A senior official from the European Union has visited Israel to inform the government that it will find a solution to ensure Israel’s participation in the scientific Horizon 2020 project, Haaretz newspaper has claimed. This is in spite of EU restrictions on dealing with Israeli companies and research centres operating in the illegal West Bank settlements which takes effect in January 2014. The EU ban on such dealings threatens to lose Israeli research centres around $200 million.
Europe-Israel discussions regarding Israel’s participation in the 2020 project stalled when the EU approved the economic restrictions on Israeli companies and research centres in the West Bank. The European guidelines dictate that any future agreement with Israel should make it clear that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, are not part of Israel and therefore not covered by EU-Israel agreements. Since then, talks over Israel’s participation in Europe’s largest scientific project turned from a technical issue to a complex political matter, especially as a few Israeli research centres likely to join the project are active in the settlements.
According to Haaretz, Israel and the United States are exercising “tremendous pressure” on EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton to relax the new restrictions. Israel has also threatened that it will not join the European project if the restrictions remain in place. The newspaper said that Ashton was scheduled to deliver the draft project to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs two weeks ago with clarifications of the restrictions and the proposed agreement but decided to postpone the trip so that leaks could be avoided, which might damage the discussions.
“A high-level European delegation is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week,” said Haaretz, “headed by the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Pierre Vimont, who will meet with senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Science.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel said that the latest bone of contention with the EU is the demand that Israeli companies wishing to take part in Horizon 2020 should state publicly that they are not active in the settlements and occupied Palestinian territories.
- EU commissioner pledges stronger co-operation with Israel (irishtimes.com)
- Tell your MEPs to support the new guidelines on Israel’s participation in EU programs (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Tension between EU and Israel over EU research funding (irishtimes.com)
- [Opinion] EU’s moment of truth on Israeli settlements (euobserver.com)
Did Somebody Blink?
On March 1, 2010, an essay in Haaretz titled “Who will blink first in Iran’s nuclear poker game?” stated that “Israel is on the verge of a preemptive war to try to foil Iran’s nuclear program.” So, the question was who would blink first? Would it be Iran that would give up its nuclear program? Would it be Israel that would be forced to withdraw its threat of military attack? Or would it be the US that would ratchet up the pressure on Iran to please Israel?
Similar arguments continued to appear in the next two years. For example, On March 2, 2012, in an interview titled “Between The U.S., Israel And Iran, Who Blinks First?” NPR asked Martin Indyk to elaborate on his comment in The New York Times that we “are now engaged in a three-way game of chicken, which makes blinking more dangerous than confrontation.” Indyk, the former executive director of the Israeli lobby group The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, advisor to President Clinton, and US Ambassador to Israel, answered:
Well, essentially we’re now in a vicious cycle. In order to calm the Israelis down and get them to back away from their intense interest in taking care of the [Iranian nuclear] program militarily, we are ratcheting up sanctions that essentially are aimed at Iran’s economic jugular. We are doing that on the theory that the more pressure we put on them, the more we bring their economy to its knees, the more likely the Iranians are to cry uncle, to blink, to say, OK, we’ll negotiate meaningful curbs on our nuclear program. . . And unless somebody blinks, I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a confrontation.
It seems that after many years of this “three-way game of chicken” somebody finally blinked; and that somebody was not Iran.
Last week, following a long hiatus and much anticipation, there was a meeting in Kazakhstan between Iran and the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Such meetings are usually shrouded in secrecy and it is often difficult to get an accurate picture of what goes on behind closed doors. For example, on February 27, 2013, after the conclusion of the two-day meeting, a press release was issued by “EU High Representative Catherine Ashton,” the convener of these meetings, which basically stated: “We put what we call a confidence building proposal on the table.”
What the proposal stated remained secret. However, from various reports in the US, Israeli, and Iranian media one could surmise that the US, which is the main force behind these meetings, advanced the following proposal. In exchange for some so-called sanction relief, Iran would: 1) “significantly restrict” its accumulation of 20% enriched uranium, but would keep sufficient amount to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor that produces isotope for medical purposes; 2) suspend enrichment at Fordow underground facility and accept conditions that “constrain” the ability to quickly resume enrichment at Fordow; and 3) allow more regular and thorough monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
If what was reported were true, and if there were no deception involved, then the US had indeed blinked and had withdrawn its previous and punishing proposal, a proposal that is usually referred to as “stop, shut and ship.” The earlier proposal, as summarized by Ashton on June 19, 2012, demanded from Iran: “stopping 20 percent enrichment activities, shutting the Fordow nuclear facility and shipping out stockpiled 20 percent enriched nuclear materials.”
The latest P5+1 proposal not only did not ask for shutting down Fordow and stopping 20 percent enrichment, but would let Iran retain some of its medium level enriched uranium to make fuel. More importantly, the proposal would implicitly recognize the right of Iran to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, something that Iran has been asking for years and the US and Israel have consistently denied.
Understandably, the Iranian side was pleased and stated that on some points the P5+1 got closer to the Iranian perspective. Indeed, the US had, to the chagrin of The Washington Post editorial piece on February 28, 2013, “kowtowed,” or more accurately, blinked. But what about Israel, the third party in the “three-way game of chicken,” did it also blink?
The “stop, shut and ship” proposal was originally manufactured in Israel. On April 4, 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “has held discussions with American and European officials in recent weeks with the goal of convincing them to set clear goals for the planned talks with Iran.” The report went on to say that according to Barak, Israel’s demands are: “1) [the] transfer of all uranium enriched to 20 percent—approximately 120 kg.—out of Iran to a third party country; 2) the transfer of the majority of the 5 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% out of Iran, leaving just enough needed for energy purposes; 3) the closure of the Fordow enrichment facility, buried under a mountain near the city of Qom; [and] 4) the transfer of fuel rods from a third party country to Iran for the purpose of activating the Tehran Research Reactor.” The US slightly modified these demands and presented them at the P5+1 and Iran meeting in June 2012.
After the June meeting, Ha’aretz reported that “representatives of the powers are expected to fly to Israel and update its leaders” (June 18, 2012). On the same day Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon tried to exert more pressure on the P5+1 by stating that Israel could find itself facing the dilemma of “a bomb, or to bomb” (Reuters). “Should that be the choice,” Yaalon, stated, “then bombing (Iran) is preferable to a bomb (in Iran’s hands). . . I hope we do not face that dilemma.”
Delivering the Israeli manufactured demands to Iran and then going to Israel to report on the Iranian reaction were not new. After the May meeting between Iran and the P5+1, Haaretz reported on May 25, 2012, that Wendy Sherman, the US representative at the meeting, went straight to Israel. As the report stated, Sherman was going to “update Israeli officials on the talks in Baghdad, and on preparations for the third round of talks in Moscow on June 18 and 19.” The report also stated that according to the State Department, Sherman will also “reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The following day, on May 26, Haaretz published a more extensive piece about Sherman’s visit. It quoted an unnamed US official as saying: “We updated the Israelis in detail before we updated our own government.” He was also quoted as saying: “There are no gaps between the U.S. and Israel in anything related to talks between Iran and the six world powers over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. . . Even if we do not have the patience, we need to give diplomacy a chance before military action.” In addition, the report stated that Sherman arrived in Israel “along with officials from the White House National Security Council working on the Iran nuclear issue—Gary Seymour and Puneet Talwar.” “The American team,” the report went on to say, “had a three-hour meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with National Security advisor Yaakov Amidror, and a number of other senior Israeli officials who deal with the Iran issue.” Not surprisingly, Gary Samore, President Obama’s Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control, was one of the original founders of the Israeli lobby group “United Against Nuclear Iran.”
