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Iran oil ban to hit 10 main crude importers hardest

Press TV – March 10, 2012

The Business Insider news website says in an article that if the flow of Iran’s oil exports is disrupted, the main importers of the country’s crude will be hit hardest.

According to the article, main importers of Iran’s crude including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Greece, South Africa and France will be adversely affected by any disruption in Tehran’s oil exports.

The article says when European Union (EU) sanctions are put into place on July 1, nearly 600,000 barrels of oil per day will come off the market as a result of which the price of Brent Crude would rise to about USD 138 per barrel.

If Iran’s crude exports are halted entirely as a result of an attack against the country, 2.5 million barrels per day of supply will be lost and Brent Crude prices will reach USD 205, the report adds.

Global oil prices have continually climbed this year following Iran’s move to cut oil sales to British and French firms in reaction to the EU’s anti-Iran embargos. Tehran has also announced it may halt oil exports to more European countries.

EU foreign ministers approved sanctions against Iran on January 23, including a ban on Iranian oil imports, a freeze on the assets of the country’s Central Bank within EU states and a ban on selling diamonds, gold, and other precious metals to Tehran.

The move is aimed at putting pressure on Iran to force the country into abandoning its nuclear energy program based on allegations that Tehran is seeking to weaponize its nuclear technology.

Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Democratic Senator Carl Levin urges naval blockade of Iranian oil

Press TV – March 10, 2012

The chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee has put forward a proposal to impose an international naval blockade of Iran’s oil exports prior to any military strike against the country.

In a Friday interview with Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, Democratic Senator Carl Levin said naval blockade of Iran is “one option that needs to be considered” in order to escalate pressure against the Islamic Republic.

He went on to say that alternative crude supplies should be ensured prior to any such naval siege, in an attempt to avert potential price hikes in the global crude market.

Iran is OPEC’s second oil producer and the world’s third major crude exporter.

Levin insisted that similar measures aimed at mounting pressure on Iran without engaging in a combat, including imposition of a “no-fly-zone,” could prove to be “very effective” and urged Tehran’s adversaries to explore such options.

The White House, however, has downplayed Levin’s remarks. A senior official at President Barack Obama’s administration says, “Our focus remains on a diplomatic solution, as we believe diplomacy coupled with strong pressure can achieve the long-term solution we seek.”

The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.

The US and the EU have used the pretext to impose international and unilateral sanctions against Iran, while Washington and Tel Aviv have issued threats of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations.

Iran has repeatedly refuted the Western allegations regarding its nuclear energy program, arguing that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Tehran has promised a crushing response to any military strike against the country, warning that any such measure could result in a war that would spread beyond the Middle East.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Russian, Arab League foreign ministers negotiate Syrian crisis

Press TV – March 10, 2012

Russia and the Arab League reach an agreement to settle the ongoing crisis in Syria, which rejects any foreign military intervention in the country.

Arab League foreign ministers and their Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, who met in the Egyptian capital Cairo, agreed on a plan that rejects foreign intervention and proposes stopping violence and sending humanitarian aid to Syria.

Participants in the meeting expressed support for former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s mission aimed at starting dialogue between Damascus and the opposition to help resolve the unrest in the country, Lavrov said after the meeting.

Lavrov pointed out that Russia is supporting dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, while criticizing Western countries for supporting the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government

The latest Arab League agreement comes despite earlier efforts against the Syrian government and its call for the deployment of troops to Syria.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March and many people have lost their lives in the violence.

The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing protesters. But Damascus blames ”outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Comments Off on Russian, Arab League foreign ministers negotiate Syrian crisis

Media, Academia Join Forces to Downplay Dangers of Nuclear Power

By Titus North | Dissident Voice | March 10th, 2012

Last April 20 the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an on-line article entitled “Short-term and Long-term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents” by Dr. Eli Glatstein and five other authors. The article was riddled with distortions and misinformation, and overall was very poor research. As the NEJM is a peer reviewed journal and has a significant letters section, I wrote a letter pointing out some of the errors committed by the authors, and a longer piece containing a comprehensive critique.

