New Israeli Math and the Return of the Holocaust Analogy: Steinitz: Iran “Equal to 30 Nuclear North Koreas.”
At the second annual Jerusalem Post Conference, held in New York City on Sunday April 28, a number of former and current Israeli officials offered new estimates about Iran’s nuclear progress, issued threats of war and pretended Israel is more powerful and militarily capable than it really is.
In other words, it was just another day of shameless and shameful Israeli propaganda; pathetic, jingoistic bluster meant to appeal to hawkish American donors, puff up Israel’s inflated sense of self, and attempt to boost its already non-existent credibility.
Former IDF intel chief Amos Yadlin said, “Even though Iran is on the way to crossing the line of Netanyahu, that doesn’t mean that they have the bomb,” which might be the most tediously self-evident comment made in recent memory, despite also relying on fact-free speculation. He also said that Israel could weather the consequences of a potential unilateral military assault on the Islamic Republic, but that, before that happens, “we must give more time for the other strategies that nobody takes credit for,” an apparent reference to Israeli-led covert murder operations and cyberwar.
Meanwhile, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi also told the mouth-breathing attendees that Israel can effectively attack Iran and sustain the inevitable blowback. “We cannot allow this regime to have the bomb,” he said, before insisting that a recent multi-billion dollar U.S. arms sale to Israel “sends a signal” to Iran about Israel’s military capabilities and intentions.
The best comments of the day, however, were made by Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz. Calling an Iran with an atomic arsenal “equal to 30 nuclear North Koreas,” Steinitz’s stand-up routine didn’t disappoint. Not only was a “nuclear Iran” an “existential threat” to Israel, he said, it would also pose a “terrible threat” to all of the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica would apparently be spared the devastating scourge, however.
“Iran is problem number one of our generation,” Steinitz declared. He then launched into an embarrassingly repetitive rant about how Iran is the new Nazi Germany, an analogy so stupid and played out that even its most ardent champion Netanyahu hasn’t used it in a while. After praising Winston Churchill for his actions in the 1930s (which garnered a healthy round of applause from the crowd), Steinitz implicitly condemned other powers and political leaders for their past follies and failures, evoking the tired bromide equating diplomacy with appeasement.
“We shouldn’t repeat the same mistakes again,” he said, continuing:
This was Nazi Germany, a secular regime with a fanatical ideology. And here we are speaking about the Shiite Ayatollahs of Iran. Totally [religious] fanatical regime. There it was Europe, here it’s Iran. The Nazis spoke about the final solution for the Jewish people in Europe. They [Iranian leaders] are speaking about destroying the Jewish State in the Middle East. There are some differences. We have to learn from history. And so it never repeats itself exactly. And if there’s a lesson to learn from history, it’s not to repeat the same mistake again. And not to allow, come what may, the nuclearization of Iran.
He wasn’t finished.
Once at full capacity, the Iranian nuclear program, he claimed, will be able to produce 20 to 30 nuclear bombs each year and somehow decided that, “if Iran gets the first few bombs, in a decade or so they will have 100 nuclear bombs.”
This was “not an intelligence estimate,” he was quick to note, but rather was based on statements by the Islamic Republic itself, which makes literally no sense since Iran has never once stated any intention to build or acquire a single nuclear weapon.
For good measure, Steinitz also tossed around phrases like “global ambitions” and “a new era of Islamic hegemony,” because things like that – regardless of their sheer stupidity – play well with ignorant, racist audiences like the one assembled Sunday at the Times Square Marriott.
Dismissing sanctions as insufficient “to achieve our goal,” Steinitz demanded that “a very clear military threat” be made to Iran (ignoring, of course, that this is an undeniable violation of the UN Charter), “a credible threat that will make it crystal clear that they are paying something for nothing.”
“If there is a chance to resolve this problem without military action,” he said, it will only be because opponents of Tehran’s nuclear program “choose a big enough stick and wave it in their faces,” appealing to the Orientalist conception that Middle Eastern leaders only understand the language of force and will only kowtow to Western and Israeli demands when sufficiently fearful of potential violence.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who also spoke at the conference, tried to temper such alarmist rhetoric and dispel the notion that Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, one worthy of constant hysteria and attention.
“I think that we have exaggerated, for a long time, the potential threat of Iran possessing nuclear power,” he told the crowd.
Predictably, Olmert’s comments did not receive a positive reception; instead, he was heckled and booed.
Israel has inaugurated its fifth Dolphin-class submarine, allegedly capable of launching cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. A German shipyard in Kiel has a contract to build a sixth sub “to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens,” the PM said.
The submarine has been baptized INS Rahav. Rahav is a demon, a cosmic sea monster, ‘Prince of the Sea’ according to the Talmud. It was also the name of a strange woman from Jericho who hid two Jewish scouts from the King of Jericho in the Book of Joshua, Old Testament.
After the submarine is fully equipped and passes all tests, it will cost $500 million and will enter service as possibly the most sophisticated and expensive weapon of the Israeli Navy. Delivery to the client is reportedly expected by the end of 2013.
The INS Rahav was built in northern Germany at the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard in Kiel. She is believed to be one of the most advanced and sophisticated diesel-electric submarines in the world.
“The INS Rahav is one of the most advanced submarines in the world,” said Israeli Defense Ministry in a statement on Monday, reported Jerusalem Post.
“It is a versatile platform which can adapt to many and varied missions. The fleet of submarines forms a long arm for the [Israel] Navy, the IDF, and the State of Israel,” the ministry said.
The inauguration ceremony has been attended by an Israeli delegation headed by the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Military Affairs, Major General Udi Shani, the commander of the Israeli Navy, Rear Admiral Ram Rothberg, and a number of Israeli and German officials.
In June 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Germany is actually strengthening Israel’s nuclear capabilities. The magazine claimed that Dolphin-class submarines are equipped with hydraulic ejection systems that enable the underwater launch of Israeli Popeye Turbo SLCM long-range cruise missiles, believed to have nuclear warheads.
Israel’s Popeye cruise missile is believed to have a range of up to 1,500km and carry a 200kg payload, enough to fit in a nuclear warhead. The first launch of the missile was carried out in 2002 in the Indian Ocean.
Thus the German-built submarines are believed to be the backbone of the Israeli nuclear deterrent against Iran.
“The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said according to the Associated Press.
Israel’s coastline in total, including islands, is a mere 273km, and it is no exaggeration to say that there is no other country with so many submarines to protect so short a sea border.
Germany started to deliver its Type 800 Dolphin-class submarines to Israel after the first Persian Gulf War.
The first two submarines were donated to Tel Aviv for free while the third came with a 50-per-cent discount, informs International Defense News. Berlin also shared about a third of the costs for the fourth and fifth submarines.
The fourth, the INS Tannin, opened the new generation of Dolphin II class submarines, capable of remaining submerged for long periods using cutting edge ‘air independent propulsion’ technology, which allows the engines of diesel-electric submarines to run without atmospheric oxygen.
In March 2012 Israel and Germany signed a contract for a sixth and the last Dolphin-II class submarine that will be delivered in several years. Berlin allocated about 135 million euro (US $175.8 million) of the overall 600-million-euro cost of the sub.
In December 2011 the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel invested about $27 million in a comprehensive structural overhaul and upgrade of the Dolphine I submarines at a shipyard in Haifa.
“The Germans can be proud to have secured the existence of Israel for many years,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Der Spiegel in June 2012.
According to Barak, the INS Tannin delivered May 3, 2012, became yet another “force multiplier in terms of the capabilities and strength of Israel’s defense forces.”
Commenting the delivery of INS Tannin, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz specified that in conditions of growing strategic challenges in the Middle East Israeli’s Navy and its submarine fleet in particular represents a “defensive and fighting arm of deterrence.”
The “force multiplier” and “fighting arm” remarks of Israeli officials might as well point out that the alleged nuclear missiles in the possession of the state of Israel could be regarded not only as a shield, but as a sword as well.
Officially, Germany has always maintained that it doesn’t have the slightest idea about Israel’s military nuclear program and possible deployment of nuclear missiles on German-built submarines. However, according to Der Spiegel’s research, several former high-ranking German officials have never doubted Israel was putting nuclear missiles on its subs.
Former German State Secretary Lothar Ruhl told Der Spiegel last June that he had not only “always assumed that Israel would deploy nuclear weapons on the submarines,” but also discussed the issue with the Israeli military.
According to documents obtained by the newspaper, the German government was well aware of Israel’s nuclear program as early as in 1961. The latest evidence from German Foreign Ministry archives presented by the magazine last year dates back to 1977 and corresponds to a discussion on the nuclear issue between then-Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and then-German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
British MP and Vice-chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Jeremy Corbyn very much doubts that anyone who is willing to help Israel boost its nuclear capabilities is interested in reducing the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. He doubts that the supplies are even necessary.
“It’s very hard to see how these submarines that Germany is supplying to Israel can be solely for defensive purposes, because there is no sea-based threat to Israel and Israel needs to get on board with the rest of the region and talk peace and talk about the signature they’ve already given to the Mediterranean weapons of Mass Destruction free zone. The delivery of these submarines is yet one more ratcheting up of the danger”, he told RT.
Corbyn further believes that the weapons supplies are a badly concealed preamble to a wider European involvement in the world’s hottest crisis zones.
“Germany prides itself as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and on its non-nuclear status… But they’re also paying a very large amount of money to Israel’s defense costs by subsidizing the development and delivery of these submarines, and one just wonders if this isn’t part of a wider European military involvement in North Africa and the Middle East region.”
Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite continuing international pressure, claiming it would be against its national security interests. Though Israel is not officially recognized as a nuclear weapons state, it is believed to possess several hundred operational nuclear devices.
- Nuclear warheads in US, Europe threaten all of humanity, Soltanieh says (alethonews.wordpress.com)
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman doesn’t understand how on earth the Boston bombers could rationalize their act of violence–and believes that some aspects of Muslim culture must answer for it.
According to reports of the interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers were motivated in part by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this has the Times columnist scratching his head about the problem with Muslims:
This is a popular meme among radical Muslim groups, and, to be sure, some Muslim youths were deeply angered by the U.S. interventions in the Middle East. The brothers Tsarnaev may have been among them.
But what in God’s name does that have to do with planting a bomb at the Boston Marathon and blowing up innocent people? It is amazing to me how we’ve come to accept this non sequitur and how easily we’ve allowed radical Muslim groups and their apologists to get away with it.
A simple question: If you were upset with U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why didn’t you go out and build a school in Afghanistan to strengthen that community or get an advanced degree to strengthen yourself or become a math teacher in the Muslim world to help its people be less vulnerable to foreign powers? Dzhokhar claims the Tsarnaev brothers were so upset by something America did in a third country that they just had to go to Boylston Street and blow up people who had nothing to do with it (some of whom could have been Muslims), and too often we just nod our heads rather than asking: What kind of sick madness is this?
Friedman goes on to claim that we “must ask a question only Muslims can answer,” which is: “What is going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every American military action in the Middle East is intolerable and justifies a violent response?”
It is worth asking questions about how different communities or societies react to violence. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States bombed and occupied Afghanistan, based on the argument that the government of that country had tolerated the presence of Al-Qaeda and thus must bear the retribution. As a result, many thousands of people who had nothing to do with terrorism were killed.
Or on to the invasion of Iraq, which was sold as part of a “Global War on Terror” following the 9/11 attacks as well, even though there was never a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks. So why did the United States invade Iraq? Tom Friedman explained it to Charlie Rose on May 30, 2003.
To Friedman, there was a “terrorist bubble” in that part of the world, and “we needed to go over there and take out a very big stick…and there was only one way to do it.” He added:
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: “Which part of this sentence don’t you understand? You don’t think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we’re just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This.” That, Charlie, is what this war is about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia; it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
What kind of sick madness is this?
Lebanese political party Hezbollah denied on Thursday that it had sent a drone over the Mediterranean sea, hours after the Israeli air force said it shot down an unmanned aircraft near Haifa.
“Hezbollah denies sending any unmanned drone towards occupied Palestine,” the Hezbollah-affiliated television channel al-Manar said.
Israel’s deputy defense minister earlier put the blame squarely on Hezbollah.
“An unmanned aircraft (UAV) was identified approaching the coast of Israel and was successfully intercepted by IAF aircraft five nautical miles off the coast of Haifa at approximately 2:00 pm today,” the military said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was inside an army helicopter when he was given the news of the drone, and was then forced to land until it was shot down.
