Friday, 26 March 2010

Israel and Aid



Nader.org

On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”

Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.


What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.


In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.


Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.


The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?


Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.


Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”


Violations would lead to a cut-off in aid but with the completely pro-Israel climate in Washington, the White House has never allowed such findings to be definitive.


The same indifference applies to violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits aid to countries engaging in consistent international human rights violations. These include the occupation, colonization, blockades and military assaults on civilians in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, regularly documented by the highly regarded Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.


This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.


The affront infuriated New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, who wrote that Mr. Biden should have packed his bags and flown away leaving behind a scribbled note saying “You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality.”


Friedman, a former Times Middle East correspondent, concluded his rebuke by writing: “Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find.”


But until a few days ago, the U.S. government had no levers over the Israeli government. Cutting off aid isn’t even whispered in the halls of Congress. Raising the issue would further galvanize Israel’s allies, including AIPAC.


The only lever left for the U.S. suddenly erupted into the public media a few days ago. General David Petraeus told the Senate that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has foreign policy and national security ramifications for the United States.


He said that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the Area of Responsibility…Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and other military groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”


A few days earlier, Vice President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel that “what you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”


What Obama’s people are publically starting to say is that regional peace is about U.S. vital interests in that large part of the Middle East and, ultimately, the safety of American soldiers and personnel.


As one retired diplomat commented “This could be a game-changer.”
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Israel's inclusion in economic organization a threat to democracy

Shir Hever, The Electronic Intifada, 25 March 2010
Membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which includes 30 of the world's most developed countries, does not provide money or any special economic benefits. Yet it is easy to see why the Israeli government attributes great importance to Israel becoming one of its members. For Israel, membership in the OECD would mean a victory of legitimacy, and a major setback for the worldwide movement calling on Israel to be held accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people. Only democratic countries are allowed to join the OECD. With 35 percent of the population under Israel's control and sovereignty disenfranchised, denied their basic human and civil rights and repeatedly attacked by the Israeli army, Israel is finding it increasingly difficult to portray itself as a democracy.

What appears less obvious is why the member countries would want to include Israel in the OECD. Israel's membership would be a confirmation of Israeli policies, thus eroding the organization's prestige while undermining the efforts of these very same countries to achieve peace in the Middle East. The OECD would be inviting the world to see how it prefers to ignore the crimes committed by Israel, and reward it instead. This would do no less than feed into the argument of extremists who claim that only violence can safeguard the rights of occupied Palestinians.

Ironically, however, the OECD seems to be working harder than Israel to facilitate the latter's acceptance, which is expected to occur in May. Israel has refused to comply with the OECD demand to provide statistical data which applies only to the internationally-recognized parts of Israel, excluding the illegal settlements in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Yet despite Israel's refusal, the OECD's Committee on Statistics is acting to find ways to accept Israel anyway.

According to a leaked report, "Ascension of Israel to the Organization: Draft Formal Opinions of the Committee on Statistics" (
download the PDF), the committee proposes to accept Israel based on the statistics currently available, which includes Israeli citizens in the OPT. However, it requests that Israel provide more detailed statistical data which will allow the OECD to conduct its own calculation in order to separate the OPT data from that of Israel. However, Israel will only commit to provide this data after it becomes a member of the organization. Yet as soon as Israel becomes a member, it will have the right to veto this decision, rendering the commitment an empty statement.

It should be noted that in this way the OECD is adopting the Israeli approach -- an approach that eliminates the Palestinians and Israel's effective sovereignty over the OPT, and focuses solely on Israeli citizens. This approach is tantamount to recognizing Israel's illegal occupation, which stands in direct contradiction to international law and the foreign policies of virtually all OECD countries.

It should also be noted that the OECD takes decisions by consensus. It only takes one OECD country to oppose the integration of Israel into the organization in order to block the process. So far, not a single OECD country has voiced its intention to vote against including Israel in the organization.

The reason for that is twofold. First, there is the usual fear that any country (especially a European country), that voices its objection to Israel's joining the OECD will be accused of anti-Semitism. Israel enjoys the unflinching support of the United States, and few European politicians have the courage to take a moral stand against either Washington or Israel.

Second, right-wing parties around the world see Israel as the Mecca of anti-immigration policies, Islamophobia and the "war on terror." With every new line that Israel crosses in abusing the human and national rights of Palestinians, right-wing parties are emboldened to deepen their own politics of hatred toward immigrants. If Israel conducts extra-judicial assassinations, why won't other countries be allowed to do the same? If Israel installs surveillance mechanisms that invade the privacy of its citizens, what would stop other countries from doing so also? Legitimizing Israel by inviting and facilitating its ascension to the OECD is thus a tool to legitimize the extreme measures promoted by far-right parties in Europe, which are eager to do away with democratic mechanisms and human rights of minorities in the name of nationalism and "security."

European law clearly forbids European countries from recognizing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, as has been
affirmed by the Russell Tribunal. Yet by granting Israel membership in the OECD, they will be doing exactly that. OECD members will knowingly accept Israel to the organization based on deceptive statistics provided by the latter, statistics which conceal the occupation while simultaneously treating it as a permanent fact.

Israel's acceptance into the OECD would be a grave mistake. It will reward violations of international law, feed the extreme right wing which is growing in developed countries and render all OECD countries as accomplices in Israel's illegal occupation.

Shir Hever is an economist at the Alternative Information Center.
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Covering up American War Crimes, From Baghdad to New York

Did You Know

By Charles Glass
March 25, 2010

BBC correspondent John Simpson reported on March 4 that the number of defects in newborn babies in the Iraqi town of Fallujah had risen dramatically since the American assault there at the end of 2004. Some people in the town blame the abnormalities in their children on whatever chemicals the US Marines may have used in their conquest of the Sunni Muslim redoubt. Dr. Samira al-Ani, a paediatrician at Fallujah’s General Hospital, told Simpson that two or three children were born each day with serious cardiac problems. Before the first American attack on Fallujah in two years earlier, she noticed similar ailments in one baby every two months. “I have nothing documented,” she admitted, “but I can tell you that year by year the number [is] increasing.”
The Iraqi government, which supported the American attack with troops of its own, denies there has been any increase. “The US military authorities,” Simpson said, “are absolutely correct when they say they are not aware of any official reports indicating an increase in birth defects in Fallujah—no official reports exist.” Nor are any likely to. By any standard, though, this was a big story. John Simpson is a serious journalist and a friend, and I listened carefully to his report that morning on the BBC World Service. I waited in vain for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other serious American journals to take up the story. All I read was a brief item on the CBS News website quoting Simpson.
“The US government does not want it known that it was using chemicals on human beings in a country whose leader it overthrew ostensibly because he retained the capacity to do the same thing.”

The US denied it anyway, perhaps out of habit. Military spokesman Michael Fitzpatrick responded predictably, “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues.” But, as Simpson said, there have not been any studies. American spokesmen were reluctantly forced to admit the use of White Phosphorous—or Willie Pete, as the troops call it—in Fallujah when someone noticed that Field Artillery Magazine, a U. S. Army publication, had already documented its deployment in its March/April 2005 edition. The magazine wrote, “We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP [White Phosphorous] to flush them out and HE [High Explosives] to take them out.” After Dahr Jamail, a brilliant freelance journalist, reported during the battle in 2004 that American forces were using WP on Iraqis, Project Censored gave him an award for the second most under-reported story of the year. It is still under-reported, but it is not difficult to understand why. The US government does not want it known that it was using chemicals on human beings in a country whose leader it overthrew ostensibly because he retained the capacity to do the same thing. And the US Treasury does not want to compensate foreigners for any harm its troops might have done. Let us turn now to New York and what has become the secular-sacred site of the former World Trade Center.
The government this month finally settled claims by 10,000 workers on the Ground Zero clean-up by agreeing to pay $657.5 million for the debilitating effects of the asbestos and other poisons they were exposed to. That’s an average of $65,750 a head, less the lawyers’ share. It doesn’t sound like much, but they’re doing better than anyone in Fallujah. There are precedents for government resistance to admitting responsibility. American Vietnam veterans crippled by the dioxin they dropped all over Vietnam waited many years for the government to acknowledge their plight. At first, the government resisted the connection between dioxin and the veterans’ cancer, Parkinson’s, and other fatal illnesses. By the time the government paid anything, the vets were observing that their children were being born with severe birth defects from dioxin in Agent Orange and other herbicides unleashed on the South Vietnamese countryside. Their children’s congenital deformities included spina bifida and other horrors that may go for generations to come. The Department of Veterans Affairs didn’t send them any money until 2003—thirty years after the last barrel of poison was dropped on Vietnam. Even that was restricted to 7,520 of the 99,226 veterans who claimed to have been affected.
While dioxin disabled thousands of American service personnel who merely handled it, as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese endured twenty-eight million gallons of toxic rain that drenched their skins, soaked their soil, and polluted their rivers and groundwater for ten years. As with the American war vets, then-unborn children were also affected. Vietnam has one of the world’s highest levels of birth defects, concentrated in the south where the American forced deployed most of the chemicals. Five children out of one hundred are born with serious abnormalities, including missing limbs, spina bifida, twisted or missing internal organs and grotesque malformations that have made their survival impossible. While reluctantly accepting a link between dioxin and birth defects in American service personnel’s children, the US denies any connection when it comes to Vietnamese. I guess it’s just one of those strange anomalies that nature throws up every so often, like Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates’ observation that the disproportion in African-American deaths from the police choking was due to the fact that “blacks might be more likely to die from chokeholds because their arteries do not open as fast as they do on ‘normal people’.” Perhaps Vietnamese born after 1961, when Operation Ranch Hand to defoliate South Vietnam began, were just not normal anyway.
The abnormal people of Iraq remember that the US denied Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons on its Kurdish citizens. In those days, Saddam was an American ally. When freelance journalist Gwynne Roberts brought back the soil samples from Hallabja that proved Saddam has gassed the Kurds, the US blamed the Iranians. That assessment became inoperative when condemning Saddam was politically useful. Now that the US has been caught using chemicals in the same country that the monster Saddam did, it admits using them on “insurgents” but not on civilians. It is hard in a city to blast chemicals at the people with guns and miss those who don’t have any. No matter. The US and Iraqi governments are blocking an investigation that would prove one way or another that White Phosphorous did any harm to Iraqi mothers and their children. It’s unlikely they’ll receive a cent for the next fifty years, if ever. But why the hell isn’t this a big story?
Source
There are a number of links to stories about the US and toxic poisoning of countries they have been in including Iraq.  One link has pictures of victims of White Phosphorous.  Not very pretty.

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

A few more War Crimes. Many teachers were murdered as well.

Destroying Educational Institutions or Using Them For Military Purposes Is A War Crime

Have a Nice World War, Folks

March 25 2010
The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa. In preparation for an attack on Iran, American missiles have been placed in four Persian Gulf states, and “bunker-buster” bombs are said to be arriving at the US base on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
In Gaza, the sick and abandoned population, mostly children, is being entombed behind underground American-supplied walls in order to reinforce a criminal siege. In Latin America, the Obama administration has secured seven bases in Colombia, from which to wage a war of attrition against the popular democracies in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay. Meanwhile, the secretary of “defence” Robert Gates complains that “the general [European] public and the political class” are so opposed to war they are an “impediment” to peace.
I guess they really like war,  torturing and murdering innocent people.
They just recently had people in 150 cities across the US protesting against War. Maybe they should listen to the people instead of the war machine.
The US Government must stop creating more needless wars and end the ones they are in.
http://www.workers.org/2010/us/antiwar_0401/
http://www.thecorsaironline.com/opinion/anit-war-protestors-urge-soldiers-to-resist-deployment-1.1277316
Not only do they cover up their own war crimes they attempt to  cover up
Israels war crimes as well. They help
Israel commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, with money and weapons of mass destruction.

Birds of a feather.
More than 250 Congress Members Declare Commitment to ‘Unbreakable’ U.S.-Israel Bond
By Natasha Mozgavaya,
More than 250 members of Congress have signed on to a declaration reaffirming their commitment to “the unbreakable bond that exists between [U.S.] and the State of Israel”, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Source
Obama Squeezed Between Israel and Iran
By Pepe Escobar
The AIPAC 2010 show predictably was yet one more “bomb Iran” special; but it was also a call to arms against the Barack Obama administration, as far as the turbo-charging of the illegal colonization of East Jerusalem is concerned.
Source





Judea Declares War On Obama
By Gilad Atzmon
Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.
Source
Israeli Intelligence, Our Constant Companion
By Jeff Stein
Acting on a complaint that the document was circulating on Capitol Hill, the FBI discovered that an Israeli diplomat had acquired the paper and given it to officials at AIPAC, the lobbying group whose annual convention drew both Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week.
Source



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Published in:
 on March 26, 2010 at 6:43 am Leave a Comment
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Thirsty for justice


Mona El-Farra writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 25 March 2010

Palestinian children wait to fill up water in the Gaza Strip. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

Toni Morrison once wrote "All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was." I feel it is the same for Palestinian refugees, who have struggled for decades for their right to return home. I thought of this connection between water and refugees during a recent meeting about the Middle East Children's Alliance's (MECA) Maia Project with Aidan O'Leary, Deputy Director of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) Operations in Gaza.

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. We are working with UNRWA to install locally-made water purification and desalination units in their schools. Mr. O'Leary expressed his total appreciation for the Maia Project and stressed that providing clean drinking water to children is among the highest priorities and needs for Gaza schools. Mr. John Ging, UNRWA's Director of Operations in Gaza, also expressed his admiration for the Maia Project.

The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate under Israeli military occupation and siege. The refugees are often the hardest hit by rising unemployment and poverty. Access to clean water is one of the many basic needs that UNRWA is no longer able to meet. A recent UNRWA report states that the most common infectious diseases affecting Palestinian refugees in Gaza -- who make up more than three-quarters of the population -- are directly related to inadequate supplies of safe water and poor sanitation: diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea and viral hepatitis.

Creating a positive impact on children's health is the main goal of the Maia Project, and working on water access when you live in Gaza is self-explanatory. The reality is that tap water in Gaza is undrinkable due to its bad quality and contamination. At best, when you have access to a running tap, the water is not clean and is very salty. Our daily water consumption averages around 78 liters a day per person, while Israelis average over 300 liters each, more than four times as much. Israel is under increasing scrutiny by international organizations including Amnesty International for "denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies."

We move to help the children as quickly as we can. Children in Gaza will have the chance to drink clean and soft water, but only at the rate in which we can implement the Maia Project. And we race against time. The UN estimates that Gaza will have no drinking water in the next 15 years.

Water is life, but here in Gaza it can also bring death. Numerous military attacks on the Gaza Strip have devastated Gaza's water infrastructure. Israel's twenty-two day assault last winter destroyed or rendered unusable an estimated 800 of Gaza's 2,000 wells, and caused $5.97 million in damage to our water and wastewater treatment facilities. Since January 2009, the Gaza Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have issued drinking, seafood and swimming advisories.

We yearn for our water and our freedoms to return to us. We roll up our sleeves and hope for rain, the kind of rain that floods the hearts and minds of those who hunger and thirst for justice.

Here in Gaza, we are still thirsty.

Mona El-Farra is a physician by training and a human rights and women's rights activist in practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. Her blog is From Gaza, with Love.
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

The Undue Influence of the Israel Lobby

Via Pulse

by Jeffrey Blankfort

Despite the repeated humiliations suffered during his recent visit to Israel, US Vice President Joe Biden continued to grovel publicly to his Israeli hosts. Yet, according to Yediot Ahronoth, Israel’s most widely read newspaper, Biden had privately complained to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s behavior was “starting to get dangerous for us.” “What you’re doing here,” he reportedly said, “undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.” That Biden made such a statement has been denied by the White House, but it follows closely an earlier memorandum sent by General Petraeus to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his testimony before a US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
In his prepared statement, Petraeus depicted the Israeli-Arab conflict as the first “cross cutting challenge to security and stability” in the CENTCOM area of responsibility [AOR]. “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR.”

Treading in an area where few members of the US military have dared to go before, Petraeus observed that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.” It should be noted that neither the New York Times’s Elizabeth Bumiller nor the Washington Post’s Anne Flaherty included any reference to these comments by Petraeus in their coverage of his testimony.

In other words, in the view of Gen. Petraeus, resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict is critical to the US national interest and that, plus his reference to the “perception” of Washington’s pro-Israel bias, is what may have been what, for the moment, occasioned President Obama through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ratchet up the criticism and publicly brand Israel’s treatment of Biden as “insulting.”
Rather than letting the issue die, she had her office publicize the fact that she had given a piece of her mind to Netanyahu in a 43 minute phone call in which, according to her spokesperson, P.J. Crowley, she described the planned units in East Jerusalem as sending a “deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president’s trip” and that “this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests.”
Moreover, she made three demands of Netanyahu that were spelled out in the Israeli press but which were only alluded to in the US media: cancelling the decision to approve the 1600 units, making a “significant” gesture to the Palestinian Authority to get it back to the bargaining table, and issuing a public statement that the indirect talks will deal with all the core issues, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees. Pretty heady stuff for those used to see Clinton falling all over herself to show her loyalty to Israel.

To emphasize the US position, the Obama administration cancelled the scheduled visit of Middle East envoy George Mitchell who had planned to meet with Israelis and Palestinians in what had been touted by the administration as “proximity talks.”

The gravity of the situation was not lost upon Israel’s new ambassador, American-born historian, Michael Oren, who, in a conference call with Israel’s US consulates, reportedly expressed the opinion (which he now denies) that this was the worst crisis in US-Israel relations since 1975 when Pres. Gerald Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger publicly blamed Israel for the breakdown of negotiations with Egypt over withdrawing from the Sinai. As a consequence, Ford announced that he was going to make a major speech calling for a reassessment of Israel-US relations. Although hardly the powerhouse that it has become today, AIPAC, the only officially registered pro-Israel lobby, responded to the threat by getting 76 senators to sign a harsh letter to Ford, warning him not to tamper with Israel-US relations. Ford never made the speech and it would not be the last time that AIPAC got three quarters of the US Senate to sign a letter designed to keep an American president in check.
Others point to the nationally televised speech on September 12, 1991 of the first President Bush, who, upon realizing that AIPAC had secured enough votes in both houses of Congress to override his veto of Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees, went before the American public depicting himself as “one lonely man” battling a thousand lobbyists on Capitol Hill. A national poll taken immediately afterward gave the president an 85 per cent approval rating which sent the lobby and its Congressional flunkies scuttling into the corner but not before AIPAC director, Tom Dine, exclaimed at that date, Sept. 12, 1991, “would live in infamy.” Following the election of Yitzhak Rabin the following year and up for re-election himself, Bush relented and approved the loan guarantee request.
There are those who, while aware of what happened to Ford and of the subsequent humiliations visited by Israel upon American presidents and secretaries of state, view the Biden affair as a charade designed to placate the heads of Arab governments as well as their respective peoples and give the impression that there is a space between Israel and the US when it comes to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict when, they assert, none exists.

Viewing the unrelenting expansion of Jewish settlements and settlers in the West Bank through one US administration after another for the past four decades they would appear to have a solid argument. It is undermined, however, by one obvious fact: while the rest of the world considers the Israel-Palestine conflict to be a foreign policy concern, for Washington and both Democrats and Republicans it has been and remains primarily a domestic issue. In that arena there is only one player, the pro-Israel “lobby” which is represented by a multitude of organizations, the most prominent of which is AIPAC.
As if it needed more help, flocking to Israel’s side in increasing numbers over the past several decades have come the majority of America’s Christian evangelicals whose doomsday theology fits in nicely with that of Israel’s ultra right wing settler movement. The result is that in each election cycle anyone with any hope of being elected to a national political office, be it in the White House or Congress, whether incumbent or challenger, feels obligated to express his or her unconditional loyalty to Israel by shamelessly groveling for handouts from Jewish donors and the nod from Jewish voters who make up critical voting blocs in at least six states.

This being the case, it is not so strange that a string of leading elected American officials would willingly submit to public humiliation by a country so politically and militarily dependent on the U.S. and whose population is less than that of New York City or Los Angeles County, even when doing so has made the U.S. seem weak in the eyes of a world in which Washington has other, more pressing interests, than pleasing Israel. There is no better example of this phenomenon than Barack Obama whose stature as leader of “the world’s only superpower” has been severely undercut by repeated verbal face-slappings at the hands of Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers.

It clearly has been in the US interest that the Israel-Palestine conflict be peacefully resolved. There is nothing in the proposed “two-state solution” that would interfere with Washington’s regional objectives. On the contrary, the creation of a truncated Palestinian statelet, allied and dependent, politically and financially on the US, as it most certainly would be, would be a boon to US regional interests and ultimately viewed as a setback for anti-imperialist struggles worldwide.

What the insult to Biden was clearly designed to do, as were the previous humiliations, was to remind the current and future occupants of the White House that when it comes to making decisions concerning the Middle East, it is Israel that calls the tune. As Stephen Green spelled it out in Taking Sides: America’s Secret Relations with Militant Israel (Morrow, 1984) a quarter century ago,
Since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues.
That Netanyahu was also taken unawares by the announcement concerning the housing units as he claimed is questionable, particularly since he has apologized only for its timing, not its content and the offending minister remains unpunished. Netanyahu was surely cognizant that next week he will be coming to Washington to speak before AIPAC’s annual policy conference where he will find a greater degree of support than anywhere in his own country. Last year’s conference attracted a record 7,000 attendees plus half of the US Senate and a third of the House and it is likely to be ever larger this year in response to the administration’s perceived hostility to Israel.

Netanyahu will no doubt happily recall that before he met with President Obama for the first time last year, 76 US senators, led by Christopher Dodd and Evan Bayh, and 330 members of the House, sent AIPAC-crafted letters to the president calling on him not to put pressure on the Israeli prime minister when they met. The only report of this in the mainstream media was by a Washington post blogger who noted the AIPAC tagline on the pdf that was circulated among House members. Netanyahu will also be succored by memories of the House’s near unanimous support of Israel’s assault on Gaza and by its 334 to 36 vote condemning the Goldstone Report in its aftermath.

In addition, during last year’s Congressional summer recess, 55 members of the House, 30 Democrats led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and 25 Republicans, led by Eric Cantor, the House’s lone Jewish member, visited Jerusalem. Both groups met with Netanyahu and afterward held press conferences in which they expressed their solidarity with Israel, particularly with its claims on East Jerusalem, at a time when the Obama administration was calling for a settlement freeze. These visits, too, went unreported in the mainstream media.

Under the present circumstances, we can expect to see AIPAC extend every effort to make this year’s event the largest and more successful yet and there should be no doubt that those attending will give a far more rousing welcome to Netanyahu and to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is also on the AIPAC program, than to Secretary of State Clinton.

AIPAC is already posting statements on its website from members of Congress who are taking the Obama administration to task for making its differences with Israel public and for keeping the issue alive when the focus should not be on Jewish settlements but on the growing threat of a nuclear Iran which has been at the top of AIPAC’s agenda since the beginning of the Iraq War.

Nevertheless, given that the Democratic Party remains dependent on wealthy Jewish donors for the bulk of its major funding, estimated to be at least 60 per cent, and that this is an election year, we can expect Clinton to reach out and once again embrace Israel as she did at the 2008 AIPAC conference when, Biden-like, she said, “I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security, because Israel’s security is critical to our security….[A]ll parties must know we will always stand with Israel in its struggle for peace and security. Israel should know that the United States will never pressure her to make unilateral concessions or to impose a made-in-America solution.”

For those with short memories, here is a sampling of past humiliations of US presidents and secretaries of state at the hands of our loyal ally:
  • March, 1980, President Carter was forced to apologize after US UN representative Donald McHenry voted for a resolution that condemned Israel’s settlement policies in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem and which called on Israel to dismantle them. McHenry had replaced Andrew Young who was pressured to resign in 1979 after an Israeli newspaper revealed that he had held a secret meeting with a PLO representative which violated a US commitment to Israel and to the American Jewish community.
  • June, 1980 After Carter requested a halt to Jewish settlements and his Secretary of State, Edmund Muskie, called the Jewish settlements an obstacle to peace, Prime Minister Menachem Begin announced plans to construct 10 new ones.
  • In December, 1981, 14 days after signing what was described as a memorandum of strategic understanding with the Reagan administration, Israel annexed the Golan Heights “which made it appear that the US either acquiesced in the move or else has absolutely no control over its own ally’s actions. In both cases the US looks bad….he has once again poked his ally, the source of all his most sophisticated weapons and one third of his budget in the eye.” (Lars Erik-Nelson)
  • In August, 1982, the day after Reagan requested that Ariel Sharon end the bombing of Beirut, Sharon responded by ordering bombing runs over the city at precisely 2:42 and 3:38 in the afternoon, the times coinciding with the two UN resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
  • In March, 1991, Secretary of State James Baker complained to Congress that “Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process.., I have been met with an announcement of new settlement activity… It substantially weakens our hand in trying to bring about a peace process, and creates quite a predicament.” In 1990, he had become so disgusted with Israel’s intransigence on the settlements that he publicly gave out the phone number of the White House switchboard and told the Israelis, “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”
  • In April 2002, after Pres. George W Bush demanded that Ariel Sharon pull Israeli forces out of Jenin, declaring “Enough is enough!,” he was besieged by a 100,000 emails from supporters of Israel, Jewish and Christian and accused by Bill Safire of choosing Yasser Arafat as a friend over Sharon and by George Will, of losing his “moral clarity.” Within days, a humiliated Bush was declaring Sharon “a man of peace” despite the fact that he had not withdrawn his troops from Jenin.
  • In January 2009, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly boasted that he had “shamed” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by getting President Bush to prevent her from voting for a Gaza cease-fire resolution at the last moment that she herself had worked on for several days with Arab and European diplomats at the United Nations.
Olmert bragged to an Israeli audience that he pulled Bush off a stage during a speech to take his call when he learned about the pending vote and demanded that the president intervene.
“I have no problem with what Olmert did,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told the Forward. “I think the mistake was to talk about it in public.”
That episode and Foxman’s comment may have summed up the history of US-Israel relations.

