I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf the region – and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions – not just words – that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.
Nelson Mandela died at his Johannesburg home on December 5. The man who led South Africa out of the bondage of national apartheid, died at the age of 95.
The world has responded with an outpouring of praise for the man who served as South Africa’s first post-apartheid president.
Leaders from western nations, where Mandela was once scorned as a “terrorist” revolutionary, rushed to get in line to recall him as a great leader.
A public memorial service is planned for Tuesday in a Johannesburg outdoor stadium. Mandela will be buried at his ancestral home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, on December 15.
The British newspaper, the Independent, took note of Mandela’s moral authority:
Nelson Mandela was the most respected, and probably the most loved of all world leaders in the late 20th century, and the most enduring of the heroes who emerged from the political convulsions of the 1980s. . . .
For 27 years in jail he refused to compromise his principles, while for most of that time his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), was broken. But he emerged in February 1990 to become the dominant influence in his country, without whom peace was unlikely.
When he was elected President in April 1994, he was accepted by whites as well as blacks as the embodiment of his country’s new democracy, with a unique moral authority.
Among those who quickly announced that they will travel to South Africa to honor this man of ”a unique moral authority” were U.S. President Barack Obama and two earlier U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Jimmy Carter, another former U.S. president, will travel to Johannesburg with a delegation of The Elders, a group of “independent, progressive leaders committed to peace, justice and human rights”.
The Elders group was founded by Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on July 18, 2007, his 89th birthday. (To read further and to see and head Mandela’s 1990 television interview with Ted Koppel, click here.)
Netanyahu’s Flawed Vatican Charm Offensive
With the U.S. Congress safely in his back pocket, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has turned his charm offensive on the Vatican. How is that working out for him?
It does not look promising. The Prime Minister forgot the first rule of charm school: Target your prey gently. Avoid all punches to the mid-section.
The international Jewish News Agency (JTA) reported on Monday’s meeting between Netanyahu and Pope Francis:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a Vatican audience with Pope Francis reportedly invited the pontiff to visit Israel. No date has been set for a visit by Francis to Israel, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. Netanyahu on Monday presented the pope with a book about the Spanish Inquisition written by his father, the late historian Benzion Netanyahu.”
An invitation to drop by for a visit to Tel Aviv along with a gift to the Holy Father recalling the dark moments of the Spanish Inquisition? Bad form, Mr. Prime Minister.
The book delivered to the Pope was written by Netanyahu’s father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu, who died recently at the age of 102. The pride of a son could be one justification for the gift. The book, The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th Century Spain, is considered the elder Netanyahu’s finest work.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was quick to note the incongruity of a book as a gift to the Pope which denounces the sins of Pope Francis’ 15th century predecessor, one that “largely revolves about Spanish Catholics questioning, torturing, and punishing Jewish converts to Catholicism,” a practice first legally sanctioned by Pope Innocent IV in 1252. (To continue reading, click here.)
The Secret Mission of William J. Burns
“The Secret Mission of William J. Burns” is a true story that begins in Amman, Jordan. The year is 1983.
William J. Burns, a 27-year-old U.S. Foreign Service officer, is on his first overseas post to Amman, Jordan.
War is raging between Iran and Iraq. Burns volunteers to drive a truck load of communications equipment across the desert from Amman to Baghdad, Iraq, a distance of 500 miles.
As soon as the freshly-minted diplomat reaches the Iraqi border, he is arrested and held for two days before being escorted to the capital by police.
As Burns would later recall, his career “didn’t exactly get off to a rocket-propelled start.” After that two-day delayed mission to Baghdad, however, the career of William J. Burns has taken off like a rocket.
Currently serving as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Burns (pictured above with President Obama) has just completed a far more significant secret mission. He has led ”a secret U.S. back channel to Iran going back to before the June election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani”.
Laura Rosen has the story on her Back Channel news blog: (To continue reading, click here.)
by James M. Wall
When President Barack Obama named Senator John Kerry as his Secretary of State, he opened the door for a new chair to assume control of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: New Jersey’s Democratic Senator Robert Menendez.
Menendez (at right) replaced Senator Kerry as chairman on February 1, 2013. On March 5, the new chairman spoke to the annual AIPAC policy council in Washington.
His talk concluded with this ringing promise: ”You have my hand in friendship and the power of my office. Shalom”
He is keeping that promise. This week, speaking with the “power” of his office, he took a strong position against President Obama’s effort to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran.
When word went out from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress, that this was the time to stand with Israel, Senator Menendez was ready with his op ed.
Menendez wrote in USA Today, “We cannot substitute wild-eyed hope for clear-eyed pragmatism given Iran’s record of deception.”
In demeaning Iran’s “so-called charm offensive”, the Senator used a phrase initially voiced by Benjamin Netanyahu. (To continue reading, click here.)
Congress and Israel Against Obama and Kerry; “Which Side are You On?”
This week, two intrepid American Jewish journalists, Richard Silverstein and MJ Rosenberg, reminded somnolent Americans that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu has declared diplomatic war against the White House.
It is not a new war. What is different this time is that Israel’s leader has openly enlisted the U.S. Congress in his campaign.
It is that simple, Congress and Israel on one side; Barack Obama and John Kerry on the other. On his website, Tikun Olan, Silverstein explains why this is a different level for this diplomatic war.
The Obama administration proposes to soften “some parts of the anti-Iran sanctions regime” in order to reach a workable nuclear agreement with Iran. The Israeli government has a different scenario in mind for Iran. It wants war. President Obama, John Kerry, and the American people do not want another Middle East war.
This is open diplomatic warfare, not the usual back room maneuver of Israeli lobbyists slipping copies of pro-Israel legislation to congressional staff members.
Israel’s Iranian marching orders to the U.S. Congress have been issued: Squeeze the Iranian economy with even harsher sanctions. (To continue reading, click here.)
John Kerry: Unfiltered In His Own Words
by James M. Wall
He did so in order to send a public message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
An Israeli writer for the right-wing Jerusalem web site, Times of Israel, got the message. He did not, however, like what he heard. He relayed his negative reaction in his story:
For the first time since he managed to restart the [Israel-Palestine peace] talks in July, Kerry dropped his statesman-like public impartiality, and clearly spoke from the heart — and what emerged were a series of accusations that amounted to a forceful slap in the face for Netanyahu. It was a rhetorical onslaught that the prime minister cannot have expected and one he will not quickly forget. (emphasis added by blogger)
The writer with that perspective is Raphael Ahren, diplomatic correspondent for theTimes of Israel, a Web-only, English-language Israeli newspaper, launched in February earlier this year by Seth Klarman, a wealthy American Jewish investor.
Klarman, according to Wikipedia, has also been the longtime chairman and a financial supporter of The David Project, a Boston-based group which sponsors pro-Israel advocacy programs on American college campuses.
Using words from Kerry’s TV interview, and then filtering them through the Times‘ right-wing perspective, Ahren continues: (To continue reading, click here.)
Do Peace Talks Point to a Carthaginian Peace?
by James M. Wall
Givot Olam’s first announcement revealed that “significant quantities” of oil had been found in the mud of Meged 5, a drill site close to the Palestinian village of Rantis, north west of Ramallah.
Rantis is located close to the Green Line, the 1967 line that initially separated Israel from the West Bank. Israel had been searching for oil around Rentis since at least 2002, an action in violation of international law as well as a violation of the Oslo Agreement, which required that Israel and Palestine refrain from any unilateral exploration of national resources in the occupied territories.
Oil development in the West Bank would boost the Palestinian economy. It could also help develop a strong Palestinian nation on the east side of the Green Line.
The game Israel has played with its decade long development of an oil field that clearly extends well into the West Bank, is a game Israel intends to win.
The Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ), describes the village of Rantis where the game is being played.
Rantis, is a small Palestinian village located to the northwest of Ramallah district in the Palestinian West Bank. It has a total population of 2688 inhabitants and a built up area of 458 dunums (115 Acres). The village is inhabited mostly by 6 clans (Wahdan, Hallaf, Ballot, Dar Abo Salim, Al Yahee, Hawashe. Most of Rantis villagers depend on agriculture as their main source of income. (To continue reading and for more on a carthagenian peace. click here.)
“Laying by time” Gives Diplomacy a Chance
by James M. Wall
In the rural South of the 1930s,”laying by time” usually came, according to one writer, “when the last weed-hoeing was done, marking the start of a down-time until harvest”.
It was also a time of anxiety as “farmers looked for second jobs or, as James Agee put it in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, ’hung as if on a hook on his front porch in the terrible leisure.’”
President Obama was thrust into his own foreign policy “laying by time” September 24, when he went before the United Nations General Assembly and delivered whatNew Republic writer John B. Judis called “his most significant foreign policy statement since becoming president”.
The UN speech also began a “time of anxiety” for the president’s foreign policy team which found itself hanging on Agee’s hook on their own “front porch in the terrible leisure”.
Susan Rice, Obama’s new national security advisor, seized the “terrible leisure” time the president gave her by setting up a series of Saturday morning policy review meetings with a small number of administration officials.
U.S. Jews Battle Over Blumenthal’s “Goliath”
Max Blumenthal is a young Jewish American journalist whose father, Sidney Blumenthal, was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton from August 1997 until January 2001.
Preparing to write his latest book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, Max Blumenthal (shown here) spent four years reporting from Israel and occupied Palestine.
His father’s political connections did not pave the way for his interviews. All the son needed was his American passport and Jewish identity. Both Palestinians and Jews wanted to tell their stories.
In his research Blumenthal had easy access to major Israeli literary figures like Israeli novelist David Grossman. In his interview with Grossman, which he reports in his book, Blumenthal refers to his father’s earlier career in the Clinton administration.
What provoked this rare reference to his father was Grossman’s emotional defense of Israel as an essential safe haven for Jews. Blumenthal writes:
For Grossman and liberal Zionists like him, the transformation of Israel from an ethnically exclusive Jewish state into a multiethnic democracy was not an option.
“For two thousand years” Grossman told me when I asked why he believed the preservation of Zionism was necessary, “we have been kept out, we have been excluded. And so for our whole history we were outsiders. Because of Zionism we finally have the chance to be insiders.” (To continue reading, check here.)
Israel Hides Nukes Behind “Ambiguity” Wall
This week’s Geneva nuclear table talks pit Iran against the Big Five Security Council members, plus Germany.
Iran sits alone at the table, seeking release from its “sanctions jail” incarceration from its jailers, the Big Five plus one nations.
Israel will not be in the room, even though the region’s self-proclaimed “only democracy”, is Iran’s chief accuser in these talks.
Israel’s leaders will be back home, hiding behind what Israel calls its “ambiguity wall”, a metaphorical entity which hides at least 80 Israeli nuclear war heads, plus the material to build hundreds more.
The ambiguity wall has protected Israel’s growing nuclear arsenal from the world’s eyes since the 1950s. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician working in Dimona, breached the wall when he leaked the country’s nuclear secrets to a British newspaper.
Vanunu said Israel had at least 100 nuclear weapons. He was kidnapped by Israeli Mossad agents in Rome and quickly convicted of espionage and treason. He served a jail term of 18 years, 11 of which were in solitary confinement.
After his release in 2004, Vanunu was forbidden to leave the state of Israel or speak with journalists. Born in Marrakech, Morocco, to a Sephardi rabbi, Vanunu learned the hard way that it is not nice to talk about what goes on behind Israel’s “ambiguity wall”. (To continue reading, click here.)