The NEJM demands that letters to the journal contain material that has not been submitted or published elsewhere, so I had to refrain from submitting my longer piece anywhere until the NEMJ made a decision on my letter. When my letter did not appear after a couple of weeks I inquired, and was told that the article would soon appear in the printed version of the Journal, and that no letters about the article could be published until after the print version came out. The printed version finally appeared on June 16.

However, on July 1,1 was notified by the NEMJ that they would not publish my letter due to “space constraints.” The four letters that they did publish in response to the article were at most only mildly critical and missed the glaring short-comings of the report. In other words, NEMJ sat on my letter and effectively stifled my critique of what can only be described as industry propaganda for almost three months until public attention had moved on to other matters. However, with attention once again focused on the still-out of control Fukushima reactors on the first anniversary of the accident, my expose on how the media and academia have joined together to downplay the dangers of nuclear power is a poignant as ever.

*****

Since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima started in March, the media has been full of misinformation about the dangers posed by the nuclear accidents and the damage caused by past accidents such as those at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Whether it is Jay Lehr on Fox News1  or George Monbiot on Democracy Now,2 the story line is the same: there were only dozens of deaths from the Chernobyl and none from TMI, the health consequences for the general population are negligible, and all things considered nuclear power is among the safest forms of energy. In some cases the lines are spoken by industry hacks whose true motive is to protect profits, while other times the spokesperson is a global warming tunnel visionist who has lost sight of the fact that we as humans have ingeniously devised a multitude of ways to mess up our planet, including nuclear wars and disasters.

Lehr and Monbiot both made reference to a 2005 report commissioned by the United Nations that included the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and several other UN-linked agencies. Oddly enough, the official press release by the UN announcing publication of the report starts off with the following sentence:  “A total of up to four thousand people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.”

The reference to 50 deaths pertained to those “directly attributed” to radiation from the disaster. Moreover, this report represents the most conservative of studies from credible sources, with other estimates reaching as high as almost one million Chernobyl deaths.

Lehr works for a public policy think-tank and Monbiot is a journalist. Perhaps we should expect writers from those professions to misleadingly cite sources in order to promote a preset agenda in the hope that no one will check their sources. However, it comes as a shock that medical doctors writing in a prestigious medical journal like the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) would resort to the same practice. On April 20 the NEJM published an article by six doctors entitled: “Short-term and Long-term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents.”  I will not presume to know what the motives of the authors were or what led them to their erroneous conclusions, but I do feel the need to point out the errors that somehow the NEJM’s peer review process failed to notice.

The authors prominently cite two International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) studies in downplaying the deaths from Chernobyl. The authors state that “[a]lthough the Three Mile Island accident has not yet led to identifiable health effects, the Chernobyl accident resulted in 28 deaths related to radiation exposure in the year after the accident. The long-term effects of the Chernobyl accident are still being characterized, as we discuss in more detail below.” What is the reader intended to take from this statement? First of all, that the TMI accident in its totality did not cause any health effects that have been identified, which is itself a problematic statement. Secondly, that the total deaths from Chernobyl were the 28 in the first year plus whatever would be discussed later in the paper. As it turns out, the rest of the paper only mentions fatalities one other time, and that is that 11 of 13 plant and emergency workers that underwent bone marrow transplants died, and it is not clear whether or not these eleven are included in the above mentioned 28 fatalities. So the reader is left with the impression that the studies that the NEJM authors are citing conclude that the Chernobyl accident in its totality produced only a few dozen fatalities.

However, just as with Lehr and Monbiot, the NEJM authors start with the most conservative studies and then are misleading in their citations. They ignore the existence of high-profile studies that draw very different conclusions, omit the more damning parts of the studies they do cite, and then quote statements that were not intended to portray the totality of the accidents as if they were bottom line conclusions.

