Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The "Religious Right" is infecting ALL Military Groups

The increasing influence of the Fundamentalist Christian groups within the US Military, especially the Air Force, is matched by the rising influence of ultra-conservative rabbis within the IDF. Both exhort their pawns to 'utterly destroy' the 'enemies of [their particular] god'. Why are we only concerned about 'radical Islam'? There's plenty of radicalism to go around. The sane people will be caught in the cross-fire.

Blue Ibis

A Religious War in Israel's Army
Jerusalem - The publication late last week of eyewitness accounts by Israeli soldiers alleging acute mistreatment of Palestinian civilians in the recent Gaza fighting highlights a debate here about the rules of war. But it also exposes something else: the clash between secular liberals and religious nationalists for control over the army and society.

Several of the testimonies, published by an institute that runs a premilitary course and is affiliated with the left-leaning secular kibbutz movement, showed a distinct impatience with religious soldiers, portraying them as self-appointed holy warriors.

A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, "the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war."

Dany Zamir, the director of the one-year premilitary course who solicited the testimonies and then leaked them, leading to a promise by the military to investigate, is quoted in the transcripts as expressing anguish over the growing religious nationalist elements of the military.

"If clerics are anointing us with oil and sticking holy books in our hands, and if the soldiers in these units aren't representative of the whole spectrum of the Jewish people, but rather of certain segments of the population, what can we expect?" he said. "To whom do we complain?"

For the first four decades of Israel's existence, the army - like many of the country's institutions - was dominated by kibbutz members who saw themselves as secular, Western and educated. In the past decade or two, religious nationalists, including many from the settler movement in the West Bank, have moved into more and more positions of military responsibility. (In Israeli society, they are a growing force, distinct from, and more modern than, the black-garbed ultra-Orthodox, who are excused from military service.)

In many cases, the religious nationalists have ascended to command positions from precisely the kind of premilitary college course that Mr. Zamir runs - but theirs are run by the religious movements rather than his secular one, meaning that the competition between him and them is both ideological and careerist.

"The officer corps of the elite Golani Brigade is now heavily populated by religious right-wing graduates of the preparatory academies," noted Moshe Halbertal, a Jewish philosophy professor who co-wrote the military code of ethics and who is himself religiously observant but politically liberal. "The religious right is trying to have an impact on Israeli society through the army."

But Yaron Ezrahi, a leftist political scientist at Hebrew University who has been lecturing to military commanders, said that the call to close those programs should now be revived because what was evident in Gaza was that the humanistic tradition from which a code of ethics is derived was not being sufficiently observed there.

The dispute over control of the army is not only ideological. It is also personal, as all politics is in this small, intimate country. Those who disagree with the chief rabbi have vilified him. Those who are unhappy with what Mr. Zamir did by leaking the transcript of the Gaza soldiers' testimonies last week have spread word that he is a leftist ideologue out to harm Israel.

[An anti-semitic Israeli?]

In 1990, Mr. Zamir, then a parachute company commander in the reserves, was sentenced to prison for refusing to guard a ceremony involving religious Jews visiting the West Bank city of Nablus. For some, that refusal is a badge of honor; for others it is an act of insubordination and treason. A quiet campaign began on Thursday regarding Mr. Zamir's leftist sympathies, to discredit the transcript he publicized.

At the same time, Rabbi Rontzki's numerous sayings and writings have been making the rounds among leftist intellectuals. He has written, for example, that what others call "humanistic values" are simply subjective feelings that should be subordinate to following the law of the Torah.

He has also said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath, when work is prohibited but treating the sick and injured is expected, is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred.

Mr. Halbertal, the Jewish philosopher who opposes the attitude of Rabbi Rontzki, said the divide that is growing in Israel is not only between religious and secular Jews but among the religious themselves. The debate is over three issues - the sanctity of land versus life; the relationship between messianism and Zionism; and the place of non-Jews in a sovereign Jewish state.

[We can see where the government of Israel comes down on that one.]

The religious left argues that the right has made a fetish of the land of Israel instead of letting life take precedence, he said. The religious left also rejects the messianic nature of the right's Zionist discourse, and it argues that Jewish tradition values all life, not primarily Jewish life.

"The right tends to make an equation between authenticity and brutality, as if the idea of humanism were a Western and alien implant to Judaism," he said. "They seem not to know that nationalism and fascism are also Western ideas and that hypernationalism is not Jewish at all."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Israeli military rabbis distributed booklets inciting violence against "gentiles"

Palestininian women
© Ali Ali/EPA
Palestininian women beside the rubble of their
houses. Israeli soldiers were allegedly ordered
to throw furniture out of hom

The Israeli army has been forced to open an investigation into the conduct of its troops in Gaza after damning testimony from its own front line soldiers revealed the killing of civilians and rules of engagement so lax that one combatant said that they amounted on occasion to "cold-blooded murder".

The revelations, compiled by the head of an Israel military academy who declared that he was "shocked" at the findings, come as international rights groups are calling for independent inquiries into the conduct of both sides in the three-week Israeli offensive against Palestinian Islamists.

The soldiers' testimonies include accounts of an unarmed old woman being shot at a distance of 100 yards, a woman and her two children being killed after Israeli soldiers ordered them from their house into the line of fire of a sniper and soldiers clearing houses by shooting anyone they encountered on sight.

"That's the beauty of Gaza. You see a man walking, he doesn't have to have a weapon, and you can shoot him," one soldier told Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy, who asked him why a company commander ordered an elderly woman to be shot.

"I gathered the graduate students of the course who fought in Gaza, to hear their impressions from the fighting. I wasn't prepared for any of the stuff I heard there. I was shocked," Mr Zamir said. "I think that the writing was on the wall, but we just didn't want to see it, we didn't want to face it."

One non-commissioned officer told Mr Zamir, himself a deputy battalion commander in the reserves, that the army "fired a lot of rounds and killed a lot of people in order for us not to be injured or shot at.

"When we entered a house, we were supposed to bust down the door and start shooting inside and just go up storey by storey... I call that murder. Each storey, if we identify a person, we shoot them. I asked myself - how is this reasonable?"

The same unnamed NCO said that his commanding officer ordered soldiers on to a rooftop to shoot an old woman crossing a main street during the fighting, which a Palestinian rights groups said left 1,434 people dead, 960 of them civilians.

"I don't know whether she was suspicious, not suspicious, I don't know her story," the NCO said. "I do know that my officer sent people to the roof in order to take her out... It was cold-blooded murder."

Another NCO recounted a military blunder that led to a mother and her two children being shot dead by an Israeli sniper. "We had taken over the house... and the family was released and told to go right. A mother and two children got confused and went left... The sniper on the roof wasn't told that this was okay and that he shouldn't shoot... you can say he just did what he was told... he was told not to let anyone approach the left flank and he shot at them.

"I don't know whether he first shot at their feet or not, but he killed them," the soldier said.

The soldiers' accounts were submitted anonymously at a meeting at the academy around a month ago. The Israel army said that it had started an investigation, but that this was the first time it had heard such testimony, despite having debriefed troops itself.

Breaking The Silence, an organisation of former soldiers who gather witness accounts from troops in the Palestinian territories, said that its own investigation into Operation Cast Lead, as the war was known in Israel, had revealed a similar picture of the fighting.

"It's definitely in line with what we are hearing," said one of the researchers.

Another disturbing element reported by the soldiers was the role of military rabbis in distributing booklets that framed the fighting as a religious war. "All these articles had a clear message: we are the Jewish people, we have come to the land by miraculous means, and now we have to fight to remove the Gentiles who are getting in our way and preventing us from occupying the Holy Land... a great many soldiers had a feeling throughout this operation of a religious war," said one soldier.

There were also accounts of soldiers being ordered to throw all the furniture out of Palestinians' homes as they were taken over.

"We simply threw everything out the windows to make room and order. The entire contents of the house flew out the windows: refrigerator, plates, furniture. The order was to remove the entire contents of the house."

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released the names of 1,417 Gazans that it says were killed in the war, saying that 926 were civilians. The Israeli Government contends that most of those killed were combatants or legitimate targets.

Monday, March 23, 2009

More IDF "Morality"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

IDF in Gaza: The Fallout Continues

Army veterans reveal how they gunned down innocent Palestinian families and destroyed homes and farms.

Israel confronted a major challenge on Thursday night over the conduct of its 22-day military offensive in Gaza after testimonies by its own soldiers revealed that troops were allowed and, in some cases, even ordered to shoot unarmed Palestinian civilians.

The testimonies - the first of their kind to emerge from inside the military - are at marked variance with official claims that the military made strenuous efforts to avoid civilian casualties and tend to corroborate Palestinian accusations that troops used indiscriminate and disproportionate firepower in civilian areas during the operation. In one of the testimonies shedding harsh new light on what the soldiers say were the permissive rules of engagement for Operation Cast Lead, one soldier describes how an officer ordered the shooting of an elderly woman 100 metres from a house commandeered by troops.

Another soldier, describing how a mother and her children were shot dead by a sniper after they turned the wrong way out of a house, says the "atmosphere" among troops was that the lives of Palestinians were "very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

A squad leader said: "At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and - I call it murder - to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away."

The accounts, which also describe apparently indiscriminate destruction of property, were given at a post-operation discussion by graduates of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military course at the Oranim Academic College in northern Israel. The transcript of the session in front of the head of the course - details from which were published by the newspaper Haaretz - prompted the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military advocate general Avichai Mendelblit yesterday to announce a military police investigation into the claims. Haaretz said the airing of the "dirty secrets" would make it more difficult for Israelis to dismiss the claims as Palestinian propaganda. The course principal, Danny Zamir, told the newspaper that after being "shocked" by the testimonies on 13 February he told the IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi he "feared a serious moral failure" in the IDF.

In one account, an infantry squad leader describes how troops released a family who had been held in a room of their house for several days. He said: "The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn't understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay... The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him. He shot them straight away. I don't think he felt too bad about it, because, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to, the lives of Palestinians, let's say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers."

A second squad leader, who described the killing of the elderly woman, says he argued with his commander over loose rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, soldiers had complained that "we should kill everyone there [in the centre of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist." The squad leader said: "To write 'death to the Arabs' on walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics."

Ehud Barak, Israel's Defence Minister, said: "I say to you that from the chief of staff down to the last soldier, the most moral army in the world stands ready to take orders from the government of Israel. I have no doubt that every incident will be individually examined."

But Israeli human rights organisations, including B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, called for an independent investigation and complained that the military police inquiry had only been announced after Haaretz published the story, "three weeks after the relevant materials reached the Chief of the General Staff. This tardiness follows a pattern of failures to investigate suspicions of serious crimes".

Amos Harel, the paper's respected military correspondent who broke the story, wrote that Mr Zamir was sentenced in 1990 for refusing to guard a settlers' ceremony at Joseph's tomb in the West Bank. But he added that a reading of the transcript shows that Mr Zamir "acts out of a deep concern for the spirit of the IDF".

In their own words: Soldiers' stories

Squad leader Aviv

"At the beginning the directive was to enter a house with an armoured vehicle, to break the door down, to start shooting inside and to ascend floor by floor and - I call it murder - to go from floor to floor and to shoot at everyone we identify. In the beginning I asked myself how could this make sense? Higher-ups said it is permissible because everyone left in the city [Gaza City] is culpable because they didn't run away. This frightened me a bit. I tried to influence it as much as possible, despite my low rank, to change it. In the end the directive was to go into a house, switch on loudspeakers and tell them 'you have five minutes to run away and whoever doesn't will be killed'."

Soldier Ram

"There was an order to free the [confined] families. The platoon commander set free the family and told them to turn right. A mother and two children didn't understand and turned left. [Officers] had forgotten to tell the sniper on the roof that they were being set free and that everything was okay and he should hold fire. You can say that he acted as he was supposed to, in accordance with the orders. The sniper saw a woman and children approaching him, past lines that no one was to be allowed to cross. He fired directly at them. I don't know if he fired at their legs but in the end he killed them."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Retired U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman rips Israel Lobby after backing out of appointment

Retired U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman rips Israel Lobby after backing out of appointment
You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council.

I have concluded that the barrage of libelous distortions of my record would not cease upon my entry into office. The effort to smear me and to destroy my credibility would instead continue. I do not believe the National Intelligence Council could function effectively while its chair was under constant attack by unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country. I agreed to chair the NIC to strengthen it and protect it against politicization, not to introduce it to efforts by a special interest group to assert control over it through a protracted political campaign.

As those who know me are well aware, I have greatly enjoyed life since retiring from government. Nothing was further from my mind than a return to public service. When Admiral Blair asked me to chair the NIC I responded that I understood he was "asking me to give my freedom of speech, my leisure, the greater part of my income, subject myself to the mental colonoscopy of a polygraph, and resume a daily commute to a job with long working hours and a daily ration of political abuse." I added that I wondered "whether there wasn't some sort of downside to this offer." I was mindful that no one is indispensable; I am not an exception. It took weeks of reflection for me to conclude that, given the unprecedentedly challenging circumstances in which our country now finds itself abroad and at home, I had no choice but accept the call to return to public service. I thereupon resigned from all positions that I had held and all activities in which I was engaged. I now look forward to returning to private life, freed of all previous obligations.

I am not so immodest as to believe that this controversy was about me rather than issues of public policy. These issues had little to do with the NIC and were not at the heart of what I hoped to contribute to the quality of analysis available to President Obama and his administration. Still, I am saddened by what the controversy and the manner in which the public vitriol of those who devoted themselves to sustaining it have revealed about the state of our civil society. It is apparent that we Americans cannot any longer conduct a serious public discussion or exercise independent judgment about matters of great importance to our country as well as to our allies and friends.

The libels on me and their easily traceable email trails show conclusively that there is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth. The aim of this Lobby is control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views, the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our government other than those that it favors.

There is a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government - in this case, the government of Israel. I believe that the inability of the American public to discuss, or the government to consider, any option for US policies in the Middle East opposed by the ruling faction in Israeli politics has allowed that faction to adopt and sustain policies that ultimately threaten the existence of the state of Israel. It is not permitted for anyone in the United States to say so. This is not just a tragedy for Israelis and their neighbors in the Middle East; it is doing widening damage to the national security of the United States.

The outrageous agitation that followed the leak of my pending appointment will be seen by many to raise serious questions about whether the Obama administration will be able to make its own decisions about the Middle East and related issues. I regret that my willingness to serve the new administration has ended by casting doubt on its ability to consider, let alone decide what policies might best serve the interests of the United States rather than those of a Lobby intent on enforcing the will and interests of a foreign government.

In the court of public opinion, unlike a court of law, one is guilty until proven innocent. The speeches from which quotations have been lifted from their context are available for anyone interested in the truth to read. The injustice of the accusations made against me has been obvious to those with open minds. Those who have sought to impugn my character are uninterested in any rebuttal that I or anyone else might make.

Still, for the record: I have never sought to be paid or accepted payment from any foreign government, including Saudi Arabia or China, for any service, nor have I ever spoken on behalf of a foreign government, its interests, or its policies. I have never lobbied any branch of our government for any cause, foreign or domestic. I am my own man, no one else's, and with my return to private life, I will once again - to my pleasure - serve no master other than myself. I will continue to speak out as I choose on issues of concern to me and other Americans.

I retain my respect and confidence in President Obama and DNI Blair. Our country now faces terrible challenges abroad as well as at home. Like all patriotic Americans, I continue to pray that our president can successfully lead us in surmounting them.

Comment: It wasn't just a matter of having an "anti-Israel" director of the National Intelligence Council. It looks like AIPAC was terribly afraid that they would be exposed and lose their inside connection to using the NIC as an Israeli propaganda weapon for US policy if Freeman became head of NIC.

As it turns out, the first person to vocalize opposition to his appointment was none other than Steve Rosen, who is on trial for espionage along with Keith Weissman for passing state secrets to Israel.

There seems to be a lot riding on the AIPAC trial, for despite AIPAC's denials that they knew nothing of what Rosen and Weissman were doing, it appears that they are quite afraid of some dirty laundry being aired.
One of the topics AIPAC won't want discussed, say these sources, is how closely it coordinated with Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1990s, when he led the Israeli Likud opposition and later when he was prime minister, to impede the Oslo peace process being pressed by President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

That could not only validate AIPAC's critics, who accuse it of being a branch of the Likud, but also lead to an investigation of violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

"What they don't want out is that even though they publicly sounded like they were supporting the Oslo process, they were working all the time to undermine it," said a well-informed source.
And now isn't it interesting that the first announcement from Israeli Premier-designate, Netanyahu, is not a visit to Obama at the White House, but a trip to Washington to attend an AIPAC conference in May. How many other countries can so blatantly get away with espionage right under the noses of those who's task it is to investigate such criminal activity?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The REAL Cost in Gaza

Palestinian victim Gaza
The Israeli offensive launched on the Gaza Strip between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 resulted in extensive death, injury and destruction throughout the Gaza Strip. Only now is the true extent of the devastation becoming apparent.

The offensive took place in the context of an ongoing international armed conflict and belligerent occupation. International humanitarian law (IHL) lays down stringent, legally-binding, obligations regulating the conduct of hostilities. Of primary relevance is the principle of distinction, which obliges all Parties to the conflict to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants (including civilians). Civilians and civilian objects must be spared the effects of any hostilities to the greatest extent possible. This is the core premise on which IHL is founded. Consequent to this fundamental obligation, IHL also regulates the methods and means used in an attack. In short, all precautions must be taken to restrict any damage and destruction beyond that absolutely required by military necessity.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights' (PCHR) investigations reveal that throughout the course of the assault, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) used excessive, indiscriminate force, in violation of the principle of distinction. This claim is evidenced by the disproportionately high rate of death amongst the civilian population, when compared to that of resistance fighters. IOF also wilfully violated the principle of distinction as a result of their illegal classification of law enforcement officials as combatants. Uniformed units of law enforcement agencies are not considered members of armed forces (combatants), unless explicitly recognised as such.

Over the course of the 22 day Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, a total of 1,434 Palestinians were killed. Of these, 235 were combatants. The vast majority of the dead, however, were civilians and non-combatants: protected persons according to the principles of IHL. PCHR investigations confirm that, in total, 960 civilians lost their lives, including 288 children and 121 women. 239 police officers were also killed; the majority (235) in air strikes carried out on the first day of the attacks. The Ministry of Health have also confirmed that a total of 5,303 Palestinians were injured in the assault, including 1,606 children and 828 women.

The excessively disproportionate civilian death toll, and Israel's conduct of hostilities - including, inter alia, indiscriminate attacks, wilful killing, the extensive destruction of property, target selection, the lack of precautions taken in attack, the excessive use of force, and the use of weapons such as in civilian areas - demand effective judicial redress. Many of the cases documented by PCHR constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and war crimes. The widespread and apparently systematic violations of customary IHL witnessed in the Gaza Strip may also amount to a crime against humanity.

PCHR call on all States to fulfil their legal obligations, as codified in Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to prosecute any persons suspected of committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. All States must enact appropriate legislation to ensure that such persons may be tried in national courts, in accordance with the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Further, PCHR affirm that, if the civilian population are to rebuild their lives and attempt to recover from the devastation wreaked on the Gaza Strip, then borders must be opened: aid and reconstruction material must be allowed into the Gaza Strip. As the Occupying Power, the State of Israel has a legal obligation, codified in the Fourth Geneva Convention, to allow unrestricted humanitarian access. Further, if the resources in the occupied territory are inadequate - as is currently the case in the Gaza Strip - then Article 55 of the Fourth Geneva Convention places a specific obligation on the Occupying Power (Israel) to provide the articles necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the civilian population.

While strongly condemning the actions of the IOF during their offensive on the Gaza Strip, PCHR:
  1. Calls for establishing effective international investigation into crimes committed by IOF against Palestinian civilians, and Israel's conduct of hostilities.

  2. Calls for the prosecution of all political and military officials who are accused of committing war crimes against Palestinian civilians.

  3. Calls for an end to all measures of collective punishment inflicted on the population of the Gaza Strip, including a lifting of the siege, and ensuring the free and safe movement of persons and goods.

  4. Calls upon Israel to fulfil its obligations as the Occupying Power to facilitate unrestricted humanitarian access, and to provide those articles necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the civilian population.

  5. Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to prevent impunity for such crimes, and calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, as well as their obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to search for and prosecute those who are responsible for perpetrating grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Israel: They have no shame

Instead of saying 'sorry' Israel's stooges keep pumping out the poison

In January, while Israel's military was pulverising Gaza for 22 days and nights and incinerating its women and children with phosphor bombs, the Liberal Democrat Party in the UK published an article by its Friends of Israel wing, entitled 'Israel has no option but to defend itself against Hamas and Iran'.

According to this, "Israel is fighting in Gaza to stop the firing of rockets at towns and cities well within Israel's internationally recognised, pre-1967 borders. These rockets are not home-made fireworks; they are sophisticated weapons, which often kill innocent people. They are fired without precision..."

So sophisticated are the rockets, in fact, that only 1 in 400 actually kills somebody. But rockets never were the issue. There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank. Yet the illegal Israeli occupation there continues and so does the ethnic cleansing, the land theft, the illegal settlements, the colonization, the demolition of Palestinian homes, the throttling of the economy, the abduction and 'administrative detention' of civilians and the massive block on freedom of movement. There is no let-up in the oppression of West Bank Palestinians who DO NOT fire rockets, and no sign of an end to their misery.

The bloody assault on Gaza therefore has more to do with Israel's ambition to expand its racial dominance in the Holy Land than crude and erratic rocket-fire. Stroppy Hamas and the unflinching Palestinians holed up in Gaza stand in the way of the Grand Plan and must be removed or totally subdued.

Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, said the Jewish State would stretch "from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates". At the UN Special Committee of Enquiry on 9 July 1947 Rabbi Fischmann, a member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine said in his testimony: "The Promised Land extends from the River of Egypt up to the Euphrates, it includes parts of Syria and Lebanon." A map of 'Greater Israel' presented by the Word Zionist Organization soon after WWI (see here shows the geographical extent of Zionist greed. Gaza and the West Bank are totally engulfed by it.

"The harsh reality is that Israel has no option but to abort this Iranian-backed war machine (including missiles with an ever-longer range) in Gaza," the Liberal Democrat article continues. "Israel is targeting Hamas' rocket-firing capacity and is seeking to limit Palestinian civilian casualties."

'War machine' is a fanciful description. One Israeli soldier dismissed it as a bunch of farmers with rifles who don't even take aim when shooting.

The article claims that Hamas has no interest in peace and no desire for the two-state solution, and is "pledged unequivocally in its 1988 charter to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews."

Hamas's Charter, however correctly points out that "the Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion; it does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end". We have indeed been treated to many demonstrations of those evil methods. As for murder, Israeli Jews have been murdering Palestinians wholesale since 1948 and before. Has Israel ever worked for peace? Has Israel shown any inclination to end its land theft, ethnic cleansing, dispossession and colonization?

A Peace Now report based on data from Israeli government sources reveals that "the ministry of construction and housing is planning to construct at least 73,000 more housing units in the West Bank... at least 15,000 housing units have already been approved and plans for an additional 58,000 housing units are yet to be approved".

Of the units already approved, nearly 9,000 have been built, the report says. "If all the plans are realised, the number of settlers in the territories will be doubled."

Why, you may ask, does a self-respecting political party allow it membership to support and wave the flag for a thuggish, racist entity like Israel, which repeatedly shows itself devoid of decency and lacking in respect for international law and human rights, and has a criminal disregard for everything the Liberal Democrats stand for?

In its constitution the Liberal Democrat party sets a very high moral tone...

- "Liberal Democrats believe that human rights represent fundamental standards of humanity and that all states have a duty to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms..."

- "We are supporters of international law..."

- "Liberal Democrats welcome the extension of international law to hold individuals to account for crimes against humanity." If governments engage in large-scale violations of human rights, or are unable or unwilling to protect their populations from catastrophes, then this responsibility must be fulfilled by the international community..."

- "Liberal Democrats condemn all cases of prolonged detention without charge or trial, which undermines the rule of law and gives scope for the abuse of other human rights."

But the Liberal Democrats are not the worst hypocrites. Conservative and Labour parties have far higher concentrations of Israel stooges spreading poison and besmirching the noble words and sentiments on which the parties were founded.

The ruling Labour party says it is committed to peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all. You wouldn't think so, the way Gordon Brown (and Blair before him) stood back and did nothing while Israel committed horrendous war crimes against Gaza and even now is blocking humanitarian aid to the smoking ruins and devastated population.

And while the ferocity of the Israeli blitz increased William Hague, Conservative shadow foreign secretary, was condemning Hamas's rocket responses as "acts of terrorism". He was careful not to use the T-word to describe Israel's conduct and showed little regard for the plight of Gaza's civilians, his main concern being that if Israel continued the slaughter for too long, Hamas might try to declare victory and there might be trouble on Israel's border with Lebanon.

Two telephone calls to party headquarters failed to produce a copy of the constitution so what the Conservatives actually stand for remains a mystery to me. However, as the killing spree continued over 90 Conservative MPs attended a jolly Friends of Israel reception on the House of Commons terrace.

I'm filing this just as the Viva Palestina convoy threads its way into Gaza, breaking the evil siege. Bravo, everyone who took part! And bravo all those who supported and encouraged the convoy along the route! George Galloway told happy crowds at Rafah that Tony Blair doesn't speak for the British people..."WE DO!"

I would add that neither do Brown, Miliband, Cameron or the rest of the Zionist lackeys at Westminster. They spout their lies. We don't need them. We have a voice of our own.

S Littlewood

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Breaking the Taboo on Israel's Spying Efforts on the United States

Why are we giving these psychos 3 Billion a year in "aid" ???

Blue Ibis

Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the U.S., yet public discussion about it is almost nil.

Scratch a counterintelligence officer in the U.S. government and they'll tell you that Israel is not a friend to the United States.

This is because Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the U.S.. The fact of Israeli penetration into the country is not a subject oft-discussed in the media or in the circles of governance, due to the extreme sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship coupled with the burden of the Israel lobby, which punishes legislators who dare to criticize the Jewish state. The void where the facts should sit is filled instead with the hallucinations of conspiracy theory -- the kind in which, for example, agents of the Mossad, Israel's top intelligence agency, engineer the 9/11 attacks, while 4,000 Israelis in the Twin Towers somehow all get word to escape before the planes hit. The effect, as disturbing as it is ironic, is that the less the truth is addressed, the more noxious the falsity that spreads.
Comment: Interesting that after writing "Israel runs one of the most aggressive and damaging espionage networks targeting the U.S." Mr. Ketcham then writes that the Mossad engineering the 9/11 attacks is hallucinations of conspiracy theory.
Israel's spying on the U.S., however, is a matter of public record, and neither conspiracy nor theory is needed to present the evidence. When the FBI produces its annual report to Congress concerning "Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage," Israel and its intelligence services often feature prominently as a threat second only to China. In 2005 the FBI noted, for example, that Israel maintains "an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States." A key Israeli method, said the FBI report, is computer intrusion. In 1996, the Defense Intelligence Service, a branch of the Pentagon, issued a warning that "the collection of scientific intelligence in the United States [is] the third highest priority of Israeli Intelligence after information on its Arab neighbors and information on secret U.S. policies or decisions relating to Israel." In 1979, the Central Intelligence Agency produced a scathing survey of Israeli intelligence activities that targeted the U.S. government. Like any worthy spy service, Israeli intelligence early on employed wiretaps as an effective tool, according to the CIA report. In 1954, the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv discovered in his office a hidden microphone "planted by the Israelis," and two years later telephone taps were found in the residence of the U.S. military attaché. In a telegram to Washington, the ambassador at the time cabled a warning: "Department must assume that all conversations [in] my office are known to the Israelis." The former ambassador to Qatar, Andrew Killgore, who also served as a foreign officer in Jerusalem and Beirut, told me Israeli taps of U.S. missions and embassies in the Middle East were part of a "standard operating procedure."

According to the 1979 CIA report, the Israelis, while targeting political secrets, also devote "a considerable portion of their covert operations to obtaining scientific and technical intelligence." These operations involved, among other machinations, "attempts to penetrate certain classified defense projects in the United States." The penetrations, according to the CIA report, were effected using "deep cover enterprises," which the report described as "firms and organizations, some specifically created for, or adaptable to, a specific objective." At the time, the CIA singled out government-subsidized companies such as El Al airlines and Zim, the Israeli shipping firm, as deep cover enterprises. Other deep cover operations included the penetration of a U.S. company that provided weapons-grade uranium to the Department of Defense during the 1960s; Israeli agents eventually spirited home an estimated 200 pounds of uranium as the bulwark in Israel's secret nuclear weapons program. Moles have burrowed on Israel's behalf throughout the U.S. intelligence services. Perhaps most infamous was the case of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish-American employed as a civilian analyst with the U.S. Navy who purloined an estimated 800,000 code-word protected documents from inside the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and numerous other U.S. agencies. While Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, counterintelligence investigators at the FBI suspected he was linked to a mole far higher in the food chain, ensconced somewhere in the DIA, but this suspected Israeli operative, nicknamed "Mr. X," was never found. Following the embarrassment of the Pollard affair -- and its devastating effects on U.S. national security, as testified by then Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who allegedly stated that Pollard "should have been shot") -- the Israeli government vowed never again to pursue espionage against its ally and chief benefactor.

Fast-forward a quarter century, and the vow has proven empty. In 2004, the authoritative Jane's Intelligence Group noted that Israel's intelligence organizations "have been spying on the U.S. and running clandestine operations since Israel was established." The former deputy director of counterintelligence at FBI, Harry B. Brandon, last year told Congressional Quarterly magazine that "the Israelis are interested in commercial as much as military secrets. They have a muscular technology sector themselves." According to CQ, "One effective espionage tool is forming joint partnerships with U.S. companies to supply software and other technology products to U.S. government agencies."

Best-selling author James Bamford now adds another twist in this history of infiltration in a book published last October, The Shadow Factory, which forms the latest installment in his trilogy of investigations into the super-secret National Security Agency. Bamford is regarded among journalists and intelligence officers as the nation's expert on the workings of the NSA, whose inner sanctums he first exposed to the public in 1982. (So precise is his reporting that NSA officers once threw him a book party, despite the fact that he continually reveals their secrets.) The agency has come a long way in the half-century since its founding in 1952. Armed with digital technology and handed vast new funding and an almost limitless mandate in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bamford writes, the NSA has today "become the largest, most costly, and most technologically sophisticated spy organization the world has ever known." The NSA touches on every facet of U.S. communications, its mega-computers secretly filtering "millions of phone calls and e-mails" every hour of operation. For those who have followed the revelations of the NSA's "warrantless wiretapping" program in the New York Times in 2005 and the Wall Street Journal last year, what Bamford unveils in The Shadow Factory is only confirmation of the worst fears: "There is now the capacity," he writes of the NSA's tentacular reach into the private lives of Americans, "to make tyranny total."

Much less has been reported about the high-tech Israeli wiretapping firms that service U.S. telecommunications companies, primarily AT&T and Verizon, whose networks serve as the chief conduits for NSA surveillance. Even less is known about the links between those Israeli companies and the Israeli intelligence services. But what Bamford suggests in his book accords with the history of Israeli spying in the U.S.: Through joint partnerships with U.S. telecoms, Israel may be a shadow arm of surveillance among the tentacles of the NSA. In other words, when the NSA violates constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure to vacuum up the contents of your telephone conversations and e-mail traffic, the Israeli intelligence services may be gathering it up too -- a kind of mirror tap that is effectively a two-government-in-one violation.

On its face, the overseas outsourcing of high-tech services would seem de rigueur in a competitive globalized marketplace. Equipment and services from Israel's telecom sector are among the country's prime exports, courtesy of Israeli entrepreneurs who have helped pioneer wireless telephony, voicemail and voice recognition software, instant messaging, phone billing software, and, not least, "communications interception solutions." Israeli telecom interception hardware and software is appraised as some of the best in the world.

By the mid-1990s, Israeli wiretap firms would arrive in the U.S. in a big way. The key to the kingdom was the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was Congress' solution for wiretapping in the digital age. Gone are the days when wiretaps were conducted through on-site tinkering with copper switches. CALEA mandated that telephonic surveillance operate through computers linked directly into the routers and hubs of telecom companies -- a spyware apparatus matched in real-time, all the time, to American telephones and modems. CALEA effectively made spy equipment an inextricable ligature in telephonic life. Without CALEA, the NSA in its spectacular surveillance exploits could not have succeeded.

AT&T and Verizon, which together manage as much as 90 percent of the nation's communications traffic, contracted with Israeli firms in order to comply with CALEA. AT&T employed the services of Narus Inc., which was founded in Israel in 1997. It was Narus technology that AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, a 22-year technician with the company, famously unveiled in a 2006 affidavit that described the operations in AT&T's secret tapping room at its San Francisco facilities. (Klein's affidavit formed the gravamen of a lawsuit against AT&T mounted by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, but the lawsuit died when Congress passed the telecom immunity bill last year.) According to Klein, the Narus supercomputer, the STA 6400, was "known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets." The Narus system, which was maintained by Narus technicans, also provided a real-time mirror image of all data streaming through AT&T routers, an image to be rerouted into the computers of the NSA.

According to Jim Bamford, who cites knowledgeable sources, Verizon's eavesdropping program is run by a competing Israeli firm called Verint, a subsidiary of Comverse Technology, which was founded by a former Israeli intelligence officer in 1984. Incorporated in New York and Tel Aviv, Comverse is effectively an arm of the Israeli government: 50 percent of its R&D costs are reimbursed by the Israeli Ministry of Industry and Trade. The Verint technology deployed throughout Verizon's network, known as STAR-GATE, boasts an array of Orwellian capabilities. "With STAR-GATE, service providers can access communications on virtually any type of network," according to the company's literature. "Designed to manage vast numbers of targets, concurrent sessions, call data records, and communications, STAR-GATE transparently accesses targeted communications without alerting subscribers or disrupting service." As with the Narus system, the point is to be able to tap into communications unobtrusively, in real time, all the time. A Verint spinoff firm, PerSay, takes the tap to the next stage, deploying "advanced voice mining," which singles out "a target's voice within a large volume of intercepted calls, regardless of the conversation content or method of communication." Verint's interception systems have gone global since the late 1990s, and sales in 2006 reached $374 million (a doubling of its revenues over 2003). More than 5,000 organizations -- mostly intelligence services and police units -- in at least 100 countries today use Verint technology.

What troubles Bamford is that executives and directors at companies like Narus and Verint formerly worked at or maintain close connections with the Israeli intelligence services, including Mossad; the internal security agency Shin Bet; and the Israeli version of the NSA, Unit 8200, an arm of the Israeli Defense Forces Intelligence Corps. Unit 8200, which Bamford describes as "hypersecret," is a key player in the eavesdropping industrial complex in Israel, its retired personnel dispersed throughout dozens of companies. According to Ha'aretz, the Israeli daily, "Many of the [eavesdropping] technologies in use around the world and developed in Israel were originally military technologies and were developed and improved by [Unit 8200] veterans." A former commander of Unit 8200, cited by Bamford, states that Verint technology was "directly influenced by 8200 technology....[Verint parent company] Comverse's main product, the Logger, is based on the Unit's technology." The implications for U.S. national security, writes Bamford, are "unnerving." "Virtually the entire American telecommunications system," he avers, "is bugged by [Israeli-formed] companies with possible ties to Israel's eavesdropping agency." Congress, he says, maintains no oversight of these companies' operations, and even their contracts with U.S. telecoms -- contracts pivotal to NSA surveillance -- are considered trade secrets and go undisclosed in company statements.

U.S. intelligence officers have not been quiet in their concerns about Verint (I reported on this matter in last September). "Phone calls are intercepted, recorded, and transmitted to U.S. investigators by Verint, which claims that it has to be 'hands on' with its equipment to maintain the system," says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi. The "hands on" factor is what bothers Giraldi, specifically because of the possibility of a "trojan" embedded in Verint wiretap software. A trojan in information security hardware/software is a backdoor that can be accessed remotely by parties who normally would not have access to the secure system. Allegations of widespread trojan spying have rocked the Israeli business community in recent years. "Top Israeli blue chip companies," reported the AP in 2005, "are suspected of using illicit surveillance software to steal information from their rivals and enemies." Over 40 companies have come under scrutiny. "It is the largest cybercrime case in Israeli history," Boaz Guttmann, a veteran cybercrimes investigator with the Israeli national police, told me. "Trojan horse espionage is part of the way of life of companies in Israel. It's a culture of spying."

In a wide-ranging four-part investigation into Israel-linked espionage that aired in December 2001, Carl Cameron, a correspondent at Fox News Channel, reported the distress among U.S. intelligence officials warning about possible trojans cached in Verint technology. Sources told Cameron that "while various FBI inquiries into [Verint] have been conducted over the years," the inquiries had "been halted before the actual equipment has ever been thoroughly tested for leaks." Cameron also cited a 1999 internal FCC document indicating that "several government agencies expressed deep concerns that too many unauthorized non-law enforcement personnel can access the wiretap system." Much of this access was facilitated through "remote maintenance."

The Fox News report reverberated throughout U.S. law enforcement, particularly at the Drug Enforcement Agency, which makes extensive use of wiretaps for narcotics interdiction. Security officers at DEA, an adjunct of the Justice Department, began examining the agency's own relationship with Comverse/Verint. In 1997, DEA had transformed its wiretap infrastructure with the $25 million procurement from Comverse/Verint of a technology called "T2S2" -- "translation and transcription support services" -- with Comverse/Verint contracted to provide the hardware and software. The company was also tasked with "support services, training, upgrades, enhancements and options throughout the life of the contract," according to the DEA's "contracts and acquisitions" notice. In the wake of the Fox News investigation, however, the director of security programs at DEA, Heidi Raffanello, was rattled enough to issue an internal communiqué on the matter, dated Dec. 18, 2001. Directly referencing Fox News, she worried that "Comverse remote maintenance" was "not addressed in the C&A [contracts and acquisitions] process....It remains unclear if Comverse personnel are security cleared, and if so, who are they and what type of clearances are on record....Bottom line we should have caught it." It is not known what resulted from DEA's review of the issue of remote maintenance and access by Comverse/Verint.

Bamford devotes a portion of his argument to the detailing of the operations of a third Israeli wiretap company, NICE Systems, which he describes as "a major eavesdropper in the U.S." that "keeps its government and commercial client list very secret." Formed in 1986 by seven veterans of Unit 8200, NICE software "captures voice, email, chat, screen activity, and essential call details," while offering "audio compression technology that performs continuous recordings of up to thousands of analog and digital telephone lines and radio channels." NICE Systems has on at least one occasion shown up on the radar of U.S. counterintelligence. During 2000-2001, when agents at the FBI and the CIA began investigating allegations that Israeli nationals posing as "art students" were in fact conducting espionage on U.S. soil, one of the Israeli "art students" was discovered to be an employee with NICE Systems. Among the targets of the art students were facilities and offices of the Drug Enforcement Agency nationwide. The same Israeli employee of NICE Systems, who was identified as a former operative in the Israeli intelligence services, was carrying a disk that contained a file labeled "DEA Groups." U.S. counterintelligence officers concluded it was a highly suspicious nexus: An Israeli national and alleged spy was working for an Israeli wiretap company while carrying in his possession computer information regarding the Drug Enforcement Agency -- at the same time this Israeli was conducting what the DEA described as "intelligence gathering" about DEA facilities.


A former senior counterintelligence official in the Bush administration told me that as early as 1999, "CIA was very concerned about [Israeli wiretapping companies]" -- Verint in particular. "I know that CIA has tried to monitor what the Israelis were doing -- technically watch what they were doing on the networks in terms of remote access. Other countries were concerned as well," said the intelligence official. Jim Bamford, who notes that Verint "can automatically access the mega-terabytes of stored and real-time data secretly and remotely from anywhere," reports that Australian lawmakers in 2004 held hearings on this remote monitoring capability. "[Y]ou can access data from overseas," the lawmakers told a Verint representative during the hearings, "but [the legislature] seems restricted to access data within that system." The Australians found this astonishing. In 2000, the Canadian intelligence service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, conducted "a probe related to allegations that [Israeli] spies used rigged software to hack into Canada's top secret intelligence files," according to an article in the Toronto Star. Several sources in the U.S. intelligence community told me the Canadians liaised with their American counterparts to try to understand the problem. According to the Bush administration official who spoke with me, "the Dutch also had come to the CIA very concerned about what the Israelis were doing with this." The Dutch intelligence service, under contract with Verint, "had discovered strange things were going on -- there was activity on the network, the Israelis uploading and downloading stuff out of the switches, remotely, and apparently using it for their own wiretap purposes. The CIA was very embarrassed to say, 'We have the same problem.' But the CIA didn't have an answer for them. 'We hear you, we're surprised, and we understand your concern.'" Indeed, sources in the Dutch counterintelligence community in 2002 claimed there was "strong evidence that the Israeli secret service has uncontrolled access to confidential tapping data collected by the Dutch police and intelligence services," according to the Dutch broadcast radio station Evangelische Omroep (EO). In January 2003, the respected Dutch technology and computing magazine, C'T, ran a follow-up to the EO story, headlined "Dutch Tapping Room not Kosher." The article states: "All tapping equipment of the Dutch intelligence services and half the tapping equipment of the national police force [is] insecure and is leaking information to Israel."

"The key to this whole thing is that Australian meeting," Bamford told me in a recent interview. "They accused Verint of remote access and Verint said they won't do it again -- which implies they were doing it in the past. It's a matter of a backdoor into the system, and those backdoors should not be allowed to exist. You can tell by the Australian example that it was certainly a concern of Australian lawmakers."

Congress doesn't seem to share the concern. "Part of the responsibility of Congress," says Bamford, "is not just to oversee the intelligence community but to look into the companies with which the intelligence community contracts. They're just very sloppy about this." According to the Bush administration intelligence official who spoke with me, "Frustratingly, I did not get the sense that our government was stepping up to this and grasping the bull by the horns." Another former high level U.S. intelligence official told me, "The fact of the vulnerability of our telecom backbone is indisputable. How it came to pass, why nothing has been done, who has done what -- these are the incendiary questions." There is also the fundamental fact that the wiretap technologies implemented by Verint, Narus and other Israeli companies are fully in place and no alternative is on the horizon. "There is a technical path dependence problem," says the Bush administration official. "I have been told nobody else makes software like this for the big digital switches, so that is part of the problem. Other issues," he adds, "compound the problem" -- referring to the sensitivity of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

And that, of course, is the elephant in the room. "Whether it's a Democratic or Republican administration, you don't bad-mouth Israel if you want to get ahead," says former CIA counterterrorism officer Philip Giraldi. "Most of the people in the agency were very concerned about Israeli espionage and Israeli actions against U.S. interests. Everybody was aware of it. Everybody hated it. But they wouldn't get promoted if they spoke out. Israel has a privileged position and that's the way things are. It's crazy. And everybody knows it's crazy."

Christopher Ketcham writes for Vanity Fair, Harper's, GQ and many other magazines. He is working on a book about the history of Israeli espionage in the United States. He can be reached at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Slip Had to Happen Eventually: Whoops, Israel's got Nukes

Okay, the cat's out of the bag. Now, can we drop the charade of "poor 'lil defenceless Israel" who needs 3 BILLION (with a 'b') A YEAR from the US in military handouts? They seem to be doing just fine now, thank you. Back in the here we need to spend on a few other things, like oh, decent schools, maybe a few bridges that won't fall down, support for housing and that's just the start.

Blue Ibis

U.S. Army document describes Israel as 'a nuclear power'
In a rare breach of official American adherence to Israel's policy of nuclear ambiguity, the U.S. military is terming Israel "a nuclear power" on a par with Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea, all of which have declared their nuclear weapon status, and ahead of "nuclear threshold powers" Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the "emerging" Iran.

The reference to Israel as a nuclear power is contained in a document published late last year by the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the Norfolk, Virginia-based headquarters in charge of preparing American forces for their military missions worldwide, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. JFCOM's chief, U.S. Marine Corps Four-Star General James Mattis, also heads NATO's Allied Command Transformation.

Israel's nuclear program is rarely, if ever, explicitly mentioned in public, unclassified U.S. official documents. Classified assessments are usually published only years later, in response to Freedom of Information requests, in former officials' recollections or as part of historical research. It is virtually unheard of for a senior military commander, while in office, to refer to Israel's nuclear status.

[Nothing in politics (war is political after all) happens by accident. A message is being sent.]

In December 2006, during his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates referred to Israel as one of the powers seen by Iran as surrounding it with nuclear weapons. But once in office, Gates refused to repeat this allusion to Israel, noting that when he used it he was "a private citizen."

JFCOM's "Joint Operating Environment" (JOE) document, with a forward by Mattis and drafted by a team of officers and civilians he selected, was signed in mid-November 2008 and posted on the Pentagon's Web site. It has generated protests by the governments of Mexico - whose potential collapse is depicted as a grave threat to U.S. national security - and South Korea, which resented the reference to North Korea as a nuclear power. Following the Korean controversy, JFCOM issued a clarification, noting that this reference does not reflect U.S. government policy, which has vowed never to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

Asian arsenals

Regarding Israel, the JOE document warns of the danger of nuclear exchanges between countries in and around Asia. It notes that India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals and delivery systems, that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and has enough fissile material to produce more nuclear weapons, and that Iran is "driving forward aggressively" toward its nuclear goals, unchecked by the international community's "confused reaction." This could serve as a proliferation incentive for other countries, the document warns.

"In effect," the document continues, "there is a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India and on to China, North Korea and Russia in the east. Unfortunately, that nuclear arc coincides with areas of considerable instability [which] are of enormous interest to the United States."

[Read oil & gas fields to control, plus this is where they want to put pressure on Russia]

General Mattis, a tough, thinking marine with several friends in the Israel Defense Forces, including a former military college classmate (retired Major-General Shai Avital, a former commanding officer of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit), conferred with Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in NATO's Brussels headquarters last November, within days of signing the JOE document.

Mattis condemned the U.S. Air Force's "Effects Based Operations" approach to warfare, as employed by the IDF in the Second Lebanon War of 2006, citing lessons learned reported by IDF officers "in a very blunt way," as he recalled in a Washington speech last month. He praised the courage shown by Israeli soldiers, but noted that being brave is not enough to stop a rocket-propelled grenade.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Israeli troops open fire on Palestinian women outside mosque

The scene near a mosque in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun after Israeli troops opened fire on a group of Palestinian women, killing one of them (see here) and injuring 10 others. The mosque had been the scene of an Israeli siege after a group of men, presumed to be armed, took refuge there. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters

This story should come as no surprise to anyone. Successive Israeli governments have given ample evidence over the past 60 years that, in their opinion, Palestinian life is worth little more than that of the animals that extreme orthodox Jews sacrifice to their destroyer god "Yahweh". Indeed, at least on a symbolic level, the murder of Palestinian men, women and children by Israeli soldiers is seen by Zionists as a similar type of blood offering to the all-too-human "god" that "promised them Palestine" 2,500 years ago.

With such callous disregard for the life of other human beings, what does anyone expect the end result of the manufactured "Middle East crisis" to be, other than the murder of probably millions of innocent people, Arabs and Jews alike, with only the Zionist leaders escaping unscathed, as always.
A Palestinian woman

was killed and another 10 were reported wounded when Israeli forces today opened fire on a group preparing to act as a human shield for "militants" in a Gaza mosque.

Dozens of women were gathering outside the mosque in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip after an appeal on a local radio station. At least a dozen gunmen had taken refuge in the building after the Israeli army launched its largest Gaza offensive in months in an attempt to stop militants launching rocket attacks on nearby Jewish settlements over the border.

Television pictures showed at least 50 women making their way along a pavement when shots could be heard ringing out. They started to flee in terror and at least two women were left lying on the ground.

Witnesses said one woman, aged about 40, was killed, and 10 others were wounded. The Israeli army said troops spotted two militants hiding in the crowd of women and opened fire.

Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers surrounded the building when militants took refuge there after two days of fighting, the Israeli military and Palestinian security officials said. A large group of women protesters went on to gather outside the mosque. An unidentified number of militants escaped while the demonstration was going on, but some remained inside, the Israeli army and Hamas said.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man was also killed in the northern town, which troops seized on Wednesday.

Overnight, the two sides exchanged fire. Troops also threw stun and smoke grenades into the mosque to pressure the gunmen to surrender. Witnesses said an Israeli army bulldozer knocked down an outer wall of the mosque. It was not clear if there were any casualties inside.

Residents said Beit Hanoun, a town of 30,000 people, was effectively under full Israeli control, with a curfew imposed.

The army said it targeted Beit Hanoun because it was a major staging ground for rocket attacks. But Israeli officials have said the takeover of Beit Hanoun was expected to last only a few days and did not signal the start of a wider-scale military offensive in Gaza.

Militants, however, continued to fire rockets at Israeli border communities, including two that landed on Friday. Two Israelis were slightly wounded and a house was damaged in the latest attacks.

In a separate operation last night, an Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City killed three Hamas fighters, including a local militant commander, witnesses said. An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed the strike.
In the various news reports on this story, the men that the women were attempting to protect are described as "militants" or "gunmen", yet the Israeli soldiers are only ever referred to as "soldiers". The term "militants" has a clear negative connotation, which has been deliberately fomented by the Israeli propaganda machine over the past few years to the point that it is synonymous with "terrorist". Palestinians, you see, are not allowed to carry or use guns in defence of their lives. If they do, they are "terrorists". Israeli soldiers, on the other hand, are free to murder and maim at will, safe in the knowledge that they will be lauded as heroes. Why? Because the Israeli government and the controlled Western media says so, and you believe it.

If, however, you retain an essence of your own decency and humanity, you cannot but understand that these Palestinian men are, first and foremost, the fathers, husbands, sons and brothers of the women who attempted to protect them, men who were taking a stand and attempting to halt the ongoing murder of innocent Palestinian civilians that is the hallmark of every Israeli incursion into beleaguered and terrorized Gaza.