I Must Write As Long As Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Schools

by James M. Wall

A regular reader wrote recently and asked why I write so often about Palestine and Israel.

It was a good question and after some time for reflection I have an answer for him, inspired by a 1971 Johnny Cash song, “The Man in Black”.

Cash had been asked why he always wore black. He explains that he did so because he identifies with the poor and the hungry, the prisoners, the lonely and the old, and those who are dying in a war in a distant land, at that time, the Vietnam War.

A few years later, after “The Man In Black” became a best-selling album, Cash said:

“With the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans’, I wore it ‘in mournin’ for the lives that could have been.’ … Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don’t see much reason to change my position … The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we’re not making many moves to make things right. There’s still plenty of darkness to carry off.”

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and our American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are today providing “plenty of darkness”. Together, these wars are today’s Vietnam.

I am aware that I cannot sing, or write simple, powerful poetry as Cash has done. But I must write about the darkness that covers our nation as it continues its pursuit of empirical conquest at a tremendous cost at home, under the guise of “fighting terror”. Indeed, “terrorism” is today’s version of the Communism that Nixon and Kissinger used as their excuse for “defending” South Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.

Johnny Cash originally recorded “The Man in Black”  before a college audience in May, 1971, one year after the Kent State Massacre when, during a student protest against the invasion of Cambodia, Ohio national guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

In May, 1971, Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were still conducting a secret war, the details of which were only fully revealed on June 30, 1971, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times.

The story of how those Papers were finally published in the Times is vividly presented in the 2010 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America. The title refers to Daniel Ellsberg, the Harvard professor who courageously risked his freedom to deliver the Pentagon Papers to the Times.

Henry Kissinger, who once taught with Ellsburg at Harvard, bitterly described his former academic colleague as “the most dangerous man in America.”

Ellsberg writes of his experiences in his 2002 book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

Along with the vast majority of the American public, Johnny Cash was unaware of the Vietnam war narrative which Nixon and Kissinger tried to keep secret, when he wrote the lyrics for  “The Man in Black”. What he did know was that young Americans and many Vietnamese were dying needlessly.

The lyrics are at the end of this post.

Today, with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West Bank Bank and Gaza our military forces, and our surrogate Israeli military forces, are involved in an overall war against what a previous American president misnamed as “the global war on terror”.

This 2010 midterm election have essentially ignored the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are dying in distant lands because of our wars. Instead,  public attention is riveted on the craziness of the Tea Party candidates, some of whom may very well end up in the Congress.

The American public does not know about the Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian girls’ school building near Nablus this past week. Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is a flashing light of warning to the American public, tells the story of the attack on the school:

The phrase “ethnic cleansing” conjures up a swift, comprehensive act of expulsion. But in reality, moving a large population off its land is the death of a thousand cuts, a slow, inexorable process of stealing property, harassment, forcing people into a condition of malnutrition.

The Native Americans in the Americas, the Aborigines in Australia, and the Palestinians in Israel/Palestine were only sometimes forced off their land suddenly and en masse. The gradual processes told, in the long run.

The amazing thing about what is being done to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli illegal aliens is that it is happening in full view of the world, reported on by wire services, and yet remains invisible to Western publics.

The world reacts in horror when the Taliban in Afghanistan torch girls’ schools. But Israeli squatters just set fire to the store room of a Palestinian girls’ school, and the whole school would have gone up in flames if that warehouse had not been near a water main. The Israeli illegals left behind graffiti saying ‘regards from the hills.’

Cole also reports that earlier in October,

Israeli squatters set fire to a Palestinian mosque in Bethlehem.

[Also this autumn] there is the seasonal vandalism against olive trees in Palestinian orchards, which reached a fever pitch this year. The Israeli authorities prosecute few of these offenses and almost never hand down a punishment to an Israeli squatter.

The 10 million olive trees in the West Bank and Gaza, occupying some 45 percent of the farmland, are the matrix of Palestinian existence. An attack on olive trees is a form of economic warfare of the first water.

The American public knows far more about the fumbling responses of the Republican candidate for Joe Biden’s old Delaware senate seat, than it does about the needless death of a 2-year-old Gaza child who was prevented by the Israeli army from traveling the short distance outside Gaza for specialized treatment. The Palestinian organization, Physicians for Human Rights, has that story on its website:

Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza. Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel. She was two years old.

Abu Lasheen, a young resident of Gaza diagnosed with Leukemia, was referred for emergency treatment in Israel on October 6, 2010. When requests to the Israeli Army for an entry permit went unanswered for several days, by way of B’tselem, the family contacted Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-Israel) for additional help.

That very same day, on October 13, 2010, PHR-Israel contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) demanding a permit be issued immediately to the baby and her father to enable their entry into Israel. A military approval was finally granted the next afternoon, October 14, 2010.

Abu Lasheen’s medical condition had been deteriorating rapidly and by the time the permit was received, the treating doctor in Gaza, Dr. Mohammad Abu Sha’aban, said she was too sick to travel. Nasma died in the early morning hours of October 16, 2010.

Ziad Abbas works for the Middle East Children’s Alliance on a project to bring clean water to the children of Palestine. He grew up in Palestine. He writes in Counter Punch, that his work is especially personal to him because of  his own childhood experiences of growing up deprived of water.

Israel controls and uses 89% of the water resources in the West Bank, leaving 11% for the 2.5 million Palestinians. The Israeli Occupation continues to limit Palestinian access to clean water as form of collective punishment by controlling the water resources and distribution and by destroying the water that we are able to get.

During Israeli military incursions, and especially during curfews, when we could not leave our homes, Israeli soldiers would shoot the water storage tanks on our roofs. Our water would pour down the sides of our buildings unused.

During the recent attack on Gaza, Israel targeted the entire water infrastructure including the largest water purification system in Gaza. They also targeted electrical generators that supported water purification and sewage treatment.

I write about these things because American churches are still hung up on not offending their Jewish neighbors, thus choosing interfaith harmony over justice.

I write about these things because major denominational meetings, like this past summer’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, dickered and delayed and finally decided to study further how they might best deal with the “problems” in the Middle East.

Since that Presbyterian GA meeting, two-year-old Abu Lasheen died waiting for permission to travel to an Israeli hospital. Since that meeting, Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian girls school, leaving behind graffiti on the wall that said, “regards from the hills”. Something about the insensitive arrogance of that graffiti implies there was not enough room on the wall to add, in Clint Eastwoodian fashion, “we’ll be back.”

I write about the American media’s blindness to the narrative of the suffering in Palestine because Tom Friedman continues to fool his liberal readers by pretending to criticize Israel when his criticism always includes the AIPAC approved list of what he insists are “facts”, but which are either outright lies or distortions of reality.

The most recent example was Friedman’s October 20 column which calls on Israel to help President Obama line up world opposition to Iran by reaching a friendly agreement with Palestinian negotiators.

Friedman opens his column with a set of “stubborn facts” which are really just a repeat of the acceptable Israeli narrative which, of course, he assures his readers are “stubborn facts”.  Only, they are not.

Here is the start of Thomas Friedman’s latest  column, followed by corrections:

Say what you want about Israel’s obstinacy at times, it remains the only country in the United Nations that another U.N. member, Iran, has openly expressed the hope that it be wiped off the map. And that same country, Iran, is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Israel is the only country I know of in the Middle East that has unilaterally withdrawn from territory conquered in war — in Lebanon and Gaza — only to be greeted with unprovoked rocket attacks in return.

Indeed, if you want to talk about spoiled children, there is no group more spoiled by Iran and Syria than Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia.

Hezbollah started a war against Israel in 2006 that brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese — and Hezbollah’s punishment was to be rewarded with thousands more missiles and millions more dollars to do it again. These are stubborn facts.

Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are stubborn, alright. They are falsehoods or distortions he clings to “stubbornly”.

Iran’s President Ahmedinejad never used the phrase, “wipe Israel off the map”. That was an initial mistranslation into English which the media loved and never let go. The media has refused, as Friedman does here, to go back and obtain the original statement by Ahmedinejad in a speech he gave to a Persian audience.

The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when he said that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the Shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.

He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The “page of time” phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.

Another error: It is true that Israel took its military forces out of Lebanon and Gaza, but it did so because the cost in Israeli lives had become too expensive to maintain the garrisons in those two areas.

The invasions had proved to be a major loss for the vastly superior Israeli forces, a fact Friedman ignores as he praises Israel for its “unilateral withdrawal” from the two countries it had invaded and failed to control.

Friedman writes that “Hezbollah started a war against Israel in 2006 that brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”

Israel did launch a massive invasion of Lebanon in 2006, but who fired the first shot has been debated. Israeli sources have confirmed that Israel’s invasion plans were already on the drawing board when a border skirmish erupted, giving Israel the excuse it wanted to launch a war that, indeed, “brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”

Who brought those deaths, injuries and destruction to the Lebanese? Israel, of course.

Careful research would quickly demonstrate to Friedman and every other pro-Israel pundit and politician that Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are either false or distorted.

I will continue to write on Israel and Palestine as long as pundits like Thomas Friedman have access to the pages of the New York Times, and the American public remains ignorant of the actual facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine.

The Man in Black, lyrics by Johnny Cash

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black, Why you never see bright colors on my back,  And why does my appearance always have a somber tone. Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town, And I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, But still is there because he’s a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read, Or listened to the words that Jesus said, About the road to happiness through love and charity, Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me.

