Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scott Ritter on Iran and Israel

This is a great interview with Scott Ritter:

SEYMOUR HERSH: Why doesn’t my colleagues in the American press do better with this story [that they can't find proof of weapons development in Iran]?

SCOTT RITTER: One of the big problems is -- and here goes the grenade -- Israel. The second you mention the word “Israel,” the nation Israel, the concept Israel, many in the American press become very defensive. We're not allowed to be highly critical of the state of Israel. And the other thing we're not allowed to do is discuss the notion that Israel and the notion of Israeli interests may in fact be dictating what America is doing, that what we're doing in the Middle East may not be to the benefit of America's national security, but to Israel's national security. But, see, we don’t want to talk about that, because one of the great success stories out there is the pro-Israeli lobby that has successfully enabled themselves to blend the two together, so that when we speak of Israeli interests, they say, “No, we're speaking of American interests.”


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Israel Not Very Western

We really don't have a full understanding of what it means to be a "religious state."

He is but a nother example:

Woman beaten on Jerusalem bus for refusing to move to rear seat
By Daphna Berman

A woman who reported a vicious attack by an ad-hoc "modesty patrol" on a Jerusalem bus last month is now lining up support for her case and may be included in a petition to the High Court of Justice over the legality of sex-segregated buses.

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women's organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.

In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."

It is something we should think about when providing "unconditional support".


Monday, December 18, 2006

Eric Alterman has a nice little blurp saying Mearsheimer and Walt Are Largely Right. Very interesting. Small breakthroughs like this are important.

1) They've sent around a roughly 80-page response to their critics, which is largely compelling even though I am one of the people they refute.

2) This New York Times article quotes no one at all in support of Carter's position, only critics. Since when does the Times write in its news pages about controversies entirely from one side of the controversy, particularly when it's about someone who was president of the United States?
I'll tell you since when. It's since he criticizes Israel ...

3) Michael Kinsley is quoted after writing the crappiest column of his career (see previous post).

4) Abe Foxman is quoted with no hint that he seeks to silence anyone at all who is critical of Israel, including Tony Judt, and (here).



Meyrav Wurmser

Incredible quotes from Dr. Meyrav Wurmser, wife of David Wurmser who is still serving under Dick Cheney.

In the meantime you left the US inside Iraq?

"We did not bring the US into Iraq in such a way. Our biggest war which we lost was the idea that before entering Iraq we must train an exile Iraqi government and an Iraqi military force, and hand over the rule to them immediately after the occupation and leave Iraq. That was our idea and it was not accepted."

Your man was Ahmed Chalabi, who was later suspected of spying for Iran?

"That is true, but we didn’t want him as a dictator but as a person in a government that will act democratically… We must help the current democratic government. The borders with Iran and Syria should have been blocked immediately when we entered Iraq. Now it's already a disaster."

They wanted to impose an exile government, but have it "act democratically". The contradiction is obvious, but so it the naiveté. What little thinking they are doing is with their “heart” (which is obviously with Israel), rather than their head, or with US interests in mind.


This serves as further evidence that the plan set forth in "The Clean Break" paper was and still is the guiding force behind Neocon thinking. We see that regime change is Syria is still very important to these players.

What threat does Syria pose to the US? Absolutely none. Why can't we even "talk" to Syria? Because peace might actually break out, but it will not be the peace of dominance that the Neocons want.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Informing Comments

Good post at about the White House pressuring the NYT to not publish a damaging piece on the NSC as well as Eloit Abrams and the remaining Neocons at the White House continuing to beat the drums for more war.



More from Steve Clemons:

Washington Note

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Lies Behind the War

More information that the British knew there were no WMD:

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.

In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, "at no time did HMG [Her Majesty's Government] assess that Iraq's WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests."


Monday, December 11, 2006

Quote of the Day

This man still gets ink in places such as the LA Times:

After a series of smashing military victories, the president declared the war over. Yet far from giving up, the forces resisting American occupation switched to guerrilla tactics ... American forces responded with harsh countermeasures that led to charges of brutality. That may sound like a portrait of today's Iraq, but it actually describes the Philippines a century ago ... Many Filipinos resisted American rule .. The United States eventually won, but it was a long, hard, bloody slog that cost the lives of more than 4,200 American soldiers, 16,000 rebels and some 200,000 civilians ... There is no reason to think that the current struggle in Iraq will be remotely as difficult.

Max Boot 7-6-03
NY Times

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Shocking Even To Me

Sometimes when I wonder if I am paranoid, an event comes along that tells me I am not paranoid enough.

When I heard that the Brookings Institue was "proudly" hosting Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's highest ranking ethnic cleaner, even I was suprised.

Despite the vitriol of this hatemonger, the Brookings Institution is proudly hosting the former nightclub bouncer on his upcoming trip to Washington. Officials at the Institution said they were "honored" to host Lieberman's first address abroad since joining the government.

What is next, Milosovich on the Bosnia "turmoil"? David Duke on the US inner city "turmoil?" I am sure they have similar solutions.

You should follow this link and read the entire article, which is short.


The Growing Tent

Add Jimmy Carter to the growing list of people slurred as "Anti-Semites". I am starting to like the company I am keeping, really.

Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine

I SIGNED A CONTRACT with Simon & Schuster two years ago to write a book about the Middle East, based on my personal observations as the Carter Center monitored three elections in Palestine and on my consultations with Israeli political leaders and peace activists.

We covered every Palestinian community in 1996, 2005 and 2006, when Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas were elected president and members of parliament were chosen. The elections were almost flawless, and turnout was very high — except in East Jerusalem, where, under severe Israeli restraints, only about 2% of registered voters managed to cast ballots.

The many controversial issues concerning Palestine and the path to peace for Israel are intensely debated among Israelis and throughout other nations — but not in the United States. For the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices.

It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defense of justice or human rights for Palestinians. Very few would ever deign to visit the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza City or even Bethlehem and talk to the beleaguered residents. What is even more difficult to comprehend is why the editorial pages of the major newspapers and magazines in the United States exercise similar self-restraint, quite contrary to private assessments expressed quite forcefully by their correspondents in the Holy Land.

With some degree of reluctance and some uncertainty about the reception my book would receive, I used maps, text and documents to describe the situation accurately and to analyze the only possible path to peace: Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within their own internationally recognized boundaries. These options are consistent with key U.N. resolutions supported by the U.S. and Israel, official American policy since 1967, agreements consummated by Israeli leaders and their governments in 1978 and 1993 (for which they earned Nobel Peace Prizes), the Arab League's offer to recognize Israel in 2002 and the International Quartet's "Roadmap for Peace," which has been accepted by the PLO and largely rejected by Israel.

The book is devoted to circumstances and events in Palestine and not in Israel, where democracy prevails and citizens live together and are legally guaranteed equal status.

Although I have spent only a week or so on a book tour so far, it is already possible to judge public and media reaction. Sales are brisk, and I have had interesting interviews on TV, including "Larry King Live," "Hardball," "Meet the Press," "The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," the "Charlie Rose" show, C-SPAN and others. But I have seen few news stories in major newspapers about what I have written.

Book reviews in the mainstream media have been written mostly by representatives of Jewish organizations who would be unlikely to visit the occupied territories, and their primary criticism is that the book is anti-Israel. Two members of Congress have been publicly critical. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for instance, issued a statement (before the book was published) saying that "he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel." Some reviews posted on call me "anti-Semitic," and others accuse the book of "lies" and "distortions." A former Carter Center fellow has taken issue with it, and Alan Dershowitz called the book's title "indecent."

Out in the real world, however, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I've signed books in five stores, with more than 1,000 buyers at each site. I've had one negative remark — that I should be tried for treason — and one caller on C-SPAN said that I was an anti-Semite. My most troubling experience has been the rejection of my offers to speak, for free, about the book on university campuses with high Jewish enrollment and to answer questions from students and professors. I have been most encouraged by prominent Jewish citizens and members of Congress who have thanked me privately for presenting the facts and some new ideas.

The book describes the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. An enormous imprisonment wall is now under construction, snaking through what is left of Palestine to encompass more and more land for Israeli settlers. In many ways, this is more oppressive than what blacks lived under in South Africa during apartheid. I have made it clear that the motivation is not racism but the desire of a minority of Israelis to confiscate and colonize choice sites in Palestine, and then to forcefully suppress any objections from the displaced citizens. Obviously, I condemn any acts of terrorism or violence against innocent civilians, and I present information about the terrible casualties on both sides.

The ultimate purpose of my book is to present facts about the Middle East that are largely unknown in America, to precipitate discussion and to help restart peace talks (now absent for six years) that can lead to permanent peace for Israel and its neighbors. Another hope is that Jews and other Americans who share this same goal might be motivated to express their views, even publicly, and perhaps in concert. I would be glad to help with that effort.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Careful Dancing

Bob Burnett dances around the Israel issue. He blames our support on the christians, of course, but he makes some reasonable points about policy.

Carter and other American statesmen argue that the Administration's Israeli policy has been counter-productive: It's inflamed the Middle East at a time when we're trying to reduce tension there, when the stated objective of the Bush Administration is to usher in a new era of democracy. As a consequence, the Bush strategy has fueled terrorism at a time when a more rational approach would be to do the opposite.

The dysfunctional Bush Israeli-Palestinian policy gets a lot of attention in the world press: it's a frequent subject on outlets like Al Jazeera and The International Herald Tribune. But the failed Administration policy receives scant mention in the U.S. press. Apparently because of America's new political religiosity, it's become politically incorrect to appear to criticize Israel.

This shift in policy and public sentiment has produced an unbalanced and unhealthy American attitude about Israel, and the Middle East, in general. America has a responsibility to protect Israel, but that's not the same as supporting their actions without reservation. Dogmatically approving of Israeli treatment of Palestinians is not only inhumane--because, on occasion, Israeli action is unjustified and brutal--it's bad global politics: The Bush Administration wants Arab states to help the US control the Iraqi civil war. But Iraq's neighbors aren't interested in helping America because of our one-sided approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. They see our foreign policy as self-centered; ask why they should help us when we are unwilling to curtail Israel's bellicosity.


Bob Burnett

Monday, December 04, 2006

Aversion to Conversion

Even the few converts seeking to enter Israel is too much for some.

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar has proposed amending the Law of Return so that converts to all three principal streams of Judaism - Reform, Conservative and Orthodox - would no longer be eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship.

In an interview with Israel Radio Tuesday morning, Amar commented on his proposal.

"We don't want a situation where the Law of Return and the rights that it grants are being used indiscriminately," Amar said. "[The proposal] relates to the conversion aspect of the Law of Return, and to those who convert. They are able to come as citizens through other laws, and that is fine. They can come and request citizenship. There are a lot of people that do this, and of course they will be considered."

The fig leaf of conversion that is held up as evidence that Israel is not a "racial" state just got a little smaller.


Internal Refugees

In Israel you can be an internal refugee, it seems:

According to a position paper written by Mossawa - the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel and presented in a conference in Nazareth on Friday, Israeli Arabs want the right to return to villages abandoned in 1948, educational autonomy and changes to the Israeli flag and national anthem.


"Our goal is to achieve a historic compromise with the Jewish community in Israel," Mossawa Center director Jafar Farah told the conference. "The move by refugees of 1948 to their villages will not change the demographic balance or endanger the Jews. Unlike the refugees in Arab states, we are [already] here," Farah said. "The internal refugees [residents forced to leave their villages in 1948 who moved to other Arab communities within Israel] represent about one-fourth of the Arab population in Israel today."


Also see this and this.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Special Relationship

Speaking of the influcense of foreign governments, Leon Hadar has an essary on the problems created by our special "relationship" with Israel here.