The February 2013 meeting between the P5+1 and Iran was also followed by a similar visit to Israel. On February 26, 2013, Haaretz reported that the “American administration, along with the U.K., France and Germany, are in close contact with Israel and have been coordinating with it ahead of the [P5+1] talks in Kazakhstan. Immediately after the talks, an American negotiating team headed by Wendy Sherman, the under secretary for political affairs, is expected to come to Jerusalem.” “Sherman,” the report went on to add, “intends to meet with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, Foreign Ministry Director General for Strategic Affairs Jeremy Issacharoff and other high-ranking officials to update them about the content of the talks with Iran.” The report also stated: “Last week, Amidror visited Washington and discussed the Iranian nuclear program with his American counterpart, Thomas E. Donilon.”
Given the close coordination between the US and Israel, one has to conclude that not only the US, but also Israel blinked at the February 2013 meeting. This, of course, comes as no surprise, since Israeli officials, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had bluffed and blinked many times before. After many years of crying wolf and threatening Iran, Netanyahu’s most public blinking came on September 27, 2012, when he appeared before the UN General Assembly and held up a diagram of a cartoonish-looking bomb with a fuse and drew a redline on it at 90% enriched uranium. The bizarre spectacle, which was mocked by some as “Bibi’s Wiley E. Coyote-style cartoon bomb,” was not only the proverbial “one too many times” that Mr. Netanyahu had cried wolf, but it was also the beginning of the end of Israel’s intense and unsuccessful campaign to make the US attack Iran or intensify the sanctions. The “decisive year” of 2012, as Israeli newspaper Maariv pointed out, was passing “without decisiveness” (Reuters, September 28, 2012).
What made the US and Israel blink? The answer requires a detailed analysis of Obama Administration’s policy of “tough diplomacy,” an analysis that will appear in my forthcoming book. However, a short answer is that the US and Israel seem to have run out of options in overthrowing the current government in Iran and replacing it with a friendly regime. “Tough diplomacy”—which was formulated mostly by Dennis Ross, currently the counselor to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and formerly special assistant to President Obama—threw at Iran everything the US had in terms of sanctions, sabotage, cyber-attacks and possibly assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists. Yet, the last step in this policy, which was supposed to be a naval blockade of Iran and military attack, could not be taken. Why? Because in order to wage a war against Iran the economic conditions in that country must become as dismal as they were in Iraq before it was invaded; and that, at the present, is not the case. Even though the accumulated result of 33 years of sanctions against Iran, particularly the most brutal and unprecedented ones in the last 4 years, have helped to create massive hardship in Iran, there is no sign that the Iranian economy is actually collapsing. There are also hardly any Iranian entities or individuals left to sanction. The US and Israel seem to be coming to terms with the reality and beginning to blink.
Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UK daily the Guardian, is reporting on Monday that relations between the European Union and the State of Israel are to be upgraded. The EU is to offer improvements on both trade and diplomatic relations, including upgrades on migration, energy and agriculture.
The move follows Israel’s inclusion to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in late 2010 and is a revival of plans to upgrade relations between Israel and the supra-national body that were suspended following Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 – January 2009.
The Guardian reports that the details of the agreement are not as significant of an upgrade as the previous initiative, and that Catherine Ashton has delegated attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Foreign Minister of Cyprus.
Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has been a vocal critic of Israel’s suppression of non-violent activism, settlement construction and Israel’s general policies towards Palestinians.
Despite this, Ashton recently received criticism for refusing to speak out against, and clearly state the illegality of, Israel’s policy of Administrative Detention, whereby Palestinian’s maybe detained without charge or trial indefinitely.
Administrative Detention orders are renewed every three months by the Israeli military, who are not required to present evidence as to the reasons for the order. Any justification is held in a sealed file which neither the detained or their legal representation may have access to.
