Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Time for US to stop fueling the conflict

Obama Peres
© Pete Souza/White House Photo
Seen in the Oval Office with Israeli President Shimon Peres in May 2009, US President Barack Obama requested $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel

In pledging to trim ineffective spending, US President Obama declared that "there will be no sacred cows and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it's time their government did the same."

By asking earlier this month for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel in his FY2010 budget request, it would seem that on this important policy issue President Obama's commitment is more rhetorical than substantive. Since 1949, according to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has provided to Israel more than $100 billion in military and economic assistance. In 2007, the US and Israel signed an agreement for $30 billion in additional military aid through FY2018.

Yet the provision of US weapons to Israel at taxpayer expense has done nothing to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to achieving a just and lasting peace. Rather, these weapons have had the exact opposite effect, as documented recently by Amnesty International, which pointed to US weapons as a prime factor "fueling" the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, during the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 innocent Palestinian civilians, including more than 1,000 children. During its December 2008-January 2009 war on the occupied Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 non-combatants.

On average, for each day that President Bush sat in the Oval Office, Israel killed one Palestinian civilian, often with US weapons. Before Congress appropriates any additional military aid to Israel, it should insist upon President Obama providing a comprehensive and transparent review of the effects US weapons transfers to Israel have on Palestinian civilians. The Arms Export Control Act limits the use of US weapons given to a foreign country to "internal security" and "legitimate self-defense."

If, after reviewing the impact of Israel's misuse of US weapons, the President and Congress cannot find the political will to sanction Israel for its violations of the Arms Export Control Act and prohibit future arms transfers as is required by law, then there are still steps that the US government should take to ensure that any future transfers are not used to commit human rights abuses but instead to promote US policy goals. For example, previous US loan guarantees to Israel have stipulated that funds cannot be used to support Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Conditioning US military aid to Israel in the same way would prevent these weapons from being used to kill innocent Palestinian civilians.

As President Obama has stated, "We can't sustain a system that bleeds billions of taxpayer dollars, on programs that have outlived their usefulness or exist solely because of the power of politicians, lobbyists or interest groups. We simply can't afford it." In regard to US aid to Israel, this is true as much from a budgetary standpoint as it is from a moral one.

Josh Ruebner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. This essay was originally published by the Detroit Free Press.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Joy and Comfort of Conspiracy Denial

911 NY Times
© NY Times

Recently I read another stinging rebuke of the 9-11 conspiracy theorists for their frightful mishandling of evidence, their will to believe only what gives them psychological comfort, and their general state of delusion. It was not the first I had read, nor will it be the last. The writer held unwaveringly to the party line: all those who seek to discredit the official, announced version of the events of 9-11 are "conspiracy theorists"- and should not be listened to. That this position constitutes an attempt at prior censorship does not seem to bother the deniers, nor the fact that the central tenets of conspiracy denial are an ad hominem attack. We are told that conspiracy theorists are crazy, or at least cowardly clingers to delusions that they find comforting.

It occurred to me that I haven't seen anyone examine the mental comforts of conspiracy denial, using the handy tools of amateur psychology. It's my guess that there's considerable comfort to be had, especially for men, from an acceptance of the official explanation for 9-11. This is not to say that many women aren't happy with the Arab hijacker theory, but for men, the provision of a clear enemy to fight is always especially gratifying.

To accept the official announcements of the story of 9-11 is instantly satisfying in several ways. Commercial airliners, hijacked by suicide terrorists, flew into buildings at the behest of a really smart master-terrorist named Osama Bin Laden. This is an immediately credible scenario""many of us had heard the name Bin Laden, and "knew" he was a terrorist who lived on the other side of the world. Indeed, the WTC had been attacked once before. And terrorism itself certainly exists--both sides of the 9-11 controversy can agree on that. So, to accept the official announcements that followed the attacks enabled you quickly to locate all the blame for the attacks in a tiny evil army of foreigners, all out of immediate reach, but accessible to the U.S. Army, you bet. The hijackers themselves were all dead, and their leader was extremely hard to find, but American forces could find and punish them. No need, really, to conduct any investigations or solve any mysteries--an evil super-hero with a small army of mentally enslaved unfortunates was able to penetrate the defenses of the finest air force in the world to murder 3000 Americans. A fluke, but in life and in sports, stuff like that happens.

The fact that this reads like a comic book plot doesn't seem to be a source of embarrassment for the anti-truther movement. In fact, an evil mastermind who, through mindless suicidal drones, wreaks havoc on good and decent people is the major plot driver of The Lord of the Rings, and many other fantasy and science fiction epics. Mythically speaking, it's golden.

And under the broad strokes of the main story, there's also a layer of historically accurate information that supports the main plot line. Joe and Jane Six-Pack would accept the unadorned story eagerly, but there's something to satisfy the more thoughtful as well. The back story is that American foreign policy for the last 30 years could easily result in some very unhappy Arabs. CIA meddling in the politics of Iran and Iraq, and above all, our support for Israel, have been highly unpopular on the Arab street. Well-read people could find the anti-American sentiments of the terrorists quite credible, if regrettable.

So the psychological comforts of the official story are several and real: you get a clearly defined enemy, a simple solution to a complex foreign policy problem, you get to feel morally superior to your enemy because you're more civilized and don't kill civilians, and finally, if you know something of the history of American policy in the Near East, you get to feel superior to those who don't.

It's entirely understandable that any American should believe the official 9-11 story. And, of course, to consider seriously for an instant that there could be something seriously wrong with that story, to imagine that as possible, really does change everything, just like 9-11 itself. If there's a chance that Americans colluded in those horrors, then the entire mental structure of our sanity, which we've lived in all our lives, has a serious crack, a San Andreas Fault, right down the middle. If we think it possible that "We have met the enemy, and he is us," then everything previously unthinkable is thinkable.

In fairness to their enemies among the truthers, the conspiracy deniers should admit that there is much psychological comfort in their own position, and that conspiracy theorists do not have a monopoly on convenient but deluded assumptions. 9-11 is, after all, a heap of facts, and it is open to human inquiry. Whether the heap was created by our enemies' hatred or something worse has yet to be decided.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Whistleblowers UNITE!

Sibel Edmonds continues her brave fight to bring the truth about the literally deadly corruption in Government. Please give her all the support you can. There is strength in numbers'.

Blue Ibis

Sibel Edmonds
© Unknown

Thanks to Luke Ryland for transcribing the interview. He says, "The following is a partial transcript. All errors, edits and omissions are mine."

Sibel Edmonds:


We (NSWBC) stopped our activities for a while, and we are restarting them again, and I just launched my blog, and the first series that I'm posting there is on the mainstream media, and in the next few days, you're going to see more than 300 whistleblowers who are going to post their comments at the blog too, about their experiences with various people in the mainstream media.

So that's going to be the main discussion, because currently we review the mainstream media as the culprit, because if they were to do their jobs, they would put pressure on the people in the congress, because these people want to get re-elected, and therefore that pressure would act as a catalyst to get these things that we, the people, have been asking for - the real hearings and accountability. But without the mainstream media putting that pressure, going after them, well, they don't have anything really to fear. You know, you have to have carrots, you have to have sticks, but there have been no sticks for these people. They get away with everything.

And even when we have some coverage, it only lasts for a couple of days, you don't get what you saw, let's say, with Watergate. You have to keep at it, and the mainstream media is not doing this. And the best example of this is the Harman case, it just popped out, and then in a couple of days it disappeared, and it has been buried.


They never ask "Why State Secrets Privilege?" and that is what I always bring up with people

Rob Kall: Well, why is there the State Secrets Privilege?

SE: That is the question, right. There are people in the, I would not even say the alternative media, some good researchers in the blogosphere who have worked on it and have been able to at least answer some of that question.

RK: What were the answers?

SE: Well, the answer is, from 1996 to 2002, there were certain investigations under one file within the FBI, that involved criminal activities by US persons, and these are the US government people, whether elected or appointed - and I'm talking about criminal deeds with some severe consequences, and if my case were to be public - to go to court all the way, or have hearings in congress, and you have the FBI agents as witnesses come and testify, with other witnesses, and myself, you will see a lot of these people go to jail.

You will see immediately a Special Prosecutor in this case and you will see the trial for these people because you are looking at very, very serious issues, very, very serious illegal activities.


SE: Vanity Fair ran the story on Dennis Hastert and the fact that he may have been one of the top targets of the FBI in this corruption and criminal matters involving Turkey, because of his relationship, and some of the illegal activities he was engaged with, with certain Turkish and Turkish American people...


RK: What was the scandal regarding Turkey?

SE: Well, the fact that he was receiving suitcases full of cash from certain Turkish organizations, to do certain things in Congress, and in the Senate (?) for them, and that some of his activities involved, actually, narcotics in Chicago.


As soon as Hastert came out of Congress, he goes and becomes an agent for Turkey, getting $35,000 per month for serving this interest, and most likely, his son will be replacing that service provided from the inside (if the son gets elected to Hastert's seat). That's how it works with Congress - even when they are out, they are not really out.

You see, before Dennis Hastert, OK, the person who was serving this interest (Turkey) in congress was Bob Livingston; he was the Speaker of the House. And I can not tell you whether the FBI had thick files on Bob Livingston or not. Well, Bob Livingston resigned, left the Congress in 1999, OK, Hastert replaced him. In 1999 when Bob Livingston left Congress, a few months later he, again, registered himself as the agent for the Turkish interests, under FARA, Foreign Agents Registration Act, under this company that he set up, The Livingston Group, and he received $1.5 million per year for eight years.

His boy, Dennis Hastert, was left behind and became Speaker of the House. Now, Dennis Hastert is out and receiving $35,000 per month serving the Turkish interests. I'm sure he has several boys left behind there who would be doing what Hastert did while he was inside, and then when they come out, they will get their $35,000 or $50,000. That's how it works. And it's not only with the Turkish Lobby; you see that a lot with the Israel Lobby. A lot of people know this, but as I said, we get these crusty people and then we keep re-electing them. Why? Because a lot of people don't know about this, and they don't know about it because the mainstream media is not reporting it.

RK: What did Turkey get in the deal?

SE: It is not the Turkish government - it only looks like it is the Turkish government, but these are certain entities, and again there is plenty of information out there, these are certain Turkish entities that are engaged in certain international activities, some of them legal, some of them illegal.

Comment: Hmmm... could these activities be in any way linked to the Ergenekon scandal?

And again, there are many pieces written on this, one is by Phil Giraldi .... which talks about what these Turkish entities do, and who they are... He links these Turkish entities directly to Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and Eric Edelman and Marc Grossman and Dennis Hastert, and he makes those links fairly accurately... He is a pretty solid freelance writer, he's very good, and very intelligent, and also knowledgeable with direct information on certain angles on my case, because that is what he did, he did work in Turkey, and he was involved in operations that involved, basically, some of the same people.


RK: So Turkey basically gets better treatment from the US, they get access to military technology, maybe they get to be a little nastier with the Kurds...

SE: Yes, and when you're getting into the military technology, or intelligence stuff, you're basically looking at espionage activities, and they can obtain information from the Pentagon and State Department or congress. Classified information that belongs to the American government that is not supposed to go to other countries, but they're able to get whatever they want because they have their people in place.


RK: What do you think of AG Eric Holder?

SE: He's basically the same old dung, the same crap, putting it crudely. There is no difference between him and Ashcroft or Gonzales, and unfortunately every day that passes in these four years we are going to see that. We are already seeing this. They dropped the AIPAC court case. Who did it? Obama's Justice Department, his AG decided, despite all the evidence on these Israeli spies, that they were going to drop it. Even the Bush administration didn't go that far - because some of the FBI agents were out there who would have screamed, and they did. Because that is why we got that CQ piece on Harman. So they said 'we will not go after you.' Obama's administration right now, they are pressuring the British government saying we don't want you to pursue this torture case in your courts because it involves some of our classified information, and we don't want you to do that. It's not only that they are classifying things here, trying to cover up with secrecy, they're trying to do it overseas, with England! That is ridiculous. It's the same with torture. It is this administration, this Justice Department that is saying that everybody is going to get off the hook...


RK: Now you have a new website. What is it?

SE: . And my first series is going to be on the mainstream media... and there will be a surprise element, because in the next few days there will be an announcement there, and I believe that will bring a lot of attention from the mainstream media. It may turn the whole thing into a war zone but we'll see about that, so some exciting things are going to happen there. I hope we will get more visitors and I hope I'll find more ways to promote...

I hope people will cross-post what I write I'm hoping to get tons and tons of comments at the blog, and we'll have the surprise announcement in the next few days which will be good, because we have about 300+ members and sub-members for NSWBC - people from the NSA, FBI, CIA, DoD, people such as Russ Tice, and all these people are going to be active with the blog, posting comments, some anonymous, some with their pseudo-names. Keep following the blog - because when the attack comes, and they start doing it, the mainstream media, I'm going to need all the support I can get! Don't leave me alone there! And I'm also working on the next op-ed piece which is going to be on Obama with some of the stuff we just talked about... And anyone can take any of these articles and reprint them, absolutely. And if people can point back to my blog, because I'll need these people to come and comment, I'll need these supporters because the attacks will follow, I know it's going to come.

RK: What kind of attack? What are you talking about?

SE: Well, this is going to be a pretty interesting thing. You're going to find out in two days - so that's something to look forward to, because, in a way, us, the whistleblowers, are going to turn the table on the mainstream media.

In fact, to say the 'mainstream media is the culprit' in a way let's them off the hook, because it's just a general term, like saying 'congress' but when you start going individually after individuals, or individual papers with specific cases it becomes a different story... These are the things we are going to put on my blog, and I'm going to hit them. Name, paper, incident, cases.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Regarding Gaza: Israelis Parents, "Ask your sons"

It is behavior well known to every police investigator: First the suspect denies everything, then attacks his interrogators, then admits to a small portion of the accusations (saying he merely did what everyone does), and finally breaks down and confesses.

The Israel Defense Forces returned from Operation Cast Lead and, of course, denied everything. The people applauded it for its bogus victory and no one paid much attention to the awful price paid by the Palestinians. But after the smoke (in this case, white phosphorus) cleared a bit, the blood began crying out from the ground. Foreign journalists and human rights groups investigated and reported their findings. The United Nations said the IDF intentionally targeted its facilities, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International accused the army of illegally using phosphorous bombs, the International Red Cross reported on the injured being denied medical attention and strikes on medical crews, officers at a premilitary course spoke of civilians killed, and Amira Hass wrote for Haaretz about the killing of people flying white flags, the use of flechette shells and the annihilation of entire families.

The ground began trembling beneath Israel's feet when it started attacking the emissaries of these organizations. The country's gates were closed to the UN fact-finding mission headed by Jewish South African Richard Goldstone, as if it were Zimbabwe or North Korea, as if it had much to hide. The president brusquely rebuked the UN's Ban Ki-moon and suggested he visits Auschwitz, until eventually the secretary general was forced to shrink from supporting his organization's damning report.

Anyone who dared investigate and report was branded anti-Semitic. Little has changed since the early-1970s report by a group of American lawyers on the Shin Bet security service's alleged torture methods. These attorneys were immediately labeled anti-Semites. We deny, repress, lie, attack and compare ourselves to others, and our conscience remains clear Even when the IDF admits to killing 300 civilians - 90 of them children, 50 women and 160 whose identities the army says is unclear - our story remains the same: the most moral army in the world. Not the third most, not the second - the most.. After all, Yedioth Ahronoth gave that view its seal of approval in a special propaganda supplement entitled "The most moral in the world."

But let's assume Amnesty is lying, Human Rights Watch is fabricating, B'Tselem is embellishing, the UN is anti-Israel and the media is full of hatred against us - isn't there enough in the IDF's own figures to shake us to the core? Three hundred civilians killed, including 90 children - isn't that enough to expose the propagandistic lie of "the most moral" army? How many innocent people must be killed for that to happen?

The IDF conducted five "investigations" (in which, naturally, only soldiers' actions were examined), lamented one family's tragedy, and the military correspondents applauded again. The IDF Spokesman's Office sent battalion commanders to recite declarations on their own lofty battle ethics - with faces concealed, of course, as suspects often are - and the media didn't burden them with questions. No one believes this war should be subjected to a serious investigation because in this war, unlike its predecessors, not enough soldiers were killed to justify that.

But the truth cries out even from the collapsed and perforated rubble of what was once a home: The soldiers who were in Gaza know, as do their friends, that something terrible happened there - just as those who served in the West Bank know. Ask your sons; they know the truth - the truth is sitting in your own home. And ask the friends of your sons, and the sons of your friends - they know. Many of them are brainwashed, and for now are keeping mum. Israel is holding back the tide of reports and investigations, and putting its head in the sand of propaganda and victimization, but in the end the truth will emerge.

Even the excuse "everyone does it" will not do any good, as it does no good for a driver caught speeding. The Americans kill more? The French slaughtered more? That may do for the Foreign Ministry's automatic statements. We deserve more, we deserve the full truth - what exactly our soldiers did in our name, each of our names, on the streets of Gaza, imprisoned and bleeding for the 22 days of a useless war.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Arab Residents Reveal Israeli Tactics to Steal Jerusalem

Mohammed al-Tamimi's family has been living in the Old City of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) since time immemorial.

He says that his lineage goes back to Tamim al-Dari, a companion of Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings be upon him), who arrived from the Arabian Peninsula and settled in the Al-Khalil region around 650 A.D.

"Without the slightest exaggeration, I can solemnly testify that my roots in this land are deeper than the roots of 99.99% of Israeli Jews, the very people who are now claiming we don't belong here and who are trying to expel us from this land, our land," he told

Pointing to his home, Mohammed said agents of the Israeli government have been trying desperately to convince him to sell it to Jewish settlement interests for a hefty amount of money.

"A nice-looking man, dressed in an elegant business suit, knocked on the door, saying he wanted to drink a cup of coffee with me," he recalls.

"He said he would pay a million dollars if I agreed to sell him my home. He said we didn't have to leave the home now and that we could stay ten more years," added Mohammed.

"He also stressed that he would swear by God to keep the matter secret until after I die."

Mohammed was deeply infuriated by the man's audacity.

"I really would have beaten him had it not been for the Arab customs of showing respect and courtesy to guests. He was in our home after all," said the Palestinian man.

"But I told him that our religion and honor and dignity were not for sale."

Mohammed says Arabs had settled in Al-Quds and Palestine hundreds of years before the Khazar tribes converted to Judaism in around the 8th century.

"These people claim to be connected to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have no connections with these prophets, neither biologically, nor even religiously," he contended.

"These settlers are White Europeans, just look at their faces, the color of their skin. Does Ariel Sharon or Ehud Olmert look like a Semite, or even Middle Eastern?"

Seizure Tactics

Tamimi is one of thousand of Palestinians who have been struggling to keep their property in the face of a vicious Israeli campaign to take over Arab property and land in and around Al-Quds.

The campaign is fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars donated by wealthy Jews around the world and also by the Israeli government which has been trying to Judaize the holy city and obliterate its Arab-Muslim identity.

Bassam Bahr, an Al-Quds lawyer, has been monitoring Israel's illicit tactics of seizing Arab real estate in the city and surrounding localities for many years.

He says Israel is now heavily using fictitious real-estate front-firms to purchase Palestinian homes and property.

"Some of these firms would even bear auspicious Islamic titles to ensnare potential sellers. And they would offer to pay attractive sums of money exceeding real market price."

In recent years, Israelis have been using front real estate firms based in some Arabic countries.

"Some gullible and unsuspecting people would think that the last thing a Jordan-based real estate firm would do is to serve as cover for Israeli settlement interests," said Bahr.

"Eventually, the truth is exposed but after the ownership of the home or plot of land in question is transferred to an Israeli. Then the front-company is liquidated and those involved disappear or immigrate."


Israel has also been seizing the property of "absentees" on the ground that the state is the proprietor of property that has no proprietor.

But in many cases, notes Bahr, the absentee is not really absent but lives a few hundred meters from his property and all that separates him from it is the gigantic separation wall Israel has erected around Al-Quds.

"They would tell the rightful owner that since your property is located inside the city and your place of residence is outside it, it means that yours is an absentee property. And when the case reaches the court, the judge normally rules in favor of the state," says Bahr, the Al-Quds lawyer.

"The judge, who often happens to be a Jewish settler, is actually an enemy. So, how can one possibly hope to obtain justice from a judge who is actually an enemy?"

In some cases, Israeli agents would convince, by way of blackmail or financial seduction, a member of a certain Arab family to sell his/her part of the family property.

"In any country, a family member who only has a small share of a given real estate has no right to sell the entire property without the consent of the rest of the family," notes Bahr.

"However, in Israel, the signature of only one family member, even if he/she happens to be mentally unstable, is sufficient for the seizure of the family's property even though the other family members have no foreknowledge of the secret deal."

Revoked residency

When all pretexts and excuses are exhausted, and all conceivable legal tricks and loopholes prove insufficient to defraud an Arab family of its property, Israel resorts to long-term plans.

This is exactly what happened with Mohammed a few years ago when he wanted to build another floor to his home to accommodate his newly-wed son.

"I applied for a license and waited more than three years for a reply from the Israeli authorities. And eventually, they told me that I couldn't do it."

Mohammed says his son was forced to relocate to the nearby Abu-Dis neighborhood, an Al-Quds neighborhood not yet annexed by Israel.

But the story doesn't end here.

Every few weeks agents of the Israeli Interior Ministry would stealthily come to inspect Mohammed's home to see if his son and his wife were still living there.

And when they eventually found out that he had moved to Abu Dis, they decided to recommend that his Al-Quds residency right be revoked.

"You see they are telling us that either we suffer silently or lose residency rights. This is the behavior of the state that claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Criminalizing Criticism of Israel -- The End of Free Speech?

On October 16, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Israel Lobby's bill, the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act. This legislation requires the US Department of State to monitor anti-semitism world wide.

To monitor anti-semitism, it has to be defined. What is the definition? Basically, as defined by the Israel Lobby and Abe Foxman, it boils down to any criticism of Israel or Jews.

Rahm Israel Emanuel hasn't been mopping floors at the White House.

As soon as he gets the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, it will become a crime for any American to tell the truth about Israel's treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands.
It will be a crime for Christians to acknowledge the New Testament's account of Jews demanding the crucifixion of Jesus.

It will be a crime to report the extraordinary influence of the Israel Lobby on the White House and Congress, such as the AIPAC-written resolutions praising Israel for its war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza that were endorsed by 100 per cent of the US Senate and 99 per cent of the House of Representatives, while the rest of the world condemned Israel for its barbarity.

It will be a crime to doubt the Holocaust.

It will become a crime to note the disproportionate representation of Jews in the media, finance, and foreign policy.

In other words, it means the end of free speech, free inquiry, and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Any facts or truths that cast aspersion upon Israel will simply be banned.

Given the hubris of the US government, which leads Washington to apply US law to every country and organization, what will happen to the International Red Cross, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the various human rights organizations that have demanded investigations of Israel's military assault on Gaza's civilian population? Will they all be arrested for the hate crime of "excessive" criticism of Israel?

This is a serious question.

A recent UN report, which is yet to be released in its entirety, blames Israel for the deaths and injuries that occurred within the United Nations premises in Gaza. The Israeli government has responded by charging that the UN report is "tendentious, patently biased," which puts the UN report into the State Department's category of excessive criticism and strong anti-Israel sentiment.

Israel is getting away with its blatant use of the American government to silence its critics despite the fact that the Israeli press and Israeli soldiers have exposed the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and the premeditated murder of women and children urged upon the Israeli invaders by rabbis. These acts are clearly war crimes.

It was the Israeli press that published the pictures of the Israeli soldiers' T-shirts that indicate that the willful murder of women and children is now the culture of the Israeli army. The T-shirts are horrific expressions of barbarity. For example, one shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a crosshairs over her stomach and the slogan, "One shot, two kills." These T-shirts are an indication that Israel's policy toward the Palestinians is one of extermination.

It has been true for years that the most potent criticism of Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians comes from the Israeli press and Israeli peace groups. For example, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Jeff Halper of ICAHD have shown a moral conscience that apparently does not exist in the Western democracies where Israel's crimes are covered up and even praised.

Will the American hate crime bill be applied to Haaretz and Jeff Halper? Will American commentators who say nothing themselves but simply report what Haaretz and Halper have said be arrested for "spreading hatred of Israel, an anti-semitic act"?

Many Americans have been brainwashed by the propaganda that Palestinians are terrorists who threaten innocent Israel. These Americans will see the censorship as merely part of the necessary war on terror. They will accept the demonization of fellow citizens who report unpalatable facts about Israel and agree that such people should be punished for aiding and abetting terrorists.

A massive push is underway to criminalize criticism of Israel. American university professors have fallen victim to the well organized attempt to eliminate all criticism of Israel. Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at a Catholic university because of the power of the Israel Lobby. Now the Israel Lobby is after University of California (at Santa Barbara,) professor Wiliam Robinson. Robinson's crime: his course on global affairs included some reading assignments critical of Israel's invasion of Gaza.

The Israel Lobby apparently succeeded in convincing the Obama Justice (sic) Department that it is anti-semitic to accuse two Jewish AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, of spying. The Israel Lobby succeeded in getting their trial delayed for four years, and now Attorney General Eric Holder has dropped charges. Yet, Larry Franklin, the DOD official accused of giving secret material to Rosen and Weissman, is serving 12 years and 7 months in prison.

The absurdity is extraordinary. The two Israeli agents are not guilty of receiving secrets, but the American official is guilty of giving secrets to them! If there is no spy in the story, how was Franklin convicted of giving secrets to a spy?

Criminalizing criticism of Israel destroys any hope of America having an independent foreign policy in the Middle East that serves American rather than Israeli interests. It eliminates any prospect of Americans escaping from their enculturation with Israeli propaganda.

To keep American minds captive, the Lobby is working to ban as anti-semitic any truth or disagreeable fact that pertains to Israel. It is permissible to criticize every other country in the world, but it is anti-semitic to criticize Israel, and anti-semitism will soon be a universal hate-crime in the Western world.

Most of Europe has already criminalized doubting the Holocaust. It is a crime even to confirm that it happened but to conclude that less than 6 million Jews were murdered.

Why is the Holocaust a subject that is off limits to examination? How could a case buttressed by hard facts possibly be endangered by kooks and anti-semitics? Surely the case doesn't need to be protected by thought control.

Imprisoning people for doubts is the antithesis of modernity.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Who Will Stop the AIPAC Jews Before it is Too Late?

While I was being tackled by security guards at Washington's Convention Center during the AIPAC conference for unfurling a banner that asked "What about Gaza?," my heart was aching. I wasn't bothered so much by the burly guards who were yanking my arms behind by back and dragging me-along with 5 other CODEPINK members-out of the hall. They were doing their job.

What made my heart ache was the hatred I felt from the AIPAC staff who tore up the banner and slammed their hands across my mouth as I tried to yell out: "What about Gaza? What about the children?"

"Shut the f--- up. Shut the f--- up." one staffer yelled, red-faced and sweating as he ran beside me. "This is not the place to be saying that shit. Get the f--- out of here."

What makes my heart ache is thinking about the traumatized children I met on my recent trip to Gaza, and how their suffering is denied by the 6,000 AIPAC conventioneers who are living in a bubble-a bubble where Israel is the victim and all critics are anti-Semitic, terrorist lovers or, as in my case, self-hating Jews.

I found it fascinating that AIPAC's executive director Howard Kohr opened the conference admitting that there was now a huge, international campaign against the policies of Israel. He painted a picture of 30,000 people marching in Spain, Italian trade unionists calling for a boycott of Israeli products, the UN Human Rights Council passing 26 resolutions condemning Israel, an Israeli Apartheid Week that is building a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

This global movement, he warned, emanates from the Middle East, echoes in the halls of the United Nations and the capitals of Europe, is voiced in meetings of international peace organizations, and is spreading throughout the United States-from the media to town hall meetings, from campuses to city squares. "No longer is this campaign confined to the ravings of the political far left or far right," he lamented, "but increasingly it is entering the American mainstream."

But Kohr failed to explain why there has been such an explosion in this movement, even among the American Jewish community. He didn't tell the attendees that the world was shocked and outraged by Israel's devastating 22-day attack on Gaza that left over 1,300 people dead - mostly women and children. He didn't mention the killing of civilians fleeing their homes, the use of white phosphorous, the bombing of homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, UN buildings, factories. He didn't talk about the continuing, cruel blockade of the Gaza Strip that is keeping desperately needed humanitarian aid from reaching 1.5 million people and making rebuilding impossible.

There were no seminars at the conference by human rights groups like Amnesty International that are calling for an immediate and comprehensive suspension of arms to Israel. Instead, one after another, U.S. elected officials eager to curry favor with AIPAC pledged continued U.S. financial support for Israel. Senator Kerry, despite that fact that he was one of only a handful of legislators who visited Gaza, didn't say one word about the massive destruction he witnessed and pledged that as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he would do everything to ensure that the $30 billion in military aid to Israel is "delivered in full." "America will continue our military aid, and Israel will keep its military strength," he insisted. Instead of calling for talks with the democratically elected government of Hamas, Kerry said: "Hamas has already won one election-we cannot allow them to win another." He ended his speech shouting several times in Hebrew, "Am Yisrael Chai-Israel lives!"

Even Vice President Biden, who at least told AIPAC that Israel should freeze new settlement activity, didn't say a word about the ongoing humanitarian crisis caused by Israel's invasion and continued blockade of Gaza. No U.S. officials, and there were hundreds at the conference, dared echo the call of the United Nations or the world community to lift the siege of Gaza.

Republican Congressman Eric Cantor was one of the most emotional speakers, portraying Israel as the victim of an evil global movement determined to wipe out Israel and all Jews. Evoking the "shivering, naked victims who were herded into the gas chambers," he wondered when it would become too late to protect Israel. "When is it too late?", he repeated over and over.

I wonder the same thing. When is it too late, I wonder, to stop Israel from destroying itself? When is it too late to tell AIPAC attendees that more violence and hatred is not the answer? When is it too late to open the hardened hearts of my people, once victims of a terrible holocaust, to realize that by occupying Palestine we have become they evil we deplore? When is it too late to restore meaning to the Hebrew term "tikkun olam" by truly working to heal the world? When is it too late for the Jews of the world to weep for the children of Gaza, recognizing that they, too, are the children of God?

I couldn't ask my questions at AIPAC. My mouth was muzzled by the sweaty hands of hate-filled staffers demanding that I "shut the f--- up." But despite AIPAC's massive funds and influence, I feel certain that more and more members of the Jewish community will step forward and refuse to be silent. I just pray it is not too late.

For information on upcoming delegations to Gaza, see

Medea Benjamin ( is cofounder of Global Exchange ( and CODEPINK: Women for Peace (

Thursday, May 07, 2009

It's the small courtesies . . . . . .

A UN probe into the Israeli offensive against Gaza finds Israel guilty of intentionally shelling a UN-run school and killing three people seeking shelter there.

The raid was one of eight occasions where the Israeli army targeted UN personnel or facilities, prompting the international body to launch an inquiry into the war crimes committed during the weeks-long onslaught in which more than 1,350 Palestinians were killed.

The three-member UN board of inquiry declared Israel had repeatedly breached the inviolability of UN premises and exhibited "reckless disregard for the lives and safety" of civilians in a separate strike on an elementary school, which took the lives of two children and injured 13 others.

The inquiry board dismissed Israel's defense with its confirmation that there was no evidence that Palestinian fighters had used UN facilities to launch military attacks against Israeli troops.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he would pressure Israel to pay compensation in excess of the $11 million in damages caused to UN property.

The UN chief, however, rejected the board's recommendation to expand the investigation into other examples of war crimes during the conflict and to hold perpetrators accountable.

"I would emphasize that a board of inquiry is not a judicial body or court of law," said Ban in a 27-page summary he released of the 184-page report. "It does not make legal findings and does not consider questions of legal liability."

Instead, Ban said the UN and Israel would begin negotiations to determine how they can improve their lines of communication to avoid such incidents.

Israeli spokeswoman Mirit Cohen welcomed Ban's assurances but labeled the UN board's report as "tendentious" and "patently biased".

In its report, the board rejected allegations that the three young men killed by an Israeli airstrike against Gaza's Asma elementary school were engaged in military activities, concluding that "it is more probable that they were going out to use the toilets" when they were killed.

They also demanded Israel to publicly withdraw assertions that Palestinians had fired from within the premises of a UN-run school and a UN relief office.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

AIPAC: The Lobby Wants War

© Unknown
We own you, so what are you going to do about it?
The Israel lobby has been running into a few problems lately, but it's nothing they don't think they can handle: a charge of treason, a strong suspicion of obstructing justice, and a gathering storm of criticism from a few dissident intellectuals and policy types. Nothing to get too exercised about. Having felled Charles "Chas" Freeman, smitten Gen. Zinni, and sidelined those in the Obama administration who question the nature and utility of America's "special relationship" with Israel, the Lobby's flagship organization, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is primed to hold their national conference in Washington next week, with Jane "This Conversation Doesn't Exist" Harman slated to address the gathering.

The focus of the conference, and the legislative centerpiece of the event, will be passage of the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act, which would ban US companies from providing Iran with refined petroleum products, and seeks to punish European companies - particularly the Swiss, who come in for two specific mentions in the text of the bill - for doing so.

To begin with, the name affixed to this piece of legislative legerdemain is a prime example of congressional doublethink: will it really enhance diplomatic relations with Iran to impose draconian sanctions, the equivalent of an economic chokehold and a prelude to a military blockade? Hardly, and that is very far from its clear intent.

This bill is all about provoking the Iranians, effectively sabotaging efforts to engage in a mutual dialogue with Tehran. Why the egregious packaging? Well, it seems the American people are sick and tired of war, and preparations for war, and so it is far less incriminating if a member of Congress can say he (or she) voted for "the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act" than it is to admit they supported isolating Iran economically.

While it's true that the Swiss provide up to 80 percent of the Iranians' refined petroleum imports, as stated in the bill, what's really at stake here is a spat between the Israelis and the government of Switzerland over a recent meeting between Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the UN's recent anti-racism conference held in Geneva.

Reflecting the new hysteria that's been injected into the Jewish state's relations with the rest of the world, Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland in protest. Even talking to the Iranians, in any context, is considered by the Israelis to be an "existential" threat to the Jewish state, and anyone who engages in such conversation is considered an enemy - thus the clauses of the bill that target the Swiss. The message this is sending is clear: if you cross the Israelis, you cross the Americans, too - yes, even under the Obama administration.

Speaking of Obama, this campaign to isolate Iran is aimed at him just as much as it is at the Iranians, and the Swiss - it is a shot across the bow, a flexing of legislative muscle on the part of the Lobby that shows the newly-elected American president even he can't stand up to the Lobby's power. If he tries to reach out to the Iranians, and short-circuit the march to war, he'll be subverted, opposed, and reined in by the American Congress, which is, as Pat Buchanan famously - and accurately - observed, "Israeli-occupied territory."

The main "argument" in favor of this bill, which enjoys wide bipartisan support, is that it will supposedly be an aid to the diplomatic initiative promised by President Obama, and it quotes the President during the campaign when he said: "Iran right now imports gasoline... if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need... that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them."

With the introduction of this bill in the House, and a similar one introduced in the Senate by (who else?) Sen. Joe Lieberman and Republican John Kyl, the Lobby is putting the squeeze on Obama, displaying its power over the legislative branch and daring the American president to step out of line. In the months leading up to the election, and since, the Obamaites have been eager to avoid an early confrontation with the Lobby, which would use up a good deal of political capital and split the Democrats at a crucial time. Unless he's agreeable to signing on to a war with Iran, however, Obama can only put this fight off for so long. Eventually, and inevitably, it will come to a showdown, and the Lobby will come to that fight well-prepared - albeit a bit nervous in light of recent developments.

That nervousness is manifested in a new, more aggressive tone and tactics. The leering arrogance of the Lobby and its public spokespersons in the face of mounting public criticism and organized opposition really is a sight to behold: exhibit "A" is their latest response to the recent scandal involving Rep. Jane Harman.

The California Democrat was overheard on an FBI eavesdropping tape offering to help get the charges against two AIPAC officials accused of espionage reduced, in exchange for piles of Haim Saban's money and lobbying by AIPAC to get Harman appointed chair of the House intelligence committee. When Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly exposed this fact, Harman went on a one-day media blitz, appearing on cable news outlets and National Public Radio, hysterically (and ineffectively) denying her obvious guilt. The next day she hired Lanny Davis, the well-connected Clintonite lawyer and public relations flack whose specialty is bailing out Democrats in hot water. From that point, the Harman camp's pushback went from Harman's screeching denials and her comically self-contradictory "explanations," to dismissive "humor," as Congressional Quarterly reports:
"Embattled California Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., shrugged off woes over a wiretapping controversy Wednesday and claimed 'Best Team Name Honors' for this year's Capital Challenge mini-marathon race.

"'Tapped Out,' an obvious reference to revelations that Harman was overheard by government wiretappers in conversations with a suspected Israeli intelligence agent in 2005, evidently won the judges' hearts as best team moniker."
It's all a joke, nothing to get too excited about - that's how the Lobby thumbs its nose at the American people, and, with the collusion of our elected officials, continues to get away with fatally distorting American foreign policy and taking us down the road to war.

Whether this strategy will work, or whether the American people will wake up in time to arrest the ongoing corruption of their government and social institutions by a foreign entity, remains to be seen. It is an indication, however, of the deep contempt with which the Lobby views American law and institutions, and, as such, is utterly reprehensible. These are the same people, by the way, who yelp about the alleged increase in anti-Semitism, here as well as in Europe - and then do everything in their power to ensure that their worst fears and direst prophecies are fulfilled.

Harman's chutzpah knows no bounds. "I am challenging CQ's Jeff Stein," she brayed in a press release, "who got my age wrong and denigrated my previous race time in a recent blog post, to a road race. Bring it on, Jeff!" She smugly adds: "Clearly, our sense of humor is intact."

Yes, Jane, even if your credibility isn't. I liked Jeff Stein's counter-challenge, however:
"To race Harman from her Capitol Hill office to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), on May 3 at the Washington Convention Center, where Harman is giving an address."
Speaking of chutzpah, isn't that what AIPAC is displaying a surfeit of by not rescinding their invitation to Harman? After all, she stands exposed as having colluded in a corrupt deal to let off two of their top employees who are charged with spying for Israel. Yes, we know they're a fifth column working on behalf of a foreign power, but do they have to flaunt their disloyalty as if it were a badge of honor?

Chutzpah is one word for it, hubris is another. In any case, the Lobby is riding for a fall, in spite of its political power, its financial resources, its stranglehold on Capitol Hill and the policymaking apparatus of the US government. If the US is drawn into yet another war with the Lobby's fingerprints all over it, the American people - after having voted for a presidential candidate many thought was intent on reversing the relentless warmongering of the past eight years - are bound to react. As the Lobby jeers at and otherwise disrespects our laws and our nation's security, sooner or later popular revulsion against this faction of brazen fifth columnists is bound to give AIPAC and its allies a monumental slapping down.