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Of ‘Symbolic’ Victories and Real Defeats

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | December 5, 2012

A small group of students affiliated mostly with leftist Palestinian factions meandered through the streets of the small town of Birzeit near Ramallah in the summer of 1993. It was an impromptu political rally.

They denounced what they understood as the relinquishing of basic Palestinian rights in exchange for meagre returns: Self-autonomy governed by some Palestinian political body, future negotiations without any guarantees and a hollow Israeli recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The hastily organized protest was prompted by earlier news that an agreement — Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements — was reached in Oslo and that an official signing ceremony would soon be held at the White House.

The agreement had hallmarks of what promised to be a mockery that merely attempted to reintroduce an Israeli-American version of self-autonomy — as opposed to real independence. Many such shams were introduced and soundly defeated by the Palestinian people and their leadership.

This time, however, it is the leadership itself that was involved in repackaging past failures as national triumphs. Intentionally, overlooking similar US-Israeli quests to undermine Palestinians rights — for example, the Roger Plan, Camp David, The Village Leagues and others — Yasser Arafat’s Fatah leadership spoke of an astounding moral victory of historic proportions. Many Palestinians celebrated the “peace of the brave”.

They danced in the streets and hailed Arafat and his men as liberators. Those who had doubts were told that “it was a step in the right direction,” that Israel’s recognition of yesterday’s freedom fighters was an unparalleled triumph which would soon be crowned by an independent state. Indeed, the Palestinian flag was made legal by Israel. There were no fines to be exacted and no jail terms for repeated offenders who insisted on owning one.

However, a few Birzeit students were still not convinced. Those who opposed the dubious agreement, however, could not agree on unifying their efforts by holding one single rally. Hamas held its own and the leftists, barely 30 or so, did the same.

I joined the leftists, partly out of solidarity because of their small number, but primarily because they spoke a language with which I could identify. There were no sharp slogans and, frankly, no full understanding of what had transpired, for, after all, Oslo was shrouded in secrecy. (Late Palestinian chief negotiator in Madrid, Dr Haidar Abdul Shafi revealed to me in an interview that he learned about Oslo from his hotel’s radio, as he, and few Palestinian intellectuals and academics were still negotiating a just peace agreement in earnest, before being sidestepped by Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas and a few others.)

For nearly two-decades after that fateful day, Palestinians find themselves subsisting in a progressively shrinking landscape, cut off from one another and surrounded by a gigantic and growing matrix of Jewish-colonies, Jewish-only bypass roads and Israeli military security zones — a reality much worse than that which existed when Oslo was signed in 1993.

More than 42 per cent of the West Bank has now been effectively conserved for that ever-growing colony apparatus and more land is being stolen on a daily basis. The so-called Israeli “Separation Wall” is eating up its share of Palestinian farmland.

Between the Wall, illegally occupied Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, numerous colony structures, no-go zones and racially prejudiced roads, Palestinians now live in a system that is similar, if not in some ways much worse than South Africa’s Bantustans, which were reserved for black people.

However, it is not the vices of Oslo that deserve urgent contemplation, but the dangerous phenomenon of branding political moves — particularly those without any hope — as symbolic victories, moral victories and other imagined victories that seem to never translate into any tangible gains.

Thousands are once more dancing in the West Bank and Gaza, hailing yet another more recent “victory” scored by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) at the UN. Palestine has become a “non-member state” at the UN.

The draft of the UN resolution beckoning what many perceive as a historic moment passed with an overwhelming majority of General Assembly members: 138 votes in favor, nine against and 41 abstentions.

Of course, there are reasons to permit a degree of hope — no thanks to the very entity that guarded Israeli interests in the Occupied Territories for all of these years. It is simply gratifying to witness the global show of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, one which has always existed, but was overshadowed by futile “peace talks” and US-hegemony over all Middle Eastern conflicts.

Moreover, the support that ‘Palestine’ has received at the UN must be heartening, to say the least, for most Palestinians. The overwhelming support, especially by Palestine’s traditional allies (most of humanity with few exceptions) indicates that the US dominion, arm twisting and Israeli-US propaganda were of little use after all.

However, that should not be misidentified as a real change of course in the behavior of the PNA, which still lacks legal, political and especially moral legitimacy among Palestinians, who are seeking tangible drive towards freedom, not mere symbolic victories.