For instance, in making the assertion that Chernobyl caused 28 deaths in the first year, the NEJM authors cited an IAEA report that actually said: “The accident caused the deaths within a few days or weeks of 30 ChNPP employees and firemen (including 28 deaths that were due to radiation exposure).”

Notice that the IAEA statement is limited to power plant employees and fireman, whereas the authors imply the entire population. In fact, that IAEA study focused on the “600 emergency workers who were on the site of the Chernobyl power plant during the night of the accident,” and not the exposed population at large or the hundreds of thousands of “liquidators” who worked to contain the plant over the next couple years. Moreover, the IAEA study did not preclude the possibility that some of the liquidators or general public could have been killed due to radiation exposure in the first year, not to mention subsequent years. While the authors only mention a handful of cancer deaths in subsequent years, the second IAEA study acknowledges that among the one million or so most exposed, several thousand Chernobyl-caused cancer deaths would be “very difficult to detect.” The study states the following:

The projections indicate that, among the most exposed populations (liquidators, evacuees and residents of the so-called ‘strict control zones’) total cancer mortality might increase by up to a few per cent owing to Chernobyl related radiation exposure. Such an increase could mean eventually up to several thousand fatal cancers in addition to perhaps one hundred thousand cancer deaths expected in these populations from all other causes. An increase of this magnitude would be very difficult to detect, even with very careful long term epidemiological studies.

Clearly, the content of these two IAEA studies was not accurately reflected in the NEJM article. Moreover, the IAEA is not necessarily the best source of information. It was never intended to protect the public from the dangers of nuclear power plants. That is not part of its mission. The statute of the IAEA states that:

[t]he Agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.  It shall ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose.

Thus, the IAEA was created to PROMOTE nuclear power (while checking the proliferation of nuclear weapons). It therefore cannot be assumed to be an unbiased or authoritative source of information on the health risks of nuclear power.

The NEJM article is misleading or inaccurate in other instances. For instance, its discussion is weighted too much towards whole body radiation, which is really only relevant to the emergency workers. The article acknowledges that it is not whole body radiation, but rather internal contamination that is “the primary mechanism through which large populations around a reactor accident can be exposed to radiation.” So why emphasize whole body radiation if it is not the mechanism through which populations are endangered?

They then launched into a long discussion about acute radiation sickness, which is largely a red herring since the threat to the general public is mainly from cancer. The NEJM article further obfuscates the issue with a table that compares the effective doses of radiation that a resident near a nuclear accident is exposed to with what someone is exposed to from something mundane like an airplane ride or a chest x-ray. This is like comparing the force of a cool breeze to the force of a knife slicing the jugular. The knife is lethal because it allows a very small amount of force to be concentrated on a vulnerable target. Similarly, the risk to Fukushima residents is not radiation spread out over their entire body, but rather radioisotopes like iodine 131 being concentrated by biological processes into a vulnerable target like the thyroid.

The NEJM authors mislead in other ways. They write “After Chernobyl, approximately 5 million people in the region may have had excess radiation exposure, primarily through internal contamination.” They cite the second IAEA study. The reader is likely to assume that up to 5 million people in the countries in Europe and Asia where the fallout from Chernobyl may have reached could have been exposed to excess radiation (i.e. radiation in excess of normal), and that this is the limit of exposure to internal radiation.

However, the IAEA study is only referring to the contamination region designated by the former USSR (a small area in the corners of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia) and does not imply that excess radiation exposure (internal or otherwise) was limited to this area. In fact, they do not use the word “excess,” but rather specify a particular level of radioactive cesium. The actual wording of the IAEA report was as follows:

More than five million people live in areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine that are classified as ‘contaminated’ with radionuclides due to the Chernobyl accident (above 37 kBq m-2 of 137Cs).

On the same page, the report also states that “The cloud from the burning reactor spread numerous types of radioactive materials, especially iodine and caesium (sic) radionuclides, over much of Europe.” It added that radioactive cesium-137 “is still measurable in soils and some foods in many parts of Europe.”  Thus, there certainly were people outside of this narrow region of 5 million inhabitants who also were exposed to Chernobyl radiation through their environment and food. Indeed, the authors discuss the move by Polish authorities to administer potassium iodide to 10 million Polish children. Obviously Polish officials feared radiation exposure to these people.

Furthermore, there is major omission in the authors’ discussion of radiation. They discuss beta and gamma radiation, but do not mention alpha radiation. They then go on to dismiss the danger of plutonium contamination, which is dangerous precisely because it is an alpha emitter. They state that “Radioisotopes with a … very long half-life (e.g., 24,400 years for plutonium-239) … do not cause substantial internal or external contamination in reactor accidents.” The authors are either lying or ignorant. The danger from plutonium-239 has nothing to do with its half-life (long half-lives indicate slower radioactive decay). Plutonium, if ingested internally, is dangerous because the large and heavy alpha particles it emits are the most damaging to DNA and the most likely to cause cancer. In fact, Plutonium is the most lethal substance known to mankind.

As mentioned above, the IAEA cannot be thought of as an authoritative, unbiased source of health information given its explicit mission of promoting nuclear power. The same can be said for other sources cited by the authors, including the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. At the same time, the authors ignored prominent studies produced independently of the nuclear industry and affiliated governmental bodies that indicate that there were indeed serious public health consequences from the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island accident.

Significantly, the authors failed to mention the seminal work on the consequences of radiation exposure from Chernobyl done by Yablokov, Nesterenko and Nesterenko of the Russian National Academy of Sciences.3 This team of scientists from Russia and Belarus studied health data, radiological surveys and 5,000 scientific reports from 1986 to 2004, mostly in Slavic languages, and estimated that the Chernobyl accident caused the deaths of 985,000 people worldwide. Given the prominence of this report and the fact that its findings are completely at odds with the conclusions reached by the IAEA and other sources cited by the authors, it was intellectually dishonest not to mention the report if only to dismiss it.

Indeed, the Yablokov et al report is hardly the only major study to contrast starkly with the minimalist portrayal of the health consequences from nuclear accidents. Regarding Three Mile Island, there is the June 1991 Columbia University Health Study (Susser-Hatch) of the health impacts from the TMI accident published its findings in the American Journal of Public Health and subsequent work by Dr. Steven Wing of the University of North Carolina. These studies point to increased incidences of cancer in areas close to the reactor or downwind from it.

Another example of minimizing potential health impacts of a nuclear plant accident is this statement in connection with the accident at Fukushima:

Although the radioactivity in seawater close to the plant may be transiently higher than usual by several orders of magnitude, it diffuses rapidly with distance and decays over time, according to half-life, both before and after ingestion by marine life.

Japan has a massive fishing industry because, along with rice, fish is the staple of the Japanese diet. Any release of radiation into coastal fishing grounds will wind up being concentrated through biological processes as it works its way up the food chain and eventually to the Japanese dinner table. The narrow restrictions on commercial fishing near the Fukushima coast may be obeyed by fisherman, but many of the fish they seek are migratory, and there is no way of preventing these fish or their food sources from passing through contaminated water. Moreover, the claim that the radioactivity “decays over time” glosses over exactly how much time. While some of the radioisotopes being spilled into the ocean have half-lives of days, others have half-lives of years and even millennia. The impact on health from releases into the ocean cannot be so lightly dismissed.

Although it will take some time for the dust (or fallout) to settle, it may well turn out that the Fukushima disaster is the worst nuclear accident of all-time, surpassing Chernobyl. The contamination from the Chernobyl accident led to the establishment of a 30-kilometer wide “zone of alienation” to which people are not allowed to return. The current evacuation zone around the Fukushima plant is of comparable size, and with the Fukushima reactors continuing to release contamination for the foreseeable future, the only question is how large will be Japan’s “zone of alienation.” And while greater Tokyo has so far been largely spared due to the prevailing winds blowing so much of the contamination into the Pacific, winds will be changing with the upcoming monsoon season and the summer typhoons. [Note: countless radioactive “hot spots” have since been detected all over greater Tokyo, particularly in places where rain water accumulates.]

