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Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

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?

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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…

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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.

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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.

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George Mitchell Expresses Frustration With Israel’s Lack of Progress in Proximity Talks

In Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Mideast Peace, News, Politics on June 28, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Now before the usual chorus of “why is the Obama administration only asking anything of Israel!!!” lets remember that for the past year-and-a-half, it’s primarily been Benyamin Netanyahu who has been throwing up successive roadblocks to meaningful negotiations. Lets remember who the parties are, shall we? While the Israel Can Do No Wrong crowd constantly throws around all the problems Israel faces with Hamas, the reality is that Hamas is not at the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority/Fatah is. And at this point, the PA has shown significant progress in fighting violence and extremism and trying to bolster it’s infrastructure and economy- no small task given Israel essentially makes that near impossible.

From Haaretz:

U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is frustrated by the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the proximity talks with the Palestinians. Mitchell, who is due in Israel on Thursday for another round of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, has expressed to Netanyahu his wish to see more progress by Israel on core issues.

[snip]

The senior U.S. official also said that the administration would like Netanyahu to show more willingness for substantive discussions on core issues, and to see the Palestinians moving toward direct talks with Israel.

There have been four rounds of proximity talks so far, during which Mitchell shuttled between Ramallah and Jerusalem. During talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu, the two informed the U.S. envoy of their positions on the various core issues. However, the Palestinian side has presented far more detailed positions…

Honestly, George Mitchell has the patience of a saint. I don’t know he does it quite frankly.

Most of his frustration probably stems from the fact that the right-wing Likud coalition has zero interest in anything resembling a peace process, let alone a two state solution. It probably also doesn’t help that every week Mitchell is greeted with new revelations of Israel’s intransigence. The most recent revelation:

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

The committee’s proposal would codify the municipality’s planning policy for the entire city. In essence, Jerusalem would uniformly apply its zoning and construction procedures to both halves of the city.

[snip]

According to a document prepared by Ir Amim, an NGO that “seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city,” the master plan vastly underestimates the construction needs of the Arab population in the city. While the plan calls for 13,500 new residential units in East Jerusalem for Palestinians, updated demographic studies indicate that this amount barely represents half the minimum needs for the Arab population by 2030.

Ir Amim officials also said that while the plan allows for Palestinian construction in the north and south of the capital, it barely provides for an expansion of Arab construction projects in the center of the city, particularly in the area next to the holy basin.

The group added that the plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city. Ir Amim warns that the plan is likely to be perceived as an Israeli provocation because most of the Jewish building projects are designated for areas east of the Green Line.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat instructed his subordinates to alter the plan in line with his policy of thickening the Jewish presence around the holy basin and the eastern half of the city.

Despite the National Planning and Building Committee’s decision to designate the City of David – which sits in the heart of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – as “a national park,” the new master plan allows for the construction of residential units in the area.

The Ir David Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase Jewish settlement in the City of David and whose heads are close associates of the mayor, has in recent years bought houses near the Old City in an effort to “Judaize” the area…

So, Bibi is coming to Washington, D.C. again to meet with President Barack Obama in early July and once again he will demonstrate that the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel is a one-way street- the U.S. is to give in to every Israeli demand, scuttle any international attempts at holding Israel accountable for violating international law, give Israel billions of dollars a year because they are so special, fight all Israel’s battles (most recently, our obsessive focus on Iran) give Israel preferential treatment in regards to obtaining lucrative defense contracts, equipment etc. and on and on and on. And what does the administration of President Barack Obama get in return? They get called anti-Israel, Arabist anti-Semites. Oh, and the other requirement is that whenever a public figure says the word “Israel” out loud, they are required to also include the boilerplate statement “we support Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its security interests by whichever means it sees fit…” or something along those lines. Because if they don’t say something along those lines, the AIPAC mobs will start screaming “anti-Israel!” from their perch on the NYT editorial page.

The truly pathetic part of all this? This is how it plays out year after year after year after year….and there is no end in sight.

Israel Seizes Oxygen Machines Headed for Gaza

In Gaza, Human Rights, Israel, Mideast Peace, News, Politics on June 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm

No matter how Israel spins their big “concession” about allowing more goods into Gaza, so long as they continue to play these games, most of the international community isn’t going to be fooled:

Seven machines donated by Norwegian agency confiscated en route to PA over chance generators attached could be used for purposes other than medical treatment, Ma’an reports.
By Haaretz Service Tags: Israel news Gaza West Bank PA

Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Saturday.

According to Ma’an, the Ramallah-based health ministry said that the generators, which were donated to the Palestinian Authority by a Norwegian development agency, were seized by Israeli officials despite the fact that only one machine was bound for Gaza.

The generators “came under the category of possible use for non-medical purposes” if they were delivered to southern Gaza, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement, adding that the six other machines were bound for government hospitals in the northern Gaza, inducing the European Hospital in Gaza City, the Rafdieyah hospital in Nablus, and other facilities in Ramallah and Hebron.

Shameful.

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