned Hezbollah being any kind of military threat to its national security. At most Israel saw Hezbollah as a serious counterweight to its anemic puppet allies in Beirut .
From the perspective of Israel ’s regional hegemonic perspective, an attack and destruction of Hezbollah would isolate Iran and allow Israel to develop a strategic Middle East client in Beirut , facilitating an air attack.
Hezbollah’s defeat of the Israeli invasion seriously weakened Tel Aviv’s military based strategy to ‘isolate Iran ’ and strengthened Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon , raising its prestige immensely among the Arab and Muslim populations.
The second prong in Israel ’s strategy was to destroy the democratically elected Hamas government in Palestine by financing and arming a coup attempt by its Arab clients in the Palestinian Authority,Abbas and Dahlens. Hamas successfully routed the putschists and proceeded to consolidate its rule in Gaza . Israel turned toward a destructive blockade to starve the 1.5 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza into revolt against Hamas. Israel ’s allies in the US and EU poured hundreds of millions of dollars and euros to prop up the corrupt Israeli client regime in the West Bank . Once again Israel failed to militarily or economically destroy Hamas, but that didn’t prevent the Jewish state from turning to its third target – Syria .
In 2007 Israel launched an air invasion of Syria , bombing what it described as a ‘military target’, a low-grade non-military nuclear facility in order to intimidate Syria and weaken the Assad regime’s ties to Iran . While Israel demonstrated its military capacity to violate Syrian sovereignty with impunity, its action did not have any major impact on Iran-Syrian ties.
In response to the repeated failures of the Israeli military strategy of undermining Iran ’s allies, Tel Aviv turned toward a different ‘divide and conquer’ approach. Israel , through its Turkish ally, began ‘peace negotiations’ with Syria , offering to discuss the return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights . The trade off for Israel takes the form of peace talks over the Golan in exchange for lessening Damascus ’ military dependence on Iran . Since the Israeli public and most of the Knesset are overwhelmingly opposed to returning the Golan, the peace talks are not intended to end Israeli occupation, but to give the Assad regime a certain credibility among the Western imperial powers and lessen its isolation. The Israeli regime had no trouble selling its new line on Syria to its highly subservient and disciplined supporters among the Presidents of the fifty-two leading American-Jewish organizations. They are well practiced in following the zig-zag of Israeli policy, switching policy of demonizing Syria one day and acknowledging its pragmatism the next. French President Sarkozy followed up the Israeli initiative by inviting Syrian President Assad to Paris with all the pomp and honors of a chief of state.
Two years after its failed military invasion of Lebanon , Tel Aviv sought and pursued negotiations with Hezbollah to exchange prisoners (and/or their remains) as part of a tactical mini-‘détente’. Once again, the US Zionist Power Configuration, after years of denouncing Hezbollah as a mere tool of Iran , accommodated the new Israeli line of recognizing Hezbollah as an independent political interlocutor.
At about the same time (June 2, 2008), Israel finally and perhaps temporarily recognized it could not militarily or economically destroy Hamas, or prevent its military retaliation against Israeli attacks or undermine its mass base of support and signed a military truce to end armed incursions and open entry points in exchange for the end of retaliatory rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
While the new Israeli turn toward peace negotiations, cease fire agreements and prisoner negotiations seems to augur a less belligerent and more realistic assessment of the Middle East balance of power, in fact the new policy is linked with a more extremist, aggressive and war-threatening military policy toward Iran. In late May and early June 2008, while Israel was proposing a more conciliatory approach toward Iran ’s allies, it engaged in a massive military exercise, involving over a hundred warplanes and thousands of commandos in an unmistaken dress rehearsal for an offensive war against Iran . Top officials from the Israeli military command, cabinet and Knesset publicly pronounced their intention to bomb Iran if it proceeded in its entirely legal and non-military uranium enrichment program. Israeli officials secured the tacit and overt approval of US and European Union for its military posture. More important Israel practically dictated the terms of debate in the United Nations Security Council by insisting that it would launch a war unless the harshest economic sanctions (and even a military-economic blockade) were not implemented and enforced by the United Nations.
Israeli policy was operating on several parallel and reinforcing tracks: The ‘peace track’ to engage and neutralize Iran’s Middle East allies, to isolate Iran and polish up its image in the Western mass media; the ‘military track’ to prepare for war, which remains its defining strategy in order to destroy an isolated (from its allies) and economically weakened (by US/EU/UN sanctions) Iran. In pursuit of its relentless drive for Middle East supremacy and the implementation of its two-track strategy, the Israeli state depends on the power of the major American Jewish organizations to promote the policies of the Jewish state in the US .
The Centrality of the ZPC in Israel ’s Pursuit of the Destruction of Iran The Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC), through its dominant role in making US-Middle East policy, plays a central part in the implementation of all aspects of Israeli foreign policy goals in the region. Israel ’s principle goal over the past five years is the destruction of Iran , to end its opposition to Israel ’s domination of the region. In pursuit of the Israeli agenda, the ZPC led by AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) has exploited its control and influence over the US Congress and Executive branches. AIPAC has leveraged the presence of highly placed Israel-Firsters in key positions in Treasury, the Pentagon, Commerce, the National Security Council, the Justice Department and Homeland Security to design and pursue economic and military policies in line with Israel’s war policies toward Iran. AIPAC, through its media and economic leverage undermined domestic opposition. Israel’s power over US bellicose policy toward Iran is so complete that even critics of Washington’s military posture toward Iran refrain from mentioning the powerful role of the ZPC in designing and implementing that policy.
Zionist power was on open display at its annual conference in Washington . At the 2008 AIPAC Conference, over 7,000 delegates representing 100,000 members, met to discuss how to force Washington to implement Israel ’s Middle East priorities, overwhelmingly focused on the Jewish State’s stated objective of militarily destroying Iran . Over 300 US Congress members attended (over 60% of all members of both houses) along with the three major presidential candidates, major cabinet members, including the Secretary of State, Vice President Cheney from the White House and a host of Hollywood celebrities, media moguls and prominent financial and real estate billionaires from Wall Street and its environs.
Presidential candidates competed with each other in swearing their total and unconditional servility to Israel , swearing their utmost to back any and all past, present and future Israeli military attacks. Hillary Clinton promised to implement the equivalent of twelve holocausts against Iran ’s 70 million citizens in her rant to ‘obliterate Iran ’ if it endangered Israel . Obama backed the ultra-orthodox Jewish demand to give Israel sole control over Jerusalem , and joined John McCain and Clinton in promising to bomb Iran if it continued its uranium enrichment program (which they equated with a nuclear weapon – despite the objections of the IAEA and the US intelligence community). All endorsed Israel ’s starvation of Gaza ’s 1.5 million inhabitants and rejected any concessions or negotiations with Hamas , Syria and Hezbollah – even as Israel was already engaged in negotiations for tactical reasons. AIPAC’s entire agenda has been endorsed by the US Congress, the Executive and both parties, including a military blockade of Iran, harsher world sanctions against all global oil and gas corporations, banks and industries dealing with Iran, the immediate transfer of the most advanced missile and attack technology to Israel to facilitate an attack on Iran, and a substantial increase in yearly US military grants to Israel totaling an additional $30 billion dollars over the next decade. The top Israeli officials present, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Olmert took the opportunity to reiterate and re-affirm their will to use military power to force Iran to submit or face destruction, to standing ovations and wild cheering from the ecstatic AIPAC delegates, deriving delirious pleasure from these blood thirsty calls for US military and economic sacrifice!
Nary a single word of dissent was heard from the entire Congressional entourage in attendance; the Presidential candidates assured the zealous Israel-firsters that for the next 4 years Israeli interests would be the centerpiece of US Middle East policies.
The AIPAC conference was no simple ‘show of force’ nor an exercise in ‘group think’ meant to keep the faith of the zealots. It was the kick-off to a full-scale ZPC campaign to implement a series of measures designed to accelerate a US and Israeli military assault against Iran .
The Congressmen and women in attendance at the AIPAC were there for a purpose: to be instructed on what Middle East policies Israel and the ZPC would demand of them. Their presence at the AIPAC conference was not just a courtesy call intended to ‘network’ with wealthy Jewish campaign fund contributors. They were there because of long-standing and intense relations with the ZPC, which made it obligatory to show up and pay obeisance to demanding paymasters who shortly thereafter visited their offices and presented them with proposals and resolutions for immediate action.
The Aftermath of the AIPAC Conference Under AIPAC tutelage, if not actual authorship, a Congressional resolution was introduced, which called for a naval blockade of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a deliberate act of war. H. Con. Res. 362 calls on the President of the United States to stop all incoming international shipments of refined petroleum products from reaching Iran by any means. By the middle of June 2008, three weeks after it was introduced, the resolution had attracted 146 co-sponsors. In the Senate in two weeks time a similar measure secured 19 co-sponsors. The Congressional resolutions use almost the exact wording of an AIPAC memo issued just prior to the Congressional action. AIPAC got its cue from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who, in early May 2008, told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sanctions were not enough and called a US naval blockade ‘a good possibility’ (Global Research June 18, 2008). The loyal AIPAC servants made their Israeli masters’ wish a reality – in a matter of days. (Who says critical issues get ‘bogged down’ in Washington ?)
In late June 2008, under AIPAC leadership and direction, the US Congress added $170,000,000 dollar increase in military assistance to Israel as part of a 10 year, $30 billion dollar war commitment to the Jewish state. AIPAC was instrumental in drawing up the bill and openly declared that the addition was designed to maintain Israel ’s military dominance and superiority in the Middle East but specifically designed for its war preparation against Iran and the Palestinians. AIPAC pointedly emphasized that, “The US commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge is the cornerstone of American (sic-ZPC) policy in the region…This year’s package holds heightened significance…as the US and Israel face new challenged from Iran’s drive to acquire (sic) nuclear weapons…” (AFP June 27, 2008).
At a time when the US government faces a major financial crisis and refuses to refinance millions of Americans facing loss of their homes through foreclosures, AIPAC secured a 25% increase in military handouts to Israel. Olmert praised his US Zionist agents for improving Israel ’s take. The 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations and their million members and affiliates successfully pursued AIPAC’s proposal to increase economic sanctions on Iran via its captive US Congressional bloc, its appointed agents in the Treasury Department and in the UN Security Council via its influence in the White House. Each and every sanction introduced by the US representative in the United Nations is a thinly veiled copy of memos and resolutions written and powerfully pushed in the Executive branch by AIPAC. They are backed by several hundred professional lobbyists and scores of pro-Israel PACs (political action committees) and ten propaganda mills (the so-called ‘think tanks’) with tight links to AIPAC. Through their influence in the US , the ZPC has successfully secured the acquiescence of other members of the UN Security Council.
Throughout 2008, a presidential election year, the ZPC has successfully engaged in sustained interrogation and pressure on the major candidates, securing pledges of unconditional support for every aspect of Israel ’s murderous policies in Gaza and the West Bank , including its policies of starvation and assault. All major candidates have echoed the ZPC-Israeli line of labeling the elected Hamas movement, Hezbollah , Iran and Syria as ‘terrorist’ organizations and states and pledged to attack or back an Israeli offensive war against Iran .
In so far as the Middle East is the center of US foreign policy, the ZPC has ensured that the next President of the United States will continue the bellicose pro-Israel policies pursued by George W. Bush. The ZPC’s influence over the next US President guarantees that the issues of war and peace will be dictated by a minority of a minority ethno-religious group, comprising less than 3% of the population and loyal to a foreign state. Whichever party wins the Presidential election or controls Congress, the ZPC will set the Middle East agenda, the head of which is the destruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
During the entire run-op to the November 2008 elections, not a single political leader has raised the issue of the catastrophic consequences of a war with Iran for the world economy, the astronomical rise in oil prices, which will result in the conversion of the US recession into a depression, the killing of hundreds (if not millions) of Iranian citizens and the loss of American lives. In other words, the greatest of all ZPC successes is their ability to focus the entire political elite and mass media on the advantages of launching a preemptive war for Israel and to distract public and political attention away from any reports relating the world-shattering destructive consequences.
Zionist Power: Big Oil and Liberal Obfuscation
One of the most salient issues in the run-up of oil and gas prices has been the power and policies of the ZPC. Iran possesses some of the most potentially productive and rich oil and gas fields, which are not yet exploited. Iran possesses 15-17% of the world’s supply of gas. It is number two in the world. Israel , and therefore the ZPC, has been the leading voice in blocking all investment and financing in Iran by the world’s leading public and private gas and oil multinationals. Thanks to AIPAC authored Congressional legislation, any and all oil and gas companies investing more than $20 million dollars in Iran are barred from the US market and subject to criminal investigation and fines (if not imprisonment of executives). AIPAC authored Congressional legislation, which labeled the Iranian National Guard, the so-called ‘Revolutionary Guard’, as an international ‘terrorist organization’, subject to military attack by the Pentagon.