In fact, since the late 1970s, when the US, along with its arbitrators in the Middle East, began co-opting the PLO leadership, it has been one symbolic victory after another. When it emerged that Arafat was the PLO’s “strong-man” — a major clue for US foreign policy specialists — a decade-long charade commenced.

Empowered by Arab support at the Rabat Arab League summit in October 1974, which bestowed on the PLO, the ever-opaque title of “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, Arafat was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly.

Despite the fervor that accompanied the newly-found global solidarity, Arafat’s language signaled a departure from what was perceived by western powers as radical and unrealistic political discourse and territorial ambitions.

The rise of the PLO’s acceptability in international arenas was demonstrated in its admission to the UN as a “non-state entity” with an observer status on November 22, 1974. The Israeli war and subsequent invasion of Lebanon in 1982 had the declared goal of destroying the PLO and was in fact aimed at stifling the growing legitimacy of the PLO regionally and internationally.

Without an actual power base, in this case, Lebanon, Israeli leaders calculated that the PLO would either fully collapse or politically capitulate. Weakened, but not obliterated, the post-Lebanon war PLO was a different entity than the one which existed prior to 1982.

Armed resistance was no longer on the table, at least not in any practical terms. Such change suited some Arab countries just fine. A few years later, Arafat and Fatah were assessing the new reality from its new headquarters in Tunisia.

The political landscape in Palestine was vastly changing. A popular uprising (Intifada) erupted in 1987 and quite spontaneously a local leadership was being formed throughout the occupied territories. Equally important, new movements were emerging from outside the traditional PLO confines. One such movement is Hamas, which has grown in numbers and political relevance in ways once thought impossible.

That reality proved alarming to the US, Israel and, of course, the traditional PLO leadership. There were enough vested interests to reach a “compromise”. This naturally meant more concessions by the Palestinian leadership in exchange for some symbolic recompense by the Americans.

Two major events defined that stage of politics in 1988: On November 15, the PLO’s National Council (PNC) proclaimed a Palestinian state in exile from Algiers and merely two weeks later, US ambassador to Tunisia, Robert H. Pelletreau Jr., was designated as the sole American liaison whose mission was to establish contacts with the PLO. Despite the US’ declared objection of Arafat’s move, the US was in fact pleased to see that the symbolic declaration was accompanied by major political concessions.

These events were the real preamble to the Oslo accords a few years later. Since then, Palestinians have gained little aside from symbolic victories, starting in 1988 when the UNGA “acknowledged” the Algiers proclamation. It then voted to replace the reference to the “Palestine Liberation Organization” with that of “Palestine”. More symbolic victories followed.

While the rally of Birzeit students seemed ill-prepared and unclear on its objectives, those men and women should take comfort from the fact that they did not sing and dance as their national project was about to be methodically crushed by both Israel and the Palestinian leadership. It is strange how “symbolic” and “moral” victories can usher many years of unmitigated defeats.

- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

December 5, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The Lockerbie Bombing Seen as an Expression of a “Strenuous Disagreement”

Aletho News | September 1, 2009

In light of compelling information available on the Internet about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 as well as the destruction of three World Trade Center buildings with micro-thermite during the course of a well-planned Israeli linked false flag operation in 2001, the issue of Zionist false flag terrorism against the American people to achieve militarist aims is now widely understood. Less well known and further in the past the Lavon affair is another documented case of Israel framing Arabs in an attempt to generate Western reaction. The planned attack of the Lavon affair was foiled by Egyptian security, more recent attacks have been outside of Arab jurisdictions. Revelations about the details of these particular acts of terror, notwithstanding subsequent efforts by the US government to cover them up by preventing public inquiries, along with ongoing mass media disinformation regarding the facts, have confirmed a disturbing pattern of control that is leading toward mass revulsion amidst the population.

Recently, newspapers reported that a Libyan, Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, accused of being the “Lockerbie bomber”, was released from imprisonment in Scotland. It is truly remarkable that his incarceration dragged on for so long, for it was already evident during the course of the trial, that no credible evidence linking him to the crime existed. In the meantime, mainstream media in Britain have reported that he was framed, through false testimony and the intentional withholding of exculpatory information by the court. His appeal was likely to be granted, and attention would inevitably have focused on the question of who actually did carry out the bombing. The calculation appears to have been, that one might circumvent such a situation by releasing him on “humanitarian” grounds, in exchange for dropping the appeal. No later than two years ago, it must have become clear to anyone following the case, that al Megrahi would have to be released, because the head of a Swiss company Mebo, Edwin Bollier, admitted, after the statute of limitations for such a crime had expired, that key evidence used in the trial had actually been faked. Also, in June 2007 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, upon a three year investigation, reported that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

