Saturday 16 May 2009

Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid

The accidental Nakba-- in the New York Review of Books

May 16, 2009

Landmark study finds Israeli control in occupied territories 'a breach of the prohibition of apartheid'

The following exclusive on an international report concluding that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories "has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid” was sent to us by journalist Ben White. Another stinging statement from the report: "The Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a policy permanently to divide the West Bank into racial cantons." (White's book 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide', will be published this summer. He can be contacted at

Tomorrow, an important new report, "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid: A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law", will be released at a special meeting at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I have been passed a copy of the report’s Executive Summary, and it makes for vital reading.

What follows are some of the highlights of the Executive Summary, but first a few observations. Describing Israel or Israeli policies in terms of apartheid has become more common in recent times, but has also provoked a strong backlash. It is interesting to note, therefore, that this study is a measured assessment written by legal experts on the specific ways in which Israel’s policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) can be considered to be ‘colonialism’ and/or ‘apartheid’, as defined by international law. It is not, quite clearly and openly, saying Israel=South Africa.

The new report was carried out by the Middle East Project of the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. The Middle East Project is:

an independent two year project of the HSRC to conduct analysis of Middle East politics relevant to South African foreign policy. Its funding was provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Government of South Africa. The analysis in this report is entirely independent of the views or foreign policy of the Government of South Africa and does not represent an official position of the HSRC. It is intended purely as a scholarly resource for the Department of Foreign Affairs and the concerned international community.


In January 2007, while addressing the UN Human Rights Council in his capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, South African law Professor John Dugard asked the following question:

Israel is clearly in military occupation of the OPT. At the same time, elements of the occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid, which are contrary to international law. What are the legal consequences of a regime of prolonged occupation with features of colonialism and apartheid for the occupied people, the Occupying Power and third States?

The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (and specifically, their Middle East Project) “commissioned this study to test the hypothesis” put forward by Dugard. Beginning in February 2008, fifteen months of workshops, drafting, re-drafting and revision finally produced this report for publication.

Aim and focus

The aim of the project “was to scrutinise the situation from the nonpartisan perspective of international law, rather than engage in political discourse and rhetoric”. The conclusion is that “Israel, since 1967, has been the belligerent Occupying Power in the OPT, and that its occupation of these territories has become a colonial enterprise which implements a system of apartheid”.

The study also focuses on “the responsibility of States as a result of internationally wrongful acts”, concluding:

Faced with a violation of the prohibitions of colonialism and apartheid, all States have three duties: to cooperate to end the violation; not to recognise the illegal situation arising from it; and not to render aid or assistance to the State committing it.

On the legal framework in the OPT:

“The occupied status of the West Bank was confirmed by the ICJ in the Wall advisory opinion. Israel’s ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip did not constitute the end of occupation because, despite the redeployment of its military ground forces from Gaza, it retains and exercises effective control over the territory.”

“...Israel’s administration of the OPT systematically breaches the law of armed conflict, both by disregarding the prohibition imposed on an Occupying Power not to alter the laws in force in occupied territory and by enforcing a dual and discriminatory legal regime on Jewish and Palestinian residents of the OPT. Israel grants to Jewish residents of the settlements in the OPT the protections of Israeli domestic law and subjects them to the jurisdiction of Israeli civil courts, while Palestinians living in the same territory are ruled under military law and subjected to the jurisdiction of military courts whose procedures violate international standards for the prosecution of justice. As a consequence of this bifurcated system, Jewish residents of the OPT enjoy freedom of movement, civil protections, and services denied to Palestinians. Palestinians are simultaneously denied the protections accorded to protected persons by international humanitarian law. This dual system has gained the imprimatur of Israel’s High Court and constitutes a policy by the State of Israel to sustain two parallel societies in the OPT, one Jewish and the other Palestinian, and discriminate between these two groups by according very different rights, protections, and life chances in the same territory.”

Findings on Colonialism:

“Although international law provides no single decisive definition of colonialism, the terms of the Declaration on Colonialism indicate that a situation may be classified as colonial when the acts of a State have the cumulative outcome that it annexes or otherwise unlawfully retains control over territory and thus aims permanently to deny its indigenous population the exercise of its right to self-determination. Five issues, which are unlawful in themselves, taken together make it evident that Israel’s rule in the OPT has assumed such a colonial character: namely, violations of the territorial integrity of occupied territory; depriving the population of occupied territory of the capacity for self-governance; integrating the economy of occupied territory into that of the occupant; breaching the principle of permanent sovereignty over natural resources in relation to the occupied territory; and denying the population of occupied territory the right freely to express, develop and practice its culture.”

“Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is manifestly an act based on colonial intent. It is unlawful in itself...”

“By thus partitioning contiguous blocs of Palestinian areas into cantons, Israel has violated the territorial integrity of the OPT in violation of the Declaration on Colonialism.”

“The economic dimension of self-determination is also expressed in the right of permanent sovereignty over natural resources, which entitles a people to dispose freely of the natural wealth and resources found within the limits of its national jurisdiction. Israel’s settlement policy and the construction of the bypass road network and the Wall have deprived the Palestinian population of the control and development of an estimated 38 percent of West Bank land. It has also implemented a water management and allocation system that favours Israel and Jewish settlers in the OPT to the detriment of the Palestinian population...Moreover, it is significant that the route of the Wall is similar to the ‘red line’ that delineates those areas of the West Bank from which Israel can withdraw without relinquishing its control over key water resources that are used to supply Israel and the settlements.”

“This study demonstrates that the implementation of a colonial policy by Israel has not been piecemeal but is systematic and comprehensive, as the exercise of the Palestinian population’s right to self-determination has been frustrated in all of its principal modes of expression.”

Findings on Apartheid:

“The Apartheid Convention criminalises ‘inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them’. The Rome Statute criminalises inhumane acts committed in the context of, and to maintain, ‘an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group.’ Both focus on the systematic, institutionalised, and oppressive character of the discrimination involved and the purpose of domination that is entailed. This distinguishes the practice of apartheid from other forms of prohibited discrimination and from other contexts in which the listed crimes arise.”

“It must be clear, however, that practices in South Africa are not the test or benchmark for a finding of apartheid elsewhere, as the principal instrument which provides this test lies in the terms of the Apartheid Convention itself.”

“...Palestinians are subject to legal systems and courts which apply standards of evidence and procedure that are different from those applied to Jewish settlers living the OPT and that result in harsher penalties for Palestinians.”

“Restrictions on the Palestinian right to freedom of movement are endemic in the West Bank, stemming from Israel's control of the OPT's checkpoints and crossings, impediments created by the Wall and its crossing points, a matrix of separate roads, and obstructive and all encompassing permit and ID systems that apply solely to Palestinians.”

“The right of Palestinians to choose their own place of residence within their territory is severely curtailed by systematic administrative restrictions on Palestinian residency and building in East Jerusalem, by discriminatory legislation that operates to prevent Palestinian spouses from living together on the basis of which part of the OPT they originate from, and by the strictures of the permit and ID systems.”

“Palestinians are denied their right to leave and return to their country... hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced to surrounding states from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 have been prevented from returning to the OPT...Palestinian residents of the OPT must obtain Israeli permission to leave the territory...Political activists and human rights defenders are often subject to arbitrary and undefined 'travel bans', while many Palestinians who travelled and lived abroad for business or personal reasons have had their residence Ids revoked and been prohibited from returning.”

“Israel denies Palestinians in the OPT their right to a nationality by denying Palestinian refugees from inside the Green Line their right of return, residence, and citizenship in the State (Israel) governing the land of their birth. Israel’s policies in the OPT also effectively deny Palestinians their right to a nationality by obstructing the exercise of the Palestinian right to self determination through the formation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank
(including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip.”

“Israeli military actions have included extensive school closures, direct attacks on schools, severe restrictions on movement, and arrests and detention of teachers and students...A segregated school system operates in the West Bank as Palestinians are not allowed to attend government funded schools in Jewish settlements.”

“Israel has divided the West Bank into reserves or cantons in which residence and entry is determined by each individual’s group identity. Entry by one group into the zone of the other group is prohibited without a permit. The Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a policy permanently to divide the West Bank into racial cantons. Israeli government ministries, the World Zionist Organisation and other Jewish-national institutions operating as authorised agencies of the State plan, fund and implement construction of the West Bank settlements and their infrastructure for exclusively Jewish use.”

“Israel has extensively appropriated Palestinian land in the OPT for exclusively Jewish use. Private Palestinian land comprises about 30 percent of the land unlawfully appropriated for Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Presently, 38 percent of the West Bank is completely closed to Palestinian use, with significant restrictions on access to much of the rest of it.”

“In sum, Israel appears clearly to be implementing and sustaining policies intended to maintain its domination over Palestinians in the OPT and to suppress opposition of any form to those policies.”

“The comparative analyses of South African apartheid there to illuminate, rather than define, the meaning of apartheid, and there are certainly differences between apartheid as it was applied in South Africa and Israel’s policies and practices in the OPT. Nonetheless, it is significant that the two systems can be defined by similar dominant features.”

“A troika of key laws underpinned the South African apartheid regime—the Population Registration Act 1950, the Group Areas Act 1950, and the Pass Laws—and established its three principal features or pillars...Israel’s practices in the OPT can be defined by the same three ‘pillars’ of apartheid.”

“The first pillar derives from Israeli laws and policies that establish Jewish identity for purposes of law and afford a preferential legal status and material benefits to Jews over non-Jews... At the root of this system are Israel’s citizenship laws, whereby group identity is the primary factor in determining questions involving the acquisition of Israeli citizenship...Israeli law conveying special standing to Jewish identity is then applied extra-territorially to extend preferential legal status and material privileges to Jewish settlers in the OPT and thus discriminate against Palestinians.

“The second pillar is reflected in Israel’s grand policy to fragment the OPT for the purposes of segregation and domination....That these measures are intended to segregate the population along racial lines in violation of Article 2(d) of the Apartheid Convention is clear from the visible web of walls, separate roads, and checkpoints, and the invisible web of permit and ID systems, that combine to ensure that Palestinians remain confined to the reserves designated for them while Israeli Jews are prohibited from entering those reserves but enjoy freedom of movement throughout the rest of the Palestinian territory.”

“...the policy of geographic fragmentation has the effect of crushing Palestinian socio-economic life, securing Palestinian vulnerability to Israeli economic dominance, and of enforcing a rigid segregation of Palestinian and Jewish populations.”

“The third pillar upon which Israel’s system of apartheid in the OPT rests is its ‘security’ laws and policies. The extrajudicial killing, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of Palestinians, as described under the rubric of Article 2(a) of the Apartheid Convention, are all justified by Israel on the pretext of security.

“This study does not contend that Israel’s claims about security are by definition lacking in merit; however, Israel's invocation of 'security' to validate severe policies and disproportionate practices toward the Palestinians often masks the intent to suppress Palestinian opposition to a system of domination by one racial group over another. Thus, while the individual practices listed in the Apartheid Convention do not in themselves define apartheid, these practices do not occur in the OPT in a vacuum, but are integrated and complementary elements of an institutionalised and oppressive system of Israeli domination and oppression over Palestinians as a group; that is, a system of apartheid.”

“This discriminatory treatment cannot be explained or excused on grounds of citizenship, both because it goes beyond what is permitted by ICERD and because certain provisions in Israeli civil and military law provide that Jews present in the OPT who are not citizens of Israel also enjoy privileges conferred on Jewish-Israeli citizens in the OPT by virtue of being Jews. Consequently, this study finds that the State of Israel exercises control in the OPT with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid.”

Implications and Recommendations:

“The legal consequences of these findings are grave and entail obligations not merely for Israel but also for the international community as a whole.”

“Israel bears the primary responsibility for remedying the illegal situation it has created. In the first place, it has the duty to cease its unlawful activity and dismantle the structures and institutions of colonialism and apartheid that it has created. Israel is additionally required by international law to implement duties of reparation, compensation and satisfaction in order to wipe out the consequences of its unlawful acts.”

“Breaches of peremptory norms, which involve a gross or systematic failure by the responsible State to fulfil the obligations they impose, generate derivative obligations for States and intergovernmental organisations of cooperation and abstention. States, and intergovernmental organisations, must cooperate to bring to an end any and all serious breaches of peremptory norms.”

“States must not recognise as lawful situations created by serious breaches of peremptory norms nor render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation. In particular, States must not recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem or its attempt to acquire territory in the West Bank through the consolidation of settlements, nor may they bolster the latter’s economic viability. Should any State fail to fulfil its duty of abstention then it risks becoming complicit in Israel’s internationally wrongful acts, and thus independently engaging its own responsibility, with all the legal consequences of reparation that this entails...If a State aids or assists another State in maintaining that unlawful situation, knowing it to be unlawful, then it becomes complicit in its commission and itself commits an internationally wrongful act.

“States cannot evade their international obligations by hiding behind the independent personality of an international organisation of which they are members.”

“Accordingly we respectfully suggest that, in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and pursuant to Article 65 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, an advisory opinion be urgently requested on the following question:

Do the policies and practices of Israel within the Occupied Palestinian Territories violate the norms prohibiting apartheid and colonialism; and, if so, what are the legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (1960), the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and other relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?

Posted by Adam Horowitz at 12:19 PM

“The most honest of all.” Arrested Spy and Hariri Family

“The most honest of all.” Arrested Spy and Hariri Family

Future Movement Official in Saadnayel Arrested For Spying For Israel

Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 376

16/05/2009 Lebanese security sources revealed on Saturday to Al-Manar Channel that Ziad al-Homsy, the regional media officer for the Future movement electoral campaign in Central Beqaa and Saadnayel’s deputy mayor has confessed of collaborating with the Israeli enemy after the army intelligence broke into his home and found advanced equipments there.

A huge picture of Homsy was hanged on a building in the Bekaa town, with a comment saying “The most honest of all.”

The sources added that within the spy networks arrested during the last month, there were more than one evidence that lead to Homsy’s involvement.

Saadnayel, a Future movement stronghold in Bekaa, witnessed recently tension and in some cases clashes with the neighboring town of Taalabaya. The clashes led to the killing and injuring of several people. Commentators said that the person behind these security incidents was no one but Homsy. Security sources told Al-Manar that Homsy had confessed to collaborating with the Mossad since before the 2006 war on Lebanon and that one of his missions was to collect information about the resistance. He also confessed to having received large amounts of money from his Israeli operators.

The security sources also said that investigations with Homsy centered on the nature of the information he provided Israel with, particularly that he confessed that following the dismantling of several spying networks recently he destroyed a significant number of documents.

The Lebanese army issued a statement on Saturday saying that a number of Saadnayel - Beqaa residents tried to cut off the Zahle-Chtoura main road after the Lebanese army intelligence arrested al-Homsy.

Meanwhile, informed political sources stressed that senior officials and politicians including the head of the Future Movement MP Saad Hariri contacted the Lebanese army command to acquite information regarding the circumstances that led to the arrest of Homsy. For its part the army command advised the Future Movement to call on their supporters to withdraw from the Saadnael highway which they blocked in protest at the arrest.

Security sources confirmed that the case was linked to sensitive security issues, noting that other arrests have taken place in other regions, however they were not faced with such reactions. In contrast, the sources added, the residents of those areas have shown full support for the Lebanese army responsible for protecting the country’s security.

The Army statement added that the situation calmed down soon after the citizens realized that the man was arrested as part of an investigation into a security issue.

For its part, the coordination unit of the Future Movement released a statement Saturday saying that Ziad al-Homsy has no organizational role in the movement.

“Some media said that Homsy is the regional media officer for the Future movement electoral campaign. The truth is that he is the publisher of one of the local magazines, and he contacts all the electoral campaign offices in his region,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Homsy’s lawyer Khaled Hsheimi told LBC TV that the Saadnayel’s deputy mayor “is a Future Movement cadre and responsible for its electoral campaign in the region.”

The Future Movement statement urged all political forces and citizens to “support the security services that have made remarkable achievements recently.” The statement also called for not making early judgments and wait until Homsy is tried.

Ziyad Humsi and the Hariri Family

Yesterday, the Lebanese Army arrested Ziyad Humsi and accused him of being an Israeli spy. Lebanese media reported that he confessed his ties with Israel and that he met his Israeli handlers in Thailand. He was identified by his own lawyer as Information Official in the Future Movement (the movement of the Hariri family). The Hariri family issued a statement in which it denied that Humsi had any ties to the Hariri movement. I received those pictures: judge for yourselves. (thanks Yasser)

Posted by As'ad at 11:40 AM


Anonymous said...




11:06 PM, May 16, 2009

Michael said...


Yes I do Jew, I remember Gaza in 2009, the Lebanon in 2006, and 60 years of Jewish genocide and atrocities.

1:40 AM, May 17, 2009

nadia said...

Spies Homsi, Nader Met Mossad Officers in Thailand, ‘Israel’

Collaboration, Future Movement, MOSSAD, Resistance

"...If the Hizbollah & their allies win, it will suddenly be discovered that the Lebanese poll was "deeply flawed".."


'Crackpot' Robert Fisk, in the Independent, here

".... But I wanted to see the woman who in 1996, when asked by CBS News if the price of half-a-million dead Iraqi children was worth the sanctions against Saddam Hussein, infamously replied: "We think the price is worth it." She was US ambassador to the United Nations at the time. I had actually seen her before – she was lying on a hotel couch in London after prolonged and hopeless negotiations with a certain Bibi Netanyahu – but she was asleep at the time so I suppose that doesn't count....

And among the problems she spotted – of course – was that "one of the political contestants maintains a major armed force not under the control of the state". Well, we all guessed the Hizbollah would end up in the dog house for that very reason, even though Albright was sharp enough to realise that "other parties also possess arms of various sizes and capabilities".

The catch, of course, is that if the Hizbollah and its running mates – they include the crackpot General Michel Aoun who has successfully split the Christian Maronites by posing as Syria's and Iran's new best friend – pick up a majority of the vote, America will have to talk to a "Hizbollah-led" government in Lebanon. Or will refuse to do so as the case may be....

The best bet is that the country's ex-military president, Michel Sleiman, will fashion a centrist bloc from the bits and pieces of the election that will prevent either the Hizbollah or Hariri's lads from taking power. Be that as it may, Lebanon will be back to the same old parliamentary shouting shop it had before. In Beirut, it's parliamentary democracy along the lines of the French Third Republic.... This was the same Europe that built Lebanon – which is why this terribly divided country remains locked into a parliamentary system that Europe had long ago abandoned. And – given the fact that an all-powerful president could never run a sectarian state – it will remain so.

Nevertheless, the Hizbollah issue won't go away any more than Hamas is going to slide out of sight in Gaza. Barack Obama might not be too worried if it does slip into power – since his envoys are clocking up frequent flyer miles to and from Damascus, they might be in a better position to influence the Hizbollah's Syrian allies.

But don't be too sure. One of the big mistakes of the Bush era was to demand democracy for the Palestinians and to approve of fair elections before realising that Hamas would win. And once the Palestinians had achieved that astonishing result, they had to be punished for it. (It was, I recall, the Ottawa Citizen which announced that the Palestinians should be "threatened with fresh elections".)

But most of my Lebanese colleagues, listening to Mrs Albright, came away with a deep suspicion: that if the Lebanese elections bring the friendly "democrats" back to power, the National Democratic Institute and its other poll-sniffers will announce a fair and free election. But if the Hizbollah and their allies move into power, it will suddenly be discovered that the Lebanese poll was "deeply flawed". And then, I suppose, we would all be "threatened with fresh elections". The price, I am sure, will be worth it."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 12:25 PM

Media official of the Future Movement’s electoral campaign in the Central Beqaa Arrested for Collaborating with Israel

Future Movement denied any relation with the SPY.
Jumblat Rafea' was arrested.
Stay tuned, Nasrallah will speak on Istael's Spy network on Monday.


Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 94

16/05/2009 Lebanese security sources revealed on Saturday to Al-Manar Channel that Ziad al-Homsy, the Media official of the Future Movement’s electoral campaign in the Central Beqaa and deputy head of the Saadnayel Municipality, has confessed of collaborating with Israeli enemy after the army intelligence broke in to his home and found advanced equipments there.

The sources added that within the spy networks arrested during the last month, there were more than evident that lead to Homsy’s involvement.

Meanwhile, informed political sources stressed that official connection took place with some high-level parties’ sides including the head of the Future Movement MP Saad Hariri to inform them of the reasons and information that led to the arrest of Homsy and advised them to call on their supporters to withdraw from the highway after they have blocked it in protest of the arrest. The sources confirmed that the case was linked to sensitive security issues, noting that other arrests have taken place in other regions, however they were not faced with such reactions. In contrary, the sources continued, the residents of those areas have shown full support for the Lebanese army since it is practicing its duty in protecting the country’s security.

Earlier, Saadnayel residents had blocked the highway linking Zahle with Beirut following protests against the army breaking into Homsy’s residence but the situation was back to normal as the residents have understood the reasons behind the arrest of al Homsy.

Report: Israel kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year

Report: Israel kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year

[ 16/05/2009 - 08:06 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian center for human rights on Thursday reported that the IOF troops kidnapped more than 2,500 Palestinians last year, most of them from the West Bank.

In its annual report, the center said that the vast majority of these prisoners were arrested during raids on cities, villages and refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip or at military checkpoints.

The report emphasized that until the end of 2008, more than 9,000 were still in Israeli jails including 248 children and 69 women.

It added that more than 900 prisoners are administratively detained in Israeli jails without trials, noting that two prisoners died in 2008 as a result of the medical neglect policy pursued by Israel against Palestinian detainees.

The report pointed out that there are still about 40 Palestinian lawmakers imprisoned by Israel including PLC speaker Aziz Al-Dweik, adding that an Israeli military court sentenced Dweik to three years.

It accused Israel of providing its intelligence officers, who tortured Palestinian prisoners, with immunity, saying that hundreds of complaints about torture cases were neglected or ignored by Israeli courts except in rare situations where judges issued lenient sentences against officers.

The Israeli military court in Ofer prison, west of Ramallah, has sentenced a 15-year-old Palestinian boy to five months in jail in addition to about 1,200 dollars fine.
Nine Palestinian citizens were wounded on Friday at the hands of Israeli occupation forces while peacefully marching in Bilin village in the weekly demonstration against the separation wall.
16/05/2009 - 08:06 AM

Sayyed Nasrallah: "We Don't Want You to Forget May 7"


15/05/2009 Hezbollah held on Friday a ceremony Friday to honor some 2300 graduates at the Sayyed Shouhada complex in Beirut’s southern suburb.
Thousands of students, their families as well as political and religious figures attended the 21st commencement ceremony.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah addressed the students and praised their efforts to achieve this stage of high education.

His eminence promised to address the serious issues of the Israeli maneuver next month, the Israeli spy network and elections on Monday during an interview on Al-Manar TV.

“Today I would like to speak about you, about the Redwan Class, about the brothers and sisters and the familes, and I would like to speak about Lebanon and tackle the Lebanese issue, especially that we are passing through a critical stage with regards to elections, and then I end my speech with addressing (the May 17 agreement) and the 7th of May.”
Sayyed Nasrallah said that the graduates had the will to achieve education, “which in our religious belief is Jihad for the sake of Allah and on behalf of your brothers in Hezbollah, I thank the families, the mothers and the fathers who insisted and supported their sons and daughters to achieve this level of educations. We know that most of the Lebanese live on the edge of poverty, yet we find that the families spare no effort to provide their loved ones the chance to have education and build their future.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said: “Your class hold the name of the beloved martyr Hajj Redwan. I would like to unveil what most people don’t know about him. He used to urge the mujahideen not to abandon education, especially at universities. He used to provide every organizational and financial facilitation to our brothers to go to universities. It was not a personal desire of his. This was founded on his clear strategic foresight. Our resistance, since the very beginning, has been the Resistance that has the characteristics of will, determination and sacrifice, yet is has also been known to be the Resistance characterized by education, knowledge, specialization and clever minds. This is what our enemies have acknowledged at the battlefields and in confronting the psychological war.”
His eminence added that this great number of graduates constitute the heart of Hezbollah’s path. “You are giving the world the true image of the believer who is not held back poverty and deprivation; the bright image that expresses the path of the resistance in Lebanon, its belief, humane characteristic, patriotism, sincerity, devotion and the great hope in the future. Today, you are also giving a strong message to all those who question the Lebanese opposition’s ability to manage the state of Lebanon in every domain and bargain on the failure of the opposition. They say if the opposition wins the majority we will not participate in a government they would form. I tell those that we would love your participation because this is what we have been calling for, but if you chose not to take part we will not beg you. If you are bargaining on our failure, the answer is the 2883 graduates in this ceremony alone. I tell you that the minds and the hearts and the wills that defeated the strongest state and army in the region is capable of running a country that is 100 times stronger than Lebanon. They accuse us of seeking to create an empire in the region, if this is the case, then 10452 square kilometers will not be hard to manage. Like we managed, with Lebanese hearts, minds and sacrifices, to liberate our land and detainees and to protect our country, we are capable God willing to build our country. ”

The Hezbollah chief added: “The Lebanon we want is the following: A country for all the Lebanese, a country with one people. We have to stop talking about Lebanese peoples whether overtly or covertly. We are one Lebanese people and we have no problem to speak about the historic multiplicity of civilizations and culture. Intellectuals used to argue about what we have, a multiplicity of civilizations or cultures or religions. This multiplicity is a blessing and we can transform it into an asset in our country and the world. I don’t say that we have mutual interests; I say that we have common interests.”

His eminence added that “we look for a unified Lebanon, unified in land, people, institutions. This is why Hezbollah has always rejected dividing Lebanon and we will resist any idea to divide Lebanon, today or in the future. Some still have this idea and this is not a dream, it’s a hope that they speak of in their inner circles. They speak of federalism, but this will never happen in Lebanon. All those who accuse us of seeking a three-party rule are working to achieve federalism. We also look forward for a Lebanon free from baseless racism, but not free from minds, laws and values in our milieu. We also seek a Lebanon with an Arab identity free from racism that has nothing to do with religion, knowledge and humanity.”
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the dispute is over the resistance and the arms of the resistance and the defensive strategy. We want a strong state that would tell the resistance fighters to go back to their universities, colleges, fields and to your normal lives. Therefore, we also look forward to a state that practices real and effective administrative reform to implement a modern electoral law that secures the best representation…We want a government that sets sight on the sufferings of the people, poverty and the problem of unemployment, not to spend the next four or five years in a political conflict on issues they know they will fail to achieve any of them even if they use all political, security and media means. We have to help to help find a government that is serious, devoted and sincere to solve our problems of development, finance and economy. We also look forward to a strong and independent judiciary free from political interference. What we have today in Lebanon is not a judiciary, even if the Higher Judicial Council says it is. We have honest judges and corrupt judges.
What kind of judicial authority is that which punishes agents who spent decades collaborating with Israel and commits high treason? What kind of a judiciary is that which sentences to one month or six months or even a year and then sets them free for some of them to return to collaborate with the Israeli enemy, and on the other hand the same judiciary detains senior officers for three years and eight months without charges? Is this an honest and independent judicial authority?
Since the very beginning we pledged to hand the collaborators to judicial authorities and we did not follow the example of all resistance movements throughout history; the movements that set up field tribunals and punished the traitors. I told this to the French Ambassador after Jospin described Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Months later liberation was achieved and I told the French Ambassador: Relay my greetings to your Prime Minister and tell him that our resistance is more civilized and more ethical than the French resistance, because you executed ten thousand agents, some of which never had a trial, whereas we have not killed ‘a chicken’ that belonged to Antoine Lahed.”
Sayyed Nasrallah stressed a unity government was the best for Lebanon. “If you want democracy then let it be complete democracy. The best form of such democracy would result from democratically electing a parliament based on an electoral law that makes Lebanon one electoral district.”

On the “one-third veto power”, sayyed Nasrallah said: “I call on our brothers in the Future movement to look back at martyr Rafik Hariri’s sufferings in forming cabinets and find out why he did not head the last government before his assassination. Martyr Hariri used to tell me that ‘If I don’t name one third of the ministers, I will not form a government.” He always sought to have one-third of the ministers and when he couldn’t, he stepped back and PM Omar Karami was appointed. Anyone who wants real partnership should search for the guaranteeing third or the veto power in the opposition government. As for the three-party governance, this is something that they had created and nourished. No one in the resistance has spoken about it. No one even understands what three-party rule they are speaking about: based on confessions, sects or political alliances?”

The Hezbollah Secretary General added that the aim at this phase was at the Christians of the opposition, “because when they say that the Shiites in the opposition want the three-party rule – if we assume that they mean three-party rule base on confessions, then this might not harm the Shiites, not the Sunnis who will have the second one-third. What they are trying to tell Christians in Lebanon is that General Michel Aoun, Suleiman Franjieh, Elie Skaf and other Christians in the opposition agree to this kind of governance. This is baseless. General Aoun did not accept such formula in Jizzine, so how can you accuse him as such? As opposition, we must not stay on the defensive. We want participation and we want to implement the Taef Accord and work on developing our political system.”

“In respect of our memory and to the commemoration of the May 17 (agreement), it is regrettable to see those who stood up to the May 17 agreement that was signed by the then Lebanese regime that yielded to Israeli conditions out of weakness, defeat and disgrace take a different position today.
Who signed the agreement? Who wanted to succumb Lebanon to Israel through that agreement? Who stood up to the agreement, from scholars, men and women, particularly in the Imam Rida mosque in Bir el-Abed (Beirut’s southern suburb)? Who spilled his blood to declare Lebanon’s rejection to the agreement, other than martyr Mohammed Najdeh?
Who signed the agreement of disgrace with Israel? Today, those who had sought to give in Lebanon to Israel have become symbols of sovereignty, freedom and independence while those who offered their blood to liberate Lebanon have become symbols for subordination to the outside powers. Isn’t this unfair? Can we forget this? We want a strong state that can gain back its lands not by begging for it and not by grants from Netanyahu during elections season.”

“A few days ago was the first anniversary of the May 7 events.

As opposition, we avoided raising this issue because raising it will cause more strife in this elections season. However, the other camp still recalls these events in every speech they make. Our silence was described as weakness or embarrassment. I found myself obliged to comment this out of respect to the blood of martyrs who fell on the 7th of May. Therefore, I remind those who are raising the May 7 events issue that they ought to remember what they did on the fifth of May that same year. It is enough to read the Winograd report to know that one of Hezbollah’s main assets that should be eliminated is the party’s communications network. Does anyone doubt that the Israelis are eavesdropping everything in Lebanon? The most efficient weapon during the 2006 war was the fortified communications network that was beyond eavesdropping.

The government back then convened and decided to dismantle the network and consider it illegal and against the state’s sovereignty. The government also decided to bring to justice everyone involved in it. The illegitimate government ought to realize that May 5, 2008 was a stigma on its face and its history because it sought to achieve what Israel had failed to achieve in 33 days of war.

Why did they deploy thousands of fighters from outside Beirut? The Beirutis may as well ask those who want their votes to be in retaliation to the May 7 events, who turned Beirut into a city of militiamen and filled it with arms under the camouflage of security firms? Who deployed thousands of fighters in Beirut’s apartments?

The scheme was that the government takes the decision, Hezbollah would call for protests and civil disobedience thus giving way for the government to seek other options: if the protests were banned then a confrontation between the resistance and the Lebanese army would ensue. The scheme was thwarted because we have a national patriotic army. Some foreign sides had studied whether the army was ready for such a confrontation with the army and reached a negative conclusion because they found that they can never depend on the army to fight the resistance. This is a legion of honor for the army that preserves national security.

There had been a scheme to drag Beirut to sectarian strife that would last for weeks. Consequently, they would call in foreign forces to help stop a sectarian war in Lebanon. The scheme of May 7 was set for execution. Then why did stay up until morning? Why did you call Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the US during the Cabinet session? This is no longer a secret. That illegitimate government had taken a decision to put Lebanon in front of a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites.

I tell all the Lebanese, the Sunnis and the Shiites in particular, to our brothers and sisters in Beirut, what happened in May 7 had put an early end to a sectarian war that could have led to setting Beirut ablaze.

May 7 had also stopped a conspiracy against the resistance. May 7 had preserved the houses and the families of Beirut. After hearing what is being said today, I say that May 7 was a glorious day for the resistance in Lebanon. Consequently, May 7 has put Lebanon on the right track towards solution and pulled it out of the stalemate that was imposed on it.

The relative calm in the past year was the fruit of the May 7 events and the blood of the martyrs. I have been hearing a lot of slogans like ‘we won’t forget (May 7), who told you that we want you to forget? It is required that we don’t forget May 7 so that no one would repeat the stupidity of May 5.

As for the people who were brought in from the regions, I want to be fair to them. We know that the people of Akkar and Bekaa are courageous, credible and they are not cowards and they don’t run away from the battlefield. But you brought them not to fight Israel. You may try them with Israel. But you brought them to fight their own people, to fight the resistance that every Arab –whatever his religion or sect- is proud of. So, yes they did not have the motive and the momentum to fight their people in the resistance. They were brought to a battle they never ever believed in.

We don’t want May 7 or May 17. We are calling for cooperation and partnership. To discard the past and to merge efforts, build our country hand in hand and pull it out of its different crises. Like I said before, we have close ranks to build Lebanon hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder.
Whatever the results of the election will be, we will need all this cooperation and joined efforts to protect Lebanon and build it together. I once again congratulate our graduate brothers and sisters for their achievements and success.”


Iran to Host Summit with Afghan, Pakistan Presidents


16/05/2009 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will host a summit with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan in Tehran on May 19, his office said on Saturday. The Agenda of Tuesday’s talks wasn’t revealed.

The gathering comes less than three months after the three presidents met in Tehran for a regional economic summit, along with leaders from other neighboring states. The economic summit pledged to help rebuild war-shattered Afghanistan and the Gaza Strip.

Its Preying Time at PP




Israel pressures U.S. on Iran   (cartoon Carlos Latuff)

Israel pressures U.S. on Iran (cartoon Carlos Latuff)

The Bomb Iran Faction

by Gary Leupp

There is clearly a faction of the power elite that is, and has for some years been pressing, for a U.S. military attack on Iran. It is not advocating a war, at least openly, or an occupation of that vast nation; rather, it is advocating an operation similar in concept to the Israeli attack on Iraq’s French-built Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981. In a word, it is both advocating an Israeli-like action and justifying it explicitly as one on behalf of Israel.

That Israeli raid on the Iraqi reactor in 1981, justified at the time by Tel Aviv as an act of “preemptive self-defense,” was condemned by the entire world as an egregious violation of international law. President Ronald Reagan directed the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to vote with other members of the Security Council to condemn the attack. It is a measure of the Israelification of U.S. foreign policy that a quarter-century later Vice President Cheney and the neconservatives who used his office as their general headquarters praised this action and raised preemption to the status of a sacred U.S. military doctrine. What was the attack on Iraq in 2003, to eliminate its (imaginary) weapons of mass destruction, but a preemptive Osiraq raid on crack?

George Bush declared that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction threatening its neighbors, requiring U.S. action (despite lack of UN approval). Iran and Kuwait, recent victims of real Iraqi aggression, stated that they did not feel threatened. Neither did any other bordering state. That left, by implication, Israel. But Israel was not much discussed as an issue during the massive propaganda build-up to the Iraq War. The last thing its proponents wanted was to convey the impression that this was a war for Israel, although that was in fact the only country in the world where the war enjoyed any popularity outside the U.S. (It was, as Joe Klein put it in a 2003 column, “the casus belli that dare not speak its name.”)

With Iran, it’s very different. Those advocating the attack on Iran don’t mince words: the U.S. must, they tell us, use its armed might to destroy Iran’s nuclear program for Israel. For years now they’ve been telling us that Iran is months away from the bomb and that therefore Israel hovers on the edge of the abyss. Oh, the issue of Iranian nukes threatening Europe is also used to justify the construction of the Polish missile base and Czech tracking radar system which many mainstream analysts find at best strategically futile and diplomatically provocative to Russia. No one in Europe takes an Iranian nuclear threat seriously. And the U.S. rhetoric about those facilities last year following the Russian invasion of Georgia (following the Georgian attack upon South Ossetia), exposed their real purpose.

But to the Chicken Littles crying that the sky is falling, Iran’s nuclear program is an existential issue for Israel, hence for the Jewish people. There is a certain intransigent reasoning here and manifest desperation. One saw it in the screeching editorials of Norman Podhoretz in 2007 praying for Bush to bomb Iran to prevent a “nuclear holocaust.” One saw it in the Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by neocon Iran expert and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Michael Ledeen, “Iran and the Problem of Evil” in June 2008 linking the entire history of anti-Semitism culminating in its European fascist varieties with Iranian Khomeinists and the Saudi Wahhabis. And one sees this craziness too in the ceaseless barrage of AIPAC-backed congressional resolutions targeting Iran.

The call for an attack on Iran, to the extent it is being voiced in the ruling class, is being most sharply framed by neocon columnists including some who recently served in the Bush administration. It is echoed by AIPAC and other Lobby organizations. In a just world the former would be completely disgraced by now, their lies about Iraq having been fully exposed, and the latter would be shamed into silence by the Israeli espionage scandal. But now that the Justice Department has dismissed the AIPAC spying charges filed in 2005, the Lobby and neocons are proclaiming the decision as a “vindication” of the activities of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman (passing U.S. documents pertaining to Iran to Israeli Embassy staff). An emboldened Jane Harman addressing AIPAC can made light of her wiretapped conversation with the “Israeli agent” revealed by Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly. (You know, the guy who offered AIPAC money to buy her the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee in return for getting Rosen and Weissman off the hook.)

The message of the AIPAC spy case dismissal seems to be: the foreign policies of these two countries are one, or if not so, the desire of the smaller to determine that of the greater is understandable and legitimate (since its very existence is at stake). There is really no such thing as “spying” or “treason” in this relationship. We’re all family, for God’s sakes! AIPAC emerges as strong as ever with half of Congress dutifully attending its convention.

That message rankles many in the Justice Department, including prosecutors who thought they had a cut and dried case against the AIPAC operatives. And I’d think there are many in the “intelligence community”—the professionals who use their research skills to prepare such reports as the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate that stated “with a high degree of confidence” that Iran did not have an operative nuclear weapons program—who are galled by apparent Israeli influence on their work. They must be irked their findings can be ignored by higher-ups who tell them, “No, you don’t understand; Iran threatens Israel with nuclear holocaust.” They are, in effect, being told that Israeli policy requires the circulation of false propaganda concerning Iran’s nuclear program, and that Washington is going to cooperate in that propaganda, ignoring its own intelligence.

That’s the message George Bush conveyed to his own intelligence services when, after the NIE was released (having been delayed a year by the intervention of Cheney’s office), he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and told him the document didn’t “reflect his own views” about the Iranian nuclear program. (As though a man challenged to pronounce “nuclear” has “views” about Iran’s nuclear program of comparable sophistication to the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, etc.!) What better manifestation of the division within the ruling class than this division between a president, fed bogus intelligence by neocon advisors with a Southwest Asia regime-change agenda, and his own intelligence agencies?

There is a section, a rather larger section, of the ruling class that doesn’t buy the alarmist depiction of Iran, and doesn’t see the point of a U.S. attack. Certainly they don’t see Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat to themselves. Indeed, the blowback potential of such an attack is obvious to all with eyes to see, conscious of the existing increasingly problematic consequences of the U.S. alliance with Israel, and not blinded by paranoia. Maybe I’m projecting, but allotting some common sense to these people I’m assuming they realize there’s no way that public opinion in Europe, or in Latin America, Japan, China, South Asia, would see an Iran attack as anything other than an insanely immoral deployment of the preemption principle that underlay the Iraq attack. They’d see it as a ratcheting up of the bullying tactics that an hyper-puissance—in precipitous decline, maybe—felt compelled to adopt. Obama’s reputation would be toast.

There’s no way the 67 million Iranian people, most of whom view the nuclear program as an object of national pride, would understand a U.S. attack as anything other than a savage assault on the Iranian nation, and not the first by the U.S. As all Americans should know, the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953 to punish it for its efforts to nationalize the nation’s oil industry. It installed the Shah whose vicious rule provoked the most mass-based revolution ever to sweep an Islamic society in 1979.

But we must understand, a neocon like Ledeen (whom by the way an Italian parliamentary investigation has linked to the Niger uranium documents forgeries behind Bush’s infamous State of the Union speech claim) sees the CIA overthrow of Mossadegh as a great moment in history, a great CIA success story. And he emphasizes that no people in the Middle East love Americans more than Iranians and are more eager to be freed!

This kind of delusion recalls neocon predictions the U.S. troops would be greeted in the streets of Baghdad with flowers. It also recalls what the unnamed White House official told New York Times columnist Ron Suskind in the months leading up to the war based on lies in Iraq. He berated Suskind for being rooted in the “reality-based community,” among those who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” The Bush insider warned against such belief, dismissing it as naïve: “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he declared. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality, we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” The Bush administration is gone, but that (Straussian?) mindset persists in some quarters.

Those who don’t buy the alarmist case against Iran may be becoming increasingly concerned over time about the success of the attack-advocates in advancing their cause; indeed, the frontal attacks on the Israel Lobby from academics like John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and former President Jimmy Carter— unthinkable just a few years ago—testify to such concern. (On the Lobby and Iran, see especially pages 283-294 of the Mearsheimer-Walt book.)
Similarly the analyses of the “neoconservative” phenomenon, both as an intellectual movement that influences elite public opinion through such organs as the National Review and the Weekly Standard and editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and as a self-proclaimed “cabal” within government, have come under scrutiny especially since 2003 when journalists like Seymour Hersh, Jeet Heer and William Pfaff all indicated concern with a genuine threat. These days a well-known Jewish columnist, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, in an exchange with Abraham Foxman notes a “dangerous tendency among Jewish neoconservatives to encourage a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Their gleeful, intellectual warmongering—given the vast dangers and complexities of an attack on Iran–is nauseating.” (He wrote this in response to Foxman’s allegation that his critique of the influence of neoconservatism in producing the Iraq War constituted “anti-Semitism.”)

The neocons are sometimes described as an intellectual movement influenced by University of Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss as well as (in a curious way) Trotskyism, the principle proponents of which are almost entirely secular Jews and passionate Zionists. They argue that the U.S. should use its military power to bring “democracy” to the world and so many see them as neo-Wilsonians (with all the shoddy cynicism the originals represented). But Strauss, as leading authority on his thought Shadia Drury points out, argues that deception is the norm in political life, that the big lie is necessary to get the masses to embrace wise policy. (Thus the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq really have nothing to do with “democracy” but with unspoken geopolitical objectives.) The neocons have yet to be sufficientlyexposed, or defeated as a political force, but they’ve come under scrutiny in part because of the alarm some in the power structure feel at their rise to power in the early Bush years.

In Bush’s first State of the Union address, in January 2002, he made the reference to the “Axis of Evil,” bizarrely linking Iraq, Iran and North Korea to one another and—in that surreal atmosphere, in the minds of his audience, as the U.S. flag fluttered in the background of every TV screen 24/7—to 9/11. He somehow, when he held the respect of 90% of the people (when he served as what the Straussian would call the “gentleman” ruler manipulated in the background by the “wise”), was able to conflate the rogue Saudis who destroyed the Twin Towers and attacked the Pentagon with absolutely unrelated phenomena—the countries of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which had little to do with or even hostile relations with one another. Who was responsible for this preposterous phrase but neocon David Frum, associate of neocon Richard Perle, head of the Defense Policy Board who was to insist that Mohamed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad?

That phrase “Axis of Evil”—placing Iran in the same crosshairs as Iraq—drew consternation from European allies. Asked at a security conference in February what it meant, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the top-ranking neocon in government, replied mysteriously, “You’re either for us or against us,” prompting continental editorialists to muse darkly about the descent of a kind of Manichaenism upon the post 9/11 U.S. Here in this country while (following, one might say, the Straussian game plan) fear fed gullibility and the Big Lie generally worked well, many in the intelligentsia (and academia in particular) suspected that the Iraq War was based on calculated deception. Whether it was the lies of Big Oil or the Military-Industrial Complex, clearly there were lies here. It was only after Iraq was firmly under U.S. occupation that the role of the neocons in the war preparations, and of Douglas Feith’s “Office of Special Plans” (what Mother Jones appropriately called the “Lie Factory”) in particular, became clear. (Most people still don’t know that Leo Shulsky, who headed the OSP under Feith, wrote this interesting paper “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence” with Gary J. Schmitt earlier in his career.)

Since then many have come to think that in their desire to reconfigure Southwest Asia in what they suppose to be the interests of Israel the neocons are (1) prepared to lie through their teeth, and (2) threaten to severely jeopardize U.S. security.

My own critique of the neocons, the Lobby and Israel differs from the mainstream ones, coming as it does from a left anti-imperialist perspective. I’ve made as much a fuss as anyone about the neocons’ lies, by way of exposure. (My first forays out of academic writing into political column writing were to perform the sort of exposure which was not entirely absent in the mainstream press—in fact it was there in bits and pieces for those who looked for it—but seldom sharply expressed.) But liars are of course representative of bourgeois politics and mainstream journalism in general; lying is quite normative and so it, even of a Straussian variety, is not the main issue here.

Nor is “U.S. national security” as mainstream analysts understand it—the security of an imperialist country, a country which is as about as aggressive as a country can possibly be in the history of the world—the issue for me. For me the issue is that this faction of the power elite has a known project—there’s no secret about it—to transform (or in their cynical euphemism “bring democracy to”) what they call “the Greater Middle East.” This includes Afghanistan and whatever other parts of Central Asia they find useful. Various benefits accrue from their project, which they link to such ruling-class objectives as the Indian Ocean-Caspian oil pipeline project and the establishment of permanent military bases in the region. And they are prepared to slaughter hundreds of thousands to achieve their aims.

A conception of Israeli security guides their project, and central to it was the bloody conquest of Iraq. But this is only the beginning of the project. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser (who also worked in the OSP), and Meyrav Wurmser (of the Middle East Media Research Institute) all participated in the drafting of a white paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996 entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” have observed how it envisions “regime change” throughout the region to “secure the realm” of Israel. The “effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq,” according to the report, “—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.”

Those bearing responsibility for the Iraq War, for the propaganda campaign leading up to it, for the editorials, for the disinformation, for the forged documents, for the coordinated public statements (“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud over New York”), for the war—bear a heavy responsibility indeed. They are not limited to the neocons; as many have pointed out, Wolfowitz would be nothing without Rumsfeld, Libby would be nothing without Cheney, the Lie Factory products nothing without the performance of shame of Colin Powell at United Nations in February 2003. And Bush as Commander-in-Chief is ultimately responsible. But the neocons were unquestionably central players in the crime.

The neocons have generated enemies and lost credibility. But they’ve successfully eluded responsibility for their actions and continue to appear as respectable commentators on Fox News (if that’s not an oxymoron) and write columns for reputable publications. (Bill Kristol was just recently terminated as a New York Times columnist but was picked up by the Washington Post.) They are not without a lingering presence in the halls of power. Dennis Ross, Hillary Clinton’s Special Advisor on the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (i.e., key advisor on Iran), also known as “Israel’s lawyer” for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish state as a U.S. diplomat during Israeli-Palestinian talks in 1999-2000), is probably the key such figure at present and a person to watch. He co-authored an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal Sept. 22, 2008 with Richard Holbrooke, R. James Woolsey, and Mark D. Wallace entitled, “Everybody Needs to Worry About Iran.” It stated without evidence that, “Iran is now edging closer to being armed with nuclear weapons, and it continues to develop a ballistic-missile capability.” In other words it was intended to make you worry and make you forget about the 2007 NIE.

(Former CIA boss Woolsey by the way seems a big enthusiast of the Noble Lie concept, having originally promoted the lie about the meeting between Mohamed Atta and an Iraqi embassy official in Prague and praised the disinformation articles about Saddam-al-Qaeda ties published by Jeffrey Goldberg in the New Yorker in 2002. He claimed that by showing that the Kurdish al-Ansar group was al-Qaeda affiliated and operating on Iraqi territory, Goldberg had decisively established Saddam’s al-Qaeda ties and put the CIA to shame.)

Ross is known to favor a policy of ultimatums to Iran followed by a
naval blockade to prevent gasoline imports, then a blockade of oil exports, then massive air strikes on the nuclear facilities and military facilities. The goal would be not only the crippling of the nuclear program for a few years but the destruction of the military and regime. His may be a minority view within the administration, and his appointment even a sop to the Lobby, but he is dangerous.

The ruling class is clearly divided over how to deal with Iran, with the rise of Iran that has paradoxically accompanied the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Maybe this precipitous ascent occurred as a result of the cluelessness of neocon policymakers, few of whom understand Arabic or Persian or Middle East culture and history behind that of Israel. Maybe they genuinely didn’t understand the historical specificities of Shiism or the strength of Shiite solidarity. But by toppling the Sunni-based Baathists (whom the CIA had once favored as an alternative to communists or Islamists), the U.S. brought pro-Iranian Shiite Islamists to power—to Tehran’s great delight.

Meanwhile China, replacing Japan as Iran’s main oil customer, signs more and more contracts for pipeline construction and Russia continues work on the Bushehr nuclear reactor. The Russians and Iranians say that that reactor is for entirely peaceful purposes, and the IAEA backs them up, while the Israelis insist that it (like Osiraq 28 years ago), ought to be bombed—by the U.S., preferably. But the fact that that hasn’t happened yet, and that indeed the Bush administration denied the Israelis bunker-busting bombs in 2008, shows that the “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” faction of the U.S. ruling class has been on the defensive if not decline for some time now.

I’m not saying the U.S. ruling class is fundamentally divided into factions that are divided over Israel or an Israeli security agenda, more deeply than it is divided, say, about how to grapple with the collapse of the economy. Nor am I suggesting that the struggle between these factions is the only dynamic shaping Middle East policy or foreign policy generally. Foreign policy is generally shaped by its framers’ perception of what serves the interests of the ruling class as a whole, which is to say, what generates maximum profit for corporations in which U.S. capitalists are invested. It’s not unusual for the interests of the oil companies, for example, to diverge from the interests of Israel as promoted by the Lobby, although they can also converge. But there is a faction in the U.S. polity whose commitment to Israel, or to a particular vision of Israel’s security, seems to trump all other considerations including the broader “global interests” of U.S. imperialism. It is an understatement to say that during the George W. Bush years that faction was extraordinarily bold.

The general consensus in the ruling class seems to be at present that its needs are best served by this popular president as a uniting figure with a centrist politics that can distance the country from the Bush policies abhorred by the world and the American people while avoiding any major shifts in foreign policy. Thus we have plans for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq in accordance with the agreement already worked out by the Bush and Maliki regimes; a continued counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan that isn’t yet too controversial; continued Predator drone attacks on Pakistan, etc. The plan is to stay the course on the Bush foreign policy that meets with the approval of the generals. There may be some significant shifts from the preceding administration in U.S. policy towards Latin America and Europe, Russia. On Iran we have renewed diplomacy, and perhaps even the vital concession that Iran indeed has the right under the NPT to enrich uranium and master the nuclear cycle despite some technical violations of the agreement years ago which the U.S. has used to vilify Iran but have nothing to do with Iran as a nuclear weapons threat. In this context we might be seeing the twilight of the neocons as a political force.

But it is important to note the obvious, without being overly delicate about it: the government of Israel, its friends and advocates in the U.S., the neocons and the Lobby retain enormous political power to affect the course of policy. When AIPAC met last week, more than half the members of the House and Senate attended its gala Monday night dinner, featuring the “roll call” when all the legislators rise when asked to demonstrate the lobbyists’ clout on Capitol Hill. Their willingness to take part in such a ritual under current circumstances is itself an extraordinary statement of Lobby power.

But this takes place at a time when the Obama administration is rumored to be heading for a confrontation with the new Netanyahu administration in Israel over the fundamental problem in the Middle East: the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories seized during the (preemptive) war of June 1967. By his selection of former Senator George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East Obama signaled that the U.S. would start getting serious about obliging Israel to comply with international law. This provoked an outcry from those worried about a shift from the Bush policy of ignoring the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank, Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms.

“Senator Mitchell is fair,” complained Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “He’s been meticulously even-handed. But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ — it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support. So I’m concerned. I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

Obama however may be quite sure that after eight years of slavishly, unprecedentedly pro-Israeli policy the U.S. needs to try to establish some credibility as a rational if not dispassionate party in the Middle East. That means telling the Israelis they have to make peace with the Palestinians, stop settling their land and leave the illegal settlements they’ve established.

What he’s likely to be told is what Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s new foreign minister (whom many Israeli’s consider a “fascist” for his views on Palestinians, a particularly harsh designation in the Jewish state) told the Jerusalem Post in a recent interview. He complained that “People try to simplify the situation with these formulas — land-for peace, two-state solution — it’s a lot more complicated.” The real problem, he declared, “is not occupation, not settlements and not settlers. The biggest obstacle is the Iranians.”

Lieberman has also surprised many lately by stating that Israel after years of threats would not attack Iran after all. On April 26 he told the Austrian Kleine Zeitung, “We are not talking about a military attack. Israel cannot resolve militarily the entire world’s problem. I propose that the United States, as the largest power in the world, take responsibility for resolving the Iranian question.” In other words, he’s leaving it to the U.S. to solve the problem of Iran as the precondition for Israel addressing the problem of peace with the Palestinians.

Meanwhile we read of another Israeli Air Force refueling drill between Israel and Gibraltar, a 3,800 km flight the first week of May. This could be preparatory for an attack on Iran or designed to signal the U.S.: “We’re serious. You do this for us, or we’ll do it ourselves. Either way, you’ll take the consequences with us, as your Vice President Cheney noted in January 2005 when he said, ‘the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.’ So understanding our resolve, please do the right thing and do it instead of us!”

Because that really is the logic. And within the ruling circles of this imperialist country, where the interests of the masses don’t have much to do with decision-making, there are those who are terrified by this illogic. But then again you have the broad bipartisan support for AIPAC-drafted Congressional resolution 362 designed to provoke war with Iran. Your characteristic politician—shallow, amoral, pragmatic, ignorant of the world and of history but acutely sensitive to constituency issues, calculating, reliant on opportunistic arrogant staffers—can simultaneously understand that something doesn’t make sense and yet requires political support. (Just like he/she may have concluded in high school that there probably was no God but for campaign purposes has to have a religious affiliation.) How many politicians have so much as cited the NIE?

Where this is all going to go is anyone’s guess. There’s a meeting coming up between Obama and Netanyahu May 18 in Washington. The Israeli press is expressing some anxiety about the encounter since U.S. officials have made it clear the U.S. president will pressure Netanyahu on the settlements issue. Obama seems to want to say to the world that he’s serious about getting some justice for the Palestinians. He may believe he can do so at minimal political expense, and this could be a shrewd political device at this juncture given the deterioration of the U.S. position in the world. Following the global revulsion at the New Year’s Gaza blitzkrieg the U.S. can obtain political capital from a period of public tension with its de facto ally over the settlements.

In that likely context of tension, the calls for bombing Iran will continue, coming from Israel, from the neocon columnists, from the Lobby, maybe from some inside the State Department and Pentagon. The cooler heads in the power structure, including in the intelligence community fighting heroic rear-guard actions, will continue to say in various ways privately and publicly: “Look, this is stupid. Not only does Iran not constitute an ‘existential threat’ to the state of Israel, it doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program, period. That’s just not what the science says (not that these people care about science). That’s what some people want you to believe to scare you into supporting their criminal plot to attack a sovereign country, just like they did Iraq on the basis of lies.”

Again, I’m not saying this matter of attacking Iran is the most fundamental issue dividing the power elite at this time. Nor is it the main issue on the minds of the people. But it’s something a strongly determined faction in this country have successfully placed on the policy agenda. They owe a great debt to Dick Cheney who bearing no outward marks of Zionist sentimentality but merely Big Oil written all over his face while nurturing the neocons during two Bush terms in office constantly declared and gave pseudo-legitimacy to the argument that Iran could have a nuclear program for one reason only: nuclear weapons. (This despite the fact that successive U.S. administrations had promoted an Iranian civilian nuclear program in the ‘60s and ‘70s when the Shah was in power and the Ford administration was doing so when Cheney served as Ford’s chief of staff.)

Let’s now see what kind of clout this “bomb Iran” faction can muster vis-à-vis the reasonable people within the crisis-ridden U.S. ruling class. As pro-Taliban Islamists take power in much of Pakistan, the Taliban continues its revival in Afghanistan, and the policy of paying off the Sunni tribes in Iraq crumbles, U.S. imperialism confronts the limits of its power and has (so to speak) to rethink. “Time for some real apocalyptic savagery” think some, the crazy ones, who imagine using nukes against Iran. They know that there are tens of millions of Christian Zionists, including Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins readers, who’d be down for unprecedented fireworks tomorrow, no questions asked. These folks aren’t providing intellectual leadership to the movement; they’re just yearning for the End Times and that affects their judgment.

Others probably think this has to be the time for a show-down with the nuts. One faction in the power elite must be thinking: They cannot be allowed to get their Iran attack on the basis of fantasy. Whatever one thinks about the mullahs, or Ahmadinejad, or Islam—they can’t be allowed another war-based-on-lies.

People on the radical left should observe the efforts of this faction, encouraging it of course, but observing how the root problem is really the system which nurtures and validates nuts like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Bolton, and their media cheerleaders like Kristol and Podhoretz. But we should raise, if only for discussion the question: why is a system based indifferently on the pursuit of profit (which is what capitalist imperialism is all about) being asked to risk its health for this minor accretion to itself—the nuclear-powered settler-state of Israel–in a confrontation with Iran, a country that doesn’t even threaten the U.S. system (but actually in fact holds open broad investment opportunities with other imperialist countries are expoiting)?

What role do purely ideological factors play here? How do Zionism and, for some, biblical mythology about a Chosen People and a Promised Land intersect with and even outweigh other considerations such as “national security” in a conventional sense and most fundamentally, U.S. corporate profit?

In the collective mind of the U.S. ruling class, such questions are no doubt being posed, probably sometimes in wrong ways. Accused AIPAC spy Rosen now tells the Jerusalem Post his arrest was all due to anti-Semitism. There is such a thing as anti-Semitism, and a deep almost instinctual tendency to think in terms of ethnic stereotypes corrupts the American soul. The blogosphere abounds with commentaries that mix rational critique of U.S. policy with essentializing nonsense about the power of “the Jews” behind policy, without recognizing the diversity of Jewish opinion and the vital role of Christian Zionists with their belief in the End Times in enhancing Lobby strength.

But if the Lobby and the neocons step up their efforts to get the U.S. to bomb Iran on behalf of Israel (because make no mistake, that is exactly what is happening here), their opponents may respond in a way that produces a widespread campaign of criticism in society pertaining to Israeli influence and Lobby power such as we have not seen in this country. That would be a very good thing. The objects of scrutiny will likely however claim that they are victims of anti-Semitism, and some of this will be imaginary. But there is real anti-Semitism in this country, and there can be dangerously essentializing explanations and attributions that contribute to it.

This is the first time that a major U.S. foreign policy question has been posed very frankly as an Israeli security question, posed as such, it must be said, by the “bomb Iran” advocates themselves. If the debate heats up in the coming months, during which by everyone’s calculations Iran is reaching goals which it says are milestones in peaceful nuclear energy development and Israel says are unacceptable, many issues not typically central to U.S. political discourse may come up. The public debate won’t be about blood and oil, bases and pipelines.

It will be about whether Israel is really threatened by Iran, a nation that hasn’t attacked another in centuries. It will be about whether the Lobby, on behalf of a nuclear power exposed as such, can successfully make the case that Israel as a nuclear power is truly threatened by a country with three thousand centrifuges producing small test batches of low enriched uranium. It will be about whether conventional political discourse in this country (which has always in any case been conducted in code obscuring the raw class interests involved, always broadcast in a cynical language in which “democracy” means “capitalism” or at least U.S. imperialist interests), will be eclipsed for a time by a discourse in which “Islamofascism” and “nuclear holocaust” and other sensationalistic terms (ridiculous terms which the neocons got Bush to vocalize publicly) designed to stifle thought are at the center of public discussion.

And it may be in part about the usages of the anti-Semitism charge. It will be necessary to carefully follow and objectively analyze the “bomb Iran” faction, its struggle with its opponents, and its defenses from criticism in the months to come.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He can be reached at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Source: Cartoon Illustration by Carlos Latuff

May 15, 2009 Posted by Elias NEWS & POLITICS , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments