Saturday 17 December 2011

How Maliki and Iran outsmarted the US on troop withdrawal

Posted by on December 17, 2011
by Steve Bell
by Gareth Porter, source

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s suggestion that the end of the U.S. troop presence in Iraq is part of a U.S. military success story ignores the fact that the George W. Bush administration and the U.S. military had planned to maintain a semi-permanent military presence in Iraq.

The real story behind the U.S. withdrawal is how a clever strategy of deception and diplomacy adopted by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in cooperation with Iran outmaneuvered Bush and the U.S. military leadership and got the United States to sign the U.S.-Iraq withdrawal agreement.

A central element of the Maliki-Iran strategy was the common interest that Maliki, Iran and anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr shared in ending the U.S. occupation, despite their differences over other issues.

Maliki needed Sadr’s support, which was initially based on Maliki’s commitment to obtain a time schedule for U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Iraq.

In early June 2006, a draft national reconciliation plan that circulated among Iraqi political groups included agreement on “a time schedule to pull out the troops from Iraq” along with the build-up of Iraqi military forces. But after a quick trip to Baghdad, Bush rejected the idea of a withdrawal timetable.

Maliki’s national security adviser Mowaffak Al-Rubaei revealed in a Washington Post op-ed that Maliki wanted foreign troops reduced by more than 30,000 to under 100,000 by the end of 2006 and withdrawal of “most of the remaining troops” by end of the 2007.

When the full text of the reconciliation plan was published Jun. 25, 2006, however, the commitment to a withdrawal timetable was missing.

In June 2007, senior Bush administration officials began leaking to reporters plans for maintaining what The New York Times described as “a near-permanent presence” in Iraq, which would involve control of four major bases.

Maliki immediately sent Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari to Washington to dangle the bait of an agreement on troops before then Vice President Dick Cheney.

As recounted in Linda Robinson’s “Tell Me How This Ends”, Zebari urged Cheney to begin negotiating the U.S. military presence in order to reduce the odds of an abrupt withdrawal that would play into the hands of the Iranians.

In a meeting with then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in September 2007, National Security Adviser Rubaie said Maliki wanted a “Status of Forces Agreement” (SOFA) that would allow U.S. forces to remain but would “eliminate the irritants that are apparent violations of Iraqi sovereignty”, according Bob Woodward’s “The War Within”.

Maliki’s national security adviser was also seeking to protect the Mahdi Army from U.S. military plans to target it for major attacks. Meeting Bush’s coordinator for the Iraq War, Douglas Lute, Rubaie said it was better for Iraqi security forces to take on Sadr’s militias than for U.S. Special Forces to do so.

He explained to the Baker-Hamilton Commission that Sadr’s use of military force was not a problem for Maliki, because Sadr was still part of the government.

Publicly, the Maliki government continued to assure the Bush administration it could count on a long-term military presence. Asked by NBC’s Richard Engel on Jan. 24, 2008 if the agreement would provide long-term U.S. bases in Iraq, Zebari said, “This is an agreement of enduring military support. The soldiers are going to have to stay someplace. They can’t stay in the air.”

Confident that it was going to get a South Korea-style SOFA, the Bush administration gave the Iraqi government a draft on Mar. 7, 2008 that provided for no limit on the number of U.S. troops or the duration of their presence. Nor did it give Iraq any control over U.S. military operations.
But Maliki had a surprise in store for Washington.

A series of dramatic moves by Maliki and Iran over the next few months showed that there had been an explicit understanding between the two governments to prevent the U.S. military from launching major operations against the Mahdi Army and to reach an agreement with Sadr on ending the Mahdi Army’s role in return for assurances that Maliki would demand the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces.

In mid-March 2007, Maliki ignored pressure from a personal visit by Cheney to cooperate in taking down the Mahdi Army and instead abruptly vetoed U.S. military plans for a major operation against the Mahdi Army in Basra. Maliki ordered an Iraqi army assault on the dug-in Sadrist forces.

Predictably, the operation ran into trouble, and within days, Iraqi officials had asked General Suleimani to intervene and negotiate a cease fire with Sadr, who agreed, although his troops were far from defeated.

A few weeks later, Maliki again prevented the United States from launching its biggest campaign yet against the Mahdi Army in Sadr City. And again, Suleimani was brought in to work out a deal with Sadr allowing government troops to patrol in the former Mahdi Army stronghold.

There was subtext to Suleimani’s interventions. Just as Suleimani was negotiating the Basra cease fire with Sadr, a website associated with former IRGC Commander Mohsen Rezai said Iran opposed actions by “hard-line clans” that “only weaken the government and people of Iraq and give a pretext to its occupiers”.

In the days that followed that agreement, Iranian state news media portrayed the Iraqi crackdown in Basra as being against illegal and “criminal” forces.

