Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush with Talmud



Israel Withholding Taxes, Not "Aid"

goods arriving at Israeli ports but bound for the occupied territories. You see the occupied territories have no "ports" through which to receive goods directly, so Israel must "collect" the duty for them

The recommendation for a "diet," along with the edicts Israel is poised to impose on the Palestinian people, should have aroused a hue and cry among Israeli society. Even if we put aside the awful political inanity of pushing Hamas into a corner instead of giving it a chance to change its ways, and even if we ignore the fact that Israel plans to confiscate tax revenues that do not belong to it, the policy of the Kadima government raises questions about its humanity. Where do we get the right to abuse an entire people this way? Is it only because of our great power and the fact that the U.S. allows us to run wild and do whatever we want?

This must violate some international law.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sumner Ousted for Attempts to Silence Critics of Israel

I originally thought Harvard President Summers was ousted primarily for his comments on women and science. I have since learned that criticism of Israel by the faculty was also an issue.

Here we see Alan Deshowitz describe Summer's attempt to label criticism of Israel as Anti-Semitism. Of course, Alan supports the President's attempts to falsely assign this label, but what else would you expect from Mr. Dershowitz?

The academic coup d'etat engineered by hard left members of the faculty of arts and sciences against Harvard's president Lawrence Summers has broad implications beyond Cambridge and even beyond the Ivy League. It represents a major victory for hard-left censors over reasoned discourse about controversial issues. The political correctness cops won a big victory, and reasoned discourse suffered a significant defeat.
If you don't believe me, just listen to the chief architect of the putsch, Professor J. Lorand Matory, who introduced the original resolution of no confidence that eventually led to Summers's ouster. Taking a victory lap last night on a local PBS talk show, Matory explained some of the reasons why he insisted on getting rid of the controversial and sometimes acerbic president. Listen carefully to Matory's words:

"He [Summers] was telling us we should be more patriotic. He was telling us that people who insist that Palestinians have rights should be quiet because they're being anti-Semitic."

The idea that a president should be fired because he believes in patriotism should shock every American. Moreover, Summers never defined patriotism as uncritical support for one's government. He himself was highly critical of many governmental policies and urged others to express criticism as well.

Now listen to what Summers actually said about Israel and the Palestinians, and you will see that Matory's statement about what "he was telling us" is an outright and categorical lie. Here's what Summers actually said:

"Of course academic communities should be and always will be places that allow any viewpoint to be expressed. And certainly there is much to be debated about the Middle East and much in Israel's foreign and defense policy that can be and should be vigorously challenged.

"But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities."

"Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent."

[This is just a shameless attempt to silence criticism of Israel with the accusation of anti-Semitism. By definition, something can't be anti-Semitic "in effect" as anti-Semitism is a act that requires a certain intent. If anyone knows this Alan does.]

Summers then gave several examples of academics who have "called for an end to support for [only] Israeli researches," who force Israeli scholars off the board of an international literature journal, and who "single out Israel for divestiture." He also pointed to students who equate Hitler and Sharon and who raise money for organizations that support terrorism. This is a far cry from demanding silence from those "who insist that Palestinians have rights."

The Matorys of Harvard now feel empowered. Indeed when I confronted Matory after his television show and offered $1000 to his favorite charity if he could prove that Summers had ever said that people who insisted that Palestinians have rights should be quiet, he began shouting at me that I was a terrible professor and suggesting that I was not qualified to teach at Harvard.


Huffington Post

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jokes from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office

Can you imagine the reaction to a similar statement from a US cabinet member?

The Hamas team had not laughed so much in a long time. The team, headed by the prime minister's advisor Dov Weissglas and including the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, the director of the Shin Bet and senior generals and officials, convened for a discussion with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on ways to respond to the Hamas election victory. Everyone agreed on the need to impose an economic siege on the Palestinian Authority, and Weissglas, as usual, provided the punch line: "It's like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won't die," the advisor joked, and the participants reportedly rolled with laughter. And, indeed, why not break into laughter and relax when hearing such a successful joke? If Weissglas tells the joke to his friend Condoleezza Rice, she would surely laugh too.

But Weissglas' wisecrack was in particularly poor taste. Like the thunder of laughter it elicited, it again revealed the extent to which Israel's intoxication with power drives it crazy and completely distorts its morality. With a single joke, the successful attorney and hedonist from Lilenblum Street, Tel Aviv demonstrated the chilling heartlessness that has spread throughout the top echelon of Israel's society and politics.


This was not the first joke or contribution by Weissglas to the racist and lord-like public discourse vis-a-vis the Palestinians. His true face was already revealed about a year and a half ago in the famous interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz, when he stated,"And we educated the world to understand that there is no one to talk to. And we received a no-one-to-talk-to certificate ... The certificate will be revoked only when this-and-this happens - when Palestine becomes Finland." This was the peak of cynicism: The man who was involved up to his neck in the Annex Research affair - the shell company for channeling huge contributions to the prime minister - is conditioning negotiations with the Palestinians on transforming them into the country ranked as least corrupt in a survey in which Israel was ranked in the unenviable 26th place.


Did We Say Democracy?

The Bush admin doesn't want just any democracy in Iraq. They want a democracy in Iraq that comes "right" decisions.

The US and Britain are pressuring Iraq's dominant Shia community to relinquish two key ministries in negotiations for a new government, as the country was hit by a wave of bombings that killed at least 24 people.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned yesterday that Washington might cut aid to the Iraqis if the new government included sectarian politicians, pointing out that the US had spent "billions" in building up the police and the army.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Not Really a War, is it.

Is there even a pretext left that this "war" is about US security?

The Bush administration has outsourced the operation of six of the nation’s largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country with troubling ties to international terrorism. The $6.8 billion sale would mean that the state-controlled Dubai Ports World would control “the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.”

We are putting six major ports under the control of a country that had citizen's involved in 9/11?

This "war" is about Israeli security, pure and simple. The administration's actions belie that fact that they really don't believe the US is in danger.

Think Progress

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Were Israelis involved in Abu Ghriab

In light of the new Abu Ghraib photos being released it is worth revisiting some of the stories that came out with the first batch of pictures.

One involved the presence of Israeli citizens and Israeli "consultants" at Abu Ghraib.

From Counterpunch:

With mounting evidence that a shadowy group of former Israeli Defense Force and General Security Service (Shin Bet) Arabic-speaking interrogators were hired by the Pentagon under a classified "carve out" sub-contract to brutally interrogate Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, one only needs to examine the record of abuse of Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners in Israel to understand what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld meant, when referring to new, yet to be released photos and videos, he said, "if these images are released to the public, obviously its going to make matters worse."

According to a political appointee within the Bush administration and U.S. intelligence sources, the interrogators at Abu Ghraib included a number of Arabic-speaking Israelis who also helped U.S. interrogators develop the "R2I" (Resistance to Interrogation) techniques. Many of the torture methods were developed by the Israelis over many years of interrogating Arab prisoners on the occupied West Bank and in Israel itself.


Although it is still largely undocumented if any of the contractor named in the report of General Antonio Taguba were associated with the Israeli military or intelligence services, it is noteworthy that one, John Israel, who was identified in the report as being employed by both CACI International of Arlington, Virginia, and Titan, Inc., of San Diego, may not have even been a U.S. citizen. The Taguba report states that Israel did not have a security clearance, a requirement for employment as an interrogator for CACI.


In an even more bizarre twist, the Philadelphia Daily News identified a former expatriate public relations specialist for the government of South Australia in Adelaide named Steve Stefanowicz as possibly being the same person identified in the Taguba report. In 2000, Stefanowicz, who grew up in the Philadelphia and Allentown areas, left for Australia.

There is also reference to these two individuals in a NYT article posted here

Counter Punch


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Plame's Iran Connection

Very interesting report from Raw Story about Valerie Plame's connection to Iran.

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame's work. Their accounts suggest that Plame's outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran's burgeoning nuclear program.

While many have speculated that Plame was involved in monitoring the nuclear proliferation black market, specifically the proliferation activities of Pakistan's nuclear "father," A.Q. Khan, intelligence sources say that her team provided only minimal support in that area, focusing almost entirely on Iran.

Justin Raimondo thinks this was part of a plan. He suggests that the combination of Valerie Plame's exposure and the leak of the cracking of Iran's encryption scheme (by the US) suggests a planned "blinding" of US intelligence with regard to Iran.

He further backs this up by noting that there were attempts to connect Iran with Uranium shipments as far back as 2003, and that blinding US intelligence would make this scheme harder to expose.

Read the entire article here.

Raw Story

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ami v Finkelstein

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami Debates Outspoken Professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process at "Democracy Now."

Democracy Now

Hat Tip: Jews sans frontieres

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Forward Discusses Israel's Role in Iraq War

You may have read elsewhere about an Israeli General's suggestion that post Saddam Iraq will be less favorable to Israel than when the dictator held power. The Forward discusses this issue and mentions James Risen's (NYT) book 'State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.'

The portion of Risen's book that is discussed deals with Israeli involvement in the pre-Iraq war intellegence build up.

Frankly, I had thought there was some doubt, or even denial, regarding Israeli involvement. This puts that doubt to rest.

"In a section on the prewar jockeying in Washington, Risen describes the role of Paul Wolfowitz, then undersecretary of defense. Wolfowitz, he writes, found the CIA 'insufficiently hawkish,' believed it 'an arrogant, rogue institution...unwilling to support administration policymakers.' Specifically, Wolfowitz insisted on examining 'the possibility that Saddam Hussein was behind the [September 11] attacks on the United States,' a possibility that the CIA discounted.

"Now comes the kicker: 'Israeli intelligence played a hidden role in convincing Wolfowitz that he couldn't trust the CIA... Israeli intelligence officials frequently travelled to Washington to brief top American officials, [confirming reports from Karen Kwiatkowski] but CIA analysts were often sceptical of Israeli intelligence reports, knowing that Mossad had very strong - even transparent - biases about the Arab world.' [You think?] Wolfowitz, who 'had begun meeting personally with top Israeli intelligence officials,' preferred the Mossad's analysis to the CIA's.

This information received virtually no coverage when the book was first put out. It seems like an important revelation to me.

Antony Lowenstein

The Forward

Friday, February 10, 2006

Plame Affair Link

I added a new permanent link to Juan Cole's summary of the Plame Affair. It includes a nice set of pictures that must have taken some time to pull together.


British Architects Threaten to Boycott Israel

Unlike the Church of England, this boycott could hurt Israeli interests if implemented.

Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier

A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the separation barrier in the Occupied Territories.

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes, met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60 attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The Independent

Church of England to Divest from Israel

I think this is symbolic more than anything else, but it is something at least.

Church of England Votes to Divest from Israel

On Monday, February 6th, the Anglican Church of England voted to end financial investments in companies supporting Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. The General Synod, a policy-making assembly, overwhelmingly backed the call by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem to divest from "companies profiting from the illegal occupation ... until they change their policies."

One of the companies identified as a target includes Caterpillar Inc., the American manufacturer that produces the bulldozers Israel uses to build the West Bank separation wall. Israel also uses them to demolish Palestinian homes--since 1967, Israel has demolished 12,000 Palestinian homes, leaving 70,000 homeless.

What is more amazing is how it received virtually no coverage here in the States.


A Pattern of Lies

Anyone see a pattern here?

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq
Intelligence 'Misused' to Justify War, He Says

The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Powell's Former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson Calls Pre-War Intelligence a 'Hoax on the American People

"I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council," says Wilkerson, who helped prepare the address.

"I recall vividly the Secretary of State walking into my office," Wilkerson tells NOW. "He said: 'I wonder what will happen if we put half a million troops on the ground in Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and don't find a single weapon of mass destruction?'" In fact, no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq.

But was it a mistake? Or would they be willing to lie to get into a war.

Here is your answer:

Bush wanted plane in UN colours to trick Saddam
George W Bush wanted to use a spy plane painted in United Nations colours to trick Saddam Hussein into breaching UN rules, according to a new version of a book on the Iraq invasion.
During a meeting with Tony Blair focusing on the need to identify evidence that the dictator had broken UN Resolution 1441, the US president suggested a plot to lure Saddam into firing on the plane.

The Washington Post

Yahoo News

The Herald

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ground Hog Day

Looks like they are working from the same playbook. Replace the people with actual knowledge with hacks who will produce the data to support the policy, which is to bomb Iran.

WASHINGTON - State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties.

The reorganization of the department's arms control and international security bureaus was intended to help it better deal with 21st-century threats. Instead, it's thrown the agency into turmoil and produced an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters, according to 11 current and former officials and documents obtained by Knight Ridder.

The reorganization was conducted largely in secret by a panel of four political appointees. A career expert was allowed to join the group only after most decisions had been made. Its work was overseen by Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer who was detailed to the State Department as senior adviser to former Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a critic of arms agreements and international organizations.


Republican Defector in the House

For those who really want to get Bush out of office early, this is your only real chance. It is a long shot, but not that long.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — A House Republican whose subcommittee oversees the National Security Agency broke ranks with the White House on Tuesday and called for a full Congressional inquiry into the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping program.

The lawmaker, Representative Heather A. Wilson of New Mexico, chairwoman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, said in an interview that she had "serious concerns" about the surveillance program. By withholding information about its operations from many lawmakers, she said, the administration has deepened her apprehension about whom the agency is monitoring and why.

Ms. Wilson, who was a National Security Council aide in the administration of President Bush's father, is the first Republican on either the House's Intelligence Committee or the Senate's to call for a full Congressional investigation into the program, in which the N.S.A. has been eavesdropping without warrants on the international communications of people inside the United States believed to have links with terrorists.

The congresswoman's discomfort with the operation appears to reflect deepening fissures among Republicans over the program's legal basis and political liabilities. Many Republicans have strongly backed President Bush's power to use every tool at his disposal to fight terrorism, but 4 of the 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voiced concerns about the program at a hearing where Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified on Monday.

Obviously the Sentate is more important, but a house member defecting is still significant.


Israel as Apartheid State II

More on Israel as Apartheid state here.

Best comment:

The part about how Israel helped create the South African arms industry and supplied key technologies for their development of the atomic bomb really made me think again about all the recent statements Israel has made concerning Iran's desire to develop (peaceful) nuclear power.

So they give one of the foulest regimes in history the A-bomb and then lecture us about how Iran are the nuclear bad guys just for wanting to generate electricity.

The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.

Also the part about how Israel invited the SA leader to a state visit in the full knowledge that he was interned during WW2 for supporting Hitler and the Nazis and yet now they refuse to deal with Hamas.

It goes beyond hypocrisy – it is just purposeful bullshit and doublespeak. How much longer will people take them seriously I wonder.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Israel as Apartheid State

The Guardian has a great article on the similarities, and differences, between present day Israel and apartheid South Africa.

I think the apartheid comparision is a bit strong. It seems to be something between apartheid and the reconstruction South.

Worlds apart

Israelis have always been horrified at the idea of parallels between their country, a democracy risen from the ashes of genocide, and the racist system that ruled the old South Africa. Yet even within Israel itself, accusations persist that the web of controls affecting every aspect of Palestinian life bears a disturbing resemblance to apartheid. After four years reporting from Jerusalem and more than a decade from Johannesburg before that, the Guardian's award-winning Middle East correspondent Chris McGreal is exceptionally well placed to assess this explosive comparison. Here we publish the first part of his two-day special report

Said Rhateb was born in 1972, five years after Israeli soldiers fought their way through East Jerusalem and claimed his family's dry, rock-strewn plot as part of what the Jewish state proclaimed its "eternal and indivisible capital". The bureaucrats followed in the army's footsteps, registering and measuring Israel's largest annexation of territory since its victory over the Arab armies in the 1948 war of independence. They cast an eye over the Rhateb family's village of Beit Hanina and its lands, a short drive from the biblical city on the hill, and decided the outer limits of this new Jerusalem. The Israelis drew a line on a map - a new city boundary - between Beit Hanina's lands and most of its homes. The olive groves and orchards were to be part of Jerusalem; the village was to remain in the West Bank.

The population was not so neatly divided. Arabs in the area were registered as living in the village - even those, like Rhateb's parents, whose homes were inside what was now defined as Jerusalem. In time, the Israelis gave the Rhatebs identity cards that classified them as residents of the West Bank, under military occupation. When Said Rhateb was born, he too was listed as living outside the city's boundaries. His parents thought little of it as they moved freely across the invisible line drawn by the Israelis, shopping and praying inside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Four decades later, the increasingly complex world of Israel's system of classification deems Said Rhateb to be a resident of the West Bank - somewhere he has never lived - and an illegal alien for living in the home in which he was born, inside the Jerusalem boundary. Jerusalem's council forces Rhateb to pay substantial property taxes on his house but that does not give him the right to live in it, and he is periodically arrested for doing so. Rhateb's children have been thrown out of their Jerusalem school, he cannot register a car in his name - or rather he can, but only one with Palestinian number plates, which means he cannot drive it to his home because only Israeli-registered cars are allowed within Jerusalem - and he needs a pass to visit the centre of the city. The army grants him about four a year.


There is more. If Rhateb is not legally resident in his own home, then he is defined as an "absentee" who has abandoned his property. Under Israeli law, it now belongs to the state or, more particularly, its Jewish citizens. "They sent papers that said we cannot sell the land or develop it because we do not own the land. It belongs to the state," he says. "Any time they want to confiscate it, they can, because they say we are absentees even though we are living in the house. That's what forced my older brother and three sisters to live in the US. They couldn't bear the harassment."


At the heart of Israel's strategy is the policy adopted three decades ago of "maintaining the demographic balance" in Jerusalem. In 1972, the number of Jews in the west of the city outnumbered the Arabs in the east by nearly three to one. The government decreed that that equation should not be allowed to change, at least not in favour of the Arabs.

The Guardian

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Gulf of Tonkin II

This puts to rest the question of whether the Bush admin was willing to lie to get us to invade Iraq. Cleary they would, they just had to find the right lie.

George Bush considered provoking a war with Saddam Hussein's regime by flying a United States spyplane over Iraq bearing UN colours, enticing the Iraqis to take a shot at it, according to a leaked memo of a meeting between the US President and Tony Blair.

The two leaders were worried by the lack of hard evidence that Saddam Hussein had broken UN resolutions, though privately they were convinced that he had. According to the memorandum, Mr Bush said: "The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

Juan Cole has a more on this here

The Independent

Friday, February 03, 2006

UK Considers Weakening War Crimes Law

I am not sure if this change would eliminate war crimes laws altogether, or just for Israelis. Either way, it is a stark change in policy.

UK considers curbing citizens' right to arrest alleged war criminals

The government is considering weakening laws designed to capture alleged war criminals and torturers who enter Britain, after pressure from the Israeli government, the Guardian has learned.

The changes would bar individuals from seeking international warrants for the arrest of people suspected of serious human rights abuses. The government has confirmed that Israeli officials have lobbied for changes in the law, which has kept some of their military officials away from Britain in case there should be an attempt to arrest them.

The proposals follow Israeli anger after an attempt was made to arrest one of their senior retired generals, Doron Almog, at Heathrow last September. He was tipped off that police were waiting to arrest him for alleged war crimes in Gaza. He stayed on the El Al plane and flew back to Israel. The warrant was issued by Bow Street magistrates, central London, after an application from lawyers representing Palestinians who say they suffered because of the Israeli general's alleged illegal orders.

Best comment:

Mayor of old London Town, Ken Livingston, made the point that some British folk can go and join the IDF, promptly go about mass-murdering people then come back to Blighty and no-one bats an eyelid - yet, try doing the same thing if it's seen as not on behalf of Western interests ie 'islamic suicide bombeing' etc - a different kettle of bananas all together


Abramoff Prosecutor Removal to Scuttle Investigation

Huffington Post

Proof That Bush's Removal of the Abramoff Prosecutor was a Political Deal to Scuttle the Investigation

On Friday, January 27, immediately after Bush announced Noel Hillman the federal Abramoff prosecutor was leaving his position to become a federal judge, I wrote that it was a political deal to stop the Abramoff prosecution. I posted an article on Huffington Post on January 29th.

We now know there was a political deal between the Bush Administration and New Jersey Democrats to get rid of the Abramoff prosecutor, Noel Hillman, by offering him a federal judgeship in New Jersey.

It's a deal that had been in the making for over a year.

It came about this way. The Democrats wanted Magistrate Federal Judge Susan Wingenton to be a federal judge. The Bush Administration said no.

We also know that in 2002 Bush got rid of a prosecutor. U.S. Attorney Black, who was about to indict Abramoff in Guam. That indictment also related to Abramoff's purchasing of influence. It's the modus operandi of this administration. Bush got rid of him, put in his own man, and the Abramoff prosecution ended.

This year the Bush Administration agreed to give the Democrats who they wanted in exchange for the Democrats agreeing to remove the Abramoff prosecutor. Wingenton got her appointment; the Democrats agreed to the removal of Noel Hillman, and he accepted a judgeship.

The approval of the two Democratic Senators from New Jersey was necessary for Hillman's appointment. Corzine gave that quiet approval just before he became governor. Frank Lautenberg on his website issued a press release, today announcing both the Wingenton and Hillman appointments, under the title "President Nominates Federal Judges for New Jersey."

Both Corzine and Lautenberg knew they were removing Hillman.


Meanwhile the media has made no mention of the story.