By extension, any multinational corporation, which signs economic agreements over Iranian oil assets, is considered to be financing terrorism. Huge quantities of Iranian gas and oil are not coming onto the world market and lowering the price of gasoline, solely due to US Congressional policies authored and enforced by the ZPC. According to the Financial Times (June 25, 2008) every major US , European and Asian oil company is eager to invest in Iran but are blocked by Zionist authored legislation: “American companies are prohibited from any involvement in Iran ’s energy sector. Those non-US international groups that have invested in Iran are for now going slow. They are trying to avoid pressing ahead with investments that would anger Washington , while also trying to avoid pulling out; which could annoy Tehran .” (FT June 25, 2008. p.9).
The US Treasury Department houses the most influential enforcement agency for policing the behavior of Big Oil, Big Banking and Big Construction companies, which would normally invest in Iran , given the world historic prices. According to investigator Grant Smith (Classified Deceptions: 2007): “In 2004, AIPAC and its affiliated think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), lobbied for a new separate US Treasury unit to be created – the ‘Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence’ (OTFI). It is headed by AIPAC vetted leadership and many OTFI briefings are delivered directly to WINEP. OFTI’s secretive financial operations that target Iran and its trading partners are tightly coordinated with Israel ’s leadership.” (Smith. page 59). Stuart Levey, sub-secretary of the Treasury and a zealous Zionist, who runs OTFI, and his staff have successfully pressured many of the biggest multi-billion dollar public pension funds in states like New York, Florida, Texas and California to disinvest in any company investing, trading or engaged in any economic activity with any Iranian public or private enterprise. Secondly, it has arbitrarily labeled any humanitarian organization dealing with Iran as a possible ‘terrorist conduit’. Levey has made frequent visits to Europe and Asia, threatening US reprisals to any country or corporation trading or investing in Iran . Levey and the OTFI have formulated Treasury policy memos which have decisively shaped US sanctions policy and proposals to the United Nations. It is clear that Cheney, Bush and the Democratic Congress make decisions largely drawn up, promoted and enforced by AIPAC and its key operative in Treasury, who in turn openly coordinate policy with their mentors in the Israeli foreign and financial ministries and the office of the Israeli Prime Minister.
Clearly the power of the ZPC is as much from its capacity to leverage malleable non-Zionist Congress people, public agencies, private financial institutions as it is to apply direct control over public policy. In other words for every dues paying member or leader of AIPAC, and of the 52 leading Jewish organizations in America, there are a multiplicity of state and civil society leaders and organizations who are influenced to initiate and implement pro-Israeli policies. The surprise expressed by some critical overseas Israeli observers, like Uri Avnery, over how a tiny minority of American Jews can dominate US Middle East policy, overlooks their leverage, access, and power to shape the agenda of vast sectors of US public and civil society policy makers.
While the oversight of foreign observers is understandable, what is absolutely inexcusable is the behavior of liberal critics of US war policy toward Iran . Bill Moyers, ignoring the abundant evidence published in all the major financial media on the economic sanctions against the oil companies spearheaded by the ZPC, argues that the Middle East wars are “about oil”. (Moyers and Winship June 28/29, 2008 Counterpunch). Citing as evidence for Big Oil’s role in Middle East wars, they quoted a number of former top Zionist officials in the US government (Greenspan, Wolfowitz and others). They argued that the signing of oil contracts in Iraq eight years after the start of the war is evidence that US policy was a product of Big Oil. Instead of examining Wolfowitz and over three dozen pro-Israel top policymakers in the Bush Administration who designed and executed the policy to invade Iraq – and the current all out push by the ZPC toward war with Iran – Moyers and Winship cite obscure meetings between Cheney and the oil companies. Instead of discussing the public overt campaigning for war with Iraq and Iran by the 52 leading Jewish organizations in the United States and the public policies of leading policymakers in the government, Moyers resorts to individual conspiracies between Cheney and the ‘oil industry’. Moyers admits he knows nothing about the content of the meetings and why the secret meeting did not lead to any direct lobbying for war by Big Oil (in contrast to AIPAC and its affiliates). Moyers article in Counterpunch totally avoids making a single reference to the massive, sustained and successful Zionist war campaign in the Executive and Legislative offices as well as in the Op-Ed pages of all the major daily and weekly newspapers and magazines.
A similar kind of liberal cover-,up is found in the July 17, 2008 issue of the New York Review of Books, entitled “Iran: The Threat” by Thomas Powers who puts the entire burden for war policy toward Iran solely on Bush and Cheney, overlooking the intense and successful economic sanctions and war resolutions authored by AIPAC and implemented by the Democratic Congress. Powers omits the entire war propaganda campaign which appears in the mass media written by academics from Zionist ‘think tanks’, the entire groveling for Israel exercises by the US presidential candidates and three-quarters of the US Congress and Senate at the AIPAC conference, (which took place just prior to the Powers article). Powers says nothing about the entire political class’ blind support for Israel ’s promise to go to war with Iran . Powers, a supporter of killer sanctions as an alternative to an air and missile attack, doesn’t even mention the fact that the ZPC is the leading advocate of sanctions. His research didn’t include the crucial fact that the implementation and enforcement of sanctions are in the Treasury Department (OTFI), which coordinates with Israeli agencies and is run by Stuart Levey, an Israel-Firster.
Noam Chomsky has long been one of the great obfuscators of AIPAC and the existence of Zionist power over US Middle East policy. One of his most blatant examples of cover-up occurred during the AIPAC conference in early June 2008. In answer to a question on what it would take to change US unconditional support for Israel, Chomsky ignored the servility of US Presidential candidates to Israel and the AIPAC at the AIPAC conference; Congressional approval of AIPAC authored sanctions resolutions and their implementation by Treasury Department Under-Secretary Levey; the role of the ZPC in shaping media demonizing of Iran, Palestine, Hezbollah and Syria. Instead Chomsky engages in vacuous circumlocution. With reference to US support for Israel , he claims, “We have to consider the sources of support. The corporate sector in the US , which dominates policy formation, appears to be quite satisfied with the current situation. One indication is the increasing flow of investment to Israel by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and other leading elements of the high tech economy. Military and intelligence relations remain very strong. Since 1967, US intellectuals have had a virtual love affair with Israel, for reasons that relate more to the US than to Israel, in my opinion. That strongly affects portrayal of events and history in media and journals.”
