Friday, September 30, 2005



Hopefully Larry will have some very interesting things to say.

Larry Franklin to testify against two former AIPAC officials

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - Former Pentagon employee Larry Franklin has struck a deal with prosecutors, and plans to plead guilty next week to a number of charges against him.

Franklin was indicted in June on charges of leaking classified material - including data about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq - to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and an Israeli official.

Franklin will testify against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, both of whom deny charges against them. Rosen and Weissman are suspected of passing on the information they received from Franklin to a number of Israeli Embassy employees and journalists. The two have been charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified U.S. defense information. No plea hearings have been scheduled in their cases.

A spokesman for the U.S. District Court clerk in Alexandria, Virginia, Edward Adams, said a hearing to accept Franklin's guilty plea had been scheduled for Wednesday. The charge or charges to which he would enter the plea were not disclosed. Franklin was indicted on five counts.

The government is not accusing Franklin, Rosen and Weissman of espionage, although the FBI has questioned at least one Israeli official.

Rosen, a top lobbyist for Washington-based AIPAC for over 20 years, and Weissman, the organization's top Iran expert, allegedly disclosed sensitive information as far back as 1999 on a variety of topics, including al-Qaida, terrorist activities in Central Asia, the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and U.S. policy in Iran, according to the indictment against them.

Franklin, an Air Force colonel, once worked for the Pentagon's No. 3 official on issues involving Iran and the Middle East. Weissman and Rosen viewed Franklin as a potential source of information, and cultivated him over the course of a year.

Over the past two years, the FBI has focused on whether Franklin passed classified U.S. material on Iran and other matters to AIPAC, and whether the group, in turn, passed it on to Israel. Both AIPAC and Israel deny any wrongdoing. AIPAC fired Rosen and Weissman in April.

The office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Paul McNulty, McNulty's office declined to comment yesterday. His spokesman said that "at this stage, we have no intention of releasing a statement on this matter."

Franklin's lawyer, Plato Cacheris, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Israelis Urge US To Stop Iran

The Washington Times is reporting that three Israeli Knesset members are calling for the US to attack Iran.

The United States and its allies must act to stop Iran's nuclear programs -- by force if necessary -- because conventional diplomacy will not work, three senior Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum warned yesterday.
As a last resort, they said, Israel itself would act unilaterally to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms.

From the perspective of a US citizen and taxpayer, it is certainly preferable to have Israel deal with its own problems. Asking the US to take care of its problems, at our risk and our expense, is highly undesirable to me.

If it really makes sense to attack Iran preemptively, Israel should be willing to undertake that effort on their own. We pay through the nose to arm them to the teeth. At the very least this should entitle us to forgo risking our own people and prestige.

Asking America to solve Israel's conflicts creates moral hazard. Are Israel and its supporters working hard enough keep conflict at a minimum? Are they arriving at the lowest risk and least expensive solutions, from an American perspective?

Based on their conduct in the occupied territories alone, I would answer no.

Of course, the article goes on to make the never ending WWII analogy:

"Despite all the different circumstances, we see similarities to what happened in the 1930s, when people underestimated the real problem or focused on other dangers. For us, either the world will tackle Iran in advance or all of us will face the consequences."

WWII was a unique event. Iran is not 1944 Germany. What is the entire GDP of Iran? How does it compare with the US? Using this comparison alone the situation does not bare any resemblance whatsoever to WWII. They are feeding you a line.

Germany invaded three countries before WWII “officially” started. Iran has invaded none and made no threat to do so.

Of course, there is a country that has recently conducted an invasion. That would be the US.

Washington Times


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Judith Miller Released; Agrees to Testify

She will testify Scooter Libby was the source.

Very strange.

Michelle Malkin has lots of coverage here.

The NYT says this:

The Times' publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement that the newspaper supported Ms. Miller's decision to testify, just as it backed her earlier refusal to cooperate. "Judy has been unwavering in her commitment to protect the confidentiality of her source," Mr. Sulzberger said. "We are very pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver, both by phone and in writing, releasing her from any claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify."
Mr. Fitzgerald has for more than a year sought testimony from Ms. Miller about conversations she had with Mr. Libby. Her willingness to testify was based in part on personal assurances given by Mr. Libby earlier this month that he had no objection to her discussing their conversations with the grand jury, according to those officials briefed on the case.

Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation has centered on the question of whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally disclosed to the news media the identity of an undercover C.I.A. employee, Valerie Wilson, whose name was first published in July 2003 in a syndicated column by Robert F. Novak. A secondary focus has been whether government officials were truthful in their testimony to investigators and the grand jury.

Ms. Miller never wrote an article about Ms. Wilson. Mr. Fitzgerald has said that obtaining Ms. Miller's testimony was one of the last remaining objectives of his inquiry, and the deal with Ms. Miller suggests that the prosecutor may soon bring the long-running investigation to an end. It is unknown whether prosecutors will charge anyone in the Bush administration with wrongdoing.

The agreement that led to Ms. Miller's release followed intense negotiations between Ms. Miller; her lawyer, Robert Bennett; Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate; and Mr. Fitzgerald. The talks began with a telephone call from Mr. Bennett to Mr. Tate in late August. Ms. Miller spoke with Mr. Libby by telephone earlier this month as their lawyers listened, according to people briefed on the matter. It was then that Mr. Libby told Ms. Miller that she had his personal and voluntary waiver.

But the discussions were at times strained, with Mr. Libby and Mr. Tate asserting that they communicated their voluntary waiver to Ms. Miller's lawyers more than year ago, according to those briefed on the case. Mr. Libby wrote to Ms. Miller in mid-September, saying that he believed her lawyers understood that his waiver was voluntary.

Others involved in the case have said that Ms. Miller did not understand that the waiver had been freely given and did not accept it until she had heard from him directly.



As usual, Arianna Huffington has the the best take on this development here.

The claim that Miller “has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver” is laughable… and, indeed, has already been laughed at by 1) my increasingly frustrated sources within the Times 2) a chorus of voices in the blogosphere (see here, here, and here) and 3) (and much more significantly) Joseph Tate, Scooter Libby’s lawyer, who told the Washington Post yesterday that he informed Miller’s attorney, Floyd Abrams, a year ago that Libby’s waiver “was voluntary and that Miller was free to testify”.

Franklin to Plead Guilty

Seems like a good thing, but how much will we learn from Franklin going forward?

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A Pentagon analyst charged with providing classified information to an Israeli official and members of a pro-Israeli lobbying group will plead guilty, according to the U.S. District Court clerk's office.

Lawrence A. Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., was indicted in June on charges of leaking classified materials _ including information about potential attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq _ to two members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and an Israeli official.

Washington Post

Jewish Organizations Push for Action Against Iran

Here again we have a small group of people pushing for actions that will affect every American as well as much of the world.

Are the goals of these Jewish organizations in conflict with the interests of America as a whole? There are huge risks involved with this type of confrontation with Iran.

We have already lost many lives in Iraq and spent huge amounts of money. Many more Iraqis have been killed and we are installing what looks to be a theocracy. We have also damaged our standing in the world community.

It is also not unreasonable to wonder if the policies advocated by the neocons are, in the long run, actually in the interest of Israel. Certainly having an unstable Iraq as a neighbor will not bode well in the long term.

WASHINGTON —As Washington struggles to secure world support for slapping international sanctions on Iran over its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons, Jewish organization are stepping up their efforts to trigger a crackdown on Tehran.

Pro-Israel activists in Washington are pressing Congress to tighten American sanctions on Iran. And last week, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, Jewish communal leaders in New York urged world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to act against Tehran.

The Forward

Jew-sponsored Stock Car Booed Off Track

Didn't they do any market testing before they went ahead with this?

From The Onion by way of Antony Loewenstein

Corporation for Zionist Public Broadcasting

This is the danger of state run media. When the view of the state no longer matches your own, your tax dollars will be used against your interests.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Sept. 27
Halpern to chair public broadcasting
A former chairwoman of the Republican Jewish Coalition was chosen to lead the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Cheryl Halpern was elected by the corporation’s board Monday to replace Kenneth Tomlinson, whose term as chair expired.

As a board member, Halpern has been critical of Middle East reporting by National Public Radio, which the board oversees. “We have a duty to provide the public an explanation for the kind of work we do,” Halpern said in Washington after being elected. “And we must honor the principles clearly stated in our charter, to encourage objective and balanced programming.”

Halpern is a New Jersey attorney and real estate developer, and is an influential Republican donor. In addition to the RJC, she is active with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the Anti-Defamation League.

It is just a matter of time before we see a bombed out bus displayed and discussed on Sessame Street.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Conservative Debate on Iraq

David Frum, who is as responsible for the American lives and money lost in Iraq as anyone but the President, reviews The Right War? The Conservative Debate on Iraq in the WSJ here.

The divisions [within conservative circles] haven't healed since [Brent Scowcroft first opposed the Iraq war]. Lining up behind Gen. Scowcroft is a battalion of former ambassadors and uniformed military men, of Republican lobbyists and business executives. And cheering them on is a small but noisy coterie of neoisolationist writers who have effectively depicted George W. Bush's foreign policy as the work of a cabal of secretive "neoconservatives." [Yup]

But Frum, not able to argue on the merits, has to play the anti-Semite card.

Omit the accusations that the war was a Jewish plot foisted on a stupid president by scheming neoconservatives and you omit something important about the mental atmosphere in which the intramural conservative debate over Iraq has been conducted. The article by Mr. Buchanan that appears in "The Right War?" is a relatively anodyne one. But he also wrote this, in the March 23, 2003, issue of the American Conservative: "Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam? Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud." This line of thinking can be found only a little way below the surface among some of the most respectable war opponents.

It is perfectly respectable to claim some people had the interests of another nation in mind when they acted, if you can back those statements up with evidence. This has been done on this blog and elsewhere.

Individuals can and do have interests outside the United States. They can act on them and we may document and comment on those actions and biases.

The line is crossed only when accusation are made "the war was fought for the Jews", or "the Jews are not loyal to America." Frum desperately wants someone to make such a claim, but it is just not there.

Steve Sailer also exposes other misleading statements made by Frum in the review:

As a regular contributor to The American Conservative magazine, I'd [Steve Sailer] like to point out that I strongly advocated America's war on the Taliban, but was highly skeptical of the ill-considered Iraq adventure that Mr. Frum whooped for so ferociously.


Why does anyone still pay David Frum money for his opinions? How much harm can one man do to America, to the Republican Party, and to the Conservative movement and still have people listen to him?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Crushing Dissent

Antony Loewenstein is receiving heat from the Australian zionist community for his upcoming book on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

From The Age:

MEDDLER for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby championed the cause of asylum seekers in June when he declared: "They have the right of free speech." But a few months on, the Jewish Labor MP is selective about civil liberties, given he wants to muzzle Antony Loewenstein, the author of a book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It could be the spiritual insight Danby attained while hobnobbing with the Dalai Lama that has empowered him to urge the boycotting of a book he hasn't read and which isn't yet published — it is due out in May. The saga has drained the ink reserves of the Australian Jewish News, with Danby attacking former Mount Scopus schoolmate Louise Adler, chief of Melbourne University Press: "If, God forbid, it is published, don't give them a dollar."

It is remarkable, really. All discussion of Israel that is not favorable must be banned, harassed, boycotted or otherwise threatened out of existence. For example, the original blogger for this website suddenly found the need to delete the entire thing away, without any explanation. He has not been heard from since.

One can only imagine what type of pressure was brought to bare on him.

I have read Antony's blog and find nothing whatsoever to be controversial. Anyway, it is a good time to go to his blog and find out what is going on.

Antony Loewnstein


Counterpunch has published a summary of the situation from Antony: When the Truth Came to Town.

The intentions of my book are ambitious. I believe that the Israel/Palestine conflict is the defining foreign affairs issue of our time and yet remains woefully misunderstood. Danby and numerous pro-Israel supporters are clearly confronted by me posing questions about Australia's pro-Israel media, the Howard government's relationship with Israel and America, the role of the pro-Israel lobby, America's relationship with the Jewish state, my experiences in the Middle East, including through the Palestinian occupied territories and Jewish and Arab voices of dissent. I am a Jew who doesn't believe in the concept of a Jewish state, but then, I also don't believe in the idea of an Islamic or Christian entity either. [Consistency, what a concept!] There is surely room for a non-Zionist Jew to write about the true cost of Zionism both on Israel and the Diaspora.

Apparently some people think there isn't room for such a discussion.

Is AIPAC Targeting Lynn Woolsey?

This comment claims that AIPAC and other zionist organizations may be targeting Democrat Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (6th District, Marin County) in the upcoming primary.

Woolsey is being targeted because two votes she made were not "approved" by AIPAC.

Her challenger is Joe Nation. Joe's policy position on Iraq can be found here. He claims to oppose the Iraq war, but he wants a "private" timetable for withdrawal. In other words, he is in no hurry to get out of Iraq.

As of June 30th, Nation has received substantial funding for someone challenging an incumbent -- around $150,000 -- mostly from lawyers, investors and real estate types. Nation has not received much out of state funding, which would indicate a national group such as AIPAC has focused on this race.

Funding by Jewish individuals (obviously just a guestimate using last names) is significant, but not overwhelming.

You can see the list of 138 contribuors to Joe Nations's campaign as of June 30 here.

My sense is that there is at least one group that wants Lynn Woolsey removed. An incumbent just doesn't get this kind of well financed challenger without having stepped on some toes.

This will be an interesting race to watch.

Lynn Woolsey for Congress

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ethnic Manipulation has a very interesting blog entry about a "rapid response alert" from the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco. The alert claims that an antiwar protest and Nancy Pelosi's office is actually an anti-Israel rally.

The e-mail also falsely attributes certain anti-Israel statements to the protesting groups.

Justin then wonders what this group is doing fronting as a shill for the war party.

It's interesting how the War Party lies, and manipulates ethnic-nationalist feeings to its advantage -- when, in reality, the overwhelming majority of Bay Area people of the Jewish faith support the antiwar position. This email is a fraud perpetrated on the Jewish community. What in the name of all that's holy is the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Bay Area doing acting as a shill for the War Party? An interesting question, which you might want to ask them yourself. Just call them up. Here's the number: 415-957-1551

Another way to look at it, however, is that someone that has connections to the JCRC actually believes that a protest against the Iraq war is a protest against the interests of Israel. We have seen that type of paranoia on this blog.

The overall membership of the JCRC does not hold this position, but someone does, and that someone has enough influence to get a fraudulent e-mail sent out.

Blaming Iran for Basra

You can see why Glaivester thinks the neocons have become predictable here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

AIPAC keeping Democrats away?

Is AIPAC telling democrats to stay away from the Sept 24th Washington DC protest? That is the claim below.

I would like to see some corroboration, but the lack of Democratic Politians at this event is certainly puzzling.

September 24, 2005 -- Anti-war protest in Washington, DC today. Very few Democratic members of Congress to appear. Reason: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), according to Democratic insiders on Capitol Hill, put out the word that any member of Congress who appeared at the protest, where some speakers were to represent pro-Palestinian views, would face the political wrath of AIPAC. According to Democratic sources on the Hill, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts was the chief conveyor of the AIPAC warning to his colleagues. At the time of this report, three members of Congress were to address the anti-war protestors: Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), John Conyers (D-MI), and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). The word is that AIPAC will direct its massive campaign support to Woolsey's neo-con and pro-Iraq war primary challenger, California State Assemblyman Joe Nation, who has strong connections to the Rand Corporation, one of the Pentagon's chief war-making think tanks. Woolsey represents California's Marin and Sonoma counties.

Wayne Madsen Report

Friday, September 23, 2005


Someone at the American Enterprise Institute didn't get the memo that America's interests, and lives, are not of primary concern.

A new cost-benefit analysis by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies on "The Economic Costs of the War in Iraq" concludes that the Iraq War is likely to end up costing over twice what it's worth[.]



Conflict Over Iraq in Jewish Community

The Jewish Week has superb article on the conflicts within the Jewish community with regard to Iraq war. That are so many good quotes in it that it is difficult to pick something out.

The article notes, and I have stated many times on this blog, that the majority of Jews were against the war in Iraq. That said, failure to acknowledge, or at least question, the fact that some people allowed their ethnic and religious background to influence their actions prior to the invasion of Iraq is problematic.

Also, the article misrepresents Israel's position on the war in Iraq (against it).

Nonetheless, it is a good piece worth reading.

Many Jews “look in disappointment and despair at the insularity and self-preoccupations of the organized Jewish community and of many of its synagogues,” he said. “They see their Christian neighbors deeply involved as Christians in protesting the war and they feel once again that Jews seem to care about nothing but their own narrow self-interest.

You have got to respect that kind of honesty. I hope we have more in the upcoming weeks and months.

Jewish Week

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Russia and China Warn the US on Iran

It is both strange and sad to think that Russia and China are the current forces for stability in the world, rather than the US. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Under Bush, the US has become essentially a renegade nation, attacking one nation on trumped up evidence, and threatening others on even weaker accusations. In this light, clearly China and Russia represent the voice of reason.

Both Russia and China, which as permanent, veto-wielding members of the Council could block any action, warned the West against antagonising Iran. "While Iran is cooperating with the IAEA, while it is not enriching uranium and observing a moratorium, while IAEA inspectors are working in the country, it would be counter-productive to report this question to the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.


And Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing told an EU team headed by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw at the United Nations that sending the Iran issue to the Security Council could be counter-productive, a European participant said.


Neocon View of the World

Neocons believe that they have "the one true answer." As such, any different "answer" is demonized. It always comes down to right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, FDR vs. Hitler.

I notice this type of thinking more and more. For example, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have published Kremlin Rising, a book about Vladamir Putin's Russia. It clearly puts Russia in the "them" category.

Mark Ames of the Russian publication Exile discusses the book:

[Baker and Glassers' tone took] a gradual turn towards the darkly foreboding right in step with the Bush Administration's decision to re-evaluate their friendship with Putin -- which is to say, sometime after the arrest of pro-American oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Baker and Glasser returned to Washington and quickly reworked their articles into a book, Kremlin Rising, that was released this past summer. And it is this book which may, like little else produced in the past five years, condemn Russia to pariah status for the remainder of Putin's political career, and perhaps beyond.

Is painting Russia in a dark light really helpful? Can we apply our standards, which have faults of their own, to Russia?

Mark discusses the complete background of the "heros" in Kremlin Rising, which shows that they are far from heros. He summarizes by saying:

Put in its proper context, in the aftermath of the crackdown on Yukos and the generally hostile atmosphere towards the remaining oligarchs, Remchukov's quote [about Russians living in fear ] takes on an entirely different meaning than in the half-filled context offered by Baker-Glasser, who, it should be added, must have known these details [about the oligarchs]. So what is Remchukov's fear? This isn't about poets and dissidents fearful for their lives like in the 30s; this is about one clan of savage thieves afraid that their loot might be stolen by another clan of thieves, sort of like in the '90s.

These situations are rarely so black and white. The oligarchs make Enron look like very small potatoes.

We also see there is a long history to the misguided story line in Kremlin Rising:

Before the 1998 collapse, Baker-Glasser's predecessors at the Post's Moscow bureau, Fred Hiatt (now the Opinion Page Editor) and David Hoffman (who wrote Oligarchs, a whitewash of the Yeltsin-era oligarch class) pushed the neo-liberal Party Line about a Russia transforming for the better, led by courageous "free-market liberals" like Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. After the collapse, when it was painfully clear that these people had engineered the largest plundering of a nation in modern history -- indeed, Chubais even bragged to Kommersant after the collapse, "My ikh kinuli," or "We ripped them off," "them" meaning the West -- the antithetical frame was abandoned, and everyone who had collaborated in setting it up did their best to cover their tracks.

The point is that neocon thinking lives outside the tight knit world of the neocons themselves. You need to watch for it. When someone tells you that a world leader is the next Hitler or Stalin, be skeptical, lock up your children, and check your wallet.

I highly recommend you read the entire article from Mark Aimes here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

John Bolton and Plamegate

Arianna Huffington continues her excellent coverage of "Plamegate". The latest leak provides a connection to John Bolton by way of Fred Fleitz.

The connection to John Bolton should come as no suprise as we know that he has vistied Judith Miller of the New York Times in jail. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see some of the dots get connected.

Over the years, Fleitz earned a reputation as Bolton's chief enforcer, a swashbuckler willing to go the extra mile to make the intel fit the desired policy -- even if it meant knocking a few heads. And his dual role (serving what he called his "two bosses") put him in the position to pick up -- and deliver to Bolton -- all kinds of information… including, perhaps, the spousal standing of a certain CIA analyst named Valerie. Even though Plame was in operations and Fleitz was in WINPAC, he obviously was in a position to know.

Huffington Post

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Democrats Have Some Work to Do.

I can't recall such a disconnect between the people governing the country and the citizens. With some 57% of the country thinking the war was a mistake, the percentage of Democrats against the war must be off the charts.

Yet, we hear this about Chuck Schumer:

According to my sources, the meeting with Schumer [and Cindy Sheehan] did not go well, to begin with, because he refused to meet with her, and instead sent an aide. She asked the aide if Senator Schumer would help in the effort to bring this war to an end, and the aide replied that: "Senator Schumer thinks this war is good for America." According to the source, Sheehan walked out, remarking "Wel[l], I guess this means Schumer thinks my son's death was good for America." Or words to that effect.

Hillary is similarly supportive of the war.

It is hard to imagine Democrats picking a presidential candiditate that is supportive of the war. Something has got to give.


US Aid to Israel

Interesting article on US aid to Israel here.

Israel, whose troubles arise solely from its unwillingness to give back land it seized in the 1967 war in return for peace with its neighbors, does not fit those criteria. In fact, Israel's 1995 per capita gross domestic product was $15,800. That put it below Britain at $19,500 and Italy at $18,700 and just above Ireland at $15,400 and Spain at $14,300.

All four of those European countries have contributed a very large share of immigrants to the U.S., yet none has organized an ethnic group to lobby for U.S. foreign aid. Instead, all four send funds and volunteers to do economic development and emergency relief work in other less fortunate parts of the world.

It gets a little more complex here:

Further, friends of Israel never tire of saying that Israel has never defaulted on repayment of a U.S. government loan. It would be equally accurate to say Israel has never been required to repay a U.S. government loan. The truth of the matter is complex, and designed to be so by those who seek to conceal it from the U.S. taxpayer.

Most U.S. loans to Israel are forgiven, and many were made with the explicit understanding that they would be forgiven before Israel was required to repay them. By disguising as loans what in fact were grants, cooperating members of Congress exempted Israel from the U.S. oversight that would have accompanied grants. On other loans, Israel was expected to pay the interest and eventually to begin repaying the principal. But the so-called Cranston Amendment, which has been attached by Congress to every foreign aid appropriation since 1983, provides that economic aid to Israel will never dip below the amount Israel is required to pay on its outstanding loans. In short, whether U.S. aid is extended as grants or loans to Israel, it never returns to the Treasury.


Simon Wiesenthal Dead at 96

Discussion at Jews Sans Frontieres here.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Full Circle

The Iran situation is too complex to comment on for now. We will just have to wait and see if/when the US is willing to go to the security counsel and how good they will be at twisting arms.

Meanwhile it seems like Israel has gone full circle from hunting international war criminals to creating and harboring them.

From the JPost:

Israel's Justice Ministry has set aside about US$1 million ( 817,260) for legal aid to army officers who could face war crimes charges in European courts, an official said Monday.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni met Sunday with officials from the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Shin Bet security services after Doron Almog, a retired general, could not enter London for fear police would arrest him. The arrest warrant against Almog has since been canceled.

Livni set aside the special legal budget and established a team to study European laws - such as the British legislation - that allow countries to charge people with war crimes even if they were not committed against their nationals, said Shai Ben-Maor, Livni's adviser.

The real goal, however, is to persuade European governments to amend or overturn such laws, because Israel believes they are being used for political purposes, he said. [Ah, political purposes.]

Complaints have also reportedly been filed with London police against army chief Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and his predecessor, Moshe Ya'alon.

Best comment I have read on this:

As for what can it all mean - it means that Israel opposes the laws and methods used to try, convict and hang people at Nuremberg; also it is providing justifications to those who claim that Hitler and his cronies were hard done by.

We report; you decide.

Friday, September 16, 2005

India Not Crazy Enough

India won't go along with the neocon madness.

It would seem that the neocon cabal has nowhere left to turn. There is no more money, virtually no more friendly nations except Israel (with friends like that...), and little public support at home.

Why am I still nervous?

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 15 -- Despite an intense lobbying effort at the most senior levels, the Bush administration failed to persuade three key countries Thursday to back the United States in pressuring Iran to give up sensitive aspects of its nuclear energy program, diplomats and officials said.

Russia, China and India either publicly or privately turned down U.S. requests to help report Iran's case next week to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose economic sanctions or an oil embargo.

The administration has the reluctant support of the European Union for the first time in more than two years, but that will not be enough. Without backing from one of the three others, U.S. officials indicated they were preparing to abandon, for now, a quest to move the matter into the council.


U.S. and foreign diplomats said India, which recently forged a major new security and nuclear alliance with the United States, could not be persuaded to join the U.S. strategy. India, which has close economic, political and cultural ties to Iran, has said it supports Iran's right to a nuclear energy program.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More of the Same

I don't want to make this a blog about Israel, but when I see material that is interesting I feel I should post it.

From Gideon Levy in Haaretz:

About 500 Palestinian families once lived here; now barely 50 are left. What is going on here, far from the public eye, isn't just a cruel 'transfer,' but a reign of terror imposed by the settlers on the handful of residents who haven't left yet. This is where they built a settler stronghold that grew to frightening proportions, a multi-story building constructed with state sponsorship, surrounded now by a virtual ghost town, save for the small group of residents still clinging to their homes despite all the horror visited upon them by these violent lords of the land, these unwanted neighbors.


He shows his guests a videotape filmed here four months ago. You won't see it on any of the Israeli television stations: The images are those of a pogrom. Here a row of schoolgirls from the Cordoba elementary school is returning home, young girls dressed in the same school uniform, while young settlers - female ones in particular - wait in ambush for them every day to violently attack them. You see the schoolgirls fleeing, and the settler girls kicking them and throwing stones and garbage at them. The soldiers watch the scene with bored expressions, though one can see them smile sometimes.

Now the mini-pogrom arrives at the home of Dr. Taysir Zehadi. Hundreds of settlers in white Shabbat shirts, as befitting the festive occasion, break into his house and wreak havoc and terror. The desperate doctor tries to call for help on the telephone as hundreds of settlers close in on the house. Finally, they break down the gate and burst inside. Soldiers from the Nahal Brigade and a company of Border Police look on without lifting a finger. Now the settlers are inside, wrecking whatever they can get their hands on, as the doctor watches and hoarsely describes the mayhem as he speaks into the telephone receiver. "Everything is destroyed," he says quietly from inside his home, which a gate and iron gratings couldn't protect.

After the settlers vent their anger in the doctor's house, they leave, smiling, on the way to the next target. No one stops them. Except for the iron door of neighbor Ayoub Awawi. The door doesn't give in to them and they remain outside. Meanwhile, the camera shows the destruction in the doctor's home: From the solar panels on the roof to the potted plants in the living room, everything is smashed and shattered.

I don't believe most American Jews, let alone your average American, understand what is going on Israel. At least I hope they don't know about it.

I myself never thought about Israel much before 9/11. I imagine it is the same for many others.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sad Story

Sad story about the consequences of the denial of the right to civil marriage in Israel.

"I want to stand under the huppa, I want to be married by a rabbi and I want to hear the seven blessings. I want a Jewish ceremony."

The problem is, the only wedding that is legally recognised for Jews in Israel is the Orthodox ceremony and this is a wedding service [the couple will not] accept.

Like many other secular Israelis, they find the ceremony archaic and humiliating

Only 20% of Israel's population are Orthodox Jews, yet the Rabbinate, the chief council of Orthodox rabbis, has ultimate authority over Jewish weddings, funerals and all other areas where religion and daily life come together.


Irit must declare she is a virgin, she must not talk during the ceremony and she cannot sign her own wedding contract.

"I respect Irit as my equal," says Eli. "I will not start our married life with a ritual that demeans her."

But Israel is one of only a handful of countries which still has no civil marriage, so there is no easy alternative.

Should the US put pressure on Israel to show more respect the rights of women? It would probably be easy to find some neocon to agree to that, if it was a Muslim nation and Muslim law was the source of the offending policy.

No Civil Wedding


This post on Robert Lindsay's blog notes that the widely condemed Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935 also prohibited intermarriage (and sexual intercourse) between Jews and Gentiles.

There certainly was something breathtaking in the naïveté with which the prosecution (during the trial of Adolf Eichmann, famous Nazi war criminal, in Israel in 1961) denounced the infamous Nazi Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which had prohibited intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Germans.

The better informed among the correspondents were well aware of the irony [with Israeli law], but they did not mention it in their reports.

More Intolerance in Israel?

It appears that the Palestinians are not the only ones to suffer at the hands of the Orthodox in Israel.

Messianic Jews have called for international protests against violations of religious freedom in Israel. Orthodox Jews have harassed a congregation in the desert town of Arad in Southern Israel for more than 18 months.

Messianic Jews are the "Jews for Jesus" people.

As ethnic Jews, they certainly don't want to drive Israel into the sea. If not, what threat to they present to Israel? The threat is that of conversion, apparently.

Lipsker told the journalist that because two residents of Arad had converted, the Messianics had broken the law. The Messianics responded with a police complaint against Lipsker, local Shepardi Chief Rabbi Yosef Elbo, and the ultra-orthodox anti-missionary organisation Yad L’achi.

Converting Jews in Israel. Not something I would want to try, but they must be having some success given the hostile response.

Also, is Lipsker right, that they have somehow broken the law?

And as we have seen before, intimidation or violence are tools these people are willing to employ.

The most publicized attack took place last November [2003] when the Holon apartment of Jehovah's Witnesses Yossi and Sima Levy was broken into by assailants who spray-painted death threats and swastikas [?] all over the walls, slashed their furniture, and destroyed their books.

So, where are these shared values that Israel has with the US? Certainly not in the area of religious freedom.



The Iran Trap

Scott Ritter warns the Euros (and us) about how the neocons will try to get the US to invade Iran.
What the Europeans - and the member nations of the EU-3 in particular - fail to recognise is that the Bush administration's plan for Iran does not consist of three separate plans, but rather one plan composed of three phases leading to the inevitability of armed conflict with Iran and the termination of the theocratic regime of the mullahs currently residing in Tehran.
This three step plan is:
  1. Making unreasonable demands of Iran, dooming diplomatic negotiations to failure.
  2. Go to the UN Security Council and seek sanctions which are also expected to fail.
  3. Claim that all options have been explored and force is now necessary.

Ritter goes on to give his take on how to aviod this senario.
The only chance the world has of avoiding a second disastrous US military adventure in the Middle East is for the EU-3 to step back from its policy of doing the bidding of the US, and to confront not only Iran on the matter of its nuclear programme, but also the larger issue of American policies of regional transformation that represent the greatest threat to Middle East security and stability today.


Read the rest here.

Monday, September 12, 2005

IDF General Escapes Arrest

It is too bad we don't see items like this reported in the US press.

General (res.) Doron Almog, former head of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Command, escaped arrest Sunday by the London police's anti-terrorist and war crimes unit, when he remained on an aircraft that had landed in Heathrow airport and returned with it to Israel several hours later.

Almog had arrived in London on an El-Al flight. Israel Ambassador Zvi Hefetz learned of a plan to arrest him for allegedly perpetrating war crimes during the intifada, and quickly informed Yaki Dayan, head of the political department in Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's bureau.

One would think this would have been a bigger incident between the U.K. and Israel, or that the US would have made a statement.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Judith Miller Cracking

The AP and Huffington Post are reporting that Judith Miller is getting a little tired of being in jail and may be looking for a way to disclose her source while saving some face.

Well, according to a source with inside knowledge, it's because there are definitely negotiations under way. "Reuters buried the lede," said my source. "But it's there if you read between the lines... Abrams says that Miller 'made a promise and, unless properly released from her promise by her source, she has no choice but to continue to take the position that she's taking.' He's giving her more outs than an extra-inning baseball game. 'Unless properly released from her promise...' In other words, she's bargaining. All this time she's theoretically been standing on principle, and now she's come down from her principled perch and is bargaining."

The key to this change is the lack of public outcry over her jailing. In fact, the public seems to think she deserves jail, despite the New York Times' efforts to generate public support for her cause.

And Fitzgerald could prosecute her after his investigation closes, meaning there is potentially no end in site for her jail time.

Any disclosure by Ms. Miller would only add to the problems of the Bush administration, which is a good thing. It would also give us more insight into how the Bush public relations machine was operating during the pre-invasion period.

Huffington Post

Colin Powell on WMD Blot

Colin Powell comes about as close as he can to saying he was duped like many others in this country. So if you are someone who came around late don't feel so bad.

Powell calls pre-Iraq U.N. speech a 'blot' on his record

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday his prewar speech to the United Nations accusing Iraq of harboring weapons of mass destruction was a "blot" on his record.

"I'm the one who presented it to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now," Powell said in an interview with Barbara Walters on ABC-News. (Related story: The story of WMDs that weren't)

The presentation by the soldier-diplomat to the world body in February 2003 lent considerable credibility to President Bush's case against Iraq and for going to war to remove President Saddam Hussein.

In the speech, Powell said he had relied on information he received at Central Intelligence Agency briefings. He said Thursday that then-director George Tenet "believed what he was giving to me was accurate."

But, Powell said, "the intelligence system did not work well."

"There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at the time that some of those sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up," Powell said.

"That devastated me," he said.

Powell in the TV interview also disputed the Bush administration's linking of Saddam's regime with terrorists.

He said he had never seen a connection between Baghdad and the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. "I can't think otherwise, because I'd never seen evidence to suggest there was one," he said.

Still, Powell said that while he has always been a "reluctant warrior" he supported Bush on going to war the month after his U.N. speech. "When the president decided that it was not tolerable for this regime to remain in violation of all those U.N. resolutions I am right there with him with the use of force," Powell said.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Tipping Point

Robert Dreyfuss thinks momentum is still on the side of those who wish to get out of Iraq.

John Warner, R.-Va., one of the Senate’s old bulls is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and no neoconservative. As first order of business, Warned has announced plans to drag Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld onto the carpet for hearings on the mess in Iraq. Significantly, Warner warned that public opinion on Iraq is approaching the “tipping point,” after which support for the war in Iraq would no longer be sustainable. "The level of concern is, I think, gradually rising," he told The New York Times. "I don't see that the Congress is going to suddenly pull back like in the days of Vietnam. It is the desire of the Congress to continue to work with and support the administration. But there is always a
tipping point."

If have have ever felt like calling you Congressman or Sentator, this month would be a very good one. Also, consider making a contribution to a pol who represents your views on this issue.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

More on Iranian Nuclear Program

More discussion on the Iran Nuclear program from The Nation.

Beneath the dispute between Iran and the European Union Troika (EU-3) on uranium enrichment rests a far more fundamental issue: Do Third World countries have the right to develop and use all nuclear technology, including enrichment, as authorized by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), or not?

Iran says, categorically, "Yes," and the 116-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) agrees. The EU-3--consisting of Britain, France and Germany--does not deny the right. But it wants Tehran to give up its prerogative forever in return for the Europeans' commitment to build nuclear power plants in Iran and upgrade trade ties with the Islamic Republic. As a result, when the last round of the Iran/EU-3 negotiations started last November, the two sides ended up at a stalemate.

The Iranian Offer and the EU-3 Counter-Offer.

The Iranians were focused on providing the EU-3 with "the objective guarantees" of the peaceful nature of their nuclear program. In March they submitted detailed proposals for strict monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Iran's nuclear program. The regime they proposed went further than the provisions of the Additional Protocol on the NPT that they had signed in December 2003. EU negotiators received the Iranian document without officially accepting it.

"The Framework for a Long-Term Agreement," which the Europeans proposed to Iran in early August, made its offer of commercial incentives and building of nuclear electric generating plants conditional on Tehran's permanent renunciation of its rights under the NPT. At the same time, they demanded that Tehran promise not to leave the NPT under any circumstances--which North Korea had done.

Iran rejected the European package. It resumed its work at the plant near Isfahan, where uranium oxide (called yellowcake) is converted to uranium hexafluoride gas--but only under the watchful eyes of the IAEA inspectors. This gas is the feedstock for centrifuges that enrich uranium to varying degrees: 4 percent for power plants, 20 percent for research reactors and 90 percent or higher for weapons.

The Predictable Response from the US.

This was a clear breach of Iran's agreement to suspend "all uranium enrichment related activities" while talks with the EU-3 continued, cried the Europeans.

They threatened to take Iran to the United Nations Security Council. It was an empty threat. Only the IAEA governors can do so.

So now the EU-3 falls back to the original claim of NPT violation, a claim that we now know to be false.

In their agitated state of mind, the EU-3 negotiators failed to realize that the only valid basis for hauling Iran before the United Nations Security Council was its breach of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime as enshrined in the NPT. In its latest statement on the subject, the IAEA said that it had not found any evidence that Iran was engaged in a nuclear weapons program, which is banned under the NPT. (Later, the IAEA announced that its tests vindicated Iran's claims that traces of enriched uranium found two years earlier by its inspectors at the Iranian nuclear facilities were from the imported equipment, believed to be of Pakistani origin.)

Not surprisingly, Washington dismissed the IAEA findings as meaningless. [On what grounds?]

And the results are (suprise!) more US isolation from the rest of the world.

Among those who remained coolly cognizant of the facts on the ground were fifteen IAEA governors belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement. The NAM includes such heavyweights as Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

At the IAEA's emergency session, Rajmah Hussein of Malaysia, the current NAM chairman, reiterated NAM's position that all countries have a basic and inalienable right to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes--the prime objective for which the IAEA was established in 1953 at the initiative of US President Dwight Eisenhower.

By design or happenstance, Iran has emerged as a champion of the developing world with the courage and conviction to stand up to the Western world. This has won it quiet admiration by NAM governors, who fear that the limitations imposed on Iran could be extended to them eventually.

Little wonder that Ali Larijani, the newly appointed secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that he welcomed talks with all IAEA governors and NAM members.

This went down badly with both the EU-3 and the United States. It is clear by now that further pressure on Tehran to abdicate its right would cause a major fissure between the West and the developing world.

The Bush administration has little credibility left. Getting us into Iran will be difficult, but that won't stop them from giving it everything the've got.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Sharon's Plan

I think this post contains interesting ideas about what Sharon has planned for Israel. Could a population transfer be in the works?

Sharon probably believes that while it would be politically infeasible to execute the population transfer of the entire Arab population of the West Bank, as has occasionally been considered since the days of avowed Jewish fascist Vladimir Jabotinsky, it would be politically feasible to transfer those Arabs residing in the area indicated as retained by Israel if Israel simultaneously transferred Jews out of the area indicated as returned to Jordan.

Such a double transfer, while it would of course attract opposition, could not be depicted to (the reasonable, i.e. swing and therefore decisive elements of) world opinion as a one-sided act of aggression. It would largely take on the color of a mutual sacrifice by both sides for the sake of obtaining a peaceful long-term outcome. (Frankly, the more Jews in orange shirts howl in misery about it, the more fair it will appear on the world's TV screens.) Although it would of course create massive protest from the usual suspects, such protest would not rise to the catastrophic levels that a one-sided (Arabs only) transfer would. It would not be likely to trigger general war in the Middle East. It could be plausibly represented to the world as a mutual "exchange of populations" like those that have been carried out before, as between Turkey and Greece in 1923 ( and to rectify ethnic German minorities in Central Europe after WWII.

This is something to be aware of as events unfold.