Bob Dylan: “For the times they are a-changin”
“For the times they are a-changin”, is a line from the third verse of Bob Dylan’s 1964 classic American protest hymn, released as the title track of Dylan’s 1964 album.
In 1985, Dylan told Cameron Crowe, who was writing cover copy for a later Dylan album:
“This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced, of course, by the Irish and Scottish ballads …’Come All Ye Bold Highway Men’, ‘Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens’.
I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time.” (Wikipedia)
I was reminded of Dylan’s “song with a purpose” while attempting to decipher the reaction to two recent United Nations General Assembly speeches, specifically, one from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and another from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The positive response to Rouhani is startling compared to the surprisingly negative reaction evoked by Netanyahu. Times are most certainly changing when an Israeli leader is trumped on the world stage so decisively by a leader of Iran. (To continue reading, and to view Bruce Springsteen singing “For the times they are a-changin”, click here.)
Netanyahu and Obama Seek “The Truth”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the United States this week, vowing to expose “the truth” about Iran.
The exposure vow from Netanyahu was just the opening barrage in what is expected to be a four-day visit with ample diplomatic fisticuffs.
Obama spoke last week to the United Nations General Assembly and pledged to turn his attention to a pursuit for peace in the Middle East. Specifically, he said he would focus on resolving the issue of Iran’s nuclear development and finding a path to peace between Israel and Palestine.
In Obama’s UN speech he forcefully pointed to the two issues which will consume his diplomatic energies “in the near term”:
America’s diplomatic efforts will focus on two particular issues: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Arab- Israeli conflict. While these issues are not the cause of all the region’s problems, they have been a major source of instability for far too long, and resolving them can help serve as a foundation for a broader peace. (To continue reading, click here.)
Iran’s Rouhani: “The World Has Changed”
On July 30, 2009, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan wrote a column in the American Conservative. He called it, “Tell Israel No”. Here is a key paragaph:
“Israel has been saying for years an Iranian bomb is months away. Where is the proof? Where is the evidence to justify a new U.S. war in the Middle East to destroy weapons of mass destruction that may not exist in Iran, as they did not exist in Iraq?”
This column appeared four years ago. Nothing has changed except the date. Israel continues to cry nuclear wolf. The U.S. consistently indulges Israel in its desire to make Iran a pariah among nations.
This indulgence could start to change this week when, and if, President Obama meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The two leaders are scheduled to speak to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.
There are strong signs they will meet somewhere at the UN. The meeting could be serious, or it could just be accidentally on purpose. But it will happen.
Peaceful Pause Delivers “Stunning” News
Thanks to diplomacy, which weathered recent negative media cries of incompetence, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced that the U.S. and Russia have reached what one news outlet called a “stunning” agreement.
The Secretary made the announcement from Geneva mid-day Saturday, after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Daily Beast report by Christopher Dickey, begins:
“In a stunning agreement that could lead to the end of the Syrian crisis, Russia and the U.S. announce a plan to eliminate Assad’s chemical arsenal.
The diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva today is simply stunning. The “framework agreement for elimination of Syrian chemical weapons” reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov delivers, in writing at least, just about everything President Barack Obama demanded when he threatened to attack the Assad regime earlier this month.
The agreement calls on Syria to declare in detail its entire chemical arsenal within weeks and destroy it – along with everything involved in making it – within five or six months.”
Obama Pauses Again; Peace Wins, AIPAC Loses
Monday, September 9, was planned as a day for the White House to persuade Congress to support military strikes on Syria. The highlight of the day’s “persuade Congress” plan was a White House appearance by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
After a luncheon meeting with President Obama, Clinton pledged her every effort to gain “yes” votes from Congress for a military attack.
Midway through her statement she had to shift, however, from attack mode to peace mode. A rapid series of “surprise” developments swept through London, Moscow and Damascus before dark in Washington Monday.
We may not know until the tell-all book on President Obama’s second term is published. But it sure looks like the Obama team spent this past weekend changing its “persuade Congress” plan to a “further pause for peace” plan.
Whatever it was, something led to the weekend shift in White House plans.
The Obama team had read the polls. It was obvious that the majority of the American public wanted no part of more U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Members of Congress read the same polls.
At first only the most hard line pro-Israel members of the House and Senate raised their hands to give a yes vote for an attack. A strange assortment of Republicans, Democrats, progressives and conservatives lifted their hands to defiantly vote no to an attack. (To continue reading, click here.)
Obama Pauses; Calls for Debate in Congress
In a surprise move Saturday afternoon, President Barack Obama announced he would ask for a Congressional debate before he would order any air strikes on Syria.
Speaking at a hastily-called press conference in the White House rose garden, the President said: “I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.”
Ma’an, the Palestinian news service, notes that the decision to take the issue to Congress “represents a significant gamble for Obama”. He “risks suffering the same fate as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who on Friday lost his own vote on authorizing military action”.
The television network, MSNBC, reported that White House officials point to Cameron’s defeat in the Parliament as one reason the President decided to delay action against Syria until Congress could return and hold its debate.
The U.S. House of Representatives confirms it will consider a measure on military action against Syria the week of Sept. 9, according to House Speaker John Boehner. (To continue reading, click here.)
Is Israel Serious About Peace?
by James M. Wall
A few weeks after a new round of U.S.-sponsored talks began between Israelis and Palestinians, Israel activated its plan to construct 1,500 apartments in East Jerusalem.
The new construction will be in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, the project initially announced by Israel during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s 2010 visit to Israel.
Early Monday morning, a few hours before another peace talk session was scheduled to be held at the Jericho home of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, IDF soldiers entered the Palestinian Qalandia refugee camp.
The IDF said it was looking for a “terrorist” suspect, Yousef al-Khatib, a recently-released prisoner who had been incarcerated for ten years in an Israeli army prison. UNRWA said one of those killed on Monday was Robin al-Abed, a 34-year-old father of four, who worked for UNRWA. He was walking to work when he was shot in the chest. The agency condemned the killing.
To protest the killings, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cancelled Monday night’s peace session. Meanwhile, the question persists: Does Israel have a government that is serious about peace?
Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: Why should Israel even pretend to be serious about peace when it already has the peace it wants. That peace is called “occupation”, a state of affairs in which an invading army assumes total and permanent control of an occupied population. (To continue reading, click here.)
Will Palestine Retain Its Natural Gas Fields?
For the moment, all is quiet on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front. Is it “too quiet”, as they once asked in movie westerns?
That depends entirely on what kind of peace is being discussed. Does danger lurk, or does a just peace lie ahead?
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry could be working furiously behind the scenes for a just peace. If so, he would be demanding that the natural gas fields off the Gaza coast remain under Palestinian control.
An industry web site , offshore technology.com, describes the potential of the Gaza coast gas fields:
Gaza Marine gas field is located 30km off the coast of the Gaza Strip, in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It lies at a water depth of 603m. The development of the Gaza field has been on hold for several years due to disputes between Israel and the Palestinians.
Not surprisingly, Israel has already treated the gas fields as its personal property. On June 16, 2011, Oil Price.com wrote:
Earlier this week Israel’s Ministry of National Infrastructure authorized Noble Energy, a crude oil and gas exploration U.S. based company based in New York, to begin developing a natural gas field off the Gaza Strip coastline. (To continue reading, click here.)
Peace Talks Begin Despite Political Resistance
The first session of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks began Wednesday evening in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat are representing their respective sides.
U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, is chairing the meeting. A second working session is planned for “later this month” in the West Bank city of Jericho.
In the hours leading up to Wednesday’s opening session, signs were not good for a successful conclusion to the talks.
Possibly with encouragement from the U.S., Israel agreed to release a proposed 126 Palestinian prisoners currently held in its military prison. This action made it difficult for the Palestinian Authority to stay away from the talks.
The release of prisoners was resisted within the Israeli public, which is still chafing over the release of 1027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held for five years by Hamas.
To demonstrate that Israel was in no danger of giving away the store, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on the eve of the talks that the Israeli goverment would issue 2000 housing permits for construction in existing Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. (To continue reading, click here.)
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears”— James Weldon Johnson
by James M. Wall
This blog has an internal statistics page which reports a daily compilation of the number of “visits” to the current posting. The same page also reports on visits to previous postings.
A few days ago I noticed a few “visits” to the January 20, 2009, Wall Writings posting.
After Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States, he delivered a stirring inaugural address that called on Americans to join with him in addressing the problems facing the nation.
“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily nor in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.”
Further along in the 2009 posting, I added this about the inauguration:
Obama’s speech was followed by a benediction from 87-year-old [The Reverend] Joseph Lowery (above), from Atlanta, Georgia, whose opening words must have sounded familiar to the millions of African Americans in the crowd and around the nation.
Lowery’s prayer began with the third verse of James Weldon Johnson’s hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, which, since it was written in 1920, has emerged as the “national anthem” of the African American community.
During these late summer weeks, as we await the closely-guarded news from the ongoing “peace talks” between Israel and Palestine, the third verse of “Lift Every Voice” appears even more relevant today than it was in 2009. Here are the words that begin the third verse: (To continue reading, click here.)
Kerry Stumbles Into a Peace “Bully” Role
Nicola Nasser, a blogger from Bir Zeit, Palestine, has delivered a stinging rebuke to John Kerry on the eve of the meetings with the U.S., Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
When preparations for the talks began, Kerry asked Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas not to comment on the conversations they had with Kerry prior to the Washington meeting.
Sorry, Mr. Secretary, but If the Edward Snowden/NSA fiasco has taught us anything, it is this: There are no secrets in the internet age.
The U.S. Secretary of State cannot meet with a delegation from the 22-member Arab League in Petra, Jordan. as Kerry did on July 17, and expect his strategy to retain confidential.
Certainly not with bloggers like Nasser writing under this blunt headline, ”Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians”,
This is how Nasser began his posting:
A new tactic by US Secretary of State John Kerry is causing a split within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) ranks regarding further talks with Israel. Kerry is apparently using the Arab League’s Follow-Up Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative (FCAPI) to bully the Palestinians into accepting new ground rules for the talks to which they had objected in the past. (To continue reading, click here.)
Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to name Martin Indyk as the U.S. Representative to the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiation. Indyk has been around this peace talk track before.
He belongs to a small group of Jewish diplomats who have specialized in Middle East negotiations. The same names come up with every new effort to reconcile Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
This time the key player is Indyk. Who is he?
Indyk (shown above at right with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert) began his Washington career as an AIPAC staffer, served as executive director of an AIPAC think tank offshoot, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and then served two short terms as the first foreign-born U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
Indyk was born to a Jewish family in London, England. The family moved to Australia where Indyk grew up in the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1972. He received his PhD in international relations from the Australian National University in 1977. Indyk emigrated to the United States and later gained American citizenship in 1993.
Indyk’s pro-Israel credentials are spelled out by Phillip Weiss, writing in Mondoweiss: (To continue reading, click here.)
Livni Warns Israel It Faces A Worldwide Boycott
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is the Israeli cabinet minister with the task of finding a way back to peace talks. At the moment, she is one more frustrated negotiator.
Livni was so frustrated that she kicked off the month of July with a speech in which she said that if negotiations with the Palestinians don’t start up again soon, Israel will face a worldwide economic boycott. The Jerusalem Post reported on her speech:
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni warned Monday at an accountants’ conference in Eilat that lack of progress on the Palestinian track could lead to a potential disaster for Israeli exports.
“Europe is boycotting goods,” said Livni, head of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians. “True, it starts with settlement [goods], but their problem is with Israel, which is seen as a colonialist country. Therefore, it won’t stop at the settlements, but [will spread] to all of Israel,” she said.
This is not what we expect to hear from an Israeli minister. Nor it is usual for a minister to address the youth of her country with this reminder:
During her Eilat speech, Livni said she was impressed that youth in the country protested against the government decision to export natural gas.
“I appreciate the fact that they care and are thinking about the future, and obligating us to think about the future,” she said. “But the time has come for the same youth to ask, to what kind of state do they want to leave the gas reserves? (To continue reading, click here.)
“One Day Ramallah Will Rise Up”
“One Day Ramallah Will Rise Up” is the title of a current column by the provocative Ha’aretz writer, Gideon Levy.
During this same week, Uri Avnery, another Israeli provocateur, entitled his Gush Shalom column, “The Human Spring”. He sees, and clearly feels, the presence of a “hidden mechanism” pushing the world forward in this post-Arab Spring period.
I would not suggest Levy and Avnery conspired to deliver a common theme to our in-boxes during this first week of July. But there is no doubt that Levy and Avnery have sensed the presence of a “hidden mechanism” of change in Palestine. It is a change happening in Ramallah, Palestine’s temporary capital, and in the rest of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and in Gaza. Uri Avnery opens his “hidden mechanism” column:
When asked what he thought about the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Communist leader, famously answered: “It’s too early to say.”
This was considered a typical piece of ancient Chinese wisdom – until somebody pointed out that Zhou did not mean the revolution of 1789, but the events of May 1968, which happened not long before the interview in question.
Even now it may be too early to judge that upheaval, when students tore up the cobblestones of Paris, confronted the brutal police and proclaimed a new era. It was an early forerunner of what is happening today all over the world.
It was in May of 1968 when young people demanded change they longed for, focused primarily on freedom. The Arab Spring, and what follows it, is our current generation’s tangible response to this same demand for political freedom. (To continue reading, click here.)
Kerry Undertakes One Last Anti-War Mission
by James M. Wall
Despite the lack of any visible signs of success, the U.S. Secretary of State remains determined to resolve what is generally seen in official Washington as an intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine.
In a June 30 editorial, The New York Times saw little prospect for success, despite the fact that “Mr. Kerry keeps doggedly plowing forward.”
Indeed, as the Times reports, the Secretary is giving every impression that he sees progress ahead. He sure acts that way. Note his travel schedule:
“On Thursday [June 27], he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, then drove to Amman to confer with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday. He later flew by helicopter back to Jerusalem for another meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, then one with President Shimon Peres of Israel. On Saturday and Sunday, he shuttled between the leaders again.”
This is not Kerry’s first political rodeo. There is nothing quite like rising from his role as an anti-war Vietnam veteran to become a U.S. senator, a U.S. presidential candidate and chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, to teach someone the art of politics.
John Kerry’s first appearance on the American political scene was as a young Navy lieutenant appearing before the same Senate Foreign Relations Committee which he would one day chair. (1971 picture of Kerry testifying above).
It was in that senate committee testimony that a young navy veteran told the senators that he and his fellow veterans against the Vietnam war were “undertaking one last mission” to end a war. (To continue reading, click here.)
“Poor George, he can’t help it . . .”
by James M. Wall
This memorable line from future Texas Governor Ann Richards was aimed at soon-to-be President George H. W. Bush. It was included in Richards’ keynote address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Michael Dukakis as its candidate to oppose Bush.
It is a superb Texas sweet-talking barbed description, dripping with sarcasm and righteous anger. It came to me that this is a term that fits all sizes of U.S. politicians who “can’t help it” when it comes to Israel. They were born into political life with the silver foot of the Israeli narrative dictating their every political move.
The video of Richards’ famous line is at the end of this posting.
I recalled the impact of that 1988 “Poor George” line when I read what former President Bill Clinton said at an event honoring Israeli President Shimon Peres on the occasion of Peres’ 90th birthday:
“The longer the Palestinian conflict remained unsolved, the more acute the demographic challenge would become for Israel. […] No matter how many settlers you put out there, the Palestinians are having more babies than the Israelis as a whole… You’ve got an existential question to answer.”
Poor Bill, he can’t help it. He talks about Palestine and Israel as though Palestine is not in the room. He can’t help it. Demographics is the problem? Please.
Clinton’s speech was delivered on the opening night of the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, held in Jerusalem. It was an upbeat look to the future by the famous guests. (To continue reading and to view the Richards’ video, click here.)
Clinton and Netanyahu Not Good for Obama
With friends like former President Bill Clinton and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, what is a fellow like President Obama to do?
As a start, he could get a few second opinions.
President Obama is struggling to help resolve an ugly civil war in Syria. He is also working to relieve U.S. tensions with Iran, which has just elected Hassan Rohani (left), a moderate, as its new president.
For most observers who are not in Israel’s rapidly shrinking circle of friends, the news of Rohani’s election is reassuring. The new president won with 50.7 per cent of the vote, avoiding a run-off with his closest opponent who had only 16 per cent.
Rohani’s victory should be good news for easing tensions in the region. What is not so good for Obama is the advice and public shoving he is receiving from his two self-serving friends, Clinton and Netanyahu.
The only cleric is the list of six candidates, Rohani sided with the Iranian students after the Green Party’s apparent victory in the 2009 presidential election was rejected by Iran’s ruling clerics. He has served in the past as a effective nuclear negotiator for Iran. He has shown that he not a hard-liner, but a man willing to negotiate.
The Syrian civil war between Syrian’s government and rebel opposition is the second Middle East crisis currently confronting Obama. Until now, President Obama has refrained from any military involvement in that war. Until, that is, former President Bill Clinton couldn’t resist saying, “Do what I did, Mr. President”.
Maureen Dowd reports that Clinton, whose wife is almost certain to run for president in 2016, shoved Obama out of his previous cautious stance on military action in Syria. (To continue reading, click here.)
Kerry Delays Orwellian Trip to Middle East
by James M. Wall
The Secretary will remain in Washington to attend strategy sessions on Syria.
The delay in starting his fifth trip should give Kerry time to add the writings of George Orwell and Rashid Khalidi to his Tel Aviv flight reading assignment.
The Washington strategy sessions on Syria which delayed Kerry’s trip, were hastily arranged after a major military encounter at Al-Qusayr, Syria.
Hezbollah, which the New York Times recently described as “the powerful Lebanese Shiite Muslim organization”, (eschewing, surprisingly, the usual pejorative media phrase: “which Israel and the US consider a terrorist group”) joined President Bashar al-Assad’s regular Syrian army forces in a major military victory in the Syrian civil war.
Here is how the Times reported on that battle in the city of Al-Qusayr, which as the map above reveals, is a crucial border crossing point between Lebanon and Syria, which is a matter of considerable interest to Israel.
“Last week, Hezbollah fighters helped the Syrian government seize the strategic crossroads town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, from rebels who had held it for more than a year. . . . Hezbollah’s core followers in Lebanon have been unwavering in their support for the group’s recent escalation of its role in Syria, even as dozens of Hezbollah fighters have been killed or injured fighting in Syria against fellow Arab Muslims — a new kind of battle for a group that was founded to fight Israel.”
Al-Qusayr complicates John Kerry’s task as a peace envoy when next he travels to Tel Aviv. The “peace process” of which this next trip is just the latest episode, has been built on decades of deceit. Increasingly, that deceit has been exposed for all to see, and except in Israel, lament. (To continue reading, click here.)
Have Church/State Leaders Endorsed Injustice?
The two political leaders pictured here are U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Middle East Quartet Representative and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The two men are walking next to a wall at the Villa Taverna, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Rome, Italy, on May 9, 2013.
Less than a month later,Secretary Kerry spoke to the World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan, where he introduced an initiative he hopes will break an “impasse” between Israel and Palestine.
Kerry called his initiative,“Breaking The Impasse.” He claimed that his plan would:
triple tourism to the occupied Palestinian territories, double or triple Palestinian agriculture production, increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent, and foster the construction of a whopping 100,000 new, energy efficient Palestinian homes in the West Bank.
Tony Blair was to be in charge of the initiative. This is the same Tony Blair who was given an assignment to organize for peace on behalf of the Quartet, which hired him for that purpose. The Quartet is composed of leaders from the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia.
We have to believe that Kerry’s “ambitious initiative” was developed on walks like the one Kerry and Blair took last month in Rome. At some point, we must also assume a staffer hauled out a dictionary to make sure the parties involved (both English-speakers) understood that an “impasse” is a ”road or passage having no exit; a cul-de-sac”.
Furthermore, a “cul-de-sac”, as we all know, is designed purposely not to be broken. (To continue reading, click here.)
Why Gitmo Was Not Closed from the Get-Go
On May 23, 2013, our still young, but now greying, President Obama delivered what he hoped would be “a change speech”.
The speech was delivered to National Defense University, at Fort McNair in Washington DC. Reuters began its report on the speech:
President Barack Obama on Thursday (May 23) shifted the United States away from a “boundless global war on terror,” restricting deadly drone strikes abroad and signaling that America’s long struggle against al Qaeda will one day end.
In a major policy speech, Obama narrowed the scope of the U.S. targeted-killing campaign against al Qaeda and its allies and took new steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison – controversial elements of the U.S. counterterrorism fight that have drawn condemnation at home and abroad.
The speech dealt with a larger policy of the Obama administration, a pledge to narrow the “scope” of the targeted-killing drone campaign which Obama inherited and which he has shown little sign of wanting to give up. His progressive critics believe it is time Obama did more than narrow the “scope” of the drone program. They want it ended.
Obama also dealt with a more specific action, closing the US military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba. Obama has promised to close Guantanamo during his campaign for president. He failed to do so in his first term.
Reluctant to criticize specific actions of his presidential predecessors, Obama missed an opportunity to appropriately lay the blame for the existence of the Guantanamo prison squarely at the feet of President George W. Bush.
How are we to understand this moment in history? We may start by thinking of an earlier moment in our history, captured by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in a poem entitled, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. (To continue reading, click here.)
Ten Years After US Invades Iraq, Israel Eager to Take the US Into Round Two
Ten years after the US invaded Iraq in 2003, another Middle East war looms large between the West and Muslim states.
Signs point to the strong possibility that Israel, and its US Zionist supporters, remain determined, first, to draw the US into the Syrian Civil War, and second, to lead Israel in a joint attack against Iran.
All from the skies, of course. Boots on the ground have not served well in the past, too visible, too costly in “our” lives lost.
At a cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel was prepared to attack Syria for the third time this month “to stop the transfer of advanced Fateh-110 missiles to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.”
Why not? He got away with it before, using the “self defense” righteous rationale that empires employ as they increase their power one step at a time. This is the way empires grow. It is also the way they die, one pyrrhic victory after another.
Secretary of State John Kerry is doing his best to persuade Russia to help the US pull the Syria parties to peace talks before a civil war extends beyond its boundaries.
He will find little support from US domestic Zionist forces who are as hungry for war as is Israel
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s continued “defense” actions threatens another war between the West and Muslim states, ten years after the US invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. (To continue reading, click here.)
Hawking Stuns Israel With Conference Boycott
University of Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking stunned Israel last week with his announcement that he would boycott the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, scheduled to be held in Jerusalem, June 18-20.
Hawking was responding to an incongruity: He had been invited to attend an Israeli conference of scientific, economic and political world leaders under the lofty title: ”The Human Factor in Shaping Tomorrow”.
Many usual political suspects are expected to speak at the conference, including noted Israeli friends Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
Also listed as speakers are Stuart Eizenstat, Larry Summers and David Axelrod. George W. Bush was a speaker for the 2008 inaugural conference.
As a matter of conscience, Hawking will not be there.
What makes this conference such an incongruous event is that it will hold its “Shaping Tomorrow” sessions in close proximity to what is essentially a prison wall built to separate an occupied, entrapped Palestinian population, from the rest of the world.
Is this the future Israel would have us shape? Prison walls enforcing ethnic cleansing?
In his conference withdrawal statement, Hawking (above) explained his boycott decision: (To continue reading, click here.)
Israel Claims Its Attack On Syria Was “To Stop Iranian Missiles Reaching Hezbollah”
The civil war in Syria between rebel forces and President Bashar Assad’s Syrian army, escalated this weekend when Israel bombed Damascus, the capital of Syria.
With its standard rationale familiar to Gaza residents, Israel released an official story that claimed the bombing was carried out for defensive purposes.
The Reuters story in the Jerusalem Post, reported that the Israeli airstrikes, which killed “dozens of Syrian soldiers close to Damascus”, were “downplayed” by Israeli leaders.
The “downplaying” consisted of Israel’s claim it was not attempting to influence the Syrian civil war, but wanted only to “stop Iranian missiles reaching Lebanese Hezbollah militants”.
To bolster its official version of the raid, veteran Israeli lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu, told Israel Radio that ”Israel wants to avoid “an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime.” (It should be noted that Hezbollah and Assad’s government are allies)
The Post rushed past the fact that “dozens of Syrian soldiers” were killed outside Damascus. There was no mention, not even a sympathetic nod to the possibility, that civilians may also have died in the attacks.
Instead, the Post story got to the heart of the matter, the heart, that is, for Israel:
Oil prices spiked above $105 a barrel, their highest in nearly a month, on Monday as the air strikes on Friday and Sunday prompted fears of a wider spillover of the two-year old conflict in Syria that could affect Middle East oil exports. (To continue reading, click here.)
Conquerors from The Congo to The Jordan
In the late 19th century, Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingston fame),(right) was the “king’s man”—more accurately, a hired colonist conqueror—working for Belgium’s King Leopold II.
Stanley’s assignment: Seize and conquer for Belgium, the vast and unexplored territory surrounding Africa’s Congo River, a territory that stretched from Stanley Falls in the north to the mouth of the river, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Stanley and King Leopold worked with the conqueror’s template, one which the 19th and 20th century Zionist movement also utilized to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
The formula used by Leopold and the Zionists is a well-worn conquerors’ formula of deceit, deception, destruction and seizure.
In his book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild tells the sordid and sad, but still illuminating story, of Stanley’s successful conquest of Central Africa in the 19th century.
One description of the book offers a dark description of King Leopold:
Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million–all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian.
Hochschild’s book focuses on King Leopold, but the modern reader should see the historical parallel of Belgium’s African empire with the Zionist movement’s (still on-going) seizure of Palestinian land. (To continue reading, click here.)
Kerry Forgot Rule Number One: Never Question the Sacred Israeli Narrative
If you believe the Israeli and US pro-Israel media, the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry (right) is “confused” in his new job.
What led to the confusion? To those who embrace his negative media coverage, the Secretary forgot the rules.
He forgot what US Diplomats must never forget. What is that? To paraphrase a quote from the movie Fight Club:
The First Rule of US diplomacy: You do not question the Sacred Israeli Narrative.
The Second Rule of US diplomacy: You DO NOT question the Sacred Israeli narrative.
Kerry was attacked by defenders of these Rules when in a fit of compassion, he questioned one verse in one chapter from the Book of The Sacred Israeli Narrative. Annie Robbins explains:
Under the headline: Kerry likens Boston victims to ‘Mavi Marmara’ victims, Robbins reports: (To continue reading, click here.)
At Boston Interfaith Service, Obama Calls for Justice and Compassion
A Boston Marathon Interfaith memorial service, “Healing Our City”, was held at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross Thursday, April 18. It was a service that concluded with remarks delivered by President Barack Obama.
The National Journal’s Matthew Cooper called Obama’s remarks “an emotional rallying point for the city”. It was also, Cooper writes,
“a moment for Obama to speak to the nation and strike a tone between remembrance and optimism, a call for justice and a call for compassion.”
The service included a local children’s choir, prayers and remarks by political and religious leaders.
The service was held three days after two deadly explosions struck cheering bystanders at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. Three people died, two young women and an 8-year old boy, all of whom were spectators cheering for the runners. As many as 176 were injured, some of whom will lose one or both legs.
Thursday’s memorial service was held to mourn the dead and support the wounded.
The service included Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. Prominent state and local leaders were present, including Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and Obama’s rival in last year’s presidential election. (For update and to continue reading, click here.)
Cardoza Law School Ignores Dershowitz To Honor Jimmy Carter
Despite vicious opposition from the Alan Dershowitz conservative wing of the American Jewish community, Cardoza Law School honored former President Jimmy Carter April 10, for his career of work on peace and conflict resolution.
The International Advocate for Peace award was given to Carter by the student-run Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution.
The journal cited “Carter’s brokering of the 1979 peace accord between Israel and Egypt and the SALT II nuclear weapons treaty with the then-Soviet Union.”
The presentation ceremony was held at the Cardoza Law School, a part of New York City’s Yeshiva University.
Since it began as a university more than a century ago, Yeshiva, according to its website, “has been dedicated to melding the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life with the heritage of Western civilization”.
With that tradition, Yeshiva University was hardly an institution the Dershowitz radical wing of American Jewry, expected to honor Jimmy Carter.
The loudest protest voice leading the demand that the school “withdraw” Carter’s award, came from Professor Dershowitz, a law professor at Harvard University since 1967.
Dershowitz seldom misses an opportunity to demand that Carter confront him in a “public debate” on any campus where Carter is invited to appear. (To continue reading, click here.)
Confronting the “Moral Bankruptcy” of Iraq War’s Liberal Supporters
Prior to the start of the Iraq War on March 19, 2003, New York Times journalist Chris Hedges (right) occupied a lonely perch among major media journalists. He opposed the war.
Today, Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner and now a columnist for the website Truthdig, continues to write with the passion of a man set free from corporate control.
His latest posting is a perceptive analysis of both the role this nation’s political and media “liberal hawks” played in launching the Iraq war, and the ”rewriting of history” by those “liberal hawks” on the 10th anniversary of the start of that war.
In his Truthdig column, “The Treason of the Intellectuals“, Hedges asks, how did the liberal Iraq war boosters react to the tenth anniversary of the war they initially supported?
Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others . . . argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false.
[They] did what they always have done: Engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it. . . .
Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing “patriots” and their liberal apologists, became pariahs. (To continue reading, click here.)
Obama: “Look at the world through [Palestinian] eyes”
Many political progressives have harshly criticized President Obama’s recent trip to Israel and Palestine. They claim he was too warm toward Israel and too lukewarm toward Palestine.
Did these critics pay close attention to what the President actually said and saw on this trip? I don’t think so.
The president declined to speak to the Israeli Knesset, asking instead for a younger audience.
In his speech to Israeli youth, the President said:
[T]he Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and justice must also be recognized. Put yourself in their shoes — look at the world through their eyes.
It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.
In the picture above one of those Palestinian children watches his father show his papers to an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint.
Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun (below with the President) told Dauod Kuttub she was especially pleased that the arrival of a khamsin* sand storm that hit the area on Friday, forced the president to forego an Israeli helicopter. (To continue reading, click here.)
“We Have No 3G in Palestine”
Unless security forces have torn it down, the poster (shown here) was one of the sights President Obama would see if his motorcade made its way to Ramallah, Palestine on a West Bank highway.
The poster was posted on a corner after the road passes through the Qalandia checkpoint separating the West Bank from east Jerusalem.
Of course, the President would miss the poster and miss seeing the highway if he traveled to Ramallah in a helicopter. That would be unfortunate because he would miss seeing the poster which says in Arabic and English:
“President Obama, don’t bring your smart phone to Ramallah. You won’t have mobile access to Internet — we have no 3G in Palestine!”
The poster would be one of more hospitable messages a disappointed Palestinian public would offer the visiting President on his visit to the West Bank this week. (To continue reading more on the Obama trip, click here.)
Khalidi to Obama: Time For a New Course
The New York Times performed a valuable service for its readers on Wednesday, March 13, exactly one week before President Obama is scheduled to arrive on his first-ever presidential visit to Palestine and Israel.
The Times contrasted the major media voice of the liberal Zionism of the American ruling classes, with that of the voice of a champion for the Palestinian people.
Which of these voices do your leaders, political, media, or religious. respond to? As President Obama prepares to fly to Tel Aviv, this would be a good time to visit, write or call those leaders and ask them.
The Times paired its resident liberal Zionist columnist, Thomas Friedman (Mr. Obama Goes to Israel), with Palestinian-American Middle East scholar Rashid Khalidi (Is Any Hope Left…”?), Obama’s University of Chicago academic colleague and good friend.
In his column, Friedman reiterated liberal Zionism’s formulaic belief that the Middle East must be made over entirely in an empirical US/Israel image.
Friedman wants Obama to say to Israel’s leaders:
After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you.
Who defines “decent”? And who determines if Israel qualifies as “multireligious”? The answer is, Thomas Friedman, the media maven of US liberal Zionism. (To continue reading, click here.)
Will Congress Fund Iron Dome Over Head Start?
More than 13,000 delegates to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) descended on Washington this week.
AIPAC, a lobby organization with no equal in American politics, had assembled its usual list of high-profile political leaders to address the delegates.
US President Barak Obama was not among the speakers. He had a good excuse. The president is up to his neck in what Washington calls,”sequestration”, a federal budget agreement that will bring pain to American citizens.
AIPAC does not want that pain to involve anything related to Israel’s “security”.
And so it came to pass that two pro-Israel Florida lawmakers — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (shown above), a Republican, and Ted Deutch, a Democrat–introduced a bill in the House of Representatives just in time for delegates to deliver copies of the bill to congressional offices during AIPAC’s Washington lobby week.
The Ros-Lehtnen/Deutch bill, if passed, would designate Israel as a “major strategic ally,” a one-of-a-kind label. (To continue reading, click here.)
Hagel Confirmed Despite Petulant Senators
Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel assumed command of the Pentagon this week.
Hagel was sworn in after an extended and contentious encounter with neocon, petulant Republican senators, each in his or her own way, determined to damage both the nominee and President Obama.
Not since Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy hunted non-existent communists in Dwight Eisenhower’s executive branch, has the country seen such a vitriolic legislative performance
Paul Craig Roberts wrote for Global Research, “lawmakers owned by the Israel Lobby” shamed America by their attacks on Hagel.
The most embarrassing behavior of all came from the craven Lindsay Graham, who, while in the act of demonstrating his complete subservience by crawling on his belly before the Israel Lobby, dared Hagel to name one single person in the US Congress who is afraid of the Israel Lobby.
If I had been Hagel, I would have written off the nomination and answered: “You, Senator Graham, and your 40 craven colleagues.”
This would have indeed, “written off his nomination”. Hagel, however, refused to take the bait Graham offered. (To continue reading, click here.)
Right Wing Media Pushes “Friends of Hamas” Rumor
The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief in a 58-41 vote, ending the most contentious confirmation fight for a Defense secretary in U.S. history.
Only four Republicans backed Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska whose controversial statements on Israel, Iran and other issues made him a lighting rod on the right and led to the first-ever filibuster of a nominee to lead the Pentagon. GOP Sens. Thad Cochran (Miss.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), Mike Johanns (Neb.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) voted to confirm Hagel.
One rumor in the anti-Chuck Hagel campaign started as a joking question that quickly swept through the right wing media machine until it reached Fox News business guru, Lou Dobbs.
It was such an outlandish charge that it should have been ignored and tossed into the “birther” trash can. The rumor “implied” that Hagel might have received funds from an organization called “Friends of Hamas”.
Dan Friedman, the New York Daily News reporter who inadvertently launched the “Friends of Hamas” rumor, was shocked to see how quickly a joking question he posed casually over the phone, went from nowhere to everywhere. He tells his sad tale in the Daily News:
On Febrary 6, I called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill with a question: Did [Chuck] Hagel’s Senate critics know of controversial groups that he had addressed?
Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the “Junior League of Hezbollah, in France”? And: What about “Friends of Hamas”?
The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically.
No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them.
Friedman was wrong.
The right wing media machine swung into action, sending Friedman’s joking question on its mission to destroy Hagel. (Click here to continue reading.)
Republicans Block Hagel for Ten More Days
The agreement Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid (NV) thought he had reached with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY), died a slow, angry and ugly death Thursday.
When this new Senate held its first session in January, younger and more progressive Democratic members of the Senate wanted Harry Reid to take advantage of having a Democratic majority.
They urged him to make changes in the senate’s archaic rules while he had a Democratic majority vote. That action may only be taken at the start of a new congress.
Reid loves the senate and he loves its traditions. He refused to take advantage of his majority. Instead he trusted Mitch McConnell to keep his Republican minority caucus in line without any real rule changes.
Don’t they trade horses in Reid’s Nevada? Doesn’t Harry know that if a horse trader offers you a “too good to be true deal on a mare”, look closely at the animal’s past history and then study her teeth?
Harry Reid was snookered (tricked, fooled) by Mitch McConnell, who promised him a good deal on a mare in a deal that was “too good to be true” way to run the senate, the old way.
Reid was also snookered by John McCain (AZ) and Lindsay Graham (SC), (above) two veteran members of the senate who claim all they want is “more information” on what happened at Benghazi before they would allow an up or down vote on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
That is Republican-speak that has nothing to do with Benghazi and everything to do with their awareness that Hagel does not meet their “I love Israel” taste test. (To continue reading, click here.)
GOP Descends Into Its Winter of Discontent
William Shakespeare: Richard III
by James M. Wall
A major archaeological discovery was announced in Leicester, England this week.
Experts have confirmed that skeletal remains found during the excavation of a Leicester parking lot are those of Britain’s King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet kings.
Richard (at right portrayed by Kevin Spacey) was killed in 1485 by Tudor enemies during the Battle of Bosworth Field.
British officials authenticated the remains through the thoroughly modern method of DNA “fingerprinting” connecting King Richard to a 21st century male descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne.
The serendipitous timing of this archeological discovery has prompted Michael Hirsh, writing in The National Journal, to engage in a nifty bit of colligation, a 17th century word rarely used today, but one most appropriate this week, since colligation refers to “”the abstract tying together of things not previously seen as connected”.
Hirsh does not refer to colligation (I take full blame), but he does embody the term when he connects what he “ranks as one of the most titillating archaeological discoveries ever”, to the current US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on the confirmation of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary. (To continue reading, click here.)
CUFI and the Ugly Face of Hagel’s Opposition
This nation’s foreign policy is, for this weekend at least, in the pious hands of John Hagee, a Christian fundamentalist preacher from Texas.
To be sure, Hagee is not the only policy-shaker whose minions are roaming the hallowed halls of the nation’s capitol. But he is certainly the most conspicuous and overt religionist participating in the US senate battle over President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, former Senator Chuck Hagel.
Hagee created Christians United for Israel (CUFI) in February, 2006. Seven years later (a divine period which in biblical years led to the release of slaves), CUFI is buying television ads in four states, each of which has a Democratic senator who could be vulnerable to defeat in 2014.
That reads more like the creation of, rather than the release of, slaves, but then, divine commands may more often than not, be in the minds and hearts of the divine command transmitters.
At any rate, it is not seven years, but six years (the term of office for a US senator), which John Hagee assumes is on the minds of four Democratic senators who are up for reelection in 2014. The states and the senators are Arkansas (Mark Pryor), Louisiana (Mary Landrieu), Colorado (Mark Udall) and North Carolina (Kay Hagan). (To continue reading, click here.)
Are Liberal American Zionists “Delusional”?
Shortly after the polls closed in Israel’s Knesset election this past Tuesday, two American Liberal Zionist groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now (APN), were out with triumphant emails to their peace-oriented members:
Israel voters have chosen a new government that will “revive the peace process with the Palestinians and make vital moves to “save” Israel”.
Writing for Mondoweiss, the website co-edited by Philip Weiss and Adan Horowitz, Alex Kane bluntly rejects that optimistic conclusion:
In his scathing criticism of the optimism of J Street and APN, Kane sets the stage for what will most certainly be an intense struggle within the American peace camp over the meaning of this Knesset election:
The liberal Zionist wing of the American Jewish community are deluding themselves about the results of the Israeli elections. (To continue reading, click here.)
Election Could Push Israel Further To The Right
Israel’s 19th general election, Tuesday, January 22, is almost certain to be won by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
There is no serious Liberal election opposition to Likud. What is serious, however, is the very real possibility that after this election, the Israeli government could turn even harder to the political right.
In the final weeks of the campaign, Likud has been losing votes to a party even more conservative than Likud. The brash newcomer is the previously little-noticed Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party. The leader of Bayit Yehudi is a 40-year-old charismatic newcomer to Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett (shown above), who has emerged as the hottest new personality on the Israeli political scene.
Bayit Yehudi has languished in the shadows of recent Israeli elections. It currently has three members in the Knesset. Some polls indicate that number could rise to as many as 15 seats, elevating Bayit Yehudi to a third place finish among the 20 parties currently represented in the Knesset. The two leading parties are expected to be the right-wing alliance of Likud and Avidor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu.
Joel Greenberg, reporting for the Washington Post, noted the combination of religious and nationalist themes in one Bayit Yehudi campaign event:
It was a mostly young crowd that turned out on a chilly winter night to hear Naftali Bennett, the leader of the religious nationalist party Jewish Home [Bayit Yehudi], deliver an appeal for understanding — not between Israelis and Palestinians, but among Israelis themselves. (To continue reading, click here.)
Take It to the Bank, Hagel Will Win
The war against Chuck Hagel followed a predictable pattern. It will end soon when the U.S. Senate votes to confirm Hagel as President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary.
This is one of those rare occasions in American politics when you may ”take it to the bank“, that in a struggle between a U.S. presidential nominee, and the pro-Israel lobby, the presidential nominee will win.
The political war the Lobby will lose began when Lobby forces launched their initial attacks against former Republican Nebraska Senator Hagel’s rumored nomination.
Led by its media and political “myrmidons” (myrmidon: A faithful follower who carries out orders unquestioningly) the Lobby’s plan followed the usual pattern:
Strike early, suggest a safer nominee, provide liberals with political cover, and then, to whip up emotions from the dark side, play the anti-Semitic card.
Obama made the nomination at the White House on Monday, January 7. (To continue reading, click here.)
The Hagel Narrative the Neocons Want
The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that President Obama will name Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary. Sources in Washington have said that the nomination will be announced Monday or Tuesday, of next week.
Al Jazeera has purchased the struggling U.S. network, Current, which was created by former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt. Current has failed to compete in the American market but it does have outlets which Al Jazeera covets.
Al Jazeera has developed a world wide reputation as a responsible non-ideological network, a fact that must have made the sale more acceptable to Gore and his partners. In addition, according to the New York Times story on the sale:
Hagel Defenders Battle Neocon Opposition
The Washington Post wrote in a lead editorial, December 18, that President Obama should not nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as his Defense Secretary because the President “has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies.”
“Considerably closer to the mainstream” is not a good thing if the mainstream (including the Washington Post) led us to endless, pointless, fruitless occupations and wars that have deeply wounded American credibility and credit, as well as costing up to a hundred thousand innocent lives? We need less mainstream thought in Washington, not more.
The Post editorial reads like a set of instructions to a pro-Israel media/political hit squad on how to block Hagel as Obama’s nominee for Defense Secretary.
Will Israel Block Hagel as Defense Secretary?
Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (right) may be nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense.
The President is known to like his old Senate colleague, a Republican who, like Obama, considered running for president in 2008. Unlike Obama, Hagel decided not to run.
Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran, would provide Obama with a Republican in the upper echelon of his second-term cabinet, a nice touch in a season when the American movie-going public is discovering Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 “team of rivals” cabinet. The script for the film, Lincoln, is derived, in part, from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. (To continue reading, click here.)
“The fate of human dignity is in our hands.”
by James M. Wall
Writing for both Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart used a surprising phrase to describe how President Obama plans to deal with the Israel/Palestine issue during his second term.
Beinart took his clue from the “pro forma and bland” response the White House made after Israel’s defiant announcement that it would build 3,000 new housing units in a area of the West Bank known as E1.
The announcement came just days after the U.N. elevated Palestine to a non-member state status. Some of those Palestinians are shown here, standing in a long line waiting to gain admission to visit Jerusalem during Ramadan.
Obama made no personal comment regarding the new E1 housing, not even the customary “the action is not helpful” reaction. What Beinart learned from “senior administration officials” was that this bland response was the “first sign” of what “may be a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Obama’s second term: benign neglect”.
Israel Plans a “Doomsday Settlement” for E1
Israel’s response to the United Nations’ overwhelming vote to admit Palestine to the UN was easily predictable. Israel had been waiting for just this moment to announce it would build a settlement in Area E1 (East One).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was harshly rejected at the UN General Assembly, a stinging defeat he knew was coming which explains why he did not attend the GA personally.
On November 29, 2012, the General Assembly elevated Palestine to a new status as a non member observer state. Such a rejection of Israel could not stand for one simple reason: Israel has other plans for Palestine, a long envisioned series of “worker bee” Palestinian bantustans located within an expanded state of Israel.
Netanyahu retaliated for the UN vote by announcing he had authorized the building of 3000 new Jewish housing units in Area E1, a plot of land east of Jerusalem. Note carefully that E1 is east, not west of Jerusalem.
(See below for a clip from the film.) (To continue reading, click here.)
Palestine Granted UN Observer State Status
by James M. Wall
History may well record what happened on November 29, 2012, as Mahmoud Abbas’ “finest hour”.
This was the day the Palestinian Authority president announced to the world that he would no longer bow to blackmail from the West. A familiar political threat by Israel to withhold tax funds due the Authority, did not deter him.
Nor was he moved by the insulting British tactic that a pledge not to haul Israel before the world’s criminal court, would buy the Crown’s yes vote.
The U.S. State Department’s most recent contribution to the effort to force Abbas back onto the US-Israeli reservation, was both naive and arrogant.
Bill Burns, the U.S. deputy secretary of state, was sent on a last-ditch begging mission to Mahmoud Abbas’ New York hotel room to persuade the PA president to “reconsider” his request for statehood status.
Abbas ignored them all. As a result of President Abbas’ persistence, the resolution passed, granting Palestine a “non member observer state” status in the United Nations. The word “state” in that resolution is huge. It opens doors for Palestine and it represents a step up into international status which is, as of 11/29/12, 65 years overdue.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) approved the Palestinian resolution by an overwhelming majority, 138 in support with only 9 in opposition. There were 41 abstentions. (To continue reading, click here.)
Clinton In Middle East As Ceasefire Begins
To read a Wednesday update of this story, (click here.)
On her trip to the Middle East this Thanksgiving week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Tel Aviv, Israel, to meet, first, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
After this stop, the Secretary will fly to Cairo, Egypt, where Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is attempting to negotiate a ceasefire to Israel’s “Pillar of Cloud” assault on Gaza’s population.
Of course, her first stop would be to set up a photo op with the leader of her government’s “best friend” in the Middle East.
Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, finds this friendship troubling:
A central premise of US media coverage of the Israeli attack on Gaza – beyond the claim that Israel is justifiably “defending itself” – is that this is some endless conflict between two foreign entitles, and Americans can simply sit by helplessly and lament the tragedy of it all.
The reality is precisely the opposite: Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does. . . . .Pretending that the US – and the Obama administration – bear no responsibility for what is taking place is sheer self-delusion, total fiction. It has long been the case that the central enabling fact in Israeli lawlessness and aggression is blind US support, and that continues, more than ever, to be the case under the presidency of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner. (To continue reading, click here.)
Israel Looks To Exodus In Gaza Invasion
The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) selected two names for Israel’s current military assault against an imprisoned Gaza population. This is a military that thinks seriously about naming its military assaults.
The first name given the second Gaza invasion in four years is “Pillar of Cloud” (Amud Anan, in Hebrew). It was intended for use in Israeli media and was for Hebrew-speakers. The second name,”Pillar of Defense” was designed for the rest of us, those who are, presumably, less biblically informed.
The Tablet magazine, a U.S.-based, openly Jewish, Israeli-friendly, publication, explains that “Pillar of Cloud” comes from “a direct biblical allusion to the divine cloud which guided the Israelites through the desert and shielded them from those who might do them harm”.
Exodus 14:19-20 is the biblical source:
“Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.”
From its pro-Israel perspective, The Tablet justified the use of the two terms with this rather supersillious explanation: (To continue reading, click here.)
Voters to Obama: Move Now on Palestine
Joy and relief are evident on the faces of the Obama family, shown here arriving back in Washington, the day after the election. Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney on November 6, was also a moment of deep satisfaction for that segment of the American voting public that longed for a happy ending to what has been a bitter, contentious presidential campaign.
The “dark moon” that rose after Obama’s dismal first debate performance, was finally blown away. The people had voted, many standing in Republican-engendered long lines, lines that in Florida continued until 1:30 a.m., several hours after Mitt Romney conceded. Except for North Carolina, every swing state went for Obama.
The voters wanted Obama to have a second term. They made him the first second-term Democratic president to win a majority of the popular vote since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Bill Clinton won his second tern with less than a majority of the popular vote.
This strong election victory sent two messages to the President: The majority of voters did not trust Romney’s economic policies, and they are tired of fighting Israel’s wars. Implied in that second message is a demand: Move now on Israel’s decades-old occupation of the Palestinian people. In short, move now on Palestine.
To those who would say, there was no mandate on Palestine in this election, let them listen to the music, not just to the words. Israel’s wars come directly from its Occupation of Palestine. End the Occupation, and you end Israel’s embrace of military solutions. Now is the time to move on Palestine. (To continue reading, click here.)
Memo To Obama: Bring Back Chas Freeman
Less than a month after his 2009 inauguration, President Barack Obama made a move that quietly told the Israel Lobby there was a new sheriff in town.
He selected an experienced diplomat, Chas Freeman, to serve as the new administration’s Chairman of the National Intelligence Council (NIC).
In retrospect, it it is clear that this was one appointment he did not clear with any lobbyists, no matter how much the special interest crowd hung around the White House armed with their own suggestions for important assignments.
Laura Rozen wrote the first story about Freeman on February 19, 2009, in The Cable, a Foreign Policy blog. Since the position of NIC Chairman did not require Senate approval, it was largely unnoticed among the large number of appointments made by the President early in his first term.
This was how Laura Rozen broke the story of Freeman’s appointment:
Sources tell The Cable that Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community’s primary big-think shop and the lead body in producing national intelligence estimates.
Freeman has told associates that in the job, he will occasionally accompany Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing.
Romney’s “Peculiar Sense” of Geography
After eight years of running for president, Mitt Romney has yet to master the geography of the Middle East.
His knowledge appears limited to what he sees from his hotel room in Jerusalem, following the example of Sarah Palin, who is reputed to have said she understood Russia because she could see the country from her back porch.
To paraphrase Ann Richards’ memorable reference to George Bush the First, in her 1988 Democratic National Convention keynote speech, “Poor Mitt, he can’t help it, he was born in a country that has abandoned the study of geography”.
In a piece she wrote on the subject, Christina Salas lamented:
In the wake of the recent presidential election, an increased level of interest has surfaced in this country over foreign issues. While domestic economic issues arguably dominated the political scene, both candidates were repeatedly asked questions about Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and all of the other so-called rogue nations. . . .
[Unfortunately,] The education system in this country has never done a satisfactory job in pushing geographic knowledge. Just as U.S. students are losing ground in the international education rankings, so too is geography falling completely off the map in secondary education.
Sad to relate, that analysis appeared four years ago on December 10, 2008, following the last presidential campaign in which Mitt Romney sought, but failed to gain the Republican nomination. Four years later, the Republican nominee is back, still lacking a basic grasp of Middle East geography.
New York Times Flacks for Jewish Groups Against 15 Major Christian Leaders
You have to know American Jewish leaders are really riled up when they call on the New York Times to flack for them against 15 leaders of Christian churches who had the audacity to send a letter to the US Congress, which said, with proper Christian indignation:
As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel — offered without conditions or accountability — will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.
Is that clear? These church leaders are saying it is their moral responsibility to tell the Congress that it must hold Israel accountable to U.S. laws and policies when it disburses money to Israel.
So what’s the big news angle in the New York Times story for Saturday, October 20, following the release of the letter from the 15 leaders to Congress? The lead of the story should be that “American Jewish leaders defend the action of a secular state that receives more U.S. foreign aid than any other nation in the world”. (To continue reading, click here.)
The Barack Obama we saw in his second debate with Mitt Romney was the self-assured and experienced leader we have wanted to see glaring sternly at Benjamin Netanyahu.
Thus far, in his first term in office, that second debate Barack Obama has rarely been in evidence in matters pertaining to Israel. Will that President show up for the third presidential debate Monday, October 22?
Or will we see a more cautious Obama on stage for the third and final debate?
That debate will be held in at Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida. It will focus exclusively on foreign policy.
Foreign policy should be Obama’s strongest suit. He has much to point to in this field, most notably the ending of one war and the anticipated ending of a second. He is expected to acquit himself well Monday night, especially if he enters the debate with the enthusiasm and energy he displayed in the second debate at Hofstra University last week.
Romney, on the other hand, is a one-term governor from Massachusetts, who has spent most of his professional career as a business executive. He is a foreign policy neophyte, entirely dependent on largely Republican neoconservative advisors. Romney is woefully unprepared either to debate foreign policy or to lead the nation in foreign policy endeavors.
His long personal relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been highlighted by his campaign. It does not, however, bode well for future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. (To continue reading and to view the video of Romney’s failed “gotcha” moment, click here.)
Romney’s Israeli Friends Desert Him
In a foreign policy speech delivered Monday at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Governor Mitt Romney sounded, well, to be charitable, like a man in an echo chamber.
I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have.
A “Bad Moon Rising” Over An Obama Victory
Those voters looking forward to a second term for Barack Obama, were shocked by the President’s sub-par first debate performance.
A month before the election, it now appears that an Obama victory is no longer a certainty, pending a final judgment, of course, on the findings of post-debate polling.
If Obama continues his laid-back style in upcoming debates, Romney may persuade enough voters, especially in crucial swing states, that his vision of Republican conservatism, is superior to the current policies of the President.
In the first debate, the President displayed a surprising indifference to attacks from Romney. One debate performance does not a defeat make, but it does remind Obama supporters that no politician can avoid the threat of “a bad moon rising”.
The President failed to bring up the fact that money is corrupting our politics. In a recent Carter Center speech, former President Jimmy Carter (above) provided him with his text. Carter issued “a blistering indictment of the U.S. electoral process”, saying the process “is shot through with ‘financial corruption’ that threatens American democracy.” (To continue reading and to see the video of Bad Moon Rising, click here.)
NYT to Obama v. Romney, “let’s you and him fight”
Scott Shane’s New York Times story Friday, linked President Obama to President Jimmy Carter. Shane maintains that Obama, like Carter before him, could also be a one-term president.
The Times must have gone into a panic mode for its editors to set Shane loose on such a comparison. There is a good reason for that panic.
Polls show that, especially in crucial swing states, President Obama’s lead is increasing over his challenger, Mitt Romney. Even Benjamin Netanyahu (above, during his UN speech) has thrown in the towel, promising to hold off his attack on Iran until after the election.
The Times hit the panic button not because it wants Romney to win. What frightens the Times is the same realization that hits sports editors when a football team loses both its star quarterback and leading receiver just before the Super Bowl.
A month is a long time to cover a political fight when the outcome is already determined. What to do? What is a profit-oriented publication giant to do with all those political news pages to fill?
Not to worry, the Times knows narratives can be generated. It also knows the best narrative is the conflict narrative. As the old city editor always said, “conflict is what sells papers, kid, never forget that.” (To continue reading, click here.)
Obama’s UN Call For “the right to practice free speech” Does Not Embrace Beit Ommar
President Barack Obama was at his eloquent best when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly this week.
Until, that is, he inserted a jarring note that was anything but eloquent. It sounded, in fact, like a left over paragraph from Obama’s last speech to AIPAC.
Note the following contrast between the President’s explanation of why the United States does not ban even ugly and demeaning speech like that which appeared in the recent movie trailer that blasphemed the Prophet Muhammed.
The Video That Could Doom A Candidate
The presidential election is still four and a half weeks away, but the video that tells us about Republican Mitt Romney’s inner beliefs on Palestine and U.S. tax payers, may already have doomed his candidacy.
Mother Jones, a non-profit progressive publication, obtained the video of Candidate Romney speaking at a $50,000 per guest fund raiser on May 7, in Boca Raton, Florida. It is difficult to see how the Republican ticket can survive the fall-out from what it reveals about Romney.
Romney had started his current spectacular slide when he chose Clint Eastwood to speak before Romney’s nomination acceptance speech in Tampa. The off-color humor that Eastwood used was inappropriate and tasteless. It also upstaged Romney’s dull content-less speech.
Of course, Romney’s slide to a possibly doomed candidacy was already greased by Romney’s refusal to come clean on his personal finances, some of which have been stashed away in tax-free havens overseas.
Three presidential and one vice-presidential debates await the candidates. The Republican ticket of Romney and Paul Ryan could start a major comeback with those debates, but nothing in their campaign rhetoric thus far indicates they are ready to speak to any but their right-wing admirers.
How A Hate-Driven Anti-Muslim Film Led to the Death of Four U.S. Diplomats
by James M. Wall
Cole knows the Middle East and he has the writing skills to clarify the complexities of the region and how they intereact with U.S. politics as they unfold.
Cole is a public intellectual, prominent blogger (Informed Comment) and essayist. He is also the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.
After reflecting on the chaotic series of events that began with a clumsy, fraudulent YouTube preview of an anti-Muslim film produced in California, Cole offered “the butterfly effect” as the metaphor which explains how a small film led to the deaths of four U.S. diplomats in Libya, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
Cole begins his blog posting:
The late science fiction writer Ray Bradbury authored a short story about time travelers. They were careful, when they went back to the Jurassic, not to change anything, but one of them stepped on a butterfly. When they got back to the present, the world was slightly different.
When scientists studying complexity put forward the idea that small initial events could have large effects in non-linear, dynamic systems like the weather, they chose the term ‘butterfly effect.” One of the images students of weather instanced was that a butterfly flapping its wings might set off minor turbulence that ultimately turned into a hurricane.
Cole’s butterfly metaphor begins this narrative describing the death of four U.S. diplomats, with a man initially known as “Sam Bacile”, who claimed to have directed the film, The Innocence of Muslims. The Associated Press traced the history of this “Sam Bacile”, and discovered that he most likely does not exist. The false name is a persona used by a convicted Coptic Egyptian fraudster, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula. (To continue reading, click here.)
The Night An Unscripted Moment of Democracy Surprised the Democrats
To have seen it, you had to be watching either a public or a cable network. You also had to be watching closely.
Otherwise, early Tuesday evening in the Democratic National Convention, you missed an ever-so fleeting unscripted moment of democracy at work.
The old axiom, “Never watch sausage nor legislation being made”, fits that moment perfectly.
What happened was not pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly with a ruling from the presiding officer, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (right), saying the “ayes” sounded stronger than the “nays”, a dubious ruling, at best in a vote requiring a majority. If the vote needed more than a majority to pass–this is not made clear–then it is not just dubious, but obviously wrong.
As it often is, unfortunately, with the making of sausage and legislation. (To continue reading, click here.)
Israeli Court Blames Rachel Corrie: She “Put Herself in a Dangerous Situation”
An Israeli civil court’s decision to exonerate the Israeli Defense Force in the death of Rachel Corrie, was not a surprise.
Rather, the decision, written in Israeli narrative language, reinforces the obvious: Israel’s judicial system has become a legal front that protects the power of Israel’s military dictatorship.
The court’s verdict blamed the victim with all the subtlety of a court describing a rape victim who invited trouble by wearing provocative clothing.
Gary Spedding, a Huffington Post blogger from Belfast, Ireland, writes:
After waiting for almost ten years for today’s court verdict the family of Rachel Corrie have left an Israeli court in Haifa this morning feeling the bitter sting of injustice from Israel’s politicized justice system.
Early Tuesday morning the Israeli court rejected accusations that Israel was at fault over the death of US citizen Rachel, who was crushed by an army bulldozer during a 2003 pro-Palestinian demonstration in the occupied Gaza strip.
Corrie Family Waits For Tuesday Verdict
Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy (right), and her sister, Sarah, are in Israel this week, waiting for a verdict from the Haifa District Court on the family’s suit against the government of Israel. The verdict from Judge Oded Gershon, is expected to be announced Tuesday.
The civil suit was filed two years ago over Rachel’s 2003 death when an Israeli Defense Force bull dozer killed her as she stood with a bull horn protesting the IDF’s destruction of a Palestinian home in Gaza. Israel’s official response was that the death was an accident.
Amira Hass, West Bank and Gaza correspondent for Ha’aretz, reported Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told the Corrie family that
Israel’s investigation into the death of American activist Rachel Corrie was not satisfactory, and wasn’t as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been.
The U.S. government position is “not new” to the Corries, but their attorneys told the family that hearing it only a few days before the verdict was “important and encouraging [to the family],” because it signals to the Corrie family that the U.S. government will continue to demand a full accounting from Israel about their daughter’s killing, regardless of how Judge Oded Gershon rules”. (To continue reading, click here.)
Israel Delivers “Or Else” Demands To Obama
A message from Israel arrived on our shores this week. It came from the prime minister and defense minister of Israel.
The message was not sent in a diplomatic pouch. Nor did it come in a private conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barak Obama, though we have to assume the same message had already been sent to the White House.
The message was a warning that the Strong Man of the Middle East will go to war against Iran before Election Day, November 6, unless Barack Obama meets two Israeli demands. The warning was delivered by the New York Times in a news analysis, “Israeli Leaders Could Be Dissuaded From Striking Iran”, by the Times’ Jerusalem correspondent, Jodi Rudoren.
A former Israeli national security adviser said Wednesday that the prime minister and the defense minister told him this week they had not yet decided to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and could be dissuaded from a strike if President Obama approved stricter sanctions and publicly confirmed his willingness to use military force.
Got that Mr. President? Only you can prevent this forest fire from engulfing the Middle East. Israel has lit the flame. Netanyahu has sent the warning: Either you do exactly what we demand—stricter sanctions and a public statement that the U.S. is willing to use military force against Iran—or else we will ignite the deadly flame of war against Iran. (To continue reading, click here.)
Ten Swing States Could Decide the 2012 Election; Obama Leads in Nine of Them
With less than three months left before voters decide between President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, Obama has a strong lead in the latest Politico poll figures.
Politico identifies ten swing states that will most likely decide the 2012 election. Obama leads in nine of them: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Romney leads Obama by one percent in the swing state of North Carolina.
If these swing vote states hold up in an election that requires 270 out of 538 electoral votes to win a majority, Obama would gain 111 electoral votes to Romney’s 15. States that appear solid or leaning for Obama give him an addiitional 221 electoral votes. Romney’s solid or leaning state electoral votes total 191. These figures add up to 332 for Obama and 206 for Romney, more than enough to give Obama the winning total.
A major reason we might safely assume these numbers will hold up can be found in an ABC-Washington Post poll which found that only 40 percent of voters “hold a favorable view of Romney”. In a late May poll, that number was 41, suggesting a downward trend. Low favorability numbers this late in the campaign does not portend well for the challenger. (To continue reading, click here.)
Romney Visits Culturally “Superior” Israel; Totally Ignores the Occupation
Mitt Romney traveled to Jerusalem earlier this week. He was not there on a fact-finding mission. He was raising money for his presidential campaign.
He was also cultivating American voters who live in Israel, while stroking his pro-Israel voters back home with pictures like this one (right) of the candidate praying at the Western Wall.
The only attention the Palestinians received came in a back-handed slap delivered by Romney when he spoke to a luncheon sponsored by his wealthy U.S. backer, casino owner Sheldon Adelson.
Romney told 40 wealthy donors at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel that Israel has a far superior GDP per capita than “the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority”.
Displaying a total ignorance of the prison-like occupation under which the Palestinian people must struggle, Romney explained that the ”dramatically stark difference in economic vitality” was due to Israel’s superior culture. (To continue reading, click here.)
Israel Creates A Settler “Samaria” University
by James M. Wall
There is something about those green-covered campus lawns growing in a water-starved desert land interspersed with eager young students hurrying to class, that stirs pride in the hearts of citizens of an expanding city.
That pride was turned up another notch this week after ABC news reported an Associated Press story which began:
“A settler body voted Tuesday to grant university status to Israel’s only West Bank settlement college, overruling objections by Israel’s Council on Higher Education and potentially stirring a new round of international condemnation against Israeli policies in the West Bank.
Upgrading the college in the Ariel settlement has touched off a debate inside Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been driving a string of pro-settler measures — including a state panel’s recent conclusion that Israeli settlement of the West Bank is legal.”
Let the international condemnations rain down. And pay no heed to that debate inside Israel.
What matters to Ariel and the politically potent settler movement, is that Israel has firmly planted its first university in what they call Samaria, on Palestinian land. (To continue reading, click here.)
What Protestants Could Learn from Ron Paul
When the gavel fell on the Episcopalian convention July 10, three major U.S. Protestant denominations had formally ended their 2012 discussions on how much religious support they were willing to give Palestinians under occupation.
Judging by the degree of hostility stirred up inside the Zionist opposition, the Presbyterians and United Methodists, took the most advanced pro-justice positions in the Sturm und Drang religious political struggles.
The last of the three to meet, the Episcopal Church, ran pretty much in place, sticking with investment over divestment. According to the Episcopal News Service, the Episcopalian “House of Bishops, concurring with deputies, have overwhelmingly supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian Territories”.
The Episcopalians also “agreed to postpone indefinitely the conversation on corporate engagement,” hardly a prophetic call to arms against injustice.
Indeed, all three denominations have come very close to invoking the divine thunderbolt promised in Revelation 3:16, an action best left in divine hands. (To continue reading, click here.)
Pro-Divestment Presbyterians Win By Losing
Do you really want to know what happened at the just-concluded 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination?
As a veteran watcher of Protestant church political struggles, I urge you to remember that neither the cross nor the crown are free of an eagerness to grasp deliberate obfuscation in struggling to win each political battle.
The winner of the obfuscation battle in Pittsburgh was, hands down, the anti-divestment crowd. The pro-divestment crowd, on the other hand, won by losing a key vote in the Assembly.
The presumed “winners”, the anti-divestment forces, operated with a strategy that set up a “stalking horse” to enter the field of battle.
Faced with the huge problem of how to persuade delegates to vote against basic human rights for Palestinians living under occupation, the anti-divesment forces created a “stalking horse” of “investments that will benefit Palestinians”.
Seriously, that is what they put forward. (To continue reading, click here.)
Presbyterians Next Up for Divestment Vote
Jimmy Carter wrote a New York Times op-ed piece this week, A Cruel and Unusual Record, which states flatly:
“The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.
Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public.
As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.”
Carter’s focus is on “moral authority”. This is the same authority that must, in all cases, motivate the nation’s churches.
44 Senators Tell Obama To Do Israel’s Bidding
War, as General Sherman once said, is hell. It is also widely perceived to be a failure of diplomacy.
Which would explain why it is that when war-promoting lobbyists want to generate congressional enthusiasm for the next war, all short-term congressional memories must be wiped out.
Wiped out, that is, with the efficiency of that “cricket clicker” used by Agents Kay and Jay, played by Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith (shown here), in the Men in Black film series.
In the films, one click aimed at a targeted subject erases all recent memory; the clicker also works amazingly well in US elections.
Which is one explanation of why after yet another click-call from AIPAC, 44 US senators found that they no longer remembered what happened the last time the neocons took us to war against a Middle East nation, a war that has thus far cost 4,000 American military dead at a cost of more than $800 billion.(To continue reading, click here.)
Five Years and Counting: Israel Creates and Manages Its “Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza”
Drawing from a report by Save the Children, Electronic Intifada’s Managing Editor Maureen Clare Murphy, describes what she correctly terms, Israel’s managed “humanitarian crisis in Gaza”.
A humanitarian crisis that is managed? Wait a minute; “managing” means controlling what happens. Yes it does.
Which is how it comes about that Israel is managing “Gaza’s humanitarian crisis”.
Aided and abetted by the United States, Israel has for five years deliberately and systematically blockaded Gaza with militarily-enforced “restrictions placed on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza”.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not come from floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes. This on-going crisis comes from the official policy of Israel.
American tax payers are funding this evil and deliberate crime, through annual doles in the billions, and the continued presence of corporate US interests that support and contribute to the managed crisis. (And which American church leaders refuse to condemn.)
How could it be that American tax payers permit a blockade that “has been the single greatest contributor to endemic and long-lasting household poverty in Gaza”, an act that prevents families from access to food, medicine and medical care. (To continue reading, click here.)
New Jersey’s 9th CD Voters Say No to AIPAC
One election night victory in one New Jersey congressional district does not represent a major shift in American politics. But shifts do occur, and they must start somewhere.
On the night of June 5, 2012, this was the news the Star-Ledger reported from the Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ.
In an upset, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell has defeated fellow incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman in the Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District.
What makes the news from Passaic County so surprising was that Pascrell’s election to a House seat from New Jersey’s new 9th district was not supposed to happen.
How could it, two years after the news broke that Bill Pascrell was one of 54 House members who signed a 2010 letter to President Obama urging him “to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza.” The letter reads, in part:
The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts. . . . The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering.
Signing that letter was a risky political move for Pascrell. (To continue reading, click here.)
Obama Emerges as the US Warrior President
Memorial Day in the United States is a time for hot dogs, overcooked burgers, too much beer, and a massive dose of militaristic patriotism.
It is also a good time for Americans to begin thinking seriously of who should be elected president this November.
This year, President Obama kept his focus on his own reelection campaign and, at the same time, announced himself as the US warrior president. The president has apparently decided a warrior president is a better image to project for his reelection in a downward spiraling economy.
Don’t take my word for it. Check out a story released on Memorial Day. It was orchestrated by the Obama White House for The New York Times. The story appeared in the Times‘ internet edition on Memorial Day, and in the print edition the next day.
With the help of White House operatives, past and present, the Times portrays the president as a man carrying the heavy moral burden of deciding when a US-desginated suspected terrorist will die in a drone attack. (To continue reading, click here.)
Will Elections Penetrate Israel’s “Impenetrable, Dangerous, Ideological Shield”?
It has been 25 years since Jewish historian, and Israeli critic, Simha Flapan, described the dominant narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his 1987 book, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities.
Even though Israel has the most sophisticated army in the region and possesses an advanced atomic capability, it continues to regard itself in terms of the Holocaust, as the victim of an unconquerable, bloodthirsty enemy. Thus whatever Israelis do, whatever means we employ to guard our gains or to increase them, we justify as last-ditch self-defense. We can, therefore, do no wrong. The myths of Israel forged during the formation of the state have hardened into this impenetrable, and dangerous, ideological shield.
At the time of its publication, Flapan’s book was exhilarating to anyone who by the mid-1980s, was running up against what Flapan termed, Israel’s ” impenetrable, and dangerous, ideological shield”
This summer, that impenetrable wall has begun to show cracks of possible penetrability. (To continue reading, click here.)
The Incompatibility of Nakba and Neutrality
Neve Gordon, a 47-year-old Israeli-born professor and author, greeted this year’s 64th anniversary of the Nakba with an essay for CounterPunch that included this revealing confession:
I first heard about the Nakba in the late 1980s, while I was an undergraduate student of philosophy at Hebrew University. This, I believe, is a revealing fact, particularly since, as a teenager, I was a member of Peace Now and was raised in a liberal home.
I grew up in the southern [Israeli] city of Be’er-Sheva, which is just a few kilometres from several unrecognised Bedouin villages that, today, are home to thousands of residents who were displaced in 1948.
How is it possible that a left-leaning Israeli teenager who was living in the Negev during the early 1980s (I graduated from high-school in 1983) had never heard the word “Nakba”?
It is an honest question. It is also a question that every one of us must confront if we are ever to grasp what is at the core of the so-called “debate” within American churches about the role Christians must play in ending the agony of the Israeli occupation.(To continue reading, click here.)
Your Hard-Earned US Tax Dollars and Church Pension Funds at Work for Israel
Mass demonstrations in support of 2500 Palestinian hunger strikers swept through the West Bank this weekend.
Marchers moved through the streets of Hebron, Kafr Qaddoum, Nablus, Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin, Ramallah, al-Walaja and outside of Ofer prison. The picture here was taken in Hebron.
It shows an Israeli soldier with his knee firmly planted on a young Palestinian’s neck.
The picture also shows how American tax dollars and church pensions are at work on this Mothers Day weekend, a commercially-driven event in which American teenagers and their families annually honor mothers with gifts and family meals.
On this particular American Mothers’ Day weekend, a large contingent of Palestinian teenagers joined their mothers and other family members to offer their support to prisoners on lengthy and dangerous hunger strikes.
Laura Kacere wrote in A Nation of Change, that Mothers Day had a different meaning when it was initially launched. In fact, the Palestinian mothers who marched this weekend in support of hunger strikers, some of whom may have been their children, are demonstrating in a manner more akin to the original purpose of Mothers Day.
Methodists Boycott Settlement Products
By a vote of 558 to 367, a strong majority of lay and clerical delegates to the United Methodist General Conference called this week for a boycott of Israeli companies operating in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The resolution denounces the Israeli occupation and the settlements in a sweeping indictment.
It calls for “all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.”
The resolution was focused specifically on the settlements, not on the state of Israel. It states:
“The United Methodist Church does not support a boycott of products made in Israel. Our opposition is to products made by Israeli companies operating in occupied Palestinian territories.”
That was not an easy vote. It also was an important victory for anti-occupation forces in Tampa since it calls attention to one of three actions in the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that Palestinians have adopted as a non-violent way to attack the occupation.
The vote on a resolution calling for the UMC to divest its pension funds from three US Corporations, Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Systems, was brought to the floor on Wednesday afternoon.
That resolution was a long shot from the outset. It lost after a series of votes that ended in a final 685 to 246 decision that the UMC would continue to finance the occupation. (To continue reading, click here.)
Methodists Delay Vote Until Later This Week
The United Methodist Church has delayed a vote on a resolution on divestment from three US companies which ““aid and abet”* Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The vote was initially set for Tuesday, but has been delayed until later this week. There is speculation among General Conference delegates in Tampa, that a move will be made to limit debate on the final resolution to two short speeches on each side.
Supporters of divestment are hopeful they will prevail. Prominent Palestinian visitors have made convincing speeches in meetings around the Conference. The outcome, however, remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, while we wait, let us use our time creatively by pondering another vote scheduled in the US in November.
That would be the election between the incumbent US President, Barack Obama, and the presumed Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. That election offers an ominous connection to the resolution process currently facing United Methodist delegates in Tampa.
The November election campaign has begun. President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan overnight Tuesday where he was greeted by US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Lt. General Mike Scaparrotti, Deputy Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. (picture above.) (To continue reading, click here.)
Methodists Face Moment of Occupation Truth
The mainstream media does not know it, and far too many high steeple church folk do not want to know it.
But in Tampa, Florida, this week, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will make a decision.
They will spend the week writing and rewriting. Some, like Alissa Bertsch Johnson, a campus minister at Washington State University (at right), will passionately state their case.
Before the gavel falls on the last session of the 2012 General Conference, the people called Methodists will have responded, one way or another, to the call from Palestinian Christians that they take one small step toward ending the Israeli Occupation.
They may vote to endorse a targeted divestment resolution.
Or, they may declare that such action is not needed, forgetting that in doing so, they follow the path of those segregation-tolerating Birmingham church leaders who wrote to Martin Luther King, Jr., in words to this effect, “it is too soon to attack this evil. We must wait until our people are with us.” (To continue reading, click here.)
“Throw Their Dirty, Filthy Ships Out of the Water!”
“Throw Their Dirty, Filthy Ships Out of the Water!”
In the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace, John Newton shouts these words at William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament who was the leader of a 19th century fight to force the British government to bar British ships and ports from participating in the slave trade.
The “dirty, filthy ships” to which Newton refers are slave ships which sailed from England to Africa and then to the New World.
Newton (Albert Finney) delivers his demand to his younger friend Wilberforce at a time when the younger man was faltering in his struggle against pro-slavery members of Parliament
This conflict is captured in precise and dramatic detail in the film, as Wilberforce and his allies in the Parliament, and from anti-slavery groups, visit slave ships and meet with former slaves.
John Newton had been the owner and captain of one of those ships. Following a major storm in the Atlantic that almost sank his ship, Newton repented of what he knew was a great sin, the mistreatment of fellow human beings.
Newton returned to England to become what he later termed, “an old preacher”. He also wrote hymns, the most famous of which was Amazing Grace, which contains the line, “I once was lost but now I am found, was blind, but now I see”.
Newton had known Wilberforce for many years, constantly encouraging him to continue his long abolitionist struggle, first to bar all slave ships from English ports and then to eliminate slavery throughout the United Kingdom.
At the time pro-slavery members of Parliament argued that the slave shipping trade brought economic benefit to England. Some even maintained that slaves were content with their lot; others argued slaves were sub-human.
Amazing Grace, directed by Michael Apted, traces the friendship of Wilberforce and Newton. It also examines Wilberforce’s growth as a political leader, and not so incidentally, as a friend of William Pitt, his friend who became Prime Minister at the age of 24.
Pitt was a cautious politician. He was also a supporter of Wilberforce’s idealism. Another important historical figure who is not portrayed in the film, is John Wesley
When I revisited the film this week, less than a week before the United Methodist Conference opens, I was struck by a historical parallel, and most especially, I was moved by Newton’s violent outburst to Wilberforce. (To continue reading,click here.)
Does Israel Interfere in US Elections?
Israel’s ambassador to the US, former American citizen Michael Oren, (at right) trotted out a classic Zionist strategy when he sent a letter to the New York Times denying that Israel is “interfering” in the American presidential campaign.
Oren’s letter was reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on April 12, under the headline:
“Israeli ambassador to New York Times: Netanyahu does not interfere in U.S. elections”
This Ha’aretz headline was followed by a sub headline, stating:
Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, submits letter to the editor to NYT, complaining about an article detailing the close relationship between Netanyahu and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
The problem with Oren’s attack is that the Times story did not use the term “interfering”. The ambassador denies something the story does not claim.
Oren’s letter skillfully ignores the facts of the story under a theoretical cloud of his own making. He also manages to bring attention to his Israeli public to a story which promises good things ahead if Romney is elected. (To continue reading, click here.)
Gunter Grass Exposes Israel As a Nuclear Power that “Endangers” a Fragile World Peace
Western journalists and politicians have long enforced that silence by unspoken and unwritten common agreement.
The silence was successfully imposed for two reasons: The Holocaust and the fear of being called anti-Semitic.
Gunter Grass (pictured above) has broken that silence with his poem, Was gesagt werden muss (What must be said). (To continue reading, click here.)
Church Leader Tells Palestinians and Israelis “eat together and listen to each other’s stories
(New Comments Posted Below)
An appalling shallowness has descended over Mainline Protestantism.
Episcopalians, United Methodists and Presbyterians are actually debating how they should deal with the Israeli Occupation
Martin Luther King, sitting in that Birmingham city jail, would most certainly inform these prelates that there is no debating evil. A brutal military occupation is not open to debate.
It is a disturbing spectacle. The collective ignorance displayed by many of the men and women—though, thank God, not all—who govern these denominations, boggles the mind.
The issue, my dear Christian friends, is justice, pure and simple. And yet, there they are, these robed religiosos, dripping with interfaith piety, proclaiming that the simple act of divestment of church funds is too harsh a tactic to use against Israel’s settlement obsessed, right-wing government.
What do they teach in seminary these days? Have those Old Testament professors who lead their Israeli-sanctioned “study groups” to the Holy Land removed the prophets from their syllabi? (To continue reading, click here.)
The View From Israel/US In 1977 and 2012
The editorial comment below is reprinted from the Christian Century magazine of November 23, 1977.
At the time the editorial appeared, I was the editor of the Century. This was the week’s lead editorial. In 1977, I had been editor for five years, a position I held until 1999.
President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated in January, 1977. Menachem Begin was head of the Likud Party, which won a majority in the Knesset elections held on May 17, 1977.
Menachem Begin became Prime Minister in June, 1977.
At the time this editorial appeared, the new American President had come to the United Nations to meet with the new Israeli Prime Minister. I was at the meeting in an editorial capacity.