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

Hot and Cold Violence Sustains Israel’s Occupation

by James M. WallPalestinian-children-coll-009

Two news items surfaced Tuesday, April 21, that offer contrasting world views of Israel’s Occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Item number one is from the daily news report issued by the International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC). 

Item number two is an alert from End the Occupation informing readers that Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin has introduced an anti-BDS amendment to a pending bill in the Senate Finance Committee.

If passed,  this amendment would make it a “principal trade negotiating objective of the United States” to “discourage politically motivated actions” that “limit commercial relations” with Israel and Israeli businesses, including those operating in Occupied Palestinian Territory.

In less formal senatorial language, what Senator Cardin offers is an anti-BDS (Boycott Divestment, Sanctions) amendment designed to protect the modern state of Israel from a non-violent tactic to expose and hopefully reduce the daily atrocities of Israel’s occupation.

In recent years BDS has grown in worldwide influence. Any action aimed at Israel’s occupation of Palestine alarms AIPAC. When AIPAC is alarmed, Liberal and Conservative Zionist senators of both political parties, receive their marching orders.

Senator Cardin, the new ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the senator pushing this anti-BDS amendment. He was elevated to his post after the resignation of the previous Democratic ranking member, New Jersey’s Sen. Robert Menendez, an ardent Zionist, who voluntarily stepped down as ranking member Wednesday, April 15.

His resignation was prompted by his indictment on federal charges of bribery and conspiracy. Menendez pledges to fight the allegations. He remains a member of the committee and the senate. 

Neither of these stories, one from IMEMC, and the other from End the Occupation, is expected to receive much exposure in mainstream U.S. media outlets.

Both items however, carry long range consequences and offer a moral challenge to the consciences of the American public.

Item number one from IMEMC reports that on Tuesday, April 21, at dawn, Israeli soldiers invaded a number of villages and towns in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.

night_invasion_hebron  alfajertv.comThe soldiers searched homes, and kidnapped three Palestinians. Three other Palestinians were given military orders for future interrogation. Soldiers also kidnapped one Palestinian in Bethlehem.

It is a familiar story, repeated daily in various locations throughout Palestine. It is a story that represents nothing less than an ongoing Israeli strategy to intimidate and subdue the Palestinian people.

The Senate amendment, according to End the Occupation “is designed to pressure the European Union (EU), which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) with the United States, to reverse course on the steps it has taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements.”

The exact text of the amendment has not been released, but it is assumed to be similar to a bill—S.619, the United States-Israel Trade Enhancement Act of 2015—Senator Cardin introduced last month.

The pro-Israel forces in the U.S. have apparently spread their anti-BDS campaign into state legislatures. For example, the Illinois House and Senate could vote by Friday ​on ​Illinois bills, ​HB4011 and SB1761.

These two​ bills​ are designed to “prohibit state agencies and state retirement services from entering into contracts or investing in companies that choose to boycott Israeli businesses because of Israeli human rights violation​s”.

In his April 17 Guardian article, author Teju Cole distinguishes two forms of violence employed by Israel to control the people and land of Palestine: Hot violence and cold violence.

As Teju Cole explains, hot violence is openly visible. Some hot violence takes place in the daily deaths and kidnappings of Palestinian citizens. Some hot violence is also seen in the destruction of Palestinian homes by the IDF.

Cold violence is different from overt killing and military invasions. Cold violence takes its time until it finally gets “its way”. In his Guardian article, published in England, but not in the U.S., Cole describes the cold violence he found in Sheikh Jarrah, a predominantly Arab and old, East Jerusalem neighborhood.

“Children going to school and coming home are exposed to it. Fathers and mothers listen to politicians on television calling for their extermination. Grandmothers have no expectation that even their aged bodies are safe: any young man may lay a hand on them with no consequence. The police could arrive at night and drag a family out into the street.

Putting a people into deep uncertainty about the fundamentals of life, over years and decades, is a form of cold violence. Through an accumulation of laws rather than by military means, a particular misery is intensified and entrenched.”

For more than 50 years, western Christians have known about the occupation. What they choose to ignore are the cold and hot violence Israel employs with impunity.

The American Episcopal church will hold its national conference, starting June 24. Resolutions related to Israel’s occupation and  BDS will be on the agenda. Other denominational bodies will meet in annual sessions this summer.  Some will discuss and debate BDS,

To paraphrase the line from Shakespeare’s Henry V, “there are men and women asleep in their beds tonight who will one day rue their failure to halt Israel’s cold and hot violence in Palestine.”

Or, like the good Germans who avoided noticing the smoke from Nazi extermination centers, those men and women asleep in their beds tonight will one day cry, “we did not know”.

They do know, but good Germans, and good Americans, learn to lie when confronted with painful truth.

In +972, an Israeli-based progressive blog, Palestinian Yael Marom writes about young Palestinians who are doing something about their lives under oppression in Gaza.

“Life in Gaza has always been hard. But after Israel’s last attack it became impossible to live here. The problems became worse and the conditions deteriorated to the point that it is no longer possible to live humanely — and nobody cares,” Sajida Alhaj, 21, says in a Skype interview.

Alhaj is part of a group of young activists in Gaza that last month published a call for a mass protest in the Strip on April 29, demanding an end to the siege, the occupation and the human and civil rights abuses that accompany them.

The activists are calling on anyone who believes in freedom, justice and equality, the world over, to join them and organize parallel protests in their own countries, to express solidarity and to recognize their suffering.

“The situation in Gaza is disastrous,” she says. “We are calling on people to support Gaza by demonstrating in front of the Israeli and Egyptian embassies in every country, and force them to open the borders and break the siege — let building materials in to allow rebuilding, and let sick people out for medical treatment.”

In the current issue of the MAY 7, 2015, New York Review of Books, Freeman Dyson reviews Steven Gimbel’s new book, Einstein: His Space and Times

Gimbel’s book describes Albert Einstein’s “deep involvement with the Zionist movement, promoting the settlement of Jews in Palestine”. What led Einstein to embrace the settlement movement?

Gimbel writes:

“Einstein saw these settlements as a benefit both to Jews and to Arabs, giving Jews a place to live and prosper, and giving Arabs a chance to share the blessings of progress and prosperity.

In 1929, when some Palestinian Arabs organized a violent opposition to Jewish settlement and killed some Jews, the British colonial government suppressed the rebellion and enforced a peaceful coexistence of Jews and Arabs. But Einstein understood that this enforced coexistence could not last”.

Before his death in 1955, Einstein wrote an article under the title “Jew and Arab” from which Gimbel quotes:

“The first and most important necessity is the creation of a modus vivendi with the Arab people. Friction is perhaps inevitable, but its evil consequences must be overcome by organized cooperation, so that the inflammable material may not be piled up to the point of danger.

The absence of contact in every-day life is bound to produce an atmosphere of mutual fear and distrust, which is favorable to such lamentable outbursts of passion as we have witnessed.”

Sixty years after Einstein’s death, the hot and cold violence which sustains the Palestinian Occupation continues to be the violent tactic-of-choice for the state of Israel, which entered the region not to find “contact in every-day life”, but to conquer the indigenous population. 

Einstein was wrong about the settlements. This brilliant and caring man did not anticipate the governments Israelis would choose to lead them. 

The photograph at top of young Palestinians dipping their buckets into standing water on a Sheik Jarrah building is by Amir Cohen of Reuters.​ 

The photograph of an IDF soldier involved in a nighttime incursion into the Hebron district, is from alfajertv.com.

