Introduction by Consortium News:
Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich seems to be laying the groundwork for ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Greater Israel, calling them “an invented people” who “had a chance to go many places.” But an Israeli scholar offered a contrary view, as Morgan Strong reported in 2009.
The founding narrative of the modern State of Israel was born from the words in the Torah (or Old Testament), that God granted Abraham’s descendants the land of Israel and that Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt to conquer it.
A second part of the narrative was the story of the Diaspora – that after Jewish uprisings against the Romans in the First and Second centuries A.D., the Jews were exiled from the land of Israel and dispersed throughout the Western world. They often were isolated from European populations, suffered persecution, and ultimately were marked for extermination in the Nazi Holocaust.
Finally after centuries of praying for a return to Israel, the Jews achieved this goal by defeating the Arab armies in Palestine and establishing Israel in 1948. This narrative – spanning more than three millennia – is the singular, elemental and sustaining claim of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation.
But a recent book by Israeli scholar Shlomo Sand challenges this narrative, claiming that – beyond the religious question of whether God really spoke to Abraham and Moses – the Roman-era Diaspora did not happen at all or at least not as commonly understood.
In When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? [published in English as The Invention of the Jewish People], Dr. Sand, an expert on European history at the University of Tel Aviv, says the Diaspora was largely a myth – that the Jews were never exiled en masse from the Holy Land and that many European Jewish populations converted to the faith centuries later.
Thus, Sand argues, many of today’s Israelis who emigrated from Europe after World War II have little or no genealogical connection to the land. According to Sand’s historical analysis, they are descendents of European converts, principally from the Kingdom of the Khazars in eastern Russia, who embraced Judaism in the Eighth Century, A.D.
The descendants of the Khazars then were driven from their native lands by invasion and conquest and – through migration – created the Jewish populations of Eastern Europe, Sands writes. Similarly, he argues that the Jews of Spain came from the conversion of Berber tribes from northern Africa that later migrated into Europe.
The Zionist Narrative
Sand, himself a European Jew born in 1946 to Holocaust survivors in Austria, argues that until little more than a century ago, Jews thought of themselves as Jews because they shared a common religion, not because they possessed a direct lineage to the ancient tribes of Israel.
However, at the turn of the 20th Century, Sand asserts, Zionist Jews began assembling a national history to justify creation of a Jewish state by inventing the idea that Jews existed as a people separate from their religion and that they had primogeniture over the territory that had become known as Palestine.
The Zionists also invented the idea that Jews living in exile were obligated to return to the Promised Land, a concept that had been foreign to Judaism, Sand states.
Like almost everything in the Middle East, Sand’s scholarship is fraught with powerful religious, historical and political implications. If Sand’s thesis is correct, it would suggest that many of the Palestinian Arabs have a far more substantial claim to the lands of Israel than do many European Jews who arrived there asserting a God-given claim.
Indeed, Sand theorizes that many Jews, who remained in Judea after Roman legions crushed the last uprising in 136 A.D., eventually converted to Christianity or Islam, meaning that the Palestinians who have been crowded into Gaza or concentrated in the West Bank might be direct descendants of Jews from the Roman era.
Despite the political implications of Sand’s book, it has not faced what might be expected: a withering assault from right-wing Israelis. The criticism has focused mostly on Sand’s credentials as an expert on European history, not ancient Middle Eastern history, a point that Sand readily acknowledges.
One critic, Israel Bartal, dean of humanities at the Hebrew University, attacked Sand’s credentials and called Sand’s thesis “baseless,” but disagreed mostly over Sand’s assertion that the Diaspora story was created as an intentional myth by Zionists seeking to fabricate a direct genealogical connection between many of the world’s Jews and Israel.
“Although the myth of an exile from the Jewish homeland (Palestine) does exist in popular Israeli culture, it is negligible in serious Jewish historical discussions,” Bartal wrote in the newspaper Haaretz. “Important groups in the Jewish national movement expressed reservations regarding this myth or denied it completely. …
“The kind of political intervention Sand is talking about, namely, a deliberate program designed to make Israelis forget the true biological origins of the Jews of Poland and Russia or a directive for the promotion of the story of the Jews’ exile from their homeland is pure fantasy.”
In other words, Bartal, like some other critics, is not so much disputing Sand’s historical claims about the Diaspora or the origins of Eastern European Jews, as he is contesting Sand’s notion that Zionists concocted a false history for a cynical political purpose.
But there can be no doubt that the story of the Diaspora has played a key role in the founding of Israel and that the appeal of this powerful narrative has helped the Jewish state generate sympathy around the world, especially in the United States.
“After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people remained faithful to it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom,” reads the preamble to the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Reality from Mythology
In January 2009, as the Israeli army bombarded Palestinians in Gaza in retaliation for rockets fired into southern Israel, the world got an ugly glimpse of what can result when historical myths are allowed to drive wedges between people who otherwise might have a great deal in common.
After the conflict ended – with some 1,400 Palestinians dead, including many children and other non-combatants – the Israeli government investigated alleged war crimes by its army and heard testimony from Israeli troops that extremist Rabbis had proclaimed the invasion a holy war.
The troops said the Rabbis brought them booklets and articles declaring: “We are the Jewish people. We came to this land by a miracle. God brought us back to this land, and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land.”
In his book – and in an interview with Haaretz about his book – Sand challenged this core myth. In the interview, he said:
“I started looking in research studies about the exile from the land – a constitutive event in Jewish history, almost like the Holocaust. But to my astonishment I discovered that it has no literature. The reason is that no one exiled the people of the country.
“The Romans did not exile peoples and they could not have done so even if they had wanted to. They did not have trains and trucks to deport entire populations. That kind of logistics did not exist until the 20th Century. From this, in effect, the whole book was born: in the realization that Judaic society was not dispersed and was not exiled.”
The True Descendants
Asked if he was saying that the true descendants of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah are the Palestinians, Sand responded:
“No population remains pure over a period of thousands of years. But the chances that the Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Judaic people are much greater than the chances that you or I are its descendents.
“The first Zionists, up until the Arab Revolt [1936-1939], knew that there had been no exiling, and that the Palestinians were descended from the inhabitants of the land. They knew that farmers don’t leave until they are expelled.
“Even Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second president of the State of Israel, wrote in 1929 that, ‘the vast majority of the peasant farmers do not have their origins in the Arab conquerors, but rather, before then, in the Jewish farmers who were numerous and a majority in the building of the land.’”
Sand argues further that the Jewish people never existed as a “nation race” but were rather an ethnic mix of disparate peoples who adopted the Jewish religion over a great period of time. Sand dismisses the Zionist argument that the Jews were an isolated and seminal ethnic group that was targeted for dispersal by the Romans.
Although ruthless in putting down challenges to their rule, the Romans allowed subjects in their occupied territories a great many freedoms, including freedom to practice religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly.
Thousands of Jews served in the Roman legions, and there was a sizable Jewish community in Rome itself. Three Jewish descendants of Herod the Great, the Jewish Emperor of Jerusalem, served in the Roman Senate.
Jewish dietary laws were respected under Roman law, as well as the right not to work on the Sabbath. Jewish slaves – 1,000 carried to Italy by Emperor Titus after crushing the first Jewish rebellion in 70 A.D. – were bought and set free by Jewish families already long settled into Roman society.
After the final Jewish rebellion, the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136 A.D., historians say the Romans placed restrictions on Jews entering Jerusalem, which caused other areas, such as Galilee in northern Palestine, to become centers of Jewish learning. But there is little or no evidence of a mass forced relocation.
Sand says the Diaspora was originally a Christian myth that depicted the event as divine punishment imposed on the Jews for having rejected the Christian gospel.
There has been no serious rebuttal to Sand’s book, which has been a bestseller in Israel and Europe. But there were earlier genetic studies attempting to demonstrate an unbroken line of descent among Ashkenazi Jews in Europe from the Hebrew tribes of Israel.
In a genetic study published by the United States National Academy of Sciences, the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews were compared with 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. It found that despite long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level.
Although the study also demonstrated that 20 percent of the Ashkenazim carry Eastern European gene markers consistent with the Khazars, the results seemed to show that the Ashkenazim were descended from a common Mid-Eastern population and suggested that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the supposed Diaspora.
However, a monumental genetic study entitled, “The Journey of Man,” undertaken in 2002 by Dr. Spencer Wells, a geneticist from Stanford University, demonstrated that virtually all European males carry the same genetic markers found within the male population of the Middle East on the Y chromosomes.
That is simply because the migration of human beings began in Africa and coursed its way through the Middle East and onward, stretching over many thousands of years. In short, we are all pretty much the same.
Despite the lack of conclusive scientific or historical evidence, the Diaspora narrative proved to be a compelling story, much like the Biblical rendition of the Exodus from Egypt, which historians and archeologists also have questioned in recent years.
It is certainly true that all nations use myths and legend for sustenance; some tales are based on fact, others are convenient self-serving contrivances.
However, when myth and legend argue for excess, when they demand a racial, ethnic or religious purity to the exclusion of others – so that some prophecy can be fulfilled or some national goal achieved – reason and justice can give way to extremism and cruelty.
The motive for creating the state of Israel was to provide respite for the Jews of Europe after World War II, but that worthy cause has now been contorted into an obsessive delusion about an Israeli right to mistreat and persecute Palestinians.
When right-wing Israeli Rabbis speak of driving non-Jews out of the land that God supposedly gave to the Israelites and their descendants, these Rabbis may be speaking with full faith, but faith is by definition an unshakable belief in something that taken by itself cannot be proven.
This faith – or delusion – also is drawing in the rest of the world. The bloody war in Iraq was an appendage to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as is the dangerous rise of Islamic fundamentalism across the region. There is also now the irony that modern Israel was established by Jews of European origin, many of whom may be ethnically unconnected to Palestine.
Another cruel aspect of this irony is that the descendants of the ancient Israelites may include many Palestinians, who are genetically indistinct from the Sephardic Jews who were, like the Palestinians, original and indigenous inhabitants of this ancient land.
Morgan Strong is a former professor of Middle Eastern history, and was an advisor to CBS News “60 Minutes” on the Middle East.
- Newt Unleashes His Tetrodotoxin at the Palestinians (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Invention of the Jewish People (middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com)
Suppressing free and open discussion on any subject is as bad as telling lies, and knowingly suppressing the truth is the biggest lie of all, because it is based, not on a mistake or a genuine error, but on a deliberate intention to deceive. Having been tortured, Rudolf Höss, who was the commander of Auschwitz from 1940 to 1943, almost certainly lied to save the lives of his wife and children. Even if torture and duress cannot be proven, the overwhelming reason for recognizing the utter falsity of the Höss confession is that the gassing method he described was not scientifically plausible. Yet Höss’s conviction has stood, by inference, as a testament to the cruelty of Germans in general, since he was tried at Nuremberg, in 1947, and subsequently hanged on April 16th, 1947, in Poland.
With great respect for those who have tried—though harassed, punished, fined, imprisoned and otherwise abused—to tell it like it really was: Arthur R. Butz, Robert Faurisson, Paul Grubach, Gerd Honsik, David Irving, Kevin Käther, Nicholas Kollerstrom, Fred Leuchter, Horst Mahler, Ingrid Rimland, Germar Rudolf, Bradley Smith, Sylvia Stolz, Fredrick Töbin, Ernst Zündel and many others. General References:
http://www.whale.to/b/rudolf_hoess.html http://fathersmanifesto.net/hoess.htm http://www.answers.com/topic/bernard-baruch#ixzz1EIP9oT5c http://www.white-history.com/hwr61.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Zionist_Organization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp http://remember.org/Facts.aft.tri.nur.html http://www.rense.com/general68/hoss.htm http://www.zundelsite.org/debate/006_jam.html http://www.holocausthandbooks.com/ http://www.ihr.org/main/leaflets.shtml Rudolf Höss http://www.codoh.com/trials/triHöss.html Charles F. Wennerstrum http://www.iowacourtsonline.org/wfdata/frame1773-1463/pressrel68.asp Robert Faurisson: Höss torture. http://www.rense.com/general68/hoss.htm Transfer Agreement Book http://www.stockmaven.com/transfer_B5.htm Japanese internment http://archive.vancouver.wsu.edu/crbeha/ja/ja.htm Palestine Mandate http://www.mideastweb.org/mandate.htm Agreement to bring America into WWI http://separateduntoholiness.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-rothschild-1901-191… At Basle I founded the Jewish state http://www.npr.org/news/specials/mideast/history/history1.html Claim: Auschwitz II-Birkenau, more than 20,000 people could be gassed and cremated each day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp Cremation specialistsdisagree http://www.ihr.org/leaflets/auschwitz.shtml Stephen F Pinter: No gas chambers in German camps http://www.real-debt-elimination.com/real_freedom/Propaganda/nature_and_condi… “Not one case of death by poison gas was found.” http://www.proliberty.com/observer/20070406.htm http://www.ihr.org/leaflets/libcamps.shtml Interesting video: Israeli Minister “We always use the anti-Semitism trick or bring up the Holocaust” 14 August, 2002 Shulamit Aloni http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW3a1bw5XlE
More videos by Anthony Lawson: http://www.youtube.com/user/alawson911
Remember last year when there was a great deal of commotion about President Barack Obama’s reference to the 1967 lines being used as the basis of negotiated land swaps between Israel and Palestine?
It was hard to forget. Obama’s political foes and even some of his friends accused him of throwing Israel under the bus. Netanyahu used the opportunity to slam Obama for this and stated that “Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967″. In fact, when he said this before Congress they gave him one of 29 standing ovations.
As Republican candidates vie for the party’s nomination, they have not shied from using this issue to attack Obama as well, following Netanyahu’s lead.
But, successive administrations have stated the same thing time and again about the US position which is in line with UN Security Council Resolution 242. Most reasonable observers knew at the time that Obama’s statements where in no way a major shift in policy.
Or was it?
If it was, Jeffery Goldberg, for one, didn’t notice. He wrote, in a post titled ‘Did Obama Say Something so Different than Bush?‘ (emphasis mine):
In 2005, Geoge W. Bush stated that it is “unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949″ (the 1967 boundaries of Israel, in other words). Today, Barack Obama said that he believes “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states
Seems straightforward enough. The immediate predecessor to Obama, George W. Bush, talked about the 1949 Armistice line which Goldberg tells us equals the 1967 line. So essentially, Bush and Obama had the same position, right? Here is an excerpt from President Bush’s speech in the Rose Garden in 2005 (emphasis mine):
Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity of the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza. This is the position of the United States today, it will be the position of the United States at the time of final status negotiations.
If we go by Goldberg’s translation, 1949 Armistice lines = 1967 lines. This formula is not just the Goldberg standard. Here is the New York Times on this issue (emphasis mine):
Those commitments came in a letter from President George W. Bush which stated, among other things that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” another way of describing the 1967 boundaries.
To be sure, NPR checked with Glenn Kessler, author of the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” column to, well, check the facts:
President BARACK OBAMA: We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.
CONAN: And Glenn, is that a substantial change from what presidents have said before?
Mr. KESSLER: Yes, it is. I mean, in the context of diplomacy, what President Obama said that was different was that he actually referenced 1967, the 1967 lines, the de-facto border that had basically existed since the end of the 1948 war of independence.
CONAN: So if he had said the armistice lines of 1948, would that have been different?
Mr. KESSLER: No, what I did is I researched and looked at what all previous presidents had said, and actually they never said anything about lines one way or the other.
I’m not sure what kind of research Glenn did to miss the statement by President Bush buried deep down in this dusty archive. But its not just the fact the Bush made reference to the 1949 armistice line that contrasts with Kessler’s statements. He seems to be saying, like the New York Times, Jeffery Goldberg and even some Palestinians that the 1949 Armistice Line = the 1967 line.
Well, to be perfectly accurate, we are all wrong. The 1949 armistice line is not the same as the 1967 line. Here is why, check out the map of Gaza below (enlarge). The red line you see is the actual armistice line from 1949. The blue line is what we see on maps today which often is referred to as the Green Line or the 1967 line. So what happened to all the area, some 200km2, in purple?
Essentially, the Israelis just took it. The blue line is actually the 1950 modus videndi line. This was an agreement between Egypt, which filled the vacuum of power in Gaza at the time, and the Israelis that established a temporary buffer zone (the purple area) on the Arab side of the actual armistice line. The agreement divides the territory up into areas A,B and C and resulted in a permanent Israeli land grab. (Why does this sound so familiar?) Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, an outstanding Palestinian historical geographer, made a great presentation about this, the Nakba, and other Israel land grabs here at the Palestine Center.
There are areas other than Gaza where the lines diverge. This ironically includes the villages in the triangle area in the north eastern part of the West Bank which Israel was not supposed to enter and today, for reasons of ‘demographic threat’ probably wishes it never had. I’d encourage you to watch the whole presentation.
President Obama actually visited this purple area grabbed by the Israelis in the map above. President George W. Bush, despite all the damage his policies did in the region, clearly chose to use the language of the 1949 armistice line over the 1967 lines for a reason. By doing this, Bush actually signified the correct dividing line on which negotiations should be based. By reversing from the Bush language of “1949 armistice lines” to 1967 borders, Obama actually supported a Zionist land grab.
I wonder what his right-wing detractors have to say about that?
In sum, this is just another example of how, over time Zionist expansionism has taken more and more of Palestine, constantly changing the starting point and re-leveraging their negotiating position. It also goes to show you that over time, the temporary becomes permanent and a lie told often enough becomes truth. (At least we have the internet to set things straight.)
Is it any wonder why the Palestinians want a complete stop to any such expansion before even thinking of negotiations?
- Despite Domestic Cuts, U.S. Aid To Israel Up By $25 Million In Proposed Budget (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An Israeli soldier points his gun at a Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil. (File photo)
A recent policy paper published by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation brings to light a number of cases in which weapons and ammunition produced by and financed by the United States over the past decade have been used by Israel to kill defenseless Palestinians.
“US military aid to Israel is a policy that is running on autopilot and must be reconsidered,” Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director of the Washington-based organization and author of the policy paper, said on March 5.
Ruebner added, “US weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make the US complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel’s 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem), and Gaza Strip and defeat US foreign policy objectives of halting Israeli settlement expansion, ending Israeli military occupation, and establishing a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
Between the years 2000 and 2009, the United States transferred “more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition, and related equipment,” according to the report.
During the same period, “Israel killed at least 2,696 unarmed Palestinians, including 1,128 children, often with US weapons in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act.”
The Foreign Assistance Act, signed into law in 1961, stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.”
This comes as the official inquiries and investigations into US military aid to Israel over recent decades have been met with growing resistance from groups both within and outside of the US government.
Although more expensive weapons systems such as tanks and aircraft make up the bulk of purchasing contracts between Israel and the American manufactures, small arms and ammunition purchases account for the largest number of deaths.
The report adds that Israeli soldiers load some of their guns with high-velocity tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets manufactured in the United States – a frequent culprit in death throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.
“From fiscal year 2000 to 2009, the State Department licensed – and US taxpayers funded – the delivery of more than 595,000 tear gas canisters and other ‘riot control’ equipment to the Israeli military, valued at more than 20.5 million dollars,” according to the report.
In a 2007 memorandum of understanding, Washington pledged 30 billion dollars in military assistance to Tel Aviv between 2009 and 2018 – a 25-percent increase in average annual military aid over previous years. Israel will receive roughly 3.1 billion dollars in US military aid for fiscal year 2012.
“With the same amount of money that the United States gives each year to fund weapons for Israel, the federal government could instead fund affordable housing vouchers for 350,000 low-income families, or green jobs training for 500,000 unemployed workers, pr early reading programs for 900,000 at-risk students, or primary health care to 24 million people without insurance,” the report pointed out.
The report comes as eighteen Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip since last Friday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday the Tel Aviv regime will continue airstrikes against the besieged Gaza Strip “as long as necessary.”
- Israeli attacks kill 12 Palestinians, wound 21 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Arabs: Israel, US Our Main Concern, Not Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Forces Open Fire at Gaza Funeral, Injure Five (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- 2013 Budget: ‘Difficult Cuts’ for Americans, Jackpot for Israel (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) has recently published their preliminary report on a major survey they conducted on Arab opinion, over the course of their project they covered 12 Arab countries, and interviewed over 16,000 Arabs on a wide range of subjects to try and gauge the Arab opinion.
The results of the survey were very interesting to say the least, particularly when it came to the question of whom they viewed to be the major threat to the region, America, Israel, or Iran? A total of 73% viewed America and Israel as the major threat to the region, 51% in regards to Israel, 22% in regards to America, and when it came to Iran a meager 5% viewed Iran as the major threat to the region. On any given day of the week, one would not be too surprised by these statistics, but context is important here which is why these results are very important.
For the past few years the American establishment has been creating a massive propaganda effort against Iran, warning that Iran poses a major threat to everyone in the Middle East, especially with their supposed intentions of having a nuclear weapon. America has been doing everything possible to sway Arab opinion, to try and build a joint Arab-American coalition united in combating Iran. This of course perfectly aligns with Israel’s agenda. Israel has been on a war path with Iran, Israeli leaders have constantly likened the current Iranian regime to that of Nazi Germany, calling Iran a major threat to the world, and a major threat to both Arabs and Israelis. Within the media itself there has been a lot of talk about an unthinkable alliance between the Arabs and Israel, two major foes who are now united in the face of an Iranian threat, and this is precisely what the American establishment has been trying to set up. So therefore within this context, the results of this survey are a major blow to the American establishment’s plan of trying to sway Arab opinion towards their own [Zionist] anti-Iranian agenda.
The Arab perception of Israel and America being the major threat to the Middle East is also purely logical and rational, one must only look at the facts on the ground, and look at events through the eyes of the Arabs themselves. Currently it is Israel that occupies Arab lands, Israel occupies Palestinian land, occupies Lebanese land, occupies Syrian land, and for a while even occupied Egyptian land. In the case of the Palestinian occupation, the Israelis not only occupy a land that does not belong to them, they also occupy the inhabitants of the land, Palestinians live under very tight Israeli restrictions, and are virtually a people with no rights thanks to Israel. Israel has also routinely attacked Arab states such as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and almost routine attacks on the Palestinians. And then to top it off, it is Israel that actually possesses hundreds of nuclear weapons, as well as other deadly chemical and biological weapons within its arsenal. So based on all of these facts, why would the Arabs view Iran as a bigger threat than Israel? The irony is that all the claims that America makes against Iran are actual realities for Israel.
Then when it comes to America itself, is it any wonder that the Arabs view them as the second major threat to the region? America is the country that is firmly behind Israel, and as Obama recently said, America will always have Israel’s back no matter what. On top of this America has also been heavily involved in meddling in Arab affairs for their own interest, and this meddling includes military action as well, such as the invasion of Iraq which tore the country apart and led to major instability throughout the entire Middle East region. So with all the actual realities of what both Israel and America have done in the Middle East, is it any real surprise or wonder that the Arabs view Israel and America as the major threats to the region, and not Iran?
America and Israel’s effort in trying to build an Arab coalition against Iran is all part of a divide and conquer strategy, and many Arabs are fully aware of this. An Arab-Iranian, Sunni-Shia sectarian war would be the greatest calamity for both Arabs and Iranians, and such a conflict would simply benefit both Israel and America. But as this recent report has found, if it is up to the Arab people, no such conflict will ever take place.
- Sami Zaatari is a writer, and a public speaker who has taken part in public events of inter-faith and inter-community discussions. Zaatari also holds an MSc in the field of Middle East Politics.
- Haniyeh to Iranian People: You Are Partners in Arab Victories (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the annual AIPAC conference earlier this week. He also held a private meeting with US President Barack Obama.
In his AIPAC speech, Netanyahu evoked the Holocaust as the source of Israel’s special privileged status that permits Netanyahu to do whatever he decides to do to “control Israel’s fate”.
That, of course, includes bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu drew a parallel between the exchange of letters between the US War department and the World Jewish Congress in 1944.
The Wall Street Journal described the scene at the AIPAC conference:
Netanyahu got out copies of two letters he said he keeps in his desk, between the World Jewish Congress and the War Department in 1944, when the WJC called on the United States to bomb the extermination camp at Auschwitz, and the War Department refused.
The refusal included the argument that attacking the camp might unleash even more “vindictive” behavior.
“Think about that,” Netanyahu said. “Even more vindictive than the Holocaust!”
During his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu elaborated further:
“Israel must reserve the right to defend itself. After all, that’s the very purpose of the Jewish state, to restore to the Jewish people control over our destiny.
That’s why my supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains master of its fate.”
In an editorial comment, the British Economist responded:
News flash: Israel is not master of its fate. It’s not terribly surprising that a country with less than 8 million inhabitants is not master of its fate. Switzerland, Sweden, Serbia and Portugal are not masters of their fates.
These days, many countries with populations of 100 million or more can hardly be said to be masters of their fates. Britain and China aren’t masters of their fates, and even the world’s overwhelmingly largest economy, the United States, isn’t really master of its fate.
What gives this leader of a foreign nation the license to speak in Washington with such confidence that he expects the US to join him in an attack on Iran, a nation that poses absolutely no threat to the US or its citizens?
Indeed, US intelligence agencies report that they have found no reason to believe that Iran poses an immediate threat to Israel.
So why should the US go to war for Israel over an issue that poses no more immediate danger to Israel than Iraq’s non-existent WMDs threatened its neighbors? That non-existent threat led to a disastrous and costly war for the US, a war that was strongly encouraged by Israel and its US allies in Congress.
Why is there even any serious discussion with a foreign nation over what the US should do regarding an attack against yet another Muslim nation that has made no threats against us?
There are two reasons why; first, there is the US Congress, and second, there is AIPAC.
After Obama delivered his required obescient speech to AIPAC, the Wall Street Journal reported:
Rep. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said the speech was “a step in the right direction,” but ”we need to make sure that this president is also going to stand by Israel and not allow his administration to somehow speak contrary to what our ally thinks is in its best interest.”
No one in the US administration shall speak contrary to what our ally thinks is its best interest? Where would Rep. Cantor hear such a thing? Surely not in a Tea Party rally where loyalty to God and country are paramount.
We must look to AIPAC as the source of Rep. Cantor’s courage to denigrate the President of the United States.
President George Washington warned the new American nation in his 1796 farewell address that a “passionate atachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils”. He explained why:
“Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”
The US has usually managed to adhere to Washington’s advice, until, that is, AIPAC was established.
On the Anti-War website, Grant Smith described how, in 1948, AIPAC began to seize control of US foreign policy.
Recently declassified FBI files reveal how Israeli government officials first orchestrated public relations and policies through the US lobby. Counter-espionage investigations of proto-AIPAC’s first coordinating meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of Mossad provide a timely and useful framework for understanding how AIPAC continues to localize and market Israeli government policies in America.
Although AIPAC claims it rose “from a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s,” its true origin can be traced to Oct. 16, 1948. This is the date AIPAC’s founder Isaiah L. Kenen and four others established the Israel Office of Information under Israel’s UN mission. It was later moved under the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
AIPAC controls the US Congress through its network of Political Action Committees that follow AIPAC’s instructions on which candidates to politically and financially support, and which candidates to jettison.
The incumbent Israeli Prime Minister travels to Washington to personally lobby members of Congress. He also hosts visiting congressional delegations on their regular trips to Israel. An annual address to AIPAC is an essential part of that lobbying campaign.
This year, Prime Minister Netanyahu had Iran at the top of his agenda. He wants, and he fully expects, President Obama and the Congress to support Israel in its military assault against Iran’s nuclear installations.
There is no guarantee that Iran is even close to developing a nuclear capability, but in Netanyahu’s mind, even the possibility that Iran might one day develop an operational nuclear arms capability is sufficient cause for Israel, backed by the US, to destroy Iranian nuclear sites.
In short, the prime minister is ready for war against Iran, and he expects the US to fall in line behind him.
The irony of this arrogance is that Israel may well be at its lowest point of support from the world community.
David Remnick describes the extent to which Israel has become isolated from the world community. He writes in a Talk of the Town essay in the February issue of the New Yorker:
Israel has reached an impasse. An inensifying conflict of values has put its democratic nature under tremendous strres. When the government speaks daily about the exitential threat from Iran, and urges an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, it ignores the existenial threat that looms within. . . .
The political corrosion begins, of course, with the occupation of the Palestinian territories–the subjugation of Palestinian men, women and children–tht has lasted for forty years.
Peter Beinart, in a forthcoming and passionately urged polemic, The Crisis of Zionism, is just the latest critic to point out that a profoundly anti-democratic, even racist, political culture has beome endemic among much of the Jewish population in the West Bank, and threatens Israel proper. . . .
In 1980, twelve thousand Jews lived in the West Bank, “east of democracy,” Beinart writes; now they number more than three hundred thouand, and inlude Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s wildly zenophobic Foreign Minister. . . .
To [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, the proper kind of ally is exemplified by AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson–the long-time casino tycoon and recent bankroller of Newt Gingrich–who owns a newspaper in Israel devoted to supporting him.
Remnick correctly takes note of the degree to which support for Israel affects the current US presidential campaign.
We know pretty much all we need to know about Netanyahu’s feelings toward Obama. The Prime Minister orders the President about like he might order a lowly member of his Israeli cabinet. He would be very happy to see the White House back in Republican hands.
No doubt, he is following the Republican presidential nomination fight as it unfolds state by state. He cannot be unhappy over the strong link between the Republican candidates and the Christian evangelical conservatives, a segment of the American population already safely ensconced within the Republican base.
The latest victory for the pro-Israel/Christian evangelical base came this weekend when Republican Candidate Rick Santorum won, as reported by The Wichita Eagle, an impressive caucus victory, two to one, over Mitt Romney.
Santorum won with the strong support of that state’s governor, Sam Brownback, a former two-two term member of the US Senate. Governor Brownback is both a conservative evangelical Christian, and a strong supporter of Israel.
Salon describes Kansas as “ground zero for the takeover of the GOP by Christian-infused movement conservatism and the extinction of middle-of-the-road Republicanism.”
Southern primaries Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi should go to either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum, a political development that will force Romney to veer even deeper into the ”Christian-infused movement conservatism”/pro-Israel zealotry of his Republican base.
Israel’s media campaign about Iran as a threat was examined by Sheera Frenkel of McClatchy Newspapers. Among her conclusions:
Israeli officials acknowledge that the widespread acceptance in the West that Iran is on the verge of building a nuclear weapon isn’t based just on the findings of Israeli intelligence operatives, but relies in no small part on a steady media campaign that the Israelis have undertaken to persuade the world that Iran is bent on building a nuclear warhead.
“The intelligence was half the battle in convincing the world,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told McClatchy, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the inner workings of Israel’s outreach on the topic. “The other half was Israel’s persistent approach and attitude that this was not something the world could continue to ignore.”
The official had recently returned from a trip to Washington and marveled at how the topic has become a major one in the United States. “U.S. politicians were falling over each other to talk about Iran,” he said. “In some ways, that is a huge success for Israel.”
If the US is led by Israel to participate in another war in the Middle East, these McClatchy findings suggest that this war could be one of the biggest sales promotion successes in modern political history.
The other day, I came across two interesting articles. One written by an American Jew and the other by an Israeli-born Jew. Roger Tucker, an American and founder of One Democratic State, had featured this blog once and Israeli-born Brit Gilad Atzmon who has been quoted several times on this blog. Both writers dismiss the western ‘option’ of the two-state solution – in order to make the modern Jews-only (demographically) colonial experiment, everlasting. These two Jewish writers are not blinded by their Jewishness, like columnist Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post or Daniel Pipes, who claim that the world is against Israel and Jews to please Muslims.
Personally, I believe in the ‘option’ of a democratic one-state Palestine, based on ‘one-vote- one person’ with equal rights for all its citizens, dismantling of racist Zionist political parties and the Israel Occupation Force (IOF), right of return for the natives and suitable compensation for their loss of properties to the Jew settlers – and of course the dismantling of country’s nuclear arsenal. All those racist Jews, who don’t want to live in peace with the natives – they should be allowed to migrate back to their ancestral lands – Germany, Russia, Poland, France, the UK, the US, etc. – as many White settlers did in South Africa, Algeria and India.
Professor Edward Said predicted a long time ago that the great majority of Israeli Jews would prefer to live under Muslim rule in Palestine than go back to their ancestral western homeland where they know anti-Semitism would be waiting for them.
Roger Tucker in his recent article The One State Solution sounds like a good idea, but… , which is closer to my ‘option’ – pointed out the past history of Islamic tolerance toward Jews and Christians and how both Israelis and Palestinians could benefit from it: “Zionism, prior to the ascendance of Jabotinskian fanaticism and terrorism in Palestine about 80 years ago, envisioned a cooperative, binational state. It was not that long ago. The ridiculous notion that “they’ve always hated and fought one another,” another objection that one often hears, is just one of many facile inventions of Zionist propaganda. Barring relatively brief eruptions of tribal and religious strife, like the Crusades, the siblings of the Abrahamic tradition (outside of Europe at least) have gotten along rather swimmingly for the last 1,500 years, i.e., since the birth of Islam, which has traditionally respected and been hospitable to both Christians and Jews.
Roger Tucker believes Israeli Jews, after eventually becoming a minority, would retain economic clout as well as dominance in politics and other fields, as the White Afrikaners have in South Africa. “And a Jewish culture, with its multifarious institutions, customs and traditions would coexist with its Palestinian counterpart, enriching both but threatening neither. Why is he sure of that? Because: “ Fortunately for the Israelis, the Palestinians have proven themselves to be an extremely decent, tolerant and amazingly patient people. In general, they show remarkably little animosity towards Jewish people, and the remaining hotheads, on both sides, could be dealt with”.
And what is there for the Americans to gain by supporting the “One State Option”? Here are some of the obvious benefits:
1. “With the Jewish state dissolved and the problem solved, Zionism, a combination of ethnocentric, religious and nationalist fascism dedicated to the continued existence of Israel, would no longer have a raison d’être and would consequently die a quiet, unlamented demise, to the great relief of billions of people. In one stroke, its iron grip on the political life of the West would relax and perhaps the ideals and hopes that gave rise to the great democracies could somehow be salvaged. The US, foremost among these, might once again be viewed with respect instead of with a mixture of fear and contempt. Perhaps we could begin to deal with the real problems that face humanity, without being distracted by the wars, hypocrisy, treason, crimes, terrorism, distortions, double standards, lies, confusion and scheming that Zionism has until now plagued us with,” wrote Tucker.
2. American taxpayers would not have to waste US$6-14 billion each year on the deceptive regime which, mostly, has worked counter to America’s interests. Washington can use this money to provide education and medical facilities for 45-52 million American citizens who cannot afford them. Also, with some of that money – Washington can improve its inhumane prison facilities for the over six million US prisoners.
However, Gilad Atzmon prefers the Third Option:
“It is an obvious fact that the Israelis do not belong to the region. The Jewish claim for Zion i.e. Palestine is beyond pathetic. It is in fact as ridiculous as a bunch of Italian settlers invading London’s Piccadilly Circus claiming their right to return to a land once occupied by their Roman forefathers. Obviously Italians would not get away with it, Zionists, on the other hand, have managed to fool the nations for more than a while.
Most humanists seem to support the One State Solution, they are convinced that such a solution is fair and ethical. Again, I am rather perplexed here. As much as we accept that sharing the land is reasonable and ethical, it is completely foreign to Jewish ideology and Zionism in particular. Early Zionist immigrants were more than welcome to share the land with the Palestinian indigenous population. But they had a completely different plan in mind, they wanted a ‘Jews only State’. They eventually ethnically cleansed the Palestinians (1948), Those who managed to cling to the land were eventually locked behind walls and barbed wire. The One State Solution dismisses the Jewish ideology. As much as I myself tend to support the One State Solution, I am fully aware of the fact that such a solution may become possible only when the Israeli Jewish population gives up its supremacist ideology. Needless to say that when this happens, the Jews in Palestine would become Palestinian Jews: ordinary people of Jewish ethnic origin who happen to live on Palestinian land.
Considering the latest Israeli barbarian military operations, bearing in mind the disastrous starvation in Gaza, learning about the serious threat to world peace imposed by repeated nuclear threats made by Israel against its neighboring States and Iran in particular, we should move the discourse one step further. We better look at Helen Thomas’ solution.”
- Anti-Zionism in the 21st Century (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Of Exclusivity, Loyalty and Liberation of Palestine (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The Delusions of ‘Liberal’ Zionism (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Anti-nuclear activists from across Britain are surrounding EDF Energy-owned power station to stop the development of Hinkley Point and to urge the government to put an end to its nuclear power.
In a bid to mark the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant, hundreds of British campaigners have formed a symbolic chain around Hinkley Point to voice their determined opposition to new nuclear, and to call on the coalition government to suspend its plan for seven other new nuclear plants across the UK.
The human chain is planned to continue for 24 hours, with the activists blocking the main entrance of Hinkley Point.
Despite the rising concerns over the severity of atomic accidents, UK government has announced that it was planning to have eight new nuclear plants by 2025. Hinkley Point in Somerset is the first of eight proposed sites for building new nuclear plant.
Nancy Birch, spokeswoman for the Boycott EDF group campaigning against the UK’s addiction to nuclear power, said, “The disaster at Fukushima is only just beginning. A whole new generation will now live under the shadow of radiation contamination for the rest of their lives. Do we really want to put our own children under the same kind of threat?”
Zoe Smith, spokesperson for South West Against Nuclear, stressed that it was very important for the communities in Wales and the South West to understand the risk of a Fukushima-style accident.
“Bristol, Exeter, Taunton, Yeovil, Cardiff and Swansea are all within the 50 mile evacuation zone recommended by the US and France. The threat from a leakage of radiation or a full-blown disaster are very real,” she said.
Smith also declared that Hinkley protest would be a wake-up call, and that Britain should take a new approach to energy provision. Adding, “The reality is that we have to start reducing our energy consumption and making modern life more energy-efficient. We then need to spend the £60bn earmarked for ‘new nuclear’ on truly renewables forms of energy and research.”
Similar protests are taking place against new nuclear plants at Wylfa in North Wales and Heysham in Lancashire.
- Media, Academia Join Forces to Downplay Dangers of Nuclear Power (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A number of armed extremist Israeli settlers attacked, on Saturday, the outskirts of the towns of Yatta and Bani Neim, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, while the residents were ordered by the army to stay home.
Local sources reported that the settlers, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, installed tents near a military post in the area, and held a barbeque party while paying loud music and dancing.
Resident Ibrahim Al-Jabareen told the Palestinian Information Center that a number of soldiers knocked on his door, and the doors of several nearby homes, and informed the residents that they are not allowed to leave their homes until 2:30 in the afternoon.
The soldiers said that any resident who leaves his home will be arrested, and prosecuted, under the pretext of harassing the feasting settlers.
He added that the settlers have recently stepped-up their attacks in the area, by attacking homes, cars and farmlands. “They attack us, and our lands, while the soldiers imprison us in our homes”, Al-Jabareen stated.
On Saturday at dawn, the army invaded Al-Reehieh village, south of Hebron, and fired rounds and live ammunition into the air, in addition to gas bombs and concussion grenades; no injuries or arrests were reported.
Soldiers were also deployed in Palestinian orchards in the area, and prevented the residents from entering their own lands.
On Friday, a group of extremist settlers of the Tal Romeida and Bet Hadassah illegal outposts in Hebron, attacked three international peace activists and stole some of their equipment while touring in Ash-Shuhada’ Street to monitor the ongoing violations carried out by the soldiers and the settlers in the city.
In related news, soldiers based at a roadblock between the northern West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus, stopped on Saturday afternoon dozens of Palestinian vehicles and searched them while randomly interrogating several residents, and checking their ID cards.
- Settlers Install New Outpost Near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- International activists assaulted by extreme settlers in Al Khalil (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Extremist settlers hurl concrete blocks at Hebron’s Old Market (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Settler Violence: Broken Glass on Shuhada Street (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- International Solidarity Movement volunteers encounter settler attack and sexual harassment in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers raid community center, arrest local activist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- The massacre of 1929 and the War of Narratives (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli demolition ‘displaces 120′ in Hebron village (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Settlers Torch Mosque In Ramallah (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A US soldier opened fire on Afghan civilians in the southern province of Kandahar, killing 16 of them. [...]
Agence France Press said its correspondent has counted the bodies of the killed, saying they were 16 people.
“Today at around 3:00 am a US soldier walked off his base and started shooting at civilians”, Ahmad Jawed Faysal, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor, told AFP.
“What we know at this stage is that there have been casualties in two villages, Alokozai and Garrambai villages (in Panjwayi district)”, he said.
“A delegation has been sent to find out how this has happened as well as to determine the dead and injured”, Faysal added. [...]
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement it “regretted” the incident, saying the soldier has been detained. … Full article