The timing of each political diplomatic move by Maliki appears to have been determined in discussions between Maliki and top Iranian officials.

Just two days after returning from a visit to Tehran in June 2008, Maliki complained publicly about U.S. demands for indefinite access to military bases, control of Iraqi airspace and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private contractors.

In July, he revealed that his government was demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops on a timetable.

The Bush administration was in a state of shock. From July to October, it pretended that it could simply refuse to accept the withdrawal demand, while trying vainly to pressure Maliki to back down.
In the end, however, Bush administration officials realized that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who was then far ahead of Republican John McCain in polls, would accept the same or an even faster timetable for withdrawal. In October, Bush decided to sign the draft agreement pledging withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

The ambitious plans of the U.S. military to use Iraq to dominate the Middle East militarily and politically had been foiled by the very regime the United States had installed, and the officials behind the U.S. scheme, had been clueless about what was happening until it was too late.
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A revolution hijacked and raped

December 17, 2011

“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.”

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

Soldiers have stormed an anti-government protest camp in Cairo …Mubarak says he will not run for another term as president … violent clashes have killed at least seven people and injured more than 150 others- and still counting …Tahrir square is packed with millions of Egyptians
Tahrir square saga
… Protesters set cars alight and threw stones at military police in the Egyptian capital …what inspiring scenes we are getting here from Tahrir square … a wounded activist said that he had been arrested and beaten by soldiers at a sit-in near the parliamentary building earlier… the United States calls for a peaceful transition of power in Egypt … the military attacked protesters who have been camping outside the Cabinet headquarters in Cairo for the past three weeks, protesting against the newly appointed prime minister who served under Mubarak … Mubarak has stepped down after 18 days of huge protests … The troops responded by firing shots in the air and using water cannon, before throwing stones back at the protesters from the roof of the nearby parliament building … Egypt military council pledges to protect the revolution and hand over power to a civilian government in six months

Egypt military abducting dissidents who had to be dragged out of Tahrir sqaure

…This sit-in has been going on for weeks in protest against the military…Two churches set on fire and 27 killed by the military violent crackdown on thousands of protesters in Maspero, downtown Cairo… PM in press conference denies army attacked Egypt’s Occupy Cabinet … Sounds of gunfire can be heard near the cabinet building. Protesters retreated. Some are falling from rubber bullet injuries. Men on motorcycles are rushing to carry the wounded to field hospitals

Activists chased out of Tahrir square
it is happening in Israel. Italy, Spain, Yemen and the United States, it is World Wide Tahrir Square movement now … Protesters in Qasr al-Aini Street chant, “kill Khaled and kill Mina, each of your bullets make us stronger.” They refer to Khaled Saeed, who was tortured to death by policemen last year …Egypt elections results show Islamists are winning … Egypt government will keep its promise not to use violence against protesters … Egypt’s Prime Minister says fighting since Friday between protesters and soldiers is an attack on the country’s revolution … Egypt’s Military Police sets Tahrir Square ablaze and forcefully pushes away protesters demonstrating outside the Cabinet on the first anniversary of the Arab spring …Egypt’s Prime Minister says fighting since Friday between protesters and soldiers is an attack on the country’s revolution

The army used live ammunition to disperse Tahrir protesters … Egypt PM described the demonstrators in front of Cabinet as “not the revolution’s youth.”

Tahrir square on fire
…Minutes later, a full offensive was waged on the protesters, pushing them away from the cabinet and clearing and burning Tahrir Square …Israel eyeing reoccupaion of Sinai … a massacre is taking place in Tahrir square right now …a deal has been struck between the Muslim brothers and the military council behind closed doors … Groups of soldiers roaming square, Some people getting beaten randomly … Tents burning … Tahrir looks like a war zone … “we lost the square” one activist tweeted… president Mubarak is due to make a speech any minute now.

A revolution hijacked and raped
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US Official: 'Contrary to what the NYTimes reported, we are returning to the lowest troop level in the Middle East!'


"... Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, told a group of supporters on a private conference call Wednesday that the entire idea of deploying large numbers of troops in the region, which has been U.S. policy since the Gulf War in 1990, is now over.
"The tide of war is receding around the world," said Rhodes. "It's certainly going to be the lowest level, in terms of number of troops, that we've seen in 20 years. There are not really plans to have any substantial increases in any other parts of the Gulf as this war winds down."
Just after the administration announced it was not able to reach a deal with Iraq to extend the U.S. troop presence there in October, the New York Times reported the administration was planning to increase troop levels in nearby countries, such as Kuwait, to account for the risk of Iraq backsliding into violence. But Rhodes said Wednesday that's just not the case.
"I don't think we're looking to reallocate our military footprint in any significant way from Iraq. They won't be reallocated to other countries in the region in any substantial numbers," he said.
Rhodes explained that the scaling back of the U.S. military presence in the Gulf was part of the administration's strategy to "demilitarize" U.S. foreign policy and shift to an approach that favored counter-terrorism tactics. He also said the end of the war in Iraq -- and eventually the war in Afghanistan -- proved that large military deployments are not necessary to deny terrorists safe haven in foreign countries...
One terrorist who will remain "over there" is Ali Musa Daqduq, who U.S. military officials claim is a Hezbollah commander... 21 senators had drafted a letter urging the administration not to hand him over out of concern that the Iraqi government might release him..."

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Message to Dershowitz: the Saxophonist is not that 'Obscure'

By Richard Edmondson

You could almost, with a few minor modifications, imagine the same irate conversation taking place 2,000 years ago in the Jerusalem Sanhedrin:

“He hates anybody who’s Jewish or who has anything to do with being Jewish.”
“But he is a Jew! He was born in Israel!”
“He says he hates the Jew in him, and that he would like to get rid of anything that relates to his Jewish background. Nobody would take it seriously except that two prominent professors (a great many average people) have endorsed the book (his message) and told everybody to think about it, to reflect on it, to widely discuss it!”
“John Mearshimer (the Baptist) says, ‘Of course I do not agree with everything that he says (said) in the book (his speech that day on the mount)—what blurber (desert sage) does?’—he liked parts!”
“But there’s nothing in this book (that speech) that deserves to be liked!”

Clutching a copy of Gilad Atzmon’s The Wandering Who, Professor Alan Dershowitz recently did an interview with the abundantly-respected Fox News in which he referred to the book’s author as “some obscure saxophonist from England who nobody takes particularly seriously.” In fact, not once but twice during the interview we see a visibly upset Dershowitz classifying Atzmon as an “obscure saxophonist” while attacking two American professors who gave favorable comments about his book.

“If somebody had endorsed a book saying slavery hadn’t occurred or that there were no rapes ever against women, they would be shamed today,” said the mighty Dershowitz. “And I think that the university and its students and its faculty ought to shame these professors. They ought to understand that what they’ve done is cross a terrible line.”

Dershowitz of course teaches at Harvard, and as I watched the interview I found myself wondering, “This is the best Harvard can do for a spokesperson on national TV?” I thought that because Dershowitz, throughout the interview, seemed to be making a blatant appeal to emotions rather than having a rational, reasoned discussion about a book he disagrees with. He also throws out what seem to be some extremely disingenuous comments, although here I must make a confession: I have not yet had a chance to read Atzmon’s book myself. However, I have read a fair bit of his Internet writing. Not everything of course. But enough to find myself rather skeptical of the following book description given by our esteemed Harvard scholar:

Well every year some nutcases publish books that say the Jews try to control the world, that Hitler was right, that the Holocaust didn’t occur, that Jews killed Christian children and used their blood to make matzo—every year people publish books like this, and this is another book like that.

The great Ivy League thinker also compared The Wandering Who to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, suggesting that the professors who endorsed it are anti-Semitic and/or hate Jews. He then proceeded to urge their colleagues and students to walk up to them and say, “Shame on you!”

I really have to doubt that The Wandering Who makes the claim that Hitler was right or that the Nazis never killed anyone (two assertions which would seem, on the face of it, to refute each other) or that Jews have a fondness for the blood of Christian children, etc. and so on. What seems far more likely to me is that something in this book approaches what, for the Harvard professor, amounts to some very uncomfortable truths. But Dershowitz has managed to convince me of one thing, if I wasn’t convinced already: that I do need to get a copy of Atzmon’s book and read it.

Only in the coagulated, slate-gray world of mainstream media serfdom (they tell us what to think and we, the serfs, obey) can Atzmon be regarded as “obscure.” Message to Dershowitz: thanks to the Internet, people all over the world, Semites and non-Semites alike, are hearing what this “nutcase” has to say and agreeing with him.

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Cameron Argues that Britain is actually Christian

Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 12:20PM AuthorGilad Atzmon

The BBC reported today that PM David Cameron has said that the UK is a Christian country “and we should not be afraid to say so”.

In a speech in Oxford on the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the prime minister called for a revival of traditional Christian values to counter Britain’s “moral collapse”.

“We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so, Cameron told the audience at Christ Church.
However, Cameron failed to explain the bizarre fact that 80% of his Tory MPs are actually Conservative Friends of Israel (CFOI). Cameron also failed to explain why a ‘Christian country’ abolishes its precious universal jurisdiction law just to appease the Jewish lobby.

Cameron also should open our eyes and explain to us why exactly a Christian country followed orders from a Jewish Lobby group and arrested Sheikh Raed Salah.

If we are a Christian country, why did we launch a criminal war based on a ‘dossier’ that was compiled in Tel Aviv? Also, is the fact that Lord Levy was chief fundraiser for the Labour Government a mere coincidence?

If we are a Christian country, as Cameron suggests, someone better explain to us all how is it, that we have succumbed to ‘eye for an eye’ political doctrine instead of self search for compassion and empathy in the spirit of Christ.

I can only suggest to Cameron that before preaching to us, he himself better reflect on his own words, he should contemplate over this country’s traditional Christian values and counter his own Government’s ‘moral collapse’.

The Wandering Who-A Study of Zionist and Hasbara tactics or

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'Jurisdictional limitations on the STL “were included at the behest of the US to ensure that the 'Tribunal' could not take jurisdiction over the conduct of Israel..."i


  'Jurisdictional limitations on the STL “were included at the behest of the US to ensure that the 'Tribunal' could not take jurisdiction over the conduct of Israel..."i

 "Speaking to a full lecture hall Friday, John Cerone, the director of the New England School of Law's Center for International Law and Policy, gave an insider's view of how an evolving US policy toward international criminal courts provides context to the development of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

The talk a the American University of Beirut was the first in a series of lectures held by Al-Akhbar's Research Unit, in collaboration with the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. Cerone’s lecture was title “The Politics of International Justice.”

“The STL fit within a lot of the policy priorities for the US,” said Cerone, who served as special adviser for the first US delegation to the UN Human Rights Council in 2009.

From the Bush administration's blatant attempts to thwart international justice during its war on Iraq to the Obama administration's policy of “principled engagement,” US interaction with international courts reflects a blend of foreign policy goals and historical precedents. The US engagement with the STL was no different.

In comparison with other international hybrid tribunals, the STL possesses, “the narrowest scope we’ve seen,” Cerone said.

The STL's jurisdiction is limited to investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and related crimes.

“If everyone agrees it’s a crime, having selective justice is problematic, but it doesn't undermine the legitimacy of that prosecution,” Cerone said... One attendee asked, “Was this not a court established to try only one crime?” Several also asked how Israel is not being tried for crimes against humanity in the 2006 July War or in its devastating strikes on Gaza. Cerone provided insight into this query in a 2007 essay.

Cerone wrote that, in 2005, a UN official involved in STL negotiations said that jurisdictional limitations on the tribunal “were included at the behest of the United States to ensure that the Tribunal could not take jurisdiction over the conduct of Israeli forces during the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon.”

“The key issue for me is the fairness of the trial,” said Cerone. “The discomfort comes from the STL’s ad hoc nature. Why are we creating tribunals to prosecute criminals here and not there?”

Though it is subject to controversy, the UN's International Criminal Court (ICC) is the world's premier justice mechanism. Established in 1998 with the Rome Statute, the US was hesitant to sign the statute from the beginning.Though the US did eventually sign the treaty, it has failed to ratify it over the years.“The US was concerned that rules of international criminal law contained in the statute might constrain its ability to project its power,” said Cerone.

 Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 7:58 PM

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Administration Official: 'Free Syrian Army deserters total 1000 to 3500 ... We're not too sure about their alledged 'coordinated attacks!'


...when only yesterday, Syrians 'activists' residents of the Washington metro area & pretending to be knowledgable of the 'street pulse', said that Col. Assa'd commanded over 20,000 defectors from his encampment in Turkey!
"... Though the Free Syrian Army — a group of mainly army defectors whose commanders are based in Turkey — claimed to have staged most of the recent attacks, some activists and American officials disagree over the degree of coordination.
Estimates of the numbers of defectors vary wildly. An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, estimated their total at 1,000 to 3,500. The official said that armed civilians had apparently joined some of the defectors..."

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Lord Owen: ‘Iran is the most powerful country in the region’

Posted on |
On Thursday, Barack Obama, while greeting US soldiers returning from Iraq – did not claim ‘victory’ as Dubya Bush did in January 2004. However, he did give credit to the 140,000 soldiers who maintained US occupation in Iraq for over eight years - for bringing ‘democracy’ to Iraqi people.

The Zioconservatives and Israel Lobby is very angry at Barack Obama’s declaration that Iraq War is over fearing that its disastrous outcome will undercut their plan for a new war with the Islamic Republic. John McCain has claimed that if he had won the 2008 election, he would not vacate Iraq. On the other hand, GOP presidential hopeful, Israel-Firster Newt Gingrich, has promised Jewish lobby, if elected, he stands ready to join Israel in invading Iran.

On December 16, 2011 – Former British Foreign Secretary David Owen, wrote in daily Mirror, entitled Is Iran the winner of Iraq War?. In the article, Owen says that by getting rid of Saddam Hussien (supported by both the US and Britain), Iraqis gained some relief in terms of human rights, killings and torture (I suppose Owen never heard of America’s Abu Ghraib torture, killing and sexual abuse camp). He also assures the paranoid Zionists: “We are unlikely to see another dictator nor it will it become a religious government like Iran. But the Islamic faith will be more dominant“.

Then Owen admitted the truth grudgingly: “The negatives are, however, immense. Iran, which was ready to sue for peace negotiations with America over nuclear weapons in May 2003, when they thought the invasion would be successful, has gained massively from the insurgency inside Iraq and is left as the most powerful country in the region.

Owen says Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is an able man. He wants to re-establish Iraq’s independence. But he will not be an American or British puppet.

Iraq has so far chosen to tread very delicately in this area for many reasons, not least fragility within its own country and not wanting to worsen relations with Iran, which, through Syria, has supported Hezbollah in Lebanon and Gaza,” wrote Owen.

Iran and Iraq, though now both Shites controlled, will not always see eye to eye,” added Owen.
The US has lost over 5,000 soldiers plus 100,000 wounded – and the occupation has cost American taxpayers more than $1 trillion.
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Obama campaigns with rabbi who doesn't want "too many Arabs" in Israel

On December 16, President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Union for Reform Judaism, the national umbrella for America's largest liberal Jewish denomination. Obama's speech was a naked appeal for campaign donations and re-election votes, with the standard cant about America's "unshakeable" bond with Israel and the requisite omission of any mention of the Palestinian un-people. Obama also took time to praise the liberal legacy of American Jews, telling his audience, "You helped draft the civl rights act and the voting rights act, you helped liberate Soviet Jews. Without these efforts I probably wouldn't be standing here today."

Obama was introduced with warm praise by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the outgoing president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and arguably the most prominent Reform Jew in the United States. Yoffie is a major Obama campaign surrogate, whose endorsement is featured on a pro-Obama website created by the liberal Zionist Israel lobbying group, J Street.

While Yoffie proclaimed during his introduction of the President, “Our movement stands for openness and embraces pluralism," he has gone on the record in support of ethnic separation.

Earlier this year, Yoffie published the transcript of an argument he had with a right-wing friend who helped him lobby against the Palestinian Authority's bid for statehood at the UN. He entitled the piece, "I prefer to live with Jews."

Yoffie's argument went as follows:
[Yoffie]: I care about humankind, but I love my own group a bit more. I am more comfortable with them. I care more about them, just as I care more about my family than other families. Without a two-state solution, Israel will not longer be a state for my group; it will be a bi-national state without a clear Jewish identity. That is not the kind of place where I, or most Israeli Jews, will want to live.
[Right-wing friend]: Are you saying you don’t want too many Arabs in the Jewish state?
[Yoffie]: Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.
Amidst a wave of mosque burnings and racist, anti-democratic laws aimed at driving Palestinian citizens of Israel out of the country, a key Obama surrogate -- a self-proclaimed liberal, no less -- has declared explicit support for planning and maintaining Israel's ethnic majority at the expense of its indigenous minority population -- something Israeli leaders call "Judaization." "I don’t apologize for my views because I don’t apologize for Zionism," Yoffie stated.

It is not hard to imagine how American right-wingers would react if Obama shared the stage with a black separatist figure like New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz. Nor is it difficult to predict what would happen if one of the Republican presidential candidates accepted the endorsement of a white nationalist like Jared Taylor. Not only would liberals go beserk (and with good reason), mainstream cable news channels would devote a week's worth of segments to the relationship.

Meanwhile, Obama is campaigning beside a figure who espouses a philosophy that is not much more enlightened than the extreme views expressed by Zulu Shabazz and Taylor. The only difference might be that Yoffie advocates ethnic separation in another country. "Perhaps someday I will decide to live there," Yoffie said. "And when that happens I want to be living among Jews. Not entirely, but primarily."
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Alan Hart and Gilad Atzmon discussing Jewish security matters.

DateFriday, December 16, 2011 at 11:39PM AuthorGilad Atzmon

Link to the full version of the panel event featuring Alan Hart, Gilad Atzmon, Karl Sabbagh and Sameh A.Habeeb (London, May 2011):

The Wandering Who-A Study of Pre Traumatic Stress Dissorder or

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Israel and religious freedom (tolerance)

Thousands of Palestinian Muslims and Christians are denied the entry to their holiest sites in Jerusalem
Posted on |
Whenever the presence of a gentile (non-Jew) threatens the life of Israel, it is permitted to kill the gentile even if he is righteous person and should not be blamed for the situation,” King’s Torah, written by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elizur, members of Benji Netanyahu’s radical Likud party.

On December 12, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman hailed Benji Netanyahu’s plan to ban Adhan (Muslim call for prayers) in the Palestinian territories occupied by Jewish army in 1967.
Recently, a school in Afula was declared ‘un-kosher’ by Jewish parents for letting their kids listen to Muslim wedding songs. The parents demanded rabbis to enter the school to “purify” the school building before their children would return.

The Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights in its 2011 report on ‘Freedom of Religion’ has put Israel among the worst 52 out of 195 countries surveyed for the fifth consecutive year. This year it shares the honor with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India and China. Interestingly, Lebanon along with Sweden, Belgium and Poland ranked as the most religiously tolerant nations.

In January 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared that Christians are the most persecuted minorities in the world. He shied away to mention Israel where priests are regularly spit on and thousands copies of Christian Bible (New Testament) have been burned by religious Jews because NT contains four books of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) or how powerful Iraqi Christian minority was under Saddam Hussein regime (six cabinet ministers plus vice-president Tariq Aziz).

In 2008, Rev. Gary Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission summed up the plight of Christian minority in Israel.”Will McCain and Obama turn a blind eye to the suffering of Christians in Israel? Both Obama and McCain say they want change, but do either of them have the courage to challenge the powerful Jewish lobby in America? Will either of them demand true religious liberty for Christians and all faiths in Israel as a condition of American support of Israel, including the right of Christians to share their faith with Jews?” Watch a video below.

In June 2010 – over 100,000 religious Jews staged a demonstration aginst Supreme Court ruling forcing integration of a religious girl school. Interestingly, it was not Jewish girl studying in the classroom with Muslims or Christian girls. The protesters told Benjamin Netanyahu and its Orthodox parties in the government that parents of European (Ashkenazi) don’t want their ‘White daughters’ to study with Arab (Sephardim) ‘brown girls’ at the girls’ school in the West Bank’s Jewish settlement of Emanuel (perhaps named after Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff).

Avi Maspin, spokesperson for Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (IAEJ) has admitted: “Israeli society is profoundly infected by racism and unfortunately there is no suitable punishment for racism in Israel“, reported Israel daily YNet, December 7, 2007.

On August 6, 2009 – Jonathan Cook wrote in The National that there are 350,000 Jews in Israel who are classified by the rabbinate as having “no religion”, and are therefore unable to marry in Israel. Why? Because based on Jewish law – For a man, the rabbis demand that he prove he is circumcised and produce a birth certificate stating that his mother was Jewish by birth, a proof many immigrants from the former Soviet Union have difficulty providing.

While Zionist propagandists boast Israel being a heaven for the gays and lesbian – the Queers website calls this claim a big lie. “Israel does nothing to support the struggles of Palestinian queers or queers elsewhere in the Mideast. It only uses their experience to promote hatred of all Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, including queer Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims“.

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Libya wanted good relations with Israel?

Israel to open embassy in Libya: report
Paper says "first Israeli ambassador" will visit Libya in the very near future, heading a mission, a
ccompanied by some Arab Israeli doctors as a "medical initiative" toward the Libyan people.       
Libya wanted good relations with Israel?      
Israel rejected on Saturday, the Jewish News Agency in Europe claim, that Tel Aviv trying with Libyan Transitional Council, to open of an Israeli Embassy in Tripoli amid confirmation of «global organization of the Jews of Libya», that news may be true
However, Jewish News, Raslan Abu Rakoun, the candidate for the post of first Israeli Ambassador in Libya, said that the reports are based on a report published in Web newsletter, «walla», the published information on building diplomatic ties in Libya, and my appointment as Ambassador to Israel, there is wrong information, although I hope the opening of Israeli embassies in Arab countries.
In turn, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sources expressed its surprise from «news naked from truth», «the Ministry had no information on any news regarding contacts with Libyan official». The Ministry spokesman, Yigal let Moore, said that «there is no basis for everything published in the media» about relations with Libya.
In contrary, the Israeli site reported assurances about the sources in the «global organization of the Jews of Libya», based in OR Yehuda in central Israel, that the «story» could be true,   in recent weeks, one on behalf of the organization in the United States, David Gharbi contacts with  NTC, to strengthen relations with the transitional Government in Libya.
Meir Kahloun the Head of the oraginzation said in an interview with the site, «Libyan Jews believe if the new Government  is not fanatical as the former Government that the Libyan people can be civilized and democratic and free, he claimed that «the Jewish property  in Libya is estimated at 75 billion dollars, which the Libyan authorities must return».
The Jews of Libya expressed support for the rebels, from their side the «rebel representatives» also expressed a desire to improve relations with Israel , adding that «one of the speakers of the opposition, Ahmed Shabbani requested Israeli help against lateLibyan leader Moammar Al-Kadhafi from  our part, we sent a letter to the President of the Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdeljalil, offered assistance in establishing the new system.
Furthermore, the French philosopher Bernard Henri levy, in an interview with the newspaper «Israel today», sais that on the eve of the final battle to overthrow the Libyan capital Tripoli his cell phone was used to tranfer accurate coordinates bombardment and to receive a list of targets for attack,  Levy told how he erred in the rapprochement between Israel and Libya. At the end of last may, he received a phone call from a contact in Libya, asked me to convey a message to his friends, that "Libya would not be hostile to them".
The following day, levy went to Israel, met with the head of Government, Benjamin Netanyahu, and forged together a statement issued following a meeting with French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, saying he hopes Israel when "a new Libyan Government is formed it would push forward the peace and security in the region".
Levy revealed that he had asked his friends in the Transitional Council to make sure that the new Government does not include any Islamists and  at the end «this eventually happened.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo said: «I think that the way in which the Mr. (moamer) kadhafi was murdered in October last year after his captue by the rebels raise doubts about being a war crime.
He added: "I think this issue is a very important. We will raise these concerns to the international authorities, to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to investigate all these crimes».

(News, AP)
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The Economic WhiteWashing of Political Discrimination against Arabs in Israel

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem 15 November 2011. (Photo: REUTERS - Baz Ratner)
Published Saturday, December 17, 2011
In the last couple of years, there has been a concerted effort by both the Israeli government and private sector to talk up the economic potential of Palestinian citizens. The overriding reason why the ‘Israeli Arab sector’ has become an issue of concern is a realization that, in the words of the director of the Economic Development Authority in the Minority Sector, “if Israel wants to attain economic growth of 6 to 7 percent, it must allocate budgets to close the economic disparities.”

Last month, an official from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) wrote how, according to one Israeli expert, increasing the rate of Arab employment over the next 20 years “is the top economic issue for Israel’s survival.”

Also recently, a conference in Toronto pushed the message that “helping Israeli Arabs succeed economically and socially will guarantee a strong Jewish and democratic state,” (the same event also discussed the “demographic problem” of the “Arab birthrate”).

As an article in May in The Jerusalem Post put it:
Israeli society seems to be gradually coming to the recognition that a higher rate of participation in the workforce on the part of Arab Israeli citizens would be a benefit to all. Slowly gathering momentum over the past five years, the idea seems to have recently reached a critical mass.
With an estimate that the Israeli economy loses around US$9 billion annually due to the low contribution to GDP by Palestinian citizens, it is unsurprising that someone like Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer believes “reversing the relatively low rate of Arab participation in the labour force will increasingly be one of the keys to the success of the Israeli economy in the coming years.”
This is the context then for initiatives like those announced by PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in March 2010, with a plan for around US$215 million to be invested in “Israel’s minority population.” At the time, Haaretz noted how the “the treasury and the Prime Minister's Office” had realised that “closing the economic gaps between the Arab population and the rest of Israel is an opportunity for a major economic jump forward for all Israelis.”

But while headlines like ‘The economy wakes up to Israel’s Arabs’ and ‘Israel starts tapping into hidden business potential of Arab market’ are more common, rights group Adalah has pointed out how even the March 2010-launched plan is “modest given the needs.” Attorney Sawsan Zaher, director of the Social and Economic Rights Unit at Adalah, told me that “this is not the first such plan,” with past proposals having gone unenforced. Zaher also highlighted the “timing of this plan,” coming just before Israel joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), who stressed the importance of ‘developing’ the ‘Arab sector’ when admitting Israel.

Interestingly, this push on the economic development front is being done by an Israeli government also advancing some of the most overtly nationalistic and discriminatory legislation of recent times. A neat illustration of what could look paradoxical is a comparison of remarks made by Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman. Speaking about the new US$215 million investment, Braverman claimed this funding "proved that Israel's government sees the importance of giving equal civil rights to Israeli Arabs.” Yet in 2004, Braverman also explicitly backed ethno-religious discrimination when he said that “if Zionism is a motivating force, then it needs to travel south to the Negev, so that Israel does not turn into a Palestinian State.”

That policies of Judaization can go hand in hand with an emphasis on economic opportunity is reminiscent of the pre-1966 military regime’s ‘carrot and stick’ approach, where ‘nationalist’ individuals and communities were punished, and the compliant or quiet were rewarded. It also echoes Netanyahu’s ‘economy first’ policy towards the West Bank, where ‘industrial zones’ and employment opportunities are intended to accompany continued colonization.

This recent trend to focus on economic problems faced by Palestinian citizens has been replicated to an extent by Western pro-Israel lobby groups who have an additional motivation: the perceived propaganda value of admitting the challenges facing ‘Israeli Arabs’ in order to distract from a growing interest in the root causes of discrimination (i.e. Israel’s definition as a ‘Jewish state’). For example, in the UK, a piece on the Telegraph’s website in December 2010 urged Israel’s supporters to adopt “smart thinking” by, for example, being willing “to concede…that Israeli Arabs’ civil rights and Palestinian human rights are in need of intensive care.”

This strategy of defensive concessions is intended to attract ‘progressives’ away from those deemed to be radical ‘delegitimizers,, as well as define the parameters of debate. Thus a former research manager for lobby group Trade Union Friends of Israel has written on “equality for Israel’s Arab community” but stresses that “defining the state in terms of ethnicity” is not racist.

What neither the Israeli government nor the likes of the AJC want to address, of course, is the reality of more than 60 years of policies and legislation based on ethno-religious privilege. Seeing the national economic potential in ‘equalizing the income’ of Jews and Palestinian citizens is one thing – addressing the roots of systematic discrimination is another.

As I make clear in my new book, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy, the inequality between Jewish and Palestinian citizens goes far beyond employment figures: discrimination in areas like land, housing, and citizenship rights are inherent in Israel’s definition as a ‘Jewish state.’ Palestinians inside Israel are ruled by the same regime that besieges Gaza, militarily rules over the West Bank, and forcibly excludes refugees from their homeland. Their problems are connected – and so are the solutions.

Ben White is a freelance journalist and writer on Palestine/Israel. His new book, ‘Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy’, will be published by Pluto Press in January 2012

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect al-Akhbar's editorial policy.

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Last Post in Iraq: this is the death knell of the American empire

What was intended to be a demonstration of power turned into the most costly boomerang in history, in both blood and treasure,

Soldiers lower their heads at encasing ceremony Baghdad
US military personnel lower their heads during the ceremony
of the encasing of the US Forces-Iraq colours in Baghdad
on December 15 2011.  Photograph: Pool/Reuters
So the Yanks are going home. Apart from the thousands of their servicemen and women whose lifeblood they are leaving in the sands of Iraq, and the tens of thousands too maimed or otherwise damaged to make it back to home and hearth. And minus the trillion-plus of dollars in treasure they have expended on destroying an Arab country (which may have lost a million souls and seen three millions off into exile), fanning the flames of fanaticism, making Iran more powerful, and unleashing a wave of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Nice work, but hardly "Mission Accomplished", as the melancholy valediction delivered by President Obama at Fort Bragg this week made clear to the discerning.

The more he talked about what he once called the "dumb war", the more obvious it was that his was the task of holding the dipped banner of defeat. And the crew of thick-necked servicemen straight out of central casting roaring their approval at his description of their success could not quite drown out the sound of the Last Post. This is the death knell of American empire, the end of the brief unipolar world in the ashes of whose hubris the lone bugler now stands playing the retreat. Like Ozymandias, history – which hasn't ended after all – will invite us to gaze upon its ruined works and tremble. But instead we will rejoice, rejoice. For the Project for the New American Century it will be never glad confident morning again.

The war that was waged – yes, for oil, and yes, also for Israel – was waged above all to terrify the world (especially China) with American power. It turned into the largest boomerang in history. For what has been demonstrated instead are the limits of near-bankrupt America's power. Far from being cowed, America's adversaries – and its enemies – have been emboldened. With shock and awe the empire soon dominated the skies over Iraq to be sure. But they never controlled a single street in the country from the day they invaded until this day of retreat. One street alone – Haifa Street in Baghdad – became the graveyard of scores, maybe hundreds of Americans.

Fortresses like Fallujah entered history alongside Stalingrad as symbols of the unvanquishable power of popular resistance to foreign invasion. Crimes like Abu Ghraib prison – where Iraqis were stripped naked and humiliated, forced to perform indecent acts upon each other and videotaped doing so for the entertainment of their torturers in the barracks afterwards – entered the lexicon of the barbarism of those who invade others, flying the colours of their "civilising" mission. As Chairman Mao once put it: "Sometimes the enemy struggles mightily to lift a huge stone; only to drop it on its own foot." In an America where a third of the population are living in poverty or terrifyingly near it, and where imperial hubris met its nemesis on Haifa Street, China now knows it has nothing to fear from this paper tiger.

I wrote at the time that the invasion of Iraq would be worse than a crime: it would be the Mother of All Blunders. I told Tony Blair – outside the men's lavatory in the library corridor of the House of Commons, to be precise – that the fall of Baghdad would be not the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning. And that the Iraqis would fight them, with their teeth if necessary, until they had driven them from their land. I told Blair that there was no al-Qaida in Iraq, but that if he and Bush were to invade there would be thousands of them.

But two things, as George Bush would put it, I "mis-underestimated". First, that when the tower of lies on which the case for the Iraq war had been constructed was exposed, the credibility of the political systems of the two main liars would collapse under the weight. And second, that the example of the Iraqi resistance would trigger seismic changes in the Arabian landscape from Marrakesh to Bahrain.

Almost nobody in Britain or America any longer believes a word their politicians say. This profound change is not wholly the result of the Iraq war, but it moved into top gear following the war and the militarised mendacity that paved the way to it. In America this malaise has fuelled both the Tea Party phenomenon and the Occupy movement alike, even if the word Iraq seldom crosses their lips. And from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf the plates are moving still ...
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