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Gideon Levy: A Prophetic Voice from Israel

by James M. WallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gideon Levy is a veteran columnist for Haaretz, a leading newspaper in Israel. He is a prophet, a man passionately committed to telling truth not just to power, but to people. 

As part of his mission, Levy came to Washington last week to speak at the National Press Club.

Levy’s speech was part of an all-day conference on the Israel Lobby organized by the Institute for Research/Middle East Policy (IRMEP) and the Washington Report for Middle East Affairs (WRMEA), two major U.S. progressive organizations.

Phillip Weiss reported in Mondoweiss: “Levy said he had come to plead with the American public to take control of Israel/Palestine policy before all is lost”.

At first, Levy had assumed the invitation was to speak to AIPAC, the pro-Israel organization which has firmly entrenched itself into the American fabric as the  premier Israel lobby organization.

“I said, That’s the chance of my life. I am going to come there to Washington and tell them, with friends like you, Israel does not need enemies.”

He quickly realized he was to speak not to AIPAC, or even the Anti-Defamation League, but to a conference which is “crucial and so important” in sounding the alarm about the Lobby.

Levy saw the conference as a sign that there will be change in the United States. “And we jump on any sign.”

In his speech, Levy acknowledged that earlier he had jumped on the 2008 beginning of J Street, the pro-Israel, pro-peace group, saying, “Here it comes! But it didn’t come.” When Obama was elected, he cried in joy. “And it didn’t come.”

Levy came to Washington with the simple message that change in the situation between Israel and it neighbors will have to come from the U.S.  He feels that Israel is a “lost case”.  Change will not come from an Israeli society which “has surrounded itself with shields, with walls, not just physical walls but also mental walls.”

He sees three principles which allow “Israelis to live easily with the brutal tyranny that is the occupation”. His judgment is harsh in the tradition of Israel’s Eighth Century prophets:

1, “We deeply believe we are the chosen people. Then we have the right to do what we want.

2, Never in history has the occupier presented himself as the victim. And not only the victim– but the only victim around.

3, Israelis have undertaken the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians.” And this allows Israelis to live with everything. Because the occupation does not involve questions of human rights.”

Living with the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians” is not a sickness unique to modern Israelis.  The U.S. public does not see others as we would want to be seen, which makes it easy for the Israel Lobby to lead our public further into the stupefaction of a racism that does not see occupation as the evil it is.

The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign began in earnest this past weekend with all consistent slick talk from candidates addressing the self-absorption of a public waiting to be sold new products.

Former First Lady of Arkansas and the U.S., former U.S. Senator, former failed presidential candidate, former U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, launched a campaign of appeals to American self-absorption shaped by product-peddlers.

No rich fat-cats in this ad: (click below)

Difficult to tell what the ad is selling, other than a softer and kinder image of Clinton than the one currently etched in the public’s mind  

As the Republicans roll out their campaigns, it will become clearer, with each new launch, that what they are peddling is Not-Obama.  Not an encouraging future for the next 18 months, so just hit the mute button. This too, will pass.

Meanwhile, there is a country to run and problems to be confronted.  Currently, it is Barack Obama who steers the ship.

Fortunately, six years into the job, he is a leader who “gets it”, a leader who knows how the Israeli government does nothing to lead its public out of the wilderness of racism and stupefaction.

So far, it appears Obama will do what he can to confront the “systematic dehumanization of the Palestinians” and continue to choose diplomacy over military action on the world stage. 

His biggest challenge is to make those choices in spite of the restraints U.S. voters have placed on him with a Republican-run conservative Congress.

The few prophetic voices we have, like Gideon Levy, will continue to remind us of the false prophets who have led us into the darkness.

The photo of Gideon Levy, above, is by Phillip Weiss. It appeared in Mondoweiss.com

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After Deal Palestine Turns To UN For Statehood

by James M. WallGerman Foreign Minister Steinmeier, EU High Rep Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarifat,  Russian Deputy Political Director Karpov and British Foreign Secretary Hammond following nuclear talks in Lausanne

Iran and six world powers (including the U.S.) have reached an unexpected political agreement for a final Iran nuclear deal.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the news on April 2, with a twitter message that the negotiators have “found solutions; ready to start drafting immediately”.

We have “succeeded in making history,” Zarif said at a follow-up press conference at Lausanne, Switzerland. He added: “If we succeed, it is one of the few cases where an issue of significance is solved through diplomatic means.”

Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (shown above), gathered with other foreign leaders to pose for pictures after the official announcement of the nuclear deal.

Speaking from the White House rose garden, President Barack Obama announced that we have “reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

On Monday, April 6, encouraged by the U.S. refusal to yield to Israel’s opposition to the nuclear deal, Palestine’s U.N. ambassador Riyad Mansour announced that the Palestinians are “ready and willing” to see if the U.N. Security Council has “the political will” to adopt a resolution with a deadline for ending Israel’s occupation and establishing a Palestinian state.

Ambassador Mansour said at a press conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York, that adoption of a U.N. resolution with a timetable would be “one of the most effective measures to combat extremism in our region, because extremists receive their fuel from the injustice of the Palestinian people.”

“’If there is a just solution to this conflict … in a short period of time, then you’ll take away from them the main source of recruitment and mobilization,” he said, adding that it would also contribute to resolving perhaps 70 percent of the ‘burning issues in the Middle East”.

 Mansour said ‘the United States holds the key.'”

Palestinian leaders were encouraged by a statement from President Obama that “he will reassess U.S. policy toward Israel following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment before last month’s election that he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on his watch”.

This could mean that Washington would no longer shield Israel in actions before the Security Council.​ 

This “danger” that Israel may have lost some of its protective shield at the U.N. has stirred considerable agitation within the Israel Lobby forces in the U.S. and among members of  Congress.

Al Monitor reports on this moment of opportunity for the U.S. to escape the control Israel maintains over its policy in the Middle East, pointing to the announcement that France “is preparing a new UN Security Council resolution on negotiations that would seek to enforce a two-state solution in the decades long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

For that resolution to succeed, France and its allies at the U.N. “will need the cooperation of Israel’s traditional guardian, the United States”.

Faced with heavy opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran from members of the U.S. Senate, the United States has been less than clear over just how far it will go in resisting Israeli control.

Some Middle Eastern diplomats have expressed the hope that with the success of the deal between the P5+1 states and Iran, the U.S. might feel it has the momentum to support the Palestinian move to the U.N. for Palestinian statehood.

UN Ambassador to Jordan Dina Kawar, told reporters on April 2, “I like to think that now this deal has been signed, Secretary of State John Kerry will have the time and momentum to try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

So far, the signs of change are slipping away. After the success of the nuclear deal with Iran, a blow to Israel, the U.S. has worked hard to shore up its relationship with Israel.

Shortly after the agreement was reached, President Obama “quickly reiterated his commitment to Israel’s security, noting that he had asked his national security team to step up collaboration with the new government on defense measures between the two countries”.

To add to what may be causing a return to the old Obama, the president is facing a vigorous counter-attack against the Iran deal inside Congress, an attack orchestrated by Israel.

Haaretz reports on the form this counter-attack will take. “Israel will adopt two lines of attack as it tries to thwart – or at least modify – the international nuclear agreement with Iran in the coming weeks, a senior [Israeli] official said.

Through its loyal U.S. forces, in and out of Congress, Israel “will lobby the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would make it difficult, or even impossible, to approve a comprehensive deal with Iran if one is reached by the June 30 deadline” for a final agreement between the negotiating parties.

Israel’s counter-attack will, at the same time, press the White House for “improvements”  in the terms of the agreement. The Israeli official indicates that:

“Israel will try to persuade as many congressmen and senators as possible to support the bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker (Rep.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The bill sets a 60-day period from the moment an overall agreement is reached with Iran, during which Congress and the Senate will check and review its every detail.

The bill obliges senior officials of the Obama administration to submit detailed reports to Congress and attend a series of hearings about the agreement. It also says that legislation of U.S. sanctions may be revoked only if the Congress and Senate foreign affairs committees make a joint decision supporting the agreement within those 60 days.

The current draft of Corker’s proposal cannot prevent the agreement, but only delay its implementation for some time and put bureaucratic obstacles in its path.”

The Israeli official added that Israel will seek to persuade members of Congress “to introduce a clause stipulating that the agreement with Iran should be seen as an international treaty”. A U.S.-signed international treaty would require Senate approval, an approval which is not required for the current negotiated agreement. 

Through its nuclear agreement with Iran and the P5+1 nations, the U.S. has brokered a successful path away from war. That path could be blocked if the U.S. Senate votes to halt the agreement. 

Such an action would indicate that a majority of the Senate would have supported a move to have U.S. war or peace policies dictated by Israel.

If President Obama fails to prevent the Senate from blocking his major foreign policy achievement, he still has the opportunity to demonstrate his freedom from Israeli control by supporting, or not blocking, France’s U.N. resolution for Palestinian statehood.

The decision is his to make. He has two years remaining in his presidency. He must choose how he wishes to spend those two years, in servitude to Israel, or as a free leader of a sovereign nation.  

The picture above is from the website al monitor.com.

Posted in Middle East Politics | 7 Comments

Bibi’s Israel Remains “Settler Colonialist” State

by James M. WallPortnoy:Flickr EI

Jewish author Ilan Pappe points to three significant outcomes emerging from Bibi Netanyahu’s victory in Israel’s 2015 Knesset elections: An invigorated Likud, a defeated Labor Party, and a united Palestinian representation.

Score two for the settler colonialist state, Israel, and one for the Palestinians living in Israel, whose politicians finally got smart and ran a unified slate.

Pappe is the Israeli Jewish scholar whose seminal book on the Nakba, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, exposed Israel’s settler colonialist goals. Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) messengers have long pushed Israel as the “only democracy in the region”. American politicians constantly repeat the hasbara line by insisting Israel and the U.S. have “shared values”.

“Shared values” in religions, to be sure, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, when they are practiced religiously. More importantly, however, Israel and the U.S. share a common founding narrative. Each began as a “settler colonialist” state, a term rarely affixed today to either state, but decide for yourself after reading Wikipedia’s definition:

“Colonialism is the establishment, exploitation, maintenance, acquisition, and expansion of colony in one territory by a political power from another territory. It is a set of unequal relationships between the colonial power and the colony and often between the colonists and the indigenous population.” 

For further evidence of U.S. settler colonialism, check with your nearest American Indian reservation. And for musical confirmation, spend some quality time with Johnny Cash’s 1964 album, Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian. which most U.S. radio outlets refused to play in 1964. 

A tribute album released 50 years later, Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisitedwas named the “Most Valuable CD” in The Nation’s Progressive Honor Roll for 2014.  This tribute album was reviewed here by Rolling Stone. 

Meanwhile, fast forward to the most recent settler colonialist nation, Israel, which has just reelected Benjamin Netanyahu. (An IDF voter is shown above.)

Thanks to his extensive research into Israel’s modern history, Pappe quickly became unwelcome in Israel’s Zionism-protective academic circles.  He soon moved to England where he is now professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

Pappe’s “three outcomes”– an even stronger Likud, a Labor Party embodied in the Zionist Union as a partnership linking Labor with Tzipi Livni’s “Initiative” list, and the united Palestinian Israelis—can, he writes, “either be ignored by the international community or serve as a catalyst for new thinking on the evergreen question of Palestine”.

President Barack Obama falls into the catalyst response camp. He was not buying Netanyahu’s backward shuffle from his pre-election assertion that there would be no Palestinian state “on his watch” nor was he impressed by Bibi’s faux apology for his racist campaign language and tactics.

Obama reacted in his Niebuhrian realism voice when he told a New York Times reporter:

“This can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow, ‘Let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. This is a matter of figuring out how do we get through a real, knotty policy difference that has great consequences for both countries and for the region.”  

In his Electronic Intifada analysis, Pappe recalls the history behind the election:

“Ever since Likud took power for the first time after its historic 1977 victory, Jewish voters have preferred the real thing, so to speak, steadily turning away from [Labor] the paler, liberal version of Zionism.

Labor was in power long enough for us to know that it could not offer even the most moderate Palestinian leaders any deal that would have granted them genuine sovereignty — not even in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which form only a fifth of historic Palestine.

The reason is very simple: the raison d’etre of a settler-colonialist society is displacement of the natives and their replacement by settlers. At best natives can be confined in gated enclaves, at worst they are doomed to be expelled or destroyed.”

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker since 1998, described the Likud tactics in the election, tactics that angered President Obama and which Hillary Clinton chose to ignore:

“Netanyahu, sensing an electoral threat from a center-left coalition led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, unleashed a campaign finale steeped in nativist fear and hatred of the Other. This time, there was not a trace of subtlety. “Right-wing rule is in danger,” he warned his supporters. “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls.” 

On Israeli TV, he said, ‘If we don’t close the gap in the next few days, Herzog and Livni, supported by Arabs and leftist N.G.O.s, will form the next government.’ (Twenty per cent of the Israeli citizenry is Arab.) He warned darkly of ‘left-wing people from outside,’ including perfidious ‘Scandinavians,’ and ‘tens of millions of dollars’ being used to ‘mobilize the Arab vote.’ Pro-Likud phone banks reminded voters that Netanyahu’s opponents had the support of ‘Hussein Obama’.”

Pappe reaches what he calls a “clear” conclusion for the international community:

Only decolonization of the settler state can lead to reconciliation. And the only way to kick off this decolonization is by employing the same means exercised against the other long-standing settler state of the twentieth century: apartheid South Africa.

The option of BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions— has never looked more valid than it does today.

Hopefully this, together with popular resistance on the ground, will entice at least some of the second and third generation of the Jewish settler-colonial society to help stop the Zionist colonization project.

Pressure from outside and from the resistance movement within are the only way to force Israelis to reframe their relationship with all the Palestinians, including the refugees, on the basis of democratic and egalitarian values.

Otherwise, we can expect Likud to win forty seats in the next elections, perhaps on the back of the next outraged Palestinian uprising.

Clinton’s comments to the American Jewish leaders were reported by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Hoenlein compared Clinton’s contrast “in tone”, according to the New York Times, “from recent remarks by members of the Obama administration, who have publicly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel amid tensions over a nuclear deal with Iran and comments Mr. Netanyahu made in the final days of his re-election campaign this month.”

After delivering his spin on Clinton’s comments, Hoenlein adds:

“Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.” 

And there you have the first “constructive footing” kumbaya statement of the 2016 battle for the White House. 

Will a future President Hillary Clinton sing kumbaya if Bibi Netanyahu speaks to a Republican-controlled Congress, and attacks one of her foreign policy initiatives? 

 The photo above is from Portnoy/Flickr. It appeared in the Electronic Intifada.

Posted in Hillary Clinton, Human Rights, Israel | 5 Comments

Bibi Wins with Racism and Revoked Promise

by James M. WallPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory in Israel election

Reality crashed down on those who had hoped the March 17 Knesset elections might lead to a more moderate future Israeli leadership.

The election returns brought the news, Benjamin Netanyahu had won again.

He won in large part by revoking his earlier pledge to support a Palestinian state, and by using last-hour racist warnings to bring out hard right voters.

Because Netanyahu’s Likud party won the largest number of seats (30) in the new Israeli parliament (120 total), he will play the major role in organizing the next government.

Even liberal Zionist Thomas Friedman had to acknowledge that Netanyahu won with “dirty” politics and the use of “dog-whistle” language. Friedman wrote in his New York Times column that “You cannot win that dirty and just walk away like nothing has happened”.

“The biggest losers in all of this, besides all the Israelis who did not vote for Netanyahu, are American Jews and non-Jews who support Israel. What Bibi did to win this election was move the Likud Party from a center-right party to a far-right one. The additional votes he got were all grabbed from the other far-right parties — not from the center.

When the official government of Israel is a far-right party that rejects a two-state solution and employs anti-Arab dog whistles to get elected, it will split the basic unity of the American Jewish community on Israel.”

Republican House Speaker John Boehner showed little sympathy for American Jews like Friedman who lament the loss of what Friedman calls “the basic unity of the American Jewish community on Israel.”

As soon as Netanyahu’s victory was secured, Boehner announced his trip to Tel Aviv to embrace the foreign leader he had invited to deliver an historically unprecedented campaign address which attacked President Obama’s efforts to secure a nuclear agreement with Iran.

President Obama, who is known to congratulate the coach of a Super Bowl champion within minutes of the final whistle, waited two full days before calling Netanyahu to congratulate him and, on the same call, issue a stern reminder that Netanyahu’s campaign tactics damaged hopes for peace in he region.

Obama’s delayed call was a carefully calabrated slight, which Jon Stewart (see video below) mocked, as only he could get away with, employing his best faux Jewish mother voice to lament, “You didn’t call, you didn’t write”.

The “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel, which politicians continually say is built on “shared values”, has been exposed as nothing less than an arranged marriage forced on the American public by Zionist apologists, Zionist enforcers (AIPAC) military contractors, lobbyists, well-funded politicians, hard right fundamentalist Christians, and anti-BDS Christian church leaders.

That manufactured “shared values” relationship, where one partner has militarily and illegally occupied a neighboring population for almost 50 years, is coming unraveled.

Unraveled, that is, as long as Barack Obama is in the White House. The President, unfazed, and no doubt still seething over Netanyahu’s insulting speech to Congress, keeps John Kerry on duty, where the Secretary of State continues to work for a nuclear agreement with Iran and the 5+ negotiating nations.

Two years remain before a new president takes office, two years during which Obama has the opportunity to exert his executive power to follow his own higher moral level of international conduct.

When Obama leaves office after eight years as U.S. president, signs point to either an oligarch-approved Republican, or a cautious, hawkish Clinton, assuming office after promising to restore our military commitment to make the world safe for democracy.

These two years will be a time for Obama to act in his executive capacity. It will also be a time for the American public to reflect on the thinking of such Israeli Jewish scholars as David Shulman, the Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In an essay on the website of the New York Review of Books , Schulman considered the campaign just waged by Netanyahu:

“Imagine a white American president calling on whites to vote because “blacks are voting in large numbers.” If there’s a choice to be made between democratic values and fierce Jewish tribalism, there’s no doubt what the present and future prime minister of Israel would choose.”

Schulman, who in addition to his academic post is an activist with the Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish Partnership, has a bleak view of the current Israeli mood. He writes:

“. . . the Israeli electorate is still dominated by hypernationalist, in some cases proto-fascist, figures. It is in no way inclined to make peace. It has given a clear mandate for policies that preclude any possibility of moving toward a settlement with the Palestinians and that will further deepen Israel’s colonial venture in the Palestinian territories, probably irreversibly.

Netanyahu’s shrill public statements during the last two or three days before the vote may account in part for Likud’s startling margin of victory. For the first time since his Bar Ilan speech in 2009, he explicitly renounced a two-state solution and swore that no Palestinian state would come into existence on his watch.

He promised vast new [Israeli] building projects in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. He made it clear that Israel would make no further territorial concessions, anywhere, since any land that would be relinquished would, in his view, immediately be taken over by Muslim terrorists.

And then there was his truly astonishing, by now notorious statement on election day itself, in which he urged Jewish voters to rush to the polls because ‘the Arabs are voting in droves.’” 

Thomas Friedman provides the necessary data to refute Netanyahu’s deceitful effort to say he did not really mean what he said about a future Palestinian state. Friedman writes:

“In the days before Israelis went to the polls, Netanyahu was asked by the Israeli news site, NRG, if it was true that a Palestinian state would never be formed on his watch as prime minister, Netanyahu replied, ‘Indeed,’ adding: ‘Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to the radical Islam against Israel’.”

Yousef Munayyer, a Palestinian, (right) wrote a post-election guest column in the New York Times which must have startled a few Times readers with this headline: “Netanyahu’s Win is Good for Palestine”. His column begins:images

“As a Palestinian, I breathed a sigh of relief when it became clear that [Netanyahu’s] Likud Party had won the largest number of seats in the Knesset.

This might seem counterintuitive, but the political dynamics in Israel and internationally mean that another term with Mr. Netanyahu at the helm could actually hasten the end of Israel’s apartheid policies. The biggest losers in this election were those who made the argument that change could come from within Israel. It can’t and it won’t.

Israelis have grown very comfortable with the status quo. In a country that oversees a military occupation that affects millions of people, the biggest scandals aren’t about settlements, civilian deaths or hate crimes but rather mundane things like the price of cottage cheese and whether the prime minister’s wife embezzled bottle refunds.

For Israelis, there’s currently little cost to maintaining the occupation and re-electing leaders like Mr. Netanyahu. Raising the price of occupation is therefore the only hope of changing Israeli decision making. Economic sanctions against South Africa in the 1980s increased its international isolation and put pressure on the apartheid regime to negotiate.”

Munayyer, born in Lod, Israel, is a citizen of both the U.S. and Israel. He is a Palestinian American writer and political analyst who is the new Executive Director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, based in Washington, D.C. He was previously Executive Director of the The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development and its educational program, the Palestine Center.

Raising the “price of occupation”, as Munayyer counsels, will, indeed, hit Israelis where it hurts, their pride and their economic well-being, though, based on past decisions, not their consciences.

Looking ahead at the American political landscape, it appears that after President Obama leaves office, it will not be the politicians who pick up the assignment to make Israel pay a higher price for its occupation.

That task must fall on those activists and dedicated individuals outside government who will need to keep the pressure on our politicians, and perhaps more importantly, launch an intensive educational campaign to raise “the price of occupation”.

This must be done in all those institutions and with their constituents who have been duped by the Israel Lobby into sanctioning an occupation which will soon be half a century old, assuming it does not go out of business before that date.

In that task, it will be essential to make full use of the zeal and talent of American Jewish performers like Jon Stewart, who greeted Netanyahu’s campaign tactics with this cutting edge analysis:

We also have the Judeo-Christian scriptures, along with the Our’an, to wield as inspirational and educational documents.

This week, I was alerted to the power of metaphor by Tom Friedman’s use of metaphorical language. Friedman referred to Netanyahu’s use of “dog-whistle” to describe Netanyahu’s  use of racist language to alert his hard right and racist followers with a whistle ordinary humans could not hear.

The only problem with using “the Arabs are going to the polls in droves” as a metaphor is that it was a “dog whistle” heard not just by hard right voters in Israel, but also heard by ordinary humans around the world, further turning world opinion against Israel and Netanyahu.

In the Book of Acts, Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is described through a more honest and positive metaphor:

“And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized”. (Acts 9:18, English Standard Version.)

It was “something like scales”, not actual scales, which fell from Paul’s eyes and turned him from a dark destructive vision toward a positive vision of light.

“Something like scales” must be made to fall from the eyes of the American public which has been endorsing, funding and supporting a brutal military occupation for almost five decades.  How will that be accomplished?

God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes She causes scales to fall and opens the eyes of those who do not yet see.

The Netanyahu picture was taken one day after his election victory by Dan Bar Dov for Demotix/Corbis. Munayyer’s picture is from Mondoweiss.

Posted in Human Rights, Middle East Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bibi and 47 Senators Strike Dark Discordant Note

by James M. WallScreen-Shot-2015-03-11-at-5.01.01-PM

A week before Prime Minister Netanyahu’s March 3 campaign speech to the U.S. Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Congress that the Israeli leader was up to his old tricks.

Not only did the Israeli leader shamefully interfere in delicate U.S. foreign negotiations, he also inspired an embarrassing ill-informed letter from 47 senators to “Iranian leaders”, designed to undermine President Obama’s negotiations with Iran.

With the encouragement of AIPAC, the letter was circulated by newly-elected Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, shown above on the left standing with Bill Kristol, an important figure in the neocon drive to support President Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, now considered one of the nation’s major foreign policy disasters.

Unfazed by the Iraqi debacle, Kristol remains a zealot for U.S. militarism. He now has a new protege with whom he can swing his weight around the halls of Congress. With a massive financial push from Kristol late in the 2014 campaign, Cotton won an upset victory over Arkansas’ Democratic incumbent Senator Mark Pryor.

Over the previous decade, Cotton and Kristol developed a bond derived from a common brand of  conservatism and a desire to remake Washington in the neocon image. Kristol raised close to one million dollars to help then-representative Cotton defeat Pryor.

Kristol’s successful funding effort also guaranteed that Cotton would have the support of the four biggest funders of major anti-Iran organizations.

Huffington Post reports on those funders:

“In the past four years, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have emerged as the preeminent funders of the Republican Party through a network of super PACs and nonprofit groups. At the same time, they have been among the biggest funders of groups that oppose any deal with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.

Along with Adelson, there are three other donors who fund both anti-Iran groups and the Republican Party’s super PAC infrastructure: hedge fund directors Paul Singer and Seth Klarman, and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus.

These four right-wing, pro-Israel donors gave a combined $11.5 million to some of the biggest opponents of the Iran negotiations from 2011 through 2013, and pumped $115 million into Republican Party super PACs in the 2012 and 2014 elections.of major anti-Iran organizations.”

Newly-elected Senator Cotton and neocon leader Bill Kristol are now doing the work of AIPAC, and their pro-Israel, anti-Iran funders, standing with a foreign leader on a foreign policy issue against their own president. 

In the process they have pulled 47 Republican senators into their scheme. Some of those senators are expressing doubt over their decision to sign a letter they had quickly read and endorsed.

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, once a highly respected foreign policy-oriented senator, actually pointed to the approaching snow storm as an excuse to move so quickly on a matter of such importance. 

In his testimony before that U.S. House Oversight Committee in 2002, Bibi Netanyahu told  members of the Committee:

“If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.  .  .   The task and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also to transform the region.”

John Kerry’s response to that disastrously wrong assertion, “we all know what happened with that decision.”

Mondoweiss’ Philip Weiss has written: 

“Kerry’s criticism links Netanyahu implicitly with the neoconservatives who pushed the war to transform the Middle East, and makes all but explicit the idea that the neocons pushed the war out of concern for Israel’s security.”

In the video clip below, Netanyahu’s 2002 testimony before the House Committee  sounds ominously like the speech he delivered to Congress earlier this month.

In this video, the man sitting behind Netanyahu, visible over the Prime Minister’s left shoulder, appears to be a younger Ron Dermer, a former Republican operative from Florida.

Dermer, currently Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., gave up his U.S. citizenship in order to enter government service in Israel. His latest political coup was to arrange Netanyahu’s speech to Congress through Republican Speaker John Boehner.

Gareth Porter, whose most recent book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, writes in Anti-War:

“The views that Cotton and the other Republicans have espoused on Iran were the product of assiduous lobbying by Israeli agents of influence using the inducement of promises of election funding and the threat of support for the members’ opponents in future elections.

Those members of Congress don’t arrive at their positions on issues related to Iran through discussion and debate among themselves. They are given their marching orders by AIPAC lobbyists, and time after time, they sign the letters and vote for legislation or resolution that they are given.”

Former AIPAC lobbyist M.J. Rosenberg has concluded “Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel, unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.” 

Tuesday, March 17, Israeli voters will render their verdict on the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu.  Under Israel’s election system, the jury will remain out until the competing parties agree on the next Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party continues to run second in the polls against the Zionist Union, the center-left joint slate led by the Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni,  

Likud and Zionist Union will then bargain with smaller parties to determine which political coalition will select the next prime minister. 

It could be Netanyahu again, even if he runs second in the final results. If the Herzog-Livni coalition is successful, they have already announced that they will rotate the office of Prime Minister.

Whatever the final outcome, AIPAC will be standing by, awaiting its marching orders.

Posted in Iran, Israel, John Kerry, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Obama Names Malley New Middle East Chief

By James M. Wall Robert-Malley-YouTube-620x372

Three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a stinging response to the latest in a series of Netanyahu diplomatic insults.

The President chose Robert Malley (right) as Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region.

Special Assistant Malley will begin his new assignment April 6. 

The news of the Malley promotion raised hardly a ripple in U.S. mainstream and cable news media, currently obsessing over Hillary Clinton’s email servers.

Pro-Israel media outlets, however, rushed to sound the alarm. The word went out to Israel’s staunch U.S. backers, “Obama has struck back with the dangerous Malley”.

National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, made the announcement on March 6:

“Philip Gordon, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region will be stepping down, and will be succeeded by Rob Malley, currently NSC Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States. Dr. Malley will assume his new position on April 6, 2015.”

And no, newly-minted Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who feels qualified to lecture the world on U.S. governmental procedures, Malley is not subject to Senate approval. 

Rice was lavish in her praise of Malley:

“There could be no better successor to Phil than Rob Malley, who is already one of my most trusted advisers and ideally placed to provide a seamless transition.

One of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East, since February 2014 Rob has played a critical role in forming our policy on Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf. I look forward to working with him in his new role.”

She might have added that Rob Malley has long been a “bete noir” to defenders of Israel’s tightly controlled view of reality.

From 1996 to 1998, Malley served as Executive Assistant to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. In October 1998, he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, a post he held until the end of the administration in 2001.

After directing the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group from 2001 and 2014, Malley joined the Obama staff in 2014.

His promotion played big in Israel, of course, where The Times of Israel reminded its readers of Malley’s background in ominous headline language:

“White House names Israel critic to top Mideast post”; “Robert Malley, to become NSC point person on Middle East, has drawn fire for saying the Palestinians weren’t at fault for the failed peace talks in 2000.”

“Has drawn fire” is Zionist-speak for not being on Israel’s side. 

The Jerusalem Post pointed to Malley’s assertion that the Palestinians had been falsely accused of causing the Camp David talks to “collapse”:

“Malley [US negotiator at Camp David] drew some pro-Israel criticism for his published assessment in 2001 of the 2000 Camp David talks, in which he said that the prevailing narrative, that the Palestinians were at fault for their collapse, was a misapprehension and ignored Palestinian concessions and Israeli failures at the talks.”

The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) added specifics, pointing to Malley’s breakthrough 2001 article, co-authored with Hussein Agha, for the New York Review of Books, starting with another Zionist-speak term, “some pro-Israel groups”:

“Some pro-Israel groups criticized Malley for his 2001 published assessment of the talks [that] was a misapprehension and ignored Palestinian concessions and Israeli failures.

As the director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, a think tank, he also met multiple times with Hamas officials and said parties to the peace process must at some stage engage with the terrorist group, which controls the Gaza Strip.”

“Some pro-Israel groups” is Zionist-speak that points to two cardinal sins in Lobby  ideology; one, not sticking to the pro-Israel narrative on the 2001 Oslo talks, and two,  advocating talks with Hamas.

The Tablet received Malley’s 2014 arrival at the Obama White House with the “reassuring” word that Malley would not be dealing with Israel-Palestine issues. Sorry, Tablet, that was then, this is now.

The Israel Lobby, which works diligently to promote the policies of every government Israeli voters put in place, has what my Urban Dictionary calls a “tude”, short for “attitude”, as in, “a bad attitude”.

“Tude” is illustrated further in the saying, “Hey, you really got a tude, dude”  The Israel Lobby embeds and enforces that “tude” (attitude) by infiltrating the thought processes, and/or buying off U.S. institutions with “hasbara”, the Hebrew word for “propaganda”.

It was this pro-Israel “hasbara”, that paved the way for the ugly display of anti-Americanism on March 3 when Benjamin Netanyahu brought the U.S. Congress, and visitors to their collective feet, on cue, with a campaign speech that delighted most of the crowd, and pleased one particular visitor.

(Photo By Bill Clark:CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)Bill Moyers and Michael Winship described that visitor:

“Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson (left). The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right.

The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics  and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam . . ..contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends . . . .

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate.

Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls ‘uniquely pernicious influence. 

Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayom, a leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”

More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy.”

It is money of this sort that on October 3, 2014, paid for an ad for Candidate Tom Cotton through a $700,000 contribution to his successful race for the Arkansas U.S. senate seat.

The Washington Free Beacon reported at the time:Ukrainian_presser008_020515

“William Kristol and his Emergency Committee for Israel is boosting Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R., Ark.) bid for U.S. Senate with a $700,000 ad buy in Arkansas. Kristol purchased the ad spots for television, radio, and digital markets in efforts to push support for Cotton (right), who is running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.).

Politico’s Maggie Haberman reported: ‘We’re for a strong Israel and a strong America,’ said Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and head of the group. ‘So is Tom Cotton. He’ll be a great senator.’”

Barely two months into his Senate career, Cotton was the author of the letter to Iranian leaders, signed by 47 Republican senators.

In the letter, the senators told Iran that any deal with President Obama is subject to change by a new president and the U.S. Senate.

Responding to that ill-conceived letter from the 47 Republican senators, Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, said, “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.”

An additional statement from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took Senator Cotton and his Republican colleagues to school for further study in Government 101:

“Foreign Minister Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration.

He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

Posted in Advertising, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestinians, Politics and Elections | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Bibi “Skip It” List Included Senator Warren

by James M. WallDoug Mills NYT

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D:Mass) did not attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday morning speech to Congress.

A possible 2016 presidential candidate, Warren was the highest profile senator to join the list of senators and representatives who were no-shows.

In a statement before the speech, Warren said she is “deeply concerned” about the prospect of a nuclear Iran but said Speaker Boehner’s actions “have made Tuesday’s event more political.

Warren was among 8 senators and 48 representatives who announced in advance that they would not attend, according to a count by The Hill

“Skip the speech” numbers were slow to grow, thanks to the robotic fear that continues to grip members of Congress any time an Israeli leader pushes their Pavlovian buttons.

Ironically, this time it was not AIPAC pushing the buttons.  It was Netanyahu, with his U.S. media, economic and political Fifth Column soldiers, doing the button pushing. That team got what it wanted. Netanyahu delivered what is essentially a “campaign speech” to the U.S. Congress.

“Campaign speech” in this instance is both for Netanyahu’s reelection as Prime Minister of Israel March 17, and his campaign to build a veto-proof U.S. Senate that will undermine President Obama’s peace negotiations with Iran.

Many of Israel’s ruling political elite, its military leaders, and its security leaders sent word to sympathetic U.S. journalists that the speech was a bad idea. Al Monitor’s Israel Pulse writer Ben Caspit explains why even that opposition is not enough to evoke AIPAC’s open opposition to the speech.

“AIPAC”, Caspit writes, “is Netanyahu’s lobby and not the reverse”.

This has always been the case.  Whichever party or political force runs Israel, it is AIPAC’s assignment to serve that power.

Netanyahu pinned his political future on Tuesday’s speech. This is his career “crunch time”. Caspit again:

The invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before both houses of Congress March 3 was secretly cooked up by House Speaker John Boehner (Republican) and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer (who some consider ambassador to Las Vegas because of his relationship with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson). The news struck AIPAC heads like a thunderbolt.

They had not been briefed about it. They didn’t know about it, and “they didn’t believe such a thing could happen to them.”

One AIPAC leader told Caspit “in a private conversation after the invitation was publicized. “This is the lowest point we have ever reached.”

In shock over the secret invitation that sent AIPAC to its nadir point, the Lobby leaders have been forced into actions rare for them They are forced into a desperate effort “to minimize the damage”.

To smart and sensitive politicians, those, for example, who do not want to be left at the station when the next train departs, this is the moment to think creatively. Members of Congress had to decide whether or not to attend.

To skip the speech, and then see Netanyahu win on March 17, is scary for a politician. If he loses, the next government might commend those who stayed away. Or not. A new prime minister may wonder if he or she can depend on the U.S. Congress to be as loyal as it has been trained to do.

Some members may decide to put principal over politics and hope the future treats them well. Representative Jan Schakowsky surprised political watchers when she joined the no show list.chi-schakowski-netanyahu-022615-ct0020224475-20131126

She did not attend the speech even though her love for  the state of Israel is “in her DNA”.

Virginia Senator Kaine’s decision to skip the speech was another surprise. It was a risky move for a senator believed to be a strong contender to run for vice president on a 2016 ticket headed by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

Kaine was one of the 8 senators on the no-show list, joining Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Senators, Pat Leahy, of Vermont, Brian Schatz, Hawaii, Warren, of Massachusetts, Al Franken, Minnesota, Martin Heinrich, New Mexico, and  Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island.  

Warren’s decision not to attend was a huge relief to progressive Democrats who are not PEPs (“Progressive Except on Palestine”) and who have been urging her to contest former Senator Hilary Clinton for the 2016 nomination. 

No Republican skipped the speech, of course, because it has become a Republican rule that the party opposes anything that favors President Obama.

Two other Democratic senators, Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Chuck Schumer, of New York, had a good reason to stay away from the House chamber Tuesday.

Durbin and Schumer invited Netanyahu to a private meeting during his visit. Netanyahu refused the meeting, dismissing two of Israel’s strongest Senate supporters with the same arrogance he had demonstrated when he arranged his speech behind Obama’s back.

This is not chutzpah, Yiddish for “arrogance with a flair”. It is the arrogance of a politician desperate to win a reelection campaign back home and solidify his control of the U.S. Senate.

So far, Durbin has suffered his public rejection in silence. Schumer meekly responded to his insult by urging his congressional colleagues to attend the speech.

The Obama administration has brought its big guns into play to express its anger over the speech. The president, vice president and Secretary of State John Kerry will ignore Netanyahu.

Secretary of State John Kerry had earlier hit back at Netanyahu with an even stronger reminder that this is not the first time Netanyahu has intruded into U.S. political decision-making.

Philip Weiss reported that:

“Secretary of State John Kerry said Netanyahu was “wrong” to oppose the U.S. preliminary deal with Iran and criticized Netanyahu for his advice to the U.S. before we invaded Iraq in 2003.

‘The Prime Minister was also profoundly forward-leaning about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision.’

At the time, discussing the impending attack on Iraq, Netanyahu said on CSPAN, to a congressional panel in Washington:

“If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region… The task and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also to transform the region.”

“Kerry’s criticism”, Weiss writes, “links Netanyahu implicitly with the neoconservatives who pushed the war to transform the Middle East, and makes all but explicit the idea that the neocons pushed the war out of concern for Israel’s security.”

Israel’s military and security leaders have made clear that they do not agree with Bibi’s insistence that Iran is well along to developing its very own nukes. On this issue, Bibi stands largely alone in his paranoia.

Those members of Congress who attend the Tuesday speech will cheer a foreign leader who is in Washington to lobby them to defy their own president.

Robert Naiman, writing in Truth Out, offers this background on Bibi’s rationale for speaking to Congress, quoting Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s explanation of why Netanyahu is giving the speech:

“The Republicans know, as the president has already made clear, that he will veto this legislation. So in order to pass legislation that overcomes the veto, two-thirds are required in the Senate. So if the prime minister can persuade another one or two or another three or four, this could have weight,” he said.

Naiman explains the Netanyahu logic this way: To get a two-thirds majority in the Senate, Netanyahu needs to pressure Democrats. No show Senators Leahy, Sanders, Schatz and Kaine, will not be on Netanyahu’s whip list.

Ten Senate Democrats who are on Netanyahu’s must whip list, Naiman surmises, are what he calls the “Menendez 10″, senators who have openly voiced “their potential willingness to undermine the President’s diplomacy”:

Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Charles Schumer (D-NY)Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Gary Peters (D-MI); Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA); Ben Cardin (D-MD); Chris Coons (D-DE); Joe Manchin (D-WV); Joe Donnelly (D-IN); and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Netanyahu already has his anti-Obama 52 Republican senators and, presumably the “Menendez 10″ Democrats. With a few more Democratic stragglers, Netanyahu would be, writes Naiman, “within striking distance of a veto-proof Senate majority for war”.

The “skip the speech” campaign no doubt helped to raise the final count of those Democrats who chose not attend. They avoided the embarrassment of having to cheer what was a cheerleader’s plea against President Obama.

The Washington Post this week reminded us that Wednesday of this week (February 25) this nation reached a milestone for peace. There have been no U.S. deaths in combat for 75 straight days, starting on December 11, 2014. This is the longest span of time without a U.S. military combat death since 9/11.

,A sober thought for the members of the House and Senate who decided on Tuesday between supporting President Obama or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Portions of this posting appeared in an earlier version of Wall Writings, dated February 28. 

The picture of Netanyahu above is from the New York Times. It is by Doug Mills. The picture of Jan Schakowsky is by Nancy Stone from the Chicago Tribune.

Posted in Israel, Middle East Politics, Netanyahu, Obama, Politics and Elections | 8 Comments

At War With Those “Who Have Perverted Islam”

by James M. WallScreen Shot 2015-02-20 at 3.05.55 PM

During a speech at this week’s White House  conference on countering violent extremism, President Obama described the enemy that calls itself ISIL:

“We are not at war with Islam; we are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”

That statement is sensible and it is clear. It represents the President’s careful separation of ISIL (initially self-designated as the Islamic State in the Levant) from the world’s Muslim population.

ISIL is not remotely representative of Islam. It steals its language the way extremists out of Jewish and Christian backgrounds pervert those religious communities.

ISIL is not Islamic, it is a gang of thugs who have perverted the historic Islamic faith to kill, rape and destroy, in a murderous rampage seeking political dominance.  

ISIL’s gang has thus far recruited 20,000 fighters, not 200,000, as GOP presidential aspirant Jeb Bush recently stated in his initial venture into foreign policy speech making, a number he later reduced to the correct 20,000.

ISIL easily receives the public exposure mass murderers always crave. ISIL employs social media and produces its own chillingly evil reality videos which are immediately lapped up by the world’s media.

Simplistic hate is ISIL’s mantra; a video that trumpets that mantra is the media’s favorite message.

In the U.S., ISIL has simplistic-minded political allies who dislike anything said by President Obama, and are eager to denounce him at every opportunity.  The latest ISIL  political ally to surface is Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, and an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin wrote in his essay, The Paranoid Style of Rudy Giuliani that since 2008, Giuliani “has become a national embarrassment of a distinctive type”.

The former mayor’s most recent embarrassing remark came at an event in New York this week which was a part of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s nascent Presidential campaign.

Responding to President Obama’s careful separation of the world’s Muslim population from ISIL, Giuliani said during a dinner at the “21” Club, according to Politico

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the President loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

You got this much right, Rudy, it was a horrible thing to say.  Even candidate Walker, who wanted the spotlight on himself, not Giuliani, remained silent on his guest’s remarks.

Elaborating in an interview on Fox News, instead of admitting he had misspoken, Giuliani kept up his tirade: 

“President Obama was brought up in an atmosphere in which he was taught to be a critic of America. That is a distinction with prior American Presidents.”

Giuliani would have the clock turn back to those Cold War days when things were simple from the perspective of those Americans Richard Hofstadter called in 1964, the “paranoid right wing”. 

Jeffrey Toobin provides a series of Giuliani attacks, all of which are distortions of the truth.

Giuliani’s attacks on the President are not principally meant as assertions of fact. They are meant to tap into a deep wellspring of American political thought, one defined by the Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter five decades ago.

Of Hofstadter’s now famous and defining 1964 article in Harper’s, Toobin writes,19firstdraft-Rudy-Giuliani-tmagArticle

“Hofstadter described ‘the paranoid style in American politics,’ which he said was characterized by “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy’. Looking back, Hofstadter pointed to the anti-Masonic movement and the nativist and anti-Catholic movement as examples, but he also ascribed the paranoid style to his own era.”

In his Harper’s article, Hofstadter wrote:

“The modern right wing . . . feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.

The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power.

Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.”

Hofstadter wrote these words in 1964. 

The paranoid right Hofstadter described, emerges in every political generation. Rudy Giuliani, this generation’s right wing spokesman, at least in this current news cycle, reports, inaccurately, as usual, that President Obama is someone not raised in this country.

Therefore, it follows, from Giuliani’s ill-informed, paranoid, perspective, that the President does not “love America”.

That is sheer gobbledegook, nonsense designed to deceive. But it plays well to the political right, and it gets extensive attention in right wing media outlets like Fox News, reaching precisely ISIL’s target audience

Giuliani added to his gobbledegook with an additional “denial of racial prejudice” comment, as reported in the New York Times, that  “his criticism of Mr. Obama’s upbringing should not be considered racist because the president was raised by “a white mother.”

Congratulations, Mr. former Mayor, you are carrying the water ISIL wants you to carry to America, which Hofstadter defined as “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy”.

The picture of President Obama above, is a screen shot from a CNN video at http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/17/politics/isis-obama-extremism-summit/index.html. The picture of former Mayor Giuliani is a Getty image by Chip Somodevilla, from the New York Times.

Posted in Jeb Bush, Middle East, Middle East Politics, Obama | 11 Comments

Good Morning America, Bibi is Coming to Town

by James M. WallMIDEAST ISRAEL POLITICS

Good Morning America: Do you know who has stolen your Congress? In two weeks you could hear from one of the culprits.

On March 3, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to what was once your United States Congress.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will speak to the Congress and tell the members that President Obama is wrong. Netanyahu promises to say the President is wrong to think it is possible to negotiate Iran back from the brink of adding further to the world’s nuclear arsenal.

Benjamin Netanyahu will tell the Congress that negotiations are wrong because only the threat and application of military power will succeed in stopping Iran from beginning to build its own nuclear weapons arsenal, a collection of deadly weapons that could rival Israel’s Middle East nuclear military control.

A control, that is, snugly resting and hidden in a secret stash of more than 400 Israeli nuclear weapons, a secret protected by the United States’ refusal ever to mention its existence, even during negotiations about Iran’s nuclear future

The Israeli Prime Minister will be greeted by cheers and applause from those members of Congress who will be in attendance. Some members will not attend. How many will skip the event could depend on voters who demand their absence.

Even strong pro-Israel outlets like Fox News, and Liberal Zionist media outlets like MSNBC, are urging Netanyahu to cancel his March 3 moment in the world media spotlight.

That media backing could encourage members to follow the example of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, two of whom have announced they have duties to perform elsewhere when Bibi comes to town.

President Obama was more direct. He said it was not good political form to take sides in a foreign election. 

Joe Biden will be the most significant missing person in the House chamber on March 3. He  normally sits next to Boehner when a joint session of Congress assembles. Biden’s  announced absence is a risky move for someone who might contest Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The invitation to Netanyahu came as quite a surprise to both Obama and Biden, as well as to Kerry’s State Department. Protocol for invitations to speak to a joint session calls for prior agreement from the White House.

Prior consultation was ignored by newly-elevated Republican House Speaker John Boehner, the first of many in-your-face steps Boehner is expected to make in the next two years.

The invitation and Netanyahu’s prearranged acceptance, is giving a certain grim delight to Netanyahu’s opponents in Israel’s March 17 election.

An Israeli campaign speech to the U.S. Congress two weeks before an election?  Not politically smart, which is no doubt the only reason Netanyahu may still cancel.

Update: CNN reports that “New York Rep. Charlie Rangel is among more than a dozen congressional Democrats who are planning to skip Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month.”

Rangel, ever the canny politician, insists he is not “a boycotter”. He insists he is “a friend of Israel”, and is not boycotting. His absence will be “about respecting my President on foreign policy.”

Meanwhile, Kairos USA continues its campaign urging voters to contact their members and request they “stay away from the speech”. USA Kairos provides  a helpful link  on how voters may contact their members. End Update.

Assuming Netanyahu is stubborn enough to keep his speech date, regardless of the political damage back home, and the pressure he puts on his supporters in Congress, this is a time when voters have an opportunity to influence their members of Congress to do the right thing, which is to “stay away”.

Permanent ownership of our Congress is at stake here. In the next two weeks, Americans have the opportunity to call, write, email or speak directly to each of their three elected representatives (one house member, two senators).  

This is the time to paraphrase a line from Mission Commander Swanbeck in the film with Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible 2.

“Good morning, Mr. Hunt. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves the recovery of a stolen item designated freedom.”

The mission now for those who choose to accept it, is to deliver a warning to their elected members, recalling a loud whisper by Pete in the film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?,

“Do not seek the treasure. Its an ambush.”

Your three members will get Pete’s meaning: The danger of an ambush lurks behind the treasure they seek.

This should be the time when some members of Congress will choose to follow Pete’s advice, avoid the ambush, and not “seek the treasure”. Their choice is between their President and Israel’s Prime Minister. They won’t get many opportunities to regain their integrity as specific as this one.images

To bolster your determination to carry out your mission to tell your members to stop “seeking the  treasure”, read carefully the counsel offered by Israel’s leading peace activist, former Irgun fighter and former Knesset member, 91-year-old Uri Avnery. (right).

In a timely and prophetic posting this week, which he entitled, “The Casino Republic”, Avnery tells us what the political future could hold for the U.S., unless dependance on pro-Israel money is broken.

He would have us start by studying what has happened in Israel after the invasion of the deep pockets of American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

Avnery describes the control Adelson has gained over Israel’s current prime minister. He begins “The Casino Republic”:

“Who is the ruler of Israel?
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, of course.
WRONG.

The real ruler of Israel is one Sheldon Adelson, 81, American Jew, Casino king, who was rated as the world’s tenth richest person, worth 37.2 billion dollars at the latest count. But who is counting?

Besides his casinos in Las Vegas, Macao and Singapore, he owns the US Republican party and, lately, both Houses of the US Congress.

He also owns Binyamin Netanyahu.”

Avnery outlines how Adelson captured Netanyahu. 

“Addison’s connection with Israel is personal. On a blind date, he fell in love with an Israeli woman.

Miriam Farbstein was born in Haifa, attended a prestigious high school, did her army service in the Israeli institute which deals with bacteriological warfare and is a multifaceted scientist. After one of her sons (from her first marriage) died of an overdose, she is devoted to the fight against drugs, especially cannabis.

Both Adelsons are fanatical supporters of Israel. Not just any Israel, but a rightist, supremacist, arrogant, violent, expansionist, annexationist, non-compromising, colonialist Israel.

In “Bibi” Netanyahu they found their man. Through Netanyahu they hope to rule Israel as their private fief.

To assure this, they did an extraordinary thing: they founded an Israeli newspaper, solely devoted to the furthering of the interests of Binyamin Netanyahu. Not of the Likud, not of a specific policy, but of Netanyahu personally.”

Back home, Adelson prepares for the 2016 U.S.presidential race.

Avnery is warning American voters and power brokers what to expect from an Adelson-controlled American government. 

The decision by members of Congress to attend, or not to attend, Netanyahu’s speech March 3 is a test of loyalty for members, to their elected president or to the Sheldon Adelson-controlled prime minister of Israel.

That is a political decision.  It is also a personal moral decision, which is why the words from Joshua 24:15, cannot be repeated too often: “Choose ye this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.  

The picture above of Benjamin Netanyahu is from Max Blumenthal.com. The picture of Uri Avnery is from the website http://www.vebidoo.de/torsten+uri

Posted in Iran, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Netanyahu, Obama | 10 Comments