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Archive for August, 2013

Robert Fisk: “Any other ‘statesman’ who negotiated peace like John Kerry would be treated as a thief”

Posted by uscsjp on August 27, 2013

Has John Kerry no shame? First he cuddles up to both Palestinians and Israelis and announces the renewal of a “peace process” which the Palestinians don’t trust and the Israelis don’t want. Then Israel announces that it will build 1,200 new homes for Jews – and Jews only – on occupied Palestinian land. And now Kerry tells the Palestinians – the weak and occupied Palestinians – that they are running out of time if they want a state of their own.

Any other “statesman” involved in any other dispute who told an occupied people that if they didn’t make peace their occupiers would steal even more of their land, would be regarded as an outcast, a fellow thief, a potential criminal. But no. John Kerry announces that illegal Jewish colonies – or “settlements” as he likes to call them, along with the world’s Israel-compliant press – are “illegitimate”. I think he meant internationally “illegal”. But it doesn’t matter. In the first 10 years of the Oslo “process”, the number of Israelis living on stolen Palestinian land doubled to 400,000. No wonder Kerry muttered that Israel’s latest theft announcement was “to some degree [sic] expected”.

You bet it was. Israel has been running rings around cowardly US administrations for decades, ignoring Washington’s squirming embarrassment every time it went for another land grab on someone else’s property. The Oslo accords, remember, envisioned a five-year period in which Israelis and Palestinians would refrain from taking “any unilateral steps that would prejudice the outcome of the negotiations”. Israel simply ignored this. As it still does. And what does Kerry advise the Palestinians? That they should not “react adversely”!

This is preposterous. Kerry must know – as the UN and the EU know – that there is not the slightest chance of “Palestine” existing as a state because the Israelis have already stolen too much land on the West Bank. Anyone who drives around the occupied territories realises at once (unless they are politically blind) that there is as much chance of building a state in the West Bank – whose map of colonies and non-colonised districts looks like the smashed windscreen of a car – as there is waiting for the return of the Ottoman Empire.

And Kerry? He’s a man whose every statement must be colonised by the word “sic”. Take this, for example. “We have known [sic] that there was going to be a continuation of some [sic] building [sic] in certain [sic] places, and I think the Palestinians understand that.” I suppose there should be a “sic” after “understand” as well. And then Kerry tells us that “what this” – he’s talking about the land theft – “underscores, actually [sic again], is the importance of getting to the table … quickly”. In other words, do what you’re told now – or we’ll let the Israelis snatch even more of your property. In the real world, this is called blackmail.

Then came the ultimate lie: that the “question of settlements” is “best resolved by solving the problem of security and borders”. Tosh. The colonies – or settlements, as Kerry goes on calling these acts of robbery – are not being taken by Israel because of “security” or “borders” but because the Israeli Right, which continues to dominate the Netanyahu administration, wants the land for itself. Many Israelis don’t. Many Israelis see the vileness of this land theft and condemn it. They deserve the peace and security which the world wishes them. But they won’t get it with colonisation, and they know it.

And Kerry isn’t on their side. He’s going all out for “peace” on Israeli government terms, and the Palestinians – “cabined, cribbed, confined” – have got to shut up and take what they can get. And they will be given a few small morsels. Twenty-six elderly prisoners will be handed over today. Crumbs for Mahmoud Abbas and his merry men. But more colonies for Israel, a country which hasn’t even told John Kerry – or us – where its eastern border is. On the old 1967 “green line”? Along the colony “line” east of Jerusalem? Or the Jordan river? But for Kerry, it’s “hurry, hurry, hurry”. Book your seats now, or it will be a full house. What price “Palestine”?

–Robert Fisk, The Independent, 13 August, 2013

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/robert-fisk-any-other-statesman-who-negotiated-peace-like-john-kerry-would-be-treated-as-a-thief-8760028.html

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Posted in Analysis, Opinion/Editorial | 3 Comments »

Amira Hass: “On a Scale of 1 to Horror: Ranking Atrocities in the Middle East”

Posted by uscsjp on August 27, 2013

As the horror stories coming out of Syria and Egypt increase, why should anyone be concerned with the plight of a Palestinian widow and mother of six children (all minors and all Israeli residents) who faces the prospect of deportation, although she has lived in East Jerusalem for nearly 20 years? Someone who read my report last week on Nahil Rajbi, 38, who was born in Hebron and has been living in East Jerusalem since 1995, told me, “You spend too much time on trifles” (“Court grants East Jerusalem widow last-minute reprieve from deportation,” Haaretz, Aug. 22, 2013). The remark was not hostile or scornful; it was simply an expression of surprise.

Rajbi’s case went beyond the letter of the law, as they say. A Border Police officer did not deport her immediately even though a senior official at the Population Registry had given him a green light. Instead, he took into consideration that Rajbi has six children, ages 5 to 17, and gave her a grace period of three days to give her time to fight the deportation order. An Israeli human rights group, Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual — where people naturally turn in such instances — filed an urgent petition to the High Court of Justice on her behalf. It asked that the deportation order be rescinded. Justice Yoram Danziger did not issue a temporary injunction against the deportation, but the Justice Ministry’s High Court Petitions Department understood from the wording of his ruling that he was effectively instructing the authorities to suspend the deportation order; the spirit of his decision also influenced the guidelines given to the police and Population Registry.

There are those who say Rajbi’s fear of being deported from her home in the Old City of Jerusalem is dwarfed by the suffering of the million Syrian children who have become refugees. Some would even go so far as to say that the history of Israeli domination over the Palestinians is dwarfed by the incomprehensible slaughter taking place in the region. According to that logic, men can tell the women in Israel and Italy not to complain about gender discrimination because their sisters in Africa still suffer the practice of female genital mutilation, while in India, the selective abortion of female fetuses is still widespread. Westernized Jews can tell Arab-Jews and Sephardi Jews that they should stop complaining because they’re doing far better than residents of favelas in Brazil.

Ranking injustices, atrocities and discrimination on a scale of horrors is just one more technique employed by those in power to retain their power, to justify their excessive privileges and to belittle any public or civil struggle for equality.

The issue, therefore, is not whether Rajbi’s case is overshadowed by something more horrendous, but rather what laws and procedures established by Israeli jurists have made her a criminal. The question is not whether the situation in Syria is terrifying, but rather why thousands more Palestinian men and women are in Rajbi’s situation, facing the threat of deportation and of being cut off from their families in Jerusalem…

–Amira Hass, 27 August, 2013

Complete Article at: http://www.zcommunications.org/on-a-scale-of-1-to-horror-ranking-atrocities-in-the-middle-east-by-amira-hass.html

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Egypt, Syria and the Sordid Legacy of UK and US in the Middle East

The Battle for Iran. That’s the title given to the CIA operation that oversaw a coup that toppled Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadeq, 60 years ago.

The CIA has now admitted its involvement in the overthrow, and published documents which reveal not only US but also British secret services were involved (in the aptly named MI6 Operation Boot).

The news will come as little surprise to most Iranians, or to many others who have studied the CIA’s role over the years.

Those in Latin America, from Guatemala in 1954 to Chile in 1973, are familiar with US involvement in coups that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and decades of dictatorship and denial of democracy.

Even today, the threat of hostile US intervention is a real fear across the continent.

Britain was the US’s junior partner, but instigation for the coup may have come from Britain. Mossadeq had had the temerity to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later BP). British Tory prime minister Anthony Eden regarded Mossadeq as a serious threat to British interests and MI6 went ahead with planning the coup.

Eden tried the same trick three years later in 1956 when the British invaded Egypt following the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by its president Gamal Abdul Nasser.

That fiasco was resisted by the Egyptians and crucially not backed by the US. Eden left office in ignominy.

The sordid legacy of this Tory prime minister is a small but important reminder of the role of Britain and the US in the Middle East. It has been a damaging, dishonest and destructive one. Unfortunately that role continues.

We don’t have to go back to the First World War, the Sykes Picot Agreement or the many battles fought on Middle East soil that helped redraw boundaries and protect British and other western interests.

We don’t even have to go back to the post Second World War settlement that saw the displacement of the Palestinians and the creation of the state of Israel, although all of these events have real pertinence for politics today.

Let’s just consider the last 12 years of the ‘war on terror’, focussed on the Middle East and south Asia.

The grievances were already there in the Middle East, most noticeably the situation of the Palestinians and the existence of deadly sanctions on the people of Iraq.

Yet those grievances were exacerbated following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003.

More than a decade of war, occupation, injustice, killing, displacement and support for dictators has led to greater anti-US and anti-British feeling in the region than at any time.

Just as with Eden in the 1950s, western economic interests are paramount.

While the masses of the Middle East have struggled heroically against these western backed dictators, they have received little support from the western rulers. These rulers preach democracy, but increasingly suggest that the Middle East is not ready for it, seeking stability at any price.

Prospects in the region are once again looking grim, with the coup and repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the continued civil war in Syria, sectarian conflict in Iraq and western sanctions and threats against Iran.

It may be that we are seeing a remaking of the Middle East on a much greater scale than we have done since the two world wars.

In 60 years time, how will the conflict appear?

As a brutal and lengthy war for strategic power and raw materials? As a cynical move to exacerbate tensions within the region to advance western interests? As a war which fostered Islamophobia and attacks on civil liberties in the west? As a move to recolonise some of the old empires, especially of Britain and France?

In the battle for democracy and freedom, and economic justice, the people of the Middle East will find no friends among the western powers.

That is why military intervention, economic sanctions and arms sales must be opposed. They have fuelled the problems, not solved them.

–Lindsey German, Znet, 23 August, 2013

http://www.zcommunications.org/egypt-syria-and-the-sordid-legacy-of-uk-and-us-in-the-middle-east-by-lindsey-german.html

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USA Today: Smuggling from Egypt halted, Gazans turn to Israel

Posted by uscsjp on August 23, 2013

“Amid the ongoing turmoil whipping across Egypt, the plight of Gazans, 1.7 million residents of the 141-square-mile strip wedged between Israel and Egypt, has slipped from public consciousness.

But that turmoil has put Gazans in a new and uncertain predicament.

Since the July 3 ouster of Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the governing Egyptian military has embarked on a crackdown against all Islamic political forces — and that has meant cutting off smuggled trade from Egypt into Gaza, where the Islamist Hamas rules.

The result: For the first time in years, almost every item imported into Gaza now arrives from Israel — and at a higher price….”

 

–USA Today, 21 August, 2013

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/21/gaza-imports-uncertain/2674135/

 

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ZNet: Egypt’s Revolution After the Smoke Clears

In times of crisis people strive for easy answers to complex situations. In Egypt this has resulted in absurdly digestible sound bites, where one side is labeled “good” (the Muslim Brotherhood), the other “bad” (the army), and the revolution as a whole is condemned as an atrocity. But the situation in Egypt is especially contradictory, and untying the social-political knots of the revolution requires avoiding pre-packaged catchphrases.  

Contrary to the claims of many, reports of the revolution’s death are greatly exaggerated. Those who predict that Egypt will inevitably enter a long period of military dictatorship forget that the Egyptian revolution destroyed such a dictatorship in 2011, and helped topple Morsi’s authoritarian government in July. The people in Egypt have not been cowed into submission, they are still in the streets, unafraid, consciously aware of their power. The Egyptian military is very aware of this fact, as their actions testify.    

Although it’s a tragedy that innocent people have been killed, it’s also true that the Muslim Brotherhood represents not the revolution, but its adversary. Especially confusing is that another opponent of the revolution — the military generals — are leading the attack against the Brotherhood, which raises the question: why would one enemy of the revolution be attacking another?   

The current, bizarre-seeming situation in Egypt is actually common in the history of revolutions, having started in the modern era with Napoleon Bonaparte, who, during the French Revolution, consolidated his power by aligning with certain social classes against rival sections, and switching allegiances when necessary to offset the power of his former allies, until all political rivals were weakened, allowing him and his army to act as arbitrator and ruler.    

This now common feature of revolutions is often referred to as “Bonapartism” in honor of its founder and is a reflection of society in revolutionary upheaval, where different social classes are powerfully asserting themselves, though unable to out-power their adversaries, allowing the military to act as the Bonapartist “arbitrator.”   

Bonapartism is also a sign of the political weakness of the military, which is not able to rule without aligning with certain segments of the population (this is why the Egyptian generals recently asked for mobilizations to signal “permission” to put down the Brotherhood’s civil disobedience actions, essentially using Egypt’s political left against the political right). 

Bonapartism has been practiced by military dictatorships since Napoleon.  In fact, Egypt’s popular military President Gamal Abdul Nasser — who instituted many progressive measures in Egypt — was himself a classic Bonapartist, though one who uncharacteristically leaned left.   

For example, after surviving an assassination attempt from the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasser used the military to destroy the Brotherhood, while enjoying support from the political left in Egypt due to his progressive policies. After dealing with the Brotherhood, Nasser consolidated his power against the growing revolutionary left, by attacking both the communist party and trade unions. This political balancing act between political left and right is the hallmark of Bonapartism…

 

–Shamus Cooke, ZNet, 20 August, 2013

 

   http://www.zcommunications.org/egypts-revolution-after-the-smoke-clears-by-shamus-cooke.html

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Jerusalem Post: Erdogan blames Israel for Morsi’s downfall, Egypt unrest

Posted by uscsjp on August 23, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rant that Israel was behind the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt was not worthy of a response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Tuesday.

“This is a statement well worth not commenting on,” Palmor said.

Another Israeli official said he had a one word response for Erdogan: “Nonsense.”

The Turkish premier, who has a history of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic remarks, blamed Israel on Tuesday for the events that brought about Morsi’s ouster.

“Who is behind [the ouster]? There is Israel,” Erdogan said at a meeting of his AK Party in Ankara. “We have [a] document in our hands.”

The document, it emerged, was a video of a discussion held at Tel Aviv University in June 2011 on the Arab Spring between Tzipi Livni, then the head of the opposition and today the Justice Minister, and French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Lévy, during the symposium, said, “If the Muslim Brotherhood arrives in Egypt, I will not say democracy wants it, so let democracy progress. Of course not.

Democracy, again, is not only elections, it is also values.”

Lévy said Hamas’s takeover of Gaza “was [a] putsch, a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup. Hitler in 1933 was a coup; a democratic coup, but a coup.”

Asked by the moderator,former New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Ethan Bronner, whether he would urge Egypt’s military to intervene against the Muslim Brotherhood if they would win a legitimate election, Lévy said: “I will urge the prevention of them coming to power, but by all sorts of means.”

Citing this discussion, Erdogan said, “‘The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections, because democracy is not the ballot box.’ This is what they said at that time.”

Erdogan’s comments come just a few weeks after he blamed the unrest in his own country on an “interest rate lobby,” widely believed to be a metaphor for Western Jewish businessmen.

He likened Zionism in the past to fascism, and has routinely accused Israel of waging a campaign of “genocide” against Palestinians.

The United States condemned comments by Erdogan, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday.

“We strongly condemn the statements that were made by Prime Minister Erdogan today. Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in a briefing.

Even Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News seems to be tiring somewhat of Erdogan’s anti-Israel rants and conspiracy theories. The lead to an article on Erdogan’s comments Tuesday that appeared on the paper’s website began with the words, “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went back on the warpath August 20, accusing one of Ankara’s most prominent bogeymen, Israel, of complicity in overthrowing Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.”

Erdogan’s comment Tuesday came some five months after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – at the behest of US President Barack Obama – phoned the Turkish prime minister and apologized for operational errors that may have led to loss of life on the Mavi Marmara ship that tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza in 2010.

While that apology was supposed to have paved the way for an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation, talks for compensation payments quickly bogged down as the Turks added that they wanted an Israeli admission that the compensation payments were the result of a wrongful act.

Expectations that the apology would lead relatively quickly to the exchange of ambassadors failed to materialize.

What the apology did do, one Israeli official said Tuesday, was remove US pressure on Israel to reconcile with Turkey, since in the eyes of the US, Netanyahu did what he needed to do.

–Herb Keinon, The Jerusalem Post, 20 August, 2013

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Erdogan-Israel-orchestrated-Morsi-overthrow-Egypt-unrest-323679

 

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Israel Walks Fine Line on Egypt Turmoil

JERUSALEM – Worried about its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, Israel is skirting a fine line between maintaining its usual silence on the unrest in its neighbor and openly supporting Egypt’s military-led government, which many in Israel view as the best bet for keeping a quiet border.

Officially, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has kept mum about Egypt’s recent violence, saying it does not want to take sides. Privately officials acknowledge that they were happy to see the Islamist movement Muslim Brotherhood swept from power, though they are aware that public expressions of support can backfire because of Israel’s unpopularity in the region.

In a break from that position over the weekend, an unnamed senior government official claimed in an interview with the Jerusalem Post that Israel’s Foreign Ministry was preparing to launch a diplomatic campaign to convince the U.S. and Europe to soften their criticism of Egypt’s military.

If true, it would mark Israel’s most aggressive public step to date in attempting to sway the outcome of Egypt’s turmoil.

After a military crackdown this month against Muslim Brotherhood supporters left more than 800 people dead, the Obama administration and European Union announced they were reviewing relations with the military-led government.

“The name of the game right now is not democracy,” the official told the Jerusalem Post. “The name of the game is that there needs to be a functioning state. After you put Egypt back on track, then talk about restarting the democratic process there.”

The official said that Israel would begin lobbying Western governments with the message that the military is the only actor in Egypt that can prevent a civil war. “Like it or not, no one else can run the country right now,” the official said.

A similar story appeared in the New York Times, also quoting an unnamed senior official.

A spokesman for the prime minister declined to comment on the reports of the Israeli diplomatic campaign.

Other government officials dismissed the story, saying that there was no such effort underway by the Foreign Ministry.

“That’s not true,’’ said one of those officials, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “There is no campaign and no lobbying. We don’t interfere.”

At the same time, the official acknowledged that many in the government would prefer to see Egypt’s military remain in power since the army is the only Egyptian institution with which Israel has been able to maintain ties, albeit behind the scenes.

Cooperation between armies in Egypt and Israel has increased since last month’s coup, particularly in combating militants in the Sinai, which the governments view as a shared challenge.

Underscoring the threat, at least 24 Egyptian soldiers were killed Monday in an ambush by Sinai militants near the Egyptian border city of Rafah.

Last month, Israel agreed to allow Egypt’s military to increase its ground forces in the peninsula to crack down on Islamist militants. Last week, Israel reportedly launched a drone attack with Egyptian coordination against a team of militants suspected of preparing to fire a rocket at Israel.

Some viewed the leak as an attempt by Israel to improve its reputation with the Egyptian people, where anti-Israel sentiment remains strong.  Last week, the Rebel movement, a group of youth activists who helped trigger the anti-Mohamed Morsi coup, said they would begin a petition drive to force the military-led government to withdraw from the 1979 treaty with Israel.

Israel, like the U.S., has been attacked by both sides in Egypt’s recent fighting.

Israel’s government is particularly alarmed by recent calls by some leading U.S. lawmakers, including Sen. John McCain, to halt more than $1 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt’s military as a way to protest the recent violence.

“That would be the biggest mistake,’’ said Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s former ambassador to Egypt.

The American aid was largely a reward for Egypt’s signing of the 1979 peace accord, which has remained a cornerstone of regional stability.

“If the U.S. aid were stopped,” Levanon warned, “there would be voices in Egypt saying let’s get rid of the peace treaty.”

 

–Edmund Sanders, The LA Times, 19 August, 2013

 

latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-israel-egypt-turmoil-20130819,0,7053896.story

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Alternet: Did You Hear About North Korean Video? Probably Not, It’s Not About Israel

Posted by uscsjp on August 4, 2013

What is an Israel Firster? He or she is someone who puts the interests of Greater Israel above those of the United States, often demonstrating that by a zealousness about all things Israel that he does not apply to his own country.

Take this North Korean video. [3]It was posted by the North Korean propaganda ministry and it depicts the nuclear bombing of New York by North Korea.

Is this story a big deal? Nope. And that is because it is only about a North Korean attack on America and not an Iranian attack on Israel. No matter that the North Korean regime is utterly insane and possesses nuclear weapons.

No matter that the Iranian regime is cautious, rather than off its rocker, and does not possess nuclear weapons.

No matter that the North Korean video threatens the United States and not a foreign country. No matter…because the reaction to the North Korean story is a big yawn.

Who cares?Imagine if the Iranian government did put out a video like this targeting Israel. The entire Israel First community would go nuts. AIPAC, the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council On Public Affairs. Schumer, Nadler, Commentary, Gillibrand, Jeff Goldberg, etc, etc, would be screaming to the heavens about the dire threat to our ally. New sanctions bill would be drafted by AIPAC and introduced by its cutouts. Krauthammer would tell us that it is 1942 and a second Holocaust looms.

Not in this case.

Because in this case the target is only New York and the would-be perpetrator is not a Muslim state.

So the lobby and its friends in Congress and the media don’t care. After all, it is just a cartoon. Except it would not be just a cartoon if it could be used to stoke war fever against Iran and Islamophobia or if it was about Tel Aviv and not New York.

Who said that Israel Firstism does not exist?

–M. J. Rosenberg, Alternet, 6 February, 2013

http://www.alternet.org/speakeasy/tikkundaily/did-you-hear-about-north-korean-video-probably-not-its-not-about-israel

Also from Alternet

3 Myths About Israel Promoted by the Right-Wing Pro-Israel Lobby

Here are the Three Sacred Commandments for Americans who shape the public conversation on Israel:

1. For politicians, especially at the federal level: As soon as you say the word “Israel,” you must also say the word “security” and promise that the United States will always, always, always be committed to Israel’s security. If you occasionally label an action by the Israeli government “unhelpful,” you must immediately reaffirm the eternal U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.

2. For TV talking heads and op-ed pundits: If you criticize any policies or actions of the Israeli government, you must immediately add that Israel does, of course, have very real and serious security needs that have to be addressed.

3. For journalists covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for major American news outlets: You must live in Jewish Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv and take only occasional day trips into the Occupied Territories. So your reporting must inevitably be slanted toward the perspective of the Jews you live among. And you must indicate in every report that Jewish Israeli life is dominated by anxiety about security.

U.S. opinion-shapers have obeyed the Three Commandments scrupulously for decades. As a result, they’ve created an indelible image of Israel as a deeply insecure nation….

–Ira Chernus, Alternet, April 17th, 2011

http://www.alternet.org/story/150641/3_myths_about_israel_promoted_by_the_right-wing_pro-israel_lobby

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