“I see this attempt to breach our borders as extremely grave,” the premier said. “We will continue to do whatever we must to protect the security of Israel’s citizens.”
Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told reporters the drone had been identified moving down the Lebanese coast.
“A little after 1:00 pm, our aerial defense system identified (a drone) moving from north to south along the coast of Lebanon,” he said.
“Aircraft, helicopters and combat airplanes were alerted to the area and after confirmation that it was an unfriendly aircraft, they were approved to shoot it down.”
But despite reports blaming Hezbollah, Lerner was cautious, saying the incident was still being investigated.
“We don’t know where the aircraft was coming from and where it was actually going,” he said, adding that the navy was “searching for the remains of the UAV” as part of the probe.
But Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon accused the Lebanese movement of being behind the attack.
“We’re talking about another attempt by Hezbollah to send an unmanned drone into Israeli territory,” he told army radio, describing it as “another attempt to destabilize the Middle East.”
Israel would respond to the incident in its own time, he said.
“We are ready and we will react as necessary,” Danon warned. “They know not to provoke us.”
Hezbollah has previously claimed responsibility for several drone incursions in the past years, most recently on October 7.
Israel frequently stages incursions into Lebanese airspace, often sending drones at low altitude in South Lebanon.
In March, UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti slammed the Israeli overflights, calling them a violation of Lebanese sovereignty and of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the July 2006 war.
Peter Oborne writes in the Telegraph about how the EU3 violated the Paris Agreement with Iran under US pressure in 2005, and thus missed a chance to make peace with Tehran:
One witness puts the problem like this: “There was not the faintest chance that President George W Bush’s Republican advisers and Israeli allies would allow him to look benignly on such a deal. On the contrary, if the Europeans were to defy American wishes, they would be letting themselves in for a transatlantic row to end all rows…
So the peace proposal from the Iranian negotiators was killed stone dead even though the European negotiating team realised that it was both very well judged and in full conformity with international law.
Of course when Iran then ended the 3 year voluntary suspension of enrichment that accompanied the talks, the EU3 accused Iran of “violating the Paris Agreement.”
Oh and incidentally, earlier in 2003 an Iranian peace offer made to the US was similarly spurned.
So what does Peter Osborn think was really going on?
The answer is that a different agenda is at work, which we believe has little or nothing to do with Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons. The US and its European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.
And this also corresponds to former IAEA head ElBaradei’s conclusions:
They weren’t interested in a compromise with the government in Tehran, but regime change – by any means necessary.
So remember that the next time the corporate media matter-of-factly declares “The goal of these sanctions is to support diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the disagreements with Iran without having to resort to violent means.”
At a Press Conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Egypt´s President Mohammed Morsi stated, that Egypt was committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria. Today, the official Egyptian State Information Service states, that Egypt has said no to a loan from the International Monetary Fond, IMF, because the IMF´s conditions were unacceptable. Earlier this year, prior to a state visit in India, Morsi pronounced that Egypt has aspirations for joining the BRICS.
Since the discontinuation of the Soviet Union, the bilateral relations between Cairo and Moscow have slowly degraded. The main talking points on the agenda at the talks between Morsi and Putin were the revival of trade, commerce and economic cooperation between the two countries as well as the instability that has swept over Northern Africa and the Middle East since 2011.
Earlier this year, prior to a planned state visit to India, Morsi stated, that Egypt has aspirations of becoming a member of the BRICS, leading to speculations, whether Egypt is planning to assume a similar role as it had during the 1950s and 1960s, where the country walked a tightrope between alignment with Moscow and Washington. As a member of the non-aligned movement, Egypt may very well try to reassert its role as a regional power broker.
A closer alignment of Egypt with Moscow would make the country less dependent on US foreign policy and could, at least to a certain degree, counter the strong influence the USA is asserting over the Arab League through Qatar.
The little Gulf Kingdom has since 2007 grown into a veritable regional political superpower, which has stood and is standing behind many of the sweeping changes which have cast northern Africa and the Middle East into turmoil since 2011. Qatar and the USA are the primary powers behind the attempted subversion of Syria.
The question one may ask is, whether Morsi´s statement, that Egypt is committed to finding a peaceful and legal solution to the crisis in Syria is indicative of a more self-confident Egypt, and an Egyptian president who is aware of the fact that an alignment with the USA and Qatar, without playing the Moscow card, makes him as easily disposable as his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.
There are also other signs which indicate that Morsi may be trying to reassert Egypt´s role as regional power and greater independence from Washington. Morsi´s ambitions to have Egypt become the “E” in something that could become the BRICS+E was one indication. Prior to his visit to India, Morsi also stated, that Egypt is planning to increase its relations with eastern and Asian countries.
Today´s rejection of the IMF´s loan, following talks with the Russian President in Sochi, are lending additional credibility to those who are arguing for an Egyptian realignment to the middle, and the recent signals from the BRICS, that it will create a BRICS development bank, are indicative that Morsi may have substance behind the possible dream of a course change.
Asked about the reasons for turning down the IMF, Mosi said, “We seek to carry out clear changes in the government´s economic program to receive the loan and we are keen on the interests of the Egyptian citizens”. On of the greatest points of critique against Morsi, other than oppression of his political opponents were, that Morsi “already sold out Egypt and its people to the IMF and World Bank, before he even was elected”. With backup from Russia and the other BRICS members however, Morsi would be less dependent on Washington´s and the IMF´s economic dictates. With the World Bank and IMF systems, as some analysts have it, close to exploding into an international scandal which could spell the beginning of the end of the Bretton Woods gentleman´s agreement, Morsi may be making a very wise decision.
Morsi showed true statesmanship when he said, that he is “seeking real investments in Egypt” and that “loans don´t solve problems and are just temporary solutions”. During his interview with Al-Jazeera Morsi also reiterated the importance of maintaining the integrity of Egyptian territory, stating, that “Egypt´s lands are not for sale and are prohibited for non-Egyptians”.
While increased Egyptian self-confidence and increased assertiveness in the Arab League as well as Egypt´s possible influence for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria may be plausible and welcome, he may still have to tackle internal problems. Consolidating the continuity and stability of the Egyptian government in times of sudden and comprehensive unrest and change may have made sweeping power grabs a tempting solution. As a long-term strategy however, a semi-dictatorial, Muslim Brotherhood influenced Egyptian government is as counter productive to the stability of Egypt´s society and government, as loans are counterproductive as a long-term strategy for economic growth.
During an interview with Al-Jazeera, Morsi also stressed that Egypt is maintaining good relations with Iran and that Egypt´s relations with Iran are not directed against anyone. Morsi reiterated, the importance of Iran´s role with regard to finding a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Syria.
The renewed ties between Cairo and Moscow may also indicate that Russia is planning to play a more active role throughout the Middle East, and that the Russian government is planning to reassert some of the influence Moscow has lost in the region during the last years of the Soviet era and the early 1990s.
A Russian fleet, composed of the anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Panteleyev and the two logistic warships Peresvet and Novelskoy, with a total number of 712 crew have entered the Iranian Army´s first naval zone in Bandar Abbas.
The three vessel´s visit is aiming at consolidating the relations between Iran and Russia and the expansion of interactions between the two countries in the field of naval security. The three Russian warships have left their home port Vladivostok for duty in the world oceans and are visiting Bandar Abbas en route to their operational destinations. The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced, that Russia has begun forming a separate Mediterranean squadron.
The visit of Egypt´s President Morsi to Sochi and the talks with Russian President Putin, Egypt´s interest in joining the BRICS, the rejection of the IMF loan, Morsi´s commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria while stressing the importance of Iran´s role as part of the solution, and Russian commitment to a stronger naval presence in the Mediterranean indicate that Egypt could be playing a key role in limiting the current US Middle East and Northern Africa Pivot. The rejection of the IMF loan and indications to more commitment to democracy could indicate, that Russian influence also has inspired the Muslim Brotherhood led government to bring its own house in order while considering to assume a greater regional role.
GIVEN THE proliferation of crimes, both foreign and domestic, known to have been committed by the U.S. government in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, there is an understandable willingness among large swathes of the public to believe almost anything told them by someone claiming to be blowing the whistle on an increasingly rogue “world’s policeman.” And, as a rule, the more persecution the whistleblower appears to suffer for exposing the global cop’s transgressions, the greater the desire to believe her story—no matter how far-fetched it might be.
Earlier this year, an effort was made to interest a number of prominent alternative media outlets in just such a “whistleblower” story. According to the professional-sounding pitch, an American contractor named Gwenyth Todd, while advising the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, had single-handedly foiled a plot involving “a few select high-ranking members of the U.S. Navy” to provoke a war with Iran. “Fearing of the powers she had obstructed, and fearing for her own safety, Todd left Bahrain moving to Australia,” wrote the anonymous promoter. “For her honesty, bravery, and service, Todd has been sought after by the U.S. Justice Department for prosecution and pursued by the FBI. Nearly all in the corporate press have chosen to ignore her case.”
But not only has Gwenyth Todd’s case not been ignored by the corporate press, it has in fact been the subject of a five-page Washington Post special by “SpyTalk” blogger Jeff Stein. Moreover, Stein’s Aug. 21, 2012 piece entitled “Why was a Navy adviser stripped of her career?” uncritically touts Todd’s conspiratorial narrative solely on the basis of interviews with Todd herself and “a half-dozen Navy and other government officials who demanded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, many parts of which remain classified.” Then, six months after having her story featured by one of America’s most influential pro-Israel daily newspapers, Todd was the unlikely focus of an even more credulous Iranian state television production. In February 2013, Press TV released “Untold Truths,” a half-hour-long program that introduced her as a “Middle East specialist” and “former U.S. government consultant.” The production began with a dramatic assertion: “In 2007, the U.S. tried to wage a war against IRAN. One person stopped it. This is her story.”
In the Washington Post and Press TV versions, the alleged conspiracy to start a war with Iran is said to have occurred in Bahrain in 2007. However, in a June 2012 article, Todd’s “senior editor” at the notoriously unreliable and ostensibly “anti-Semitic” Veterans Today (VT) website—with which Todd has “long worked” and currently serves on its motley editorial board of directors—sets the narrative two years earlier, and in a neighboring country. “Gwenyth Todd of the National Security Agency, close associate of Paul Wolfowitz and Condi Rice,” wrote Gordon Duff, “back in 2005, discovered a White House plot to stage an attack on American forces in Qatar.”
Confusing matters even more, another VT colleague and enthusiastic promoter of Todd’s story, Kevin Barrett, claims in a September 2012 piece first published by Press TV, “She stopped a 2006 neocon plot to stage a false flag attack in Bahrain intended to trigger war on Iran, and had to flee for her life to Australia.”
Although Todd presents herself as an “appalled” critic of the neoconservatives and the broader Israel lobby, there are good reasons to doubt her credibility on this point as well. In a Sept. 12, 2012 radio interview with Barrett, for example, she made the extraordinary claim that 9/11 was a “setback” for the neocons because it supposedly upset their plans for regime change in Iraq. According to Todd, their plan was to restore a pre-1958 type friendly regime, ruled by Ahmed Chalabi, with Iraq then serving as a base from which to launch regime change in Iran. In that same interview, she further claimed that the neoconservative agenda for Iraq had nothing to do with Israel. As if unaware of the fact that neocon Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz had once been investigated for having passed a classified U.S. document to an Israeli government official, she proffered as evidence, “Didn’t Wolfowitz admit to having affairs with Palestinian students?”
It seems highly unlikely, however, that a former top Middle East analyst such as Todd claims to be would be unfamiliar with Oded Yinon’s seminal 1982 article, “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s.” “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets,” observed Yinon. “Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria.” And it seems even less likely that she would be unaware of “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” That influential 1996 report, prepared by a group of mainly American neocons for then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, recommended “removing Saddam Hussain from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.”
Five years later, these right-wing Zionist policy advisers, many then members of the Bush administration, would seize the golden opportunity presented by the 9/11 attacks to turn this hawkish blueprint for Israeli expansionism into U.S. Middle East policy.
Todd’s seeming ignorance of Israel’s longstanding strategic designs for the breakup of Iraq is even harder to believe in light of her claim to have been “personally recruited” by the “Clean Break” study group leader. In the Sept. 12 radio interview with Barrett, she recounted a conversation with Richard Perle—who, like Chalabi’s other chief booster, Wolfowitz, has also been caught passing classified material to Israel—that supposedly took place at the end of George Bush’s pre-inaugural candlelight dinner in January 2001. “Paul’s going, Paul Wolfowitz is going to be the deputy secretary of defense,” she claimed Perle told her. “You know what we are going to do in Iraq, and we need like-minded people in the Pentagon so we can make it happen.”
When the interviewer expressed amazement that she had been approached directly by the so-called “Prince of Darkness” himself, Todd not very convincingly replied: “Yes, well, when I’d met him on a couple of… I’d been in conferences with him before.”
Presumably in an attempt to explain how the reputedly Machiavellian Perle could have been so naïve as to have tried to recruit someone he’d only met at a few conferences, Todd recounted a car journey with Perle in the 1990s during which he supposedly raved about the analytic prowess of her predecessor at the Pentagon’s Turkey desk—based solely on the analyst’s rumored ability to talk to cab drivers in Turkish. Claiming to have been shocked by Perle’s “total naïveté,” Todd went on to say that she subsequently heard the exact same story from fellow Iraq war architect Bernard Lewis at the Aspen Strategy Group in 1997, when she found herself seated between “Judy” Miller and the influential pro-Israel Orientalist, whom she said has dedicated his The Emergence of Modern Turkey to “some good friends” of hers.
Notwithstanding Todd’s claims to have been persecuted for thwarting a neocon-backed false flag designed to provoke war with Iran in December 2007—or was it in 2005? or 2006, perhaps?—she was asked in November 2010 to write a report on Turkey for Australia’s leading pro-Israel foreign policy think tank. Yet this past February, a mere week after she left little doubt in a social media conversation that she was fully aware of the founder and chairman Frank Lowy’s Israeli connection, Todd first feigned ignorance and then surprise in the comments section of The Passionate Attachment blog when this writer pointed out the Lowy Institute’s widely known close ties with Israel.
And as for the alleged unwarranted pursuit by U.S. law enforcement, it may have much less to do with her claimed success in preventing war with Iran than with a mysterious sum of money of uncertain origin and unclear purpose. When questioned by the FBI in 2007 about $30,000 she had received from her daughter’s father, Robert Cabelly—who would be indicted in 2009 for conspiring to act as an illegal agent of Sudan and to violate sanctions against the government of Omar al-Bashir—Todd said she told the federal agents that the money was for “emergency surgery” in Bahrain. By a strange coincidence, this just happened to be the exact same amount she told The New York Times in February 2011 that she had once spent out of her own pocket to buy gifts for the children of the poorest Shi’i families. Todd said she had been ordered by a commanding officer, fearful of upsetting the ruling Sunni Al-Khalifa royal family, to renege on a promise made on behalf of the Navy.
Indeed, the more one looks into the incredible tale spun by Gwenyth Todd, the more likely one is to agree with the former commander of U.S. Central Command, Admiral William J. Fallon—who in 2007 vetoed a move by the Bush administation to send a third carrier group to the Persian Gulf, vowing that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.” Cast as an unlikely villain in Todd’s narrative, the retired four-star admiral was asked by The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein to comment on her conspiratorial allegations; Fallon’s terse e-mail response—“B.S.”
PressTVGlobalNews | April 12, 2013
US President Barak Obama has presented congress an almost 4 trillion dollar budget plan: Amongst his requests: more funds, in the billions, to modernize US’s nuclear weapons. This is while he will cut payments to Medicare not to mention cutbacks to its Social Security pensions and other government programs.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Mark Dankof, a political commentator from San Antonio, to further examine why the US – who has the lead in the possession of nuclear weapons and has advocated nuclear non-proliferation – feels the need to modernize its weapons of mass of destruction, which also goes against the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The video also offers the opinions of one additional guest: Charlie Wolf who is a writer and broadcaster from London.
The following is a partial and approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Do you not think that we have our guest there Charlie Wolf thinking that the Iranian government is pursuing weaponization of its program; Iran has clearly come out and said we want a Middle East free of nuclear weapons and at the same time, countries like the US are coming out and using nuclear weapons as, they claim to be deterrent but really to use and enforce power. What is your reaction there?
Dankof: A couple of things. One, I am not a nuclear expert but let me simply say this. If we take the director of National Intelligence of the United States James Clapper at his word, if we take the 16 intelligence agencies of the United States that produce the national intelligence estimate at their word, Iran is in fact not pursuing a weaponized nuclear program.
And I add it to that of course is the situation where the United States’ chief ally in the region Israel is a nuclear power and going back to something that the Times of Israel published earlier this week back in the 1970s, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yigal Allon then the foreign minister of Israel were repeatedly lying to the president of the United States and the senator Howard Baker of Tennessee and Mac Mathias of Maryland in regard to their Dimona Operation, in regard to their weaponized nuclear program and in regard to the fact that they already were in the 1970s in possession of nuclear weapons.
When you look at that Times of Israel’s report and then consider that Israel is the chief driving force behind what the United States is presently doing in the Middle East and what President Obama and John Kerry are insisting that Iran do in the Middle East and with their nuclear research program, I think the word hypocrisy does apply.
Press TV: Eight billion dollars for this most recent upgrade; Mark Dankoff, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron just recently came out and he called the ownership of nuclear weapons, in response to North Korea threats ‘the ultimate insurance policy’. This is the kind of feeling that generally some people are feeling when it comes to the US president coming out with 8 billion dollars for what he calls upgrades. I mean, one nuclear bomb should be enough unless there is different types of bombs with lesser degrees or higher degrees. Again I know you said that you are not a nuclear technician. It does not give much merit to the president’s claim that it is for nuclear nonproliferation.
Dankof: That is right and I will say something again and this gets back to something Charlie [Wolf, the other guest on the show] was commenting on because I am not a nuclear expert, I do not know the extent to this budget upgrade by the president represents an attempt to merely keep the present stockpiles safe and workable and to keep it from being involved in some sort of accident or malfunction and to what extent it actually represents an upgrade in the expulsive capacity of these so-called weapons of mass destruction. I simply do not have that knowledge of my disposal.