Chomsky deliberately omits the elementary step of actually looking at the process of ‘policy formation’ and noting the role of the AIPAC lobby in shaping US Middle Eastern policy, a point noted by every major expert, Congressional staffer and observer on and off the scene. He mentions ‘the corporate sector’, a vague entity without mentioning how the Zionist lobby has successfully blocked the major oil companies from investing billions in Iran and who undermined US investment agreements with pre-war Iraq. None of the high tech investors he cites has ever lobbied to shape US policy in the Middle East, least of all pressured the US to support Israeli occupation and eviction of Palestinians, the invasion of Lebanon, its military attack of Syria. To suggest that Micro-Soft’s Bill Gates has been lobbying for Israel , as Chomsky does, is the height of silliness. But the Presidents of the 52 Major Jewish Organizations in America have. No conference organized by high-tech companies has ever drawn 65% of the members of Congress and the Senate and all major Presidential candidates to pledge their allegiance to their corporate interests in Israel. But the AIPAC conference in June drew a huge majority of Congress members and McCain, Obama and Clinton who pledged their unconditional support for Israel ’s policies and interests.
Chomsky’s claim that the US has a love affair with Israel omits the systematic repression by pro-Israel and mostly Jewish professors of any critics of Israel , including the firing, smearing and censorship of critical fellow academics. What makes Chomsky’s simple-minded and blatant cover up of Zion-power in shaping US policy so grotesque is that it occurs at a time when it is at its highest point of power – when AIPAC has presidential candidates publicly swearing unconditional support to Israel at its major conference in Washington even as two top officials of AIPAC have been indicted for espionage for Israel.
Chomsky, Moyers and Powers (and a host of liberal critics of US threats to bomb Iran ) ignore the power of US Zionists backing of Israel ’s overt war exercises and naked threats to bomb Iran . By covering up the role of the ZPC, who are the principle Congressional and Presidential backers of sanctions, embargo and war, the liberal critics undermine our efforts to prevent a catastrophic war.
Intellectuals silently complicit with the main purveyors of war for Israel are abdicating their responsibility to speak truth to power – in this case Zionist power. At some point intellectual abdication becomes co-responsibility for a Middle East catastrophe. In the face of the complicity of our political leaders and their Zionist mentors in pursuit of Israel ’s apocalyptic war strategy toward Iran , the American public becomes of utmost relevance (contrary to Chomsky). To argue otherwise is to become complicit with the great crimes committed in our names, by leaders and ideologues with foreign allegiances.
To continue to masquerade as ‘war critics’ while ignoring the central role of the Zionist Power Configuration makes pundits like Chomsky, Moyers and Powers and their acolytes irrelevant to the anti-war struggle. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
James Petras’ latest book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (August 2008) (Clarity Press, Ste 469 , 3277 Rosewell Road, NE , Atlanta , Georgia. 30305).
It’s time Preacher Pam visited Gaza and got a grip on reality
A few weeks ago the Methodist Church’s annual conference did a very courageous and praiseworthy thing. It voted to boycott products from Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine, regarded as illegal under international law, and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same.
“The decision is a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches,” said the press release.
Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships, remarked: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but after months of research, careful consideration and finally, today’s debate at the Conference. The goal of the boycott is to put an end to the existing injustice. It reflects the challenge that settlements present to a lasting peace in the region.”
Predictably the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which calls itself “the chief voice of British Jewry”, blew a gasket. In a joint statement with the Jewish Leadership Council they said the Methodists should “hang their heads in shame”. The Chief Rabbi led the verbal assault warning that the implications would “reverberate across the hitherto harmonious relationship between the faith communities in the UK”.
What seemed to have inflamed the Chief Rabbi this time was the report ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ submitted to the Methodist Conference. Its recommendations include the following:
“In listening to Church Leaders and our fellow-Christians in Israel Palestine as well as leaders of Palestinian civil society we hear an increasing consensus calling for the imposition of boycott, divestment and sanctions as a major strategy of non-violent resistance to the Occupation. The Conference notes the call of the WCC [World Council of Churches] in 2009 for an ‘international boycott of settlement produce and services’ and calls on the Methodist people to support and engage with this boycott of Israeli goods emanating from illegal settlements (some Methodists would advocate a total boycott of Israeli goods until the Occupation ends).”
Elsewhere it says:
“The Methodist Church has consistently expressed its concern over the illegal Occupation of Palestinian lands by the State of Israel. That Occupation continues not only compounds the state’s illegal and immoral action but also makes any accommodation with the Palestinian people and future peace in the region much less possible.”
The Chief Rabbi nevertheless denounced the report as “unbalanced, factually and historically flawed” without saying in what way it was inaccurate. Actually it is a very well put together document, which hits the mark and is hard to fault.
The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council said the authors of the Methodists’ report had “abused the goodwill of the Jewish community, which tried to engage on this issue, only to find our efforts were treated as an unwelcome distraction”. Here is the full text:
Statement on the Flawed Document Endorsed by the Annual Methodist Conference
“This is a very sad day, both for Jewish-Methodist relations and for everyone who wants to see positive engagement with the complex issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Methodist Conference has swallowed hook, line and sinker a report full of basic historical inaccuracies, deliberate misrepresentations and distortions of Jewish theology and Israeli policy. The deeply flawed report is symptomatic of a biased process: The working group which wrote the report had already formed its conclusions at the outset. External readers were brought in to give the process a veneer of impartiality, but their criticisms were rejected. The report’s authors have abused the trust of ordinary members of the Methodist Church, who assumed that they were reading and voting on an impartial and comprehensive paper, and they have abused the goodwill of the Jewish community, which tried to engage with this issue, only to find that our efforts were treated as an unwelcome distraction.
“This outcome is extremely serious and damaging, as we and others have explained repeatedly over recent weeks. Israel is at the root of the identity of Jews and of Judaism, and as an expression of Jewish spiritual, national and emotional aspirations, Zionism cannot simply be ruled as illegitimate in the way that the Methodist Conference has purported to do. This smacks of breathtaking insensitivity, as crass as it is misinformed. That this position should now form the basis of Methodist Church policy should cause the Conference to hang its head in shame, just as surely as it will cause the enemies of peace and reconciliation to cheer from the sidelines.”
Empty barrels, they say, make the most noise.
If arrogance is the only response to serious concerns about Israel’s unending barbarity towards Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land, it’s time that implications did indeed “reverberate” across the faith communities, not only in the UK but around the world.
Zionist Cuckoos in the Methodist Nest
Lo and behold, before the dust could settle another new product from the Zionist drawing-board popped up, calling itself Methodist Friends of Israel. “We are Christians who are members or adherents of the Methodist Church, who love Israel and want to bless her and who fully accept God’s everlasting covenant with His chosen people,” they announced. “While recognising that the nation of Israel is, like all nations of the world, an unrighteous nation that does not always get things right, we firmly stand with her at all times and continue to support her in an increasingly hostile world. We will not turn our backs as so many did in the 1930s.
“We see that anti Semitism is on the rise throughout the world with synagogues and graveyards vandalised and Jews being attacked both verbally and physically and that there appears to be a direct relationship between the increased attacks on Jews and the blanket condemnation of Israel by the media, many charitable organizations and world bodies such as the UN. We are concerned that the whole, true picture of what life is like in Israel is given to the world rather than the biased half truths, distortions and lies that are presently reported.
“We are concerned that many churches are going down the politically correct line of condemning Israel’s policies and are thus contributing to the strong anti Semitic views of the world.”
Note that they are concerned only with “what life is like in Israel”, not the hell Israel has created in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for Christians and Muslims.
And what else do they believe in?
• They recognize that Israel is the land given by God to the Jews and Jerusalem is its only capital.
• They believe that God’s word for, promises to, and covenants with Israel – people and land, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) are everlasting and that the church has not replaced Israel.
• They believe that Scripture prophesies the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel and what they are seeing today is a fulfillment of prophecy. It is a privilege that they are witnesses to this fulfillment
• They believe that Israel is central in the enactment of God’s purposes as we move in these last days
• They believe in finding out from many sources the whole picture of what is happening in Israel so that they can pass on the facts to those whose view is based solely on biased media coverage, and so correct mistaken beliefs (achingly funny, this).
• They believe in blessing Israel however possible including buying goods and produce from Israel and resisting all calls for boycotts.
• They believe in supporting Israel’s defence of its people and their right to live without the threat of missile attacks, homicide bombings etc.
• They believe in standing against libelous attacks against Israel.
• They believe in fully supporting Israel’s right to the land given them by God.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, the group was set up by preacher Pam Smith from South Wales in reaction to her Church’s call to boycott Israel. Naturally Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chairman of the Zionist Federation, was overjoyed and said: “I hope this will be the start of a grass-roots movement within the Methodists to reverse the motion passed at the Methodist Conference, which was theologically invalid, maligned Zionism and demonised Israel.”
Needless to say, the Methodist Friends of Israel website editorial reads like pages from some Israeli propaganda rag.
Have they not heard of The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, a statement by the Latin Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued in 2006? It is neatly summed up in its first sentence:
“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.”
Those guys are on the ground, in the front line. They know the score. It’s time Preacher Pam visited Gaza and the West Bank (not by Israeli tour bus or as guests of Israel’s ‘establishment’) and got a grip on reality. She and others have allowed themselves to be hoodwinked into supporting a sinister political movement that is intent on stealing the Holy Land from under our noses.
I wonder how long these cuckoos will be allowed to foul the Methodist Church’s nest.
Suheir Hammad in Salt of This Sea
Salt of This Sea (2008), Annemarie Jacir’s groundbreaking feature film, premieres in the US this week after two years on the road and winning over 20 awards in countless international film festivals. An intimate portrayal of the complexity of Palestinian identity, from the exiled diaspora to the ghettos of the West Bank, Salt of This Sea continues to make waves across the world since its debut at Cannes in 2008 — where it was featured as an Official Selection/Un Certain Regard. The challenges and dangers of making the film mirrored many of the realities it tried to portray — settlers tried to run actors over, and the Israeli army drove in with real tanks as a scene with a prop tank was being filmed.
Award-winning Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad plays Soraya, a woman who comes to Palestine for the first time in her life, curious about her roots and determined to redeem the ghosts that have haunted her family for three generations. Born in Brooklyn to a working-class Palestinian family exiled from Jaffa, Soraya discovers that her grandfather’s savings were frozen from his bank account during the Nakba — the expulsion of the Palestinians — in 1948, and the money was eventually absorbed by Israeli financial institutions.
Soraya meets Emad (played by Saleh Bakri) in Ramallah, a waiter aching to leave the confines of occupied Palestine completely. Interweaving their conflicting dreams based on finding their individual freedoms, together they compose a daring plan — a bank robbery — to recover the savings in an emblematic act of redemption.
From this point, the pair and another friend make their way across checkpoints into what is now Israel, to Soraya’s grandfather’s home in Jaffa — which like the property of hundreds of thousands of other expelled Palestinians is now in the hands of an Israeli family — and eventually to the land of Dawayima, Emad’s ancestral village which lies today in ruins. Part road movie and adventure, the physical journey mirrors the characters’ struggle to find their places in a forbidding and unwelcoming landscape.
In her director’s notes, Jacir explains that Salt of This Sea “is a story about young people trying to shake off the restraints that control them — of military occupation, of borders, of a corrupt government and of a social system that rejects them. It is the story of a new generation wanting to live and knowing that sometimes, in order to do this, one has to take things in their own hands.”
This Friday, 13 August, Salt of This Sea opens in New York City and will be shown in independent theaters across the country. Hammad was interviewed by her longtime friend, journalist Nora Barrows-Friedman for The Electronic Intifada.
Electronic Intifada: I was staying with you in Ramallah when the film was being made in 2007. You were saying then that the fundamental process of filming was undoubtedly a reflection of the chaos that envelops every waking moment in occupied Palestine. Say a little more about what you meant.
Suheir Hammad: It was probably too dangerous in some ways, but wouldn’t have been made if Annemarie (Jacir) especially didn’t charge ahead. There were settlers who tried to run me over in their cars while we were filming in the street. There was the night the Israelis brought a tank into Ramallah deep at night, while we filmed a scene with a prop tank.
EI: You’re a poet. And this was your first acting role on film. Even though you perform in public often, and have for many years now, how much of a challenge was it to cross over from verbal to visual representation of an entire character — a role on film?
SH: It was trial by fire. And I think now, a few years later, of the patience we all needed from one another in such a situation. My first day of filming was on a hot day in the middle of a busy Ramallah street. My friends know I play tricks on myself when onstage to forget that I’m being looked at. You can’t do that when hundreds of people are stopped and watching a film being shot. I had to learn to “look through the camera.”
EI: Some reviewers in the US, who aren’t familiar with the political nuances of Palestinian diasporic identity have characterized Soraya as stubborn, naive, angry, or full of misplaced aggression. I think many miss the point of her time in Palestine, and many miss the tenderness and impassioned bond that she makes between Emad, her friends, her sense of place, and her history. How do you fit all of the angles of Palestinian identity into one character, and what for you was the most important way to show all of the overlapping emotions Soraya had?
SH: Well, I had to break myself. Soraya’s language, heart, and in many ways her dreams, are broken. I can relate to this.
EI: There are so many ways in which the West has unfairly — to put it mildly — portrayed Arab women on film. You have a strong current running through your own work as a poet challenging those entrenched racist and sexist stereotypes. Which features of Soraya’s character, her own ferocity, her own determination and individuality, spoke to you the most, and why?
SH: You know, given the economic reality so many working women face in the US, I feel more like Soraya today than I did yesterday. The character was created by Annemarie and shaped by us both, but I think every woman we’ve ever met has been reflected in her.
EI: There is a scene in which Soraya confronts the Jewish-Israeli peace activist-artist living in the house that was built by her (Soraya’s) grandfather in Jaffa. It is a very visceral and painful scene, because it embodies the core reason for Soraya’s circumstances — why she was born outside of Palestine, why she decided to come back, and why the house remains “off-limits” to the indigenous inhabitants. I’ve watched people bristle while talking about that scene. People have said that the Israeli woman was also a victim of her circumstance, and it was hard to sympathize with Soraya’s directed anger. But this scene, for me, is one of the most important scenes on film about Palestine ever made. Tell us about your process in this scene, and what it represents.
SH: Soraya could have really gotten angry, and she didn’t. And I think audiences have responded in a spectrum to that scene. I always think it’s interesting that it takes place in the kitchen. For two women to talk in any kitchen, given the historical roles in the home, is interesting and layered — the kitchen as home and hearth.
EI: The film opens up in theaters across the US, at a time of deepening political and humanitarian despair in Palestine. What are you hoping that Americans understand from Salt of This Sea?
SH: A movie won’t make any of us kinder, fairer people. But for over an hour, in the dark, the audience is invited to listen to the sounds of Palestine’s streets, and view her landscape through the eyes of Soraya, who loves a place she’s never been to. Instead of the the steady toxic imagery we are used to coming to represent the Palestinian people, they get to represent themselves.
EI: Could the political story of Palestine be its own character in the film?
SH: I always say, Palestine, the land, sea, the nature of the place, is the star of the movie.
EI: You’ve won awards for your role as Soraya. Would you consider acting again?
SH: I think now all artists should try all art. That said, most of what is produced and consumed as art, poem or film, doesn’t fit my unique definition. I will keep working on my craft.
Nora Barrows-Friedman is an award-winning independent journalist, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press Service, Truthout and other outlets. She regularly reports from Palestine, where she also runs media workshops for youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
“Salt of the Sea,” an excellent Palestinian film with rare Hollywood power behind it — the first ever with a Palestinian-American lead — is opening in New York this weekend. It’s the story of a Palestinian woman from Brooklyn who travels to the Holy Land to reclaim what’s hers only to find past injustices still locked down and an occupation destroying the hopes of a new generation. She and a Palestinian man — whose dream is to leave Palestine for good — set off on a madcap adventure to defy injustice, no matter the cost.
Nora, a filmmaker friend of mine, realized a couple of days ago that not nearly enough people knew about the film when you consider the caliber of the cast and production and the importance of the story. She’s passionate about getting the Palestinian narrative to the American mainstream, so she’s launched a last-minute campaign to sell out the theater on opening weekend and make sure this Palestinian film, and future Palestinian films, are distributed as widely as possible. If this film does well on its opening weekend, it means this film stays in theaters longer and future Palestinian films are thought of as box office draws rather than deficits.
Here is her appeal letter. Forward it widely!
SALT OF THIS SEA (Milh Hadha al-Bahr), OPENS FRIDAY, AUGUST 13, IN NEW YORK CITY!
Exclusive Engagement at the Quad Cinema (34 West 13th St., near Union Square)
** SUHEIR HAMMAD IN PERSON FRIDAY AT 7:30! **
DAILY SHOWTIMES: 1:00, 3:10, 5:20, 7:30, 9:50
QUAD CINEMA WEBSITE: http://www.quadcinema.com/now-playing
TICKET PURCHASE: http://www.movietickets.com/house_detail.asp?house_id=216&rdate=8%2F13%2F2010
PRESS RELEASE: Follows below
Dear Friends of Palestine:
Have you been waiting for a Hollywood-style film to reach out to the American voting public and tell a real story from Palestine — to describe from a personal point of view the history of dispossession, bring it into the present with searing images of the current reality of occupation, and set it in an engaging adventure?
This film has has arrived! Even if you can’t attend, PURCHASE A TICKET NOW TO SUPPORT “SALT OF THIS SEA!”
Opening in New York Friday, August 13, Salt of This Sea (Milh Hadha al-Bahr), is a wrenching, beautifully shot film from Palestine, produced by Hollywood strongman Danny Glover, directed by Tony-Award winning Palestinian-American filmmaker Anna Marie Jacir, and starring Brooklyn’s own Suheir Hammad. Now is the moment to support mainstreaming cinematic images of Palestine in America.
Why is this appeal reaching you less than 24 hours before the film’s opening? Salt of This Sea’s distributor apparently began asking organizations to partner with them for group sales just two days before opening night — far too late for effective outreach for most films — and Quad Cinema revealed that NOT ONE GROUP BLOCK OR ADVANCE TICKET HAS BEEN SOLD! Given the caliber of this film, we don’t know why this oversight occurred. But we must act now to remedy this missed marketing opportunity.
WHY IT’S CRITICAL TO SUPPORT THIS FILM AT THE BOX OFFICE OPENING WEEKEND
Monday morning after reviewing weekend box office sales, cinemas decide which films to keep in the theatre, and which to drop from the marquee. If Salt of This Sea does not sell more tickets that the other films at the Quad this weekend, it will be gone from the theatre in less than a week.
WHY DOES IT MATTER WHETHER A FILM FROM PALESTINE STAYS IN CINEMAS ANOTHER WEEK?
- It’s the difference between distributors viewing films from Palestine as “box office deficits” and “passing” on these films in the future vs. distributors viewing films from Palestine as commercially viable for American audiences, and seeking them out
- It’s the difference between dissemination of more negative stereotypes and false narratives vs. dissemination of realistic stories from Palestine, by Palestinian directors, portraying fully-realized characters
Why do American perceptions of Palestine matter? Because images form concepts, concepts influence voting habits, and voting habits influence American foreign policy, in support of Palestine – or not. I think we all know how the record stands now. Let’s take steps to change that!
HOW YOU CAN HELP KEEP SALT OF THIS SEA IN THE CINEMA
1. Even if you can’t attend the screening, PURCHASE A TICKET for this film at MovieTickets.com. Consider it a $12 donation to promote media from Palestine, about Palestine, and for Palestine.
2. If you can attend a screening this weekend, we have a deal with the Quad Cinema for “Mainstreaming Palestine” with which you can receive $8 tickets once we sell the first block of 10. Contact Nora at email@example.com if you’d like to be included in the first block of 10 to get this ball rolling.
3. Forward this to every individual and organization you know who is concerned about American media images of Palestine. (Press release follows below.)
4. Write Kino-Lorber Films and thank them for distributing Salt of This Sea. Ask them to bring more films from, about, and for Palestine, and remind them you’re voting for the media you want with your film ticket purchase.
5. Write or call the Quad Cinema, and thank them for booking Salt of This Sea at their cinema. The managing director is Eva Rode. Email: QuadCinema@aol.com. Phone: (212) 225 2243.
TICKET PURCHASING STRATEGY
THE GOAL: SELL OUT FIVE SHOWS DAILY ON OPENING WEEKEND. The Quad Cinema hosts five screenings per day. Each screening holds 139 seats. To sell out every show this weekend we need to purchase 2085 tickets in total.
We can! If the USA to Gaza Flotilla fundraiser could sell out, if hundreds of people can sail on boats to Gaza with the goal of ending the blockade, if activists worldwide stand up to IDF bullets in the West Bank to defy land grabs and occupation, certainly we can click “Purchase ticket” from the comfort of our home to sell out Salt of This Sea opening weekend – and participate in the media battle for American public opinion.
Or, think of it this way: If Friends of the IDF can raise $120 million at a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City in March 2010 – we MUST.
Salt of This Sea is a rare theatrical release with great potential to educate the American public about the real story in Palestine. The battle for Palestine begins with the media. Let’s start now!
Tony Karon at rootless cosmopolitan, and Stephen Walt and Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett at Foreign Policy– and all these writers concur that the Jeff Goldberg piece in the Atlantic is an argument for war and that it’s a war with a strong Israel interest. I find it amazing that such an Israelcentric argument can be put forward in establishment debate after a, Goldberg helped lead us into the Iraq war on a dubious basis without suffering much diminution of influence, and b, Goldberg himself admitted last year on Israeli television that when it came to Iran, Israeli interests and U.S. interests diverge, and he would be torn. Well, not that torn!
Here are excerpts from the three writers emphasizing the Israelcentric aspect of Goldberg’s argument. Karon says that “former IDF Corporal Jeffrey Goldberg” wrote an “alarmist screed” at the behest of his Israeli sources:
why call in Goldberg? Well, quite simply, because Goldberg is one of the most influential opinion-makers among hawkish Israel backers in the Democratic Party camp. Such are his pro-Israel hawk credentials that if Goldberg can be convinced, there’s a chance you can convince the likes of Lester Crown*. Not that Rahm succeeded, of course; that’s why Goldberg is pushing the line that Israel is going to do something crazy early next year.
Walt also says the piece serves an “alarmist” agenda:
a central purpose of this article is to mainstream the idea that an attack on Iran is likely to happen and savvy people-in-the-know should start getting accustomed to the idea. In other words, a preemptive strike on Iran should be seen not as a remote or far-fetched possibility, but rather as something that is just “business-as-usual” in the Middle East strategic environment. If you talk about going to war often enough and for long enough, people get used to the idea and some will even begin to think if it is bound to happen sooner or later, than “better to be done quickly.” In an inside-the-Beltway culture where being “tough” is especially prized, it is easy for those who oppose “decisive” action to get worn down and marginalized. If war with Iran comes to be seen as a “default” condition, then it will be increasingly difficult for cooler heads (including President Obama himself) to say no.
You’ll recall that a similar process of “mainstreaming” occurred over Iraq: What at first seemed like the far-fetched dream of a handful of out-of-power neoconservatives in 1998 had become a serious option by 2001. By 2003, aided in no small part by the efforts of journalists such as Goldberg, the idea had been embraced by liberals and others who should have known better.
Then Walt quotes his and John Mearsheimer’s book, The Israel Lobby, to identify the sources of Goldberg’s thinking:
If the United States does launch an attack, it will be doing so in part on Israel’s behalf, and the lobby will bear significant responsibility for having pushed this dangerous policy.”
Goldberg’s reporting also reveals that the case for attacking Iran — especially for America to attack so Israel won’t — is even flimsier than the case Goldberg helped make for invading Iraq in 2002, in a New Yorker article alleging that “the relationship between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda is far closer than previously thought.” Goldberg’s case for war on Iran starts with the Holocaust — and a view of the Islamic Republic as a latter-day Third Reich, under ideologically obsessed, anti-Semitic leadership to which “rational deterrence theory … might not apply.”…
Goldberg’s reporting on his conversations with Israeli generals, national-security policymakers, and politicians makes clear that, in fact, those at the top of Israel’s political order understand Iran’s nuclear program is not an “existential threat.” His interlocutors recognize Iran is unlikely to invite its own destruction by attacking Israel directly. Rather, they say, a nuclear Iran “will progressively undermine [Israel's] ability to retain its most creative and productive citizens,” according to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
“The real threat to Zionism is the dilution of quality,” Barak tells Goldberg. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. … Our young people can consciously decide to go other places [and] stay out of here by choice.”
…In other words, Israeli elites want the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear program — with the potentially negative repercussions that Goldberg acknowledges — so that Israel will not experience “a dilution of quality” or “an accelerated brain drain.”…
[P]reventing “dilution of quality” or bolstering Israelis’ perceptions regarding their country’s raison d’être can never give an American president a just or strategically sound cause for initiating war. And make no mistake: Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities would mean war.
…Israeli elites want to preserve a regional balance of power strongly tilted in Israel’s favor and what an Israeli general described to Goldberg as “freedom of action” –the freedom to use force unilaterally, anytime, for whatever purpose Israel wants. The problem with Iranian nuclear capability — not just weapons, but capability — is that it might begin constraining Israel’s currently unconstrained “freedom of action.” In May, retired Israeli military officers, diplomats, and intelligence officials conducted a war game that assumed Iran had acquired “nuclear weapons capability.” Participants subsequently told Reuters that such capability does not pose an “existential threat” to Israel — but “would blunt Israel’s military autonomy.”One may appreciate Israel’s desire to maximize its military autonomy. But, in an already conflicted region, Israel’s assertion of military hegemony is itself a significant contributor to instability and the risk of conflict. Certainly, maximizing Israel’s freedom of unilateral military initiative is not a valid rationale for the United States to start a war with Iran. Just imagine how Obama would explain such reasoning to the American people.
* [prominent Chicago area Obama financial backer] – Aletho News
Passengers on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza have asked the Israeli authorities repeatedly for the return of their belongings and the release of the video footage they shot during the Jewish state’s attack on their boat, the Mavi Marmara, on 31st May. The Israeli assault took place over 10 weeks ago and yet it is only now that the authorities have released a 2 minutes 40 seconds video clip; but why now and why have the Israelis selected those couple of minutes from all of the hours of confiscated footage that they still have in their possession?
The Israeli authorities claim that the clip shows Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi in the presence of men from the charity group IHH armed with clubs, contradicting her claim that she did not see any flotilla members holding weapons. As a result of this video, there is now a call to investigate Ms Zoabi for her part in the violence that unfolded on board the Marmara.
However, in releasing this footage it looks as if the Israelis have shot themselves in the foot once again, because the film actually shows Israeli soldiers in a far worse light than Haneen Zoabi. In fact, it goes some way towards corroborating her version of events.
In the first of three short clips, Ms Zoabi is on screen for less than 10 seconds and she is simply in the distance walking towards the camera from the far side of the deck. There are more than 30 people milling around, only one of whom is shown for approximately six seconds holding what looks like a broomstick handle. The rest are tying on life jackets, filming the Israeli boats that are surrounding them and simply looking out to sea. At no point is Ms Zoabi seen anywhere near anyone with any kind of weapon.
In the second clip Ms Zoabi is standing in a stairwell. Blood from the victims shot by the Israeli commandos is already forming into pools on the floor of the landing a few steps up from where she stands; first aid is being administered to one of the wounded. In the stairwell she is surrounded by humanitarian flotilla members wearing orange life jackets, several with hand-held cameras. On the section of the staircase directly above where she is standing – completely out of her line of sight – are three men holding what, again, look like broomstick handles. No weapons are in sight and once again it is clear that at no point is Ms Zoabi even in the visual proximity of anyone with a “weapon” even as flimsy as a broomstick.
In the third and final clip, Haneen Zoabi is in conversation with two armed Israeli soldiers. She is calm and confident but in no way aggressive at all. She is speaking in Hebrew but it is understood that she was trying to communicate to the soldiers that the wounded man in question did not want to be transferred to an Israeli hospital. Given the fact that he had just been shot by Israeli soldiers and nine colleagues had just been murdered by those same soldiers it is understandable that Ms Zoabi would do her best to ask the soldiers to let him be transferred somewhere other than Israel for medical attention! This does not contradict her claim that she later helped to facilitate the transfer of patients to get urgently needed medical treatment.
There are no guns, no knives, no clubs nor any other kind of weapon being held by anyone in this clip apart from, of course, those carried by Israeli soldiers, who are in full combat gear with their faces covered having a conversation with Ms Zoabi. Next to her is a man with a stethoscope around his neck while several men are lying on chairs, clearly having been wounded in the Israeli assault.
The content of the video, all two minutes and forty seconds of it, does not implicate Haneen Zoabi in the slightest. It actually supports her assertions about the events that unfolded. Claims by newspapers such as Jpost which state that the “video proves Zoabi knew activists [were] armed” are laughable. It does no such thing, so why release the footage? It’s simple; it serves as a diversion. Haneen Zoabi has made it clear that she believes the release of this footage at this particular time to be an effort to divert attention from the investigation into the flotilla assault that is now taking place; more specifically, that its release was timed to coincide with the IDF Chief of Staff giving his testimony. It is no more than that.
Calls to investigate her are welcomed by Haneen Zoabi because, as she has said before, neither she nor any of the other passengers on board the Mavi Marmara have anything to hide. But the Israeli army must have lots to cover up, as is clear from its consistent refusal to release all of the stolen footage or to let its soldiers be questioned during the investigation, and the curt refusal to co-operate with a fair and objective international enquiry into Israel’s murder of nine human rights activists in international waters.
The threats to human health and the environment from Chernobyl fallout, scientists are now finding, will persist for a very long time.
It’s been 24 years since the catastrophic explosion and fire occurred at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. The accident required nearly a million emergency responders and cleanup workers. According to a recent report published by the New York Academy of Medicine nearly one million people around the world have died from Chernobyl fallout.
Now we are finding that threats to human health and the environment from the radioactive fallout of this accident that blanketed Europe (and the rest of the world to a lesser extent) will persist for a very long time. There is an exclusionary zone near the reactor, roughly the size of Rhode Island (1000sq kilometers), which because of high levels of contamination, people are ostensibly not allowed to live there for centuries to come. There are also “hot spots” through out Russia, Poland Greece, Germany, Italy, UK, France, and Scandinavia where contaminated live stock and other foodstuff continue to be removed from human consumption.
My friends tell me that a growing number of Ukrainians are immigrating to Youngstown, OH (where I grew up),Cleveland, Chicago, and other Ukrainian-American enclaves because of Chernobyl contamination threats.
Here are a few recent examples:
- A fast-growing number of wild boars in Germany are having to be destroyed and disposed as radioactive wastes.
- The mammal population in the exclusionary zone near the reactor is declining, despite the absence of humans, indicative of growing radiation damage to fauna and flora.
- Wildfires in Russia appear to be spreading high levels of radioactive contamination from Chernobyl.
True to form, governments with major nuclear programs or ambitions are silent and are encouraging the view that it’s time we forget about Chernobyl.
BETHLEHEM — Palestinian rights group Addameer said it received a sworn affidavit from a 17-year-old boy who said he was detained by Israeli forces at a West Bank checkpoint and tortured.
The boy, identified as Emad Al-Ashhab, remains in Israeli custody under his third Administrative Detention order following his incarceration on 21 February from the Container checkpoint on the Wadi Nar road between Bethlehem and Ramallah.
“Israeli soldiers covered his face with a woolen bag and beat him with a stick all over his body while both his hands and feet remained shackled. The soldiers also burnt his hand with cigarettes while they tightened the shackles around his wrists,” a statement from Addameer attorney Anan Odeh reported.
The sworn testimony from the teenager was made public by the rights organization on Friday, and said the boy was interrogated for five days at Israel’s Ofer Military Base near Ramallah.
Emad told the lawyer that he was questioned about his political affiliations by Israeli Security Agency officers, and said he was not guilty of any of the accusations thrown at him.
“Under the Israeli military orders that govern the occupied Palestinian territory, membership in an organization – be it a political party or a charitable organization – that is declared illegal by the Israeli military commander is considered an offense. However, Emad has never been charged with any offense, and no evidence supporting the interrogators’ allegation has been disclosed to Emad or his lawyer,” the rights group explained.
Addameer issued an urgent appeal on behalf of the young man, describing it as a case through which the organization challenge the Israeli system of Administrative Detentions, a procedure legalized under Israeli military order 1591, that allows the Israeli military to hold detainees indefinitely on secret evidence without charging them or allowing them to stand trial. Orders are handed down for periods of up to six months and are infinitely renewable.