- Popular Commitee Leader Bassem Tamimi Sentenced (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Open letter to Europan Commission President José Manuel Barroso (bdsmovement.net)
So as was expected, the Iran-bashers like Ray Takeyh are busy trying to blame the failure of the Moscow talks on “Iranian intransigence” — as if Iran’s completely legitimate expectation that the talks would proceed on the basis of the relevant international treaty AS PROMISED (which includes recognition of the right to enrich uranium) is somehow just too crazy and far out to be acknowledged. God forbid that the US should have to abide by international law, after all. Hey, remember this?
“We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement to ensure all the obligations under the treaty are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said following the meeting with Iran’s top negotiator, Saeed Jalili.
LOL. Ashton baby, you’re such a good comedienne.
And naturally the media are busy repeating the standard talking points about how the negotiations fell apart because Iran was “intransigent” about giving up their 20% enrichment.
Apart from the lie about the talks proceeding on the basis of the NPT, what the media completely fail to mention, of course, is that the US would never have had to negotiate over the 20% enriched uranium in the first place had the US not interferred in Iran’s right to simply purchase the reactor fuel it needed for the Tehran Research Reactor — a reactor, by the way, which is not only NOT a nuclear weapons proliferation threat at all (the reactor operates under IAEA safeguards, and is also entirely too small to be a weapons threat) but is also used to make isotopes to treat Iran’s 800,000 cancer patients. In short, the US has shot itself in the foot by denying Iran’s right to buy the fuel, and now has to negotiate in the hopes to convince Iran to give up 20% enrichment. What a success! This is never even mentioned or considered in the media analyses. Instead the expectation that Iran should give up enrichment, and is “intransigent” for not doing so as the US demands, is simply taken for granted in the reports/analyses.
Bassem Tamimi, a leading member of the grass roots movement against the Israeli Annexation Wall and settlement construction in the village of an-Nabi Saleh, has on Tuesday been sentenced at the Israeli Ofer Military Court in the West Bank.
Mr. Tamimi was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment and a further 17 months suspended sentence. Tamimi was released following the judgement, due to having already served 13 months imprisonment waiting for his case to come to trial.
The ruling means that if Tamimi participates in any of the village’s weekly non-violent protest activities he will be forced to serve out the remainder of the suspended sentence in prison.
Bassem Tamimi has been described as a human rights defender by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. Ashton has been critical of the trial against Tamimi, as she was of the trial against Abdullah Abu Rahme, a similar figure in the non-violent protest movement in the village of Bil’in.
The trial of Bassem Tamimi came under fire following allegations of coerced testimony from children of Nabi Saleh who, contravening international law, were interrogated by the Israeli military with neither legal representation or a parent or guardian present.
- Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Convicted; Prosecution Criticized by Court (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Late on Sunday night Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attempted to kidnap a local peace activist, one of the organizers of nonviolent peaceful protests against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and settlements in the area.
The Friends of Freedom and Justice Committee in Bil’in (FFJ) reported that resident Hosam Hamad, 33 years old, was not at home when soldiers invaded it. Instead, the soldiers handed his mother a warrant for his arrest.
The FFJ added that the army pushed journalists and cameramen away when they attempted to ask the soldiers why they were trying to take Hamad. They informed them that they were not allowed to document the invasion and did not provide any explanation for their actions.
Bil’in is known for its leading role in creative non-violent resistance against the Annexation Wall and settlements in the area. Peace activists from different parts of the world as well as Israeli activists participate in the weekly non-violent protests.
Israeli soldiers use excessive force against the protesters, and repeatedly kidnap local activists of the non-violent resistance. The army is responsible for hundreds of injuries and several deaths because of its use of force against the protesters.
In 2008, Ashraf Abu Rahma was detained during a nonviolent protest; he was cuffed and blindfolded before one soldier held him while another soldier shot him in the leg.
The shooting was caught on tape by a young Palestinian woman from Bil’in, and was handed to a number of human rights groups to expose the Israeli crime. The soldiers subsequently detained her father as an act of punishment.