But it does seem to me that when we look at the president’s actions, at least symbolically, when you look at what has happened since 9/11 with American foreign policy, the draconian increases in defense spending across the board, the ongoing military intervention of the United States and NATO and all kinds of circumstances around the globe of which Libya and Syria are only the latest and when you look at the kinds of things that the US is clearly doing in regard to the deployment of the aircraft carrier, Task Force Groups, black operations inside Iranian borders, draconian economic sanctions and so forth and so on, the Iranians could well be forgiven for interpreting all of these actions on the part of the United States as particularly bellicose.
I would like to say one other thing that Charlie commented on that I do disagree with. President Ahmadinejad is often quoted as saying that either he or Iran would wipe Israel off the map. That is not what the man said. That is what an Israeli translation service called MEMRI said that he said.
President Ahmadinejad’s remarks, properly translated as I understand it, indicated that he simply thought that the Zionist state would eventually fade from history because of all of the internal contradictions within it. That is more than a slight shift in nuance in regard to meaning. I do not think that the president of Iran said the things that had been repeatedly said that he said about wanting to annihilate Israel militarily.
I think that is a bad translation and a false translation and one that again was offered by a Middle East research institute that has no links to the Israeli intelligence community.
Press TV: I am trying to steer this debate to focus on Obama’s proposal to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. We seem to keep going back to the Middle East and Iran. So Mark Dankoff, let’s go along the line of why the US president feels for this upgrade and one deduction has been the US military industrial complex: companies such as GE of which there has been lots of money to be made here. Could this be part of the push by them?
Dankof: I think when you look at the American defense posture generally, it is hard to get away from this perception. After all, when you look at the power of these defense contractors, the amount of money that is involved, the influence that they have on Capitol Hill with people in both of the major political parties, certainly this has to factor into this without question.
There is an additional political context to all of this however that I think does go back to 1945. It is noteworthy that the United States is the only nation on earth that has ever used these weapons in wartime. It used them against two Japanese cities, as we all know, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to me the most chilling aspect of all of this is that my father’s old boss, General Curtis Lemay, the father of the Strategic Air Command said after the war that the American utilization of all those weapons against those cities had nothing to do with ending the war or getting Japan to surrender which is what we were always taught in American schools growing up for years after 1945.
But that had everything to do with simply showing the Soviet Union what we had and that using the Japanese as the victims of the demonstration. So with that as a beginning to this whole tragedy of nuclear weaponry, it seems that over the course of the last 70 years or so that we cannot get away from the political context of all of this and the perception on the part of most of the people of the world that when it comes to issues of nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation that the United States will play by one set of rules; the other nuclear powers will play by one set of rules and everyone else gets to play by the rules and guidelines that are said done by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
This is perceived as inherently unfair and I do not think that we can separate the technical issues involved in this debate and the budgetary issues from the issue of the profit motive of these armament companies and also the whole question of the fact that some people want to have their cake and eat it too in terms of possessing these weapons and denying the right to these weapons to other people. It is a vexing situation.
Press TV: What is your response to Charlie Wolf’s remarks?
Dankof: As a matter of fact, we now know through a series of things that have been declassified that the Japanese had already agreed to surrender that Truman would not allow them to surrender because of his so-called unconditional Surrender Doctrine. What all the Japanese were asking for was that we kept our hands off of the emperor.
In fact, we went ahead and used these weapons and then turned around and basically agreed to the back channel demand that the Japanese had made after the destruction of both of those cities. So I would take issue with that.
I also in terms of Mr. Ahmadinejad would compare him with the current leadership of the nation of Israel. It is also a fact. Why do we not go back and take a look at what General Lemay and Admiral Nimitz and General Eisenhower had to say on this subject years after the war and a series of the things that have subsequently been declassified.
Press TV: Obama’s nuclear vision or is it an illusion?
Dankof: I think it is an illusion and it is interesting to me again that we are talking about a man of the Democratic Party and a man who is perceived on the left end of the Democratic Party spectrum who has been involved in a series of things and making him look to me like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ranging from the drone strikes to agreeing to put out the war through his secretary of state that the United States is prepared to take preemptive military action against Iran or allow Israel to do so.
Under Obama’s presidency, the United States and Israel have been using the Mujahedin-E-Khalq or the MEK to conduct these assassinations of these Iranian nuclear scientists. With what all of that implies – and of course the president was very much involved in getting NATO to intervene in Libya – the president is now clearly involved as the United States is and as the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation States are in financing the attempted overthrow of this government in Syria with all of these al-Qaeda elements in it. This does not sound like liberal to me.
Lebanese army troops have thwarted a smuggling plot by a group of armed men to deliver weapons to ‘extremist groups.’
In a statement released on Sunday, the Lebanese army announced that it had received information indicating that “some people were preparing to smuggle arms to extremist groups”.
Media reports said an army unit was accordingly dispatched to Ain Zhalta village in the Chouf district of southwestern Lebanon late on Saturday and foiled the weapons delivery attempt.
The operation led to a shootout between Lebanese army forces and the gunmen. An armed man was killed in the gun battle, while another was injured. The wounded man was arrested along with seven other gunmen after the clashes.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese soldier was wounded in the fierce exchange of fire. A military vehicle also sustained damage.
The eight detainees are being interrogated by Lebanese judicial authorities.
The seized arms haul included heavy-, medium- and light-caliber weapons, and a large amount of munitions of various types.
DUBAI, UAE – As we walked through the historical collections of books, manuscripts, periodicals, and rare reference materials at the Juma Al-Majid Center for Culture and Heritage in the growing Arab metropolis of Dubai (with the world’s second busiest airport), I kept thinking of a recent book written by my sister, Laura Nader, who teaches anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. A nuanced writing titled Culture and Dignity: Dialogues Between the Middle East and the West (Wiley-Blackwell), it differentiates between the stereotype and reality of East-West relations and how damaging and costly such filters have been since the Crusades.
Room after room at the Juma Al-Majid Center contains materials reflecting the cultural heritage of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. One room is filled with ancient and modern Persian books and tracts of poetry, art and maps. Another room is devoted to the stunning varieties of calligraphy. A third room is filled with workers silently preparing pages of fragile texts for digitalization. The Al-Majid Center’s reading rooms are open to scholars who can stay as long as they need and use these resources freely without prior application. There are about one million books and other literary selections in this remarkable gathering.
