Friday, August 3, 2007
My father’s family is from a Palestinian town named Atteel that lies a few kilometers north of the West Bank city of Tulkarem. In 1948, as Zionist gangs set about ethnically cleansing most of Palestine, they did not succeed in eradicating our village. Today, the town lies in the West Bank, just east of the Green Line—the virtual separation line between the West Bank and “Israel proper”. Some of Atteel’s agricultural land was not as lucky—it fell on the other side of the partition and now forms part of the state of Israel. My grandfather had orange groves there that went to Israel, and are now owned by the Jewish National Fund, and can only be given to Jews. Any person claiming to be Jewish from anywhere in the world can travel to Israel, receive an Israeli passport and be given that land by the Israeli government at a subsidized price. Meanwhile, my cousins and I, some of whom live meters away from that land are not even allowed to set foot on it. Such is real estate in “The Only Democracy in the Middle East.”
Whenever peace is discussed, the majority of Israelis and westerners (and many Arabs) automatically assume that in order for there to be peace, the Palestinians need to give up their right of return. Israel has to remain a Jewish state, they argue, and giving Palestinians a right to return would mean no more Jewish majority, which would bring about a system of governance not based on religious exclusivity. It always amuses me when people make this argument with a straight face. Instead of ethnic cleansing and expulsion—an unquestionable evil—being used as an argument against a religiously exclusive racist state, the presence of the religiously exclusive racist state is used as an excuse for the propagation of ethnic cleansing and expulsion.
The problem that any secular or humanist (or even rational) person would have with the idea of a religious state is that it is a recipe for disaster, conflict and oppression. Never in history has a religious state not led to massive bloodshed. In Israel, this is obviously true: to set up a Jewish state in a land that was predominantly non-Jewish, the Zionist movement’s terrorist gangs had to undertake an enormous premeditated program of ethnic cleansing that murdered thousands and displaced almost a million Palestinians from their homes, for no reason other than that they believed in the wrong god. Israel then destroyed their homes (and some 400 of their villages) and denied them their right to return to them. Ilan Pappe has recently published a book detailing and documenting the elaborate nature of these crimes, how their planning started in the late 1930’s and how cynical and ruthless their execution was.
That monstrous crime against humanity had to be carried out in order to establish a religiously exclusive state should give us pause to think about the desirability of having any religiously-exclusive state, especially in a place as religiously diverse as historic Palestine, and especially considering that this state has not stopped expanding its territory until today, as can be attested by the increasing building of religiously-exclusive colonies in the West Bank. Instead, many people are hypocritical and racist enough to state that this crime needs to be continued, with millions denied their right to return, in order to save the existence of this religiously-exclusive racist state.
That the right of return is legal is not something even worth arguing, it is fully and comprehensively established in international law and UN resolutions. That it is necessary for many Palestinians to return to their home can be seen from the terrible conditions in which many refugees live in countries surrounding Palestine. Getting these lands back will be what these people need to lift them out of the horrible poverty of exile in which they have lived for 60 years. These vital uncontroversial issues are not the points I want to make today. Even if one were to ignore them, the right of return remains vital, and we as Palestinians should continue to cling to this inalienable right after almost 60 years, since it is the only commendable and honorable thing to do, and it is the only path to achieve a true and comprehensive peace.
In my case, I would be lying if I said I needed these orange groves. My grandfather has 56 descendants spread out all over the world, and splitting these lands is unlikely to give any of us a large amount of land or money. Yet that does not in any way diminish my determination to fight until my last day for these lands, and all my cousins all over the world think similarly. In order to understand this “unreasonable” demagogical clinging to old pieces of land, it might be instructive to contrast it with another famous case of someone "unreasonably" refusing to give up something which a racist authority had told them they were not entitled to.
When Rosa Parks got on a bus in Montgomery and was asked to move to the back of the bus, she refused. It was an honorable stance in the face of incredible racism. This, as is well known, led to an invigoration of the civil rights movement and mobilized the masses to the streets until they were victorious and segregation was abolished all over the south.
After abolishing segregation, Rosa Parks may have never taken a bus, or sat in the front of it. Her descendants may never think about where they sit when they board a bus, if they ever take one. Everyone would agree that the problem with segregation is not with the mere act of sitting in the front of a bus, it is about living in a society that bans people from sitting in the front of the bus based on their race. This is equally a problem for someone who takes the bus every day and someone who never takes it.
The same people who tell me I am being unreasonable clinging on to my grandfather’s land, should surely have told Rosa Parks that she was unreasonable clinging on to the seat in the front of the bus. After all, a lot of protests, riots, clashes and lynchings resulted from the civil rights movement, surely, it would’ve been better for the sake of “peace” for Rosa Parks to have compromised and moved to the back of the bus. Similarly, a lot of resistance, fighting and murder resulted from Palestinians not giving up their right of return and it would’ve been better for the sake of “peace” for Palestinians to have compromised and forgotten their homes and lands. This, of course, is equally nonsensical in both cases.
However, most people who tell me to forget my land in Palestine would never be caught dead saying Rosa Parks was unreasonable. But the blatant hypocrisy is still lost on them. Why is it that in one case, blacks should not give up a seat on a bus because of their race, while Palestinians should give up their own lands, homes and villages on which they and their ancestors have lived for millennia because of their religion (or lack thereof)?
The way to end racial conflict in the American South was not for Rosa Parks and blacks to give up their rights to the front of the bus and ‘let everyone live in peace’, but by ending the system that denies someone the right to sit in a certain part of a bus depending on their skin color. Similarly, peace in Palestine will not come when Palestinians give up their right to own a piece of land because of the religion to which they were born; but rather, when we abolish the system that assigns plots of lands, houses and villages to people based on what version of god they believe in.
I will never consider there to be peace in Palestine so long as I can visit my grandfather’s house in Atteel and look a few kilometers west to see my land that I can not visit, own, or sell. The day I can reclaim that land, I will visit it once, savor the feeling, and the very next day, I’ll sell my share of it to the highest bidder regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity, and donate the money to an educational institute that will teach the children of Palestine, regardless of their religion, race or ethnicity about the importance of equality and justice, about Rosa Parks, and about how peace could never be achieved on the basis of racist exclusion, whether it be from the front of a bus or from an orange grove.
Washington Report, July 2006, pages 16-17
By Shirl McArthur
Because of the uncertainties and ambiguities associated with U.S. aid to Israel, arriving at a precise figure for total direct U.S. aid to Israel probably is not possible. Parts of it are buried in the budgets of other government agencies—mostly the Defense Department (DOD)—or in a form not easily quantifiable—such as the early disbursement of aid, allowing Israel a direct gain and the U.S. Treasury a direct loss of interest on the unspent money. Given these caveats, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) conservatively estimates cumulative total direct U.S. aid to Israel at $107.961 billion.
For the complete report: http://www.uruknet.de/?p=m35020&hd=&size=1&l=e
TULKARM, (PIC)-- More than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli occupation jails went on a two-day hunger strike starting Wednesday to protest the death of internee Shadi Al-Sa'eedi due to medical neglect.
The Nafha society catering for human and prisoners' rights reported that all Palestinian prisoners have agreed on the hunger strike to mourn and protest the death of Sa'eedi, who hails from Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza.
Sa'eedi was proclaimed dead in an Israeli prison hospital after deliberate delay in treating him, drawing large-scale condemnations on the part of the relatives of prisoners and human rights organizations in Palestine and abroad.
The prisoners held the Israeli prisons authority fully responsible for the martyrdom of Sa'eedi and called for strong moves to prevent recurrence of death due to medical neglect in Israeli prisons.
They also invited the world community to probe the medical files of sick internees, who are the victims of intentional neglect.
As virtually every literate citizen on our planet knows, since the nineteenth century anti-Semites have been extolling the crackpot and wicked Protocols of the Elders of Zion in order to prove a conspiracy by Jews to rule the world. Even today, alas, the Protocols remain popular and believable throughout the world, especially the Middle East.
Yet, since the end of the Cold War there has been little in the political behavior of the Jews among America's neoconservatives to refute such beliefs. After all, it was people with the names Paul Wolfowitz, Irv Lewis Libby and Eric Edelman, who "in 1992…co-authored a security doctrine for the United States that aimed at perpetual hegemony and implied perpetual aggression to prevent the emergence of 'peer' powers." [Juan Cole, "Informed Comment," July 21, 2007]
Moreover, throughout the 1990s many Jews among America's neoconservatives demonstrated an alacrity to play fast and loose with the lives of America's soldiers. For example, in 1995 Charles Krauthammer urged the United States to "unashamedly" lay down "the rules of world order" and be "prepared to enforce them." In 1996 Robert Kagan wrote "Military strength alone will not avail if we do not use it actively to maintain a world order which both supports and rest upon American hegemony." [Quotes from Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism, pp. 84-85]
Granted, America's neocons were not the only people eager to expend American military blood on the battlefield during the 1990s, witness the now infamous question by Madeleine Albirght to Colin Powell in 1993: "What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?" [Ibid, p. 24] But the neocons established a stranglehold on warmongering, especially when it came to attacking Iraq.
Simply recall the three chicken hawk American neoconservative Jews, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, who signed on in 1996 to write a policy paper -- "A Clean Break: A Strategy for Securing the Realm"-- for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Perle, Feith and Wurmser recommended that Israel find pretexts for waging wars of aggression that would roll back its Arab neighbors. Moreover, "The centerpiece of their recommendations was the removal of Saddam Hussein as the first step into remaking the Middle East into a region friendly, instead of hostile, to Israel." [James Bamford, A Pretext for War, p. 262]
Arguably, such behavior constituted treason. According to James Bamford: "It was rather extraordinary for a trio of former, and potentially future, high-ranking American government officials to become advisers to a foreign government. More unsettling still was the fact that they were recommending acts of war in which Americans could be killed, and also ways to masquerade the true purpose of the attacks from the American public." [Ibid, p. 263]
A year later, as Scott McConnell has written, William Kristol and Robert Kagan wrote an article, "Saddam Must Go," in which they asserted: "We know it seems unthinkable to propose another ground attack to take Baghdad. But it's time to start thinking the unthinkable." [Scott McConnell, "The Weekly Standard's War,"The American Conservative, September 21, 2005]
Explicitly willing to shed the blood of America's servicemen and women, in January 1998, Kristol and Kagan also wrote an Op Ed titled, "Bombing Iraq isn't Enough," which the New York Times was reckless enough to publish. (At this point, it's worth noting the observation made by Robert Parry: "Under principles of international law applied from Nuremberg to Rwanda, propagandists who contribute to war crimes or encourage crimes against humanity can be put in the dock alongside the actual killers." [Consortium News, Posted August 21, 2006])
Nevertheless, on January 26, 1998, Kristol and Kagan "along with more than a dozen other neoconservative luminaries sent a letter to President Bill Clinton denouncing the policy of containing Iraq as a failure and calling for the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein." [Bacevich, p. 90] Subsequently both houses of the Republican-controlled congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which the impeachment-threatened Clinton signed into law - notwithstanding the fact that it violated U.S. treaty obligations under the Charter of United Nations.
In 2001, months before the attacks on 9/11, neocon Michael Ledeen wrote that Mao was correct when he asserted that revolution sprang "from the barrel of a gun." It was America's "inescapable mission to fight for the spread of democracy." [Bacevich, p. 88]
After 9/11, the neocons' drumbeat for shedding American military blood became deafening. Krauthammer asserted: "the way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory…. The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward." [Ibid, p. 93] (In light of the fact that the reckless spilling of American military - and innocent Iraqi - blood has produced a proliferation of terrorists and terrorist attacks around the world, it's surprising that jingoist Krauthammer still has his job at the Washington Post.)
Three months before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Joshua Muravchik observed, "Military conquest has often proved to be an effective means of implanting democracy." [Ibid, p. 85] And, three months into the war, Max Boot (another neocon chicken hawk warmonger who, subsequently, even attempted to excuse the war crimes committed at Abu Ghraib), urged the spilling of American military blood for the purpose of "imposing the rule of law, property rights and other guarantees, at gunpoint if need be." [Ibid. p. 33]
But perhaps the worst of all the bloviating "gutless wonders," who demanded the spilling of American military blood after 9/11 was effete William Kristol. After 9/11, it was Kristol's Weekly Standard that incessantly beat the war drums for invading Iraq. And it did so by repeating the BIG LIE: Saddam was linked to al Qaeda.
According to Scott McConnell, in the very first issue published after 9/11, the Weekly Standard "laid down a line from which the magazine would not waver over the next 18 months." Their line was "to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in virtually every paragraph, to join them at the hip in the minds of readers, and then lay out a strategy that actually gave attacking Saddam priority over eliminating al Qaeda." [McConnell, "The Weekly Standard's War," The American Conservative, September 21, 2005]
Neocon Douglas Feith supported the Weekly Standard party line from inside the bowels of the Pentagon. It was Feith's Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group that devoted almost a year after 9/11 to hyping shards of evidence already dismissed by the officially responsible intelligence agencies in order to falsely assert that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda.
Neocon Richard Perle did something similar, but in the public realm. In October 2002, Perle criticized the intelligence about Iraq coming from the CIA while assuring Judith Miller of the New York Times, that Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) "has been without question the single most important source of intelligence about Saddam Hussein." [Thomas E. Ricks, Fiasco, p.57] Shamefully, Miller became the Times' stenographer for Chalabi and the neocons.
Darth Cheney also was an eager recipient of Chalabi's disinformation. It was Cheney, in the fall of 2002, who complained: "We're getting ready to go to war, and we're nickel-and-diming the INC at a time when they're providing us with unique intelligence on Iraqi WMD." [The New Republic, December 1, 2003]
Unfortunately, as Americans learned after the invasion, every piece of intelligence supplied by Chalabi's INC informants proved to be bogus. Did Chalabi care? No. When asked whether he felt any remorse about his role in duping Americans into an invasion of Iraq, Chalabi responded: "No. We are in Baghdad now." [Ibid, p, 389] Given that Chalabi was sponsored by the neocons, one is compelled to ask: Was this stupidity or was it treason?
Consequently, given the eagerness of America's neoconservatives to spill American military blood, perhaps it's time to reconsider the words of Stanley Fish: "Much of the world has been opposed to the Iraq war from its beginning, and now after four years 70 percent of Americans share the world's opinion. Some who deplore the war believe that those who got us into it and cheered it on did so, at least in part, out of a desire to improve Israel's position in the Middle East. Those who hold this view (and of course there are other analyses of the war's origins) fear that the same people - with names like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Abrams, Kristol, Kagan, Krauthhammer, Wurmser, [the convicted felon] Libby and Lieberman - are pushing for a strike against Iran, arguably a greater threat to Israel than Iraq ever was." [Fish, New York Times online on March 4, 2007]
A glaring omission from Fish's list, of course, is the name of Norman Podhoretz, a Jew who fervently hopes that President Bush will bomb Iran. Yet, Professor Fish wrote his inflammatory words precisely to condemn their implicit anti-Semitism. And properly so!
Keep in mind that the majority of America's Jews opposed the invasion of Iraq. Consequently, it's America's neoconservatives, including it Jewish members, who deserve America's condemnation, not America's Jews. Thus, rather than give anti-Semitic believers of the old "Protocols" any further reason to nurture such nonsense about Jews, I suggest that the American public, especially America's men and women in uniform, focus their attention instead on the willingness of America's neocons (both Jewish and Gentile) to establish a new "Protocol" - the "Protocol of the Elders of American Neoconservatism."
Under this new "Protocol," American neoconservatives are permitted to urge the spilling of American military blood for neoconservative objectives - including world domination -- but without having to fight, kill or die for those objectives themselves.
Were America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to push back against such cowardly warmongering, they just might save themselves from the worst excesses of this "Protocol." For example, when William Kristol recently wrote about progressives, "They Don't Really Support the Troops," our troops should keep in mind that his real objective was to mask his own criminal complicity - and the complicity of America's neocons -- in the deaths of more than 3,600 American soldiers, as well as tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
For, as readers of Thomas E. Ricks' book, Fiasco already know, by clamoring for war, it was the neocons who failed to support the troops. How so? Because many of America's senior military leaders (both active and retired) opposed the very invasion of Iraq that the neocons begged for.
In fact, the neocons have fostered the spilling of American military blood in Iraq in at least three different ways. First, through their drumbeat for the unprovoked, illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq, a country that had no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al Qeada and no initial connection to Bush's so-called war on terrorism. (Iraq became connected only after Bush's blunder drew jihaidsts like flies to that God-forsaken country.)
Second, through their ideologically inspired negligence, the neocons helped to create the debacle that our troops now face in Iraq. The negligence of neocon Douglas Feith deserves particular scorn. He simply blew off his responsibilities to plan for the post-invasion occupation. Consider the words of a Bush administration official: "Feith ought to be drawn, quartered and hung…He's a sonofabich who agitated for war in Iraq, but once the decision is made to do it, he disengages. It was clear there were problems across the board - with electricity, with de-Baathification, with translators, with training the Iraqi police - and he just had nothing to do with it. I'm furious about it, still." [Ricks, pp. 167-68]
Even worse than Feith's negligence, was the ideologically inspired negligence of Paul Wolfowitz. Remember Wolfowitz's asinine assertion: "It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine." [George Packer, The Assassins' Gate, pp. 114-15]
Thus, thanks, in part, to Wolfowitz, the U.S. military went into Iraq with insufficient troop strength, and thus proved unable to prevent either the widespread looting or the subsequent emergence of the insurgency, which soon blossomed into a civil war. As a consequence, more American military blood was spilled (and continues to be spilled) in Iraq than was necessary.
Finally, nothing better establishes the failure of the neocons to support the troops than the opposition of their views to the sobering assessments made by America's military leaders.
First, consider the words about the "surge" recently uttered by William Kristol: "[T]hese soldiers, fighting courageously in a just cause, could still win the war." [Weekly Standard , 30 July 2007]
Putting aside his "just cause" canard, simply contrast Kristol's disingenuous words with the assessment made more than three years ago -- on May 12, 2004 -- by Bush's chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers: "[T]here is no way to militarily win in Iraq."
Better yet, contrast Kristol's words with the assessment made by Bush's Joint Chiefs' nominee, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, just three days ago: [T]here is no purely military solution in Iraq."
Clearly, Kristol's encouraging words were designed to service the "Protocol of the Elders of American Neoconservatism."
Second, juxtapose the airy words (now signifying nothing) uttered by Robert Kagan in 1996 with the recent assessments made by retired General William Odom and the vary same Adm. Mullen.
Kagan: "Military strength alone will not avail if we do not use it actively to maintain a world order which both supports and rest upon American hegemony."
Odom: "No U.S. forces have ever been compelled to stay in sustained combat conditions for as long as the Army units have in Iraq. In World War II, soldiers were considered combat-exhausted after about 180 days on the line. They were withdrawn for rest periods…In Iraq, combat units take over an area of operations and patrol it daily, making soldiers face the prospect of death from an IED or small arms fire or mortar fire each day. Day in and day out for a full year, with only a single two-week break, they confront the prospect of death, losing limbs or eyes, or suffering serious wounds." [Odom, "'Supporting the Troops' Means Withdrawing Them," Neiman Watchdog, 5 July 2007]
Mullen: American forces are "not unbreakable." [William Branigin, "Joint Chiefs Nominee Notes Toll on Military, Need to Plan for Iraq Drawdown," Washington Post, August 1, 2007]
Sidney Blumenthal recently wrote an exceptionally thoughtful article for salon.com ("Operation Iraq Betrayal" http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2007/07/26/cheney/ ), which demonstrated that the Bush administration and its neocon supporters have escalated their stab-in-the-back blame game for losing Iraq. Eric Edelman's ill-considered slap down of Senator Hillary Clinton and William Kristol's attack on The Nation and The New Republic are but two recent examples of this slimy phenomenon. Bush's recent warning to congress, lest it vote to withdraw our troops, constituted a third.
But, as the evidence presented above clearly demonstrates, it has been the American soldier who has been stabbed in the back. America's neoconservatives have repeatedly demonstrated that they are quite willing to fight to the last drop of American military blood (but not their own!) for the sake of America's empire, the world's oil and Israel.
If only our American servicemen and women knew!
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).
Baghdad, Iraq (AHN) - Beleaguered Baghdad residents faced hot summer temperatures without running water on Thursday in most areas of the capital. In most instances, their taps had run dry at least 24 hours earlier, although neighborhoods on the city's west side had been dry for six days. The problems resulted when demand outstripped electrical supply and left the city without enough power to keep water purification plants and pumping stations working.
One man said that he has mostly been without water for two weeks. He said when his family has had running water that it smelled bad and was cloudy. But the family can't afford bottled water and must drink it, resulting in two of his children having severe diarrhea. A doctor told him the diarrhea was from the water and that even boiling didn't render it safe enough to use.
A spokesman for the electrical plant said that even if it can generate enough electricity that it would take a full day to refill the water main and longer than that to purify the water to drinking standards.
But that is a moot point, because the spokesman said the utility didn't have enough fuel or electricity for its generators to keep water flowing anyway, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The official blamed power outages in Baghdad on provinces in Iraq's north and south that he said had failed to cut back on electricity consumption, leaving too little for Baghdad.
Without a unified government, solving Iraq's power and water woes any time soon doesn't look probable.
But a Shiite politician said on Thursday that even though the biggest Sunni bloc had quit the government that he was optimistic about forming a unity government again soon.
All six cabinet ministers from the Iraqi Accordance Front quit Wednesday. They took that action to protest what they said was Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's failure to meet their demands to release prisoners who had not been charged with crimes, disband militias and include all groups represented in the government in dealing with Iraq's security issues.
Copyright © AHN Media Corp - All rights reserved.
A new month brings a new death toll for Palestine. According to sources, 34 were killed by Israeli troops in the month of July.
The division created by Israel makes it easier to massacre the people living in Gaza with Abbas and company supporting their actions all the way.The following from the Ma'an News Agency speaks of the latest crimes .....
According to the Palestine Liberation Organisation's (PLO) department of national and international relations, Israeli forces have killed 34 Palestinians in July alone.
Among the dead were two children and a prisoner. Five of the 34 victims were assassination targets and two died at Israeli roadblocks while being transported to hospitals for treatment.
The monthly report reviews Israeli violations in the Palestinian territories. As did other issues, the July report concludes that Israeli forces continue their military activities and operations.
The PLO department stated that Israel is employing all kinds of weapons against Palestinians during incursions into Palestinian areas, and destroying farms and infrastructure.
The report added that in July the Israeli army destroyed six homes, of which three were in Jerusalem, arrested 220 citizens, Israeli settlers burned 2,250 olive trees and Israeli forces confiscated 30 dunums (1 dunum = 1,000 m²) in the Hebron area, so as to expand the Aetna settlement.
The department also addressed the internal Palestinian conflict, saying it is necessary to return to dialogue. It urges Palestinians to forget their differences. The department pointed out that the Palestinian division enables the Israeli's to strengthen the occupation. Furthermore, the internal conflict is obstructing a working Palestinian parliament, the report said.
The report states that, instead of arguing, the Palestinians should take their national interests into consideration; the solution lies with arranging early legislative and presidential elections, which should be held according to the new election law.
The report warns the Palestinians against "outside agenda's, these agenda's will be on account of Palestinians' blood."
The report further stressed the Israeli violations in Jerusalem and that Israel continues the Judaisation of the city in an ongoing attempt to expel Palestinians from the area.
Finally, it pointed to the detrimental effects of the barriers and checkpoints in the West Bank and the violations of the settlers, who continue to attack Palestinians and their farms in order to steal their land.
By LIZ AUSTIN PETERSON, Associated Press - August 3, 2007
Ron Paul may be the political butterfly of the 2008 presidential campaign. An obscure congressman from Southeast Texas for most of his political career, Paul has metamorphosed into the favorite of those looking for a candidate outside the political mainstream.
Legions of die-hard fans formed across the country after Republican candidate debates and Internet blogs exposed his contrarian views.
Paul, 71, remains one of the longest of long shots for the GOP nomination, but that hasn't deterred supporters from making cold calls to voters in early contest states, plastering the Internet with plaudits, and loudly challenging Paul's White House rivals at campaign stops.
"I honestly believe that Congressman Ron Paul, as crazy as it might sound, I believe he is the father of the modern Republican Party," said Jason Stoddard, 31, an Austin, Texas, entrepreneur who has no formal ties to Paul's campaign but has made more than a thousand calls to Iowa voters urging their support.
The enthusiasm of admirers like Stoddard has boosted Paul's national profile and helped his campaign raise $3 million over the past three months — a fraction of the double-digit millions chalked up by the top-tier candidates, but a respectable sum for an underdog.
That enthusiasm, however, hasn't translated into widespread support in presidential polls for Paul, who was a Libertarian Party candidate for president two decades ago and is best known as a champion of small government, low taxes and minimal foreign intervention.
National opinion polls of Republican primary voters generally show his support at about 2 percent. And while he's accumulated a cache of campaign dollars, Paul's not spending most of it. He has spent just $650,000 this year, the third-least of all 2008 presidential candidates, according to federal campaign finance reports.
"Most of the oxygen is being taken up, especially on the Republican side, by those who look like they might have a prayer of winning in a Democratic year," said University of Texas political scientist Bruce Buchanan.
An obstetrician-gynecologist and former Air Force flight surgeon, Paul stands out from the other Republican candidates on several scores, including his long-held opposition to the Iraq war. As a result, he might benefit from President Bush's near-record unpopularity and the growing public discontent with the war, said Michael Tanner, a policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington.
But potential supporters may find some of the 10-term congressman's other views more difficult to accept, including calls for a return to the gold standard and a radically smaller government with no Education Department, Energy Department or Internal Revenue Service.
Paul also is just as likely to turn off as many voters as he turns on with positions that straddle both liberal and conservative camps. He opposes the death penalty and votes against military appropriations. He also opposes abortion and gun control. He's known on Capitol Hill as "Dr. No."
Paul spokesman Jesse Benton acknowledged that Paul has formidable challenges to overcome before the first votes for the nomination are cast in about five months. The campaign just bought its first radio ads in Iowa and New Hampshire and has nearly tripled its staff to 25 in the past month.
"We realize the odds are still pretty long for Dr. Paul, but we think that Ron is a real legitimate player now that people are starting to pay attention," Benton said.
As comedian Stephen Colbert put it when Paul appeared in June on his mock right-wing talk show, "You are an enigma wrapped in a riddle nestled in a sesame seed bun of mystery."
Who really did this to America? We know that more than half of the "identified" hijackers, who were supposedly killed on 9/11, are alive and well today and had nothing at all to do with 9/11. Given the price in terms of treasure, dead, and wounded Americans have paid in the "war on terror," they really deserve to know the truth about Israel's involvement in 9/11. But, given the pro-Israel crowd in Washington now and the fact that "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified," I'm afraid that's out of the question, for now.
For a very comprehensive report on "The Five Dancing Israel's" click: http://nworeport.blogspot.com/2007/07/five-dancing-israelis-arrested-on-911.html
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Six-year-old Adiso Dasa, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia three years ago, did not start school on Thursday. Rather than beginning first grade, he stayed home because of an order given by Or Yehuda Mayor Yitzhak Bokovza barring 50 children of Ethiopian immigrant families from registering in local schools.
The families all immigrated within the past three years, and until a few months ago they lived in absorption centers around the country, where they were given a governmental grant to purchase an apartment. Many of the families chose to move to Or Yehuda, where they believed they could integrate into Israeli society, find jobs and make a decent living. But sometimes dreams are dashed.
In Or Yehuda, it appears, the immigrants received a cold welcome. Mayor Bokovza is angry at state authorities, which, he said, do not allow "controlled absorption of immigrants" and allow large numbers of immigrants to end up in the same city, creating "ghettos." Some 1.5 percent of Or Yehuda residents are Ethiopian, according to Bokovza. "If this situation continues, in two years they will be 4 percent," he said.
Because of his actions, the State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss called on Bokovza to allow the students into the city’s education system immediately. Bokovza will come Sunday to a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee, where he said he would hand down an
"indictment" against the State of Israel for its conduct regarding immigrant absorption.
Adiso has lived for three years with his family in an absorption center in the Jerusalem area Two months ago his family moved to Or Yehuda. Over the summer, his parents went to the municipality’s education department to register him for class. "They told us the mayor has not yet decided what to do. They didn’t tell us where to go. Now my brother is sitting at home,doing nothing. He is very disappointed by the entire situation," said Rahel, Adiso’s older sister, on Friday.
Ethiopian Immigrants Association chair Adiso Masala had some words for Bokovza: "If citizens of Israel want to move from one community to another, they can do so freely; we’re a democracy. I discovered that this man has no desire to absorb immigrant families. I now call on the government ministries to forbid mayors from denying immigrants the right to be absorbed in their cities, because that would be a dangerous precedent," he said.
Masala also blasted Education Minister Limor Livnat: "I heard her say Thursday that the school year opened with no hitches. Dozens of Ethiopian students who aren’t in school is not a hitch?" he asked.
One person has stepped in to propose a solution Ramat Hasharon Mayor Yitzhak Rochberger, who has already informed the Education Ministry that he has agreed to take dozens of Ethiopian pupils from Or Yehuda into his city’s education system and will even offer busing services to the children. "It is not right that someone who doesn’t send his kids to school risks being shown an arrest warrant, but a mayor is exempt from this. Because of his refusal 50 kids are on the street. I think Bokovza should be presented with 50 arrest warrants, one for each child who was left outside the school gates," Rochberger said.
Bokovza is convinced that he is only saying out loud what many other local authority heads only think, but prefer not to say so as not to be accused of "racist behavior." "When someone is ready to fight, he gets called racist. I am fighting the State of Israel, not Ethiopians. I’m actually protecting them. The State of Israel is sending them randomly to all sorts of places, and causing them to concentrate in certain places. The process could continue, and it should be stopped. Like in a healing process, sometimes you have to cut into the flesh. The sight of dozens of kids who aren’t in school is also distressing for me to witness. Today I will go to the State Control Committee and accuse the government ministries of abandoning certain populations and segregating strong populations from weaker ones," he said.
Also for your reading pleasure:
ISRAELI BAN ON ETHIOPIAN BLOOD WAS FLAWED POLICY
Yale Researcher Concludes
LINTHICUM, MD, June 24 – Israel’s 1996 decision to discard blood donated by Ethiopian immigrants was unjustified based on the infinitesimally small danger of HIV infection, concludes a Yale professor, who notes that there is a comparable HIV infection rate among Americans, who are not subject to a similar Israeli ban.
Dr. Edward H. Kaplan, a management scientist with the Yale University School of Management, presents a paper with his findings at an international convention of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Scientists (INFORMS) and the Operational Research Society of Israel (ORSIS) at Tel Aviv University on Monday, June 29 from 1 to 2 PM. He will present his findings again the same week at the 12th World AIDS conference in Geneva. He is the author of articles on this topic that have appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet and OR/MS Today, a publication of INFORMS.
Risk is one infection in 10 years
Dr. Kaplan uses mathematical modeling employed by operations researchers and management scientists to show that the actual risk of HIV infection in blood accepted from Ethiopian immigrants to Israel is only a single instance in 10 years.
Those who supported the ban — which has since been modified — note that the AIDS infection rate among Ethiopian immigrants is 50 times that of the rest of the Israeli population. Americans are roughly 25 times more likely to be infected with HIV than Israelis.
These statistics, he says, don’t tell an accurate story. In his research, Dr. Kaplan examines the question of whether Israel's Ethiopian blood ban was justified from a cost/benefit perspective.
Since all blood donations in Israel are screened for the presence of HIV antibody, blood is only accepted from donors who test HIV negative. Thus, the number of infectious donations prevented by the ban equals the number of donations from infected Ethiopian donors that tested antibody negative. At issue are false negatives, which occur in newly infected individuals.
While false negative tests can and do occur, the fraction of all antibody negative donations that are actually infectious is small. In the case of donations from Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, the rate of new infections has been estimated as at most 2.9 infections per 1,000 uninfected persons per year. Roughly one infectious donation would occur in every 5,000 antibody negative donations accepted.
According to the Navon Commission, which was formed to deal with issues raised by the blood ban, Ethiopian donors averaged only 485 donations annually. An estimated 1.3% of such donors test positive for HIV antibody, enabling roughly 480 antibody negative donations from Ethiopian immigrants per year. Of 480 antibody negative donations annually, one in every 5,000 would be infectious, implying that only 0.1 infectious donations were prevented each year, or equivalently one infectious donation every 10 years, not a major public health achievement, says Dr. Kaplan.
A similar analysis for non-Ethiopian Israelis reveals that of 221,960 antibody negative donations per year, 1.1 in one million would be expected to be infectious, for an infectious donation rate of 0.24 infectious donations per year, or roughly one every four years.
Those favoring exclusion argued that since Ethiopian donors exhibit a much greater HIV risk on a per donor basis, the exclusion decision was correct. Dr. Kaplan argues that given the small percentage of Ethiopian donations — only 480 compared to 221,960 — accepting a donation from an Ethiopian is beside the point. What is required is a willingness to accept blood from a supply of antibody negative donations, of which only 0.2% come from Ethiopian immigrants.
Therefore, the benefits of the ban, Dr. Kaplan says, can be viewed as preventing at most 0.1 infectious donations a year. The costs, he argues, were much higher, considering the damage done to relations with the Israeli Ethiopian community and a drop in blood supply coupled with protests that led to 70 injuries after the ban became known.
Of greater importance, Dr. Kaplan laments, is a lost opportunity to check the infection of AIDS: If Israeli officials working in Ethiopia with Jews preparing to immigrate had educated them about the spread of HIV, he believes, much heartbreak could have been averted.
"Women should make hamin and not deal with matters of Torah," the spiritual leader of Shas, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said in a speech to supporters on Saturday night.
Yosef made the statement in the context of a major Halachic campaign he is currently engaged in as to when women should recite the blessing over the Shabbat candles.
Many prominent Ashkenazi rabbis, along with a few Sephardic sources, have ruled that women should say the blessing after lighting the candles. However, according to Yosef, the blessings should be said before the candles have been kindled, similar to other blessings.
Yosef blasted the opposing view, saying it was based on the opinion of "a few stupid women. A woman's knowledge is only in sewing," he ridiculed. "Women should find other jobs and make hamin (cholent) but not deal with matters of Torah."
In addition, he admonished women for following in the steps of their mothers in the order of the recitation of the blessing instead of adhering to his opinion.
"It has to be announced that women should not listen to the voice of their mothers or grandmothers not to continue with this mistake," he warned.
A Shas source explained Yosef's statement by claiming he was "speaking in the language of his audience. He intended to say that it is proper for women to do what they are supposed to be doing and not try to prove something or make an impression," the Shas source said.
Labor MK Colette Avital denounced Yosef's comments saying they "show contempt and lower the value of women. In our tradition, there exist many examples of prophetesses who contributed to the continuity of the Jewish nation."
"The statements of Rabbi Ovadia that are meant to leave women in a state of ignorance, endanger the continued existence of the Jewish nation and therefore I condemn his words," she added.
Liora Minka, head of Emunah, an organization that promotes women's Torah study, also strongly disagreed with Yosef.
"Torah learning for women is very important," she said. "It is only a natural development, even in the ultra-orthodox community, that women will be integrated in Torah study."
I wonder how he "knows" all of this. I marvel at his specificity. He knows when, where, and how. If Israelis wasn't "perfect people" and "beyond all suspicion" one might surmise they were the perpetrators.
Fox News - August 2, 2007
Counterterrorism expert Juval Aviv spoke with FOX Fan Central about what Americans can do to protect themselves in case of a terror attack.
Do you believe another terrorist attack is likely on American soil?
I predict, based primarily on information that is floating in Europe and the Middle East, that an event is imminent and around the corner here in the United States. It could happen as soon as tomorrow, or it could happen in the next few months. Ninety days at the most.
What advice do you have for individuals that have the misfortune of finding themselves in the middle of a terror attack?
Since mass transportation is the next attack, when you travel to work have with you, a bottle of water, a small towel and a flashlight. What happened in London is exactly a point to look at. Those people who were close to the bombs died, then others were injured or died from inhaling the toxic fumes or getting trampled. The reason you take a bottle of water and a towel is that if you wet the towel and put it over your face, you can protect yourself against the fumes and get yourself out of there.
Don't be bashful. If your gut feeling tells you when you walk onto a bus there is something unusual or suspicious, get out and walk away. You may do it 10 times for no reason, but there will be one time that saves your life. Let your sixth sense direct you.
Try to break your routine. If you travel during rush hour every day, try to get up a little earlier and drive to work or take the train when it’s still not full. Don’t find yourself every day in the midst of rush hour. Terrorists are not going to waste a bomb on a half-empty train.
What portion of the American infrastructure do you believe is at the greatest risk for a terror attack?
We have put all of our emphasis, right or wrong, on the aviation area. What has happened, in the last two to three years, based on information we have, is the terrorists have realized that they cannot hijack a plane in America soon because the passengers are going to fight back. So they realize what they have been very successful with over the last 50 years in Madrid, London, Iraq, Israel: demoralizing the public when they go to work and when they come back from work.
What they’re going to do is hit six, seven or eight cities simultaneously to show sophistication and really hit the public. This time, which is the message of the day, it will not only be big cities. They’re going to try to hit rural America. They want to send a message to rural America: "You’re not protected. If you figured out that if you just move out of New York and move to Montana or to Pittsburgh, you’re not immune. We’re going [to] get you wherever we can and it’s easier there than in New York."
What more do you think the government can do to protect the public?
Number one, and this is the beef I’ve had with Homeland Security for the last four years, is educating the public on how to deal with those types of events. There’s no education. We’re raising the color code alert and that means nothing to anyone. Whether it’s green, yellow, pink, no one ever educated the public how to identify suspicious items or people. In Israel, so many of them [terrorists] have been apprehended just because people have phoned in. We don’t have that training on campuses, schools or kindergarten.
In Israel, it’s very popular right now [amongst terrorists] to put one device to explode and time another one for five minutes later when it’s all calm, people are getting up and the rescue teams have responded. You need to know all those things and think about those things. The government must pursue that. Law enforcement will never have enough people on the street to detect things. We don’t have that kind of manpower. That’s why the government must enlist the public.
Juval Aviv is a former Israeli Counterterrorism Intelligence Officer and President and CEO of Interfor, Inc. Mr. Aviv has also served as a special consultant to the U.S. Congress on issues of terrorism and security and is the author of “Staying Safe : The Complete Guide to otecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business.”
Well, Now, Hmmmm
by Paul Joseph Watson, Prison Planet - August 2, 2007
An expert computer analyst has presented evidence that so-called "Al-Qaeda" tapes are routinely digitally doctored and has also unwittingly exposed an astounding detail that clearly indicates a Pentagon affiliated organization in the U.S. is directly responsible for releasing the videos.
"Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant, gave an interesting presentation today at the BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas about analyzing digital photographs and video images for alterations and enhancements," reports Wired News.
"Using a program he wrote (and provided on the conference CD-ROM) Krawetz could print out the quantization tables in a JPEG file (that indicate how the image was compressed) and determine the last tool that created the image -- that is, the make and model of the camera if the image is original or the version of Photoshop that was used to alter and re-save the image. "
Krawetz's most telling discovery comes in the form of a detail contained in a 2006 Ayman al-Zawahiri tape. From his analysis he concludes that the As-Sahab logo (the alleged media arm of Al-Qaeda) and the IntelCenter logo (a U.S. based private intelligence organization that "monitors terrorist activity") were both added to the video at the same time.
This clearly indicates IntelCenter itself is directly creating or at least doctoring the Al-Qaeda tapes before their release. After all, why would Al-Qaeda terrorists be interested in branding their videos with the logo of a U.S. based organization that is run by individuals with close ties to the military-industrial complex?
In our previous groundbreaking investigation, we exposed IntelCenter, the middleman between "Al-Qaeda's media arm" and the press, and the organization that routinely obtains the tapes, as little more than a Pentagon front group staffed by individuals with close connections to Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. war machine.
IntelCenter were also behind the release of the recent "new" Bin Laden tape, which in actual fact was old footage filmed in 2001 and had been released, including by IntelCenter itself, on no less than two previous occasions spanning back five years.
IntelCenter is run by Ben Venzke, former director of intelligence at a company called IDEFENSE, which is a Verisign company. IDEFENSE is a web security company that monitors intelligence from middle east conflicts and focuses on cyber threats among other things.
It is also heavily populated with long serving ex-military intelligence officials.
The Director of Threat intelligence, Jim Melnick, served 16 years in the US army and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and worked in psychological operations. From the IDEFENSE website:
Prior to joining iDefense, Mr. Melnick served with distinction for more than 16 years in the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency. During this period, Mr. Melnick served in a variety of roles, including psychological operations, international warning issues with emphasis on foreign affairs and information operations and Russian affairs. He also served in active political/military intelligence roles with an emphasis on foreign affairs. Mr. Melnick is currently a U.S. Army Reserve Colonel with Military Intelligence, assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Melnick has been published in numerous military and foreign affairs journals, and has received numerous military and DIA awards. Mr. Melnick has a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a Master of Arts in Russian studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Westminster College.
So here we have a company that by its own admission has ties to a senior military psy-op intelligence officer who has worked directly for Donald Rumsfeld. As Intelcenter and Ben Venzke are directly connected to IDEFENSE, this puts Rumsfeld just three steps away from the Al Qaeda propaganda videos.
The business of releasing Al-Qaeda tapes is also very profitable for IntelCenter, they charge well over $4,000 dollars a year for packages aimed at "Intelligence, Military and Federal agencies".
Add to this the fact that IntelCenter are digitally doctoring the videos and then adding the logo of a purported terrorist group before their release and the ramifications become clear - elements within the U.S. are patently editing if not directly creating "Al-Qaeda" tapes for their own purposes.
Al-Qaeda, or more accurately IntelCenter, always seem to make a point of releasing the videos at the most politically expedient times for the benefit of the Bush administration.
Whether it's to justify a war, win an election or divert from a scandal, Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri or their stooges can always be relied upon to come up with the goods and save Bush's bacon.
As soon as the 6 month wait and see period for the "surge" was up and right when Bush's last remaining Republican cheerleaders deserted him on Iraq, Bin Laden popped up to remind us all of the necessity of "staying the course" and winning the war on terror by feeding more troops into the meatgrinder.
Both Kerry and Bush attributed the President's 2004 re-election to Osama Bin Laden's appearance in a video tape just days before the vote. Veteran newsman Walter Cronkite mused that the whole farce was a Karl Rove orchestrated set-up.
On the eve of the Iraq war during Colin Powell's infamous presentation to the UN, an audio tape in which bin Laden claimed he was allied with Saddam Hussein surfaced, a gift-wrapped present for the Neo-Cons who had consistently been proven wrong in their assertion that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri appeared right on cue at the exact same time two years running, days before the State of the Union, to slam Bush as a "butcher" and a "failure." His timing is impeccable! Right when Bush needs to reinforce the fear of the shadowy enemy each January to mute his critics before the big speech, al-Zawahiri pops up with the goods.
Krawetz's analysis (view in PDF) further concludes that different objects and green screen backgrounds have been artificially added to certain videos, including that of probable Mossad double agent Adam Pearlman, in order to "lend authority and reverence to the video".
The smoking gun remains the fact that the two logos, the As-Sahab "terrorist" media arm and the IntelCenter organization, were added at exactly the same time, meaning either that IntelCenter, with its close ties to the U.S. government and psychological operation, has terrorists on the payroll or that IntelCenter itself is doctoring and directly releasing Al-Qaeda propaganda tapes.
Both conclusions are equally disturbing and demand an immediate FBI investigation of IntelCenter and its owners.
Yahoo News - August 2, 2007
Pakistan accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of "sheer ignorance" for threatening to launch US military strikes against Al-Qaeda on Pakistani soil.
Obama warned Wednesday that if he is elected president, he would order US forces to hit extremist targets on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan if embattled military ruler President Pervez Musharraf failed to act.
"Such statements are being made out of sheer ignorance," Pakistan's Minister of State for Information, Tariq Azeem, told AFP. "They are not fully apprised about the ground realities and not aware of the efforts by Pakistan."
Islamabad has bristled against a string of similar threats in recent weeks by the administration of US President George W. Bush, whose top counter-terror official in July refused to rule out US strikes in Pakistan.
Musharraf, struggling to contain a wave of Islamist violence unleashed by the army's bloody storming of the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad three weeks ago, himself firmly rejected any US action last week.
"We have said before that we will not allow anyone to infringe our sovereignty," Azeem said.
"If there is any actionable intelligence they should tell us and only our forces will take action on it and they are quite capable of it."
The minister suggested that Obama's comments were prompted by Washington's inability to curb the ongoing Taliban insurgency in neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led forces toppled the hardline regime in late 2001.
"This seems to be a reaction to their own failure in Afghanistan to control the US casualties and instead of addressing the situation there, they are finding scapegoats and damaging their own cause," Azeem added.
Pakistan foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam on Wednesday warned against "point-scoring" by US presidential candidates on vital security issues.
Musharraf abandoned Islamabad's support for the Taliban in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
He has said that a top US official warned that Pakistan would be bombed back to the "stone age" if it failed to join Washington's "war on terror".
[Editor's note: While there is no possibility that the Israeli Occupied Congress will not approve this appropriation, it is nevertheless important that members of Congress begin to hear from an outraged citizenry that those who continue to put Israel's interests above those of their American constituents will be considered as foreign agents who have broken their oath to defend the US Constitution. While it is important to attack this latest giveaway on its merits, it is time to raise the stakes. -- Jeff Blankfort]
The United States plans to increase military aid to Israel by 25 percent—from $2.4 billion to $3 billion per year, guaranteed for the next 10 years. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters in Jerusalem on July 29 that President George W. Bush agreed to this new $30 billion military aid package when they met at the White House on June 19.
This agreement is appalling for many reasons:
U.S. taxpayers are being asked to donate $30 billion to help Israel buy weapons at a time when our own nation’s financial resources are stretched thin. According to a June 28, 2007 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. has spent $611 billion on the “war on terror” since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, including $567 billion in Iraq alone. Our own economy, schools, and health care are in shambles thanks to this war that many, including President Bush, believe is being fought to protect Israel.
Israel routinely violates the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act by using U.S. weapons to commit human rights violations against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians. Israel uses U.S. military aid to continue its illegal 40-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Israel illegally used U.S. weapons, including cluster bombs, when it carried out attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon last summer.
To add insult to injury, Israeli and U.S. mainstream media are trying to confuse Americans by describing a proposed $20 billion U.S. military sales package to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries as “aid.” The distinction between possible arms deals with the Gulf and military aid to Israel has been deliberately blurred.
The United States is financially rewarding Israel at a time when the Jewish state is ignoring Arab peace overtures and intentionally starving Gazans. Israel is preventing humanitarian aid, salaries, food, water and electricity from reaching Palestinians imprisoned behind Gaza’s Israeli-controlled borders.
Write or telephone those working for you in Washington, DC demanding that the U.S. withhold all military aid to Israel until that country agrees to makes peace with its neighbors.
For more information on U.S. policy in the Middle East, subscribe to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Write or Telephone Those Working for you in Washington.
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White House Comment Line: (202) 456-1111
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Department of State
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State Department Public Information Line:
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by Yasmine Ryan - August 3, 2007
BEIRUT: Israel was once reprimanded by the United States for its use of cluster bombs in civilian areas. In 1984, The New York Times credited Franklin P. Lamb's first book with gathering the evidence that spurred former President Ronald Reagan's administration into cutting off Israel's supplies of US cluster bombs. A quarter-century on, Lamb returned to update "Israel's War in Lebanon" (South End Press, 1984) in the wake of last summer's war. The result is the substantial report "The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel's Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon (1978-2006)."
Extensive documentation from a wide range of sources has been compiled, alongside photographic evidence and personal testimonies. "The Price We Pay" is a well-researched and comprehensive historical record of the damage inflicted on Lebanon by its southern neighbor in the summer of 2006.
The report is written with a clear objective in its sights and makes no bones about it. Lamb is director of Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace (ACMEP), an organization based in Washington which aims to counterbalance the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on US policy in the Middle East. It is particularly concerned with the provision and subsequent use of American weapons by Israel. Last Friday, Israel officially banned "The Price We Pay."
Above all, "The Price We Pay" questions the morality and legality of the $15.1 million per day in US aid that Israel receives, more than half of which Israel spends on arms and munitions. Beyond this, Israel receives military technology and training and additional grants and special considerations.
For Lamb and ACMEP, the monetary aid would be better spent domestically, and they seek to demonstrate in their report where that cash is going. They condemn the US government's "foreknowledge, acquiescence and complicity in Israel's pre-planned invasion." The war began last July 12 when Hizbullah launched a cross-border raid in which eight Israeli soldiers died and two were captured by Hizbullah, after which Israel responded with air strikes.
One of the most significant points made in the report is the impunity with which Israel has historically deployed US weapons in stark breach of US laws and bilateral agreements between the two allies.
Lamb proposes that aid sanctions be imposed upon Israel for its improper use of American weapons, in accordance with the 1976 US Arms Export Act, the Foreign Assistance Act and the 1996 Interference with Humanitarian Relief Act.
Historical precedence, from the administration of former President Gerald Ford onward, makes this an unlikely possibility, Reagan's ban on cluster bombs excepted. Lamb told The Daily Star that he hoped to complement the increasing momentum of the international campaign to ban cluster bombs. The tome will also be made accessible to members of the US Congress, as was its predecessor.
Given its strong political bias, the work's tone of moral outrage - and at times bitter sarcasm - is not too surprising. For instance, playing ironically upon a headline used by an Israeli tabloid (on American policy during the summer war), the author writes "Take your time, a majority of our Congress repeated as they stumbled over each other jockeying for a good position in line for Israel-lobby cash to fund their next elections."
Potent information is underlined with powerful colors and photographs. A man in Qana appears in a photograph with pictures of his children, who were killed by an Israeli Army attack. "1,250 CIVILIANS KILLED, 416 ARE CHILDREN" reads the capitalized text on the opposite page. A pie chart underlines the assertion that 83 percent of Israel's weapons come from America.
The report also disputes claims that the destruction was simply inevitable collateral damage. Rather than a military strategy which targeted the Hizbullah-led Lebanese resistance, Lamb asserts that "the extensive destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy."
The appendix includes a list of attacks on Lebanese civilians, a list of some of the unexploded American weapons in civilian areas of South Lebanon and a list of Lebanese factories damaged by US weapons. There is also a list of US companies which contribute significantly to Israel's arsenal - often courtesy of the American taxpayer.
One chapter focuses on the psychological-operations campaign against the Hizbullah-led resistance, conducted last year by the Israeli Army with US aircraft, propaganda and artillery shells. Lamb suggests that the primary psychological target was the Israeli population rather than the Lebanese, because the leaflets were presented widely on Israeli television and some of those dropped on Lebanese soil were in Hebrew.
Lamb is no newcomer to Lebanon. He first came here in 1982 as a member of a US Congress fact-finding mission and has returned many times since. It was on this initial visit that he and another US citizen, Janet Stevens, founded ACMEP at the American University of Beirut on August 12, 1982.
This date has been labeled by some as Black Thursday because of Israel's 11-hour bombardment of Beirut that left more than 500 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians dead. Outraged by what they were witnessing, ACMEP's founders began a campaign to end their country's role in such attacks. They sought to halt the sale of American weapons and military aid to Israel.
Stevens, a fixer for The Washington Post at the time, was killed in the US Embassy bombing on April 18, 1983.
Twenty-five years later, Lamb has returned to Lebanon to author another installment in their campaign. "The Price We Pay" is available in Lebanese bookstores, and an Arabic version is due out soon, as is the second English edition in the US.
Not all Americans, then, are content to continue the alliance with Israel or to accept justifications like the one made by Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon last July 27 that "all those now in South Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hizbullah." Whether this is enough to put an end to America's frequently loading Israel's gun is another matter.
Source: The Daily Star
by Bryan Bender, Boston Globe - August 3, 2007
WASHINGTON -- The war in Iraq could ultimately cost well over a trillion dollars -- at least double what has already been spent -- including the long-term costs of replacing damaged equipment, caring for wounded troops, and aiding the Iraqi government, according to a new government analysis.
The United States has already allocated more than $500 billion on the day-to-day combat operations of what are now 190,000 troops and a variety of reconstruction efforts.
In a report to lawmakers yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that even under the rosiest scenario -- an immediate and substantial reduction of troops -- American taxpayers will feel the financial consequences of the war for at least a decade.
The calculations include the estimated cost to leave some US forces behind for at least several years to support the Iraqi government, but they also predict other long-term costs, such as extended medical care and disability compensation for wounded soldiers and survivor's benefits for the families of the thousands of combat-zone fatalities.
The cost of the war in Iraq and other military operations has soared to the point where "we are now spending on these activities more than 10 percent of all the government's annually appropriated funds," said Robert A. Sunshine, the budget office's assistant director for budget analysis.
Those costs -- both to sustain the current mission in Iraq and to pay longer-term "hidden" expenses like troop healthcare and replacement equipment -- are far more than US officials advertised when Congress gave President Bush the authority to launch the invasion in March 2003.
At the time, the White House and then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld predicted a quick, decisive victory and counted on Iraqi oil revenues to pay for the war. And when Lawrence Lindsey, one of Bush's top budget advisers, estimated in 2003 that the entire undertaking could cost as much as $200 billion, he was fired.
Even that estimate -- which the Bush administration described at the time as far too high -- was still well off the mark. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that as of June, up to $500 billion has been spent on combat operations in Iraq.
In the coming years, the price tag will be substantially higher. Testifying before the House Budget Committee yesterday, Sunshine told lawmakers that he used two scenarios -- an optimistic one in which most US troops are withdrawn, and another in which a sizable contingent remains for several years -- to calculate anticipated costs.
If the United States gradually reduced its troop level in Iraq to 30,000 by 2010, the US Treasury would still have to provide up to $500 billion more to sustain those troops, as well as pay other expenses, he said in the report.
In the alternative scenario -- in which 75,000 US troops remain stationed in Iraq over the next five years -- the nation would have to pay an additional $900 billion, according to the analysis.
Members of Congress welcomed the report, noting that the Pentagon has requested only annual expenditures and has refused to provide long-term estimates.
When the committee yesterday asked Gordon England, deputy secretary of defense, whether he agreed with the estimates, he maintained that "we don't have that degree of certainty" about the future costs of the war.
Representative John Spratt a South Carolina Democrat and the Budget Committee chairman, responded that the budget office numbers are "an extrapolation from existing costs. And we've got five years of experience, so they're . . . not building an assumption out of the air. They're extrapolating from known costs to what future costs are likely to be at certain force levels."
Some of the future costs will be incurred long after major combat operations end, according to the report.
The 16-page analysis estimated that the medical costs would be more than $9 billion if the United States stations 30,000 troops in Iraq, and would cost almost $13 billion if 75,000 troops remain there for the next several years.
The report estimates that training police and ground forces in Iraq and a relatively smaller number in Afghanistan over the next decade will require at least an additional $50 billion. Meanwhile, the government will have to spend at least $20 billion more for US diplomatic operations, to assist local governments, and to promote economic development in Iraq through 2017 -- regardless of how many US troops remain in the country.
Lawmakers expressed concern that the White House is not adequately preparing the country for the financial burden.
Representative James P. McGovern, a Worcester Democrat and a member of the budget panel, said that England couldn't give a firm answer when asked how much the Pentagon needed to pay for Bush's decision to dispatch 30,000 more troops to secure Iraq earlier this year. England said the costs the Pentagon anticipated a few months ago for military operations in fiscal year 2008 -- about $142 billion -- will no longer be enough.
The military will need more money because of the "surge" and the purchase of hundreds of armored vehicles capable of withstanding the roadside bombs responsible for most of the US combat deaths. England said the Pentagon will provide a revised 2008 cost estimate in September.
But McGovern said he is worried about the long-term financial impact of the war, adding that his primary concern is that the United States is borrowing money to pay for it. Some leading economists have predicted that, depending on how long troops remain in Iraq, the endeavor could reach several trillion dollars as a result of more "hidden" costs -- including recruiting expenses to replenish the ranks and the lifelong benefits the government pays to veterans.
"It is being paid for on the national credit card," McGovern said. "It is being put on their backs of our kids and grandkids. That is indefensible."
McGovern said he is considering proposing that a "war tax" be levied on all Americans to cover the ballooning expenses.
"We should find a way to pay for it so that when this war is over we are not bankrupt," he said.
Bryan Bender can be reached at: email@example.com
Source: The Boston Globe
by John V. Whitbeck, The Jordan Times - August 3, 2007
In his eloquent speech before the US Congress in early March, King Abdullah emphasised the urgent need to achieve an Arab-Israeli peace this year. Sadly, there was little sense of urgency evident on July 25, almost five months later, when the Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers visited Jerusalem. The impression conveyed during that rather awkward visit was, rather, one of resignation to further years of drift.
King Abdullah’s sense of urgency remains justified; acquiescence with further years of drift is not. The Arab world is not impotent. It has it within its power to achieve Middle East peace with some measure of justice — not in some distant future but soon, and not through enhanced violence but through the intelligent and responsible application of restrained but sustained economic pressure.
A concerted, concrete and effective plan of action could take the form of a simple, easily understood and ethically unimpeachable "carrot-and-stick" approach.
The "carrot" has already been on offer, and left dangling, for more than five years. It is the Arab Peace Initiative. First launched at an Arab League summit in Beirut in March 2002 and reaffirmed with great publicity at the latest summit in Riyadh, in March 2007, it offers full peace and normal diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and all Arab states in return for a total end to the occupation of all Arab lands Israel occupied in 1967.
Unfortunately, since this offer, the most generous that Israel can ever hope to receive from the Arab world, has never had a deadline for acceptance attached to it. Israel has been free to ignore it with impunity — and has done so.
If Israel is now showing any interest in the Arab Peace Initiative, it is only because the latest in the long line of "peace plans" exploited to kill time, the American-initiated "roadmap", is transparently shopworn. The clear, principled, unambiguous and inherently non-negotiable — but open-ended — Arab Peace Initiative is therefore timely as a potentially useful replacement which could be co-opted, manipulated and deformed, and around which Israel (with full American support) could pick, nibble and dance for the next few years, in a "resumption" of the perpetual "peace process" which is the antithesis of peace, while continuing to build more settlements, more bypass roads and more walls and, generally, continuing to make the occupation permanent and irreversible.
To prevent such a manipulation and deformation of the Arab Peace Initiative, the "carrot" must be complemented with a credible and effective "stick". The Arab League should make clear that if Israel does not accept the Arab Peace Initiative without reservations, by a specific near-term date, it would lapse and be "off the table".
At the same time, the major Arab and Muslim oil producers should state that if Israel rejects the Arab Peace Initiative, then, until Israel complies fully with international law and UN resolutions by withdrawing from all occupied Arab land to its internationally recognised borders, they will reduce their petroleum exports by increments of five per cent each month — month after month after month.
It would, of course, be preferable if the United States, whose unconditional support for Israel has made possible its continuing occupation of Arab lands, were to undergo a moral and ethical transformation and if Americans were suddenly to realise both that Palestinians are human beings entitled to basic human rights and that international law should be complied with by all, not only by the poor, the weak and the Arab.
Realistically, after so many years of antithetical attitudes, such a transformation is most unlikely to occur.
Source: The Jordan Times
High-profile Bush administration officials could be called to the witness stand if two deposed pro-Israel lobbyists have their way in a court case that is moving toward a January 2008 trial date.
Lawyers for two former lobbyists at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee have asked federal judge T.S. Ellis III to subpoena the highest-ranking foreign policy players in the administration, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Hadley’s deputy, Elliott Abrams, and other top officials from the White House, State Department and Pentagon.
The two Aipac lobbyists, Keith Weissman and Steve Rosen, are on trial for allegedly receiving classified information from government officials and relaying it to diplomats, journalists and other Aipac staff members. Their attorneys are seeking testimony from Rice and others in order to make the case that passing on classified information to lobbyists was routine conduct in Washington. The prosecution filed a series of motions asking that all subpoenas for government officials be dismissed.
If the subpoenas are approved by the court, the Aipac trial has the potential of turning into a major embarrassment for the Bush administration, which has made fighting leaks in the government one of its policy cornerstones. Having the most senior members of the administration testify under oath about conversations with lobbyists in regard to classified information could shatter what is left from the anti-leak posture the administration has adopted in its early years.
Last Tuesday, the judge moved closer to setting a trial date, securing January 14 — three-and-a-half years after the case first broke out — as the target for beginning the jury trial.
“We’ve got to get this done,” said Ellis in the hearing, while prodding the prosecution to speed up procedures. “This case has languished for quite a long time.”
Currently, the case’s closed-door discussions have reviewed the classified information that will be put forward. After that is completed, the proposed list of witnesses is expected to take center stage in the pretrial hearings.
The list contains some 30 witnesses, few of them directly involved in specific events mentioned in the indictment. Such is the subpoena requested for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. When Rice was national security adviser during the first term of the Bush administration, she held a White House meeting with Aipac’s executive director, Howard Kohr, and with Rosen, who was then the lobby’s policy director. During the meeting, Rice allegedly revealed information that was later conveyed to Rosen and Weissman by former Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, who already has admitted to passing on classified information as part of a plea agreement with the prosecution.
The purpose of having the government officials testify, defense sources said, is to prove to the jury that leaking classified information to Aipac members, as well as to other lobbyists, journalists and diplomats, was not only standard procedure but also a pattern of behavior directed from the highest ranks in the administration.“We want to show it was authorized from the top,” a defense source said.
In addition to members of the State Department and Pentagon, the list may include current senior staff members of Aipac, though defense sources would not confirm that they are actually on the final list.
Due to the nature of the case, which centers on the use and proliferation of classified information, the court is required to approve each of the witnesses, and the topics about which he or she will be asked, in order to ensure that classified information is not revealed during the testimonies.
The government prosecution has filed motions arguing that the subpoenas are not relevant to the case. But Ellis has given some indication that he sees things otherwise. During one of the closed-door hearings, Ellis said that testimonies dealing with the nature of the relationship between Aipac and America’s government are “flatly relevant to this case,” since it is important for determining the defendants’ state of mind when they encountered classified information.
It is already clear that court will not allow the entire witness list presented by the prosecution, since Ellis is attempting to keep the trial short and not all the officials requested are relevant to Aipac issues.
Meanwhile, as the trial date was postponed yet again, the legal bills of the defendants have reached a record high. According to unofficial estimates within the defense team, both defendants have already incurred $7 million in legal fees a figure that might grow to $10 million by the time the case is over, making this trial one of the costliest in American history.
An agreement reached several months ago between Aipac and lawyers for Weissman ensures that the lobby will cover Weissman’s legal costs. A similar agreement is still being negotiated between Aipac and Rosen’s lawyers.
[Editor's note: America's wrath in the service of Israel is what he is talking about. Is it not curious that the mainstream US media never wonders why the Europeans, who unlike Americans, have experienced war on their soil, are not as concerned with Iran going nuclear as is the United States? But then, while the European governments are coming under increasing Zionist influence, their populations are not, nor are their businesses and that may be the good news for this day. -- Jeff Blankfort]
As the US presses for a stronger UN Security Council resolution on Iran, the Treasury Department continues its international outreach to highlight Iran's illicit financial activity. While the Treasury-led campaign has achieved considerable success, this initiative would be far more effective if the US was not the only voice decrying the risk that Iran's deceptive practices pose to the global financial system.
Over the past year and a half, senior Treasury officials have traveled the world, briefing their finance ministry counterparts and the private sector on the range of Iran's deceptive financial activity. This includes: Iran's use of front companies; frequent requests by Iranian state-owned banks to remove their names from financial transactions; and the involvement of these same banks in Iran's nuclear and missile programs and terrorist financing.
In light of this, the Treasury Department has argued that doing business with Iran is a risky endeavor, and could ultimately cause great reputational harm to those associated with the regime.
Major international financial institutions have been responsive to the Treasury pitch. According to Treasury, global institutions -- including Switzerland's UBS and Credit Suisse and the UK's HSBC -- have either terminated or dramatically reduced business with Iran. Both the potential reputational risk and the prospect of being shut out of the US market were likely factors in their decisions.
Unfortunately, Treasury has not achieved success across the board. Recent reports indicate that smaller banks are beginning to step in as the larger ones withdraw, and a number of financial institutions have only stopped engaging in dollar transactions with Iran. Additionally, many other types of companies are still eager to do business with Iran, despite the US warnings.
One reason why Treasury has not produced more wide-scale results is that the US has been alone in emphasizing this important message about the risks to the international financial system. Although the US warnings carry enormous weight, there are many companies and financial institutions which do not do business in the US, and are less concerned about invoking America's wrath.
To have a broader impact, the US must encourage a multilateral body or international organization to step into this void to reinforce the American message. One organization that would be well positioned to do so would be the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, a relatively obscure, but potentially powerful international body, which seeks to set global standards on combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Launched by the G7 in 1989, FATF includes 31 member countries, including the US and the European Commission.
FATF should be pressed -- through the UK, its sitting president -- to blacklist Iran. This is a practice FATF has used regularly and effectively in the past. For example, until fairly recently, FATF maintained a list of Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCT).
The purpose of the NCCT list was to identify those countries that have not adopted adequate measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, in order to "reduce the vulnerability of the financial system."
Iran certainly qualifies for a spot on a FATF list. The Iranian banking system has no meaningful anti-money laundering controls. Iran's efforts to address terrorist financing are non-existent -- hardly surprising in a country that US government officials have described as the "central banker of terror," and where support for terrorist groups is official government policy.
In fact, Iranian state-owned financial institutions have played a role in furthering the government's illicit activity. For example, Bank Saderat has been involved in transferring funds to terrorist groups and Bank Sepah has provided financial services to support Iran's ballistic missile program.
Being placed on the FATF blacklist would be a serious blow to the regime. FATF blacklisting generally has two effects. First, it puts pressure on countries to improve their anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing regimes. Second, it alerts the private sector of the business risks associated with that particular jurisdiction.
While Iran would be unlikely to make the necessary systemic changes, a listing could help put additional economic pressure on Teheran by making the private sector more reluctant to do business with Iran. Financial institutions -- which are extremely concerned about their reputations -- would be particularly leary of doing business as usual with Iran under these conditions. In fact, financial institutions are specifically instructed by FATF to give "special attention to business relations and transactions" with entities from listed jurisdictions.
Were Iran listed by FATF, past history suggests that many governments would follow suit, placing Iran on their own domestic blacklists. This could have a significant impact, particularly if Iran's main business partners in Europe or Asia were to act. While some companies and financial institutions may not heed US or FATF cautions, they would be far more reluctant to ignore the proclamations of their supervisory regulatory agencies.
Treasury has been beating the drum about Iran's illicit financial activity for some time now. While Treasury should continue to emphasize this message, it should also focus on getting others to publicly join this fight.
Iran's abuse of the financial system to further the regime's dangerous goals should be of great concern not only to the US, but to all of those with responsibility for protecting the security and integrity of the global financial system.
The writer is a senior fellow in the Stein program in terrorism, intelligence and policy at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior advisor in Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Source: Washington Institute