Truth to Power

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

What Happens When Groups Use Nonviolence, Like We’ve Been Begging Them to Do For Years?

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Mideast Peace, Politics on July 24, 2010 at 6:53 am

Apparently the U.S. and Israel treat nonviolent protesters as being as much of a threat as terrorists:

Bil’in Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah was sentenced to two months of imprisonment and to a six month suspended sentence, after a five year long trial on charges clearly related to freedom of speech.

Abu Rahmah was convicted of two counts of “activity against the public order”, simply for participating in demonstrations, in one count despite the fact that “No evidence of violence towards the security forces was provided”. Abu Rahmah was also convicted of “obstructing a soldier in the line of duty”, for shouting at a police officer and refusing to leave the scene of a demonstration, of “breaking curfew”, for being in the street in front of his house when the army declared curfew on Bil’in to suppress a demonstration, and of “incitement”, which under military law is defined as “The attempt, verbal or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order”. Abu Rahmah was convicted of inciting others to “[…] continue advancing [to their lands during a demonstration in Bil’in], claiming that the land belongs to them.

For years the U.S. and even Israel have been saying that groups (or individuals) who use violent means to get their point across, will not have a place at any negotiating table. Increasingly we are a seeing not only peaceful groups use economic boycotts and peaceful civil disobedience, but also traditionally violent groups like Hamas begin to realize the political power of civil disobedience and other forms of protest. And no, unfortunately Hamas has not renounced violence but more and more it has become clear that they recognize the power of being able to attract public attention through means other than violence. This presents a big problem for the U.S. and Israel, both of whom once called on people to use these very means we are now condemning.

I believe that the U.S. never really expected certain groups/organizations people to use civil disobedience so we never thought we would have to face a situation like the flotilla incident or the growing number of boycotts, peaceful protests in Gaza and other parts of the Occupied Territories. And what has the US response been? Have we praised groups for their nonviolent means of getting their message out? No, we have sat quietly by and Israel has violently repressed free speech, the right to assemble and nonviolent protests. We have sat quietly by as Israel murders protesters, enacts draconian laws which violate free speech and we have joined in the demonization of these protesters by changing our rhetoric- now we say things which infer that “those who attempt to deligitimize Israel…” are as dangerous to Israel’s security as those who plant bombs or use missiles to get their point across.

This is shameful on our part and shows just how the U.S. never really supported nonviolence to begin with. The same thing happened with Northern Ireland when Sein Fein began to realize the power of civil disobedience. Although because Northern Ireland is not Israel, we eventually accepted them and allowed them to negotiate a peace treaty.

Israel refers to the boycott movement as “economic terrorism” and justified killing nine people flotilla because they sought to “delegitimize” the Jewish State. That’s the big story which the media is ignoring- what happens when groups use nonviolence in the Mideast, like we’ve been begging them to do for years?

Advertisements

Are Certain Media Viewpoints Privileged Over Others?

In Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on July 8, 2010 at 7:47 pm

There seems to be a spate of media people lately who are getting fired for voicing opinions which the mainstream finds offensive. Is this a slippery slope and is there a problem with deciding which views or biases are acceptable and which are not?

The latest firing:

A senior Middle East editor at the US cable news channel CNN has been fired after she wrote on Twitter that she “respected” a late Lebanese Shia Muslim leader with links to Hezbollah.

Octavia Nasr lost her job after the 140-character tweet sparked fierce online debate and the channel’s management decided that her credibility had been compromised.

Nasr posted the tweet as news of the death of Lebanon’s Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah broke over the weekend. She called him “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot”.

Nasr has apologised for the remark, describing it as a “error of judgement” to praise Fadlallah without any context, although she said she had been referring to his “pioneering” stance on women’s rights.

Fadlallah was branded a terrorist by some Western governments, but issued religious edicts banning so-called honour killings of women and enshrining the right of women to defend themselves from domestic abuse.

In a blog posting after the incident, Nasr wrote that Fadlallah was “revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret”.

CNN management decided that Nasr, who had worked at the company for 20 years in mainly off-screen roles, should leave her job. “We have decided that she will be leaving the company,” said a company memo circulated on Wednesday.

Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment thinks there is a double standard and a wee bit of Islamaphobia involved. Philip Weiss also weighs in. Both believe the Islamaphobic neocons are to blame (read: the Lobby).

There does seem to be a double standard. How long would it take us to find a media figure who has voiced unwavering support for an Israeli figure or policy which the mainstream might find extreme or very controversial? What is notable about this is that Nasr was a very behind the scenes figure at CNN- very important of course, but not exactly the face of CNN. That a bunch of people waged a social networking war against her so successfully is pretty amazing.

And then there is this– The Washington Post’s David Ignatius expressing some respect for the controversial Fadlallah in 2002.

Don’t Forget That the US and Israel Helped Create Hamas

In Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Israel, Mideast Peace, Neocons, News, Politics on July 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Just as you won’t hear much truth about the role the Iraq War played in strengthening Iran, you won’t hear much truth about how exactly Hamas was able to come to power in the first place. To hear the MSM and the US government tell it, they rose to power on the high tide of hatred of Jews. False.

As Col. Pat Lang (Ret.) reminds us, Hamas was supported by Israel and the US as a counterbalance to the PLO:

…Unfortunately, many Israelis now seem to enjoy humiliating Palestinians. The two communities appear to be farther apart than ever before.

COIN is the fad of the decade. The Israelis do not do COIN. They do “wog bashing.” I hope everyone comprehends that. COIN = Counterguerrilla operations + political action + economic development.

I was taught that personally by Bernard Fall. I don’t care whatever kind of wordy crap is in the field manual.

The Israelis do not do the last two. Hamas has won several elections. That would indicate in the COIN environment that Hamas must be included in a deal. Instead of doing that, the Israelis seek to bully the Gazans into abandoning their support of Hamas. Economic development? What a joke! The Israelis seem to relish the thought of Palestinians in rags, starving and literally driven from their homes.

The author of this Haaretz piece says that Israel “inadvertently” created Hamas during the first intifada. No. No. Senior Israeli officers told me at that time that the growth of Hamas had been quite thoroughly sponsored by the Israelis in order to create an effective rival for the PLO. It did not occur to them then that a party based on religious zealotry as well as nationalism would appeal to so many Palestinians.”

Lang also lays bare the assertion that the U.S. gets some sort of strategic benefit from our dysfunctional relationship with Israel. We don’t. This is part of a dialogue taking place over at the National Journal:

Your question is based on a false assumption, an assumption carefully inculcated in the United States since the Second World War. That false assumption is that the United States derives some significant material benefit from its alliance with and friendship for Israel. I know a good deal about US/Israeli relations having been in charge of military intelligence liaison with them for seven long years. We have many bright and knowledgeable people among the contributors to this blog. I appeal to them to correct my ignorance and inform us of the specific advantage that the United States receives as a benefit of its alliance with Israel.

We have the advantage of their genius in advanced technologies? Their COIN experts instruct our people? They are holding the Arabs at bay? Tell me what the benefit is.

In fact, the United States supports Israel because we want to support Israel. Successful information operations here have combined with a deeply felt grief for what the Nazis did to the Jews to produce a sympathy that is quite genuine. Yes, the US alliance with Israel is altogether the product of American altruism.

The Israelis and their closest friends hate that idea. It implies that Israel owes the US a profound debt of gratitude, one so deep that it can never be repaid. That is the last thing that they want. Such a concept would require a cessation of the brutally open process of manipulating the Congress with money and fear of opposition.

Natanyahu’s strategy is simple. He will seek to flim-flam Obama into compliance with his policy desires. To that end he will employ the tactical set of political tools available to him, tools that threaten the Democratic Party, and Obama in the mid-term election and in 2012.[emphasis added]

He’s right of course. And Israel hates it, as he says because, it means that the “special relationship” should be a two way street. Instead of massive amounts of money, defense technology, legal protection at the UN etc. just going one way- from the US to Israel, it assumes that we perhaps should get something in return. Which we don’t. What we get is unacceptable meddling and thinly-veiled attempts to influence the outcome of US elections via AIPAC and other hard-line Israel-First groups.

Here’s more on the birth of Hamas(excerpt):

“Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel ‘aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies. Israel’s support for Hamas ‘was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,’ said a former senior CIA official.”