Abu Rahma’s brother, Basem, and his sister, Jawaher, were killed by Israeli fire in different non-violent protests against the Wall and settlements.
A statement issued by the spokesperson of the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said last Tuesday that the European Union defends the right of Palestinians to hold peaceful protests against illegal Israeli settlement construction on their land.
- Al-Ma’sara Village Holds Its Weekly Nonviolent Protest (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Three Women Injured Near Bethlehem (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Minnesota Battle Over Israeli Bonds (alethonews.wordpress.com)
BAGHDAD – The six major powers known as the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to reach an agreement between themselves on a package of proposals which had been presented by Iran in the meeting on Wednesday.
Sources close to the meeting have blamed the U.S. for the failure of talks between the major powers, the Mehr News Agency correspondent reported from Baghdad.
Iran had presented a five-point proposal which included “nuclear and non-nuclear issues”.
Diplomats close to the talks say the major powers have reneged on their promises of reciprocal steps which had been agreed upon in the Istanbul talks on April 4.
In the meeting negotiators from the 5+1 group especially the U.S. used a language similar to those of Israeli officials and this caused a hurdle in the talks, diplomat said.
According to our correspondent, the 5+1 group is suggesting another place for a next meeting. However, the Iranian side is seeking a tentative agreement in Baghdad before setting a date for the next meeting.
Iran’s lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, held bilateral talks late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
The two top negotiators plan to brief reporters about the results of negotiations later today.
Two news reports by major wire services this weekend demonstrate just how pervasive misinformation and propaganda are in the mainstream media when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue.
Reuters reported this week that Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chief nuclear negotiator for the P5+1, has high hopes for the new round of talks with Iran resuming May 23rd in Baghdad and will approach the meeting as a “serious set of discussions that can lead to concrete results.”
Sounds positive enough, especially when coupled with the statement Ashton made at the end of last month’s meeting in Istanbul. “We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement, to ensure all the obligations under the NPT are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
However, another comment made by Ashton on Friday is cause for considerable concern. She told reporters in Brussels, “My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons programme in Iran. I hope we’ll see the beginnings of success.”
Such a statement is certainly alarming. Despite the hysterical cries of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing acolytes here in the U.S., both Western and Israeli intelligence, along with the IAEA, have consistently confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
One would assume that the chief P5+1 negotiator would understand and acknowledge this simple – and vitally important – fact. Perhaps Ashton’s recent private audience with Netanyahu in Jerusalem was more dangerous and detrimental to the negotiations than one would even expect.
(Of course, the sheer absurdity of Ashton’s meeting with the Prime Minister of a state that is not a signatory of the NPT, has an undeclared stockpile of hundreds of nuclear warheads, is a constant violator of international law and perpetrator of war crimes, and which is in consistent breach of countless Security Council resolutions gos without saying. That Netanyahu would have any role whatsoever in these discussions, let alone issuing demands to both the U.S. government and Ashton herself, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how designed for failure these negotiations were from the start.)
In one of the most embarrassing examples of published propaganda over the Iranian nuclear program to date, The Associated Press today “reported” that it has obtained an undated “computer-generated drawing” of “an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted” at its Parchin military complex. The news agency says it was bequeathed this rendering “by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists.”
One version of the AP exclusive contains this detail:
That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.
What mysterious country could that possibly be, one wonders?! The answer is so painfully obvious as to make AP scoopster George Jahn’s attempts at anonymity patently ridiculous and pathetic. Jahn, unsurprisingly, has a long history of silly reporting on the Iran nuclear issue.
This detonation chamber stuff, by the way, has been debunked for half a year now.
The story also notes that former IAEA official Olli Heinonen, who himself has a long history of pushing dubious information about Iran’s nuclear file, said that the computer graphic provided to the press is “‘very similar’ to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin.” Heinonen added that “even the colors of the computer-generated drawing matched that of the photo.”
Pretty convincing, huh? Ok, here‘s the computer drawing this whole thing is about:
That’s it. Really. No, please stop laughing and believe me. That’s really the thing they’re talking about. Yes, seriously. I mean it.
These are the depths to which propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program have sunk. It’s not even clever anymore, it’s just stupid.
Just in case anyone is interested, I have successfully uncovered the true identities of the crack Israeli computer graphics team that came up with that drawing:
- Israel Sets Tough Demands for Next Round of Iran Talks (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- Nuclear infowar: New ‘evidence’ of Iran’s nuclear ambitions as Vienna talks approach (rt.com)
The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner reporting from Jerusalem on March 20th described Israeli government rage at a comment made by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton relating to the killing of three Jewish children in Toulouse France on the previous day. Ashton decried the killing but then tied it in to equally unfortunate deaths of children in other places, including Gaza. Her comment caused Netanyahu to explode, saying he was “infuriated” by the “comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli Defense Forces hitting “…terrorists who use children as a human shield.” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly joined in, saying that Ashton should instead be thinking about the “children of southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks from Gaza.”
Where to begin? Israel’s surgical attacks have killed thousands of Gazans, including many children, and the stories about children as human shields comes from – you guessed it – Israeli government sources. The Goldstone report uncovered no evidence that there had been any use of civilians by Hamas militants. Israel has deliberately attacked schools and refugee camps, with little regard for who ends up dying. In its most recent bombings of Gaza, Israel has killed 26 Palestinians, including two children. No Israelis were injured when the Palestinians responded with homemade rockets. In 2011, 105 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, at least 37 of whom were undeniably civilians. This was up from 68 killed in 2010.
In Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, the Israelis killed at least 1,100 Palestinians, using phosphorous shells and other weapons considered to be forbidden under international law. Ten Israeli soldiers died as well as 3 civilians, a Palestinian-to-Israeli rate of mortality approaching 100 to one.
The fact that Netanyahu and Lieberman can be taken seriously and reported in the New York Times when they rant about how humane the Israeli Army is demonstrates that there is an operating assumption in the media that the American public can believe just about anything when it comes to Israel. It recalls the foppish French “philosopher” Bernard Henri-Levy’s assertion that the Israeli Army is the world’s most moral. After years of being subjected to intense propaganda, maybe it’s true that the public in Europe and America have been completely brainwashed when it comes to Israel’s bad behavior.
- Gaza: Boy Dies of Wounds Sustained on Monday; Jet Fighters Bomb Gaza City (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Baroness Ashton and Jewish Sensitivities (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- No pretense of an excuse for continued Israeli attacks on Gaza (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel using Gaza as testing field for weapons: Meshaal (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy was criticised yesterday for comparing the killing of three children and a rabbi in a shooting attack in France to the situation in Gaza.
At the “Palestine refugees in the changing Middle East” conference in Brussels, Baroness Ashton, described the murders in Toulouse as a “terrible tragedy”, but she then added: “When we see what is happening in Gaza and in different parts of the world – we remember young people and children who lose their lives.”
Seemingly some prominent Jewish and Israeli leaders couldn’t agree less. For them Jewish suffering exceeds all other suffering and Palestinian’s in particular.
The London Jewish Chronicle quoted some of the outraged critics. “Even when read in context, Ashton’s words are beyond unacceptable,” said Oliver Worth, the British chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He said they were “truly outrageous and revolting” and called for her to resign because she had “lost all credibility”. And yet, Mr Worth fails to explain why is it “outrageous and revolting” to equate Jewish suffering with Palestinian one.
“Baroness Ashton’s remarks were both crass and wholly inappropriate,” said the chief executives of the Board of Deputies, yet he also fails to provide any reasoning.
“There is absolutely no equivalence between the situation in Gaza and the cold and callous murder of Rabbi Jonathan Sandler and the three children,” said Stefan Kerner, director of public affairs for the Zionist Federation. And I wonder why there is no ‘equivalence’, is it because the Jews are yet to withdraw from Toulouse? Or may be Mr Kerner actually expects the French to withdraw from Toulouse and to leave it to Rabbi Sandler and a few other Jews. I obviously find it really difficult to follow the Zionist logic anymore.
The Rabbi added: “For a person in Baroness Ashton’s position to even consider her comments appropriate is disgraceful. She should withdraw her statement immediately and apologise unreservedly for the offence that she has caused.” And I wonder why is it offensive to Jews when someone equates their grief with Goyim’s suffering. Does the Rabbi really believe that Jewish suffering is somehow superior?
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Foreign Minister, said he viewed her remarks as “inappropriate”. He said he hoped that she “re – examines and retracts them”. And I wonder, what kind of a retraction would please the Israeli Government. Do they really expect Baroness Ashton to accept that Jewish suffering is the ultimate form of human grief?
Israeli war criminal as well as Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also, attempted to offer some reasoning. She described Ashton’s remark as “reprehensible, infuriating, and wrong” to draw any link “between the murder of children in Toulouse and the massacre Assad is leading in Syria and the situation in Gaza”. Livni may be right for a change, the crime committed in Gaza by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish People is indeed unique in the history of brutality. Also the fact that 94% of the Israeli Jewish population supported IDF genocdial tactics at the time of operation Cast Lead is also very unique. Israel’s war crimes are indeed uniquely cruel and beyond comparison.
But Livni didn’t just stop there, she tried to qualify her statement. “A hate crime or a leader murdering his people is not like a country fighting terror, even if civilians are hurt.” According to Lvini, the Baroness had failed to make “the appropriate moral distinction”. To start with we do not know yet what led to the tragic event in Toulouse. However, the fact that Israel defines the Palestinians as “terrorists” is yet to provide the Jewish State with an moral excuse to slay the indigenous people of the land and to abuse every possible human right.
I guess that we are all becoming impervious to Jewish political logic. But maybe this is another symptom of the Zionification of our reality. From now on we are expected to obey.
WASHINGTON – The Unites States has expressed “deep regret” over the Belarusian authorities’ decision to expel two European Union diplomats in retaliation for new EU sanctions imposed on Belarusian officials over alleged human rights violations.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry advised on Tuesday that the head of the EU delegation to Belarus, Ambassador Maira Mora, and Polish Ambassador Leszek Szerepka “leave for their capitals for consultations to inform their leadership of Belarus’ firm position that pressure and sanctions are unacceptable.” Minsk also recalled its ambassadors from Warsaw and Brussels.
Mora said she would leave Belarus later on Wednesday, while other European diplomats will leave the country “in the near future.”
“These actions, like the expulsion of the US ambassador to Belarus in 2008 and the closure of the OSCE office in Minsk in March 2011, are only deepening Belarus’ self-isolation,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
Following the Belarusian statement, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced on Tuesday that all EU members will recall their ambassadors to Minsk.
“In expression of solidarity and unity, it was agreed that the ambassadors of the EU member states in Minsk will all be withdrawn for consultations to their capitals,” Ashton said through her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic. “All EU member states will also summon Belarusian ambassadors to their foreign ministries.”
The diplomatic scandal broke out after the EU announced that it had blacklisted another 21 Belarusian officials over their alleged involvement in the ongoing crackdown on the country’s opposition. More than 200 people were already on the blacklist, including President Alexander Lukashenko, two of his sons, and most of the country’s top leadership. They have been banned from entering the EU and their European assets have been frozen.
Toner said in his statement “the United States stands with our partners and joins them in calling on Belarus to end its repression of civil society and the democratic opposition.”
While announcing the decision to expel the diplomats, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh warned that “other measures to defend our interests will also be taken” should Western powers continue putting pressure on Minsk.
He also threatened to ban entry to the country for those EU officials who contributed to the introduction of the new sanctions.
Washing your hands of Khader Adnan: Ali Abunimah’s response to weasel words of EU’s Catherine Ashton
Today my colleague David Cronin wrote about the weasel worded response of the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, for comment on the case of Khader Adnan. Here is my response, which I sent her by email.
European Union High Representative
Ms. Catherine Ashton
Dear Ms. Ashton,
Forty-eight hours after my colleague David Cronin first requested it, your spokespersons found the time to issue a statement on the plight of Khader Adnan, who could die at any moment, shackled to his bed, now in his 62nd day of hunger strike against his arbitrary detention by Israel.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Carter Center, and numerous civil society groups all over the world have called for Israel to immediately release or charge Mr. Adnan, as well as the more than 300 other “administrative detainees” including 21 elected members of the Palestinian legislative council currently being held by Israel.
But you didn’t do that. Instead, you washed your hands of Khader Adnan, and to the extent that Khader Adnan has become a symbol of Palestinians’ desperate determination to stand up for their rights against overwhelming Israeli oppression, you washed your hands of all Palestinians too.
“The Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against our people, especially prisoners. I have been humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey.”
Addressing you and other members of the “international community” he wrote: “I hereby assert that I am confronting the occupiers not for my own sake as an individual, but for the sake of thousands of prisoners who are being deprived of their simplest human rights while the world and international community look on.”
“It is time the international community and the UN support prisoners and force the State of Israel to respect international human rights and stop treating prisoners as if they were not humans.”
But you decided to look away. Your weasel-worded statement merely “requests the government of Israel to do all it can to preserve the health of Mr. Adnan and handle this case while abiding by all legal obligations under international law.” You even affirmed Israel’s right to use administrative detention.
What is this “case”? Let us remind ourselves that Mr. Adnan was abducted from his home at 3.30AM on 17 December. He was taken from his pregnant wife Randa and his two young daughters. He has not been charged with a crime, despite lengthy harsh interrogation, humiliation and abuse. This is what led him to go on hunger strike. He has not eaten since one week before Christmas.
“My father-in-law said to him: ‘We want you to stay alive. You cannot defeat this state on your own.’ He told him he wanted him to end the strike. I told him I wished he would drink a cup of milk. But he said: ‘I did not expect this from you. I know you are with me all the time. Please stop it…. I know my husband. He will not change his mind. I expect him to die.”
He is still alive and he wants to live. Randa Adnan recalled that her husband told one of his lawyers: “I do not want to go to oblivion or death. But I am a man who defends his freedom. If I die it will be my fate.”
You have frequently asserted that “human rights” are at the center of your policy. But we know that any such statements come with an asterisk. Palestinians are exempt from such rights, and Israel is exempt from any accountability. You proved that again today.
What makes this all the more revolting is that you spared no opportunity to call for the release of an Israeli occupation soldier who was held in Gaza, a soldier taken prisoner while bearing arms to enforce the deadly siege and occupation of Gaza.
Perhaps if Khader Adnan had been an armed Israeli occupation soldier, instead of a father who was at home with his family, you would have had more sympathy.
I have not lost hope that Mr. Khader can be saved. I dream of a day when people like you will lead instead of follow. But perhaps that isn’t your function.
What gives me hope still is that people all over Europe, all over the world, are joining the demands that Israel release Adnan, so he can return home.
Read some of their messages to him and his family. Perhaps you will rediscover some of the humanity that your shameful statement so painfully lacks, end your complicity and call on Israel to free this man and all other prisoners of its brutal, merciless, inhumane and EU-subsidized occupation.
- The EU’s shameful silence on Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Former Irish hunger striker’s message for Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner 55 days on hunger strike (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Raymond McCartney, former Irish hunger striker in message of support to Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian detainee on hunger strike for over 60 days (wandacanton.wordpress.com)