Friday, August 31, 2007

Remember Who Made it Possible

When the bombing of Iran starts remember, back when the Democratos were trying to introduce restrictions on Bush's ability to attack Iran those restrictions were blocked by AIPAC.

More recently, it was among the pressure groups that prevailed upon the Democratic House leadership to drop the requirement that the President obtain congressional approval before taking military action against Iran.

Also, while they are telling you that things are better in Iraq, look at the casualty figures, the GAO Iraq report, and the recommendations from the Generals at the Pentagon. All negative. Yet, none of that matters in Bush's alternative universe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Nice review of The Israeli Lobby at Mondoweiss

I've been reading the book this August and have three preliminary impressions: Serious, cold and stunning. The seriousness of the book is conveyed on every page. The arguments are calm and earnest, stripped of metaphor and coyness. These are mature men engaged in every sinew with a giant squid of an issue; and their 106 pages of endnotes are overwhelming, and give the lie to anyone who accuses these scholars of "shoddy scholarship."



Glenn Greenwald discusses the escalation to war with Iran here.

As but one example, "Democrat" Hiam Saban, who funds the "liberal" Pollack's work at the Brookings Institution as well as any Democratic candidates he can find, described himself thusly: "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel . . . .On the issues of security and terrorism I am a total hawk."

The Generals at the Pentagon agree that the US should start removing troops from Iraq. Link

Pentagon officials have told McClatchy Newspapers that Casey, who was the top commander in Iraq, wants the U.S. to draw down forces and focus on training the Iraqi forces, as it did during his tenure in Iraq, and worries about the strain the war is having on the Army.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pace would recommend reducing the number of troops in Baghdad because the deployments are straining the military.


Gates' position is not known, but he was a member of the Iraq Study Group, which advocated a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The surge, which sent an additional 28,000 troops to Iraq between February and June, was crafted as the secretary took over the department in December, and it is not considered his plan.

And Philip Weiss has some great comments over the last few days here and here.

And again, I say: There must be a soul-searching within the Jewish community if the country is going to move past Iraq. Why were the "best and the brightest" of this disastrous war rightwing Jews? Why did DLC Jews join them in banging the drum? And why have progressive Jews given these war supporters cover, rather than exposing them? What are Israel's regrettable policies toward the Arab world doing to our identification and citizenship?


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Your Chance for Real Information

Seventy-one Percent of Israelis Want Strike on Iran

Poll: 71% of Israelis want U.S. to strike Iran if talks fail

Fully 71 percent of Israelis believe that the United States should launch a military attack on Iran if diplomatic efforts fail to halt Tehran's nuclear program, according to a new poll.

The survey, commissioned by Bar-Ilan University's BESA Center and the Anti-Defamation League, found that 59 percent of Israelis still believe the war in Iraq was justified, while 36 percent take the opposite view.

Some 65 percent believe that the United States is a loyal ally of Israel, with only 11 percent saying the opposite. A slightly higher proportion, 73 percent, described U.S. President George W. Bush as friendly. Forty-eight percent attributed U.S. support for Israel to strategic considerations, while 30 percent credited American Jewry and 17 percent cited shared values and a shared democratic tradition.


Comment from O'Hanlon

Here is a damning comment from the "objective" man (O'Hanlon) from the Brookings institute who recently said things are improving in Iraq.

Michael O'Hanlon, Expert, 'Overthrowing Saddam: Calculating the Costs and Casualties', October 9, 2002:

"Either way, the really striking point about these estimates are twofold. First, given the expected quick pace of any war, these estimated combat costs are large but hardly astronomical, whether one compares the cost of past wars, the peacetime U.S. defense budget ($400 billion) or the U.S. GDP (well over $10 trillion, meaning war costs would almost surely be under 1 percent). Second, however, occupation costs could be substantial; CBO estimates a cost of $15 billion to $45 billion a year for a force of 75,000 to 200,000. It seems unlikely that U.S. forces would be deployed in such high numbers for long, but without major allied support that is at least a remote possibility. More plausibly, occupation costs might be in the broad range of $10 billion a year, roughly comparable to what the United States spends on its global development assistance and humanitarian relief efforts."

The CBO underestimated the actual costs by 300% and still O'Hanlon felt the need to poo-poo them in real time (he's an expert and knows best!) and provide his own very serious estimate of costs - $10 billion dollars a year. The fact that O'Hanlon was off by a whopping 1200% on estimating costs suggests he is not expert enough to be a weight guesser at a carnival, let alone quoted every day as an expert on Iraq.

Israel Wanted Iran not Iraq

Interesting claim from a reliable source that Israel did not encourage the US to go after Iraq.

Israeli officials warned the George W. Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing to the region and urged the United States to instead target Iran as the primary enemy, according to former administration official Lawrence Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, then a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and later chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell, recalled in an interview with IPS that the Israelis reacted immediately to indications that the Bush administration was thinking of war against Iraq. After the Israeli government picked up the first signs of that intention, Wilkerson says, "The Israelis were telling us Iraq is not the enemy – Iran is the enemy."

However, that is different from there public stance, which was to support the invasion including this statement:

A notable exception, however, was a statement on Aug. 16, 2002 by Ranaan Gissin, an aide to Sharon. Ranaan declared, "Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose. It will only give [Hussein] more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction."

Also, this does not take into account statements from out-of-power Israelis such as Bibi that the US should attack Iraq.

Nonetheless, it does indicate that Israel was the follower, not the leader, on Iraq. The leaders were US neocons who thought they were acting in Israels best interest.

They do know best, don't they?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Israel Reject More Refugees

Israel has limited the number of refugees it will take from Sudan to 400. Adjusting for population that would be about 7500 for the US around the time of World War II.

So, I guess all is forgiven about the St. Louis?

Israel bars Darfur refugees
19/08/2007 22:01 - (SA)

A Sudanese boy stands at a private home where he and others are being housed after crossing from Egypt into Israel. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

Jerusalem - Israel said on Sunday it would shut its doors to refugees from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, touching off hot debate over whether the Jewish state, founded after the Nazi genocide, has a duty to take in people fleeing persecution.

Israel has been grappling for months with how to deal with a swelling flow of Africans, including some from Darfur, who have infiltrated through its porous southern border with Egypt's Sinai desert. Overnight, Israel returned 48 African infiltrators to Egypt.

Israeli government spokesperson David Baker said he didn't know if any were from Darfur, but noted Darfurians wouldn't be immune from Israel's ban on unauthorised migrants.

"The policy of returning back anyone who enters Israel illegally will pertain to everyone, including those from Darfur," he said.

Egyptian police said Darfurians were among the 48 - and would be expelled from Egypt to Sudan.

Pledge to absorb refugees

The decision to turn back asylum-seekers from Darfur contradicts Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's pledge earlier this summer to absorb them. Baker said those already in Israel would be allowed to stay, and that the turnback policy applied to new arrivals.

Fighting between pro-government militias and rebels in Darfur has killed more than 200 000 people and displaced 2.5 million since February 2003. Most of the displaced people remain in Darfur, but the UN estimates 236 000 have fled across the border to neighbouring Chad, where they live in camps.

Israel's response to the unexpected arrivals has been incoherent and contradictory. Threats to expel them have clashed with humanitarian sentiments inspired by the memory of Jews vainly seeking sanctuary from the Nazis.

Eytan Schwartz, an advocate for Darfur refugees in Israel, said about 400 have entered Israel in recent years. Baker said they would be allowed to live in Israel, and that the ban applied to new arrivals.

Schwartz objected to any such ban. "The state of Israel has to show compassion for refugees after the Jewish people was subject to persecution throughout its history," he said.

But Ephraim Zuroff of the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center said the Jewish people could not be expected to right every wrong just because of its past.

"Israel can't throw open the gates and allow unlimited access for people who are basically economic refugees," Zuroff said.,,2-10-1462_2167348,00.html

Purchasing a President

How can Hillary Clinton work for peace when she receives funds from donors like this:

September is going to be a big month for Cincinnati lawyer Stanley Chesley. On September 5, Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, will be at his home for a fundraising dinner, with a price tag of $2,300 per ticket, the maximum allowed by federal law. Chesley is no newcomer to the Clinton campaign - he helped raise millions for the Democrats during Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s, and this March the former president was at Chesley's home raising $400,000 for his wife's campaign.

Ten day's after the Hillary event, Chesley will be in New York for the Jewish National Fund's annual conference, where he will be inaugurated as the organization's new president. And he won't be a stranger to this new job either, having been a member of the JNF's national boards for many years. He has also served on the boards of a host of other Jewish organizations including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Israel Bonds, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Hebrew Union College, where he serves as national secretary. His law firm - Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley - represented the World Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Restitution Organization in Holocaust litigation in a series of cases involving Swiss and Austrian banks, the Hungarian Gold Train case and German payments for slave labor.

Chesley is best known in the U.S. for this kind of multiparty litigation, having made his fame and fortune over the last 30 years in high-profile injury, corporate and antitrust legal actions, both in the U.S. and internationally. Over the years, these cases have made Chesley many allies, and not surprisingly, a fair share of critics. He also has a reputation for tough-talking bullishness. This bullishness was well in evidence last week when Chesley met Haaretz for a pre-inauguration interview in Jerusalem.


Double Plus Good

The Bush admin is now just outright lying, as they have no facts on their side. They are using "1984" as the play book, apparently.

Data show no surge in safety in Iraq so far in 2007
The Associated Press

BAGHDAD | The U.S. troop buildup has brought violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks nationwide is running nearly double the year-ago pace.

Some of the recent bloodshed appears to be the result of militants drifting into northern Iraq, where they have fled after U.S.-led offensives. Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings — the same percentage as a year ago, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.

The data offer a sobering snapshot after an additional 30,000 U.S. troops began campaigns in February to regain control of the Baghdad area.

In street-level terms, it means that life for average Iraqis appears to be even more perilous and unpredictable.

The AP tracking includes Iraqi civilians, government officials, police and security forces killed in attacks such as gunfights and bombings, which are frequently blamed on Sunni suicide strikes. It also includes execution-style killings — largely the work of Shiite death squads.

The figures are considered a minimum based on AP reporting. The actual numbers probably are higher, as many killings go unreported or uncounted. Insurgent deaths are not a part of the Iraqi count.

The findings include:

•Iraq is suffering about double the number of war-related deaths nationwide compared with last year — an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year.

•Nearly 1,000 more people have been killed in violence across Iraq in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2006. So far this year, about 14,800 people have died in war-related attacks and sectarian murders. The AP accounted for 13,811 deaths in 2006.

•Baghdad has gone from representing 76 percent of all civilian and police war-related deaths in Iraq in January to 52 percent in July, bringing it back to the same spot it was roughly a year ago.

The U.S. military did not get all the additional American forces into Iraq until June 15, so it would be premature to draw a final statistical picture of the effect of the added troops. But initial calculations validate fears that the Baghdad crackdown would push militants into districts north of Baghdad.

In July, the AP figures show, 35 percent of all war-related killings occurred in northern provinces. The figure one year ago was 22 percent.

•A car bomb exploded Saturday near Baghdad’s most important Shiite shrine, killing seven people and wounding dozens.

•Authorities imposed new security restrictions to prevent attacks on Shiite pilgrims ahead of major religious ceremonies south of Baghdad. More than 1 million pilgrims from throughout the Shiite world are expected to converge on Karbala for the celebrations.

•The U.S. military announced the discovery of an execution site in the Arab Jabour district, a Sunni Arab area just south of Baghdad where al-Qaida in Iraq is known to operate.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Forum on Israel Lobby Cancelled

A Forum discussing John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's book on "The Lobby" has been canceled.

But, no one is trying to silence debate.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' decision to cancel a forum about a controversial upcoming book on the influence of the pro-Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy has sparked a heated debate about free speech.

"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a book due out in September by University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer and Harvard University professor Stephen Walt, argues that the pro-Israel lobby has had a negative effect on U.S. foreign policy.

Expanding on a previous academic article that caused uproar and protest, Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the Israel lobby -- including Jewish organizations, Christian fundamentalists and neo-conservatives -- helped, among other actions, to stop diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Syria and hampered efforts to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict.


The Lobby Still Supports the Iraq War

As "The Lobby" becomes more desparate in light of failing support for the Iraq war they are coming out in the open. One example of this is running a15 million dollar dollar ad campaign for continued support for the Iraq war.

But just who is financing this ad campaing? Justin Raimondo has the answer and it is clear US supporters of Israel are well represented.

Mel Sembler – A multi-billionaire shopping center magnate and real estate developer, CEO of the Sembler Company, and former ambassador to Australia, Nauru, and Italy, Sembler was also chairman of the Scooter Libby Defense Trust. His tenure in Rome was coincident with a series of rather dubious goings-on connected to the Niger uranium forgeries, including secret back channel meetings between leading neocons in the Pentagon[.]

John Templeton, Jr. – The son of renown investor John Templeton, is in charge of the Templeton Foundation, which, last year, poured some $60 million into numerous projects broadly dedicated to "bringing science under the guiding hand of religion."

Sheldon G Adelson – He's the third richest person in the U.S., worth $20.5 billion, with a rags-to-riches story: the son of a Boston cabdriver, Adelson inaugurated the Comdex computer trade show, and then went into tourism, real estate, and casinos. [...] Adelson is a major contributor to Jewish and Israeli causes, and to the GOP. This series of ads isn't his only propagandistic foray: the Vegas casino king has also gone into the newspaper business – in Israel. Yisrael Hayom is a new daily paper closely tied to the ultra-nationalist wing of the Likud party, and Benjamin Netanyahu's political aspirations.

Richard Fox – He made his fortune in real estate, with properties centered in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey, and is a co-founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Gary Erlbaum, owner of Greentree Properties in Ardmore, Pa., an ardent Republican organizer in the Orthodox community and a Giuliani supporter, as well as a staunch advocate for Israel.

Anthony Gioia, former ambassador to Malta, and the head of Gioia Management. He's on Giuliani's "finance team."

Howard Leach, former ambassador to France, CEO of Leach Capital Corp. and president of Foley Timber and Land Co.

Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast Spectacor, which includes TicketMaster and the Philadelphia Spectrum sports center. He also is the proprietor of Prism, the biggest pay-per-view TV network in America. Snider sits on the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust museum in Los Angeles, and is owner of the Philadelphia Flyers pro hockey team.

Kevin E. Moley, once a senior advisor to Dick Cheney and formerly US representative to international organizations in Geneva.

So, not only did The Lobby support the Iraq war in the beginning, they still support it to this day. This makes rewriting history difficult, to say the least.

More here

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ADL Regional Director Fired

For saying the US should recognize the Armenian genocide. Not really controversial stuff, one would think. But the Holocaust has become a political tool, and that places above (or beyond?) other types of history.

The national Anti-Defamation League fired its New England regional director yesterday, one day after he broke ranks with national ADL leadership and said the human rights organization should acknowledge the Armenian genocide that began in 1915.

The firing of Andrew H. Tarsy, who had served as regional director for about two years and as civil rights counsel for about five years before that, prompted an immediate backlash among prominent local Jewish leaders against the ADL's national leadership and its national director, Abraham H. Foxman.

"My reaction is that this was a vindictive, intolerant, and destructive act, ironically by an organization and leader whose mission -- fundamental mission -- is to promote tolerance," Newton businessman Steve Grossman, a former ADL regional board member, said yesterday.

"I predict that Foxman's actions will precipitate wholesale resignations from the regional board, a meaningful reduction in ADL's regional fund-raising, and will further exacerbate the ADL's relationship with the non-Jewish community coming out of this crisis around the Armenian genocide."

I wish stuff like this would get more coverage nationally.


Philp Weiss has some good coverage on this here and here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Where are you ADL?

This is an interesting story about a couple that was not allowed to live in a "Jewish" neighborhood in Israel.

At first, Tefahot residents received Christina with open arms when she arrived at the moshav to look for a home, assuming that she had just made aliyah. After finding out that she was in fact a Christian from Romania, and her husband a Druze from the Galilee, residents began making threats.

“The moment they found out he was Arab, the threats began,” Christina said. “They informed me that they wouldn’t accept the young children to the kindergarten, and they wouldn’t allow them on the school bus.

The level of violence is really quite breathtaking.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More on Israeli Draft Problems

Are we really in a "Global War on Terrror?"

Israelis are up in arms at celebrity draft dodgers

For decades, Israel's heroes were its soldiers and pioneers who fought to build and protect the state, but now its cultural icons are models and singers likely to have dodged military service.

The new trend was graphically demonstrated last week when it emerged that five out of eight contestants in A Star is Born, a talent contest on the lines of Pop Idol, had not served in the army.

Why server when Americans will die for you?


Monday, August 06, 2007


Philip Weiss is really going after the issue of Israel supporters and their effect on US policy at his blog Mondoweiss.

Here is an example of the kind of post you can read, but there are much more: Link

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's OK in Israel

Mark Elf says the consequeces of proposing major human rights violations in Israel are, basically, ... well there are no consequences:

[Israel should implement] "neither a land incursion nor an aerial attack, but the creation of a noose ... From the moment that rocket number eight is fired, the government of Israel will act to cut Gaza off from the essential infrastructure systems of fuel, water, electricity and telephones, and will prevent others from providing these utilities to Gaza."

Nice group punishment.


Israel's Crisis is Your Problem

Although common wisdom is that Israel faces threats everywhere, it appears that 24% of the current population will receive exemptions from the draft.

The figures are contained in reports issued in July by two Israeli government agencies. One, released by the army’s manpower division, simply states the proportions of conscripts and exemptees. According to the report, just under 24% of all 18-year-olds will be exempted from the draft this coming fall. Of those, 11% — close to half — will be excused because of Torah studies. The rest will be divided roughly evenly among Israelis living abroad, those with criminal records, medical deferments and those found “psychologically unfit” — by health or inclination — for military service.

So, even though we are engaged in a "Global War on Terror" and Iran is threatening to "wipe Israel of the Map" (which is a mis-quote), Israel sees no problem excepting 24% of is population from the draft, with 11% granted the highly optional "Torah studies" exemption.

And this exemption is expected to grow.

The demographic trend is demonstrated plainly in another report, prepared by the statistics bureau for the Ministry of Education. The report shows enrollment figures in Israel’s three separate Jewish school systems, the state-secular, state-religious (Modern Orthodox) and Haredi streams. In the 15 years from 1992 to 2007, the proportion of Jewish children attending state-secular elementary schools dropped to 55% of the total from 67%; in 2012 it is projected to fall to 51%. The percentage attending Haredi schools, meanwhile, went from 12.4% in 1992 to 26.7% in 2007 and a projected 31% in 2012. Modern Orthodox schools (whose graduates do perform military service) remain steady throughout at roughly 18%.

At some point in the late 2020s, if current trends continue, the percentage of Israeli Jews claiming army exemption due to Torah study will pass the 30% mark and continue climbing.

Bottom line: You are a sucker if you still want to spend money and/or lives on this Global War on Terror. The Israeli's don't take it seriously because they think America will pay the tab (both in lives and money), and maybe they are right.

The Forward