Middle East analyst Ray Hanania concurs:

“In addition to hoping to turn the Palestinian masses away from Arafat and the PLO, the Likud leadership believed they could achieve a workable alliance with Islamic, anti-Arafat forces that would also extend Israel’s control over the occupied territories.”

In a conscious effort to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization and the leadership of Yasser Arafat, in 1978 the government of then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin approved the application of Sheik Ahmad Yassin to start a “humanitarian” organization known as the Islamic Association, or Mujama. The roots of this Islamist group were in the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and this was the seed that eventually grew into Hamas – but not before it was amply fertilized and nurtured with Israeli funding and political support…

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Most Americans Aren’t Buying Israel’s Propaganda About the Flotilla Raid

In Foreign Policy, Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, News, Politics on July 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

In a leaked Frank Luntz memo, the news isn’t good for the U.S. attempts to spread Israeli propaganda:

The Israel Project (TIP), an American Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent.

Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

1. 56% of Americans agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
2. 43% of Americans agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
3. [Only] 34% of Americans support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
4. [Only] 20% of Americans “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.

It’s time for Israel to wake up and realize there is only so much spinning that they can do. It could be that most Americans “get” that armed commandos attacking a humanitarian vessel in international waters, was, well, heavy handed.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

General Petraeus and Max Boot

In Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Israel, Mainstream Media, Neocons, News, Politics on July 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Raise your hand if you are surprised by any of this?:

Last March General David Petraeus, then head of Central Command, sought to undercut his own testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that was critical of Israel by intriguing with a rightwing writer to put out a different story, in emails obtained by Mondoweiss.

The emails show Petraeus encouraging Max Boot of Commentary to write a story– and offering the neoconservative writer choice details about his views on the Holocaust:

Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and his wife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker at the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in mid-Apr at the Capitol Dome…

Petraeus passed the emails along himself through carelessness last March. He pasted a Boot column from Commentary’s blog into in an “FYI” email he sent to an activist who is highly critical of the U.S.’s special relationship with Israel. Some of the general’s emails to Boot were attached to the bottom of the story. The activist, James Morris, shared the emails with me.

The tale:

Back on March 13, Mark Perry broke the explosive story that Gen. David Petraeus was echoing Joe Biden’s view that the special relationship with Israel is endangering Americans. Perry said that Petraeus had sent aides to the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the White House to tell him that the U.S.’s inability to stand up to Israel was hurting Americans across the Middle East. Perry reported that Petraeus was asking that Israel and Palestine be included under his Central Command (rather than under Europe, as they are now).

On March 16, neocon Max Boot, who is on the Council of Foreign Relations and holds militarist pro-Israel views (he’s an American Jew born in Russia), sought to refute Perry’s post at the Commentary blog:

“I asked a military officer who is familiar with the briefing in question and with Petraeus’s thinking on the issue to clarify matters. He told me that Perry’s item was ‘incorrect.'”

Boot quoted the unnamed officer at some length apologizing for Israel:

he did not suggest that Petraeus was mainly blaming Israel and its settlements for the lack of progress. They are, he said, “one of many issues, among which also is the unwillingness to recognize Israel and the unwillingness to confront the extremists who threaten Israelis.” That’s about what I expected: Petraeus holds a much more realistic and nuanced view than the one attributed to him by terrorist groupie Mark Perry.

I suspect this unnamed officer was Petraeus himself– based on the emails. But we’ll get to them in a minute.


That’s just an excerpt above, definitely go to Mondoweiss to check out the whole story. Some people may look at this and say “what’s the big deal?” Well, the big deal is that it shows the disproportionate amount of influence of the Israel lobby and those associated with it. It also speaks to how the media works with the U.S. to spread Israeli hasbara.

It’s things like this that make it clear that the U.S. relationship, while important, has become dysfunctional and self-defeating. And no, I am no anti-Semite nor am I anti-Israel. I simply understand that by enabling the right-wing Israeli government’s worst tendencies, the U.S. is helping drive Israel off a cliff- a truly self-defeating irony. Democracy is just a word and unless Israel ends the occupation and stops treating all dissent as tantamount to terrorism, the US will increasingly find itself defending the indefensible.

The other thing that this may clarify is Petraeus’ future political ambitions. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs for President as a Republican in the not too distant future.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: