On Friday, a draft of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal was shown to Israeli officials. The draft apparently called for the opening of border crossings between Gaza and Israel and included measure to ensure “the economic livelihood” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
According to Haaretz, the document, which was titled “Framework for Humanitarian Ceasefire in Gaza,” also said that a lasting truce would make possible the “transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees.”
The proposed ceasefire would also “address all security concerns”, stipulating that Israel would not be allowed to continue destroying tunnels during the initial ceasefire and making no explicit mention of the demilitarizing Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials were apparently shocked after reading the draft, according to Ma’an, saying that it ignored Israel’s security concerns.
“We succeeded in foiling that document and now we are discussing other options,” Haaretz quoted officials as saying.
One of Kerry’s associates is said to have responded:
“There is no paper and no proposal. The draft was based on the Egyptian proposal that Israel wholeheartedly supported. So if they are opposed, they are opposed their own plan.”
Israel refused to work with the ceasefire proposed on Friday, agreeing instead to a 12-hour humanitarian truce which started Saturday at 8am.
Israel resumed its assault on Gaza for the 20th day on Sunday afternoon, killing ten Palestinians in attacks on Sunday.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashal spoke Sunday with PBS interviewer Charlie Rose. In the interview, Mashal stressed that the group was ready to “coexist with the Jews” but would not tolerate “occupiers.”
During a continuation of Saturday’s temporary ceasefire, the Israeli army killed at least ten Palestinians.
Israeli forces have also killed a number of Palestinians in solidarity protests across the West Bank over the past several days, jailing even more.
This afternoon, after the expiration of the previous temporary ceasefire, Hamas announced that all militant groups would be respecting a 24-hour ceasefire, beginning at 2pm.
Israeli airstrikes continued, however, as officials announced their rejection to any permanent ceasefire deal currently on the table and, thus, resistance rocket fire resumed from the Gaza Strip as well.
One Israeli civilian was injured. 43 Israelis have been killed during “Operation Protective Edge”, all of them soldiers apart from three civilians.
Over a thousand Palestinian deaths have been reported in the past 20 days, with many still unidentified , most of which are accounted for by heavy, indiscriminate assaults on civilian neighborhoods, municipal facilities, end even hospitals.
Hamas insists that any lasting ceasefire must begin with lifting the blockade on Gaza, with leader Khaled Mashal warning that Palestinians cannot coexist with their neighbors while their land is occupied.
Gaza has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006, leading to frequent humanitarian crises. Backed by Egypt, Israel tightened the blockade in 2007, following an election victory by Hamas. Israel does not even respect their own impositions on Gaza’s fishing industry and frequently fires on Palestinian fishermen, often damaging or even confiscating their equipment.
Charlie Rose asked Khaled whether he could foresee [Hamas] living beside Israelis in peace. He responded that only a future Palestinian state could decide upon [Hamas'] recognition Israel.
“We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers…
I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs. However, I do not coexist with the occupiers.
…Palestinian people can have their say when they have their own state without occupation.”
Further pressed on whether Palestinians could recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, Mashal reiterated Hamas’ position — the group does not recognize Israel.
“When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you,” he said.
A full version of the interview is to be broadcast late Monday.
It’s been a tough week for NBC’s David Gregory.
First were reports that his “Meet the Press” was sinking under even weaker ratings and that he would soon be replaced. Then as we noted here yesterday: Gregory, after a weak interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu, committed one of the worst journalistic ethical lapses of recent vintage. After letting Netanyahu claim, again, that Israel may be blameless in the school massacre, despite all the evidence and logic to the contrary, he brought on UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness–and blindsided him by showing a 10-second, hazy, tape just released within the hour by Israel allegedly showing a Hamas rocket being fired from the grounds of a UN school. Yet Gregory said NBC had not “verified” that it’s accurate–and admitted that Gunness could not view it and had never seen it before. Yet then asked Gunness to respond! Gunness naturally protested the unfairness–and then the segment quickly ended.
Gregory has now issued this statement: “An end note in a discussion about Gaza we asked a spokesman about this video which Israel claims showed rockets being fired by Hamas from a U.N. school in Gaza,” Gregory said. “This is shot by the Israeli government, and that’s their claim. The U.N. has reviewed it, tells us they have confirmed, in their view, the video does not show rockets being fired from U.N. administrative school in Gaza. So this is a back and forth we are not able to settle at this point.” No apology or recognition of his severe ethical lapse. Shameful. And leaves it at the usual “he said/she said”–rather than NBC attempting to verify tape or prove Israeli propaganda. Which it should have done before airing it.
Meanwhile, the NYT has not updated its report last night, that focused on a different Israeli video, to add the UN statement–which Gregory cited 17 hours ago–debunking the one that allegedly shows rockets fired from the school grounds. Surely it’s worth noting that Israel’s videos may be nothing but propaganda. This is what I wrote about it last night:
Will surprise no one that when the NYT tonight reports on Israel’s claim it killed no one at the school–it’s the same old refusal to take on the absurd IDF claims head-on. You’d never know that Israel lied to them for three days [claiming] that none of their bombs even hit the school. It’s as if the reporters say, “More propaganda, please.” As from the beginning, they ultimately rely on “different versions can’t be reconciled now”–even though all evidence and testimony point to Israel being guilty of this slaughter. It’s a false “balance.”
They give their point of view away by not even referring to Israel completely changing its story after three days. That’s more revealing than the totally unverified 10-second video. Most of those who have gone to the site, such as Peter Beaumont of The Guardian, have all pointed their finger at Israel as no doubt the guilty party. Another one here. Not the Times.
And see the IDF spokesman’s “scenario” (below) that maybe the hundreds of wounded and dead were not hit there but brought to the site from elsewhere. The Times now dutifully uses the phrase that 16 were “reportedly killed” at the site. This is the same Israeli official the NYT reporters give the benefit of the doubt to re: the grainy video with no time stamp. See my earlier report on the shameful NYT coverage on this (as with much else on the conflict).
As nuclear-armed America hurtles into a completely avoidable crash with nuclear-armed Russia over Ukraine, you can now see the dangers of “information warfare” when facts give way to propaganda and the press fails to act as an impartial arbiter.
In this sorry affair, one of the worst offenders of journalistic principles has been the New York Times, generally regarded as America’s premier newspaper. During the Ukraine crisis, the Times has been little more than a propaganda conveyor belt delivering what the U.S. government wants out via shoddy and biased reporting from the likes of Michael R. Gordon and David Herszenhorn.
The Times reached what was arguably a new low on Sunday when it accepted as flat fact the still unproven point of how Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down. The Times dropped all attribution despite what appear to be growing – rather than diminishing – doubts about Official Washington’s narrative that Ukrainian rebels shot down the plane by using a powerful Russian-supplied Buk missile battery.
U.S. and Ukrainian government officials began pushing this narrative immediately after the plane went down on July 17 killing 298 people onboard. But the only evidence has been citations of “social media” and the snippet of an intercepted phone call containing possibly confused comments by Ukrainian rebels after the crash, suggesting that some rebels initially believed they had shot the plane down but later reversed that judgment.
A major problem with this evidence is that it assumes the rebels – or for that matter the Ukrainian armed forces – operate with precise command and control when the reality is that the soldiers on both sides are not very professional and function in even a deeper fog of war than might exist in other circumstances.
But an even bigger core problem for the U.S. narrative is that it is virtually inconceivable that American intelligence did not have satellite and other surveillance on eastern Ukraine at the time of the shoot-down. Yet the U.S. government has been unable (or unwilling) to supply a single piece of imagery showing the Russians supplying a Buk anti-aircraft missile battery to the rebels; the rebels transporting the missiles around eastern Ukraine; the rebels firing the fateful missile that allegedly brought down the Malaysian airliner; or the rebels then returning the missiles to Russia.
To accept Official Washington’s certainty about what it “knows” happened, you would have to believe that American spy satellites – considered the best in the world – could not detect 16-feet-tall missiles during their odyssey around Russia and eastern Ukraine. If that is indeed the case, the U.S. taxpayers should demand their billions upon billions of dollars back.
However, the failure of U.S. intelligence to release its satellite images of Buk missile batteries in eastern Ukraine is the “dog-not-barking” evidence that this crucial evidence to support the U.S. government’s allegations doesn’t exist. Can anyone believe that if U.S. satellite images showed the missiles crossing the border, being deployed by the rebels and then returning to Russia, that those images would not have been immediately declassified and shown to the world? In this case, the absence of evidence is evidence of absence – absence of U.S. evidence.
The U.S. government’s case also must overcome public remarks by senior U.S. military personnel at variance with the Obama administration’s claims of certainty. For instance, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock reported last Saturday that Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, U.S. commander of NATO forces in Europe, said last month that “We have not seen any of the [Russian] air-defense vehicles across the border yet.”
Whitlock also reported that “Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said defense officials could not point to specific evidence that an SA-11 [Buk] surface-to-air missile system had been transported from Russia into eastern Ukraine.”
There’s also the possibility that a Ukrainian government missile – either from its own Buk missile batteries fired from the ground or from a warplane in the sky – brought down the Malaysian plane. I was told by one source who had been briefed by U.S. intelligence analysts that some satellite images suggest that the missile battery was under the control of Ukrainian government troops but that the conclusion was not definitive.
Plus, there were reports from eyewitnesses in the area of the crash that at least one Ukrainian jet fighter closed on the civilian plane shortly before it went down. The Russian government also has cited radar data supposedly showing Ukrainian fighters in the vicinity.
Need for a Real Inquiry
What all this means is that a serious and impartial investigation is needed to determine who was at fault and to apportion accountability. But that inquiry is still underway with no formal conclusions.
So, in terms of journalistic professionalism, a news organization should treat the mystery of who shot down Flight 17 with doubt. Surely, no serious journalist would jump to the conclusion based on the dubious claims made by one side in a dispute while the other side is adamant in its denials, especially with the stakes so high in a tense confrontation between two nuclear powers.
But that is exactly what the Times did in describing new U.S. plans to escalate the confrontation by possibly supplying tactical intelligence to the Ukrainian army so it can more effectively wage war against eastern Ukrainian rebels.