Jeffrey Blankfort can be contacted at jblankfort @ earthlink.net
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Mishaal urges Arab leaders to support J’lem people’s steadfastness practically


PIC


[ 25/03/2010 - 12:08 PM ]


DOHA, (PIC)-- Khaled Mishaal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, on Wednesday called on Arab leaders to support the steadfastness of Jerusalem people with practical projects and employ their countries’ economic and political weight in serving the Palestinian cause.

In televised remarks on Al-Jazeera satellite channel, Mishaal said that his Movement sent a memo to the Arab leaders regarding different issues in the Palestinian arena including the issue of Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, the national reconciliation and the Gaza blockade.

Commenting about what is happening in occupied Jerusalem, the Hamas political leader said that there are hectic Israeli settlement and Judaization activities on the ground, while the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are looking on in silence.

He warned that serious cave-ins and fissures had started to appear widely in the Aqsa Mosque as a result of the excavations being carried out by Israel underground.

The Hamas official also demanded the Arab leaders, in light of the dangers threatening Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, to show their real anger against what Israel is doing, to reconsider their choices, to use their real power cards and to say yes to the resistance option.

Mishaal held some Arab regimes and the PA in Ramallah responsible for the weak popular Arab enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause, affirming that their involvement in preventing their peoples from expressing their anger against the Israeli violations had weakened this zeal.

Speaking about the assassination of senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai, he denied that Hamas has intentions to transfer its fight with the Israeli occupation abroad, affirming that the policies of Hamas in this regard are known and it is able to respond to the Israeli crimes in Palestine.


Khudari to the Arab summit: Break the siege on Gaza now


[ 25/03/2010 - 12:13 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, on Thursday asked the Arab summit conference to open in Libya on Saturday to send a high level delegation to Gaza to get acquainted with the effects of the one thousand days of siege.

Khudari, addressing a mass rally in Gaza city organized by the committee, beseeched the Arab summiteers to aid besieged Gaza and occupied Jerusalem with deeds rather than words.

He said that the current atmosphere on the regional and international levels is suitable more than ever before to break the siege on Gaza, asking the Arab leaders to assist all layers of the Palestinian people; the unemployed workers, needy families, students who could not complete their studies, families of martyrs, wounded and captives and to support the handicapped and finance small projects.

The summit should start immediately the reconstruction of Gaza and make use of the budgets allocated at various platforms for this purpose, the lawmaker elaborated.

He said that a special allocation should be made for occupied Jerusalem that is the target of a massive judaization and settlement campaign, which includes expelling Palestinians from their homes and lands, in addition to the accelerating excavations under the holy Aqsa Mosque.

Khudari said that the Israeli occupation authority does not offer any peace project but rather was challenging the Arab decision to resume indirect negotiations by announcing new settlement schemes in occupied Jerusalem.

The MP asked the Arab economy and trade ministers, who are meeting today in Libya in preparation for the Arab summit, to prioritize the financial support for occupied Jerusalem and Gaza.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Hezbollah Praises Assad's Frank Statements, Wise Vision

Al-Manar


25/03/2010

Hezbollah praised on Thursday Syrian President Bachar Assad's wise vision as well as his firm and frank statements.

In a statement it released to comment Assad's interview with Al-Manar Television, Hezbollah said that the Syrian President emerged in this interview as a prominent Arab leader.

"His statements presented a very accurate description of the last stage we passed through in Lebanon and the region," the statement read. "Assad was also clear in his vision of the Lebanese-Syrian relations as well as in Damascus relations with the various Lebanese groups and factions."

Hezbollah thanked the Syrian President for his support for the nation's causes, at the top of which is the Palestinian central cause as well as Al-Aqsa mosque. "These stances show his clear vision and strategic sight concerning the path of the conflict in the region."

The Resistance party expressed, meanwhile, its full confidence in the originality and authenticity of the stances of President Assad, pointing to the latter's deep commitment to the fair and just causes of the Arabs and Muslims.

Hezbollah concluded its statement by highly valuing the Syrian President's permanent support for the Resistance movements in the region, pointing to the "fruits" of this support varying between victories, dignity, pride and invincibility for the whole nation.

During his interview with Al-Manar on Wednesday, Assad said that Damascus stands ready if "war is imposed" by Israel as regional tensions rise and hopes for peace fade. "We are faced with an enemy that has shown until this day that it understands nothing but the language of force, and it seems that peace in the region is not in the horizon," Assad said.

Assad said the current tension, which he described as a "state of no-war, no-peace," would inevitably lead to either war or peace. "Do we have any hope in the Israeli government? No. But we do believe that Israel is left with no choice but peace," he said. "But when war is imposed on you, you wage that war irrespective of the balance of power," he added.

The Syrian President said he was trying to build a good relationship with Premier Saad Hariri and expressed support for his Lebanese counterpart Michel Sleiman. "PM Saad Hariri is now the head of a national consensus government. We wish the Lebanese government and its leader success in its difficult mission. Hariri and I are trying to build a good personal relationship," he added. "We support the presidency and consequently the president," he said, adding that support for President Michel Sleiman was the same as Damascus' backing for former heads of state Elias Hrawi and Emile Lahoud."

Sleiman, Hariri, Jumblatt 'Satisfied' with Assad's Interview


25/03/2010

Less than 24 hours on the exclusive interview of Syrian President Bachar Assad with Al-Manar, the first "impressions" seem to be more than positive in Lebanon…

The head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt, believed to be the "hero" of the interview, seemed to be "satisfied" with its content.

Speaking to Al-Manar, Jumblatt praised the content of the interview and hailed the Syrian President's stances regarding the various topics and causes, pointing to his stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as his call to follow up the resolutions of the Arab Summits at all levels.

Asked about Assad's statements concerning the reconciliation with Jumblatt, the Progressive Socialist Party leader said that the important thing is that the page of the past ended. "Assad's stances in this regard are not new, this is his heritage and patrimony," Jumblatt said, adding that the relation with Assad passes through the gate of safeguarding dignities. "When I'll visit Damascus, we'll have a lot to say and discuss," Jumblatt said.

Asked about the date of the visit, Jumblatt joined Assad in stressing that the whole file was in the hands of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and thanked the latter for the efforts he paid and is still paying in this regard. "Most probably, the visit will take place following the Arab Summit," he said.

According to Jumblatt, Assad reiterated during his interview with Al-Manar a series of important principles: the Arab initiative, the relation with Lebanon regardless of the Lebanese details. "Assad emphasized that a calm and stable Lebanon is a Syrian interest and that such Lebanon helps in removing all tensions and obstacles," he pointed out.

For his part, President Michel Sleiman felt relaxed and satisfied following the interview, his sources told Al-Manar, adding that Assad's stances were very positive. The sources noted that the contacts between Sleiman and Assad were actually ongoing.

The sources of Prime Minister Saad Hariri also pointed to the positivity of the Syrian President's stances delivered during his interview with Al-Manar. The sources said that a new and good approach was shown in his stances, stressing that the PM was dealing with Syria with the same spirit.

Meanwhile, Al-Manar was informed by presidential sources that serious efforts were taking place to organize a visit of the leader of the Tawheed movement former minister Wiam Wahhab to the Baabda Presidential Palace for a meeting with President Michel Sleiman.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

“Israel’s” Provocation at al-Aqsa: Rabbi Plans ‘Miracle’

Silver Lining

Posted on March 25, 2010 by realistic bird

by Musa 'Ajawi

By Jonathan Cook – Jerusalem, source

The Israeli government has indicated that it will press ahead with a plan to enlarge the Jewish prayer plaza at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, despite warnings that the move risks triggering a third intifada.
Israeli officials rejected this week a Jerusalem court’s proposal to shelve the plan after the judge accepted that the plaza’s expansion would violate the “status quo” arrangement covering the Old City’s holy places. Islamic authorities agreed to the arrangement after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

The site eyed by Israeli officials is located at the Mughrabi Gate, an entrance to the mosque compound known as the Haram al Sharif, the most sensitive site in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Inside are Al Aqsa Mosque and the golden-topped Dome of the Rock.

Earlier encroachments by Israel on Islamic authority at the site have triggered clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians. A heavily armed visit to the compound by Ariel Sharon in 2000, shortly before he became prime minister, to declare Israeli rights there sparked the second intifada.

In recent weeks, analysts have grown increasingly concerned that a third intifada is imminent as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has advanced settlement building in East Jerusalem and declared several places deep in the occupied West Bank as Jewish heritage sites.

Another assault on Muslim control so close to Al Aqsa Mosque risked “pouring fuel on the fire”, said Hanna Sweid, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament who filed the original planning objections to the Israeli scheme.
According to evidence presented to the Jerusalem court, Israeli officials used minor storm damage to a stone ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate as a pretext to tear it down six years ago. The intention is to replace the ramp with a permanent metal bridge and then extend the Jewish prayer plaza into the area where the ramp was.

The scheme is the brainchild of Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, who declared the damage to the ramp in 2004 a “miracle” that had offered Israel the chance to take control of more land from Islamic authorities in the Old City.

The rabbi’s plan was approved in late 2007 by a special ministerial committee headed by Ehud Olmert, then the prime minister. The project has also won backing from Mr Netanyahu, though he froze construction work in July under orders from the Jerusalem court.

The judge, Moussia Arad, proposed in January that the ramp be reinstated, or at the very least that the bridge follow the exact route of the ramp, and that all prayer at the site be banned. That position won the backing of United Nations officials monitoring Israel’s work at the Mughrabi Gate.

The Jordanian, Turkish and Palestinian Islamic authorities have all expressed deep concern at Israeli excavations at the Mughrabi Gate that are seen as a prelude to the plaza’s expansion.

Observers had hoped that, faced with the danger of another row with the United States so soon after the diplomatic crisis sparked by Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu might agree to the court’s compromise.

They have been proved wrong.

“Netanyahu has a history of trampling on Palestinian rights in the Old City,” Mr Sweid said. “There is every reason to be worried about what he plans to get up to this time.”

In 1996, during his previous stint as prime minister, Mr Netanyahu opened the Western Wall tunnel, another excavation close to the mosque compound, resulting in clashes in which 75 Palestinians and 15 Israeli soldiers were killed.

Israel, which says the mosques sit on the ruins of two ancient Jewish temples, built by Solomon and Herod, refers to the site as Temple Mount and has staked a claim to a degree of sovereignty over the area in recent peace negotiations.

Last week, in a sign of the explosive consequences of tampering with the status quo concerning Jerusalem’s holy places, riots broke out in a “day of rage” in East Jerusalem following Israel’s announcement that it had rebuilt an old synagogue, the Hurva, close to the mosques.

“The Haram al Sharif is a site of unrivalled Muslim sensitivity and the Israeli government is playing with fire here,” said Mohammed Masalha, a lecturer who heads a coalition of Islamic groups inside Israel that brought the court case.

In evidence presented to the court, Meir Ben Dov, an Israeli archaeologist and the excavations director at the Western Wall for nearly four decades, produced photographic evidence showing that the storm had caused only a minor landslide.

“I was asked by the government to inspect the damage two days after it occurred and I found maybe a dozen stones had been dislodged,” he said. “The ramp could have been repaired in less than a week but instead they decided to demolish it.”

Judge Arad, Mr Ben Dov said, had been “shocked” when she saw the photographs.

Mr Ben Dov said his recommendation that the walkway be repaired for $14,000 was ignored by Israeli officials, including the then-tourism minister, Benny Elon, a settler rabbi who heads a far-right party. Instead the government tore down the ramp and built a temporary wooden bridge to the Mughrabi Gate while excavations were carried out in the area exposed by the ramp’s destruction.

The Jerusalem comptroller, Shulamit Rubin, the city’s watchdog official, criticised the excavations at the time, saying they were illegal because the necessary authorisations had not been sought.

The secretive nature of the excavations was widely assumed by Islamic groups to be evidence of an Israeli intention to search for parts of the destroyed temples. With such evidence, Israel would have a stronger claim to extend its control.

The unscientific approach to the excavations was highlighted in early 2007 when it emerged that three years earlier Israeli archaeologists had unearthed at the site a Muslim prayer room from the time of the Saladin, dating to the 11th century, but had kept the discovery quiet.

In February 2007, when Israel brought heavy machinery to the Mughrabi Gate excavations, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with police while the Islamic Movements within Israel staged large demonstrations. Islamic Jihad said it had fired two Qassam rockets from Gaza in response, and Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade threatened to carry out attacks if the work was not halted.

Islamic authorities also expressed fears that the compound of mosques might be damaged by the bulldozers, and that the heavy machinery might also destroy the as-yet-undiscovered Al Buraq mosque, believed to be located close to the Mughrabi Gate and marking the site where the Prophet Mohammed tethered his horse on his Night Journey between Mecca and Jerusalem.

To calm the situation, Israel allowed Turkish experts to examine the excavations a short time later. They reported that Israel was trying to sideline Jerusalem’s Islamic history so that its Jewish aspects could be emphasised.

Israel had another reason for pushing ahead with the illegal excavations, said Kais Nasser, the lawyer representing the Islamic groups. “They needed to unearth something, anything, that could be claimed as an antiquity to nullify Muslim demands for the ramp to be reinstated. Rebuilding the ramp would then be impossible because it would risk damaging an archaeological site.”

Mr Nasser said Israel hopes that if it can present the bridge as the only feasible option, then there will be no obstacles to expanding the prayer plaza.

Mr Ben Dov said he shared such suspicions about Israel’s activities at the site, adding that the goal of Israeli officials seemed to be to gain control over the whole 480-metre length of the Western Wall.

He and other observers have said this is just one more example of a long-standing policy to gradually encroach on Muslim control of the mosque compound.

Among the most significant has been the creation of the City of David, an Israeli archaeological park, directly south of Al Aqsa Mosque in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. The site is run by Elad, an extremist settler group, that has taken over neighbouring Palestinian homes and, along with the Jerusalem municipality and government officials, is pushing for dozens more to be demolished. It eventually wants to link up the park with the Temple Mount.

Jewish settlers have also been concentrating their efforts on taking over Palestinian homes in the Muslim quarter, close to the Haram al Sharif, and have been supported by right-wing politicians, including in the past by Mr Netanyahu.

One settler organisation, Ateret Cohanim, has been especially active, and is known to be excavating under Palestinian homes around the compound in the hope of discovering traces of the temples.

“What we see here is an unholy alliance of government ministers, Jerusalem municipality officials and settler organisations trying to revive a supposed golden era of Jewish sovereignty from thousands of years ago,” Mr Sweid said.

In addition, he said, Israel believed that a more significant Israeli presence close to the mosques would strengthen its hand in any final peace talks over the division of Jerusalem with the Palestinians, with Israel able to stake a bigger claim to sovereignty over the site.

At the Camp David talks in 2000, Bill Clinton, then US president, proposed dividing sovereignty so that Israel would have control over both the “subterranean spaces” of the mosque compound and the Western Wall. During the talks Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister of the day, alarmed observers by calling the whole compound the Jewish “holy of holies”, a term previously used in referring only to the inner sanctum of the destroyed temples.

There are additional fears among Palestinians, and the wider Muslim world, of darker plots being hatched by even more extreme groups.
Although Jewish religious purity laws have traditionally forbidden Jews from entering the Temple Mount, a growing number of rabbis are demanding that Jews be allowed to pray in the compound. Even more fanatical groups are known to favour blowing up the mosques and building a third temple in their place.
The recent rebuilding of the Hurva synagogue has added to such concerns. The Israeli media reported that, according to a 300-year-old rabbinical prophecy, the synagogue’s rebuilding would herald the construction of the third temple.

A Sordid affair: The Mughrabi Quarter’s Ethnic Cleansing

Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Mughrabi, or Moroccan, quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City after its capture in 1967 is one of the more sordid episodes of the 1967 war.

Until it was destroyed by Israel in 2004, the stone ramp that led to the Mughrabi Gate — one of the main entrances to the elevated compound of mosques known as the Haram al-Sharif — was the only visible reminder that the quarter, once home to 1,000 Palestinians, had ever existed.

At the end of the Six-Day war, as Israeli troops poured into the Old City, the Israeli government was presented with an opportunity not only to restore a Jewish presence to the walled city but to create a newly expanded Jewish quarter that would have the Western Wall at its centre.

Before 1948, prayer at the Wall had been possible only at several points along a narrow alley at the margins of the densely populated Moroccan quarter, an area bequeathed in the twelfth century to Saladin’s followers by his son Malik al-Afdal.

But in the immediate wake of the “miraculous” victory in 1967, the Israeli government saw the chance to create a wide prayer plaza in front of the Wall, making it the symbolic heart of an expanded Jewish state that could unite religious and secular Jews.

All that stood in their way were the quarter’s 135 homes.

On the night of 10 June, Uzi Narkiss, head of the army’s central command, authorised 15 private demolition crews to raze the quarter under cover of dark. He, like the politicians, knew that neither the international community nor the Israeli courts would consent to such a brazen violation of international law.

When Teddy Kollek, the mayor of West Jerusalem, had consulted the justice minister, he had been told: “I don’t know what the legal status is. Do it quickly and may the God of Israel be with you.”

Uzi Benziman, an Israeli journalist, described the “near-mystic” compulsion that drove those behind the act of ethnic cleansing: “The officers and the contractors considered themselves emissaries, come to renew Jewish statehood as it had been 1,897 years earlier.”

An officer went from house to house ordering the residents to evacuate. According to observers, those who refused finally fled when the walls of their homes came down. One old woman, found amid the rubble, died a short time later.

As the ruins were cleared and the ground levelled to create an expansive plaza in front of the Western Wall, the contractors were told to use the rubble from the homes to build a ramp up to the Mughrabi Gate. The gate is the only entrance to the compound for which Israel kept the key. Today it is the access point for all non-Muslim visitors, including the Israeli police.

The Western Wall and the plaza, on land that had previously fallen under the control of the Islamic authorities, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Israeli religious affairs ministry. A few days later, on the Jewish holy day of Shavuot, an estimated 200,000 Israeli Jews — one in 10 of the population — came to visit the Wall.

Although Israel had effectively annexed East Jerusalem, its leaders were still troubled by the possible international repercussions of being seen to seize control of the Old City’s holy places, especially the compound of mosques. Under a so-called “status quo” agreement, Muslim officials were supposed to continue controlling the mosque compound, with Israeli oversight.

But that did not stop the rapid emergence of a movement in Israel seeking control of the compound too. Many Jews believe the ruins of the temples of Solomon and Herod can be found under the mosques.

From the early 1970s, extremist rabbis — led by the Shlomo Goren, then the chief rabbi of Israel — began lobbying for Jews to be allowed into the compound to pray, despite traditional rabbinical rulings against such a practice.

Jewish groups soon sprang up demanding more: that the mosques be blown up to make way for a third temple that would bring nearer the arrival of the Messiah.

Since the outbreak of the second intifada, little of the status quo agreement remains. Israeli movement restrictions affecting both Gaza and the West Bank mean that today only a tiny number of Palestinians can reach the mosques. Palestinian institutions are also barred from operating inside Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, settlers and Israeli officials have encroached on more and more land around the mosque compound. At the Camp David talks with the Palestinians in 2000, Israel proposed for the first time that Jews be allowed to pray in the compound and that Israel have a degree of sovereignty over the site.
In recent years Jews have started to be escorted by Israeli police inside the compound through the Mughrabi Gate, though praying so far has not been sanctioned.
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Judea declares War on Obama by Gilad Atzmon



Last week we read about AIPAC’s assault against President Obama. It was reported that the Jewish Lobby in America took its gloves off. In the open, AIPAC decided to mount pressure on the American leadership and President Obama in particular.

"The Obama administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel is a matter of serious concern," AIPAC said in its statement. AIPAC’s reaction came after a weekend of U.S. recriminations and demands, following Israel’s provocative announcement that it had given preliminary approval for the construction of 1,600 more apartments for Jewish settlers in a Palestinian neighborhood of eastern occupied Jerusalem. Unlike President Obama, who seems to be prioritizing issues like the health care reform bill and United States economic recovery, AIPAC claims to know what America’s ‘real’ interests are and how to achieve them. "The administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests". AIPAC also suggested that the American leadership should concentrate on a confrontation with Iran. "The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons”.

Jewish lobbies certainly do not hold back when it comes to pressuring states, world leaders and even super powers. AIPAC’s behavior last week reminded me of the Jewish declaration of war against Nazi Germany in 1933.

Not many people are aware that in March 1933, long before Hitler became the undisputed leader of Germany and began restricting the rights of German Jews, the American Jewish Congress announced a massive protest at Madison Square Gardens and called for an American boycott of German goods.

I obviously do not think that Obama has anything in common with Hitler. There is
not much the two leaders share in terms of their philosophy, their attitude to humanism or their view of world peace.(1) However, it is hard to turn a blind eye to the similarity between AIPAC’s behaviour last week and the Jewish American Congress’ conduct in 1933.

On March 24, 1933, The Daily Express (London) published an article announcing that the Jews had already launched their boycott against Germany and threatened a forthcoming "holy war". The Express urged Jews everywhere to boycott German goods and demonstrate actively against German economic interests.

The Express said that Germany was "now confronted with an international boycott of its trade, its finances, and its industry....in London, New York, Paris and Warsaw, Jewish businessmen are united to go on an economic crusade."

Jewish texts tend to glaze over the fact that Hitler's March 28 1933, ordering a boycott against Jewish stores and goods, was an escalation in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership. In fact the only Jewish enclave that is willing to admit the historical order of events that led to the destruction of European Jewry, is the anti Zionist Jewish Orthodox sect known as the Torah Jews. I assume that, similarly, once things turn sour between America and its Jewish lobbies, Jewish tribal ideologists will be the first to forget that it was the Jewish American establishment that worked so hard to nourish the inevitable animosity.

If you wonder why Jewish politicians repeat exactly the same mistakes time after time, the answer is easy. Jews do not know their Jewish history for there is no Jewish history.

As it happens, Jewish history is a set of fables tied clumsily together to portray a false image of a victorious narrative. Jewish history is a set of blind spots bundled together by myth, fantasies and lies, in order to present the illusion of a coherent past narrative and a vague semblance of chronology. Israeli professor Shlomo Sand taught us that the Zionists, and to a certain extent their Bundist rivals, were far from being shy of “inventing” the history of their Jewish nationhood. But it goes further, even the holocaust, which could be a major illuminating corner in Jewish reflection, was transformed into a rigid chapter that perpetuated blindness. As a vision of the past, it is there to hide and to disguise, rather than to reveal and inform. In a Jewish history book, you won’t read about ‘Judea’s declaration of war against Nazi Germany’. In Jewish history texts chronology always launches when Jewish suffering begins. Jewish history transcends itself beyond the notion of causality. It persuades us that persecution of Jews occurs out of nowhere. The Jewish historical text avoids the necessary questions as to why hostility evolves time after time, why do Jews buy so many enemies and so easily?

AIPAC leaders are clearly repeating the grave mistakes of their forebearers: the American Jewish Congress. They do not learn from their history, for there is not a single Jewish history text to learn from. Instead of a history text, Jews have the Holocaust, an event that matured into a religion.

The holocaust religion is obviously Judeo-centric to the bone. It defines the Jewish Raison d'être. For the Jews it signifies a total fatigue of the Diaspora, it regards the Goy as a potential ‘irrational’ murderer. The new Jewish religion preaches revenge. It even establishes a new Jewish God. Instead of old Yehova, the new Jewish God is ‘the Jew’ himself: the brave and witty being, the one who survived the ultimate and most sinister genocide, the one who came out of the ashes and stepped forward into a new beginning.

To a certain extent the Holocaust religion signals the Jewish departure from monotheism, for every Jew is a potential little God or Goddess. Gilad Shalit is the God ‘innocence’, Abe Foxman is the God anti Semitism, Maddof is the God of swindling, Greenspan is the God of ‘good economy’, Lord Goldsmith is the God of the ‘green light’, Lord Levy is the God of fundraising, Wolfowitz is the God of new American expansionism and AIPAC is the American Olympus where American elected human beings come to ask for mercy and forgiveness for being Goyim and for daring to occasionally tell the truth about Israel.

The holocaust religion is the conclusive stage in the Jewish dialectic; it is the end of Jewish history for it is the deepest and most sincere form of ‘self love’. Rather than inventing an abstract God who prefers the Jews to be the chosen people, in the holocaust religion the Jews cut out the divine middle substance. The Jew just chooses oneself. This is why Jewish identity politics transcends itself beyond the notion of history. God is the master of ceremony. And the new Jewish God cannot be subject to humanly contingent occurrences. The new Jewish God, i.e. ‘the Jew’, just re-writes fables that serve the tribe at any given time. This may explain why the Holocaust religion is protected by laws, while every other historical chapter and narrative is debated openly by historians, intellectuals and ordinary people

As one may guess, with such a self-centered intensive world-view, not much room is left for humanity, grace or universalism. It is far from being clear whether Jews can collectively recover from their new religion. However, it is crucial that every humanist stands up against the holocaust religion that can only spread misery, death and carnage.

(1) Unlike President Obama who postponed his Far East trip just to meet Israeli PM and sent his Secretary of State to appease his Jewish opponents promising more confrontation with Iran, Hitler actually reacted furiously to Jewish pressure.