When I asked the founder of this institution and many other charities and schools, Juma Al Majid, whether there had been any mishandling of the materials at the Center due to the lack of restrictions on access to the collections, he replied that yes, a couple of times, but it is still better to keep things simple and open.
Mr. Al Majid, now over 80-years-young, seems to have achieved his many accomplishments as a very successful businessman, creating more than 40 companies in engineering, retail, automotive and investment sectors, and as a leading operational philanthropist by keeping things focused, simple and forthright.
For example, his reverence for books of ancient vintage highlighted the problem of deteriorating pages in the Center’s growing international collection. So he developed the Al-Majid Restoration Machine which he gave as a gift to 40 cultural institutions in numerous countries.
He has many librarians and restoration specialists who are kept busy by the 150 acquisition experts searching, especially the Islamic world, for collections. One room is devoted to the private collections that the Center has acquired. Pictures of the original owners adorn the walls of the private collection room with expressions of gratitude.
Mr. Al Majid’s charities revolve around educational facilities where girls far outnumber the boys (educate the ladies first, even before the men, he explained, as the best way to transmit education to a society). He makes sure the needy students receive free education. The number of students in his schools is close to 10,000. The degrees range all the way through college and doctorate (PhD) degrees. His other charities address emergencies ranging from regular assistance and schools for the impoverished Palestinians (eg. thousands of tons of bread are baked in Turkey and sent to the West Bank and Gaza). He housed Kuwaiti refugees during the first Gulf War, and he has established schools in Dubai and in other Arab and Islamic countries.
All these charities and more are funded by the profits from his diversified businesses, which are run by managers, thus freeing him to spend his time collecting, preserving and making available to scholars the literary production of the people of the book – meaning the three major religions that originated in the Arab world.
Repeatedly, he stressed that the fundamental generator of human possibilities was education. As the son of a pearl diver, raised in a very modest community near the Persian Gulf, Mr. Al Majid blends the past, present and future in his planned activities. No withered ancient manuscript nor any futuristic technology fazes him, as a tour of his cultural center demonstrates. But his conversation always comes back to books, to education, to the fundamental verities of life which is “to help humanity.”
Prominently displayed in one corridor of the Center is the Mark Twain observation that “The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” The Center’s work servicing or cooperating with libraries at universities and other institutions in Europe, Asia and Africa is expanding in many dimensions. (See www.al-majid.com.)
As we departed from the Center, Mr. Al Majid spoke of his plans to build a new library to consolidate the sprawling premise that now houses the collections and outreach staff. He already has proven his talent for recruiting talent in Dubai and other countries and in connecting with many unsung charitable institutions in the medical, educational, cultural and emergency assistance areas.
By his dynamic humanitarian networking, Mr. Al Majid has illuminated the civic culture of the Arab and Islamic worlds from the past to the present. It is tragic that Western government and Western media are so occupied with the activities of empires that their people are given so little knowledge of such historic cultures and their strivings for justice, freedom and dignity.
An Iranian envoy to the UN has reiterated Tehran’s proposal for a Middle East free of nuclear arms, blaming the Israeli regime for hampering efforts to cleanse the entire region of all nuclear weapons.
Pointing to Israeli bids to oppose and obstruct an Iranian initiative to rid the Middle East of all atomic warheads, Iran’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Gholam-Hossein Dehqani said in a Monday address to the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) meeting that the Islamic Republic and all Arab nations have declared their willingness to partake in a conference on eliminating all nuclear arms in the region without preconditions.
Dehqani further pointed to Iran’s insistence that all UN amendments for freeing the Middle East and the world from nuclear arms must be implemented, emphasizing that the eradication of all atomic weapons across the globe is the only ultimate guarantee for removing this threat.
The Iranian official also stressed that since the US atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, nuclear disarmament has remained one of the greatest global priorities and the UN General Assembly called for the abolishment of atomic bombs in a resolution at its first meeting on January 24, 1946.
Dehqani expressed regret, however, that “the maintenance of thousands of nuclear arms in the weapon depots of nuclear powers” on their own soil as well as in the territories of their allies “threatens international peace and security and the existence of human civilization.”
He further pointed to major concerns about the continued allocation of billions of dollars by countries that possess nuclear weapons for the testing and development of a new generation of atomic arms, as well as constructing new facilities to manufacture such weapons of mass destruction.
The Iranian envoy also pointed to the massive annual expenditures for the production and development of nuclear arms by some of the countries that possess atomic warheads and said there are major concerns regarding the expansion of nuclear military programs by these countries.
Calling for the total eradication of such nuclear arms, Dehqani further expressed regret about the “slow progress” on the issue of nuclear disarmament at the United Nations, reiterating the Islamic Republic’s insistence on eliminating all atomic arms based on the nation’s core opposition to all weapons of mass destruction.
The Israeli regime is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The regime reportedly maintains between 200 and 400 atomic warheads, but under its policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, it has never denied nor confirmed its possession of the weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, the Israeli regime has never allowed any international inspection of its nuclear facilities and has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It has also refused to join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which limits members to civilian uses of the nuclear technology.
The UNDC meets annually in geographical working groups for three weeks in the spring, but over the years it has failed to agree on any substantial outcome. The commission, like most other UN bodies, is heavily influenced and manipulated by the US and its allies to ensure their global interests are served through the world body.
‘Why is this lying bastard lying to me?’ is a remark about interviewing politicians commonly attributed to Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman (actually originally made by Louis Heren of The Times). For those of us who watch Newsnight and its like the question we need to ask is not only ‘why’, but also ‘how’ these lying bastards are lying to us. You may well get the feeling that what you are watching is skewed, but given the speed of TV reports it can be difficult to recognise exactly just how we are being manipulated.
There is little doubt that we are being manipulated. For example, the Glasgow University Media Group (GUMG) – in a study of BBC and ITV news bulletins – found that the Israeli perspective was used to structure news reports (see *Philo and Berry, 2011). There was also very little context given of the history of how the occupation developed and how it has been prosecuted by the Israelis. Reporters tended to use ‘loaded’ vocabulary, so only Palestinians were described as ‘militants’ or ‘gunmen’. In addition, the USA was unrealistically presented as being even-handed and trying to broker a fair peace. Many or perhaps all of these findings also appear to apply to Newsnight.