Fingering the perpetrators of this act of terror that occurred more than two decades ago is inconvenient because the plausible outcome of an analysis of the situation, back then, while taking into account motive, means, and opportunity, could surely point to a group of known terrorists, enjoying strong support in the United States among influential supporters of Israel, as the primary suspects. These Zionist terrorists and their Jewish supremacist supporters have become so successful through their campaigns of mass murder that they have actually formed and developed a state with a huge military and propaganda apparatus. Indeed, as people have begun to realize, they have effectively taken over the United States government through corruption, coercion and blackmail. Some of their staunchest supporters are in control of financial, media, and academic institutions, thus wielding undue power. Though many have been aware of the facts for a long time, controllers need to present a different story for public consumption, hoping to induce a distorted perception among the masses.

The time elapsed since that fateful bombing over Scotland is half of the time elapsed since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. With the benefit of hindsight and an improved realization of the nature of Zionist inspired terrorism, both historically and currently, a review of the political circumstances during the two final months in 1988 sheds light on what could have been a primary motive for the bombing. On November 1, 1988, elections for the twelfth Knesset took place in Israel, with an outcome that made the formation of a stable government difficult. Exactly one week later, American elections took place, in which Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush beat Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. During the transition phase of the ensuing weeks, certain political developments could take place that might have seemed too risky to push through if Congress had been in session.

One week after the American elections, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), operating from Tunis, attempted to regain control of events in Palestine, where a popular uprising, the Intifada, had been going on for months. Thus, on November 15, in Algiers, the Palestinian National Council (PNC) formally proclaimed a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Yasser Arafat as its president. Additionally, the PNC voted to revise the PLO charter and recognized the UN resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis of an international peace conference. This announcement was an important milestone in the Palestinian struggle against the ongoing, forceful, and illegal occupation of their land by an oppressive Israeli regime, and the lame-duck administration of Ronald Reagan would have to address the issue somehow.

According to a 1975 memorandum agreement with Israel, arranged by Henry Kissinger, the United States agreed to not recognize or negotiate with the PLO unless the organization formally recognized Israel and accepted UN resolutions 242 and 338 as the basis for peace in the Middle East. Even engaging in curt small talk with a PLO representative at a party in Amman during the summer of 1979 was taboo. One may recall that Ambassador Andrew Young was forced into resignation from his position as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. during the Carter Administration. Zionist leaders had somehow convinced themselves, that these conditions were too onerous for the PLO to adhere to, and were thus complacent in believing that the US government would continue to refuse any dealings with the PLO. They felt much assured when Secretary of State George Schultz refused a visa to PLO Chairman Arafat a day after he had requested one at the American Embassy in Tunis, so that he could address the UN General Assembly in New York in December. This decision, by Schultz, based on the PLO’s alleged association with terrorism, surprised the diplomatic community.

In early December of 1988, at the invitation of the Swedish government, Arafat met in Stockholm with a group of five American Jews, including Stanley Sheinbaum, one of the Regents of the University of California at the time, to discuss the Middle East situation. After a couple of days of talks, on December 7 Arafat announced the existence of Israel and denounced all forms of terrorism. However, George Schultz proclaimed that the PLO “still has a considerable distance to go” before the United States would deal with it. Israel’s expectations were thus upheld again. During this time, Israel had still not formed a government. However, a week later, on December 14, Arafat gave a press conference in Geneva and clarified the points he had given in a speech at the UN there the previous day. Though the language he used was barely different from that of previous statements rejected by Schultz as being insufficient, this time Schultz accepted the formula and promptly announced that the US State Department would begin discussions with the PLO.

News of this development was greeted with great shock and dismay at the time by Israeli politicians and the public. The PLO was their archenemy, regarded as a group of terrorists bent on destroying them. Extremist Zionists in particular perceived the announcement to recognize the PLO as the end of their dreams for a greater Israel, a genuine existential threat to their future survival. They had just been publicly stabbed in the back by the American administration. This decision could not stand, a strong message, would have to be sent, in response. The Americans could not get away with this, how “dare they” act independently.

With this pace of development, what might the new American regime do upon Bush’s inauguration? This was indeed a most serious development, and Israeli politicians gathered to engage in crisis discussions and expedited negotiating sessions in order to form a new government and deal with this unexpected threat. The possibility of events occurring beyond their control seemed real, and it became an imperative to forestall the U.S. engaging with the PLO.

Exactly one week after the formal American recognition of the PLO, Pan Am Flight 103, exploded in the air on its journey from London to New York on December 21, 1988. Only a few hours after news of this event became public, the reporter for a local television station in California interviewed an “expert on terrorism” live from his location at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica. Interestingly, when asked which group might have engaged in such an act of terrorism, the expert from RAND, upon citing the usual Arab suspects, cautioned that one should not exclude the possibility that a rogue group inside the Israeli military might have felt compelled to carry this out. This was truly unfiltered commentary, as the initial news came trickling in. Afterward, once the mainstream television media had regained their grip, explicit suggestions like this were presumably not heard again. (In contrast, with the benefit of months of operative planning, on September 11, 2001, the media worked from a prepared script; Osama bin Laden was declared the suspect within minutes of the demolition of the second World Trade Center tower, and the collapse of WTC Building 7 was announced at least twenty minutes before it actually occurred.)

Initially, one angle of speculation had been, that the attack was meant to target South Africa because a high level delegation of officials from its government, most notably foreign minister Pik Botha, were said to have been on that flight. Yet later the media reported that Botha had changed his scheduled flight to an earlier one that day and was indeed to arrive in New York. Ad hoc, raw news items like this, with the connotation of a possible advance tip-off, naturally arouses suspicion, especially since the South African government had few close political allies at the time, and so the media did not dwell on this message either. As it turned out, the South African government officials had been booked for Flight 103 but wound up flying to New York on an earlier plane. The next day they were present at UN headquarters to sign the Tripartite Agreement with representatives from Cuba and Angola. Years later, it was revealed that other people mysteriously chose not to take that flight at the last moment. Students from Syracuse University consequently got last minute seats which earlier were said to have been full. Which group of possible perpetrators could have had the technical means to both access the passenger list of a future flight and forewarn selected people? One cannot but help recall what seems to have been an analogous situation, many years later on September 11, 2001, when a select group of individuals received advance warning about the impending operation through an Israeli-based text messaging service, Odigo.

According to a former American ambassador to Qatar, Andrew I. Killgore, who has written articles about the Lockerbie bombing in the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs, there are other interesting facts surrounding the Lockerbie bombing that are not widely known. For instance, in 2002 (but presumably also earlier during investigations) a retired security guard, Ray Manly, revealed that the Pan Am baggage area at Heathrow Airport had been broken into 17 hours before Flight 103 took off. Certainly, planting a bomb directly onto an intended plane is a surer method of targeting that flight than sending an unattended piece of luggage laden with a bomb from Malta to Frankfurt, and then from there to London, which is the narrative that prosecutors concocted to frame al Megrahi. In the case of the latter method, there is no way of being sure that the suitcase will actually be on the target flight, but alternatively there is a slight chance, due to general sloppiness, that it could wind up on a flight one definitely would not want to target.

Killgore refers to reports that Pan Am had commissioned a team to handle the baggage security at 25 branches around the world. One member of that team was Isaac Yeffet, who headed a company by the name of Alert Management Inc. Employees of Yeffet’s company had full access to the Pan Am facility at Heathrow Airport and thus might have been expected to detect an unattended bag coming from Malta, or prevent the introduction of a bomb at Heathrow.

According to media reports, Isaac Yeffet is the former chief of security for El Al and an ex-director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, and now runs a security company based in New Jersey. In this context, the reader might recall, that responsibility for security at all three airports of alleged hijackings on September 11, 2001 also lay with an Israeli owned company.

One feature of grand scale terrorist events, such as airplane bombings, is that perpetrators tend not to reveal themselves to the public, so the question of culpability becomes a mystery. One method of following up is for the perpetrators to attempt to make it appear as if though an enemy was actually responsible. Israeli operatives have repeatedly deployed this trick for at least half a century, at least since the incident in Cairo that led to the Lavon Affair. However, it is impossible to fool the entire population. After the Lockerbie bombing, the predominately Jewish controlled media in America planted several accusations against various groups or governments, Ahmed Jabril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Abu Nidal, Syria, Iran, and of course Libya. Yet none of these groups really had the means or opportunity to carry out such an operation. Palestinians certainly didn’t have a motive in light of the breakthrough for their cause a week earlier, which didn’t preclude hypotheses of some rival Palestinian group committing the act out of sheer jealousy or disagreement from being presented.

As if these accusations and hypotheses in the media were not enough to distract and saturate the public with psychological propaganda, the New York Times Magazine, on Sunday March 18, 1990 (which coincided with the date of the only parliamentary elections in East Germany) proffered yet another malicious insinuation. Appearing as a bold headline on its cover, above a photo of the front of the jumbo jet lying on its side in Lockerbie, one could read the following words: “The German Connection”. This was likely part of the New York Times’ conspicuous “hate campaign” against Germany in general, but also against the impending German reunification in particular, which during early 1990, during the time of the negotiations leading to the so-called “Two Plus Four Agreement”, had reached a feverish pitch, spearheaded by former executive editor A. M. Rosenthal in various vitriolic editorials.

Another noteworthy piece of information relates to the disappointment of some British family members of persons who had been on that flight, with the way the case was developing. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was said to have blocked a full judicial inquiry into the issue. This raises the question, which group in Britain would have had sufficient influence to prevail upon the highest governmental official? An alternate explanation is, that President George H. W. Bush had prevailed upon her to tone down the investigation, which merely shifts the same question of complicity or cover-up toward power circumstances in the United States.

However, it was reported in 1993 that according to Minister of Parliament Tam Dalyell, Thatcher, who also had the role of being the head of intelligence services, stated unequivocally, that Libya did not carry out the bombing. It would seem that there was pressure to hide certain facts.

The violent destruction of an airplane with innocent people is also a highly political statement directed toward an élite group of decision makers in order to affect a particular policy. Therefore, it is fair to surmise that the perpetrators, who had to have had the motive, means, and opportunity to carry out the heinous crime, intended to signal their involvement, without stating it explicitly. If the intended recipients of such hints of involvement were themselves top-level criminals or terrorists, with blood on their hands, they would tend to acknowledge the hints in a different manner than the public inevitably would and, unlike the public, not get emotional about the situation. This can be viewed as part of a political game engaged in by psychopaths. Therefore, one should monitor official statements or communiqués for clues. During the Cold War there were American specialists called Kremlinologists, who would notice subtle and innocuous messages or announcements with important meaning. This is the diplomatic language of polite understatement.

On December 23, 1988, within two days after the Lockerbie bombing Israeli politicians agreed to form a coalition or unity government, headed by Yitzhak Shamir, who had gone to high school in Bialystok and became a terrorist in Palestine before World War II, after Hebraizing his surname from Jeziernicky. On that day, Shamir addressed the newly formed twelfth Knesset, in which he made multiple references to the PLO and the implications of its international recognition (which on the following day, Christmas Eve, included a meeting between Chairman Arafat and Pope John Paul in the Vatican). Below are key passages, translated into English by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

It is regrettable that we were forced to strenuously disagree with the recent U.S. decision regarding a dialogue with the PLO which, as far as we see and know, has not changed its character or ways, its malicious covenant and the terrorism that it perpetrates. We know this from the statements of its central figures, and from its actions in the field, and the government of Israel, in accordance with its guidelines, will not negotiate with it. We still hope that the U.S. will reconsider its decision vis-a-vis the PLO. We have paid close attention to the statements made by administration spokesmen regarding their approach to the issue of terrorism; we hope that after due consideration, they will draw the necessary conclusions regarding the PLO. The developments in the international arena and the challenges that we will face oblige us to overcome our differences in order to confront the problems together, and to overcome the obstacles and dangers that have been placed in our way. I am referring chiefly to the large-scale propaganda and diplomatic offensive being conducted now against Israel in the international diplomatic arena by the terrorist organizations and their friends and supporters, an offensive which is based on deception and on misleading. Its obvious objective is to gain international support for the establishment of a PLO-Palestinian state within Eretz Israel. In addition, we see special preparations being made to exert great pressure on us to cause us to make a complete withdrawal to the suffocating borders of 1967.

At that time there was no Internet, so only a few of the people who do not understand Hebrew were actually privy to the text at the time. Adopting a Talmudic perspective and the aggressive mindset that prevails among militant Zionists in Israel, one could certainly rationalize the Lockerbie bombing as an act of self-defense, a means to prevent suffocation and encirclement before such efforts can attain momentum. Shamir’s violent life had been filled with acts of terror. In this light the Lockerbie bombing can be viewed as an irate expression of “strenuous disagreement”.

- by reader submission

August 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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