Well, we’re doin’ mighty fine, I do suppose, In our streak of lightnin’ cars and fancy clothes, But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back, Up front there ought ‘a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old, For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold, I wear the black in mornin’ for the lives that could have been, Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died, Believen’ that the Lord was on their side, And I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died, Believen’ that we all were on their side.

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know, And things need changin’ everywhere you go, But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right, You’ll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day, To tell the world that everything’s OK, But mabe I can carry off a little darkness on my back,

‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black.

The photo at the top of the page is of two Bedouin girls, in school uniform, returning to their houses after a school day in Abu Farda near the West Bank city of Qalqilia on October 6, 2010. MaanImages/Khaleel Reash.

The Youtube above, and the lyrics by Johnny Cash may be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLkmC2VuXA8.

Posted in Media, Middle East Politics | 16 Comments

U.S. Leaders: “Listen to this Irish Senator”

by James M. WallIrish Senator Averil Power You Tube

Irish Senator Averil Power (at right) stood before the Senate of Ireland this week and offered a motion which calls for the Irish Government to:

“formally recognize the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The government parties agreed to the motion “without us actually having to push it to a vote,” Power said.

Are you listening, U.S. leaders?

If you are listening, be aware, Ireland is way ahead of you in taking a stand for justice for Palestine.

The Times of Israel recalls that “Ireland was the first European country to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

Ireland joins Sweden and the British House of Commons to express support for Palestinian statehood. A similar motion is pending before the Spanish Congress.

In support of her motion, Senator Power told the Irish Senate:

“By joining Sweden and other EU states in recognizing Palestine, we will make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people. It is not an Israeli bargaining chip for them to play in their sham negotiations.”

Senator Power, who is from the center-right Fianna Fáil (Republican Party) added:

 “In doing so we will create pressure on Israel to pursue a genuine peace process that has a real prospect of delivering peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

In her speech, Power accused Israel of having implemented an “apartheid regime in the West Bank that denied Palestinians basic human rights that their Israeli counterparts take for granted.”

She added, “Without wider recognition of the State of Palestine, Palestinian representatives are in a weaker position at the negotiation table”.

Are you listening, U.S. leaders? 

In recent months, a few U.S. religious bodies have heard voices denouncing injustice.   Two U.S. Christian bodies–the Central Pacific Conference  and the Connecticut Conference, both in the United Church of Christ–have voted to endorse the BDS movement to apply economic pressure on Israel to “pursue a genuine peace process”.

Other Christian denominational bodies are considering future resolutions that would urge Israel to take seriously the moral imperative to end its occupation of Palestine.

These religious bodies move slowly, but in time, some state, regional and national assemblies will debate, and vote on, actions that support justice for Palestine.

In their deliberations, they will want to listen to foreign political leaders with a conscience, parliamentarians like Irish Senator Averil Power, and rather unexpectedly, the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin (at left), who had stern words for his nation Sunday: Reuven_Rivlin

“The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other.

Both Rivlin and Prof. Ruth Arnon, president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which organized the conference at its premises on the capital’s Jabotinsky Street, spoke of the painful and bloody summer, and the resultant resurgence of animosity between Arabs and Jews that had escalated to new heights.

Referring to the mutual expressions of hatred and incitement, Arnon said that Jews, who in the Diaspora had been exposed to anti-Semitism and persecution, should be more sensitive to the dangers of incitement. ‘But are we?’, she asked.”

Are you listening, U.S. academic institutions, with your donor base strongly influenced by pro-Israel American citizens?

Israel’s occupation of Palestine is both immoral and illegal. It is also true that the occupation is rooted not just in Israel, but in the West, most especially the U.S.

Salman Masalha wrote in Ha’aretz, a centrist Jerusalem newspaper, that the occupation is international:

“The truth must be stated: If the West, led by the United States, truly wanted to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation and a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would have done so long ago.

The West has some very effective means at its disposal that could change the situation. But instead of employing these means, what do we get? A flood of declarations. Again and again, Western leaders make the same hypocritical proclamations calling the settlements in the occupied territories illegal and an obstacle to peace.

These declarations are as old as the occupation itself, stretching all the way back to June 1967.

The world hasn’t learned that toothless declarations won’t stop the real-estate theft called “Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel.” The multitude of declarations made over the years haven’t removed a single Zionist trailer from a single Palestinian hilltop. Throughout the years of the occupation, such declarations have served as nothing more than mild pain relievers for a body that is in critical condition.

So, enough hiding behind all the bland verbiage. The time has come to call a spade a spade:

The occupation in Palestine isn’t just an Israeli occupation – it’s a Western occupation; a European, American and Russian occupation, and more. As such, the Palestinian argument must be directed to the entire Western world: Stop trying to sell us empty lip service.

The time has come to ask the world to take operative steps that hold the potential to compose the final movement of the unfinished symphony of the immoral Israeli occupation.”

American leaders  and those that they lead, must all share responsibility for this “immoral Israel occupation”.

The photo of Senator Power is from YouTube and The Times of Israel. The photo of President Rivlin is from Mondoweiss.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

“Anti-Massacree Movement” In London

By James M. WallArloGuthrieMinnesotaZooAmphitheatre2005

Near the end of Arlo Guthrie’s classic 1967 folk tale, Alice’s Restaurant, Guthrie sings these words:

“Can you imagine, three people walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out, they may think it’s an organization.  And can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day, walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out, well friends, they may think it’s a movement.

And that’s what it is, the Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement. And all you got to do is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar, with feeling.”

Well friends, I am here to tell you that the Parliament of the United Kingdom, seated in all its regal splendor in the Palace of Westminster, heard the guitar come around. They have sung, in unison, a bar of Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement.

Is this a bar that signals the repentance of the progenitors of the injustices caused by the Balfour Declaration?

There are only a few documents in Middle Eastern history which have as much influence as the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was sent as a 67-word statement contained within the short letter addressed to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917. The declaration acknowledged the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine. The statement of the Declaration reads:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”(boldface added)

Under the headline, “Israel Is Losing It’s Friends in the World”, Philip Stephens wrote in Financial Times. (reprinted here).Foreign Policy

“Britain’s parliament voted the other day to recognise the state of Palestine. The decision will not change anything on the ground in the West Bank or Gaza. Nor is it binding on David Cameron’s coalition government.

Yet this was an important moment, and not just because of Britain’s deep historical connections with Palestine. The debate opened a window on what Israel’s friends now think about the enduring impasse in the Middle East.”

Stephens continues his analysis:

“Benjamin Netanyahu has not had a good year. Israel’s prime minister was blamed by the US administration for wrecking its latest attempt to reassemble a peace process.

In truth, there were obstinacies and obstacles on both sides, but publicly and privately, US officials identified Israel’s land grabs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as the principal cause of the breakdown.”

Britain’s highest ranking foreign policy official, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, “deplored” Israel’s plans to  build more than 2,000 additional homes for Israeli settlers in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

Across the English Channel, “France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said [the settlement expansion] put in question Israel’s oft-stated commitment to a negotiated peace.”

Sweden preceded the UK with its earlier vote to call for a Palestinian state, drawing Israel’s ire. In the U.S., the Central Pacific Conference and the Connecticut Conference, both in  the United Church of Christ, have joined the BDS opposition to occupation.

The U.S. Congress is yet to display the slightest sign of gumption in any matter pertaining to Israel. Its members listen only to the money-contributing and vote-promoting AIPAC, automatically agreeing to support all the resolutions they are instructed to pass. 

Meanwhile, as the UK Parliament takes its stand, the Middle East version of Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement is growing, thanks, in part, to the supportive work of scholars like Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, who carefully exposes the narrative of Israel’s ethnic cleansing as a key ingredient in its nation-building.

Pappe, and his colleague Samer Jaber, co-authored a Mondoweiss essay which highlights the planting of European pine trees as a cover for Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages.. 

The essay opens:

“The pine trees in Palestine appeared with the establishment of the state of Israel. The pine is generally a European species which before the 20th century was not seen in the Middle East. It was brought to Palestine by the Zionist settlers for two main reasons.

First, it gave the new Jewish settlers the feeling that the place they had migrated to was somehow part of Europe. And if Palestine were to be ‘Europeanized’ in such a manner it would also be ‘civilized’ — the inferior local population would be replaced by a superior one. Thus Zionism was not just a redemption of an ancient land, it was also the revitalization of what in their eyes was an Arabian desert both ecologically and culturally.

The second reason for their import was more practical; they were brought to cover up the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that took place in 1947-48 and produced the Palestinian Catastrophe, the Nakba. The fast-growing pine was widely used to create Israeli national and recreational parks to hide the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages and neighborhoods which had been evicted by force in 1948.”

 The planting of pine trees did not stop in 1948:

“When Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, pine trees again were planted to cover the new wave of destroyed villages; Imwas, Yalo and Beit Nouba, in the Latrun Valley near Jerusalem. In their stead the ‘green lung’ of Canada Park appeared as a recreational ground hiding the inhumanity of the villages’ depopulation

Covering ethnic cleansing with pine trees is probably the most cynical method employed by Israel in its quest to take over as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible.”

Uri Avnery, veteran Jewish activist, has been another steady Jewish voice over the years, telling outsiders they are missing the truth behind Israel’s narrative.

In a posting this week on his Gush Shalom web site, Avnery described what the world was seeing in Gaza:

“For a month and a half, day after day, people around the world were bombarded with pictures of killed human beings, maimed children, crying mothers, destroyed apartment buildings, damaged hospitals and schools, masses of homeless refugees. Thanks to Iron Dome, no destroyed Israeli buildings could be seen, nor hardly any dead Israeli civilians.

An ordinary decent person, whether in Stockholm or Seattle or Singapore, cannot be exposed to such a steady stream of horrible images without being affected – first unconsciously, then consciously.

The picture of “The Israeli” in the mind’s eye changes slowly, almost imperceptibly. The brave pioneer standing up to the savages around him mutates into an ugly bully terrorizing a helpless population.”

Those “horrible images” from Gaza contribute to the growth of the Middle East Alice’s Restaurant Anti-Massacree Movement. As Arlo Guthrie sings, “all you got to do is sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar, with feeling.”

The illustration of Benjamin Netanyahu is from Financial Times.. The link to the recording is from “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” by Arlo Guthrie (AmazonMP3). The picture of Arlo Guthrie at the top was taken in 2005 at a Minnesota Zoo Amphitheatre performance.

Posted in Folk Music, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Middle East Politics, Palestinians, USA | 1 Comment

Bibi Knows “where the spots formerly were”

by James M. Wall

Nathan Detroit Frank Sinatra In the Damon Runyon-inspired Guys and Dolls, a movie musical tale of “gangsters, gamblers and dolls”, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra, left) descends to the sewers of New York with Big Julie, a gambler from Chicago.

Big Julie is looking for action. “Let’s shoot craps”, he says. Nathan needs Big Julie’s money to set up “the oldest, established, permanent, floating, crap game in New York”. The game begins.

Big Julie: “I’m rolling a thousand. And to change my luck I will use my own dice.” 

Nathan Detroit: “Your own dice!”

Big Julie: “I had them made for me especially in Chicago.” 

Nathan: “They’re blank.”

Big Julie: “I had the spots taken off for luck. But I remember where the spots formerly were.”

Israeli Prime Minister (Bibi) Benjamin Netanyahu remembers, “where the spots formerly were.” His worldwide network of media and political backers, and their names are legion, embrace Bibi’s memory.  They are a well-trained legion.

Veteran American journalist Barbara Erickson is not among the legion. Her task is to identify where the Times slavishly adheres to the boundaries of Netanyahu’s reading of the spots on the dice.

In a recent posting on her web site, Time warp, Erickson picks apart New York Times columnist Roger Cohen’s embrace of Netanyahu’s version of Israel’s summer Gaza invasion.

She trains her media hermeneutical eye on Cohen’s October 6, op-ed:

Roger Cohen calls for Israeli self-scrunity in his New York Times op-ed today, bemoaning the “moral dilemma of the modern Israeli condition.” It’s tough, he says, because the “terrorists” in Gaza forced them to take action and now Israel has the blood of 500 children on its hands.

Although Cohen calls for Israelis to take a hard look at their own share in this summer’s massacre, he makes no attempt to scrutinize Israeli spin—the claims that Israel was acting in self-defense, that Hamas is “bent on the destruction of Israel” and that “Palestinians have made a profession of failure.” He takes all these self-serving catchphrases as established facts.

Erickson writes that Cohen’s “call for self-scrunity” has not led him to review the evidence that refutes the Israeli spin that Israel was “acting in self-defense”. She offers references to material available to Cohen as alternatives to Bibi’s reading of the dots.

She links to specific examples and invites her readers to read them. She writes further:

[Cohen] has apparently never read Larry Derfner’s analysis of how Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provoked the war this summer, nor research showing that Israel is a serial breaker of ceasefires, nor anything about Hamas’ willingness to accept the 1967 borders, nor any of the numerous reports (see here and here) showing that Israel deliberately undermines Palestinian efforts to develop their economy and hang onto their resources.

Cohen is explicit in naming the sins of Israel’s enemies, but he is vague when it comes to stating just where Israel has gone wrong.

If Roger Cohen reads Barbara Erickson’s analysis of his most recent column, and  the links she provides, he would understand that his perspective is also in serious need of scrutiny.

Erickson is not alone in her quest for Israeli hasbara (propaganda) posing as facts.

picture-7875-1358642514One of those in the hunt is Amena Saleem, a journalist and activist, working closely with Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom.

She recently caught the BBC in a “following Bibi’s spots” episode. She reported in the Electronic Intifada that the BBC has posted a map on its website that conveniently moves Jerusalem out of the West Bank. Saleem writes:bbc_jerusalem_map_2_0

The BBC has published a map on its website, which indicates that Jerusalem is not occupied by Israel. This graphic (right) was used to illustrate at least two stories on the BBC website in recent months.

The first example Saleem found was in a story entitled, “Israel: Hamas ‘will pay price’ after teenagers found dead.”

The map shows the city of Jerusalem located inside Israel. That is wrong. Jerusalem is under Israeli military occupation inside the West Bank.

After a complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the BBC map was changed. Jerusalem is now shown close to the Green Line which separates present-day Israel from the West Bank.

Finally, if you are looking for a refutation of the Netanyahu “no spots” version of the politics of Israel and Palestine, tune in to this work of word artist Remi Kanazil, which he calls “Normalize This”.

Remi Kenazi is a spoken word artist, writer, and activist based in New York City. He is the editor of Poets For Palestine and the author of the collection of poetry, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine.

Kenazi will be performing at the Sabeel Conference Friday, November 7, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

The verbal dice he will roll there, still have their truthful spots, clearly marked.

The map incorrectly placing Jerusalem inside Israel, above, is from the BBC website. The video of Remi Kenazi is from Friends of Sabeel North America.

Posted in Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Movies, Netanyahu | 2 Comments

From Sykes-Picot to “Degrade and Destroy”

by James M. Wall

MV5BMzAwMjM4NzA2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI0NzAwMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson spoke earlier this week in Ottawa, Canada. At one point in his  Tuesday remarks to the Canadian American Business Council, Johnson followed the current fear/hate U.S./Israel script when he said:

“ISIL is a stateless group of depraved criminals, rapists, kidnappers, killers and terrorists who control territory.  There is no religion, including Islam, and there is no God, including Allah, that would condone ISIL’s violent tactics.”

That is a half-truth. It is also a half-lie. What is nearer to the whole truth is that ISIL is but the latest progeny of the colonialist-driven Sykes-Picot agreement.

In a pivotal scene in the 1962 David Lean film, Lawrence of Arabia, a British diplomat, Mr. Dryden, explains the Sykes-Picot agreement to Lawrence.

Dryden, finding it hard to believe that Lawrence had not known about the agreement, says to  him:

“You may not have known, but you certainly had suspicions. If we’ve told lies you’ve told half-lies. And a man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.”

The history of the Middle East from the day the Sykes-Picot agreement was signed, until the day the U.S. began bombing ISIS, is filled with lies and half-lies.

(The film clip from Lawrence of Arabia, and the script of the scene, may be viewed at the end of this posting below.) 

It is certainly true that ISIL, whose armies now control large areas of Syria and Iraq, is a movement that employs gruesome beheadings and mass killings of civilians to evoke precisely the response it is receiving from the West.

Nor is Homeland Security Secretary Johnson alone in following the script employed in the current conflict by the national media, politicians and government officials who describe the bombing campaign which President Obama says will “degrade and destroy” ISIS (also known as IS).

There is much more, however, to the current conflict in Syria and Iraq than name-calling. All of the events leading up to this moment in history is a series of lies and half-lies, including President George W. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq in 2003.

The current conflict between the U.S. and its allies is a conflict that can only be understood by a look back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the 1916 document that allowed Great Britain and France to carve up the Ottoman Empire for their own selfish colonial purposes.

Islamic scholar Jeffrey Kaplan, writing for the Martin Marty Center Sightings, September 25, takes note of the connection between the ISIS movement and the Sykes-Picot agreement.

The sudden and rapid expansion of IS is steeped in the history of the Islamic world. In the Islamic worldview, the distant past is but yesterday and the future Golden Age exists today. One need only institute sharia to realize a perfect world since sharia is timeless and inerrant.

When IS dismantled the border separating Iraq and Syria in its brutal sweep, Kaplan writes, “jubilant IS fighters announced that at last they had erased Sykes Picot, the secret 1916 pact in which France and Britain divided the territory of the defunct Ottoman Empire’s lands by drawing lines in the sand.”

From the perspective of IS, Kaplan writes,

President Obama’s decision to confront the Islamic State is the ultimate confirmation of God’s favor. IS has for some time invited the United States to battle with them directly in full confidence that, God willing, the Americans will be no more successful in fighting the Islamic State than they were in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and indeed anywhere else it has deployed its forces since World War II.

The modern state of Israel looks back to a biblical promise, and more recently to another British-authored document, the Balfour declaration, to justify its creation as a state on what had been Palestinian land.

Rami G. Khouri, veteran Palestinian journalist, and a columnist for Beirut’s Daily Star, sees Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s UN General Assembly speech as both an Israeli interpretation of history and a misreading of how the rest of the world sees Netanyahu’s use of that history.

Here is Khouri, in the Daily Star: 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.N. General Assembly Monday may go down as a sign of how badly out of touch he is with the rest of the world; and of how the traditional Zionist use of scare tactics to maintain virtually absolute American support for any Israeli action is wearing thin.

Netanyahu’s two principal points were that Hamas, Iran and ISIS come from the same roots and have similarly dangerous and predatory global aims; and that it is foolhardy for the United States and other Western powers to negotiate an agreement with Iran over nuclear issues leading to a lifting of sanctions.

All of the basic points Netanyahu made were factually wrong. Consequently, because he has repeated them so many times without offering any proof beyond his own deep frowns and wild exaggerations, these points do not gain traction among the American public. They have also created the greatest strains in top-level U.S.-Israeli relations for generations.

The accusation that Hamas and ISIS are two branches of the same tree is palpable nonsense. The only thing they have in common is that they draw on Islamic doctrine and values as their guiding principles – in the same way that all recent American presidents and some weird Texan cults have all based their actions on Biblical texts and values. In both cases, though, each group interprets the religious text in very different ways, leading to very different actions that are worlds apart.

The repeated mistake Netanyahu makes – or perhaps it is a deliberate lie – is to see any movement or rhetoric in the Middle East that references Islamic values as a dangerous threat. Indeed, Iran, Hamas and ISIS all claim to act on the basis of religious principles, even dictates, but they operate in three very different universes that Netanyahu conflates into one.

Hamas is a resistance movement that was born in the 1980s primarily to fight against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Iran is a strong and proud country, heir to an ancient civilization, that lingers under the fading influence of its 1979 revolution, but mostly is powered by a determination not to bend to Western colonial manipulation and threats anchored in double standards.

ISIS is a violent, cult-like movement that emerged in recent years from the post-1990s legacy of Al-Qaeda, reflecting a fringe micro-minority of Muslims reacting to the despicable way they have been treated for decades by their own power structures and invading foreign armies – American, British, Soviet and others.

Which brings us to the Sykes-Picot agreement, remembered by ISIS, but largely forgotten by the western world.

On May 19, 1916, representatives of Great Britain and France secretly reached an accord, now referred to as the Sykes-Picot agreement. Under that agreement, made with no consultation with Arab tribal leaders, most of the Arab lands under the rule of the Ottoman Empire were divided among the British and French “spheres of influence”.

An history website, This Day in History, describes the land division that led to the borders, which resulted from the secret Sykes-Picot agreement:

“Under Sykes-Picot, the Syrian coast and much of modern-day Lebanon went to France; Britain would take direct control over central and southern Mesopotamia, around the Baghdad and Basra provinces. Palestine would have an international administration, as other Christian powers, namely Russia, held an interest in this region.

The rest of the territory in question—a huge area including modern-day Syria, Mosul in northern Iraq, and Jordan—would have local Arab chiefs under French supervision in the north and British in the south. Also, Britain and France would retain free passage and trade in the other’s zone of influence.”

In one of those quirks of history, exactly 19 years later to the day, after Sykes-Picot was signed, on May 19, 1935, T.E. Lawrence, known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, died as a retired Royal Air Force mechanic living under an assumed name.

The legendary war hero, author, and archaeological scholar succumbed to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident six days before his death.

David Lean’s film, Lawrence of Arabia, describes the cinematic moment in Lawrence’s life, when he hears a description of the Sykes-Picot agreement.

In the film, Lawrence has come to the office of British General Edmund Allenby, to resign his officer’s commission.

When he arrives, he finds two other men with Allenby, Prince Feisal ibn Ḥussein, who would later serve as king of the Arab Kingdom of Greater Syria in 1920, and as king of Iraq from 1921 to 1933.

Lawrence had led Arab troops on behalf of  Prince Feisal, against the Turkish army. The second man with General Allenby is Mr. Dryden, a British diplomat .

Below is the clip from Lawrence of Arabia, followed by the script reproduced from the scene.

PRINCE FEISAL: Well, general, I will leave you. Major Lawrence doubtless has reports to make……about my people and their weakness…..and the need to keep them in the British interest. And the French interest too. We must not forget the French.

GENERAL ALLENBY: I told you, no such treaty exists.

FEISAL; Yes, general, you have lied most bravely, but not convincingly. I know this treaty does exist.

MAJOR LAWRENCE: Treaty, sir?

FEISAL: He does it better than you, general. But then, of course, he is almost an Arab.

DRYDEN: (Staring at Lawrence) You really don’t know?

ALLENBY; Then what the devil’s this? (thrusting papers at Lawrence)

LAWRENCE; It’s my request for release from Arabia, sir.

ALLENBY; Why? Are you sure you haven’t heard of the Sykes-Picot Treaty?

LAWRENCE; No. I can guess.

ALLENBY- Don’t guess. (points to Dryden) Tell him.

DRYDEN: (Speaking slowly as walks around the room), pausing after sentences) Well, now., . . Mr. Sykes is a English civil servant. Monsieur Picot ia French civil servant. Mr. Sykes and Monsieur Picot met, and they agreed that after the war……France and England should share the Turkish Empire, Including Arabia.
They signed an agreement, (looking at Allenby) not a treaty, An agreement to that effect.

LAWRENCE: (glaring at Dryden) There may be honour among thieves, but there’s none in politicians.

DRYDEN: And let’s have no displays of indignation. You may not have known, but you certainly had suspicions. (pauses). If we’ve told lies you’ve told half-lies. And a man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. But a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it.

The bombing campaign against ISIS may be able to slow down the spread of the ISIS forces, but in the long run, it will have to be diplomatic agreements which will restore some balance to the nations of the Middle East.

The diplomatic maneuvering will have to acknowledge that the political tide in the region is turning in the direction of positive achievements.

It is a lie to link Hamas, Iran and ISIS. Our western political leaders and their diplomatic negotiators must recognize that, in Khouri’s phrase, the linkage is “palpable nonsense”.

Khouri is optimistic about the future of his Middle East neighbors and his native Palestine. He sees the positive force of Islam prevailing over those who, like Netanyahu, would misrepresent the Islamic religious tradition.

It is telling that Al-Qaeda and, more recently, ISIS have tried repeatedly to harness mass support among Arab public opinion, but always without success.

The masses of Arabs who are discontented with their socio-economic or political conditions and look to their faith for succor, hope and strength, chronically reject the cults of death, destruction and terrorism that ISIS and Al-Qaeda represent; instead they support the nationalist-, resistance- and community-based strategies of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and others of this kind.

That sounds like a formula T. E. Lawrence might have fully embraced.

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Movies, Netanyahu | 3 Comments

Abbas To UN: “End This Settlement Occupation”

by James M. Wallphoto from Haaretz AFP

On Friday, September 26, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly, “The time has come to end this settlement occupation.”

The New York Times described Abbas as “visibly enraged” when he spoke to the General Assembly.

In her analysis of the address for Ha’aretzAmira Hass wrote that Abbas was obviously not directing his angry words to the Israeli public. His message, she notes, was directed primarily to the west. Abbas wanted the west to know:

“The negotiations with Israel, as they have been held until now, are over; forget about the Palestinians returning to them. Forget about the Palestinians continuing to meet and discuss while Israel continues to construct settlements and ignore even the simple commitments it agreed to, such as the release of prisoners.”

Furthermore, Abbas wants the West to understand:

“The Palestinians will not return to any negotiations that do not take as a starting point the final objective of a Palestinian state to stand alongside Israel, based on the ’67 borders, and a binding timetable for its establishment”.

Hass points to words in the speech that sounded more like a prosecutor addressing a jury determined to prove to that jury, the guilt of the accused.

In his address directed to the west, Abbas used such words as “colonialist occupation,” “racism,” “a war of genocide”, massacres, and a nation above the law.”

The last time an angry Palestinian leader addressed the UN was on November 13, 1974, when PLO leader Yasir Arafat came to the General Assembly podium carrying a gun in one hand and an olive branch in the other.

Donald Neff, one of the most astute western journalists who covered the early days of the Israeli occupation, described Arafat’s address to the UN General Assembly November 13, 1974 gathering:

“Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization made a dramatic appearance before the U.N. General Assembly and called on the world community to decide between an “olive branch or a freedom fighter’s gun.” 

It was the first time a Palestinian leader had been invited to speak to the UN body. Neff described Arafat’s presence as a “watershed for the Palestinian community”. Neff’s report ran in the November/December 1994, edition of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, twenty years after Arafat’s speech and twenty years before Abbas’s “visibly angry” address. 

Neff’s report is an indication of how little has changed in the colonial scenario in which  the United States stands watch over, and finances, Israel’s illegal takeover of Palestinian lives and land.

Neff wrote in his 1994 story for the Washington Report:

“The United States and Israel had opposed Arafat’s [1974] appearance, as they had for years fought against recognition of Palestinians as a separate people. Washington and Tel Aviv insisted that the Palestinians be identified by their function or position such as refugees or terrorists rather than as a people.”

Arafat’s speech contained words, which had they been heeded in 1974, would have produced a far different outcome between Israel and the Palestinians than what followed for the next 40 years:

“The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights. Whoever stands by a just cause and fights for liberation from invaders and colonialists cannot be called terrorist. Those who wage war to occupy, colonize and oppress other people are the terrorists….

The Palestinian people had to resort to armed struggle when they lost faith in the international community, which ignored their rights, and when it became clear that not one inch of Palestine could be regained through exclusively political means.”

In the Abbas speech of 2014, the Palestinian leader has moved far beyond Arafat’s proffered choice between a gun and an olive branch, which were in 1974, metaphors that  the aging revolutionary used to warn the West of what the future would bring.

Abbas is currently the president of a Palestinian state with a government led by the united political factions of Hamas and Fatah. Those factions have much work ahead to form “a more perfect union”.

The most important thing they hold in their new wobbly unity is the ability to present Israel to the ICC, the International Criminal Court where Israel’s conduct as an occupying force can be tried on criminal charges in a world court.

Israel and the United States know that the ability of Abbas to join the ICC will change the dynamics between Israel and Palestine, allowing Palestine, for the first time, to stand on equal footing with Israel before a court, seeking justice.

In spite of knowing this, the best Israel and the United States could do this time around, following Abbas’ UN message to the west, was to cry that the speech was “offensive” (the U.S., of course, in its best State Department whimper) or to attack the speech as filled with “lies” (the standard Israeli response to any criticism).

It is important to note that in its coverage of the Abbas speech, the Times complained that the speech “was short on details”. Specifically, the Times wrote:

[Abbas] did not offer his own deadline for an Israeli withdrawal, as some had expected, nor did he say anything about joining the International Criminal Court, which his aides have repeatedly said he is prepared to do. He only hinted that he would seek accountability for alleged war crimes against Palestinians during the latest war with Israel.

Why should he play those cards now? Thanks in part to Israel’s carnage in this summer’s Gaza invasion, and what that invasion showed Israel was capable of doing to a captive population, world sympathy is slowly shifting.

Abbas now holds two important cards, joining the ICC and allowing other nations to bring charges against Israel for its “alleged” war crimes. Why play those cards now?

There will be time to hold them as a threat to Israel as the rest of the world slowly stirs itself and sees the reality of Israel’s occupation.

In her analysis of the Abbas speech, Amira Hass takes note of the fact that the man who spoke to the General Assembly Friday is a changed man from his days as a leader who tried to trust Israel and the United States.

Clearly, Abbas has changed, as Hass writes:

How great the distance between the Abbas who now extols the achievements of the BDS movement and its work against “Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies” and the Abbas who once expressed his opposition to boycotts directed against Israel (as opposed to those directed against settlement-made products), and several times referred to it as “a neighbor.”

A wide gulf divides the speaker who on Friday said Palestinians “will not forget or forgive and won’t let war criminals go unpunished” and the one who in 2010 blocked the passage of the Goldstone report – which investigated allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and the Palestinians during “Operation Cast Lead” – to the hands of the UN Security Council.

The next two years are crucial. President Obama may be the last American president in the next decade, from either party, with the experience and the moxie, to force a right wing government of Israel to recognize that the ICC is a legal body with the power to wound wrong-doers.

A legal body, that is, that is not subservient to the Israel Lobby. That Lobby, of course, will continue to throw road blocks in the path Palestine takes to the ICC.

For a detailed study of that process and the chances of a successful landing by Palestine vs. Israel in the ICC, see this Link essay by John B. Quigley.

The journey to the ICC is complicated, as are all things in this Israeli-dominated region. But making the journey at a time of Palestine’s choosing should keep Israel from an early return to periodically “mowing the grass”, in Gaza, as Israelis have obscenely described these invasions.

Only the dumbest politicians keep committing their crimes with a set of indictments hanging over their collective heads.  Play that ICC card, President Abbas, at a time of your own choosing.

 The picture of President Abbas above is from AFP. It appeared in Haaretz.

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, USA, War | 4 Comments

A Fan Base Lament: “Say it ain’t so, Senator”

by James M. Wallbilde

Writing in Intercept, Glenn Greenwald delivered bad news to progressive Democrats under the glaring headline: Elizabeth Warren Finally Speaks on Israel/Gaza, Sounds Like Netanyahu.

As I reported in an earlier posting, the information on Warren’s views on the Israeli invasion of Gaza emerged during a political gathering in Hyannis. Massachusetts.

The report came from C. Ryan Barber, writing for the Cape Cod Times.

At Hyannis, on July 17, Senator Warren (at left above) was asked about her “yes” vote to give Israel supplemental funding. Her response was disheartening to progressives who had just lived through the dark summer days of Israel’s Gaza invasion. She put it this way:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right. America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

This was how the Massachusetts senator defended an invasion that killed 506 children and every member of 81 extended Palestinian Gaza families, in a brutal one-sided military assault.

Senator Warren is the current darling of U.S. political progressives. In her interview in Hyannis, she made no mention of the atrocities committed by Israel.

Instead, she maintained that Israel’s attack on Gaza was the act of a nation that “lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law.”

These are not the words of a respected academic. They are the words of a liberal Zionist reading from an AIPAC script.

If Senator Warren has, in fact, embraced the liberal Zionist world view that Israel has the right to do what is needed to support its occupation of Palestine, she may rightly be classified as a PEP (Progressive except for Palestine).

from MondoweissElizabeth Warren a PEP? To recall a lament from our early 20th century sports culture:

“Say it ain’t so, Senator”.

When loyal fans discover that a favored one has taken up with the wrong companions, they respond with a common response of betrayal.

In 1919, there occurred a baseball betrayal so deeply felt that it remains with us today in the common memory of baseball aficionados.

That betrayal involved “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, most recently heard from as a player (portrayed by Ray Liotta) in the movie Field of Dreams.

“Shoeless Joe” was one of a group of Chicago White Sox players who shattered the dreams of loyal fans when they were charged with criminal behavior.

The facts of the story are these: “Shoeless Joe” Jackson was on trial as one of the players accused of  throwing games at the behest of gamblers in the 1919 World Series.

During the 1920 trial, a young boy pulls on the sleeve of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson as he leaves the courthouse, and says,

“Say it ain’t so, Joe”.

Forty years later, in 1949, Furman Bisher interviewed an aging Jackson for SPORT magazine two years before Jackson died. In the interview, Jackson said he did not remember the incident of the pleading fan.

News stories at the time insisted the boy’s lament did take place.

Bisher’s interview revealed Jackson’s bewilderment that after a jury acquitted all of the players of any illegal behavior, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the newly appointed Commissioner of Baseball, banned all eight players from ever playing again.

A 1921 newspaper account described the rationale behind Landis’ blanket ban against the players:

“While the players had been acquitted, none of them could ever be allowed back into the game if it was to clean up its public image.”

The legend of “Shoeless Joe” Jackson lingers on in baseball lore to remind us that betrayal hurts the most when a favorite who had been trusted proves to be unworthy of that trust.

Warren’s progressive political base was stunned when she embraced Israel’s rationale for its invasion.

To a major segment of Warren’s political base, an endorsement of Israel’s continued immoral and brutal conduct in the invasions and the ongoing occupation is felt as betrayal of the highest order.

In sports, as in politics, two public arenas so much alike in so many ways, urchins of all ages are emotionally wounded when their heroes or would-be heroes are exposed by reality.

It is still too early for progressives to brand Warren as a PEP.  She has, after all, developed skills that has made her a successful politician since her days as a Washington economics guru.  The next few months will test her ability to balance conflicting political demands.

One set of those demands emerged during a recent visit Warren made to Tufts University. Jeff Klein wrote the story of Warren’s encounter with her base at Tufts:

When Elizabeth Warren came to Tufts University in Medford on Monday she was met by anti-war and Palestinian rights activists who asked why the popular senator and national Democratic Party celebrity seemed to echo Israeli talking points about the recent Israel attack on Gaza.

The Boston Globe reports that Warren, one of only four sitting senators yet to take a congressional overseas trip, will most likely join a delegation traveling to Israel after the November midterm election. 

How she handles such a trip will be an indication of her ability to play in the Major League of presidential politics. The Israeli-controlled congressional trip will, no doubt, go no further into Gaza than a ceremonial visit to the mouth of a tunnel that reached into southern Israel.

Senator Warren should demand a personal visit into Gaza, with unfettered conversations allowed with victims of the invasion.

She should also demand a visit to the area of the West Bank where Israel claims its “right” to steal more Palestinian land for an expanded settlement between Hebron and Bethlehem.

Anything less on Senator Warren’s itinerary on her first senatorial trip to Israel/Palestine would be an ominous revelation that she has betrayed her progressive fan base.

 The picture of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the top is from Mondoweiss. The picture at top is of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, and state Sen. Dan Wolf talking with Andi Genser, executive director of We Can, during a visit to the We Can facility on Thursday, August 20. It is from the Cape Cod Times. The picture was taken by Steve Heaslip. The picture of Sen. Warren is from Mondoweiss.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Politics and Elections | 9 Comments

U.S. Fear/War Mongers Win This Round

by James M. Wall(Saul Loeb-Pool:Getty Images)

The American public doesn’t want to go to war unless there is something out there that frightens them.

This explains why all of our wars have been preceded by dire warnings of what will happen if we don’t militarily engage the enemy.

In President Obama’s Wednesday night speech, he repudiated his own caution and prudence by falling in line with those who think there is no fear out there that war cannot overcome.

The New York Times editorial board sonorously endorsed the President’s decision under a headline that informs the nation that the drums of war have had their effect: “The Attack on ISIS Expands to Syria.”

Gail Collins’ Times column the same day, “A Man With a Plan”, questions the wisdom of her editorial bosses, pointing to samples of the strategy congressional fear/war mongers employed to influence the President’s decision:

Collins cites a Texas senator:

“President Obama’s chronic passivity has helped the jihadists,” John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate Republican, said in a floor speech this week. Cornyn slammed the administration’s “don’t do stupid stuff” mantra, claiming Obama “doesn’t seem to fully grasp the magnitude of the threats and challenges that America is now dealing with.”

Collins reminds her readers of just why the President’s earliest caution and prudence made better sense than his decision to yield to the likes of John Cornyn. She further comments on Senator Cornyn’s call to action:

Cornyn mixed up Iranians and Iraqis a few times, but concerned citizens understand that these things get complicated. More to the point, not doing something stupid is actually a super foreign policy goal. Just look back on our recent history of meddling in the Middle East and what do you see? A heck of a lot of stupid stuff we wish we hadn’t done.”

Norman Solomon‘s Global Research column sums up Obama’s speech by pointing to what he calls “a liberal style of murmuring reservations while deferring to the essence of U.S. policies for perpetual war:” He concludes with this reminder that the Times is leading the national media pack with its support for Obama’s decision:

“Like the vast bulk of the rest of U.S. mass media, when push comes to militaristic shove, the New York Times refuses to make a break from the madness of perpetual war. In fact, with rare exceptions, the dominant media outlets end up fueling that madness.”

Charles Blow’s Times column,”The Cost of War”, reported on public opinion prior to the speech:

“According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll published Tuesday [September 9], a vast majority of Americans see ISIS as a threat to the United States, a slight majority believes the president hasn’t moved aggressively enough, and most support expanding United States airstrikes into Syria.”

Blow is not swayed by public support for airstrikes in Syria. In his column, he writes:

“I implore the president and the nation to proceed with caution.
We can kill anti-American fighters and even their leaders, but we can’t kill anti-American sentiment. To some degree, every time we commit our forces in the Middle East we run the risk of further inflaming that sentiment.”

In an earlier Times August 31 column, Blow anticipated the triumph of the fear/war mongers over Obama’s cautious approach, when he warned

“another part of the equation is the tremendous political pressure coming from the screeching of war hawks and an anxious and frightened public, weighted most heavily among Republicans and exacerbated by the right-wing media machine.”

In the days leading up to Obama’s speech, Blow reported:

​”​Republicans are beginning to pull out the big gun — 9/11 — to further scare the public into supporting more action. Senator Lindsey Graham has said on Fox News that we must act to “stop another 9/11,” possibly a larger one, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has warned, “Sadly, we’re getting back to a pre-9/11 mentality, and that’s very dangerous.”

Fear is in the air. The president is trying to take a deliberative approach, but he may be drowned out by the drums of war and the chants for blood.

​After Obama’s speech, c​hants for blood, ​not unsurprisingly, came from Israel​ and its friends in the U.S.​

According to the Global Jewish News Service, Israelis love it when the U.S. comes into Israel’s neighborhood to wage war against any Arab force that Israel does not consider a  friend.

The News Service writes:

“President Obama did not mention Israel or the Palestinians during his national address Wednesday night. But his pledge to lead a U.S.-coordinated effort to destroy ISIS could end up doing more to get Israeli-Palestinian negotiations back on track than anything that Secretary of State Kerry and his team managed to produce with their shuttle diplomacy.

Reaching a final deal is hard enough when the region is calm. But it becomes significantly more difficult, if not impossible, when Islamic extremism is on the march and U.S. influence is in retreat.

Good luck convincing Israeli leaders that it is safe to abandon any part of the Golan Heights or the Jordan Valley as ISIS destabilizes the region and moves closer to its borders, especially with a president perceived as being more interested in golf and Asia than confronting the gathering storms in the Middle East.

History suggests that the most effective thing America can do to encourage Israeli risk-taking is to show that we’re serious about reducing regional threats to the Jewish state.”

President Obama was elected in 2008, in part because he rejected that interventionist policy. That was not the message the nation heard in President Obama’s Wednesday speech.

There is no question but that the armies of the so-called “Islamic State”, are guilty of horrendous war crimes. But ISIS is neither Islamic nor is it a state. It is a “terror” group that has no ideological goal other than to bring power to itself and grief to the world.

What we face today in Syria and Iraq requires counter terrorism, not war.

Norman Solomon points to the wisdom of an earlier New York Times Board editorial which was published more than a year ago:

Under the headline “The End of the Perpetual War,” published May 23, 2013, the Times was vehement, calling a Obama speech delivered that week, “the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America.”

That May 23, 2013 editorial added:

“For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future.”

The Times editorial board was sweeping in its 2013 conclusion:

“Mr. Obama told the world that the United States must return to a state in which counterterrorism is handled, as it always was before 2001, primarily by law enforcement and the intelligence agencies. That shift is essential to preserving the democratic system and rule of law for which the United States is fighting, and for repairing its badly damaged global image.”

The fear/war mongers got to the New York Times editorial board between May 23, 2013 and September 10, 2014. The Times and President Obama both gave in to the wrong people.

What remains to be seen is how long and how many deaths, will it take for them to acknowledge their joint mistake.

The picture, above, of President Obama delivering his September 10, 2014 speech was a Saul Loeb pool photo from Getty images.

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Obama, Politics and Elections, US govermemt, War | 6 Comments

Did Israel Have the “Right” to Kill This Child?

by James M. Wall Kelly Lynn Global Research

“Israel has the right to defend itself” was the Orwellian doublespeak Israel used to justify its latest invasion of Gaza, carried out at the same time as its under-reported increased military action inside the West Bank.

President Obama, eagerly joined by would be presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, and Elizabeth Warren, rushed to endorse Israel’s 51-day August assault against the Palestinians, by proclaiming, “Israel has the right to defend itself”.

Prompted by AIPAC, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to embrace the doublespeak Israeli claim that it was killing Palestinians “because it has the right to defend itself”.  The vote was taken on the final day before the senators went into their annual summer recess.

Were there any among that list of endorsees who understood the meaning of “doublespeak”, which Wikipedia defines as “language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words?”

Did that “right to defend”, give Israel the right to kill 11-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Anati, just before he was to begin the sixth grade in the Al-Fawwar refugee camp school south of Hebron (see map below right)?

Khalil Anati died on Sunday morning, August 10. Israel’s invasion of Gaza was well under way.

When that invasion ended August 26, with a shaky month-long cease fire, according to United Nations figures,  the invasion had killed 2,104 Palestinians in Gaza, “including 253 women (12 per cent) and 495 children (24 per cent).

During the same period, 69 Israelis were killed including four civilians (6 per cent).

The UN also reported “that 10,224 Palestinians, including 3,106 children (30 per cent) and 1,970 women (19 per cent) were injured in Gaza. Preliminary estimates indicate that up to 1,000 of the children injured will have a permanent disability and up to 1,500 orphaned children will need sustained support from the child protection and welfare sectors.”

Media attention during the invasion was focused on Gaza. Next door in the West Bank, the IDF stepped up its daily military incursions inside Palestinian population centers.

UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Welfare Agency, describes the camp, where Khalil lived, died and is now buried.West-Bank-Refugee-Camps

The southernmost of the West Bank camps, Fawwar was established in 1949 on 0.27 square kilometres of land, 10km south of Hebron.

The camp’s original inhabitants came from 18 villages in the Gaza, Hebron and Beersheeva areas. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan.

The residents of the camp depend almost entirely on work inside Israel and have been especially badly affected by the inaccessibility of the Israeli labour market. Unemployment stands at 32 per cent.

Gideon Levy writes a regular column, “Twilight Zone”, for the Israeli daily Haaretz. His column has been described as “documenting unflinchingly, the myriad cruelties inflicted on the Palestinian people under occupation”.

After the killing of Khalil Anati, Levy (below left) traveled to the Al-Fawwar refugee town and camp. He wrote several stories on the death of Khalil Anati.

This is the start of one of the stories published August 21:

(Haim Taragan:Haaretz)Khalil Anati was 10 years and eight months old and came from the Al-Fawar refugee camp, south of Hebron in the West Bank, when he was killed.

An Israeli soldier had opened the door of his armored jeep, picked up his rifle, aimed it at the upper body of the boy, who was running with his back to the soldier, and cut him down with one bullet, fired from a distance of a few dozen meters.

It was early morning on Sunday, August 10. The street was almost empty – the idleness, the unemployment and the heat in this squalid refugee camp leave people in their beds late – and the soldiers were apparently in no danger. According to testimony, there were only another three or four young children in the street; they were throwing stones at the jeep. There were no “riots” and no mass “disturbances.”

Khalil tried to advance another few meters after the bullet lodged in his lower back, before falling to the ground in the middle of the narrow alley, its width about that of a person, that ascends to his home. . . .

By the time he arrived at the hospital in Hebron – he had been transported in a private vehicle since the camp does not have an ambulance – he was dead from loss of blood.

The soldier who shot him, quickly shut the door of the jeep and hightailed it out of the camp, together with his buddies. Mission accomplished.

Khalil Muhammad al-Anati’s death and burial were also covered by Kelly Lynn, a photo journalist working in the West Bank.

Her report appeared in both Global Reserch, published by the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), an independent research and media organization based in Montreal, Canada, and in The Electronic intifada, an American web site started by and still led by, Ali Abunimah.

Kelly Lynn’s report in the EI begins:

Thousands gathered shortly before afternoon prayers on Sunday in Fawwar refugee camp south of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron to mourn the death of eleven-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Anati.

Israeli soldiers shot Khalil with live ammunition outside his home that same morning on 10 August after forces invaded the camp. He was buried not far from his home that afternoon by thousands of friends, family and neighbors.

“Every time someone went to get him, the soldiers would start shooting. We couldn’t reach him. When we were finally able to get to him, he had lost almost all of his blood,” Yusif said.

After the jeeps vacated the area, Khalil was taken in a private car to al-Ahli hospital in Hebron, where he was treated by Dr. Mohammed Baker Abu Snaina.

“Upon arrival to our emergency room, he had no heartbeat, no pulse and no muscular or neurological reflexes,” said Abu Snaina. “There was no active bleeding because he had already lost most of his blood.”

Lynch  tried to reach the Israeli army media desk to ask for an official description of the killing. She could not reach  the desk.

However, a few hours after the killing,  the Israeli military’s Twitter account stated in Hebrew its “regret” over the incident. It added the usual promise of  an internal investigation.

Lynch’s report continued:

According to Amnesty International’s February 2014 report titled “Trigger Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank,” Israeli authorities have consistently failed to carry out investigations into alleged crimes that satisfy international standards.

From September 2000 until June of last year, there were only sixteen military police investigations into the killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces which led to indictments. None led to discharge from the military, according to Amnesty.

Meanwhile, back on the political campaign trail of one of the “Israel has the right to defend itself” American politicians, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to a group of Hyannis voters during one of her regularly scheduled “office hours” with her Massachusetts constituents.

Because so many progressive Democrats have turned to Warren as an alternative to front runner Hillary Clinton in the 2016 race for the presidency, Warren’s participation in the rush to endorse “Israel’s right to defend itself” was especially disappointing to her would-be progressive supporters. 

Glenn Greenwald reported on Warren’s visit to Hyannis for Intercept:

At the Hyannis event, which was covered for the Cape Cod Times by reporter C. Ryan Barber, one voter objected to Warren’s recent vote, in the middle of the attack on Gaza, to send yet another $225 million of American taxpayer money to Israel for its “Iron Dome” system.

The voter, who identified himself as John Banger, told Warren:

“We are disagreeing with Israel using their guns against innocents. It’s true in Ferguson, Missouri, and it’s true in Israel . . .  The vote was wrong, I believe.” To crowd applause, Bangert told Warren that the money “could have been spent on infrastructure or helping immigrants fleeing Central America.

Warren steadfastly defended her “pro-Israel” vote, invoking the politician’s platitude: “We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.” According to reporter C. Ryan Barber .  .  .   Warren was also asked about her Israel position by other voters who were at the gathering, and she went on to explain:

“I think the vote was right, and I’ll tell you why I think the vote was right.

America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren’t many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world.”

Warren continued in this vein, repeating the Israeli talking points about Hamas’ attacks on    Israel “indiscriminately,” which were largely blocked by the Iron Dome defense system, which Senator Warren was eager to defend as American dollars well spent.

Pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel’s attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the “last thing Israel wants.”

“But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they’re using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself,” Warren said, drawing applause.

Other than the standard Israeli line that civilian casualties are the “last thing Israel wants,” Senator Warren had nothing to say in Hyannis about Palestinian casualties.

If word has reached her, or her staff, about the killing of eleven-year-old Khalil Muhammad al-Anati, that news did not make it into her stump speech or into any answers she gave to her constituents.

The picture at top of a relative holding the body of Khalil Muhammad al-Anatim before he is lowered into the ground, was taken by Kelly Lynn, a freelance photojournalist based in the West Bank.

Her work focuses on refugee communities in the southern West Bank. She has been published on New Internationalist, Vice, Mondoweiss and others. 

Posted in Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Religion and politics | 7 Comments

“We want to exchange personal experiences, Sir.”

Gaza City bomb AFP

by James M. Wall

The personal report that begins below, first appeared in the website, Mondoweiss. 

This report conveys the horror of war experienced by young Palestinian college students in Gaza during recent summer weeks of unrelenting and vicious attacks by Israel.

The author, Nazmi Al-Masri, a professor at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG), writes, “This day is carved in my memory”. He continues:

As all academics in Gaza, I had given much thought to my students who were suffering all sorts of agonies and worries caused by Israel’s aggression. After 40 days of atrocities caused by heavy bombardment and random artillery shelling, which destroyed thousands of houses and devastated countless families, the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) did everything it could to make use of the three-day temporary ceasefire, which was extended for five days and then for another 24-hour period before it ended at midnight on August 19th, 2014.

They decided to resume the classes on Saturday, August 16 that had so crudely interrupted summer semester.

I was unsure what to say to my students in my lecture class. Many agonizing questions occupied my mind, among them: Were all my students and their families safe or were any of them injured or maimed? Would they be mentally able to come to class? Were they still living at home, or displaced in some shelter? How did they feel about resuming class in the midst of such agony and grief?

What tragedies had each of my students been through and how much were they comfortable talking about? Overwhelmed by these concerns and well aware of the deep wounds, loss, and hardship every single Palestinian in Gaza has suffered, I was not able to enter the classroom with a big smile on my face as I had always done in the past.

I noticed immediately that about 40% of the students were absent, they could well have lost their father, mother, brother, sister. However, as is custom in Palestine I greeted my class of 40 students with the idiomatic expression used in such circumstances: “Hello and Salam (Peace upon you all), all praise to Allah for your safety and welcome back to IUG.”

In low, sad voices the students replied: “Hello and Salam, all praise to Allah for your safety, Sir.”

I continued speaking, “Today we are not meeting to discuss a particular task or project. We’re here to exchange…”

Before I could finish, a student interrupted me: “We want to exchange our personal experiences of war, Sir.”

Without any hesitation I replied: “Yes, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. I am here to listen to you and for us to share our experiences. Who would like to start?”

One of the best students in class, Naji, began to speak: “I want to talk about three of my peers who are my partners in our graduation project, which we were supposed to submit last month.” Story-telling is part of the healing process that people go through in order to recover from bereavement and grief. I automatically responded “Please go ahead, Naji.”

In a broken voice, struggling to breathe normally, Naji began narrating his own tragedy.

“Before the Israeli attack on July 7th three of my friends and I were working hard to finish our joint graduation project due at the end of July, but we couldn’t. The problem was not getting the work done in time to graduate, but what happened to my partners, to my best friends. Approaching our final exams, we were all confident that we’d pass them all as we had done the past four years. We were keen to finish our graduation project and were looking forward to our new life afterwards. We worked hard, planned and talked about our life after graduation and how we wanted to help our families and build our future.”

Quietly, his eyes became heavy with tears and the words stuck in his throat. A few seconds later, he continued narrating his story of loss.

“It’s a unique tragedy that is different to any of the many tragedies we have learnt of so far. It isn’t a science fiction story, but something real that happened to my three friends at this university.”

Khalid – killed

“Khalid is one of my best friends, and the best of our project team. Khalid can never be forgotten; he has an amazing personality full of fun and life and energy. He is a fantastic and lovable friend and friendly to everyone.

“About two weeks after the attacks had started and during the most extreme atrocities in Shujai’iya on 20 July, I was listening to the news on the radio when I suddenly learned that Khalid had been killed when an Israeli rocket hit his house around midnight. His 55 year old father was buried under the rubble and severely injured his spine.

Two days later I learned that his father was fully paralysed. Some of his other family members are still in the hospital and others are staying in the hospital yard used by hundreds of Palestinians families as a makeshift shelter.”

To read the entire report from Professor Al-Masri, click here.

An older Jewish generation, survivors, and descendents of survivors from the Holocaust, have raised their voices over Israel’s “massacre of Palestinians in Gaza”.

Ha’aretz reported on their ad that ran in the New York Times:

Hundreds of Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors have signed a letter, published as an advertisement in Saturday’s New York Times, condemning “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza” and calling for a complete boycott of Israel.

According to the letter, the condemnation was prompted by an advertisement written by Elie Wiesel and published in major news outlets worldwide, accusing Hamas of “child sacrifice” and comparing the group to the Nazis.

The letter, signed by 327 Jewish Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors and sponsored by the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, accuses Wiesel of “abuse of history” in order to justify Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip:

“…we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of more than 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.

Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.”

Palestinian college students and Holocaust survivors, and descendants of Holocaust survivors, share a common sense of outrage and sadness over Israel’s massacre. 

For a full list of the letter’s signatories and for the full text of the letter, click here 

Does the American media hear these cries of anger and anguish?

Do American religious leaders, the secular political leaders, and the American public hear what is happening in Gaza?

Clearly they do not, because they all remain silent.

In the AFP picture above a bomb strikes a building in Gaza City August 24.

Posted in Human Rights, The Human Condition, Uncategorized, War | 4 Comments

“Exodus” Now Hurling Real 5,000 Pound Bombs

by James M. Wall

ExodusIsrael still retains absolute mind control over the western world, thanks to the selling of an Israel narrative which was boosted high into the literary lights and onto movie screens with the fictional Israeli narrative written by Leon Uris in 1954.

After its publication, the novel Exodus became the guide book for all who studied, traveled, or gave even the slightest attention to the start of the modern nation of Israel in 1947-48.

How powerful is a movie image?

The Guardian reported that when Ronald Reagan first arrived at the White House as president, he wanted to see the “war room” which he had seen in the movie, Dr Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

He had to be told that the Strangelove war room was a movie set, (shown below) built at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England.  In reality, the real war room is much smaller.

Was the President serious? As one line from Strangelove puts it, “No one could say”.

Exodus, the novel by Leon Uris, was far removed from the reality of Palestine in 1948.

Undeterred by reality, the novel grew into a 208 minute, 1960 movie version, with Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan, a leader of the Hagannah (the Jewish underground), and Eva Marie Saint, as Kitty Fremont, his love interest.

In one scene, Kitty sits beside Ari on a hill overlooking what he tells her is the ancient Valley of Jezreel. He then informs her, pointing, that below are the ruins of Megido.  He also points to Mount Tabor.

She gazes up admiringly at the Jewish underground leader, hanging on his every word. Ari asks Kitty, “Do you know your Bible?”

Overwhelmed by his superior biblical certainty, she answers quietly, “In a Presbyterian sort of way”. Having established his biblical knowledge superiority, Ari tells Kitty how his people conquered this land centuries ago.

It was the generation that absorbed Exodus as novel and as a movie, that accepted and acted on, the Israel “narrative”, which Ari Ben Canaan is convinced is biblically sound.

Would Paul Newman deceive us? The lone Presbyterian voice in the film who might have countered Ari Ben Canaan’s certainty, was merely a biblical student “in a Presbyterian sort of way”.

How was she to know there was another “narrative” that told an entirely different story? In 1954, the Palestinian narrative was lodged in very few western world views.

Today, sixty years after the novel Exodus first appeared, the Palestinian narrative has great difficulty being heard in the cacophany of a culture shaped for more than six decades by propaganda (hasbara) campaign, each defended with bogus cries of “anti-semitism”.

Over time, however, reality continually forces hasbara spin masters to launch new campaigns. The latest: The sudden discovery and immediate peddling, of a series of “rights”, promulgated simplistically by advertising spin masters.

“Israel has a right to exist” was the first of a recent set of slogans pushed by Israel’s hasbara teams. That “right” was followed by “Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state”.  Standing alone, of course,  these lies have no connection to reality.

But who notices?  On the surface, everyone believes in “rights”. Beneath the surface, the issue of the clash of rights is ignored.

Then came the granddaddy “rights” claim of them all, the kind that sends a heavily armed militaristic nation into repeated wars, a simplistic granddaddy lie now robotically repeated by world leaders (Obama) and would be leaders (Clinton): “Israel has a right to defend itself”.

Israel “defends itself”exactly the way cigarette companies defended themselves by lying about the cancer-producing product they peddle to children who quickly become addicted to nicotine.

How does Israel defend itself? Among other options, Israel hurls 5,000-pound GBU 28 bunker-buster bombs on a civilian population of 1.8 million Palestinians who are jammed into a tiny strip of occupied land.

Richard Silverstein, a Seattle, Washington blogger, writes a daily blog, Tikun Olam. His postings demonstrate a deep commitment to Judaism as his religious tradition.. He speaks fluent Hebrew. He has excellent sources within Israel who provide him with news leads.War Room Strangelove

Silverstein knows a lie when he sees one. He watches for them on Israeli Hebrew language television.

On Thursday (August 21) he posted this item on Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu:

“I heard snippets of Bibi Netanyahu’s press conference today and he was in stellar and typically megalomaniacal form.  He pounded tables, waved his arms insistently, all for the purpose of persuading the gathered media that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas.”  

He’s an expert at this: hijacking whatever terrorist incident is grabbing world headlines (he did it memorably on 9/11) and piggybacking his own obsessions onto it.  So with the world’s attention shifting slightly from Gaza to Iraq; and with the beheading of a U.S. journalist by ISIS searing the world’s TV screens, he forcefully guides world attention back to his own agenda: Hamas.

There is no connection at all between ISIS and Hamas.  None.  Bibi made it all up out of whole cloth.  And he doesn’t care.  He figures if anyone catches him in a lie he’ll be long gone onto the next lie. 

Silverstein’s reference to 9/11 recalls the statement that Netanyahu made after the attacks on U.S. targets on September 11, 2001.

Eleven years after the events of 9/11, Ali Abunimah recalled a New York Times report from 2001, which included this revealing observation from Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, “It’s very good.” Then he edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.”

He predicted that the attack would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror.”

Abunimah commented further on the Netanyahu quote as reported by the Times:

Even after generously allowing Netanyahu to “edit” himself, the Times did not conceal that Netanyahu was not thinking in terms of sympathy for the victims of 9/11 and the United States, nor what a “friend” could do to help America.

Rather, he was already thinking on the day it happened about how 9/11 could be manipulated to get America to do more for Israel.

Silverstein (returning to 2014) commented further on his blog posting Thursday:

“Yesterday, I posted that the IDF attempted to assassinate Mohammed Deif in Gaza.  Hamas announced that Israel had murdered his 27 year-old pregnant wife and his 7 month-old son along with several other unnamed individuals.  The Israeli media buzzed for hours about whether Deif survived this, Israel’s fifth attempt to kill him (previous failed attempts had cost him both legs and possibly an eye).”

Silverstein’s source inside Israel, unnamed, of course, “has excellent contacts among Israeli military and intelligence circles”. His source tells him “there is a 90% likelihood Deif was killed yesterday.  I say all this advisedly, since I know that if the story turns out to be true it will cause perverse rejoicing in the halls of power in Israel. And this is the sort of rejoicing that will destroy Israel in the long run”.

Silverstein is cautious.

“I’ve learned by experience that my source is often right, no matter whether I want him to be or not.  So I feel it’s important to release this claim and test how it plays out over the coming days.

I read yesterday other claims from Hamas that five U.S.-made 5,000 lb. GBU 28 bunker-buster bombs were used to penetrate the al-Dalou home in which Deif and his family were sheltering.  My source confirms that the story is true.  The depth of the crater left at the scene indicates only a bunker buster could have produced it.”

Ponder this for a moment: 5,000-pound GBU 28 bunker-buster bombs were dropped on a single house in Gaza. Israel obviously can pinpoint a target when it wishes to do so.  It makes many claims that it “did not intend” to strike a United Nations school or a hospital.

That is not true. Schools and hospitals are not struck by mistake. These are large buildings and Israel’s ability to pinpoint targets is demonstrable.

Schools, hospitals and private homes belonging to Hamas officials and ordinary citizens,  are deliberately targeted.  It remains now for a respected, credible, fact-finding investigation to verify this.

The verification will not be made if the U.S, and other western nations prevail in their current effort to block any investigation remotely related to the UN.

A new video was posted on August 21 by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), along with this background on the video, “Gaza: Only Rubble Remains”:

“A temporary ceasefire allowed displaced individuals to return to their neighborhoods in Gaza. Tens of thousands found only rubble where their homes once stood. On his recent visit to Gaza, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl visited UNRWA installations, meeting UNRWA staff and thanking them for their extraordinary work in helping Palestine refugees in this crisis.”


A United Nations report in The New York Times, describes the physical damage suffered by the Palestinians in Gaza:

“The United Nations drastically underestimated the devastation that could result from possible assaults by Israel on Gaza this year, with 350,000 people so far displaced from a six-week-old conflict — seven times the 50,000 foreseen in its contingency plan, the top Unicef official for the crowded Palestinian enclave said Wednesday.

The official, Pernille Ironside, also said that if the severe Israeli trade constraints on Gaza were not relaxed, a preliminary analysis showed it could take 18 years to rebuild destroyed housing, furthering the prospect that young Gazans would reach adulthood in deprivation, anger and despair.”

The pack of lies that Netanyahu rode into this latest massive invasion has been repeatedly exposed outside the mainstream media.  The Nation magazine, definitely not mainstream published an editorial that summarized all of the lies.

This exposure now goes into the record.  In time, accounts, like the one from Nation, will reach the mainstream:

Reflexive US support for Israel by politicians from both parties is of long vintage and no surprise to anyone. Even so, it was shocking and shameful to hear White House and US diplomats repeatedly voice support for Israel’s “right to defend itself” as it rained bombs and missiles down on the people of Gaza.

Much of the US media repeated tired clichés about the “cycle of violence,” as if the conflict began when three Israeli teens were kidnapped and murdered. But lost in the media frenzy was the deeper context to this latest round of bloodshed. The collapse of the ill-starred peace process in the spring had created a dangerous vacuum.  .  .  .  

The [Israeli] government saw its opportunity in the kidnapping of the three teens [in the Hebron region]: although Israeli police were almost certain within days that the teens had been murdered—and almost certainly by freelance thugs rather than Hamas operatives—the Shin Bet placed a gag order on the media so that it could round up hundreds of Hamas members.

At the same time, the government ginned up a #BringBackOurBoys campaign—a cruel deception of the anguished parents, but also part of a strategy to foment public hysteria against Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular.

Israel’s grip on the western mindset with lies like those summed up above, cannot live on Paul Newman’s Exodus inspiration forever. 



Posted in -Movies and politics, Middle East Politics, Movies, Netanyahu, Obama, Uncategorized | 2 Comments