This article is based on research I carried out for my MA dissertation (the full text of which is available online). Here I’m going to analyse one Newsnight report on Israel/Palestine using a method called Critical Discourse Analysis. The full version of this uses a three-level analysis – the social context (government policy on the Middle East), the institutional context (how the BBC operates to construct news programmes on the Middle East in the context of its relationship with the state) and the text (the reports). For reasons of space I’m just going to concentrate on one programme here. This report was broadcast on 19 November 2012 amidst speculation that Israel was going to invade Gaza once again (the report can be watched online. A full transcript is also available).
CDA is a flexible approach which can analyse a number of aspects of a text – grammar, vocabulary, discourses (such as metaphors), genres and so on, with the aim of revealing the underlying presuppositions and discovering what has been left out. The results can help to illuminate the ideology of the producer. In this case, I’m going to look at the report stage by stage and point out some of the sleight of hand involved.
The first stage is the introduction to the programme which highlights the report on Gaza. The presenter Kirsty Wark begins by saying `who can stop Gaza and Israel descending into a ground war’ (line 1 of the transcript). Why does Wark set up Gaza and Israel as equal subjects of the process `descending into war’? This spuriously implies that there are two more or less equal sides with equal responsibility for the situation. A more honest introduction could be `who can stop Israel attacking Gaza and the Palestinians responding’. Wark’s verbal manipulation establishes the tone of the report which completely avoids discussing Israel’s motivation for starting the conflict.
The second stage is the studio introduction to the report itself, which concentrates on updating the viewer on the most recent events. Here we see a privileging of the Israeli point of view. In particular, Wark claims that `Israeli jets pound the Strip in retaliation for rocket attacks’ (l.11-12). The GUMG has shown that it is very common for TV news to claim that Israeli attacks on the Palestinians are `retaliation’, whether this is true or not. However, the Palestinians claim that Israel started this conflict when they killed a child in Gaza on 8 November. Why does the BBC completely ignore this (reported in The Guardian 18 November) and take the Israeli account as unproblematic?
Wark then asks one question to Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban who goes into an analysis of what has been happening. This format – which is frequent on TV news programmes – allows Urban to state his views unchallenged: a good way to establish his presuppositions as `the truth’. For example, he refers to the 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza as a `limited conflict’ (l.33-35, from which we can guess that he wasn’t living there at the time). And although he refers to the Israeli attack on a building in Gaza which housed news organisations (l.50-52), this reference is `backgrounded’ as if it was accidental. In fact, Israel has a record (as does the USA) of attacking independent journalists, but Urban ignores this.
In the third stage we get an edited `package’ which starts to include other voices – where reporters select and incorporate the comments of interviewees into a chain with a linking voiceover. This may make it seem as if it is just telling a story in a natural way, but of course it is constructed to tell the story that the reporter wants – in other words it is ideological. The voices here are those of the Israeli and Egyptian governments, and Hamas. However, they are not treated equally. Individuals close to the governments are interviewed to give a semi-official point of view, but only a brief clip of a Hamas press conference is included – no direct interview. Why is this? Is the BBC denying a voice to Hamas, which is after all the elected representative of the people of Gaza, because the UK government will not recognise it? The BBC is funded by licence-fee payers, you and me, not the Foreign Office. But for Newsnight the importance of properly informing the viewer of events is secondary to toeing the government line. In practice, the BBC’s independence from government may be real to some degree but it is strictly limited (see my discussion of the reasons why in my original research).
Urban also discusses what will happen if Israel invades Gaza. However, this is done in a very matter-of-fact way, as if discussing military exercises. We are shown maps of Gaza with arrows and tanks, and mention of `2009’s ground push’, `severing communications’, and only additionally `producing hundreds of civilian deaths’ (l.98-101). Would the tone be the same if the US/UK security services’ lunatic fantasy of Iran attacking Israel ever happened? Would Urban calmly be discussing severing communications in Tel Aviv while we looked at graphics of tanks on maps? It hardly seems likely. The screen would be filled with voices denouncing this monstrous attack. Why aren’t we seeing this about the war crime of killing civilians in Gaza? Instead, the only external voice brought in to comment on this is Tony Blair. Newsnight chooses Britain’s major war criminal to sanitise Israel’s assault on Gaza, for that is effectively what Blair tries to do in the final stage of the programme.
Wark now asks Blair five questions. If we examine them we can see quite clearly the presuppositions that inform this report. Two of them are about Hamas receiving weapons via Egypt (l.141-143 and l.159-165) and clearly assume that there is something wrong with this. Why is this assumed? Palestine has been under occupation since 1948, and since 1967 the United Nations has called on Israel to pull back to its pre-1967 borders, which it refuses to do. Instead it uses violence to repress the Palestinians, which includes the use of weapons supplied by the USA and UK. Why should the Palestinians not have weapons to defend themselves? What about Israel’s weapons? These questions are completely suppressed by Newsnight.
It is particularly telling that Wark asks Blair `is there no pressure we can put on that this weaponry does not come through from Egypt’? Who is this `we’ exactly? Neither the UK nor the BBC is involved in the conflict, so why is Wark including the viewer in taking sides? The assumption throughout is that the Palestinians have no right to defend themselves. Even when Wark presses Blair to agree that the Israeli response has been disproportionate her question includes the ridiculous assumption that the Palestinians have been `harassing’ Israel (l.180-185). Blair’s response is a very good example of a politician trying to wriggle out of admitting the truth, which Wark fails to follow up on.
There are numerous other examples from this report which demonstrate how the BBC manipulates its reporting on this topic to favour Israel which lack of space prevents me from recounting (but you can read a fuller analysis in my original research). However, it is clear that the report is framed to privilege the Israeli viewpoint. The question remains – why? Is it the individual bias of particular journalists? That is hardly likely as the approach is consistent across a wide range of reporters. The reason lies in the relationship between the BBC and the state (see my discussion of this here). The BBC is allowed a certain amount of independence as long as certain boundaries are not crossed. One of those major boundaries is Israel’s repression of the Palestinians. We can – and should – pressurise the BBC to be more truthful. But don’t hold your breath for a positive response – we are in for a very long wait.
* Greg Philo and Mike Berry (2011) More Bad News From Israel Pluto Press
Peter Allen can be contacted at email@example.com