It is this proximity to Tokyo, one of the world’s most densely populated metropolises, that could make Fukushima the worst industrial calamity in history. An increase in cancer mortality even of the “difficult to detect” scale referred to by the IAEA study described above could condemn several tens of thousands of people. And that is far from being the worst case. The NEJM authors and others who propagate myths about the minimal casualties from Chernobyl and other accidents feed into a mindset that is leading to disastrous policy decisions. The only way to correct course is to identify the myths and the mythmakers.

  1. Jay Lehr said that at Chernobyl “the bottom line was that 50 people died in the explosion from radiation from fire…”
  2. George Monbiot stated that “so far the death toll from Chernobyl amongst both workers and local people is 43.”
  3. Alexey V. Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, Alexey V. Nesterenko, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment“,  2010, Nature – 400. Also available at: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 1181

Titus North is an adjunct professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s Political Science department.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran: Israel’s Concocted World Threat

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | March 10, 2012

Scott Peterson recently published a comprehensive timeline for Iran’s nuclear program that charted not so much the actual progress of Iran’s supposed quest for a weapon, but the west’s, and in particular Israel’s shifting and endless series of revelations and predictions regarding it.  Israel’s movable dates for Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon take on the character of the predictions of Nostradamus or those of Christian millennials who announce the date of the Second Coming.  Another aspect of the millennialist world view that Israel’s shreying about Iran shares is a profound, almost religious faith in the certainty, not only of the prediction, but that the cause for which these predictions are offered is something close to sacred.

For the past several years, some would go back much farther and even say decades, Israel has orchestrated an ambitious, multi-layered campaign that included diplomatic and intelligence operations along with exploitation of American Jewish pro-Israel “agents of influence” (more on that below) designed to gin up an atmosphere conducive to war.  This was the subject of the secret documents I read, provided to me by Shamai Leibowitz, which showed Israeli diplomats ghostwriting anti-Iran op-eds for U.S. newspapers (see below), then Sen. Sam Brownback reporting to Israeli diplomats on an anti-Iran conference he was organizing (here is further evidence of Brownback’s continuing shilling against Iran), a Texas Congressman meeting with a local Jewish donor and Israeli diplomat, to whom the politician reported on Congressional developments that would further isolate Iran, and a senior Senate foreign relations committee staffer being briefed by senior Israel military-intelligence figures eager to warn him about Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Sheera Frenkel provided further background to this campaign in a piece she wrote (along with two other parts in a series) for McClatchy, in which Israeli leaders admit to the existence of this coordinated effort:

[During a press briefing, Israel’s] Agent 83 fingered with care his model of what a potential Iranian nuclear bomb might look like.

The agent…was showing off the model to a group of foreign reporters…the third such time he had been asked to showcase his expertise in the second half of 2009.

“…I hope it is clear that Iran is working toward building a nuclear bomb,” he told the departing reporters.

Within days, accounts of Agent 83′s story appeared in articles across the U.S. and Europe — Iran had advanced technological understanding of the workings of a nuclear weapon. It was one of dozens of “exclusives” on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, the majority of which had originated with Israeli sources.

Such access to Israeli experts for international journalists has been critical to spreading Israel’s view that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. In recent months, talk of Iran’s nuclear ambitions has fueled the Republican presidential campaign, served as the backdrop for this week’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and earned a pledge from Obama on Sunday that the United States would resort to military means if necessary to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.

Israeli officials acknowledge that the widespread acceptance in the West that Iran is on the verge of building a nuclear weapon isn’t based just on the findings of Israeli intelligence operatives, but relies in no small part on a steady media campaign that the Israelis have undertaken to persuade the world that Iran is bent on building a nuclear warhead.

“The intelligence was half the battle in convincing the world,” an Israeli Foreign Ministry official told McClatchy…”The other half was Israel’s persistent approach and attitude that this was not something the world could continue to ignore.”

The official had recently returned from a trip to Washington and marveled at how the topic has become a major one in the United States. “U.S. politicians were falling over each other to talk about Iran,” he said. “In some ways, that is a huge success for Israel.”

…Shimon Stein, a former Israeli ambassador to Germany and former head of arms control at the Foreign Ministry, said that Israel slowly developed its outreach and media efforts on Iran over more than two decades.

“We were diplomatically actively pursuing the Iranian issue for decades,” he said. But the Israeli campaign moved into the public sphere five years ago when the Israelis decided they needed public opinion to also drive Iran policy. “Now it is a new ballgame,” Stein said. “Now we added extra resources to mobilize our government and also world opinion.”

…Coordinating media coverage, such as the Agent 83 briefing on the workings of the hypothetical bomb, was critical to that effort. Often such access was timed to take place before critical events.

In the year after U.S. intelligence agencies published a 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that downplayed the Iranian nuclear threat, an unprecedented number of leaks over Iran’s alleged progress on nuclear weapons was released to the press. They culminated in reports published in Israeli newspapers that Iran had secret uranium enrichment facilities. In 2009…Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed a yet-undisclosed facility at Qom.

Israeli officials also said it was no coincidence that a flurry of reports on Israel’s imminent strike on Iran filled the press last fall just ahead of a report from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Guzansky said the possible Israeli strike leaks to the media were “an important tool” for the government.

“It is psychological warfare. You leak to get the enemy or your friend to think X or Y,” he said.

Frenkel finds Israeli officials who, though they acknowledge this Israeli perception management campaign, deny that its end goal was to attack Iran.  Here’s a perfect example of such disingenuousness:

Yoel Guzansky, who headed a department that studies Iran’s nuclear weapons program in the Israeli prime minister’s office from 2005-2009 and is currently a fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies said…

Israel doesn’t want it to look like it is pushing the West toward a war with Iran. There are those that said Israel pushed the U.S. towards a war with Iraq, which is untrue,” said Guzansky. “Today regarding Iran, Israel is not telling the U.S. to attack. They are saying something more nuanced…

Any Israeli with half a brain in their head (and Guzansky is a undoubtedly a very smart man) who can say this after hearing Bibi Netanyahu’s Aipac speech, is either deluding himself or deeply cynical (or both).

Frenkel points out the invaluable assistance in this campaign played by what I called above, Israeli agents of influence, American Jewish groups like The Israel Project (TIP), which have an interlocking network with the Israeli diplomatic community here, and together pump out the same coordinated message:

As Israeli diplomats were working to convince governments of the Iranian nuclear threat, other organizations, such as the Washington-based Israel Project, were pressing the Israeli position with journalists and others.

Founded in 2002, one of the Israel Project’s earliest goals was to raise awareness on Iran.

“Our work — since the beginning — has been to encourage Iran to make a choice between their nuclear program and the things they want in the world,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mirzrahi, the founder and president of the Israel Project.

The campaign has been successful, she said. “In a year like this year, nobody can get elected without having a strong Iran policy,” she said.

TIP’s Iran “specialist” is Barbara Ledeen, wife of neocon uber-hawk, Michael Ledeen.  A further example of that interlocking directorate mentioned above.

When he was privy to secret FBI wiretaps of Israeli diplomats, Leibowitz even told me that the then Israeli deputy chief of mission in Washington, Jeremy Issacharoff, arranged for the Boston Herald to publish an op-ed ghostwritten by embassy staff and published under the name of Jeff Robbins, a partner in the Boston law firm, Mintz Levin.  Issacharoff is married to TIP’s global affairs director, Laura Kam.  Mintz Levin is the firm of which Cameron Kerry, an Aipac supporter and John Kerry’s brother, has been a managing partner.  Robbins in his newspaper and law firm bio touts his human rights credentials.  It’s always best to couch attacks on Iran not in terms of promoting Israeli interests, but rather promoting non-partisan values that we all can agree on, like human rights.  To be fair, a reporter who wrote about the Leibowitz leaks questioned Robbins about the newspaper op-ed and he denied that it had been ghostwritten.  All I can say is that Israeli diplomats quoted on the wiretaps saw it otherwise.

American and Israeli media outlets have been willing participants in Israel’s campaign.  They’ve published op-eds and news reports that breathlessly predicted global annihilation at the hands of Iran and advocated a scorched earth military campaign to subdue it. Even so-called liberal media like the New York Times and Haaretz have been victimized though willingly.  Remember the Benny Morris op-ed that argued Israel might have to pre-emptively launch a nuclear strike against Iran?  Morris, I remind you, is neither an expert in Iranian affairs or Israeli nuclear strategy.  Yet that was published thanks to the considered judgement of the New York Times op ed editor.  Such collaboration is really shameful and reminds us of the black mark that paper earned for its prominently splashing the “findings” by Judy Miller of Iraqi WMD.

In this sense, American Jewish communal leaders allow themselves to become willing collaborators with Israel in advancing its goals.  These Americans don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing, because they’ve deluded themselves into believing that Israel’s interests are the same as America’s.  M.J. Rosenberg and other Israel critics call such people “Israel Firsters.”  While I’m sympathetic to the critical impulse behind such a term, it’s slightly off-target.  As I’ve just said, these people believe they’re advancing America’s AND Israel’s best interests.  But in reality they’re advancing neither’s, since eternal enmity between Iran and the west is in no one’s interest.

The $64,000 question is: has the Israeli campaign worked?  Has it achieved whatever Israel’s objectives were and are.  To hear this Israeli journalist tell it, they have:

Sever Plocker, a columnist for…Yediot Ahronot, wrote…that the Israeli media campaign had been a success.

“It seems clearly that the Israeli campaign of last fall, through which rumors were spread of an impending Israeli attack on Iran, has achieved its goals,” he wrote. “The Western statesmen grasped at it and used it to impose the ‘crippling’ sanctions on Iran that Prime Minister Netanyahu had already demanded two years ago.”

The judgement as to the success of this campaign depends on its goal.  If the goal is neutralizing Iran as a competitive regional threat or nuclear rival to Israel, it clearly has not succeeded (at least not yet).  If the goal was, as I’ve written previously, to distract world attention from other festering aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict, then it has had much more success.  Many observers noted that in the speeches at the recent AIPAC conclave there was hardly a mention of the Palestinians, a two-state solution or any related matter.  As a sort of pressure valve to release tensions around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iran threat is highly useful.  The Palestinian demand for justice and an independent state pales in the face of the so-called existential threat posed by Iran not just to Israel, but (at least in the Israeli narrative) the entire world.

In the end, Israel’s campaign against Iran is largely manufactured.  Yes, Iran is a coercive society whose leaders are hostile to Israel.  But no, it does not pose an existential threat to Israel or anyone else.  The west has every right to demand safeguards regarding its nuclear program.  That’s one of the reasons it’s in the NPT.  It has a right to pressure Iran into providing them.  But Iran poses no more, and likely much less of a threat to world peace than India, Pakistan or North Korea, each of whom has passed the nuclear threshold in the past two decades.  Any talk about Iran as the world’s greatest terrorist state or the mad mullahs’ intent on incinerating half the human race, themes dear to the heart of Bibi Netanyahu and the Israel war hawks, is built on sand and illusion.

Finally, Juan Cole wrote a long blog post outlining the reasons western sanctions against Iran are morally wrong and will not work.  In his piece he wrote this about Israel’s propaganda campaign:

We saw…with Iraq and now…with Iran: a weak, ramshackle, ineffectual bogeyman is set up, like Saddam Hussein or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Americans are kept talking about the “threat” emanating from that country. It isn’t a real threat. It is manufactured by the Israeli intelligence agencies and promoted by their cells in the US.

…Israeli agents of influence attempt to keep Americans talking about anything but Israel’s own ongoing crimes against humanity with regard to the Palestinians. They have special success if the US goes into full-sanction, soft war mode against another country on Israel’s behalf. Now, instead of talking about Israeli predations against the Palestinians, we are being led by the nose by AIPAC and its many media allies to obsess about Iran.

Granted this is strong stuff.  Israel’s supporters have a right to wince at a few of the terms used.  But there can be little doubt that much of the criticism rendered above is warranted by precisely the sort of campaign Frenkel and I documented in this post and her article.

What isn’t warranted is this disgusting smear by Israel’s DC journalist capo di tutti, Eli Lake, who tweeted this memorable bit of vituperation and character assassination:

To progressives who still read @jricole you are being conned by a paranoid lunatic. This is spit flecked delusion…

Lake is the prototypical example of the journalistic Israel-Firster.  If you read him, it’s sometimes hard to see any division between Israeli and U.S. interests.  When he reports on Israel, his sources are invariably Israeli intelligence officials and those peddling a similar line.  Which wouldn’t be so bad if much of the information included in his reports weren’t so far-fetched and tendentious as to beggar belief.  He’s happy to quote the conclusions of his sources and never demands any facts or proof that underlie the claims (nor does he offer any to his readers).  I’ve written before about his flagrantly bogus report on the Eilat terror attack which is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  When it comes to Israeli intelligence sources, if you trust religiously you will be burned consistently (though admittedly not as badly as Joan of Arc).  Lake, apparently, doesn’t mind being burned since the cause of advancing Israeli (read, Likud) interests is so dear to his heart.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Forces Open Fire at Gaza Funeral, Injure Five

WAFA | March 10, 2012

GAZA – Israeli forces Saturday opened fire at a funeral held in Jabalia, north of Gaza City, for six Palestinians killed during the recent Israeli shelling injuring five, according to local sources.

They said Israeli tanks stationed at the eastern borders of Gaza opened fire at the funeral when mourners reached the cemetery to bury the six Palestinians.

One of the injured, who were transferred to hospital for treatment, was reported in serious condition.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israeli attacks kill 12 Palestinians, wound 21

Palestine Information Center – 10/03/2012

GAZA — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched a series of air raids on the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours killing 12 Palestinians and wounding 21 others.

The IOF warplanes bombed a civilian car in Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza at dawn Saturday killing a 26-year-old man and injuring four others.

Medical sources earlier said that Ahmed Hajjaj died of his wounds suffered in Friday’s raids.

The PIC reporter said that IOF warplanes blasted a house in Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, in a pre-dawn raid that killed two members of the Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad movement.

He said that the warplanes fired a missile at a house north of Gaza city wounding four people including a child.

IOF artillery shelling on Friday night killed a member of the Quds Brigades while another citizen was wounded.

An earlier aerial raid on Friday night targeted a two-story building in Tufah, a suburb of Gaza city, wounding two citizens.

The fresh Israeli military escalation on the coastal enclave started earlier on Friday when the IOF warplanes assassinated the secretary general of the popular resistance committees, Zuhair Al-Qaisi, and his assistant Mahmoud Hananne, who was deported form the West Bank to Gaza a few years back.

Before midnight Friday IOF warplanes launched five raids on various areas in the Strip while Israeli artillery fired at all eastern areas of Gaza and gunboats fired at the western areas of the enclave.

In response to the fresh Israeli crimes, Palestinian resistance factions fired dozens of crude rockets at nearby Israeli targets.

The Quds Brigades announced that its fighters fired 44 rockets at Israeli positions and settlements adjacent to the Strip in retaliation to the Israeli crimes.

The popular resistance committees’ armed wing, the Nasser Salahuddin Brigades, fired 12 projectiles at Israeli settlements and the armed wing of the Ahrar movement fired ten rockets at similar targets.

Israeli military sources said that the rockets injured a number of settlers and caused material damage.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment