Because my blog prompted by the Arizona shootings has attracted many comments pro and con, and more recently has been the object of a more selective public attack on me personally, I thought it appropriate to post a supplementary blog with the purpose of clarifying my actual position and re-focusing attention on the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people being held in captivity. In the background, are crucial issues of free speech, fairness in public discourse, and responsible media treatment of sensitive and controversial affairs of state.
Both the UN Secretary General and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations harshly criticized some remarks in my personal blog that mentioned the 9/11 attacks. They referred to the views expressed there as ‘despicable and deeply offensive,’ ‘noxious, ‘inflammatory,’ and ‘preposterous.’ Their comments were apparently made in response to a letter written to the UN Secretary General by the head of UN Monitor, a Geneva-based highly partisan NGO, that called misleading attention to this passage in the blog. Ambassador Rice called for my dismissal from my unpaid post as an independent Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council with a mandate to report upon the Israeli observance of “human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”
For anyone who read the blog post in its entirely it should be plain that the reference to the 9/11 issues is both restrained and tangential. What is stressed in the blog is the importance of carefully examining evidence before drawing conclusions about political and legal responsibility for highly sensitive public acts, and the importance for the serenity of the society of achieving closure in a responsible manner. I never endorsed doubts about the official version of 9/11 beyond indicating what anyone who has objectively examined the controversy knows– that there remain certain gaps in the official explanation that give rise to an array of conspiratorial explanations, and that the 9/11 Commission unfortunately did not put these concerns to rest. My plea was intended to encourage addressing these gaps in a credible manner, nothing more, nothing less. I certainly meant no disrespect toward the collective memory of 9/11 in the country and elsewhere. On the contrary, my intention was to encourage an investigation that might finally achieve closure with respect to doubts that remain prevalent among important sectors of the public, including among some 9/11 families.
What seems apparent from this incident, which is itself disturbing, is that any acknowledgement of doubt about the validity of the official version of the 9/11 events, while enjoying the legal protection of free speech, is denied the political and moral protection that are essential if an atmosphere of free speech worthy of a democracy is to be maintained. When high officials can brand someone who raises some doubts in the most cautious language as ‘an enemy of the people,’ then there are either things to hide or a defensive fury that is out of all proportion to the provocation. To seek further inquiry into the unanswered questions about 9/11 is surely not an unreasonable position
What is dismaying to me is that neither the office of the Secretary General nor the U.S. Mission to the United Nation made any effort to contact me to seek clarification of my remarks on these issues that are not connected with my UN role prior to making their insulting criticisms damaging to my reputation. I would think that as a representative of the UN and a citizen of the United States, I am at least entitled to this minimal courtesy, and more substantially, that whatever criticisms are made are based on what I said rather than on a manifestly inflammatory letter written by the UN Monitor, that has made a habit of publicly attacking me in consistently irresponsible and untruthful ways, presumably with the intention of diverting attention from my criticisms of Israel’s occupation policies in the Palestinian territories. It is always more tempting to shoot the messenger than heed the message. A similar tactic, what I call ‘the politics of deflection’ was deployed over a year ago in a shabby attempt to discredit the distinguished South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, a person of impeccable credentials as an international public servant. The intention was again to avoid a proper focus upon the devastating findings and recommendations of the Goldstone Report submitted to the United Nations after conducing a scrupulous inquiry into the allegations of violation of law associated with the Israeli attacks on Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009.
I remain determined to report as fully and honestly as possible about the massive human rights violations confronting Palestinians who have now lived without rights under occupation for more than 43 years, and to do my best not to let such personal attacks impair my capacity to carry out the assignment that I was invited to perform by the UN.
What the United States Government, the Secretary-General and the media should be focused on is the ongoing, widespread and systematic violation of Palestinians’ human rights by Israel. Only since the beginning of 2011, at least four Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces and more than 33 others have been injured. This is in addition to the expansion of settlements, home demolitions, forced evictions and displacement of Palestinian families, revocation of residency permits and forced transfers, particularly devastating in East Jerusalem, detention and mistreatment of over 6000 Palestinians, including children, as well as the illegal blockade of Gaza. My forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council addresses these and other severe ongoing violations of Palestinian rights by Israel.
Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, is under fire for writing what is obviously true about the U.S. government and the media. Calls for his firing abound from the usual suspects.
Such commitments to truth as Falk possesses can pose problems for prospective careerists, but the 80-year-old human rights activist and scholar likely doesn’t care all that much about resulting slander.
In fact, Falk wrote: the “media … [is] unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events [of 9/11].” And that author David Ray Griffin is of a caliber of “other devoted scholars of high integrity.”
That’s it. Why is the Lobby and its supporters so enraged by Falk’s rather banal comments?
The truth will set you free. How about the editorial boards of The Nation and The Progressive where Falk has long served? When will the statements of support come out? Falk’s story is an excellent candidate for The Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild’s exellent McCarthyism Watch. [To contact Matt Rothschild about Richard Falk.]
Falk’s lifetime commitment to the truth puts him beyond the reach of McCarthyite slanderers and cowards who see Falk and other human rights activists and truth-tellers as betraying the cause—that is, America and Israel right or wrong and don’t make waves. Liars cannot erase a lifetime with one lie. It’s been tried with Helen Thomas and it failed.
So what’s the hubbub that has U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, demanding that Falk step down from his UN position and saying, “In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary [a paragraph on the media and 9/11] is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the U.N.”? (Reuters, Charbonneau)
Falk’s Blog January 11, 2011 Commentary [Full text posted below]
Turns out Falk has the temerity to suggest that the mainstream media refused to accept “well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the [9/11] events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials.” (Reuters, Charbonneau)
We thought this was axiomatic. But the American Jewish Committee and various crusaders for truth in the U.S. Congress want Falk fired.
The 9/11 Commission member and staff is composed of the sort of insiders Washington elites wanted on the blue-ribbon committee to prevent accountability and disclosure to the American people 0f what their government knew and when its many agencies knew it.
Remember when George W. Bush made his over-the-top appointment of Henry Kissinger to the 9/11 commission in late November 2002. (CounterPunch, December 17, 2002; Leon) Even then those—like the 9/11 victims’ families—who doubted the would-be chair Kissinger’s commitment to investigate the truth of the events leading up to 9/11 were smeared as conspiracy theorists and un-American radicals.
Kissinger’s appointment as chair was withdrawn as too obvious a choice for a cover-up. And Kissinger gave away the store on the Lou Dobbs Moneyline show (CNN, December 16, 2002) in a laugh-a-minute interview excerpted below. Said Kissinger:
I hope that everybody has his partisanship out of his system now. And that people remember that this [9/11] was an event that was totally unexpected to the American public; that it came from a direction that nobody had ever thought of. And that it was the first attack on the continental United States … . (Dobbs quickly interrupts)
As for Falk, here is his commentary crime:
The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues [of secrecy in government]. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin (and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or co-option, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing.
Did we miss something? What’s the problem here?
Of course, the official 9/11 version of events is a lie.
As the great journalist I.F. Stone once wrote: “All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.”
Falk knows this truism about governments; most everyone does. He dare speaks this truth? Thank you, Richard Falk.
Regarding David Ray Griffin, I am going to make a point to read:
- Cognitive Infiltration: an Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
- The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2002)
- 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press.
Interrogating the Arizona Killings from a Safe Distance
by Richard Falk, Jan. 11, 2011
I spent a year in Sweden a few years after the assassination of Olaf Palmein 1986, the controversial former prime minister of the country who at the time of his death was serving as a member of the Swedish cabinet. He was assassinated while walking with his wife back to their apartment in the historic part of the city after attending a nearby movie. It was a shocking event in a Sweden that had prided itself on moderateness in politics and the avoidance of involvement in the wars of the twentieth century. A local drifter, with a history of alcoholism, was charged and convicted of the crime, but many doubts persisted, including on the part of Ms. Palme who analogized her situation to that of Coretta King who never believed the official version of her martyred husband’s death.
