Saturday, September 29, 2007

Conservative Group Pushes for Attack on Iran

Wow. It is clear that Israel's supporters are pushing us into war with Iran and they don't want us to leave Iraq:

Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq.


Last week, a Freedom’s Watch newspaper advertisement called President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran “a terrorist.” The group is considering a national advertising campaign focused on Iran, a senior benefactor said, though Matt S. David, a spokesman for the group, declined to comment on those plans.


The idea for Freedom’s Watch was hatched in March at the winter meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Manalapan, Fla., where Vice President Dick Cheney was the keynote speaker, according to participants. Next week, the group is moving into a 10,000-square-foot office in the Chinatown section of Washington, with plans to employ as many as 50 people by early next year.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

The power of the Lobby is impressive indeed.

Yesterday, by a vote of 76-22, the Senate passed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment in support of military actions against Iran. This is the second such endorsement of the president by a senate majority in just three months. In July, the Lieberman amendment to "confront Iran" passed with the far stronger majority of 97-0.

The original draft of Kyl-Lieberman had asked U.S. forces to "combat, contain, and roll back" the Iranian menace within Iraq. But the words "roll back" were all too plainly a coded endorsement of hot pursuit into Iran; and the senators did not want to go quite so far. To assure a larger majority the language was accordingly trimmed and blurred to say "that it should be the policy of the United States to stop inside Iraq the violent activities and destabilizing influence of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies."

The inclusion of Hezbollah deserves some notice. It is part of a larger attempt, already apparent in the Lebanon war of 2006, to manufacture an "amalgam" of all the enemies of Israel and the United States throughout the region, and to treat them all as one enemy. Those who believe in the amalgam will come to agree that many more wars by the United States and Israel are needed to crush this enemy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sanctioning Ourselves

Hurting US economic interests.

Bringing the US closer to war with a country that is no threat to us.

Putting US lives in danger.

Just another day at the office for the neocon occupied territory that is congress.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress signaled its disapproval of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a vote Tuesday to tighten sanctions against his government and a call to designate his army a terrorist group.

The swift rebuke was a rare display of bipartisan cooperation in a Congress bitterly divided on the Iraq war. It reflected lawmakers' long-standing nervousness about Tehran's intentions in the region, particularly toward Israel—a sentiment fueled by the pro-Israeli lobby whose influence reaches across party lines in Congress.

"Iran faces a choice between a very big carrot and a very sharp stick," said Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "It is my hope that they will take the carrot. But today, we are putting the stick in place."

The House passed, by a 397-16 vote, a proposal by Lantos, D-Calif., aimed at blocking foreign investment in Iran, in particular its lucrative energy sector. The bill would specifically bar the president from waiving U.S. sanctions.

The pressure from AIPAC must be so intense that even the AP felt it had to be acknowledged.

Also, see opposition to a similar bill proposed by Lieberman in the Senate from Jim Webb here.

“At best, it’s a deliberate attempt to divert attention from a failed diplomatic policy,” said Webb. “At worst, it could be read as a back door method of gaining Congressional validation for military action, without one hearing and without serious debate.”


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Preventing All Dialog

The New York Media is trying to prevent Ahmadinejad from speaking in NY. If this is how they act, should they really have the UN there?

Why can't we hear Ahmadinejad speak? Maybe he wants to open up a dialog? Maybe he can explain something or correct a misunderstanding?

But that might prevent and attack on Iran, and that would be a disaster.

One thing is for sure, the Media and the neocons are making a joke of the concept of freedom of speech, and making America look very hypocritical.

Even Scott Adams has something to say about that:

If Ahmadinejad thinks he can be our friend by honoring our heroes and opening a dialog, he underestimates our ability to misinterpret him.

Fucking idiot. I hate him.

Well said.


Michael Scheuer on Bill Maher

Very interesting exchange between Michael Scheuer and Bill Maher.

First off, Scheuer makes some very patriotic statements about America and American foreign policy. Hat's off to him.

Second, Scheuer opens up discussion on the cost we incur for supporting Israel since 1973.

And finally, Maher admits that a lot of terrorism directed against the United States results from our support for Israel.

And the look on Maher's face in priceless.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

View From the Trenches

Interesting take:

My boss [a congresswoman] went on an all-expense paid trip to Israel on AIPAC's dime. It was one of those educational junkets that interest groups paid for. I was a little concerned about it, but I paid it little mind. She had a wonderful time and learned a lot.

But as the saying goes, nothing in life comes for free. A few months later, Congress was voting on that year's foreign aid bill. As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Carson opposed the bill, because it contained far few dollars for Africa than needed to be in the bill. However, there was a substantial amount of money going to Israel.

After her opposition became public, and she voted against it, the calls started coming in from all corners of the U.S. Members of AIPAC called to say that Rep. Carson was wrong for opposing the bill because it helped Israel. She tried to explain, but in all honesty, some of the callers were really angry. Mind you, hardly any of the folks that called were her constituents...they were donors. And they thought they had a solid vote because of the Israel trip. And some of them were plenty rude on the phone.

Rep. Carson became frustrated and one day said, "I just don't know what they want from me."

I was silent when I heard this, but I knew what they wanted. They wanted her vote. And in the back of my head, I was thinking that she shouldn't have taken that trip to Israel.


Starve Them to Death

Shutting off power and water to 1.5 million people who make less than US$1,000/year.

There is something morally defective here.

Israel declared Gaza a "hostile entity" on Wednesday, and said it would limit supplies to the Hamas-run enclave, overshadowing US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's latest peace mission.

The decision by Israel's powerful Security Cabinet cleared the way for the government to shut off supplies of electricity and fuel to the impoverished, over-crowded, territory in response to frequent rocket attacks from Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blasted Israel's decision Wednesday and said it would increase the suffering of its 1.5 million residents.

There is a certain lack of humanity that boggles the mind. What kind of diseases will come about from lack of drinkable water?


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More on Moran

I thought we were past calling people antisemites, but I guess they still think it has some traction.

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) has again come under fire from local Jewish organizations for remarking in a magazine interview that the "extraordinarily powerful" pro-Israel lobby played a strong role promoting the war in Iraq.

In an interview with Tikkun, a California-based Jewish magazine, Moran said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is "the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning. I don't think they represent the mainstream of American Jewish thinking at all, but because they are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful -- most of them are quite wealthy -- they have been able to exert power."


In an interview last night, Moran said he was dismayed at the reaction to his remarks, which he stands by. The pro-Israel lobby has not represented mainstream U.S. Jewish opinion in recent years, he said -- most notably with its Middle East policies, which he characterized as directly aligned with those of the Bush administration.

"The problem with addressing the groups who have argued strongly in favor of a long-term American military presence in the Middle East is that they raise arguments that are not related to the point," Moran said. "I would like to have a reasonable, objective discussion about AIPAC's foreign policy agenda. But it's difficult to do that because any time you question their motives, you are accused of being anti-Semitic."

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun also defended Moran's position in the article, which appear in the magazine's September-October issue

"It's the kind of statement I would have made to any religious community, or to any labor movement audience, citing their own failures to act as a critical factor in why we had gotten involved," Lerner wrote in the article.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Michael Mukasey

This Judge supports the "Patriot Act" and also did not force the government to try Padilla in a court of law. This is a terrible appointment.

But ever worse, it seems his wife is a fund raiser for Israeli Settlements in the occupied territories.

Raising money for *settlements* is disturbing. It is one thing to be pro-Israel, it is another thing to tolerate the settlements, but to PROMOTE settlements by raising money. That is too right wing for even many Israelis.

How do they find these guys? Are they no regular Americans people in the Republican party anymore?


Monday, September 10, 2007

Start Them Early

This is interesting. AIPAC tries to get politicians "on the way up." Very sophisticated.

Washington - In a challenge to one of the most powerful lobbying tactics used by the Jewish community, a county in Maryland decided last week that local legislators could no longer go on sponsored trips to Israel.

Montgomery County’s ethics commission decided last month that council members are prohibited from traveling at the expense of the local Jewish community, even when funding is indirectly provided by a private foundation. A trip planned months in advance was subsequently canceled.

“We were stunned by the commission’s decision,” said Ron Halber, executive director of the Greater Washington Jewish Community Relations Council, which organized the trip.

In an e-mail to a Montgomery County legislator, the ethics commission wrote that “the routing of monies through a lobbyist organization to provide travel services makes the gift unacceptable.”

The decision has such weight because sponsored trips to Israel are widely used by Jewish groups both nationally and locally to build support for Israel among non-Jewish leaders and to cultivate one-to-one relationships between American and Israeli leaders. On a national level, the trips have recently come under scrutiny amid the scandals surrounding Washington lobbyists and their relationships with lawmakers. The Montgomery County decision now brings the dilemma to the local level, as communities face the need to adjust to the changing winds in Washington and growing concerns about the power of lobbyists.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Dangerous Words

Dangerous for whom?

A Democratic congressman accused AIPAC of having "pushed" the Iraq war.

"AIPAC is the most powerful lobby and has pushed this war from the beginning," U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said in this month's Tikkun magazine. "Because they are so well organized, and their members are extraordinarily powerful -- most of them are quite wealthy -- they have been able to exert power."

Moran has stirred controversy in the past for his criticisms of the Israel lobby. The National Jewish Democratic Council called on Moran to retract the comments about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Comment on the NYT Review of TIL

Good comment on the NYT review of "The Israel Lobby" in a comment on Mondoweiss blog:

The reviewer, William Grimes, would obviously like to rip their hearts out, but he cannot dismiss them in Dershowitz fashion. Finally his arguments are reduced to whimpering and whining, here is a sample:

(...)"The general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves, however, along with an unignorable impression that hardheaded political realism can be subject to its own peculiar fantasies. Israel is not simply one country among many, for example, just as Britain is not. Americans feel strong ties of history, religion, culture and, yes, sentiment, that the authors recognize, but only in an airy, abstract way.

They also seem to feel that, with Israel and its lobby pushed to the side, the desert will bloom with flowers. A peace deal with Syria would surely follow, with a resultant end to hostile activity by Hezbollah and Hamas. Next would come a Palestinian state, depriving Al Qaeda of its principal recruiting tool. (The authors wave away the idea that Islamic terrorism thrives for other reasons.) Well, yes, Iran does seem to be a problem, but the authors argue that no one should be particularly bothered by an Iran with nuclear weapons. And on and on.

“It is time,” Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt write, “for the United States to treat Israel not as a special case but as a normal state, and to deal with it much as it deals with any other country.” But it’s not. And America won’t. That’s realism."(END QUOTE)

That for the "gray lady" is the equivalent of throwing in the towel: they cannot ignore or really trash the book, they would like to, but they can't...

Trying to compare Israel to Britain is really a pitiful ploy... Do you know how many times the USA nearly went to war with the UK? We actually went to war twice. Do you know how much we charged them for the "lend-lease destroyers" when they had their backs to the wall in WWII? Do you know how "special" England is for Irish Americans? What a load of rubbish!

I would say then that it's "official", the book cannot be "ignored". The NYT is America's newspaper of reference and they have not ignored it and they have gingerly waltzed around the charge of antisemitism... hinting around it by calling the analysis, "cold". Not only is the book not to be ignored, its hot, hot, hot. The Israelis better start their war soon, by next week it might be too late.

Charlie Rose interview of Robert Novak

Robert Novak tells it like it is, once again.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is it hard for a journalist to criticize Israel?

ROBERT NOVAK: Well, you suffer if you do. I think.

CHARLIE ROSE: Have you suffered?


CHARLIE ROSE: How have you suffered?

ROBERT NOVAK: I lost papers because of it. Advertisers dropped their—threatened newspapers. They did drop the Evans and Novak column that—

CHARLIE ROSE: But the Evans and Novak column is history. I`m talking about today, today.

ROBERT NOVAK: But that is history. You say, is it hard to criticize Israel? Yes. And I have suffered because of it.

CHARLIE ROSE: Is that issue out in the open now more than it was?

ROBERT NOVAK: No. I think it`s still—

CHARLIE ROSE: The Israeli lobby has too much influence on American foreign policy?

ROBERT NOVAK: I think it [The Israeli Lobby]has a lot of influence.


ROBERT NOVAK: Yes, I felt it has too much, and I believe that the—the—that the—both parties now are so committed to trying to get the Jewish community in support—it`s a very small community in numbers, but large in financial support and influence—that it`s very hard to take these positions.

[Charlie Rose show, August 3, 2007]

Charlie Rose

Speaks for Itself

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blurb from Walt and Mearsheimer

Philip Weiss gives us another blurb from the Walt Mearsheimer book, and it is a good one.

Halfway through the 2006 Lebanon War, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen--having heroically knocked off a Republican in 2004 over the incumbent's Iraq War vote--wrote a sharp letter to Condoleezza Rice urging the U.S. to pressure Israel to cease fire. Israel had caused “large loss of civilian life, and produced over 750,000 refugees.” It had weakened the Lebanese government and strengthened Hezbollah. “We have squandered an opportunity to isolate Hezbollah…” Etc.

The bravery of Van Hollen’s letter was that an antiwar congressman was speaking the truth at a moment it needed to be spoken. If America could have served any purpose in that war, it should have been to hold Israel back, or say, This is not good. Van Hollen was stomped on. Right after the letter, Schmuel Rosner clucked in Haaretz that Van Hollen was to meet with AIPAC and “he will hear that this was an unacceptable move.” An unacceptable move for a U.S. Congressman to open his mouth against an Israeli war, having gained his seat by opposing the Iraq War. Then Van Hollen issued an apology. This wasn’t enough. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington said he had to reach out to the Jewish community to undo the damage. The ADL said the apology wasn’t convincing in light of the anti-Israel character of the letter. After the war, Van Hollen duly went to Israel on a special AIPAC-affiliated junket, to learn the error of his ways.

More "un-shared" values bewtween the US and Israel.

These institutions surely receive state aid.

Haredi school rejects 'Sephardi' child

Talmud Torah school rejects four-year-old due to Sephardi grandfather. Principal says child has ‘stain’ in genealogy

Zvi Alush
Published: 09.02.07, 10:09 / Israel Jewish Scene

Anyone who thinks that racist rules are a thing of the past is wrong, according to the mother of a four-and-a-half year old child who was rejected from a Talmud Torah school because of his grandfather’s ethnicity.

“They are alive and kicking in all their ugliness in Ashkenazi haredi educational institutions,” the mother said.

Israel 2007
Melting pot or not / Yuval Kinar
An Ethiopian, Arab, Russian, strictly Orthodox, Ashkenazi and Sephardi go out to find a job, rent an apartment and enroll a child in kindergarten. Discrimination? Racism? Absolutely
Full story
The child was denied admission to a Talmlud Torah school in Beit Shemesh because of what its principal called a “stain” in his genealogy.

“Tell the child’s dear father that although he himself is completely Ashkenazi, his wife’s father is Sephardic, and we therefore cannot accept his son into our institution. We have to maintain a certain standard,” the principal said.

The child’s mother made several attempts to change the principal’s mind, to no avail.

“I begged the principal. I explained that my child is truly Ashkenazi and looks exactly like his father. Our son also speaks Yiddish, but nothing helped,” the mother said. “They explained to a friend of ours that they didn’t want to ruin their Talmud Torah with ‘damaged goods’.”

The Talmud Torah school had previously given the same explanation to several other frustrated parents who petitioned MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) for help.

The Knesset member tried several times to convince the principal to allow the rejected children admission to the school, but the principal insisted there was “no room” in the institution.

“This is a complicated problem. I don’t deal with condemning these things, just like I don’t condemn kibbutzim, which sometimes select who to accept as a member. There are communities that wish to be strict about their religion or social character. It’s not simple,” Porush said.

The school’s principal, who had previously said he only wanted “100% Ashkenazim” at his institution, told Yedioth Ahronoth he had no idea how many, if any, Sephardic children were enrolled in the school.


“There is no clause in our educational institution’s regulations about this. We only make sure that our students are good children from explicitly haredi families. Whether someone is Sephardic or Ashkenazi makes no difference to me,” the principal said.

In a statement, the Education Ministry issued a statement saying, “The ministry takes any attempt to discriminate against students because of their ethnicity or their sex very seriously.”

“The claims will be looked into, and should investigations show that the students were rejected because of their ethnic group, the ministry will take steps to force the institution to accept them.”


Great Comment on Walt and Mearsheimer Book

From David Bromwich:

the truth is that many new facts are in this book, and many surprising facts. By reconstructing a trail of meetings and public statements in 2001-2002, for example, the authors show that much of the leadership of Israel was puzzled at first by the boyish enthusiasm for a war on Iraq among their neoconservative allies. Why Iraq? they asked. Why now? They would appear to have obtained assurances, however, that once the "regime change" in Iraq was accomplished, the next war would be against Iran.

A notable pilgrimage followed. One by one they lined up, Netanyahu, Sharon, Peres, and Barak, writing op-eds and issuing flaming warnings to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was a menace of world-historical magnitude. Suddenly the message was that any delay of the president's plan to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq would be seized on by "the terrorists" as a sign of weakness. Regarding the correct treatment of terrorists, as also regarding the avoidance of weakness, Americans look to Israelis as mentors in a class by themselves.


Yet the chief orchestrater of the second neoconservative war of aggression is Elliott Abrams. Convicted for deceptions around Iran-Contra, as Lewis Libby was convicted for deceptions stemming from Iraq--and pardoned by the elder Bush just as Libby had his sentence commuted by the younger--Abrams now presides over the Middle East desk at the National Security Council.


How mad is Elliott Abrams? If one passage cited by Mearsheimer-Walt is quoted accurately, it would seem to be the duty of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to subject Abrams to as exacting a challenge as the Senate Judiciary Committee brought to Alberto Gonzales. The man at the Middle East desk of the National Security Council wrote in 1997 in his book Faith or Fear: "there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart--except in Israel--from the rest of the population." When he wrote those words, Abrams probably did not expect to serve in another American administration. He certainly did not expect to occupy a position that would require him to weigh the national interest of Israel, the country with which he confessed himself uniquely at one, alongside the national interest of a country in which he felt himself to stand "apart...from the rest of the population." Now that he is calling the shots against Hamas and Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran, his words of 1997 ought to alarm us into reflection.