On Sunday, the Times wrote: “At the core of the debate, said several [U.S.] officials — who, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy deliberations are still in progress — is whether the American goal should be simply to shore up a Ukrainian government reeling from the separatist attacks, or to send a stern message to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin by aggressively helping Ukraine target the missiles Russia has provided. Those missiles have taken down at least five aircraft in the past 10 days, including Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.” [Emphasis added.]
The link provided by the Times’ online version of the story connects to an earlier Times’ story that attributed the accusations blaming Russia to U.S. “officials.” But this new story drops that attribution and simply accepts the claims as flat fact.
The danger of American “information warfare” that treats every development in the Ukraine crisis as an opportunity to blame Putin and ratchet up tensions with Russia has been apparent since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis – as has been the clear anti-Russian bias of the Times and virtually every other outlet of the mainstream U.S. news media. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Will Ukraine Be NYT’s Waterloo?”]
Since the start of the crisis last year, U.S. officials and American-funded non-governmental organizations have not only pushed a one-sided story but have been pushing a dangerous agenda, seeking to create a collision between the United States and Russia and, more personally, between President Barack Obama and President Putin.
The vehicle for this head-on collision between Russia and the United States was the internal political disagreement in Ukraine over whether elected President Viktor Yanukovych should have accepted harsh International Monetary Fund austerity demands as the price for associating with the European Union or agree to a more generous offer from Russia.
Angered last September when Putin helped Obama avert a planned U.S. bombing campaign against Syria, American neocons were at the forefront of this strategy. Their principal need was to destroy the Putin-Obama collaboration, which also was instrumental in achieving a breakthrough on the Iran nuclear dispute (while the neocons were hoping that the U.S. military might bomb Iran, too).
So, on Sept. 26, 2013, Carl Gershman, a leading neocon and longtime president of the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, took to the op-ed page of the neocon-flagship Washington Post to urge the U.S. government to push European “free trade” agreements on Ukraine and other former Soviet states and thus counter Moscow’s efforts to maintain close relations with those countries.
The ultimate goal, according to Gershman, was isolating and possibly toppling Putin in Russia with Ukraine the key piece on this global chessboard. “Ukraine is the biggest prize,” Gershman wrote. “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
To give the United States more leverage inside Ukraine, Gershman’s NED paid for scores of projects, including training “activists” and supporting “journalists.” Rather than let the Ukrainian political process sort out this disagreement, U.S. officials, such as neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and neocon Sen. John McCain, also intervened to encourage increasingly disruptive demonstrations seeking to overthrow Yanukovych when he opted for the Russian deal over the EU-IMF offer.
Though much of the ensuing violence was instigated by neo-Nazi militias that had moved to the front of the anti-Yanukovych protests, the U.S. government and its complicit news media blamed every act of violence on Yanukovych and the police, including a still mysterious sniper attack that left both protesters and police dead.
On Feb. 21, Yanukovych denied ordering any shootings and tried to stem the violence by signing an agreement brokered by three European nations to reduce his powers and hold early elections so he could be voted out of office. He also complied with a demand from Vice President Joe Biden to pull back Ukrainian police. Then, the trap sprang shut.
Neo-Nazi militias overran government buildings and forced Yanukovych and his officials to flee for their lives. The State Department quickly endorsed the coup regime – hastily formed by the remnants of the parliament – as “legitimate.” Besides passing bills offensive to ethnic Russians in the east, one of the parliament’s top priorities was to enact the IMF austerity plan.
White Hats/Black Hats
Though the major U.S. news media was aware of these facts – and indeed you could sometimes detect the reality by reading between the lines of dispatches from the field – the overriding U.S. narrative was that the coup-makers were the “white hats” and Yanukovych along with Putin were the “black hats.” Across the U.S. media, Putin was mocked for riding on a horse shirtless and other indiscretions. For the U.S. media, it was all lots of fun, as was the idea of reprising the Cold War with Moscow.
When the people of Crimea – many of whom were ethnic Russians – voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the U.S. media declared the move a Russian “invasion” although the Russian troops were already in Ukraine as part of an agreement with previous Ukrainian governments.
Every development that could be hyped was hyped. There was virtually no nuance in the news reporting, a lack of professionalism led by the New York Times. Yet, the solution to the crisis was always relatively obvious: a federalized system that would allow the ethnic Russians in the east a measure of self-governance and permit Ukraine to have cordial economic relations with both the EU and Russia.
But replacement President Petro Poroshenko – elected when a secession fight was already underway in the east – refused to negotiate with the ethnic Russian rebels who had rejected the ouster of Yanukovych. Sensing enough political support inside the U.S. government, Poroshenko opted for a military solution.
It was in that context of a massive Ukrainian government assault on the east that Russia stepped up its military assistance to the beleaguered rebels, including the apparent provision of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles to fend off Kiev’s air superiority. The rebels did succeed in shooting down some Ukrainian warplanes flying at altitudes far below the 33,000 feet of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
For a plane at that height to be shot down required a more powerful system, like the Buk anti-aircraft batteries or an air-to-air missile fired by a fighter jet. Which brings us to the mystery of what happened on the afternoon of July 17 and why it is so important to let a serious investigation evaluate all the available evidence and not to have a rush to judgment.
But the idea of doing an investigation first and drawing conclusions second is a concept that, apparently, neither the U.S. government nor the New York Times accepts. They would prefer to start with the conclusion and then make a serious investigation irrelevant, one more casualty of information warfare.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
According to the Congressional Budget Office, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance.” Other special benefits also flow to the Israeli military. Each year, the U.S. pays for about 20 percent of Israel’s overall military spending, and the total places Israel as the 16th largest military spender in the world. “In 2007, the Bush Administration and the Israeli government agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package for the period from FY2009 to FY2018.” Obama has renewed that pledge.
The U.S. routinely supports Israel’s policies and avoids condemning Israel for its rights violations against Palestinians. It may never have done so. This week, for example, the U.S. cast the sole vote against the U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution concerning the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The vote was 29-1. A link to the full text of the resolution is here. (The texts vary slightly in different reports.)
Because the U.S. government has made itself virtually one with Israel, we must ask the question: What exactly is the U.S. supporting when it supports Israel? One cannot arrive at answers to this question without examining Israel’s history. One may make a start by reading Theodor Herzl’s 1896 pamphlet “The Jewish State”, a visionary tract. This provides insight into the goals of Herzl and his assumptions behind colonizing Palestine. How the colonization actually worked out has not been as he planned. Israel continues to be a problematic state, an expansionary state, and what is worse, a dangerous nuclear power state. Wikipedia has a number of articles on the history. This one provides a start. One thing the U.S. supports when it supports Israel is what Israel is doing in Gaza at this moment.
Murray Rothbard has a highly readable and valuable account of the history up to 1967.
Although America has stood in theory as a melting pot and a country that favored the assimilation of many peoples from all over the world, and in practice was against Black Nationalism, the U.S. government has supported Jewish Nationalism in Israel. It has supported a society that could only support such a state by being exclusionary and segregated, or even ethnically cleansed. The philosophy behind that state rested on Herzl’s assumptions, which in my view were deeply flawed. He simply ignored the native population of Palestine. He simply asserted that Jews were a people one people, that assimilation was out of the question and that a Jewish State was a solution to anti-Semitism. All of these assertions are questionable. He declared that “Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home.” Can any people or ethnic group of today return to the place where their ancestors originated with the idea of displacing its current residents and making their own State? No one would approve of such an idea. Anyway, this “historic home” idea was really not true of all Jews after 1,800 years had passed and Jews had had many, many homes in many lands. It was an appeal to a subset of Jews who wanted to emigrate and maintain their culture with others of their kind. Nor could this idea justify a Jewish State governing Palestine and its then current Arab inhabitants. But in addition Herzl’s philosophy in practice assumed a much more militant and exclusionary form as new generations appeared after him. In particular, David Ben-Gurion was an exponent of power and force.
Israel is a brutal state as the latest excesses of destruction and killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza show. That’s what the U.S. supports.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
One month ago today, President Obama was congratulating Libya on a “milestone” election — even though the disintegration of the country after the 2011 US invasion was ongoing.
Said Obama in June:
I congratulate the Libyan people on the conclusion of the elections for a new Council of Representatives, a milestone in their courageous efforts to transition from four decades of dictatorship toward a full democracy.
Today, the US announced it has evacuated all US personnel from Libya. They piled into vehicles and escaped to Tunisia.
The only thing left behind was the hollow words of hollow State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf:
Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya.. …We reiterate that Libyans must immediately cease hostilities and begin negotiations to resolve their grievances.
Nothing better demonstrates the enormous disconnect between Washington’s rhetoric and actual reality than this, an emergency evacuation of the entire US diplomatic and military presence in Libya just weeks after a “milestone” election and just over three years after a US/NATO attack that was to bring democracy and prosperity to the country.
As the US and NATO attacked Libya in March, 2011, President Obama addressed the American people to explain his decision to attack.
Gaddafi was killing his own people, Obama claimed. That was a lie. He was fighting the very insurgents whose ongoing violence has forced the United States to flee the country.
US intervention would stop the violence, Obama claimed. That was a lie.
“Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous,” said Obama.
But Gaddafi was forced from power — sodomized and murdered by US allies in Libya. The country is more dangerous than ever. The US has been forced to evacuate.
Obama claimed that the US/NATO invasion would end the violence in Libya:
[W]e were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.
That was a lie. The violence worsened.
America was exceptional, claimed Obama in his 2011 speech. That is why we had to invade Libya:
To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.
Libya was supposed to be the next “domino” in the fantasy of an “Arab Spring” pushed so hard by the US administration and its compliant media. Instead, Egypt is ruled by a US-backed dictator who overthrew an elected government and Libya is a completely destroyed no-go zone.
Reality caught up with Obama and the murderous rhetoric of the interventionists and neocons.
Moscow is next on their target list. Those in the US who push back against the lies designed to provoke a war with Russia are called “Putin’s best friend” and “Russian agents.” Just like they were called “Saddam’s best friend” and “Iraqi agents” just like they were called “Gaddafi’s best friend” and “Libyan agents.” The lies are the same, the results are always a disaster.
Will Americans notice what failures their leaders are? Will Americans demand an end to the disastrous interventions?
Let this sink in: three years after the US invasion of Libya that would “free” the country, the US has been forced to have a Saigon moment.
Following are a few short questions for the New York Times in regard to a recent news report:
1. When are you going to cover the killing of Palestinians the same way you cover the killing of Israelis?
Israel’s killing of at least 8 civilians in one day was relegated to the second half of the story and not mentioned in the headline.
The murder of a father of three children, a staff member for Defense for Children International, got two sentences in the 17th paragraph. Israeli forces’ killing of a 17-year-old got one sentence in the 25th paragraph. The killing of a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old got a half sentence – between them – in the 27th paragraph.
2. When are you going to stop calling Palestinians who are fighting to protect their homeland “militants” and start calling them resistance fighters?
3. When are you going to stop framing this as “Israel against Hamas” rather than Israel against Gazans? Or Israel against Palestinians?
The vast majority of the over 800 people Israeli forces have killed in the last 19 days are civilians, many of them children. The vast majority of the over 5,000 injured are civilians, many of them children. Israel is, once again, destroying large amounts of civilian infrastructure: hospitals, schools, roads, family homes, etc.
4. When are you going to include crucial context on the American connection – that hard-pressed American taxpayers give Israel $8.5 million per day?
When are you going to mention that we have given tiny Israel far more of our tax money than to any other country – In total, over $233.7 billion (corrected for inflation). Currently, on average, 7,000 times more per capita than to others around the world.
5. When are you going to tell your readers that senior “objective” reporter Isabel Kershner was a British citizen who went to Israel to become an Israeli citizen? When are you going to divulge her family ties to the Israeli military?
6. When are you going to include the true context of the violence:
- Gaza is basically an open-air prison that Israel has been starving for over seven years (an Israeli official called it putting Palestinians “on a diet“),
- Rockets from Gaza began in April 2001 AFTER Israeli invasions and shelling of Gaza, that the vast majority of these rockets are small, home-made projects that cause no damage (and that this was the case long before the Iron Dome system was deployed),
- During the entire time the rockets have been used they have killed a total of approximately 30 Israelis, while during this same period Israeli forces have killed over 4,700 Gazans?
- The Jewish state was created through a war of ethnic cleansing, and that the allegedly “only democracy in the Middle East” has no constitution and has never declared its borders,
- Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are living on approximately 15 percent of their original land.
7. When are you going to give readers the facts without Israeli spin?
Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest, executive director of If Americans Knew, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: How the US was used to create Israel.
From military hardware to counternarcotics operations, the United States has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan to rebuild, if not reshape, the war-torn country. Much of this investment has proved ineffective, and the failings of American policy now include a misguided effort involving soybeans.
Four years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) decided it would be a good idea to spend $34 million on getting Afghan farmers to grow soybeans and for Afghan consumers to eat them.
The USDA struck out on both counts, according to a report (pdf) from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a frequent critic of U.S. spending in the country, and the Center for Public Integrity.
For starters, American officials thought farmers in the nation’s northern reaches could successfully grow soybeans. This decision was made despite the findings of British researchers last decade that “soybeans were inappropriate for conditions and farming practices in northern Afghanistan, where the program was implemented,” SIGAR’s top official, John Sopko, wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The U.S. also paid about $1.5 million to build a processing plant for soybeans. When the crops failed, the government paid to have 4,000 metric tons of soybeans flown in from the United States at a cost of about $2 million to keep the plant running.
Nor could American experts convince Afghans to incorporate soybeans into their diet. The Center for Public Integrity reported that this effort “has largely been a flop, marked by mismanagement, poor government oversight and financial waste.”
But even if the U.S. didn’t bungle its implementation of the soy-is-good-for-you strategy, the plan was likely to fail anyway, the center concluded, because of “a simple fact, which might have been foreseen but was evidently ignored: Afghans don’t like the taste of the soy processed foods.”
To Learn More:
Afghans Don’t Like Soybeans, Despite a Big U.S. Push (by Alexander Cohen and James Arkin, Center for Public Integrity)
The U.S. Wasted $34 Million TryingTo Make Soybeans Happen In Afghanistan (by Hayes Brown, Think Progress)
Letter to Tom Vilsack (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) (pdf)
More Than Three-Quarters of Soybeans, Corn and Cotton Grown in U.S. are Genetically Engineered (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
And what The Goldstone Report found the last time Israel fired on hospitals in Gaza, and then accused Hamas of using them as military bases:
‘The Mission did not find any evidence to support the allegations that hospital facilities were used by the Gaza authorities or by Palestinian armed groups to shield military activities and that ambulances were used to transport combatants or for other military purposes. On the basis of its own investigations and the statements by UN officials, the Mission excludes that Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat activities from UN facilities that were used as shelters during the military operations’.
The Israeli government are proven liars in this regard, and no-one should be surprised if they are lying this time around as well.
That they are proven liars in this regard apparently isn’t enough to stop The Times taking the Israeli government at their word, and then publishing cartoons which can only have the effect of helping to justify war crimes.
During the past two weeks, a horrified world has witnessed accelerating Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Those crimes are enabled by the United States, Israel’s biggest backer on the world stage.
Why does the US support Israel? Because Americans have been robbed of the freedom to think and speak freely about Zionism.
The United States of America is supposed to be a bastion of free expression. The courts have ruled that even the most lurid and depraved words and pictures are entitled to Constitutional protection.
Yet in the self-styled Land of the Free, an “apartheid wall of censorship” blocks the free expression of anti-Zionist arguments.
This censorship is not directly imposed by the government. The real enemy of free speech is the Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC).
In his book The Power of Israel in the United States, professor James Petras identified the ZPC as the source of that power. The ZPC is led by AIPAC, the most powerful lobby in America. It includes the 51 Major American Jewish Organizations, which are backed by only about one half million of America’s six million Jews. That is less than 10% of the total. But as Petras says, “what a half million!” He adds that “the 51′s hundreds of thousands of activists are strategically placed in institutions, as well as geographically, with a centralized command capable of mobilizing money, media attention and political leverage in any priority, political, cultural or social arena.”
This extremely well-financed mob of 500,000 pro-Israel fanatics can be counted on to make life miserable for anyone guilty of expressing an anti-Zionist opinion, or allowing one to be expressed. I know this from repeated personal experience.
For example, I recently gave an interview on WWUH, a radio station based at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. (You can listen by conducting an internet search for “WWUH 9/11 Wake-Up Call.”)
During the interview, I expressed the same views, and cited the same facts, that are featured in my opinion columns at Press TV. I presented empirical evidence that Israel and its American supporters orchestrated 9/11 in order to trick the USA into destroying or destabilizing “seven countries in five years” – as General Wesley Clark revealed. Those seven countries were the ones blocking Israel’s quest for regional domination.
I also explained why Zionism is morally indefensible and ultimately doomed, but persists by controlling the USA’s Middle East policy.
Predictably, a backlash from the ZPC ensued. A complaint was lodged against WWUH and copied to the University. According to the complaint, I had delivered “an anti-Zionist sermon” and my words were “biased.”
The implication: Americans must never hear anything but the pro-Zionist sermons the mainstream media continually inflicts on them. Alternative views are forbidden.
The University of Connecticut knows that the ZPC is tightly organized and financed by hundreds of millionaires and a considerable number of billionaires. Zionist complaints like the one targeting my interview come with an implied threat to withhold funding from the University if it continues to allow the free expression of anti-Zionist views.
Such Zionist censorship is a pervasive feature of American university life. While teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I was twice attacked by the legions of the ZPC. The second time, in 2006, after I appeared on Fox News arguing that 9/11 was an inside job, the University lost more than $500,000 in canceled contributions in less than 24 hours. I am currently unemployable in the American academy because any university that hired me would face this kind of financial attack from the Zionists.
It isn’t just the universities that are terrorized by Zionist censorship. The American media, too, is punished on the rare occasions that it diverges even slightly from the pro-Israel party line. A newspaper, magazine, or broadcast outlet that allows an anti-Zionist voice to be heard will be slammed with a barrage of complaints, and perhaps be hit in the pocketbook with an advertising boycott, from the ZPC.
Politicians are censored even more tightly. Whenever an American statesman stands up for the US rather than Israel – as in the cases of William Fulbright, Paul Findley, James Abourezk, Cynthia McKinney, James Trafficant, and many others – they are hounded out of office by the ZPC.
Even presidents are vulnerable. Many analysts believe that Jimmy Carter was made a one-term president by the ZPC due to his attempts to force peace on Israel. Some even argue that John F. Kennedy was removed from office in part because he had staked his life on an attempt to prevent Israel from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Even gatherings of American Muslims are subject to Zionist censorship. Last week when Obama hosted a White House Ramadan iftar (fast-breaking dinner) for Muslims he also invited Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, a notorious racist who recently said the child-killing Israeli military should get the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama stubbornly intoned the Orwellian mantra “Israel has the right to defend itself” and clearly was not prepared to listen to the views of his Muslim guests.
Shortly after the Ron Dermer fiasco at the White House, I myself was viciously attacked by a Zionist Jew at a Ramadan iftar in Madison, Wisconsin. The Zionist started a conversation about “Israel’s right to defend itself” and proclaimed that Hamas was a terrorist group. When I responded by gently explaining some of the facts about the conflict, the Zionist iftar-infiltrator had a fit and repeatedly called me a Nazi. Then he lodged a complaint with the organizer of the iftar.
Apparently the Muslim-majority perspective cannot be voiced anywhere in America – not even at a Muslim celebration! It seems that every group in America – every civic group, church group, NGO, nonprofit, and even the Muslim groups – are infiltrated by the Zionist thought police, who are dedicated to preventing the American people from hearing any version of events except their own.
Why are the Zionists so desperate to suppress free thought and free debate about the Middle East? The answer is obvious: The Zionist position is indefensible. If Americans knew the horrors that the Zionists have inflicted not only on Palestine, but also on the United States – including the cold-blooded murder of almost 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001 – the bloody Zionist experiment would face its final reckoning.
As we recently discussed, it’s becoming readily apparent that the FBI’s most vaunted counter-terrorism wins are almost all stings for “crimes” they made up all by themselves and then coerced others to join. Even for those that don’t have a problem with this kind of practice in theory, it has to be jarring to learn just how many of these “terrorists” are either suffering serious mental or social illnesses or have had their confessions beaten out of them. By all appearances, it looks pretty clear that the FBI is bumping up their “win” statistics on the backs of these highly questionable stings.
So of course local law enforcement is getting in on the action as well. Take the police in Washington D.C., for instance, who are featured in a Washington Post story detailing how they invent armed robbery plans whole-cloth and then recruit civilians to join up shortly before arresting these future-criminals. Some of the plots the police devised are quite detailed and terrifying, involving robbing liquor stores and targets that are supposedly drug dealers. After discussing the plans with an undercover cop, everyone is then arrested and charged with a variety of “conspiracy to commit” charges. According to some experts, the government is on firm legal ground with regards to entrapment.
The government is on solid legal ground, experts say, when it comes to fending off allegations that suspects were set up — or entrapped — by the police. Even if the government entices the defendant, the target has to show that he was not predisposed to commit the crime.
Sure, and if you’re a defendant in one of these cases, good luck convincing anyone that you didn’t have a predisposition for the crime you were tricked into thinking you were going to commit. Again, it’s easy to opine that these are bad people, but that doesn’t take into account mental illness and pressure applied by undercover officers eager to bolster their arrest statistics. According to reports, that kind of pressure included giving minors alcohol and/or taking them to strip clubs, because nobody has ever made themselves out to be something they’re not when drunk or in the presence of naked members of the opposite sex. The question becomes whether anything like the made up crime would have ever happened had it not been first invented by the police.
“When you have the government offering guns or the getaway car and making it really attractive, you have to ask: Is this an opportunity that would have really come around in real life? Would this person have been able to put together this type of crime without government assistance?” said Katharine Tinto, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has studied undercover policing tactics.
It’s even worse when the police engineer aspects of the made up crimes in the sting in order to manufacture longer sentences for the would-be criminals they ensnare.
Tinto and others also take issue with the government’s ability to essentially engineer tough penalties by controlling the details of the made-up crime. Part of the reason the District cases have been so successful, according to defense lawyers, is that the potential jail time for the federal conspiracy charge is steep enough that many defendants are more inclined to make a deal with prosecutors than risk losing at trial.
The global problem in all of this is the aim: this is all about bolstering crime-fighting statistics rather than responding to any actual crimes or criminals. Will the police likely get some violent criminals off the streets with this tactic? Sure, but so could actual police work and, as I indicated, that isn’t what this is all about. On top of that, the questions raised by the tactic are serious and some of the people caught up in all this probably aren’t benefited most by engineered jail time. Add to all that questions about who the police are generally going to look towards as targets of this kind of sting operation (gasp, minorities), and we should be left wondering why they aren’t fighting the crime that exists rather than making up crime that otherwise wouldn’t.
US airlines lifted a flight ban to Israel’s international airport just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah and returned to Cairo to continue pushing regional efforts to ink a ceasefire.
The US national aviation agency had imposed the restriction on Tuesday after a rocket hit a house very close to the runways, in a move mirrored by Europe.
It was renewed late on Wednesday, prompting Hamas to hail the suspension of Tel Aviv flights as a “great victory for the resistance.”
Shortly afterwards, the US agency rescinded the move.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport,” it said, while warning the situation was still “very fluid.” There was no immediate word on whether European airlines would follow suit.
Russia’s second-largest airline Transaero said Thursday it was also resuming flights to Israel.
“As of today, Transaero will operate all services between Russia and Israel according to schedule,” the company said in statement.
The wave of cancellations by foreign airlines emptied Israel’s usually bustling international gateway and hurt its hi-tech economy at the height of summer tourist season. It prompted an appeal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Washington to intervene.
The FAA said that after reviewing the security situation it had cancelled the ban late on Wednesday. US Airways, a unit of American Airlines Group Inc, said on Thursday it was resuming its non-stop Tel Aviv to Philadelphia service.
Israel predicted other U.S. airlines would follow suit within hours, though European carriers could take longer. Germany’s Lufthansa and Air Berlin said their suspension of flights to Tel Aviv would continue to Friday.
“The Europeans did not really deliberate over this, but acted more as a follow-up to the American decision,” said Gadi Regev, chief of staff for Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority.
A number of European flights have been diverted to Cyprus’s Larnaca airport for onward travel to Ben Gurion on Israeli carriers.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
Senators Sanders & Leahy Join in Deeply Flawed Resolution Supporting Israel
All 100 Senators, including Vermont’s Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy, joined in passing a Senate resolution on July 17, 2014 supporting “the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”
However, the facts differ.
A report issued by the authoritative “Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center” (ITIC), a private Israeli think tank that “has close ties with the country’s military leadership,” unintentionally debunked the Senate resolution more than a week before its unanimous consent vote in the Senate. The weekly ITIC reports regarding rocket fire are frequently quoted on the Israeli government’s own web site.
The ITIC July 8, 2014 report,“News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 2 – 8, 2014),” states: “For the first time since Operation Pillar of Defense [November 2012], Hamas participated in and claimed responsibility for rocket fire [on July 7, 2014].”
Thus, Hamas rocket fire only re-started on July 7 after a 19 month cease-fire. As we will see, this was nearly a month after Israeli forces launched massive military operations in the West Bank and Gaza starting on June 12. But those Israeli military operations were not the only provocation.
First, about the cease fire that was in place: Operation Pillar of Defense was an 8 day aerial assault on Gaza in November 2012 that ended with a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt. Graphs presented on the ITIC website show that the cease-fire was effective. In the weeks and months following that agreement, the ITIC consistently reported the absence of Hamas rocket fire. In addition, a May 2013 article in the Jerusalem Post, “IDF source: Hamas working to stop Gaza rockets,” reported that Hamas was policing other groups to prevent rocket fire.
The July 8 ITIC report also divulged why Hamas launched its first rocket fire at Israel in more than 19 months on July 7: On that night Israeli forces had bombed and killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza. The ITIC report includes a picture of the six Hamas members. Thus, a report from an authoritative Israeli source described the provocation for the resumption of rocket fire: Hamas rocket fire began only after Israeli forces had engaged in nearly a month of military operations in violation of the ceasefire agreement and had killed 6 Hamas members in Gaza.
The Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) also issues weekly reports, these reports focus on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Gaza. In its July 10 weekly report, PCHR gave further details of the events that immediately preceded the July 7 Hamas rocket launchings: PCHR reports:
Between 01:00 and 16:00, the bodies of 5 members of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) were recovered from a tunnel dug near Gaza International Airport in the southeast of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. They were identified as: Ibrahim Dawod al-Bal’awi, 24; ‘Abdul Rahman Kamal al-Zamli, 22; Jum’a ‘Atiya Shallouf, 26; and Khaled ‘Abdul Hadi Abu Mur, 21, and his twin brother, Mustafa. Another three members were recovered alive, but one was in a serious condition. It should be noted that the tunnel was repeatedly bombarded by Israeli warplanes and tanks. According to medical sources, the deceased inhaled toxic gases. The ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades declared in an online statement that 5 of its members were killed as a result of airstrikes that targeted places of resistance activities.
The facts show that Israeli forces had to work quite hard to get Hamas to end its cease-fire. The killing of the six Hamas members was not an isolated event. Israeli forces and settlers had gone wild on the West Bank starting on June 12 after the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. Israeli forces had also attacked 60 targets in Gaza during those three weeks of June. Then, on the night of July 7, 2014, the Israeli Air Force had attacked approximately 50 more “terrorist targets” in the Gaza Strip, as described in the ITIC report.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 3:
Israel’s military operations in the West Bank following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers have amounted to collective punishment. The military operations included unlawful use of force, arbitrary arrests, and illegal home demolitions.
The HRW report also states that:
Israeli forces have arrested about 700 Palestinians since June 12, 2014, and are currently detaining at least 450, some during the large-scale military incursions and others who are known supporters or leaders of the Hamas Reform and Change Party, which won Palestinian elections in 2006, according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner’s rights group.
Giving more details, several of the weekly reports from the Palestine Center for Human Rights (PCHR) indicate that Israeli forces and settlers killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 51 during 369 incursions into the West Bank between June 12 and July 2 and that Israeli forces raided hundreds of houses on the West Bank each week. Israeli forces also launched the 60 bombing attacks on Gaza and one ground incursion, wounding 27 people in Gaza during those three weeks.
While all these attacks in the West Bank and Gaza did produce rocket fire from other groups in Gaza during June–which the ITIC reports had been almost zero during the previous month–the attacks did not provoke Hamas itself to fire rockets. To predictably accomplish that feat, Israeli forces had to go further and kill the 6 Hamas members on July 7.
The Senate resolution names Hamas in nearly every one of its deeply flawed paragraphs. Yet it fails to mention any of the facts about Israel’s military operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Let’s turn this around for a moment: Had the Israeli public been subjected to a massive military crackdown including 369 military incursions into Israel and 110 bombing attacks on Israel during which 11 Israelis had been killed, 78 wounded, and 700 arrested, and then had six Israeli soldiers been killed in a single air and ground military operation, would the Senate have omitted mention of all such facts and voted by unanimous consent that responding Israeli forces were “unprovoked?” Would the Senate have voted that the one attacking Israel was defending itself and that Israeli forces were the ones engaging in “belligerent actions?”
Why did the Senate get this so wrong? Why did Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy allow their names to be used for pro-war propaganda so at variance with the facts?
James Marc Leas is a Vermont attorney and is a past co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee. He collected evidence in the Gaza Strip from November 27 to December 3, 2012 as part of a 20 member delegation from the US and Europe and co-authored several articles describing findings. He also participated in the National Lawyers Guild delegation to Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in February 2009 and contributed to its report, Onslaught: Israel’s Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law.