I had a particular interest in this national traumatic event as my reason for being in Sweden was a result of an invitation to be the Olaf Palme Professor, a rotating academic post given each year to a foreign scholar, established by the Swedish Parliamentas a memorial to their former leader. (after the Social Democratic Party lost political control in Sweden this professorship was promptly defunded, partly because Palme was unloved by conservatives and partly because of a neoliberal dislike for public support of such activities)
In the course of my year traveling around Sweden I often asked those whom I met what was their view of the assassination, and what I discovered was that the responses told me more about them than it did about the public event. Some thought it was a dissident faction in the Swedish security forces long angered by Palme’s neutralist policies, some believed it was resentment caused by Palme’s alleged engineering of Swedish arms sales to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, some believed it was the CIAin revenge for Palme’s neutralism during the Cold War, some believed it could have criminals in the pay of business tycoons tired of paying high taxes needed to maintain the Swedish maximalist version of a welfare state, and there were other theories as well. What was common to all of these explanations was the lack of evidence that might connect the dots. What people believed happened flowed from their worldview rather than the facts of the event—a distrust of the state, especially its secret operations, or a strong conviction that special interests hidden from view were behind prominent public events of this character.
In a way, this process of reflection is natural, even inevitable, but it leads to faulty conclusions. We tend to process information against the background of our general worldview and understanding, and we do this all the time as an efficient way of coping with the complexity of the world combined with our lack of time or inclination to reach conclusions by independent investigation. The problem arises when we confuse this means of interpreting our experience with an effort to provide an explanation of a contested public event. There are, to be sure, conspiracies that promote unacknowledged goals, and enjoy the benefit of government protection. We don’t require WikiLeaks to remind us not to trust governments, even our own, and others that seem in most respects to be democratic and law-abiding. And we also by now should know that governments (ab)use their authority to treat awkward knowledge as a matter of state secrets, and criminalize those who are brave enough to believe that the citizenry needs to know the crimes that their government is committing with their trust and their tax dollars.
The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin(and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing.
This brings me to the Arizona shootings, victimizing both persons apparently targeted for their political views and random people who happened to be there for one reason or another, innocently paying their respects to a congresswoman meeting constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. As with the Palme assassination, the most insistent immediate responses come from the opposite ends of the political spectrum, both proceeding on presuppositions rather than awaiting evidence.
On one side are those who say that right-wing hate speech and affection for guns were clearly responsible, while Tea Party ultra-conservatives and their friends reaffirm their rights of free speech, denying that there is any connection between denouncing their adversaries in the political process and the violent acts of a deranged individual seemingly acting on his own. If we want to be responsible in our assessments, we must restrain our political predispositions, and get the evidence. Let us remember that what seems most disturbing about the 9/11 controversy is the widespread aversion by government and media to the evidence that suggests, at the very least, the need for an independent investigation that proceeds with no holds barred.
Such an investigation would contrast with the official ‘9/11 Commission’ that proceeded with most holds barred. What has been already disturbing about the Arizona incident are these rival rushes to judgment without bothering with evidence. Such public irresponsibility polarizes political discourse, making conversation and serious debate irrelevant.
There is one more issue raised, with typical candor and innocence, by the filmmaker, Michael Moore. If a Muslim group has published a list of twenty political leaders in this country, and put crosshairs of a gun behind their pictures, is there any doubt that the Arizona events would be treated as the work of a terrorist,, and the group that had pre-identified such targets would be immediately outlawed as a terrorist organization. Many of us, myself included, fervently hoped, upon hearing the news of the shootings, that the perpetrator of this violence was neither a Muslim nor a Hispanic, especially an illegal immigrant. Why? Because we justly feared the kind of horrifying backlash that would have been probably generated by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin, and their legion of allies. Now that the apparent perpetrator is a young white American, the talk from the hate mongers, again without bothering with evidence, is of mental disorder and sociopathology. This is faith-based pre-Enlightenment ‘knowledge.’
What must we learn from all of this? Don’t connect dots without evidence. Don’t turn away as soon as the words ‘conspiracy theory’ are uttered, especially if the evidence does point away from what the power-wielders want us to believe. Don’t link individual wrongdoing, however horrific, to wider religious and ethnic identities. We will perish as a species if we don’t learn soon to live together better on our beautiful, globalizing, and imperiled planet.
Update: The level of McCarthyite hysteria directed at Richard Falk is astonishing. ”UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office condemned Richard Falk, a retired Princeton professor and a member of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, for questioning in a recent blog posting” the official version about the 9/11 terror attacks. … The secretary-general’s spokesman, Vijay Nambiar, wrote that Falk’s remarks were “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack.” (Horn, Jerusalem Post)
Today, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt announced their decision to join the mass protest in the country tomorrow. This is huge. The MB is far and away the largest force in Egypt’s opposition. It has pursued a determinedly nonviolent path for nearly 30 years now– though that has not prevented the Mubarak regime from engaging in a sustained campaign of often horrendously abusive repression against its leaders and many of its cadres. The MB’s leaders have responded to the repression by sticking to a political course that is very conservative and non-confrontational. Often, in recent years, they have been criticized by members of other movements or even younger members of their own for not joining in or giving any support to the various waves of street protests or labor activity that have erupted around the country.
But now, they are joining in. This could very well mean the end of the Mubarak regime. Which has, of course, been the central pillar of the US-Israeli imperium in the region ever since the 1979 signing of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.
I do not rule out the possibility that Mubarak and his people may try to cut a last-minute deal with the MB, in a last attempt to avoid the humiliating fate of his Tunisian friend, former Pres. Z. ben Ali. Or, that the MB’s leaders may be open to such a deal. Actually, I think the MB would be more open to discussing such a deal than Mubarak would be, to offering it. After all, for the guy who has been Pharaoh of all the Egyptians for 30 years now, and whose family and hangers-on have all profited very nicely thank-you from their control of the country’s economy, the idea of cutting a deal with these stern and powerful contenders for power must seem very threatening. Perhaps just flying to Saudi Arabia or Morocco while sending his son to watch over the bank accounts in Zurich would seem more attractive for an old guy now certainly ready to enjoy his “retirement”?
He and his American advisers probably have a few other ideas and/or tricks up their sleeves.
For now, the word from Washington seems– realistically– to be one of trying to urge Mubarak’s security forces not to use live fire against the protesters. That is certainly very welcome.
I imagine that Mubarak, the Americans, and maybe even the Israelis have networks inside Egyptian society that they might be tempted to activate, to act as agents provocateurs and undertake those kinds of acts that might, in the view of some, “justify” an escalation in the use of force by the Amn al-Merkezi riot police– or even, the intervention of the army.
It is not entirely clear, though, that in a situation of massive unrest, the regime could rely on the army.
Also, the acts of agents provocateurs can only really be successful in a situation where the opposition is ill-organized and/or lacks discipline. If the MB does bring its heft onto the streets tomorrow, they will bring correspondingly massive amounts of organization and discipline.
* * *
What changes might we see if an MB-dominated or heavily MB-influenced government emerges in Cairo? Would such a government “immediately” revoke the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979– a step that has been part of the MB’s political program, ever since the program was first promulgated? Not necessarily. But the Cairo government’s policy on all (other) matters Palestinian would be very different from today. No longer would it merely act as the cat’s-paw of Israel and Washington in repressing Gaza, supporting a broad range of activities to undercut and destroy Hamas, and staying quite silent internationally on Israel’s many gross transgressions in the OPTs.
But (gasp!) such a deviation from the US-Israeli line might result– almost certainly would result– in the US Congress cutting off the $2.3 billion $1.55 billion in aid that it sends to Egypt every year! Big deal. The vast majority of that aid never benefitted real Egyptians. Instead, it went to prop up the very same security forces whose main purpose has been to oppress them.
* * *
By the way, the MB in Jordan is also calling for its supporters to participate in the popular protests there, after Friday prayers tomorrow. And Mahmoud Abbas is on the ropes. Good luck, Israel’s “peace partners” in the region, eh?
* * *
I do not expect the US-Israeli imperium that has held sway over the whole of the Mashreq (Arab east) region– with the exception of Syria– for the past 40 years to disappear quickly, easily, or without putting up a fight. But after watching the region fairly closely for all these years I find the hollowness of the imperium now that it is being challenged to be quite notable.
There is an important confluence of events right now:
- * The US’s so-called “peace process”, that has been the cover and excuse for all sorts of misdeeds for most of the past 40 years, has now been revealed as consisting, over the past 15-plus years, only of a US attempt to support Israel in all its ventures, including its colonial aggrandizement and its systematic use of repression in the OPTs, and its recourse to periodic wars of aggression against its neighbors. Ever since the killing of Rabin in 1995 (and perhaps before then) there has been no peace in the peace “process.” That has been made clear for all to see.* The degree of over-reach of the US military both within the Middle East and in Afghanistan has been made clear for all to see, both in the region and beyond it. As I (but woefully few other Americans) argued forcefully back in 2002 and early 2003, Pres. Bush’s decision to wilfully and quite unjustifiedly invade Iraq was a “bridge too far” for the country. It brought about a situation in which our country is now financially in a deep, deep hole; in which the credibility of US commitments to international law or values such as respect for national independence and the “consent of the governed” were speedily revealed as hollow; and even the ability of the US “model” to bring about fair and accountable governance was shown to be nonexistent… All this, at the cost of the enormous hardships and cruelty visited upon the Iraqi people.
* And then, finally, there is the “new” media. As I have remarked numerous times before, the development of border-crossing means of direct communication and the inability of the imperial governors to completely monopolize the discourse nationally or internationally means that the 21st century is very different from the heyday of imperialism back in the 19th century.
* * *
I think this also needs underlining: the degree to which today, in 2011, the United States is incapable of offering any kind of an attractive “model” to the peoples of the Arab world. For a long time, prior to 1970, the U.S. did offer such a model. It presented itself as– and was widely seen in the region as– anti-colonialist, a supporter of national liberation movements, generous, good at solving the problems of socio-economic development, the author of good ideas on tricky issues of political accountability and good governance, an upholder of human rights, etc.
No longer. (See “Iraq”, above.)
* * *
Another, albeit minor, aspect of the imperium’s current hollowness is the absence from the scene of the third significant Arab pillar of it: Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy has always had an episodic, slightly elusive quality. But at some stages it has played a significant role: in supporting the US war against the Soviets in Afghanistan; in brokering the Taef Agreement for Lebanon in 1989; in spearheading the Arab Peace Peace Plan offer to Israel, of 2002…
Well, that last one got speedily broken off at the knees by the imperium, didn’t it?
And now, where are the Saudis? Can the monarch not be persuaded to intervene (somehow!) and deploy some of his billions to try to “save” the Mubarak or Hashemite regimes?
No, for a number of reasons. First, since the king and crown prince have both suddenly run up against the limits of medical and organ-replacement technology, the princes are all in the middle of their own succession struggle. Second, quite a lot of them– probably, the majority– are so alienated from Washington by its clear Zionist tilt over recent years that they would not be inclined to help even if there were no succession struggle to attend to. Third– what plan is it they would be supposed to be supporting, anyway?? There is no discernible plan.
* * *
What happens to Israel if the “shield” that Mubarak, the Jordanian king, and Mahmoud Abbas have all provided to it for so long suddenly disappears?
That is a big question. It is very, very far from being the only big question– or even, the biggest of the many questions that are out there.
After all, the US’s sway over most of the Middle East until now has been a huge factor contributing to the US’s worldwide political position. Because of this, the rapid retraction of US power from the Middle East that we will be seeing over the coming two years will certainly have ramifications for US power at the global level.
I shall engage here in three seconds of sympathy for Pres. Obama. I mean, how unfair is it that he gets to be the president who has to preside over a retraction of US power spurred to a large degree by the decision his predecessor made in 2002-03 to launch a war that Obama himself clearly opposed at that time?
On the other hand, Obama did not have to continue and indeed intensify the clear pro-Zionist partisanship that GWB (and before him, Clinton) had manifested– which is what he did. That was a choice Obama made. He could have made different– and much, much wiser– choices on the core issues regarding the Palestine Question. He could have reframed the issue from the beginning as one of fairness, decency, human rights, and international law– and he could have spoken seriously and directly to the American people, using the unique “bully pulpit” that the presidency provides, about the need for our country to pursue a policy based on these important values. But no. He chose not to do that. Instead, he simply caved to the very short-term, myopic, Rahm Emanuel/Dennis Ross view that he needed above all to appease the always insatiable attack dogs (both Jewish and Christian) of pro-Israeli activism within this country.
So that pro-Zionist partisanship is now majorly helping to drag our country down. So be it. Let all Americans know and understand what is happening, and what gross follies (if not, crimes) have been committed by our leaders in the region, in our name.
* * *
There will be major change in the Middle East. Though the US-Israeli imperium may find a way to survive in the region beyond tomorrow, there is no way it can survive in its present form beyond the end of 2012.
And you know what? That will be a good thing for the vast majority of Americans and our country as a whole. After the imperium is brought to an end, it will be a whole lot easier for Americans to have good relations with both Israelis and the peoples of the Arab world– and they, with us– than it has been for the past 15 years. Ending the imperium is not a recipe for any kind of “clash of civilizations”. It is, rather, an essential prerequisite for being able to build a decent relationship based on fairness, mutual respect, and shared commitment to the values that all of us hold dear.
I have a rule — I never intervene in Palestinian political matters. I never comment on Palestinian internal debate. I do not think that I have the right to do so : I am an ex-Israeli and an ex-Jew, and I write about Israel, Jewish Identity politics, and Zionism.
For me, the leaked Palestinian Papers provide us with a valuable glimpse into Israeli politics and Western complicity in the crimes carried out against the Palestinian people. I do realise that most Palestinian commentators agree that the leaked papers have “damaged whatever little credibility the Ramallah-based authority still enjoyed among Palestinians” ; yet, more than anything else, the Papers prove beyond doubt that Israel is not a partner for peace — In spite of the weaknesses that have been shown by the PA since the 1990’s, Israel has failed to secure a peace deal, and has consistently failed to show any will to bring the conflict to an end. In short — Israel has always wanted more.
The Papers have also clearly shown that whilst Israel likes to present an image of ‘political pluralism’ , that is little more than a deception : there is not much difference at all between Tzipi Livni and Avigdor Lieberman. Both are Zionist enthusiasts, and both are interested in a ‘Jews only state’ — Indeed, just like Lieberman Livni too,offered to “transfer Israeli Arabs.”
Yesterday, we learned that as far back as 2004, the British MI6 was assisting the PA in the war against Hamas : according to The Guardian “The Palestinian Authority’s security strategy to crush Hamas and other armed groups on the West Bank was originally drawn up by Britain’s intelligence service, MI6”.
So, at the time that the British Government was supposedly advocating “democracy” in Palestine, the reality was quite different : British ‘James Bonds’ were investing enormous effort in trying to destroy the rising political power in Palestine. One may wonder : what kind of ‘British interests’ was the MI6 serving in doing so ? It is far from being a secret that in 2004 Tony Blair was primarily funded by Labour Friends of Israel ; his NO 1 fund raiser was Lord Levy.
The Palestinian people will liberate themselves eventually — but it is also about time we all liberate ourselves from the grip of Israeli and Jewish lobbies.
Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a political science doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center, has been fired from his position as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College one week before his course on Middle East politics was slated to begin.
The case was taken up by the Brooklyn College administration after a student enrolled in his course raised concerns that Mr. Petersen-Overton’s alleged pro-Palestinian bias would prevent him from conducting a balanced seminar. The student expressed these concerns with the political science department but agreed not to pursue further action until after the course actually began. However, this student contacted state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who then characterized Mr. Petersen-Overton as “pro-suicide bomber” in a letter to the college President.
In a response sent to Hamodia newspaper on Wednesday, Mr. Petersen-Overton expressed concerns “that a state official would denounce my work so strongly without, apparently, having offered it more than a cursory reading. [Hikind’s] press release … is slander pure and simple.” Mr. Petersen-Overton emphasized that his work has little to do with suicide bombers and that Mr. Hikind deliberately twisted his conclusions to make it appear otherwise.
“I was not contacted by Brooklyn College administration at any time during their decision-making process. This politically motivated action undermines CUNY’s longstanding legacy as a stalwart defender of academic freedom,” Mr. Petersen-Overton said.
The allegations against Mr. Petersen-Overton center on time he spent in the Gaza Strip working for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and on an unpublished scholarly paper that analyzes the symbolic place of martyrdom in Palestinian nationalism. Petersen-Overton’s detractors also took issue with the fact that, according to his personal website, he still maintains “close contact” with the Palestinian activist community.
Mr. Petersen-Overton’s academic work deals broadly with issues of identity formation in Israel and Palestine.
It has long been known that following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian Authority legislative elections in January 2006, Israel and its allies, particularly the United States, worked to undermine the Hamas-led government. Their aim was to restore the authority of the Fatah movement led by Mahmoud Abbas, which had controlled the PA since it was created in 1994 after the Oslo accords were signed the previous year.
In February 2007, after months of clashes between their supporters, Fatah and Hamas agreed to form a “national unity government” headed by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Enraged by this, the US government hatched a plot, along with Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, to engage Hamas militarily in Gaza. But the plot failed and in June 2007 Hamas turned the tables and overran Dahlan’s US-supported militias.
Until now, the most comprehensive and essential account of these events was contained in David Rose’s April 2008 Vanity Fair article, “The Gaza Bombshell.”
An initial reading of the Palestine Papers supports Rose’s account and provides details of hitherto unknown secret, high-level “Quadripartite” meetings among Israeli, American, Egyptian and Palestinian officials whose explicit goal appears to have been to undermine the national unity government. The essential point here is that part of the PA — loyal to Mahmoud Abbas and backed by the US — was actively plotting with Israel and its allies against the legitimately-constituted unity government.
Two documents in the Palestine Papers contain minutes of these meetings. The first is dated 11 March 2007 and titled “Quadripartite Meeting of the Gaza Security Committee.”
The Palestinians in attendance were Dahlan, Jamal Quaeid, Rashid Abu Shbak, Basil Jaber and one more whose name has been redacted by Al Jazeera. The American team was headed by US Army Lt. General Keith Dayton, the Israeli team by General Amos Gilad and the Egyptian team by one General Sharif.
This first meeting was intended to establish the “quadirpartite forum” and lay down “rules of engagement.” Firstly it was agreed that only Gaza would be discussed, not the West Bank.
Secrecy was to be the top priority. According to the rules of engagement, “All parties made very clear that nothing discussed in the meeting should be shared with anyone outside the forum. All parties made clear that any leakages would greatly hurt the forum and all those participating. All parties made clear that any leakages would immediately result in the cessation of the use of this forum and the projects being aborted. Also not to be shared is the fact that the forum exists, nor should who is attending the meetings be leaked. The press will not be involved.”
The minutes also note that “The forum is backed by the highest political echelons of each government represented.” In terms of substance, the record notes that “The implications of the national unity government were discussed by all parties in general terms.”
The Israeli team then presented their “perception of the security situation in Gaza, focusing on Hamas activities.” The Israelis, according to the minutes, “highlighted the use of tunnels for all purposes including storage and meeting areas, the import/smuggling of advanced weaponry.” The Israeli team alleged that Hamas fighters were being trained in Iran and that Hamas was attempting to “emulate the Hizballah model, which in turn is based on the Iranian model.” The Israelis asserted that “The main strategic goal of Hamas is to take over the PA then the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization]. Most Palestinians do not adhere to this Hamas ideology.”
Referring to these and other Israeli positions, the minutes note that “The Palestinians agreed that this may be part of the analysis” — an indication of complete agreement that Hamas was the common enemy.
The second “Quadripartite Security Meeting,” held on 3 April 2007, focused on the political situation and stopping the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Lt. General Dayton observed that “The purpose of these efforts is to prevent Hamas from using the NUG [National Unity Government] as a means of gaining more powers and building up more arms.”
He also advised the Palestinians: “If you can keep Hamas from overwhelming the PLO forces, and keep Fatah together, until Hamas is no longer an attractive option — you prevent it from winning militarily until the next elections.” Dayton clearly saw his role as preparing Fatah for military confrontation with Hamas.
During a discussion of Egypt’s role, Israeli General Amos Gilad had high praise for Egypt’s repressive state security services. “I always believed in the abilities of the Egyptian Intelligence service [GIS],” he said. “It keeps order and security among 70 millions — 20 millions in one city — this is a great achievement, for which you deserve a medal. It is the best asset for the middle east.”
The Palestinian team gave a PowerPoint presentation of its plans to destroy the Gaza tunnels which included suggestions to destroy Palestinian homes near the border wall — as Israel had previously done. At one point Dayton asked Palestinian officer Rashid Abu Shbak “When Israel tells you about a tunnel, what do you do?” Abu Shbak replied, “In the past there was a good level of cooperation. But recently it is inadequate. Despite that, we deal seriously with every information they give us.”
Overall, many documents among the Palestine Papers indicate a deep “security” relationship — even codependency — between Israel, the occupying power, and the Palestinian Authority, supposedly representing the occupied. The “Quadripartite” forum sheds new light on the joint effort to overthrow the Hamas-led national unity government.
Yet there also appear to be notable gaps in the Palestine Papers. Hamas routed the US-backed PA forces in Gaza between 7-14 June 2007. The minutes and documents immediately before, during and after that period are curiously silent about the momentous events in Gaza. It is difficult to believe that the Hamas takeover would not have been the primary concern of all the actors so this absence suggests that whoever leaked the documents to Al Jazeera has been careful to hold back some material.
There do not appear to be any other records of the Quadripartite Forum. Is this because the meetings ceased or because no more minutes were leaked? Is it because amid the disarray Dahlan and Abu Shbak fled from Gaza to the West Bank and were discredited?
As revealing as the Palestine Papers are, clearly there is still much we don’t know. But one thing is certain: the divide and rule tactics used by outside powers, and the willingness of some Palestinians to go along with them, have been debilitating to the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
Ali Abunimah is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
GAZA CITY — The Fatah-aligned Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades named names on Thursday, identifying four PA officials who they said were behind the 2005 assassination of a leader within the militant wing.
Former Fatah strongman in Gaza Muhammad Dahlan topped the list, along with PA security forces leaders Naser Yousef, Samir Al-Mashharawi, and Rashid Abu Shabak.
The four, Al-Aqsa spokesman said, were responsible for the death of Hassan Madhoun.
Speaking from Gaza City, the militant wing leader called for a revolution Friday, and a “day of anger” against the “corrupted and the conspirators with the occupation.”
Madhoun was killed on 11 January 2005 along with a Hamas-affiliated Al-Qassam Brigades member Fawzi Abu Qaraan. The two were in a car with government license plates when they were hit. Resistance factions in Gaza at the time vowed retaliation on Israel.
“There will be many chances to defend this crime,” Al-Aqsa said, adding that a chance would be taken “in the coming days.”
On Tuesday, Al-Jazeera and The Guardian leaked documents that quoted Israeli officials asking Palestinians to assassinate Madhoun.
According to handwritten Arabic notes obtained by the Qatar-based news station, former Israeli Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz asked the former PA interior minister Nasser Yasouf to assassinate the fighter.
“We know his address … Why don’t you kill him?” Mofaz said. “He is not Hamas and you can kill him.”
Later, Yousef answers that “We’re working” on taking action against Madhoun and others. “The environment is not easy, our capabilities are limited, and you haven’t offered anything.”
Addressing the reports, the Al-Aqsa fighter said the brigades learned “noting new” from the leaked documents, but analysis of the report “proved the PA involvement in the crime.”
PA officials have called into question the validity of the 1,600 documents which cover 10 years of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials, while others accused the satellite channel of pushing a political agenda and seeking to destabilize the West Bank.