Monday, April 30, 2007

Quotes from the Past

Click on cartoon to read quotes.

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

Stan Estrich sends a message to Obama to step up the pro-Israel rhetoric.

The two people with the most to lose in the [Democratic Presidential] debate were the two who entered with the most support, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. While Friday morning's polls, at least of South Carolina Democrats, gave the edge to Obama, that’s not how I see it. Hillary made no mistakes. Obama did.

Asked about America's best friends in the world, Obama waxed on about NATO and our European allies before looking east to Japan. I'm not a foreign policy expert, but I've been around debates for decades and it was clear that Obama didn't get that this was the Israel question.

He didn't get that people like me, voters and donors, were waiting to hear the word "Israel" in a way that Japanese Americans were not. Japan doesn't live under constant threats; Israel does. Japanese Americans don't worry about Japan's survival in the way Jewish Americans worry about Israel. Obama's answer, in my book, was the biggest mistake of the debate.

The term "friend" is a very imprecise term to be used in the context of international relations, but certainly friendship involves give and take, rather than just take.

Ms. Estrich headed the losing Dukakis campaign for President.

Blue Streak

Monday, April 23, 2007

Anit-War Movement MIA on AIPAC

Another peace activist sees the light:

It is high time for a campaign, endorsed by all anti-war organizations, to challenge AIPAC’s legitimacy. Fomenting a disastrous war with Iran is not an acceptable and legitimate object of ‘Jewish community’ lobbying. AIPAC’s overwhelming presence on Capitol Hill and the general willingness of representatives to take marching orders from it, for whatever reasons, on central foreign policy matters is an unacceptable and morally indefensible situation in a democratic country, regardless of how one understands the root sources of AIPAC’s power.

The antiwar movement should demand that lawmakers return campaign contributions from all war promoters, including AIPAC (mostly its satellite PACs) and all those associated with it. AIPAC should be under criminal investigation, as well as all those who subverted the working of government agencies in the course of advancing the Iraq war. Lawmakers who claim to oppose Bush’s wars should not be allowed to fudge and take umbrage behind AIPAC. They should be forced to chose between listening to AIPAC and grassroots support. The antiwar movement should also issue a call to all Jewish organizations to disavow AIPAC’s pro-war agenda and take action to curb it. AIPAC should be outed as a warmongering tool. It should be disrupted, shamed, and hopefully closed. And it is the duty of the antiwar movement to do that.

If you’re anti-war, you are also anti pro-war.

You just can win the Anti-War movement without addressing AIPAC and other pro-Israel organizations. And there are no organizations more difficult to criticize, as you risk accusations of Anti-Semitism, "obsession" with Israel, or some other ad hominem attack.

Dissident Voice

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More Honesty About APAIC

Here is why you can't fight against the War in Iraq/Iran without discussing AIPAC and Israel's supporters in the US:

I have been told by leaders of the peace movement that AIPAC is a distraction from the main thrust of the antiwar movement. And so we should not engage it; AIPAC is to be immune. But with all due respect to the sentiments of that leadership, immunity for AIPAC is a prescription for disaster. To use a military analogy, which I do not especially like, suppose that we were trying to take a hill in Germany in 1944. And suppose we said that we would not attack one pillbox, which kept devastating our forces. Leave just that one pillbox alone! The result would be devastating; we would be cut down with every succeeding attempt at advance. So it is with AIPAC which campaigns relentlessly for war on Iraq, war on Iran, war on Syria, war on Lebanon and the slow genocide of the Palestinian people. AIPAC constantly puts the peace movement on the defensive while it is free to be on the offensive all the time.

I use a similar analogy for the Neocons. It is important to understand their motives on Israel, because motives are an important part of solving any crime. You can't solve a murder without knowing the motives of the suspects.

Thus, I am not focusing on the Israel issue because I have some obsession with it. I am concerned with Neocon support for Israel because it is necessary to understand the motivations of all the actors in this "drama".


Monday, April 16, 2007

Acts of Submission

Scott Ritter on the Democratic failure to contain Bush in the latest war funding bill:

I am troubled by the recent actions of Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress who have not only abrogated their collective responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution but have taken actions which, under normal circumstances and involving any other nation, would border on treasonous. Our collective duty as Americans must center on defending the very document, the Constitution, which defines who we are and what we are as a people and a nation. To have our elected representatives flagrantly push aside their constitutional responsibilities in the name of the security interests of another nation is unthinkable. And yet it has just happened, apparently without consequence.


The Real Wolfowitz Error

Interesting comments from Richard Cohen at the Huffington Post of the Wolfowitz girlfriend appointment problem at the World Bank:

As Paul Wolfowitz is proving, it turns out all is not fair in love and war. Only war. Take a nation to war for spurious reasons and no one much complains. But arrange a raise for your girlfriend, and you get booed in the atrium of the World Bank and have to visibly sweat in public.

As Henry Kissinger might have told Wolfowitz, kill a million people, no problemo. Show favoritism in the office and it's auf Wiedersehen.


Wolfowitz made an admission of his own regarding Iraq. He told Vanity Fair that the stated reason for the war - all those awful weapons of mass destruction - hardly mattered to him and, it seems, other neo-cons as well. It was merely "the one issue everyone could agree on," he said.


Dictatorial Power

Glenn Greenwald reports that Neocon Michael Goldfarb thinks the president has near dictorial powers when it comes to foreign policy:

[A]pparently, the American Founders risked their lives and fortunes in order to wage war against Great Britain and declare independence from the King -- all in order to vest "near dictatorial power" in the American President in all matters of foreign policy and national security. And, of course, for the Michael Goldfarbs of the world, "war" and "national security" -- and the "near dictatorial power" vested in the President in those areas -- now encompasses virtually every government action, since scary and dangerous Muslims are lurking everywhere, on every corner, and the entire world is one big "battlefield" in the "War on Terrorism," including U.S. soil.

This just seem wrong on the basis that congress must declare war, if nothing else.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Boycott Israel

Parts of Europe seem to be able to have a real dialog about Israel and its activities.As such, there are efforts to Boycott Israel underway.

Read more about this and other interesting subjects at Jews Sans Frontieres, as you will not read about such things in the US press.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Critics of History

It seems that being critical of the state version of history can get you in trouble - including detained for questioning at Canadian customs.

Here is one person's explanation to Canadian customs when THEY ask HIM why they were detaining them:

“I’m a historian,” I explained. “I work on the subject of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. There’s a very heavy campaign being waged by extreme nationalist and fascist forces in Turkey against those individuals who are critical of the events that occurred in 1915. Hrant Dink was killed because of it. The lives of people like me are in danger because of it. Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel Laureate, couldn’t tolerate the attacks against him and had to leave the country. Many intellectuals in Turkey are now living under police protection.” The officer took notes.

This is particularly interesting when one considers the Sibel Edmonds story, where Ms. Edmons claims some dangerous links between US officials (likely neo-cons) and Turkey.

Juan Cole

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Real Terrorists

Great post from Jews sans frontieres JSF

The art of political language, as George Orwell observed, is to make falsehoods sound truthful and to deny voice to those without power. There are few practitioners of this art more highly skilled than the government of Israel.

As the military occupier of the Palestinian territories for the past 40 years, Israel has managed to represent itself as the beleaguered victim of terrorism in its conflict with the Palestinian people. At the same time, the Israeli government, through its influence in America, has discredited and even silenced those voices inside the Palestinian territories with a far different story about terrorism and its victims. Truth, however, is sometimes able to prevail despite the efforts of those with power to prevent truth from gaining voice.

Last August on these pages, I was able to tell such a story about a Palestinian farmer, Mohammed Abdel Aziz Sabatin. What had been happening to Sabatin, in facing daily harassment from Israeli settlers from Bettar Illit, I insisted, went to the essence of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Contrary to popular mythology, this conflict is not a clash of civilizations. It is a conflict about land – and the power of one group of people to seize and control the land of another. Sabatin personifies this conflict, while at the same time his situation gives a very different set of meanings to the idea of terrorism and its purveyors.

Sabatin owns land directly next to the Jewish settlement of Bettar Illit, a town built on land confiscated in 1989 from the Sabatin family and from numerous other Palestinian families from the town of Husan. All told, about 5,000 dunums (1,250 acres) was forcibly taken from farmers in Husan to build the settlement.

After construction, Sabatin was left with a small portion of his former property and has since tried to cultivate olives, figs and almonds on this land. In order to access his farmland, however, Sabatin now has to get a permit from the Israeli military authorities who administer the Occupied Territory of Palestine, and he must pass though the security gate of Betar Illit even though his family has owned this land for 200 years. In owning land in the shadow of the settlement, Sabatin is in a precarious predicament.

Last year, Sabatin took me on a tour of his land and told me how settlers from Bettar Illit burn and vandalize his remaining olive and fruit trees on a daily basis. As we walked through his fields, I was able to see olive and fig tree branches shorn from their trunks and scattered on the ground. I also saw several still-smoldering piles of ash, olive trees burned just that morning. “What can I do” Sabatin asked me repeatedly. I never knew what to say.

These settlers from Bettar Illit actually want Sabatin to take flight from his land. They are trying to force him to make a “choice” about whether it is worth it to remain. With enough pressure, perhaps he will finally relent and give it up.

Now, it appears that the settlement has handed Sabatin an ultimatum. Two weeks ago settlers again set fire to some of his olive trees, but this time the fire burned out of control. The firefighting unit from the settlement had to extinguish the blaze. What they did next, however, is befitting of the term Orwellian.

The governing council of Bettar Illit informed Sabatin that it would charge him 7,000 Israeli shekels ($1,600) for the cost of extinguishing the fires since they occurred on his land. This is an amount of money well beyond his means. They gave him until today to remit the money and informed him that failure to pay would result in the settlement confiscating the rest of his land. Sabatin was frantically and desperately trying to find a way to keep his land as the deadline given to him by the settlement approached. Even if he pays the amount, however, what is to prevent extortion such as this from occurring again?

This time, however, after years of abuse at the hands of these settlers, Sabatin has vowed to resist. With help from numerous individuals in the San Diego area and beyond, Sabatin has obtained the services of a well-known Israeli human rights lawyer and is preparing to contest the confiscation order. Today's date may very well mark a turning point in his own personal saga.

In truth, Sabatin is the personification of a much bigger campaign that has been going on since 1947-48 when Palestinians owned about 90 percent of the land in historic Palestine. Now Palestinians own about 12 percent of the land in their historic homeland and this amount continues to decrease as land policies, including the activities of settlements, continue to encroach on, and confiscate, Palestinian land and property while transferring Palestinians into ever-smaller territorial spaces. Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel and the architect of the settlement policy, described this campaign as a policy of taking Palestinian land “dunum by dunum.”

These policies raise questions about the real purveyors of terror and its victims. The occupation of Palestine by Israel has removed all rights of Palestinians to land and has undermined their capacity to make a living where they have existed for centuries. Palestinians have no security when their land and livelihood can be taken at any time. Until the occupier recognizes these rights, the tragedy of Mohammed Sabatin will continue – and the conflict will not rest.

Union Trib

The Mini Holocaust

The methodology used in the Lancet study estimating deaths in Iraq was found to be sound by British scientists. The Lancet study estimated over 600,000 deaths in Iraq due to the war.

So, we now have confirmation that a mini-Holocaust has taken place, with deaths reaching more than 10% of the Jewish deaths in the Holocaust. All these deaths were caused by an aggressive, unwarranted and unprovoked attack on another country.

Sounds like a war crimes trials are in order once this is all over.

UK government experts quietly backed the methods used by scientists who concluded last October that more than 600,000 Iraqis had been killed in violence since the 2003 invasion. The government had publicly rejected the findings, published in The Lancet. But documents obtained by BBC showed advisers had concluded that the controversial study relied on sound methods and called the research “robust.” Yet shortly after the findings were published, the government said the figure was not anywhere near accurate.


Looking More Like Apartheid

Didn't this kind of stuff happen in South Africa? They were also outnumbered by "hostiles" so I guess it was OK there to, no?

Indeed Hadar [retired Chief Interrogator of the Shabak, Israel's internal secret security service] was summoned in 1984 to appear before a commission that investigated the Shabak following summary executions of Palestinians who kidnapped a bus in Israel. He says he told the commission that: "applying physical pressure is clearly illegal, but regrettably there is no other option. I explained that these means, including hitting, sleep deprivation, mock executions, and exposure to extreme weather conditions for many hours were the only means at our disposal for getting to the truth ... I told the commission that I do not feel good about it but someone had to do it." In other words, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Worse Than Apartheid

Despite Novak being involved in the Plame affair, I find he is a very positive force overall.

Worse Than Apartheid?

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, April 9, 2007; 12:00 AM

BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- Hani Hayek, an accountant who is the Christian mayor of the tiny majority-Christian Palestinian village of Beit Sahour, was angry last week as he drove me along the Israeli security wall. "They are taking our communal lands," he said, pointing to the massive Israeli settlement of Har Homa. "They don't want us to live here. They want us to leave."

Har Homa, dwarfing nearby dwellings of Beit Sahour, seemed larger than when I saw it at Holy Week a year ago. It is. The Israeli government has steadily enlarged settlements on the occupied West Bank, and I could see both the construction at Har Homa and road building for a dual transportation system for Israelis and Palestinians.

Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question "Peace Not Apartheid." But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation. Nearing the 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the territory has been so fragmented that a genuine Palestinian state and a "two-state solution" seem increasingly difficult.

The security wall has led to virtual elimination of suicide bombings and short-term peace. But life is hard for Palestinians, whose deaths because of conflict increased 272 percent in 2006 while Israeli casualties declined. In a minor incident last week of the type that goes unnoticed internationally, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troopers killed a Palestinian man accused of illegally entering a firing zone while collecting metal scraps to sell. The Britain-based organization Save the Children estimates that half the children in the occupied territories are psychologically traumatized.

Palestinians argue that things have gotten worse because of pervasive feelings of hopelessness. Students at Bethlehem University (run by the Catholic Brothers of De La Salle, with an enrollment that is 70 percent Muslim) sounded more pessimistic and radicalized than a year ago. Ahmad al Issa, a fourth-year journalism student, was held for a year in an Israeli prison on charges of throwing stones at Israeli troops. Now he has bought into the libel that Jewish employees at the World Trade Center were warned in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The U.S.-backed boycott following the election victory of the extremist group Hamas in early 2006 has made the Palestinian Authority destitute, crippling government services. Deprived of help from the authority, with the economy in a shambles, city governments are bankrupt. Bethlehem's mayor, Victor Batarseh, has a special problem because tourists and pilgrims no longer stay overnight in the city of Christ's birth. Out of money and credit, he is ready to lay off the city's 165 staffers.

Batarseh, a U.S. citizen who practiced thoracic surgery in Sacramento, is pinned down in Bethlehem. A Christian and political independent who calls himself a private-enterprise democrat, Batarseh is on the Israeli blacklist because he contributed to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the State Department has designated a terrorist organization. Denied permits for Jerusalem, the mayor must drive to Amman, Jordan, to get to meetings in Europe.

Contact with the PFLP is not a requirement for being holed up by the Israel Defense Forces. Bethlehem University students cannot get to Jerusalem, a few minutes' drive away, unless they sneak in illegally. The students from the separated Gaza enclave have to take classes from Bethlehem via the Internet.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey was at the university the same day I was, and faculty members could hardly believe a real live member of Congress was there. Smith later was given a tour of Jerusalem to see with his own eyes that the separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.

Smith, an active Catholic layman, was drawn here because of the rapid emigration of the Holy Land's Christian minority. They leave more quickly than Muslims because contacts on the outside make them more mobile. Peter Corlano, a Catholic member of the Bethlehem University faculty, told Smith and me: "We live the same life as Muslims. We are Palestinians."

Concerned by the disappearance of Christians in the land of Christianity's birthplace, Smith could also become (as I did) concerned by the plight of all Palestinians. If so, he will find precious little company in Congress.

© 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc