Damascus – It is Winter Solstice in the Levant. This is the day which astronomically marks the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days—a day which, since ancient times, has been celebrated with festivals, gatherings, rituals, feasting, singing, dancing and bonfires. Historically it has been viewed as a significant annual event because communities were not certain of living through the winter and had to prepare during the previous nine months for dramatic rises in starvation, communicable diseases, and infant deaths due to hypothermia. For this reason, and because such deaths were particularly common, the first months of winter became known as “the famine months” in the northern hemisphere.
Preparing for a tough next few months is what the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is doing these days, and the UN specialized agency is working in the face of daunting odds. UNWRA was founded in 1949, and for more than 60 years it has been plagued by harassments, intimidation, and countless conspiracies to close it down, efforts waged by the international Zionist lobby and designed to “put it out of its misery” as Prime Minister Netanyahu recently demanded from the US Congress.
UNRWA has a regional headquarters in Beirut, opposite the Shatila Camp, and one in Damascus, on Mezzah Boulevard, where this observer is a regular visitor these days and where talk often inevitably centers upon the grim link between the Syrian crisis and the conditions of over half a million Palestinian refugees living in 57 UNRWA camps. Other major concerns for UNRWA are the nearly one million Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war, as well as the more than one million refugees in Gaza suffering from climatic conditions exacerbated by the brutal Zionist occupation of Palestine.
The UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan for 2014, published this week, sets out the agency’s hoped-for projects to strengthen the resilience of Palestine refugees, and to help them weather the current dangers of frigid temperatures and lack of heat and sanitation. This winter solstice the outlook for Palestine refugees from Syria is increasingly bleak in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, as communities, livelihoods, assets and support networks, painstakingly built over decades, are being destroyed.
Displacement among Palestinians is proportionally much higher than that of Syrians, and the threats to safe refuge in Syria, combined with severely restricted options for flight, has confronted Palestine refugees with unprecedented challenges. UNRWA emergency assistance is normally delivered as part of its well-established programs in health, education, community development, microfinance, relief, youth training and employment. Delivered by Palestinian staff, this support is a critical cornerstone, fostering resilience and continuity for both communities and families, in the face of growing hardship. Of the 540,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, about 270,000 are displaced within the country, and an estimated 85,000 have fled. Fifty-one thousand of these have reached Lebanon, 11,000 have identified themselves in Jordan, 5,000 are in Egypt, and smaller numbers have reached Gaza, Turkey and farther afield. Those who have managed to land in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt face risky legal limbos compounded with living conditions so difficult that many decide to return to the dangers of Syria.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by expanding need, deepening poverty, and the growing numbers of registered refugees. As a result, the agency’s general fund, which supports UNRWA’s core activities and is 97 percent reliant on voluntary contributions, begins each year with a large projected deficit. UNRWA officials cite an immediate need for US$417.4 million to respond adequately to the needs of Palestinian refugees in Syria; US$90.4 million for those in Lebanon; and US$14.6 for the ones in Jordan. An additional US$2.4 million is required for emergency response needs outside the purview of the UNRWA’s field offices, including token cash assistance for Palestinian families from Syria in Gaza.
Winter storm Alexa, the fiercest storm to hit Gaza and the West Bank in over 100 years, is still wreaking havoc and bringing misery to thousands. As of 12/19/13, some 40,000 people in Gaza have been driven from their homes due to extreme flooding. The situation has been exacerbated by the fuel crisis that has left people without power for up to 21 hours a day and forced raw sewage to flow through the streets. People’s lives and health are at grave risk. Gaza’s Hamas government said 4,306 in all had been evacuated to schools and other centers used as makeshift shelters in the past four days. The strip’s 1.8 million people, trying to survive in one of the most densely populated tracts on earth, have also endured blackouts of around 12 hours a day since the lone power plant was switched off last month due to a fuel shortage. The territory lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade curbing imports of fuel, building supplies and basic goods. Moreover, reports from UNRWA staff indicate that conditions are worsening due to severe Israeli restrictions on the camps. For instance, emergency responders cannot reconnect power lines downed due to the heavy snow, and the populace has little access to basic necessities such as running water. The crisis is deepening, and the problems are similar in virtually all of the vulnerable refugee camps. People face severe power outages, while some in the West Bank also face systematic attacks by the Israeli army.
Other problems weighing heavily on UNWRA include strikes and threats of strikes by UNWRA employees protesting claimed low wages. Dismay has also been expressed at what is widely perceived as the UNRWA’s weak humanitarian role in Gaza, where normal, day-to-day problems are compounded by the blockade and, most recently, the flood. The workers’ union at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza continued protests this week, calling for salary increases. One Hamas official has accused UNRWA officials of receiving exorbitant salaries, charging that the agency at the same time is not up to the tasks it is assigned to do. UNWRA officials who this observer spoke with denied this, but declined any information about any UNWRA salaries.
Like many aid agencies working in Syria, the UNRWA continues to lose staff. UNRWA teacher Suzan Ghazazweh, a popular and accomplished teacher at the Abbasyyeh School in Muzeirib, was killed by shrapnel when a shell struck her home on December 2, 2013. She is the tenth UNRWA staffer killed in Syria.
Enter Professor Alan Dershowitz!
Adding to UNWRA’s myriad problems is the fact that Professor Alan Dershowitz for some reason chose this winter solstice to retire after 46 years on the job at the Harvard Law School. Within hours, if he has not already done so, Alan will depart Harvard’s hallowed halls to devote more time to his current central cause, one which arguably poses his most difficult challenge—“saving Israel from itself and from UNWRA!” as he told a Harvard Crimson stringer on background recently.
The past few years Professor Dershowitz, apparently wanting to make a strong impression on his new students, would start off the beginning of semester classes by offering them his essential view of the law. During the first or second class meeting he reportedly often made references to some of the 13 out of 15 major cases he “won” for the likes of Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, Jim Bakker, Claus von Bulow and O. J. Simpson to name a few. He would explain to his classes:
“All my big cases I won on a legal technicality! Those cases were lost causes. Otherwise, why would these clients come to me? The first thing to remember as you continue your legal studies is to forget what the law says or even what the facts of a case are! American appellate courts will decide the facts and the law of a case based on what the best advocate says they are. That’s why I win!”
To one public international law class Professor Dershowitz is reported to have sneered, “And you can forget about claims of human rights based on international law and universal standards of morality. You’ll never win s— with that malarkey.”
As he begins preparation for his “legitimization case” on behalf of the last remaining 19th century colonial enterprise—the Zionist theft and continuing illegal occupation of Palestine—Alan, some associates claim, plans to come out swinging against the UNRWA. Throughout his teaching career, Dershowitz has been a loyal supporter, and some say main instigator, of AIPAC. Little surprise, then, that he has joined the Zionist Lobby’s more than two decades of attacks on the UNRWA, seeking to have the agency’s funding cut off. But until now, he has not been “lead attorney of record.”
One source who meets with Professor Dershowitz from time to time in Washington claims that Alan insists that UNWRA is another one of Israel’s growing number of existential threats, this because the UN agency “keeps the Palestinian refugee issue alive and allows human rights types to keep the issue of wrongful dispossession of their homes and land before the global community and with no end in sight.”
Though he makes regular trips to Israel, Alan doesn’t come around Lebanon or Syria much, and frankly this observer has only met him a couple of times. He claims to have a photographic memory and maybe that is why he doesn’t seem to cotton much to this observer. Perhaps he remembers, and even holds a grudge of some kind, from our first meeting more than a quarter century ago. On that day, Alan came to see me in my Congressional House Judiciary office in the Rayburn building. I am not sure who referred him, but only an hour earlier, my boss, Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, called to give me a last minute assignment. It was simple enough, and I had done it before. Congressman Conyers wanted me to escort a visiting judicial official from another country, in this case the chief justice from Egypt’s highest court, across the lawn from Rayburn for a meeting at the Supreme Court with our CJ, Warren Burger. An easy enough assignment it was, because Burger invariably was pleasant, with a southern style aura of gentility about him, but fifteen minutes before the Egyptian CJ was due to join me, an intense, smallish, fast-talking guy shows up, announces he is from the Harvard Law School, and must join “the Egyptian” during his meeting with Burger. Frankly it did not matter much to me one way or the other, but I did call my supervisor, Hayden Gregory, for advice. Basically his reply was, “Not a chance! No way!” Only later did I learn Alan had rubbed Hayden the wrong way over proposed “federal determinate sentencing guidelines,” an issue before our committee at the time.
Long story short, Alan would not take no for an answer. When I made it clear he was not invited and could not join the meeting he became angry and stormed off.
He may still remember, but with me it was not personal, and in any event all this is by way of saying that UNWRA had better baton down its hatches because they have more problems coming their way than they realize or are ready for.
In the Palestinian Solidarity Movement we really love celebrities – those famous, rather special people who write great books, play musical instruments (drums included) or even just think great thoughts. We like those people to stand up for Palestine and denounce ‘Zionism’, ‘Israeli Colonialism’ and ‘Apartheid.’ We love them – as long as they don’t say what they really think.
Here’s the problem. Celebrities are often famous and successful because they’re clever and independent. Unlike our progressive, dysfunctional activists, who in most cases lives on income support and repeat our ‘party line’, the celebrity is a confident, career-oriented, self-sufficient subject and, because of their capacity to make autonomous decisions, he or she is assertive and thriving . In short, the activist and the celebrity are made of very different stuff – so a collision is inevitable.
Time after time it happens to us in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. We manage to pull in a great human being, we tell them what to say and they comply. For a while, they call to boycott Israel and, like parrots, they repeat our slogans. But then, against all odds, these damn, self-centred stars start to speak their minds.
Roger Waters is obviously such a celebrity. For the last two years we were so proud of our Pink Floyd comrade rallying for Palestine. For a while, he repeated our slogans, denouncing colonialism and Israeli Apartheid. But then, the inevitable happened. For no obvious reason he told the truth. In an interview on Counterpunch he equated Israel with Nazi Germany and, speaking about Jewish power, he even mentioned the ‘J word’.
Within hours, all hell broke loose. Every Jewish media outlet, including The Guardian unleashed its venom in order to bring Roger to his knees. Rabbis, Holocaust memory merchants and even artists were recruited to join the choir. But guess what? Not one single Palestinian activist stood up for Waters. Neither Electronic Intifada nor Jewish progressive Mondoweiss supported the legendary bassist. Their silence was deafening. The progressive, Cohen Blumenthal also didn’t show any support for the truth teller. Is this a coincidence?
Our sycophantic Solidarity Movement dropped Roger Waters like a stone as we’ve done so many times before because, in our little progressive ghetto, we love celebrities – but not when speak their minds or tell the truth.
Beirut – They will if they can, and in league with the US Zionist lobby they well might. The latter is currently eager to fund and promote the Clintons’ new project, according to New Orleans sources close to political operative James Carville, a veteran of three Clinton and two Obama presidential campaigns. Carville has publicly sworn recently, while out late with drinking buddies in his favorite French Quarter bar, that he was finished “pimping for the Clintons.” Plus he has come to “really admire the current President”.
But Bill is not and does not.
Despite the Clinton estate, by now valued at tens of millions of dollars which continues its rapid expansion since the White House days, the former President is reportedly often short-tempered and grouchy these days.
Put very simply, Bill’s problem has to do with his planned “third act” in life. Le Clinton needs La Clinton to return the Oval Office to where Le claims he belongs. But La is tired and laments that she does not really want to go through another grueling and humiliating (her word) Presidential campaign season. Adding, one imagines, to domestic pressure at home is the fact that the 2016 Presidential campaign is already starting, as White House aspirants move around Iowa and New Hampshire and to myriad venues launching their ‘trial balloons.’
Mrs. Clinton is reportedly hearing from her husband sweet entreaties and whispers to the effect that all she needs to focus on is getting elected in November of 2016 and he will help her campaign a lot. If things work out as hoped, La Clinton’s name will be on the White House stationery, but Le will run the show through 2024 from “behind the curtains and do the yeoman labor in the vineyards for America,” according to one former Member of the Democratic National Committee with whom this observer served as DNC member from Oregon years ago.
There are several surfacing problems, some apparently not anticipated, with the former President’s reportedly carefully crafted plan. An increasingly major one is perceived to be President Obama. “Barack appears to be threatening to break out of the Uncle Tom mold and get all uppity and radical and do things he claims to have believed in from childhood but put off until his last term,” according to the same source. American history reveals many similar transformations of lame duck Presidents with many falling short of their last term goals. Obama appears ready to fight for his.
As he increasingly discusses privately with friends in Congress, Barack Obama wants to extricate the US at least to some extent from the Middle East quagmire, end more than a decade of criminal wars, get real about the phony ‘war on terror’ and lessen US funding and even lighten US and UN political cover for the Zionist regime still illegally occupying Palestine. He is equally passionate about wanting to “re-build America-its schools, medical system and infrastructure” as he stressed during his joint appearances with the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, shortly before Obama’s stronger than expected showing on election night.
Moreover, Republicans don’t appear to have connected much with the voters and they have yet to capitalize on Obama’s shortcomings. The Clinton camp sees Obama’s hoped for legacy as fatal to their chances, not least for the reason that he makes no bones about being livid over Tel Aviv’s obstructionism during “peace negotiations” which he has reportedly come to believe are a ploy to steal more Palestinian land and undermine any realistic prospect for a viable Palestinian state.
The Clintons are said to believe that if Obama breaks loose from the Washington establishment and returns to the ideas his unconventional mother, who was an activist, liberal multicultural student who not only advocated full racial and gender equality, but married an African that the US right wingers and the Zionist lobby will combine to put a Republican in the White House.
One political operative on Capitol Hill who follows Presidential politics closely claims that over the past few weeks one issue has come to symbolize the Obama Administrations goals and Obama’s potential legacy, and that is restoring some modicum of normalization of US-Iranian relations. John Kerry, a potential 2016 White House candidate himself, and one who stands to gain substantially at the ballot box for his role, since his and Obama’s views are increasingly in synch with the American public, which according to a recent poll favors improved relations with Iran by more than 80%.
For Le Clinton and his team, this is not good news, less so for the Zionist Congressional lobby which reliably and consistently votes for Israel’s interests over their own constituents’ needs and wishes. For this reason Tel Aviv has gone all out to force Congress to impose more sanctions on the people of Iran and to raise barriers to the Obama-Kerrey initiative. This week they failed again to scuttle hopes for improved US-Iran relations, try as they might, to impose threats that would force the Rouhani government in Tehran to retreat from their gamble that the American side was serious about resolving the nuclear file and improving relations while scrapping some of the US political sanctions that having increasingly been targeting the civilian population of the Islamic Republic with the hope of igniting a street movement for regime change given the inflating cost of food and consumer, and unavailability of certain chronic care drugs.
Some of the regular cast of characters, who appear as if for a Broadway curtain call when summoned by AIPAC, Congressmen Eric Cantor, Mark Kirk, Ed Royce, Elliot Engel, Robert Menendez, Michael McCaul, Rep. Brad Sherman among others, failed to parry John Kerry’s arguments late this week before Congress as he argued for more time to see what will happen over the next six months. This observer’s Congressman in Maryland’s 5th District, whose staff swear they read CounterPunch and my 2-cents worth of rants, actually balked and left the lobby high and dry on the efforts to abort the While House initiative. Times they may be changing–however, late on the game clock.
Kerry teamed with Obama in the White House decision to crack down on oil and shipping companies accused of helping Iran evade economic sanctions, a move that came as the White House appeared to gain ground in its fight to keep Congress from enacting even tougher restrictions that threaten to derail nuclear talks with the Islamic republic. “We will continue to take action against those who evade, or attempt to evade, our manifold sanctions on Iran,” David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, to Congress this week. “Make no mistake about it, Iran is still off-limits “for most oil and banking transactions,” Cohen said.
The enforcement actions against Asian, European and Iranian firms were announced moments before two of the administration’s top experts on Iran appeared before a Senate panel to warn again that the imposition of further sanctions could doom any chance of a final agreement with Iran on permanent limits to the country’s nuclear program. The White House is reported to have loved the timing which helped deflate the Zionist project.
Late this week, according to a former aide who claims that she has given up politics, word from the Clinton camp is that Bill has apparently concluded that La Clinton can’t secure the Oval Office without the green (as in the color of US currency) light from Tel Aviv.
Even though this observer was a Jerry Brown supporter at the 1992 Democratic Convention in New York and stuck with my guy despite heavy lobbying from William Jefferson Clinton, I sort of like the fellow and think the charitable work he is doing is helping many and he should stick with it. As for Hilary, as she told Katie Couric recently, what she really wants most is a grandchild to love and spoil. Let it be so…
The response from the NY Times to the following two exclusive submissions was the Auto-Reply that they were received.
For the next 12 Days before Christmas I will be TWEETING the short link to this post to the NY TIMES, such as this:
I also will be TWEETING it to every Media outlet I can find at TWITTER; but first a little background:
I learned about Vanunu while researching my first historical novel and wrote him into the Chapter THANKSGIVING EVE 1987
A few months later, I met Vanunu during my first of 8 journeys to both sides of The Wall in Israel Palestine and wrote that experience in the Chapter 16 Days in Israel Palestine
The last time I saw Vanunu was a week before Thanksgiving 2013:
One correction I have repeatedly addressed on the WWW is the legend of Cindy/Cheryl and the “honey trap”:
When I asked Vanunu what he was thinking when he took off with Cindy, he maintained eye contact and readily replied,
“It wasn’t like THAT-when Maxwell’s paper published my photo without ever talking to me and some of the stolen Dimona photos with a very bad story against me, I knew the Mossad was after me. Cindy said she had a sister in Rome and I thought I would be safe there until I could return to London.
“We went to movies and art galleries. I trusted her.
“But, as soon as I got into the apartment, I was hit on the head and drugged. When I woke up and they took me for interrogation, they threw the Times article on the table and said, ‘Look, what you did.’ I was so relieved they had published it and that I had done what I did.”
What ‘Cindy’ did was masquerade as an American beautician on holiday in London. In reality, ‘Cindy’ was the American Mossad agent, Cheryl Hanin Bentov who was using her sister-in-laws passport!
It is illegal under American-Israeli diplomatic protocols for the Mossad to operate in America.
MY Submissions to The New York Times:
Dear New York Times,
As the current leader of the International Cause dedicated to help free Mordechai Vanunu, I am informing you of Mordechai Vanunu’s mid December Appeal.
On 6 December, Vanunu wrote: ”Court hearing against the restrictions not to leave Israel, schedule hearing in the Supreme court will be Dec’ 16, 2013. The same Appeal was in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The court can send me free and end all this case from 1986-2013.”
In 1986, Israel kidnapped Vanunu from Rome and after a closed door trial, convicted him of espionage and treason. Although released on 21 April 2004, Israel has denied Vanunu the right to “get on the first plane out of here.”
In 1985, Vanunu suffered a crisis of conscience, when he realized he was “a bolt” in the manufacturing of WMD.
After a supervisor carelessly left the keys in the shower room, Vanunu seized his opportunity to document top secret locations within Israel’s 7-story underground nuclear facility and he spent a few intense hours doing just that!
View Vanunu’s photos of the Dimona at his YouTube Channel:
A few months later, Vanunu leaves Israel and travels throughout Europe with the two rolls of undeveloped film. After meeting Peter Hounam, a reporter for the London Sunday Times, Vanunu shares all he knew in his position as a mid-level technician and the two develop the film.
A total of 1,200 pages of transcript of Vanunu’s closed door trial have been released.
Defense witness Peter Hounam stated, “We did not pay him money, but only covered his expenses…Money did not motivate him.”
During my conversations with Vanunu beginning in 2005, he told me:
“All the secrets I had were published in 1989 in an important book, by [Nuclear Physicist] Frank Barnaby, The Invisible Bomb: Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East.”
Barnaby testified, “I found Vanunu very straightforward about his motives for violating Israel’s secrecy laws he explained to me that he believed that both the Israeli and the world public had the right to know about the information he passed on. He seemed to me to be acting ideologically.
“Israel’s political leaders have, he said, consistently lied about Israel’s nuclear-weapons programme and he found this unacceptable in a democracy.
“The knowledge that Vanunu had about Israel’s nuclear weapons, about the operations at Dimona, and about security at Dimona could not be of any use to anyone today. He left Dimona in October 1985.”
Vanunu also told me:
“Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’
“Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection.
“The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out.
“When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them.
“Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”
Contact Vanunu through his website HERE
Eileen Fleming ###
November 9, 2013
Dear New York Times,
Photo of Mordechai Vanunu, by me 24 November 2013, east Jerusalem.
As the current leader of the international cause dedicated to free Mordechai Vanunu I write to alert you that on 9 December, Vanunu wrote:
“Changes in date, Court hearing against the restrictions not to leave Israel, schedule hearing in the Supreme court will be Dec’ 25, 2013, moved from the Dec’ 16, the same Appeal was 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The court can send me free and end all this case from 1986-2013.”
The restrictions that have subjected Vanunu to 24/7 surveillance [his movements, phone calls and emails] since he emerged from 18 years behind bars on 21 April 2004, come from the Emergency Defense Regulations, which were implemented by Britain against Palestinians and Jews after World War II.
Attorney Yaccov Shapiro, who later became Israel’s Minister Of Justice, described the Emergency Defense Regulations as “unparalleled in any civilized country: there were no such laws in Nazi Germany.”
View Vanunu moments after emerging from 18 years behind bars:
On 2 October 2009, The Washington Times reported that President Obama agreed to keep Israel’s nukes ‘secret’ and reaffirmed a 4-decade-old understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections.
Three officials spoke on the condition that they not be named because they were discussing private conversations, but all said Obama pledged to maintain the agreement when he first hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in May 2009.
On 24, November 2006, Vanunu wrote:
“My lawyer succeeded to reveal a few very important facts: This General of the Army also was not allowed to see all the secrets that he is required to protect by these restrictions that they claim I know them. So, he gave orders of restrictions without knowing what he is protecting or that he is also following orders blindly, and Mossad Sheen Bet using its authority for just punishing me.
“He testified that it is not a crime for me to talk with foreigners in general anywhere. He testified that I can speak freely to any Israeli citizens about anything; it is not his concern what I am saying to them. These Israelis can give this information to any foreigners. It was difficult for the Judge to understand why this dichotomy exits between foreigners and Israelis. It means that it is not about secrecy but about something else.”
In 2004, Yossi Melman wrote for Haaretz:
“This is the secret that hasn’t yet been told in the affair: the story of the security fiasco that made it possible for Vanunu to do what he did, and the story of the subsequent attempts at cover-up, whitewashing and protection of senior figures in the defense establishment, who were bent on divesting themselves of responsibility for the failure.”
Will the New York Times shine a light on Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower’s nearly 10 year struggle for freedom from Israel before his Christmas Day appeal?
Damascus – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have this past week reportedly committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion to “beef up” the just-hatched Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. These “best friends of America” want the Obama administration to sign onto a scheme to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training, facilitating and generally choreographing the movement of fighters of this new front, a front formed out of an alliance of seven putatively “moderate” rebel factions.
Representatives of Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told staff members on Capitol Hill that committing several billions to defeat the Assad regime by supporting the IF makes fiscal sense and will cost much less than the six trillion dollar figure tallied by the recent study by Brown University as part of its Costs of War project. According to the 2013 update of the definitive Brown study, which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars. This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families.
Among the Islamist militia joining the new GCC-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance.
IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.” Abu Firas, the new coalition’s spokesman, declared that “we now have the complete merger of the major military factions fighting in Syria.”
Formally announced on 11/22/13, the IF includes groups from three prior umbrella organizations: the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Kurdish Islamic Front (KIF). From the SIF, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (HASI), Kataib Ansar al-Sham, and Liwa al-Haqq all joined, as did the KIF as a whole, and former SILF brigades Suqur al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, and Jaish al-Islam. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. The Israeli official in question is the country’s new national security advisor, Yossie Cohen, who assures key congressional leaders that the tens of thousands of rebels making up the IF will all support “one policy and one military command.” Cohen also pledges that the new group is not as “insane” as other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals. Cohen and AIPAC are further telling Congress members and congressional staffers that the emergence of the IF is one of the war’s most important developments, and he vows that the new organization in effect brings seven organizations into a combined force that will fight under one command, a force estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fighters. Reportedly the objective will link the fight in the north with that in the south in a manner that will stretch loyalist forces, and the Saudi-Israel team is also asking the Obama Administration to more than double the monthly “graduation class” of CIA-trained rebels in Turkey, Syria and Jordan—from its current level of 200 per month, up to 500 a month.
What the GCC/Arab League/Israeli team is asking of its western allies (meaning of course mainly the US) is to immediately fund the IF to the tune of $ 5.5 billion. This, Israeli security officials argue, is pocket change compared to the $6 trillion spent in US terrorist wars of the past decade. Plus it will have the presumed “benefit” of toppling the Assad regime and truncating Iran’s growing influence. The plan has reportedly been dismissed by some in the Obama administration as “risible and pathetic.” Nonetheless, Tel Aviv, the US Congressional Zionist lobby, and to a lesser extent Ankara, are pressing ahead under the assumption that linking with the IF now makes sense and that they can take their chances will al-Qaeda later. Ironically these are some of the same voices from AIPAC’s Congressional Team who four years ago were claiming that al-Qaeda was “on the ropes and will soon collapse.” Yet they are optimistic that if Assad goes, “we can deal with the terrorists and it won’t cost six trillion dollars.”
One House member who strongly agrees with AIPAC is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who recently declared that “in my heart I am a Tea Party guy.” A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter believes the US should use nuclear weapons against Tehran. In a Fox TV interview this week he declared his opposition to any talks with Iran, insisting that US policy should include a “massive aerial bombardment campaign” utilizing “tactical nuclear devices” to set Iran “back a decade or two or three.”
According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF’s top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. This at least is as of 12/5/13. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. In terms of its basic architecture, the document is similar to that put out by the SIF in January, but the new version is filled with more generalities than other militia proclamations, and seems designed to accommodate differing ideas among member groups. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma (“protected peoples”) system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities. According to Saudi officials in Lebanon, the IF seeks to unify other rebel groups so long as they agree to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. Given this ‘moderate’ wording, the expectation of some is that that the southern-based Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham will join the IF.
According to the Netanyahu government, the IF’s leading foreign cheerleader, this new coalition gives substance to that which states who have been wanting regime change in Syria have been calling for. One analyst on the Syrian conflict, Aron Lund, believes a grouping of mainstream and hardline Islamists, excluding any al-Qaeda factions, is significant. “It’s something that could be very important if it holds up,” he explained. “The Islamic Front’s formation was a response to both regime advances and the ‘aggressive posture’ of jihadists against other rebels, plus a good deal of foreign involvement, not least of which is Saudi and GCC pushing to unify the rebels.”
Contrary to reports out of Occupied Palestine that the Netanyahu regime is not worried about or much interested in the crisis in Syria, a measure of delight seems to be felt in Tel Aviv that Muslims and Arabs are once more killing each other, along with smugness over Hezbollah’s loss of key mujahedeen as it faces, along with Iran, its own “Vietnam experience.” Yet all this notwithstanding, near panic is reported to have been felt in Israeli government circles over Hezbollah’s achievements in Syria. Truth told, Tel Aviv knows that despite manpower losses by Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political party is bringing about major enhancements of its forces. It also knows that there is no substitute for urban battlefield experience with regard to effecting such force regeneration, and Israeli officials have also stated their belief that the Resistance is organizing non-Hezbollah brigades that share one goal in common despite disparate beliefs. That sacred goal is liberating Al Quds by any and all means.
A US Congressional source summarized the Obama administration’s take on this week’s assassination of a key Hezbollah commander as part of a major new Netanyahu government project to weaken Hezbollah. Hassan Houlo Lakkis’ assassination on the night of December 3-4 is deemed in Washington to be particularly significant since Lakkis was in charge of strategic files related to Israel and the Palestinians and also oversaw a number of key operations. The Resistance commander was deeply involved in the development of drones for Hezbollah, as well as smuggling weapons to Gaza via Egypt. He also had good relationships with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Lakkis was known by Washington to be a highly important cadre and a second rank Hezbollah official. According to one analyst “Israel appeared as if it was telling Hezbollah, come and fight me. Israel is upset over the Western-Iranian agreement. It is also upset over the new position that the West has concerning Hezbollah whereby the West is now viewing the party as a force that opposes the Takfiris. Thus, Israel’s objective behind the assassination is to lure the party into a confrontation thus allowing Tel Aviv to tell the West: Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization.”
According to sources on the US Foreign Relations Committee, the White House is being heavily pressured by the US Zionist lobby and the Netanyahu government to take “remedial measures” for the “catastrophic historic mistake” it made in defusing the Iranian nuclear issue and refusing to bomb Damascus. The measures being pushed for, of course, are funding and support for the IF, though doubts persist in Washington as to how “remedial” they will in fact be. The $5.5 billion “investment” is to be paid in large part by GCC/Arab League countries, with US and Zionist contributions. Cash from the latter two sources will come directly and indirectly out of the pockets of American taxpayers—with Israel paying nothing.
Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another zany Bander bin Sultan-concocted project, the latest of many—in this case to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his personal suspicions this week that “the Israel-Saudi team is trying to drag the US back into a potentially deepening morass,” alluding to what apparently is an effort to head off any plans the Obama administration may have of living with the Assad government until such time as Geneva II happens, that is if it happens, according to one congressional staffer.
Many among the American public also have doubts because they have been told that their government was ‘winding down’ its Middle East wars in favor of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, roads, health care and education systems, all of which, especially the latter, appear to be suffering dramatically. According to the most recent international survey, released this week, the average Chinese student, aged fifteen in Shanghai, is two full years ahead of America’s best students surveyed in Massachusetts. Recent top scores among secondary school youngsters, particularly in math, reading and science, were considerably lower than those achieved by students in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. The US is far down the list and declining, and the survey suggests that the gap is widening.
It’s too early to say whether this latest Saudi-Israel-Arab League collaboration will fail as others have recently, but given the continuing Obama administration efforts at taking back US Middle East policy from Tel Aviv, plus the perceptible movement away from support for the Netanyahu government along with growing angst among American taxpayers over funding the occupation of Palestine, it just might collapse.
Sabeel’s 9th and 25 years of Christian LIBERATION Theology…
Multiple missions pulled me back to Israel and the Occupied State of Palestine for the 8th time [since 2005] the week before Thanksgiving.
However, it was only after I received the snail-mail invitation from Reverend and Mrs. Ateek to attend the kick off luncheon for Sabeel’s 9th International Conference and Celebration of 25 years of Christian Liberation Theology, did I know the time had come to take another heartbreak trip to that troubled piece of real estate that could NOT sustain without US Policies and Tax Payer Dollars that enable War Crimes ‘justified’ by bad religion and hypocrites in high places.
The good news [especially for those who must live with me] is I returned home without flaming anger—my rage this time just simmers on a low boil over America’s apathy and willful ignorance regarding our collusion in the misery of another indigenous people.
What fuels the arrogant notion of American exceptionalism is the same spirit of Zionism
One of Sabeel’s missions is to stick us with the truth as they remind us “the truth will set us free”.
Because it is US policies that aid and abet Israel’s Nuclear Deceptions, Humanitarian and War Crimes I FEEL stuck with having to run again for US HOUSE;
But NOT as an independent this time, I am offering myself to any party in any District in Florida who is ready to support an American for US HOUSE compelled by George Washington’s warning to US:
“Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all…and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”
Good and Evil run through every human heart and all Free Will means is we get to choose which rules.
During my intense 8 days in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, I met more than a few who had chosen the best way to transform the current reality is by transforming individual hearts:
The Tent of Nations driveway to Daher’s Vineyard and organic farm, in the hills southwest of Bethlehem, must be navigated by foot, which provides the settlers and Israeli Forces a visual witness of nonviolent solidarity seeking to End Israel’s Occupation of the State of Palestine.
Because of that visual witness, a curious settler once visited the farm and when he learned what was going on, he built The Tent of Nations three out-houses and moved out of the settlement [all are illegal under international law] to Tel Aviv.
“The long-term goal of The Tent of Nations is to prepare youth to make positive contributions to their future and society through the values of understanding, tolerance, and respectful coexistence. These goals are achieved through education-awareness campaigns, youth empowerment, and work camps.” ###
Keith Reynolds is a Canadian supporter of Sabeel who builds playgrounds for children in war-torn areas and is a long time friend of Mordechai Vanunu, Israel’s Nuclear Whistle Blower who attended Sabeel’s Conference sessions and ate meals with old friends and met many new ones.
“Playground Builders is dedicated to building hope and peace through the gift of play. Since our inception in 2007 we have built approximately 20 playgrounds per year supplying safe play for over 250,000 children. But this is just the beginning.
“We not only build playgrounds. We help societies in crisis by injecting money into the local economy and creating much-needed jobs. This helps to keep our costs low. Additionally, our board and volunteers underwrite administrative and travel costs so that virtually every dollar donated can go directly to building a new playground.
“Playgrounds are more than just physical places to play. They are spaces where kids can be kids, community members can feel connected and empowered, new possibilities find a strong foundation and peace and hope begins. Playground Builders builds hope, one playground at a time.”
The following is the text of a talk I gave at the Seek, Speak and Spread Truth Conference in London last Saturday, 23 November, 2013.
History, we are told, is an attempt to narrate the past. But in reality, more than often history has little to do with revealing the past. It is instead an orchestrated and institutional attempt to shove the shame deep under the carpet.
Much Jewish history texts, for instance, are there to divert the attention from the peculiar and tragic fact that along their history, Jews have managed to bring on themselves an endless chain of disasters. But Palestinian history at large, is no different. After more than a century of liberation struggle, the situation in Palestine is worse than ever, yet Palestinian scholarship, as we will soon see, is drifting away from any possible understanding of the circumstances that led to their ongoing disaster.
Although the Brits have many war crimes attached to their names, the British Imperial War Museum decided to allocate a whole floor to the Jewish Holocaust instead of featuring one of the British-made genocides. The Brits, like everyone else, prefer to conceal their shame.
Historical accounts are commonly there to suppress the truth and conceal our shame. Yet, it is far from clear who is in charge, who decides what must be covered up and which path must be taken in order to suppress the truth.
Apparently, restricting the terminology and limiting freedom of expression by means of (political) correctness are probably amongst the most popular methods. Sadly enough, Palestine solidarity discourse is a spectacular test case in that regard.
A brief examination of each of the terminological pillars and the principles that shape our vision of the conflict, of its history and of its possible solution are there to conceal the obvious causes, ideologies and belief system that drive the crimes in the Middle East in general and in Palestine in particular.
We’ll now scrutinize the terminology and notions that are involved in the debate over Palestine and expose once again the deceitful nature that is unfortunately intrinsic to the contemporary progressive discourse.
Zionism – Palestinian solidarity members are required to avoid the ‘J’ word and to use the word ‘Zionism’ instead. I recently revealed that Ali Abunimah, one of my current arch detractors, advised me a few years ago to refer to Zion when I really think Jewish so he and I “might find grounds for a lot of agreement….” In fact Abunimah was not alone. Jewish Voice For Peace approached me with a pretty much similar offer about the same time.
The truth of the matter is that Israeli politics has little to do with Zionism. Israelis are hardly familiar with Zionist ideology, nor they are concerned or motivated by Zionist praxis. Zionism is largely a Jewish Diaspora discourse that vows to establish a Jewish National home in Palestine and to civilize the Jew by means of nationalism. Israel is obviously the product of the Zionist project; however, the Israelis see themselves as post-revolutionary subjects – they transformed the Zionist dream into a practical reality.
Thus, criticism of Zionism per se hardly touches Israelis or Israeli politics. If anything, it actually diverts the attention from the crimes that are committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish people.
But then, why do we use the term Zionism instead of referring to Jewish power, Jewish politics or the Jewish State? Simple: we do not want to offend the ‘anti-Zionist’ Jews and Jews in general. We consciously choose to let Israel off the hook. Apparently we much prefer to target a phantasmic imaginary object that means very little rather than simply calling spade a spade.
Colonialism - Palestinian solidarity activists are expected to pepper their sentences with different permutations of the word ‘colonial’ with the hope that the more they use it the more it is likely to stick eventually. Consequently, activists and scholars commonly refer to Israel and Zionism as a ‘colonial project’. But they are obviously wrong.
Colonialism is traditionally defined as a clear material exchange between a ‘mother State’ and a ‘settler State’. Israel is no doubt a settler state, yet, no one can suggest who exactly was or is her mother.*
So why do we refer to Israel and Zionism as a colonial project? Simple: it saves us from admitting that the Jewish national project is indeed a unique project with no precedent in history. It would save us from admitting that we do not understand this project nor do we know where it aims. The Left and the so-called ‘anti-Zionist’ Jews cling to the colonial paradigm because it locates Israel and Zionism within a model they and their audience are slightly familiar with. The colonial paradigm suggests that the Jewish national project is as vicious as the British or French colonialism. But the grave truth is that we are dealing here with a unique form of abusive nationalist, racist project.
Settler Colonialism – in recent years a new terminological spin popped up within the Palestine solidarity ranks, namely ‘settler colonialism.’ I guess that my criticism of the colonial paradigm has shaken a few of the so-called progressive and ‘anti’ Zionists intellectuals, and they were pushed to revise their theoretical narrative. Their effort brought to the world a new deformed dysfunctional theoretical baby. But sadly enough, ‘settler colonialism’ also hardly explains a thing. It is rather a desperate attempt to further conceal the truth of the Jewish National project.
Settler Colonialism refers to the situation in which Super Power ‘A’ facilitates the settlement of Ethnic Group ‘B’ on Land ‘C’. Such an event may lead eventually to some grave consequences as far as indigenous population ‘D’ is concerned.
But here is the problem. This historical scenario A-B-C-D has nothing in common with Zionism, Israel or the Israeli Palestinian conflict. In reality, it was Zionists (B) who actually persuaded Britain, at the time a super power (A), that a Jewish Homeland in Palestine (C) is the right way forward. It was also Zionists (B) who promised to help pushing America into World War One that led Lord Balfour to commit the British empire (A) to the Zionist cause. In short, instead of the A-B-C-D chain of events, when it comes to Zionism, what we easily detect is a B-A-C-D chronology. It is the ethnic group ‘B’ that pushes Super Power ‘A’ to act in its favour.
But then we may want to ask ourselves why is it that Palestinian solidarity activists such as Ben White are consciously lying when they speaks about “settler-colonial past and present.” Unfortunately White is not alone, the list of academics and scholars who participate in the dissemination of this false narrative is pretty impressive.
Why do they deceive, is it because they are an ignorant bunch? Not at all, they are actually dedicated scholars, it is just intellectual integrity that they lack, and severely.
Spreading the ‘settler colonialism’ narrative is, once again, intended to divert the attention from the embarrassing fact that already in 1917 the Jewish Lobby was amongst the strongest lobbies in the land. Such an admission could easily offend many Jews within the Palestine solidarity movement. Seemingly, we really do not want to offend anyone but intelligence.
Apartheid – Solidarity activists are inclined to refer to Israel as an apartheid state. They obviously let the Jewish State off the hook. Apartheid is commonly defined as a racially driven system of exploitation. But Israel is not Apartheid, it is not interested in exploitation. Israel is far worse, it wants the Palestinians gone. Israel is a racially driven, nationalist ethnic cleanser. In that regard, Israel is very similar to Nazi Germany. But this is exactly the equation we are supposed to avoid because it may hurt the Jews and even confuse the Left.
Two State / One State Debate – The philosophy behind the ‘one state solution’ is obviously ethical and universal. But there is one slight problem. It finds no political partners or supporters within the Israeli society. Why? Because Israel is the Jewish State and the notion of Peace is totally foreign to Israeli and Jewish culture. The word ‘Shalom’ that is commonly translated as peace, reconciliation and harmony, is understood in Hebrew as ‘security for the Jews’.
Accordingly, it was very embarrassing to read Palestinian prominent intellectual Joseph Massad make some gross mistakes misinterpreting the word ‘peace’ in the context of the Zionist ideology and Israeli politics.
In a recent article named Peace Is War: Israeli settler-colonialism and the Palestinians Massad wrote: “Waging war as peace is so central to Zionist and Israeli propaganda that Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which killed 20,000 civilians, was termed ‘Operation Peace for Galilee’”.
If Massad had committed to proper scholarship he would probably find out that, as far as Israelis are concerned, operation ‘Shlom Ha-Galil’ really meant ‘security’ for the Galilee rather than ‘Peace for Galilee’. Massad could have saved himself this intellectual blunder if he had read The Wandering Who rather than attempting to burn the book, whose author actually delves into the topic occasionally.
Israelis would support the One State Solution as long as it is One Jewish State. As Paul Larudee suggested recently, the Israelis would also support the Two State Solution as long as it is Two Jewish States. Yet the only question that bugs me is, why would a Palestinian blogger such as Ali Abunimah go out of his way to stop us from looking into the tribal and racist culture that drives the Jewish State?
Is it possible that some of the prominent Palestine voices also do not want to offend the Jews? I will let you judge.
Is it really the Right of Return? or 1948? For many years I was convinced that the Nakba was at the core of the Palestinian plight. But then monitoring BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction of Israeli goods, culture and academia) politics taught me that I could have been deluded.
When BDS was formed in 2005 this was its first goal:
1. Ending its (Israeli) occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; (2005)
But then, without any attempt to discuss the matter publicly, BDS headquarters in Ramallah changed its first goal. It now reads:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
Some efforts have been made to make sure that Palestinian organisations are aware of this crucial change. Adding the 1967 made it clear that BDS de facto accepted the existence of a Jewish State over Palestine.
Interestingly enough, not many Palestinians were really outraged by BDS dropping the 1948 and accepting Israel as a fact. I guess that the meaning of it is simple. As far as Palestinians in exile in the West are concerned, 1948 and the Right of Return are not the real topic. I guess that such an agenda is not driven by the concern for the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon or Syria. I assume that refugees in Gaza and Jenin may also be outraged but, as things stand, we can hardly hear their voices anyway. I guess that BDS is there to appease the ‘Jews in the movement’ and even liberal Zionists. This is hardly surprising considering the embarrassing fact that liberal Zionist George Soros who funds the Light Zionist J-Street also funds BDS as well as many other Palestinian NGOs.
As we can see; Zionism, Colonialism, Settler-Colonialism, Apartheid, BDS and even The One State Solution are all misleading concepts and they are shaped to not offend the anti Zionist Jews and even Jews in general. This surreal and macabre political act explains why the solidarity movement has failed to deliver on every and each front, except one of course. With the support of liberal Zionists such as Soros, Palestine solidarity is now a little industrial affair that is pretty successful in maintaining itself. The absurd outcome is that the newly emerging Palestine solidarity industry actually benefits from the constant escalation of the crisis in Palestine – the worse is the situation on the ground, the more funding is pumped through the industry.
I guess that if we want to grasp what is behind this constant regression, concealment and repression are obviously the key words.
Concealment and repression lead towards stagnation. This is exactly what we see in Palestine and for more than a while – 100 years of struggle that led to a complete failure. Palestinian Solidarity is now farther than ever from understanding Zionism, Israel and the conflict. The so-called ‘movement’ is entrenched within a muddy terminological swamp that results in intellectual and spiritual paralysis.
This is exactly the point where truth and truth seeking come into play. The role of the intellectual and the artist is to unveil the concealed. To look into the pain and to dig into the essence. This search for essentiality is similar to the role of the psychoanalyst who delves into the realm of the unconscious.
When it comes to Palestine we have to grasp, once and for all, what the Jewish State stands for. We have to understand what Judaism and Jewishness are. We have to grasp who are the Jews, what unifies them and vice versa. We must learn the relationships between these distinct categories and Zionism and only then may we be ready to form some pragmatic and practical thoughts on Zionism, the Jewish State and its lobbies. By the time we are ready to do so, we may as well grasp the role of Jews-Only groups within the solidarity ‘movement’. We may comprehend how they have been shaping the discourse and suppressing the truth by dominating our language and restricting our intellectual liberties. By the time we are familiar with Jewish tribal culture ideology and politics, we may as well grasp the role of the ‘Sabbath Goy’, the caretaker who performs the services Jews prefer to leave to theGoyim.
But our role doesn’t end there. We also must grasp what Palestine means. How is it possible that Palestine scholarship is withdrawing rather than progressing. How is it possible that in the 70’s Palestinians were the world’s leading guerrilla fighters but not anymore. What happened and why? What is it that the Palestinians want? Can we even talk about Palestinians or are they a fragmented society that is split geographically, culturally, spiritually, politically and ideologically? And if they are divided, who is it that keeps them divided? Is there anything that can unite them?
I believe that the Jewish progressive politics together with the non-dialectic Left are to be blamed for this political disaster and terminological impotence. We are dealing with a concealment apparatus that forsakes the future just to sustain a remote echo of a decaying 19th ideology. It is there to nourish the forgetting of Being. It is there to make us aloof to the grave reality we are living in by means of intellectual and spiritual suppression.
When 1984’s Orwell wrote about Newspeak, he had Britain in mind. He foresaw the devastating impact of the so-called progressive minds around him. He could predict where The Guardians of correctness might be leading us all. And, for a reason, he made Immanuel Goldstein, the imaginary false dissent icon.
My message to you today is simple – true liberation is the ability to learn how to think, to learn how to be intrigued and irritated. Liberation is to unveil the concealed, to think and re-think, to view, re-view and revise. To think is to aim at the essence, at the bottom of things, at the categorical. To think is to be able to distinguish between the symptoms and the disease. Liberation is to burn bridges compulsively and enthusiastically and to bear the consequences. Liberation is to pursue truth relentlessly. This is exactly the moment when pain becomes pleasure.
Al Zahera neighborhood, south Damascus…
This brief update is not focused on the ever deteriorating grave conditions of Palestinians and Syrians displaced and often trapped inside dangerous areas in Damascus, where this observer had been visiting some of the 24 former Damascus public schools currently being used as shelters.
Rather it seeks to highlight the esprit de corps, solidarity, resistance, and good will among Palestinians here is Damascus who were forced from Yarmouk and other camps and how they are huddled and preparing for a harsh winter which one senses these frigid nights is not far off.
This is not to gainsay that every shelter is a very fragile social existence for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) as aid agencies here refer to them. In the former schools there is no mazot (fuel oil) currently available to fire-up the furnaces and the among the needs at all the shelters are for “high-thermal” blankets, food, medicines winters clothe and shoes and knitted caps for the kids trekking early in the morning to government schools in the neighborhoods.
Thanks to the continuing cooperation between the Syrian government, particularly the Ministry of Education (MOE), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) many former public schools have been made available as emergency shelters. Additionally, the MOE has created double shift in many schools offering youngster a 7 a.m. to noon shift followed by a noon to 5 p.m. shift.
Prior to the armed conflict in Syria, Yarmouk, a suburb just south of Damascus city, was home to over 160,000 Palestine refugees. In December 2012 and in the months since, armed conflict has caused at least 140,000 Palestine refugees to flee their homes in Yarmouk, as armed opposition groups established a presence in the area, with government forces controlling the periphery. Between December 2012 and June 2013, civilians could still access UNRWA assistance at the Zahera entrance to Yarmouk. However, from mid-July 2013, Palestine thousands of refugees have been trapped in the area, with little or no access to shops or freedom of movement.
At among the 4 school-shelters in south Damascus near Yarmouk camp and the 8 in the nearby neighbored of al-Vvahra, some of which this observer visited, “The Fayadeen” elementary public school currently houses 56 families- half of them Palestinians totaling 260 people. At “Fayadeen” there is a clean large make-shift kitchen where
approximately half a dozen families use at one time based on a schedule. The Syrian government and some NGO often deliver emergency food packages—most designed to feed a family of five for 15 days. “Fayadeeen” school also has a heavy duty Italian electric washing machine donated by a Palestinian businessman and which is shared by all. There is a high level of sanitation and sheds housing toilet are clean. Three times a week medical teams arrive to administer free government health care. US sanctions have cut off some urgently needed medicines, particularly for cancer patients and cases where weekly doses of medicines are required but often only monthly doses are now available. Shelter rules are enforced. For example, if a family does not enroll their 6-15 year old children in local public schools they are evicted. This observer was briefed at length and shown around by two Syrian professions basketball players on the National team, Hani and Mohamad who have placed their careers and family life on hold to manage four school shelters in a south Damascus.
Several Palestinians in the school shelters have been asking this observer if he has news about their countrymen still trapped inside Yarmouk. There is of increasing concern because their families report that desperately needed humanitarian assistance is still not able to be not delivered nor have repeatedly promised “humanitarian corridors” opened, This despite and despite UNRWA’s numerous appeals and efforts, 32,000 Palestinian civilians and others who remain trapped in Yarmouk have had little or no freedom of movement or access to humanitarian assistance and in addition to facing death and serious injury from the armed conflict, Yarmouk’s civilian residents are exposed to psychological trauma, malnutrition and a lack of health care. The UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement on the humanitarian situation on Syria adopted on 2 October, 2013, among other stipulations called on all parties to grant full humanitarian access and “to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.”
Hope among the more than 100,000 refugees displaced from Yarmouk camp rises and sinks with on again off again announcements that militia will leave the camp to civilian Palestinian administration. Just this week a claimed settlement involving intense negotiation mediated by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to end the fighting in Yarmouk camp suffered collapsed, after opposition fighters close to Hamas insisted that they be included among the groups that will subsequently manage the affairs of the camp. PLO officials had recently arrived at a preliminary agreement with the various Palestinian factions and opposition armed groups that would lead to a ceasefire but excluded Hamas and the PFLP-General Command led by Ahmed Jabril. Within 72 hours another and still showing life signs, another proposal was announced on 11/22/13. Under the terms of this “agreement”
Palestinian Popular Struggle Front Khaled Abdul Majid , that “the armed groups in the Yarmouk camp aka the“Palestinian Resistance Alliance factions” would be withdrawing from the camp “very soon”. In statements to Al-Watan, Abdul Majid said: “What is happening in Yarmouk is that most of the armed factions have reestablished contact with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – The General Command, as well as the factions of the Palestine Resistance Alliance, after the initiative of the Palestine Liberation Organization (to solve the camp’s crisis) failed. These factions thus expressed their willingness to regulate their situation, handle the issue and withdraw from the camp.” He continued that the discussions with these groups were conducted via mediators, or in some cases through contacts with some of them.
This observer has witnessed the fact that since 11/17/13 almost complete calm has been prevailing over Yarmouk. Services teams from the Palestine Aid Committee have been cleaning the camp’s streets and removing the dirt mounds. This observer has been invited inside Yarmouk to witness this process. Government permission is required and date of entrance is not fixed.
Some refugees from Yarmouk are hopeful but during interviews the past two days most expressed doubt that this latest initiative will succeed any more than the previous dozen. The coming few days will provide the answer.
Palpable fear is also evident because of the fast approaching winter with rumors of severe cold this year, A condition that will be much more severe among the 250 camps in the nearby Lebanese Bekaa valley particularly for the 25 plastic wall and roof make-shift tents in 25 emergency refugee camps that are particularly flood-prone and shared by Syrian and Palestinian refugees.
Our brother and sisters keeper…
Hopefully subsequent updates on the Palestinian condition in Syra will allow for rather more detail regarding many examples of Palestinians helping Palestinians regarding community assistance to their sisters and brothers. But a brief example about a wonderful family is fixed in this observers mind.
It relates to the Khalid al Jrahi family from Haifa now living in “Taher al Jazari” public school shelter. Mr. al Jrahi granted permission to this observer to use his name publicly because he wants friends and relatives with whom he has lost contact since the events of December 17, 2013 which leveled some of his neighborhood in Yarmouk, to know that his family is alive and relatively well.
What a spectacular family. Including five teen-aged and early 20’s girls and two boys. What deeply impressed this observer is the esprit among these sisters, their charisma, charm and dedication to helping others among the approximately 260 refugees sharing the school while eschewing complaints about the own plight. The Al Jrahi family lives in a space probably ten feet wide and 20 feet long. Foam mattresses are neatly stacked along the walls and pillows and clothing stacked in the corners. A clothes line runs along one side of the room which is walled by an UNHCR white and blue lettered plastic tarp separating their neighbors. Shocking? Yes, but inspiring certainly. The girls, whose English is quite good explained why and how they set up a school for pre-K’s in this and one other shelter. How organized it is. They showed me the ‘teaching manual’ they wrote and explained how they run their schools with occasionally donated pencils and crayons and notebooks for thee tots donated by a Palestinian NGO’s or even foreign visitors.
We did not discuss politics but two of the sisters reminded me of Jane Austen’s character Eleanor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. Hala is the sensible and reserved eldest of al Jrahi family daughters. She is in charge of the lesson plans for the informal ‘sisters schools’ in the shelter and carefully instructs her younger impetuous Zeina on school rules for the children, trying to keep her attention and her younger sister focused. Hala showed this observer her English grammar notes that she in learning from a tattered UNWRA grammar book. She points to her perfect cursive hand written notes and asks me about “present participles”, “dangling modifiers” and “past perfect tense”! When I last even heard these terms it was half a century ago and I have no idea what the even mean– if I ever did which is questionable.
Her younger sister Zeina is all Austen’s character Marianne, and refuses to check her emotions and dramatically insists that she is ready to return to Yarmouk “despite the dangers even if I am killed going back home!” Her mother Fatima grimaces and Hala is disapproving when Zeina insists that she should teach the children dancing in the street outside the closed in-shelter as well as tree climbing so they “can properly express themselves under the sky.”
Rather wistful and not wanting to leave this family or the shelter, this observer and his companion left the wonderful Al Jrahi family wondering if Ms. Sense or Ms. Sensibility would triumph or if these two remarkable sisters in fact constituted a good balance to one another as they serve their fellow countrymen in emergency shelters.
I was watching “The Mentalist” on TV recently, where some guy was being tortured, had a finger cut off with pruning shears and his face caressed with an acetylene torch. Yikes! And even during that nice little detective show “Castle,” you can always count on seeing a whole bunch of blood and guts — not to mention the torture scenes and disemboweling now available on “Elementary” and “Body of Proof” and “Revolution” and “Person of Interest” and “Scandal”. And these are just the milder prime-time television shows. I’m not even going to get into the nightmare-producing horrors of “Criminal Minds” and “Law & Order SVU” — because I can’t even bear to watch those.
And then there are all those currently-popular “undead” shows too. How many times can you torture a werewolf or drive a stake through a vampire’s heart before he or she is truly dead? Apparently a lot.
I can think of at least eight TV series off the top of my head right now that face this very problem nightly in our very own living rooms: Dracula, The Originals, Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Sleepy Hollow, Beauty and the Beast, Supernaturals. And, again, that’s not even counting cable and “True Blood”. What are America’s television viewers THINKING! Are they that hungry for blood? Apparently.
But thank goodness I can’t afford cable TV because that would mean there would be 500 more channels with 500 more new and different ways to kill people off violently and with lots of blood and torture and gore. Good grief, no wonder hardly anyone blinked when the horrendous secret tortures of Abu Ghraib, Zero Dark 30 and Palestine were exposed to America by social media . “No big deal. We see that kind of stuff on TV every night!” Americans replied.
If one were to judge the American way of life solely by what its most popular television programs are, one would think that Americans were all murderous blood-thirsty psychopathic nut cases who dream only of blood.
To quote George H.W. Bush, “The American way of life is non-negotiable.” Makes you wonder about that.
And speaking of TV violence and George H.W. Bush, wouldn’t you just love it if, on his deathbed, Poppy Bush suddenly decided to make one last attempt at becoming one of the most famous men in history (in the grand tradition of John Wilkes Booth for instance — or Marcus Julius Brutus) by finally confessing to his role in the assassination of John Kennedy. Wow! That would really earn Poppy a place in our history books for sure!
But what I would really love to see would be Dick Cheney doing the same thing: In a fabulous deathbed interview with Olivia Pope herself, Cheney would finally “tell all” about what he had really been doing on the day that the Twin Towers fell. Hell, even Dracula himself would come back from the Undead to watch that TV show. Me too.
I bet there’s a whole long list of creepy “Patriots” here in America, just like those creepy Patriots in “Revolution,” who know exactly where all the bodies in recent American history are buried — and these creepy guys are all getting up there in age. So if any of these shadowy “Persons of Interest” should suddenly decide that they want to add to America’s “Body of Proof,” become an “Original” and create a huge “Scandal,” now is the time!
I have just one more thing to say about the mind-numbing violence of JFK’s assassination: If it had happened today instead of 50 years ago, every SmartPhone in Dallas would have posted that video on FaceBook in a nanosecond — a la the shooting of Oscar Grant. And that grassy knoll shooter wouldn’t have stood a chance in Hell of getting away. And there couldn’t have been any slimy Warren Commission cover-ups either.
America’s shadow figures and black-ops plotters can no longer get away with the low-life garbage they used to easily pull off 50 years ago, thanks to social media. And that’s “Elementary”.
Overheard on a military base on Veterans Day: “You gotta love America. Even our gangsters are better-armed.”
“Pro-Israel Policy groups such as AIPAC work with unlimited funding to divert US policy in the region ( Middle East )” Jack Straw, Member of Parliament and former Foreign Secretary of the British Labor Party
“The United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran to spur the country to end its nuclear program” Sheldon Adelson, biggest donor to the Republican Party and major fundraiser for pro-Israel political action committees, speech at Yeshiva University, New York City, October 22, 2013.
The question of war or peace with Iran rests with the policies adopted by the White House and the US Congress. The peace overtures by newly elected Iranian President Rohani have resonated favorably around the world, except with Israel and its Zionist acolytes in North America and Europe . The first negotiating session proceeded without recrimination and resulted in an optimistic assessment by both sides. Precisely because of the initial favorable response among the participants, the Israeli government escalated its propaganda war against Iran . Its agents in the US Congress, the mass media and in the Executive branch moved to undermine the peace process. What is at stake is Israel’s capacity to wage proxy wars using the US military and its NATO allies against any government challenging Israeli military supremacy in the Middle East, its violent annexation of Palestinian territory and its ability to attack any adversary with impunity.
To understand what is at stake in the current peace negotiations one must envision the consequences of failure: Under Israeli pressure, the US announced that its ‘military option’ could be activated – resulting in missile strikes and a bombing campaign against 76 million Iranians in order to destroy their government and economy. Teheran could retaliate against such aggression by targeting US military bases in the region and Gulf oil installations resulting in a global crisis. This is what Israel wants.
We will begin by examining the context of Israel ’s military supremacy in the Middle East . We will then proceed to analyze Israel ’s incredible power over the US political process and how it shapes the negotiation process today, with special emphasis on Zionist power in the US Congress.
The Context of Israeli Military Supremacy in the Middle East
Since the end of World War II , Israel has bombed, invaded and occupied more countries in the Middle East and Africa than previous colonial power, except the US . The list of Israel ’s victims includes: Palestine , Syria , Lebanon , Egypt , Iraq , Jordan , Sudan and Yemen . If we include countries where Israel has launched quasi-clandestine terrorist attacks and assassinations, the list would be greatly expanded to include a dozen countries in Europe and Asia – including the US through its Zionist terror network.
Israel ’s projection of military power, its capacity for waging offensive wars at will, is matched by its near-total impunity. Despite their repeated violations of international law, including war crimes, Israel has never been censored at an international tribunal or subjected to economic sanctions because the US government uses its position to veto UN Security Council resolutions and pressure its NATO-EU allies.
Israel’s military supremacy has less to do with the native techno-industrial ‘brilliance’ of its war-mongers and more to do with the transfers and outright theft of nuclear, chemical and biological technology and weapons from the US (Grant Smith “Ten Explosive US Government Secrets of Israel” IRMEP). Overseas Zionists in the US and France have played a strategic (and treasonous) role in stealing and illegally shipping nuclear technology and weapon components to Israel, according to an investigation by former CIA Director Richard Helms.
Israel maintains huge nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon stockpiles refusing any access to international arms inspectors and is not obliged to abide by the non-proliferation treaty, because of US diplomatic intervention. Under pressure from the local ‘Zionist power configuration’ (ZPC), the US government has blocked any action which might constrain Israel ’s production of weapons of mass destruction. In fact the US continues to provide Israel with strategic weapons of mass destruction for use against its neighbors – in violation of international law.
US military aid and technology transfers to Israel exceed $100 billion dollars over the past half century. US diplomatic and military intervention was crucial in rescuing Israel from defeat during the 1973 war. US President Lyndon Johnson’s refusal to defend the unarmed intelligence ship, the USS Liberty in 1967, after it had been bombed and napalmed by Israeli fighter planes and warships in international waters, constituted a tremendous victory for Israel thanks to Johnson’s Zionist advisers. Because of its impunity, even in killing American servicemen, Israel has been given a free hand to wage aggressive wars to dominate its neighbors, commit acts of terrorism and assassinate its adversaries throughout the world without fear of retaliation.
Israel ’s uncontested military superiority has converted several of its neighbors to quasi-client collaborators: Egypt and Jordan have served as de facto allies, along with the Gulf monarchies, helping Israel repress the region’s nationalist and pro-Palestinian movements.
The most decisive factor in the rise and consolidation of Israel ’s power in the Middle East has not been its military prowess but its political reach and influence via its Zionist agents in the US . Washington ’s wars against Iraq and Libya , and its current support of the mercenary assault against Syria , have destroyed three major secular nationalist opponents of Israel ’s hegemonic ambitions.
As Israel accumulates more power in the region, expanding its colonization of Palestinian territory, it looks eastward toward destroying the last remaining obstacle to its colonial policies: Iran .
For at least two decades, Israel has directed its overseas agents – (the ZPC) – to destroy the government of Iran by destabilizing its society, assassinating its scientists, bombing its military establishments and laboratories and strangling its economy.
After the ZPC successfully pushed the US into war against Iraq in 2003 – literally shredding its complex secular society and killing over a million Iraqis – it turned its sights on destroying Lebanon (Hezbollah) and the secular government of Syria as a way to isolate Iran and prepare for an attack. While thousands of Lebanese civilians were slaughtered in 2006, Israel ’s attack of Lebanon failed, despite the support of the US government and the ZPC’s wild propaganda campaign. Hysterical at its failure and to ‘compensate’ for its defeat at the hands of Hezbollah and to ‘boost morale’, Israel invaded and destroyed much of Gaza (2008/9) – the world’s largest open air prison camp.
Lacking military capacity to attack Iran on its own, Israel directed its agents to manipulate the US government to start a war with Teheran. The militarist leaders in Tel Aviv have unleashed their political assets (ZPC) throughout the US to work to destroy Iran – the last formidable adversary to Israel supremacy in the Middle East .
The Israeli-ZPC strategy is designed to set the stage for a US confrontation with Iran , using its agents in the Executive branch as well as its ongoing corruption, bribery and control of the US Congress. ZPC control over the mass media enhances its propaganda campaign: Everyday the New York Times and the Washington Post publish articles and editorials promoting Israel ’s war agenda. The ZPC uses the US State Department to force other NATO states to likewise confront Iran .
Israel’s Proxy War with Iran: US Political Pressure, Economic Sanctions and Military Threats
Alone, Israel’s ‘war’ with Iran would not amount to much more than its cyber sabotage, the periodical assassinations of Iranian scientists using its paid agents among Iranian terrorist groups and non-stop brow-beating from Israeli politicians and their ‘amen crowd’. Outside of Israel , this campaign has had little impact on public opinion. Israel’s ‘was’ on Iran depends exclusively on its capacity to manipulate US policy using its local agents and groups who dominate the US Congress and through the appointments of officials in key positions in the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Justice , and as Middle East ‘advisors’. Israel cannot organize an effective sanction campaign against Iran ; nor could it influence any major power to abide by such a campaign. Only the US has that power. Israel ’s dominance in the Middle East comes entirely from its capacity to mobilize its proxies in the United States who are assigned the task of securing total submission to Israel ’s interests from elected and appointed government officials – especially in regard to Israel ’s regional adversaries.
Strategically placed, ‘dual US-Israeli citizens’ have used their US citizenship to secure high security positions in the Government directly involved in policies affecting Israel . As Israelis, their activities are in line with the dictates of Tel Aviv. In the Bush administration (2001-2008) high placed ‘Israel Firsters’ dominated the Pentagon (Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith), Middle East Security (Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross), the Vice President’s office (‘Scooter’ Libby), Treasury (Levey) and Homeland Security (Michael Chertoff). In the Obama administration the ‘Israel Firsters’ include Dennis Ross, Rahm Emanuel, David Cohen, Secretary of Treasury Jack “Jake the Snake” Lew, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Michael Froman as Trade Representative among others.
Israel ’s Proxy Power within the Executive branch is matched by its dominance of the US Congress. Contrary to some critics, Israel is neither an ‘ally’ or ‘client’ of the US . Evidence of the gross asymmetry of the relation abounds over the past half century. Because of these powerful proxies in Congress and the Executive branch, Israel has received over $100 billion dollar tribute from the US over the past 30 years, or $3 billion plus a year. The US Pentagon has transferred the most up-to-date military technology and engaged in several wars on Israel ’s behalf. The US Treasury has imposed sanctions against potentially lucrative trading and investment partners in the Middle East ( Iran , Iraq and Syria ) depriving US agricultural and manufacturing exporters and oil companies of over $500 billion in revenues. The White House sacrificed the lives of over 4,400 US soldiers in the Iraq War – a war promoted by Israel ’s proxies at the behest of Israel ’s leaders. The State Department has rejected friendly and profitable relations with over 1.5 billion Muslims by backing the illegal settlement of over half million Jewish colonists on military-occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem .
The strategic question is how and why this one-sided relation between the US and Israel persists for so long, even as it goes counter to so many strategic and elite US interests? The more immediate and pressing question is how this historically lopsided relation effects contemporary US-Iran sanctions and nuclear negotiations?
Iran and the Peace Negotiations
Undoubtedly the newly elected Iranian President and his Foreign Minister are prepared to negotiate an end to hostilities with the US by making major concessions ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They have stated they are open to reducing or even ending the production of highly enriched uranium; reducing the number of centrifuges and even allowing intrusive, unannounced inspections, among other promising proposals. The Iranian government proposes a roadmap with end goals as part of the initial agreements. The European Union’s Foreign Secretary Lady Ashton has commented favorably on the initial meeting.
The US Administration has given conflicting signals following the Iranian overtures and the opening meeting. Some individual comments are guardedly positive; others are less encouraging and rigid. Administration Zionists like Jack ‘Jake’ Lew, the Treasury Secretary, insists sanctions will remain until Iran meets all US (read ‘Israeli’) demands. The US Congress, bought and controlled by the ZPC, rejects the promising Iranian overtures and flexibility, insisting on military ‘options’ or the total dismantling of Iran’s legal and peaceful nuclear program – ZPC positions designed to sabotage the negotiations. To that end, Congress has passed new, more extreme, economic sanctions to strangle the Iran ’s oil economy.
How Israel’s Political Action Committees Control the US Congress and Prepare War with Iran
The Zionist Power Configuration uses its financial firepower to dictate Congressional policy on the Middle East and to ensure that the US Congress and Senate do not stray one iota from serving Israel ’s interests. The Zionist instrument used in the purchase of elected officials in the US is the political action committee (PAC).
Thanks to a 2010 US Supreme Court decision, Super PACs-linked to Israel spend enormous sums to elect or destroy candidates – depending on the candidate’s political work on behalf of Israel . As long as these funds do not go directly to the candidate, these Super PACs do not have to reveal how much they spend or how it is spent. Conservative estimates of ZPC- linked direct and indirect funds to US legislators run close to $100 million dollars over the past 30-year. The ZPC channels these funds to legislative leaders and members of Congressional committees dealing with foreign policy, especially sub-committee chairpersons dealing with the Middle East . Unsurprisingly, the largest Congressional recipients of ZPC money are those who have aggressively promoted Israel ’s hard-line policies. Elsewhere around the world, such large scale payoffs for legislative votes would be considered blatant bribery and subject to felony prosecution and imprisonment for both parties. In the US , the purchase and sale of a politician’s vote is called ‘lobbying’ and is legal and open. The legislative branch of the US government has come to resemble a high-price brothel or white slavers’ auction – but with the lives of thousands at stake.
The ZPC has purchased the alliance of US Congress people and Senators on a massive scale: Of 435 members of the US House of Representatives (sic), 219 have received payments from the ZPC in exchange for their votes on behalf of the state of Israel . Corruption is even more rampant among the 100 US Senators, 94 of whom have accepted pro-Israel PAC and Super PAC money for their loyalty to Israel . The ZPC showers money on both Republicans and Democrats, thus securing incredible (in this era of Congressional deadlock), near unanimous (‘bipartisan’) votes in favor of the ‘Jewish State’, including its war crimes, like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon as well as the annual $3 billion dollar plus US tax-payer tribute to Tel Aviv. At least 50 US Senators have each collected between $100 thousand and $1 million in ZPC money over the past decades . In exchange, they have voted for over $100 billion in tribute payments to Israel … in addition to other ‘services and payments’. The members of the US Congress are cheaper: 25 legislators have received between $238,000 and $50,000, while the rest got peanuts. Regardless of the amount, the net result is the same: Congressional member pick up their script from their Zionist mentors in the PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC and back all of Israel ’s wars in the Middle East and promote US aggression on behalf of Israel .
The most outspoken and influential legislators get the biggest chunk of Zionist payola: Senator Mark Kirk (Bombs over Teheran!) tops the ‘pigs at the trough’ list with $925,000 in ZPC payoffs, followed by John McCain (Bombs over Damascus!) with $771,000, while Senators Mitch McConnell, Carl Levin, Robert Menendez, Richard Durban and other Zionophilic politicos are not shy about holding out their little begging bowls when the pro-Israel PAC bagmen arrive! Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tops the ‘House’ list with $238,000 for her 100% pro-Israel record as well as for being more war-mongering than even Netanyahu! Eric Cantor got $209,000 for championing ‘wars for Israel ’ with American lives while cutting Social Security payments to US seniors in order to increase military aid to Tel Aviv. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, got $144,000 for ‘whipping the few wobbly’ Democrats back into Israel ’s ‘camp’. House Majority Leader John Boehner was paid $130,000 to do the same among the Republicans.
The ZPC has spent huge amounts to punish and destroy a dozen or so dissident legislators who had stood up to Israel ’s wars and grotesque human rights record. The ZPC has poured millions into individual campaigns, not only financing opposition candidates who pledged allegiance to the Israel but mounting scurrilous character assassinations of Israel’s critics in office. These campaigns have been mounted in the most obscure parts of the US , including in majority African-American districts, where local Zionist interests and influence are otherwise absolutely nil.
There are no comparable PACs, Super PACs, party leaders, or civic organization that can contest the power of Israel ’s Fifth Column. According to documents archived by the courageous researcher, Grant Smith of IRMEP, when it comes to Israel , the US Justice Department has adamantly refused to enforce its own federal laws requiring the prosecution of US citizens who fail to register as foreign agents while working for a foreign country – at least since 1963. On the other hand, the ZPC, through the so-call ‘Anti-Defamation League’, has successfully pressured the Justice Department, the FBI and NSA to investigate and prosecute law-abiding, patriotic US citizens critical of Israel ’s land grabs in Palestine and the Zionist corruptors of the US political system on behalf of their foreign master.
The corruption and degradation of US democracy is made possible by the equally compromised and corrupted ‘respectable press’. Media critic, Steve Lendman, has pointed out the direct link between Israel and the mass media in his investigation of the New York Times. The leading (‘fair and balanced’) journalists reporting on Israel have strong family and political ties to that country and their articles have been little more than propaganda. Times reporter Ethan Bronner, whose son served in the Israel Defense Forces, is a long-time apologist for the Zionist state. Times reporter Isabel Kershner, whose ‘writing’ seem to come straight out of the Israeli Foreign Office, is married to Hirsh Goodman an adviser to the Netanyahu regime on ‘security affairs’. The Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, lives comfortably in the ancestral home of a Palestinian family dispossessed from that ancient city.
The Times unflinching pro-Israel posture provides a political cover and justification for the corrupted US politicians as they beat the war drums for Israel . It is no surprise that the New York Times, like the Washington Post, is deeply engaged in disparaging and denouncing the current US-Iran negotiations – and providing ample space for the one-sided rhetoric of Israeli politicians and their US mouthpieces, while studiously excluding the more rational, pro-rapprochement voices of experienced former US diplomats, war-weary military leaders and representatives of the US business and academic communities.
To understand Congress’ hostility to the nuclear negotiations with Iran and their efforts to scuttle them through the imposition of ridiculous new sanctions, it is important to get to the source of the problem, namely the statements of key Israeli politicians, who set the line of march for their US proxies.
In late October, 2013, Former Israeli Defense Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin spoke of ‘having to choose between ‘the bomb’ or the bombing’ – a message which immediately resonated with the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (Daily Alert, October 24, 2013). On October 22, 2013, Israel ’s Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, called for harsh new sanctions on Iran and insisted that the US use them as leverage to demand that Iran agree to entirely abandon its peaceful nuclear energy and enrichment program. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon affirmed that ‘ Israel will not accept any deal that allows Iran to enrich uranium’. It is Israel ’s position to threaten war (via the US ) if Iran does not submit to unconditional surrender of its nuclear program. This defines the position of all the major pro-Israel PACs, Super PACs and AIPAC. They in turn proceed to dictate policy to their ‘lick-spittles’ in the US Congress. As a result, Congress passes even more extreme economic sanctions on Iran in order to sabotage the ongoing negotiations.
Those who have received the biggest Zionist pay-offs from the pro-Israel PACs are the most vociferous: Senator Mark Kirk ($925,379), author of a previous sanctions bill, demands that Iran end its entire nuclear and ballistic missile program (!) and declared that the US Senate “should immediately move forward with a new round of economic sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian government revenue and reserves” (Financial Times, 10/18/13, p. 6). The US House of Representatives (sic) has already passed a bill sharply limiting Iran ’s ability to sell its main export, oil. Once again, the Israel- ZPC – Congressional axis seeks to impose Israel ’s war agenda on the American people! In late October 2013, Secretary of State Kerry was ‘grilled’ for 7 hours by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with the craven Kerry promising to promote Israel ’s agenda on dismantling Iran ’s nuclear enrichment program.
To counter the campaign to strangle Iran ’s oil economy, promoted by Israel ’s flunkeys in the Congress, the Iranian government has offered generous contracts to the US and EU oil companies (Financial Times 10/29/2013, p 1). Existing nationalist provisions are being removed. Under the new terms, foreign companies book reserves or take equity stakes in Iranian projects. Iran hopes to attract at least $100 billion dollars in investments over the next three years. This stable country boasts the world’s largest gas and the fourth largest oil reserves. Because of the current US ( Israel )-imposed sanctions, production has fallen from 3.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to 2.58 million barrels per day in 2013. The question is whether ‘Big Oil’, the giant US and EU companies have to power to challenge the ZPC-stranglehold over US-EU sanction policy. So far, the ZPC has dominated this critical policy and marginalized ‘Big Oil’ using threats, blackmail and coercion against US policymakers. This has effectively shut out US companies from the lucrative Iranian market.
As the US and the 5 other countries attempt to negotiate with Iran , they face enormous obstacles overcoming Israel ’s power over the US Congress. Over past decades Israel ’s agents have bought the loyalties of the vast majority of Congress people, training them to recognize and obey the whistles, signals and script from the war mongers in Tel Aviv.
This ‘Axis of War’, has inflicted enormous damage on the world resulting in the deaths of millions of victims of US wars in the Middle East, Southwest Asia and North Africa . The gross corruption and widely recognized bankruptcy of the US legislative system is due to its slavish submission to a foreign power. What remains in Washington is a debased vassal state despised by its own citizens. If the ZPC controlled Congress succeeds once again in destroying the negotiations between the US and Iran via new war-like resolutions, we, the American people, will have to pay an enormous price in lives and treasure.
The time to act is now. It is time to stand up and expose the role played by the Israeli PACs, Super PACs and the 52 Major American Jewish Organization in corrupting Congress and turning “our” elected representatives into flunkeys for Israel’s wars. There has been a deafening silence from our noted critics –few alternative media critics have attacked Israel ’s power over the US Congress. The evidence is openly available, the crimes are undeniable. The American people need real political leaders with the courage to root out the corrupted and corruptors and force their elected members in the House and Senate to represent the interest of the American people.
Beirut — Being subjected to the Zionist lobby can get tedious — particularly its chronic parading of an often disoriented and fast-deteriorating fellow, who should surely be tending a vegetable or flower garden somewhere in Occupied Palestine, where he lives on stolen land. International lawyers, even some at Hebrew University, have come to recognize the half century of crimes against humanity meted out by Shimon Peres upon hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, and thus one could be forgiven for rolling eyes at the Israeli president’s concerns over demons said to be haunting his sleeping and waking moments, as he complains that perhaps, just maybe, he was wrong in his calculations 70 years ago.
Those demons are Palestinians, and it is perhaps the supreme irony of ironies that Peres now finds himself lamenting over what became of the ideals of Judaism—the very same ideals he spent half a century of his life destroying in the name of fascist Zionism. “I could not face my parents were I ever to see them again,” the Israeli president, an avowed agnostic, told a member of Congress a few months back.
‘Peres’ Complaint’ has been increasingly heard over the past couple of years, confided to some of his US and EU Zionist lobby hosts during fundraising and legacy-reinforcing appearances. It often manifests itself as a continuous monologue, much as if narrated at his psychoanalytic group therapy session, and often about the same subjects he claims have haunted him for decades. One of these reportedly is the whole concept of an eretz Israel land grab as a divinely-ordained destiny for a “chosen” Jewish people.
At a cocktail party last year, Peres was overheard telling Vice President Biden, “Who knows if there is a god or not? But if so, I doubt he deals in real estate!” Biden appeared shocked, quickly summoning a waiter for replacement glasses of scotch, hoping to cheer the president of Israel up a bit. “He needs to be more philosophical,” Biden said, reporting on his “psychoanalytic session” with Peres, later explaining, “Sure the hand writing is on the wall regarding a future for Israel is clear for all to see, but it could be worse!”
Peres’ Complaint, like Portnoy’s in Philip Roth’s 1969 novel, revolves around the dilemma of, as Roth penned, “his sense of himself, his past, and that his ridiculous destiny is so fixed“.
Portnoy’s Complaint is a disorder in which claimed ethical impulses are perpetually warring, almost Hamlet-like, with extreme longings, often of a perverse nature, reminding some of a sort of sexual dysfunction.
Peres’s Complaint is similar in many ways, but takes a varied form. In an interview published by the Brazilian newspaper the Folha de Sao Paulo, Peres was asked what he would say to Iran’s President Rouhani if the two were to pick up the telephone and speak directly.
“I would tell him nobody in the world is threatening Iran. So why does Iran threaten other countries? Tell me. I don’t understand why Iran threatens Israel. Why?” he replied.
Peres knows that Iran has not threatened other countries, but rather that it is Israel which has threatened the whole region, and which did so within minutes of his Zionist-Labor terrorist-backed associates declaring themselves a “country.”
Peres ended his short interview with Folha de Sao Paulo with this bit of sage erudition:
“In politics, and in life, you can only judge things based on facts. There has been no change on Iran—the facts contradict the speeches.”
The words were spoken as if the speaker were satisfactorily contemplating the last remaining 19th century European colonial enterprise…along with his own role in setting up and governing it.
Peres’ Complaint to colleagues is that he has to say things to the public that are beginning to sound hollow after six decades of trying to parry and neutralize the Palestinian resistance to Zionist theft and colonization. Peres no longer believes what he used to “about the Zionist BS,” as one congressional source put it.
During his last visit to Washington, while rushing from a meeting at the Rayburn House Office Building with AIPAC and some Congressional staffers, Peres in his haste handed half an armload of documents and reports to an aid to carry for him. Unnoticed at the time, one of the documents slipped under the table where the meeting was held, and was found later. On it were some handwritten comments, in Hebrew, in Peres’ hand.
Common respect for individual privacy bars this observer from revealing what the handwritten notes said, but the document itself is most certainly in the public domain and includes some of the latest reports on the status of the Zionist occupation.
The first few pages are a summary of the UN Human Rights Council’s report criticizing the deep water drillings by the Israeli national water company Mekorot and the Israeli agri-industrial firm Mehadrin in the occupied Jordan Valley. These drillings have caused the drying up of Palestinian wells and springs. As Dr. Elias Akleh reminds us, nearly 80% of all drilled water from the Jordan Valley is consumed by Israeli illegal colonies in the West Bank. The Palestinians are not allowed to drill their own water wells, and the Israeli government routinely destroys Palestinian pools for collecting rain water, claiming “construction without permits”—permits which, of course, are impossible for Palestinians to obtain. Many other wells and water springs have also been destroyed, poisoned and contaminated as Israeli colonies have intentionally channeled their raw sewage into Palestinian towns and agricultural areas.
But getting back to the document, circled in pen is a statement in a 1941 speech by David Ben-Gurion: “We have to remember that for the Jewish state’s ability to survive it must have within its borders, the waters of the [rivers] Jordan and Litani.”
And there is another excerpt of note—documenting the decades-old practice of declaring a coveted piece of land a “military area” and then evicting its residents, surrounding it with barbed wire, uprooting all trees, stripping the land of vegetation, and facilitating the arrival of extremist squatters with mobile homes who later start building their colonies.
Still other findings relate to the intensification of home demolitions, citing recent figures showing that armed, religious-extremist squatters are allowed to illegally build their small colonies on top of confiscated Palestinian hills while enjoying the protection of the Israeli army. Palestinians are forbidden to build new homes or even remodel existing ones to make additional space for family expansion. The Israeli terrorist forces increasingly exercise their early hour routine of driving their bulldozers into some Palestinian suburbs to demolish a Palestinian home that was built without a permit.
“The army breaks into the Palestinian home, gives the Palestinian family ten minutes to evacuate and starts demolishing the home,” says Dr. Akleh. “Palestinians are denied building permits. Many Palestinians are given the order to demolish their own homes, otherwise the Israeli army would demolish it and the home owner will be charged exorbitant fees. In contrast, Israel continues its plans of illegal colonies (settlements) building. This Israeli systematic policy of Palestinian home demolishing and colony building on confiscated Palestinian land contravenes the 4th Geneva Convention.”
On and on the president’s document reads…
Included in bold type are excerpts from the recent Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights report documenting what Palestinian schools and students have suffered in recent weeks—a remarkable escalation in attacks by Israeli soldiers and extremist settlers. The report claims the attacks, including school raids, destruction of school property, as well as detaining and assaulting students, have become more frequent, especially by settlers. Recent examples include the Jalud School and Beit Dajan School in Nablus, and the Khader School in Bethlehem. The international community is increasingly reacting to these terrorist practices. Recently a letter by a group of British intellectuals, entitled “Action for Palestine” and calling upon Israeli authorities to end the pattern of abuse of Palestinian children, was published in the UK Guardian newspaper.
But the army has also intensified its arrests and kidnapping of Palestinian children accused of stone throwing. Many children are routinely intercepted on their way to school at Israeli military checkpoints, searched, humiliated, and at times arrested. Israeli forces conduct routine middle of the night raids of Palestinian homes, where they break into the homes, smash furniture, and terrorize the families, dragging young boys from their beds and blindfolding them before dumping them on the floor of a military jeep and driving them to a prison in Israel. In the prison, where their parents are not allowed to see them, the children are harshly interrogated, threatened, tortured; some raped and imprisoned.
The 213 page document was presumably heavy reading for the polish-born Szymon Perski, ardent protégé of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West Bank settlers during the 1970s.
Shimon Peres’ guilt-edged insecurity these days is far more important when it comes to the masking—and unmasking—of an abettor of racist Zionism. His complaint, like Portnoy’s Complaint, is also emblematic of the times during which he has lived and his uncertainty as to whether he has squandered his life in an evil cause.
“I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions. You can travel the length and breadth of my body over superhighways of shame and fear.”
Portnoy’s Complaint…or Peres’?
Four Decades after the Tishrin…
Damascus — In Damascus and many other areas of Syria this weekend, citizens will celebrate the accomplishments of the October 6, 1973 – 19 day war jointly launched by Syrian and Egyptian armies to regain Arab land illegally occupied since 1967.
Syrians will honor the 6,000 (Syrians) who died during battle. Many events are planned including special television broadcasts which will revisit the conflict; also numerous art exhibits, plays, films, concerts, rallies, and wreath-laying ceremonies. Public and government officials will appear at the monument, located atop Qasioun Mountain in Damascus, mindful of the many sacrifices being made today. In Egypt, October 6 is Armed Forces Day, commemorating the Egyptians’ role in that October War.
For both peoples, breaking Israel’s sense of invincibility after its 1967 aggression was victory enough. The results of the battle were mixed as history records, but the political and military effects are still indelible, as Zionist leaders exhibit a certain bi-polarization. Many analysts and pro-Zionist “think tanks” are holding seminars on the subject in occupied Palestine and some in the US as well, with many attendees still gnashing their teeth over what went wrong forty years ago. For many Israelis, the surprise battle that killed nearly 3000 Israeli soldiers threatened to destroy the so-called ‘Third Temple’ thus eliminating the last 19th century colonial enterprise. “Academic” seminars, in “professional” strategic forums – even IDF and intelligence fora are planned just as they have been organized every year since 1973.
Many Israelis are still condemning their political leaders at the time, particularly then Prime Minister Golda Meir and military ‘heroes’ from the 1967 aggression as incompetents derelict in their military duties including lack of preparedness. The adulation for General Moshi Dayan resulting from 1967 turned ugly in October of 1973 as many families picketed and chanted “murderer” for the killing of their sons and daughters. The repentance appears to intensify each year over the “Yom Kippur fiasco,” the outcome of the “blindness” and the “smugness and arrogance following the conquests of the Six-Day War,” as many claim.
The Israeli military has never denied that General Dayan urged the use of Chemical weapons during the October war. But chemical weapons are not all that Dayan wanted permission to use. Writing in the 10/3/13 issue of the New York Times, Avner Cohen, a professor at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a senior fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies discusses an interview he had in 2008 with Mr. Arnan Azaryahu who was a senior political insider and trusted aide and confidant to Yisrael Galili, a minister without portfolio and Golda Meir’s closest political ally. Writes Cohen, “Mr. Azaryahu was privy to some of Israel’s most fateful decisions. In the early afternoon of Oct. 7, as a fierce battle with Syrian forces raged and the Israeli Army appeared to be losing its grasp on the Golan Heights.” Mr. Azaryahu further reported that Dayan sought from Golda Meir, during the cabinet meeting which Mr. Azaryahu attended, “an immediate authorization of preparatory steps for a nuclear blast that he claimed would save precious time and allow the order to detonate a bomb to be executed rapidly should the need arise.”
Cohen continues, “Siding with her two senior ministers, the prime minister told Mr. Dayan to “forget it.” He responded by saying that he remained unconvinced but that he respected the prime minister’s decision.” Dayan sought but was refused authority to use either chemical or nuclear weapons.
One of the lessons from that October war still being discussed is that the hubris from the 1967 aggression concerning the “invincible Israeli army” was simple propaganda for domestic consumption – as were the many battles in South Lebanon during 22 years of occupation and the 33 day 2006 war illustrate. That war clearly established beyond peradventure that the Israeli army cannot defend the Zionist colony unless it has massive American military supplies and blank check funding. During the Tishri battle, the American government, without input from Pentagon or public, provided the Israeli military with planeloads of weaponry, including 9 types of US cluster bombs that were taken from supplies at Subic Bay, Philippines, causing the local US commander to resign claiming that “emptying those warehouses put thousands of US troops in Vietnam at risk.” Yet, President Nixon caved to pressure from PM Golda Meir so that many hundreds of those old cluster bombs, thirty years past their shelf life were used as recently as during the July 2006 war in Lebanon.
The Nixon administration also provided Israel with something far more important – intelligence. Documents relating to the American spy-plane, the ‘SR-71 Blackbird’, show that the Israelis knew where major concentrations of Arab forces were as they were supplied with this information as a result of SR-71 overflights of that war zone. With such knowledge, Israelis knew where to deploy their forces for maximum effect. Whatever dreams of self-sufficiency in weapon development and production were entertained in Israel before the war, were abandoned. Tel Aviv learned that it needs close support, strategic weapons and funding from Washington to survive.
Following the October war, the Arab oil boycott turned Israel into a pariah; fewer countries had diplomatic relations with the Jewish state than with the PLO, which didn’t pretend to seek anything but Palestine’s liberation and the full right of Return. The UN General Assembly gave a standing ovation to Yasser Arafat and shortly thereafter the UN passed the Zionism is Racism resolution. Last month’s embarrassing Netanyahu spectacle at the UN General Assembly where he presented himself as some sort of sociopathic racist, led reportedly, to one European delegate saying after that speech ‘if a snap vote was held on the 1975 Zionism is Racism Resolution (GAR 3379) it would pass again–but by a larger margin than the 11/10/75 vote of 72 to 35.’
Ehud Barak, Israel’s former defense minister claims at pep rallies and AIPAC type gatherings that “states much larger than ours and supposedly much stronger collapsed within weeks under surprise attack and we were totally victorious in 1973.”
Think tanks, such as the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University and the Begin-Sadat Center (BESA) for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, have become bolder participants in the national security debates and have offered alternatives to Netanyahu-Lieberman governmental policies. Gen. Isaac Ben Israel, a specialist on strategic affairs, wrote recently in the small right-wing publication Ha-Umma that “Israel’s achievement was great for revealing to its enemies their inability to overwhelm Israel’s Defense Forces” even in the most favorable circumstances.
Both gentlemen delude themselves and fail to understand the growing global resistance to the occupation of Palestine and opposition to confiscation of Jerusalem by misstating what happened forty years ago this month. More realistic is the statement made last week by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at a meeting with top defense officials: “One of the causes of our failure at the beginning of the conflict came from a feeling of superiority that we held after the 1967 victory. Israel had “too much confidence, arrogance and lack of caution.”
Every October, bereavement becomes a major element of the Israeli ethos, and a dominant national display of trauma. It is to blame, some claim, for Zionist doubts about facing the future of their enterprise in Palestine. And even among many Israelis awareness about the very right of the Apartheid Jewish state to exist. Israel once again feels vulnerable to surprise attack.
The shock of the October War left deep scars on the national psyche that affect Israelis even today. Foremost among them, according to the Jaffee Center, is a gnawing anxiety that the national leadership is so locked into a “conceptzia” — a shared strategic concept that determines the leaders’ worldview — that they may be misreading reality and ignoring opportunities for peace.
Commenting on the report’s claim that Israel is now better off strategically than at any time in its history, the military analyst for the Ma’ariv newspaper, Amir Rapaport, observed wryly that “the last time we boasted that things were never better was in the autumn of 1973.”
Damascus — This observer judges that the Persians, whose bright, articulate students are well known internationally, and with whom he has been honored to discuss international politics on several occasions, may well have met their intellectual match with the Syrian Arabs. This conclusion is based on what is happening among the public in Damascus, not just in the universities and schools, but during impromptu “marketplace of ideas” sessions increasingly taking place on the streets and in coffee houses and places of public gathering.
Last night was one example. Way past this observer’s bedtime, some friends came to see me and wanted to sit outside “for a few minutes” to discuss the latest speculation from Washington and St. Petersburg. We ended up sitting on concrete slabs that divides Al Bahsa Street where no cars are allowed in front of my hotel for more than three hours! Miss Hiba, a wild and wonderful Palestinian journalist born in Yarmouk camp, interpreted for us. The congregation very quickly grew as a few soldiers, shabiha and national defense force types showed up to see what was going on. Some even joined in the fast moving animated discussions.
There were several students and neighborhood residents assembling and at the start of the ‘seminar” it quickly became obvious that Syrians are carefully tracking developments in the run-up to the widely expected “9/12/13 black Thursday” now less than one week away. It is this date when many Damascenes and foreign observers believe the American attack with begin.
As a backdrop, for certain life appears on the surface fairly normal but tensions are rising and people are alarmed at the prospects of an American attack. This observer was educated by these Syrians about many views of the conflict raging here and how events locally and internationally are apt to unfold.
One sentiment that is virtually unanimous here is that very few, if any at all, credit the White House smooth talk to the effect that the purpose of the American attack, without benefit of UN Security Council approval, is to be very limited and short and is only designed to send a message or punish the Syrian leadership, even though the last couple of days the Presidents team is using the “degrade” (as in demolish and utterly destroy) word frequently.
An elderly gentleman who owns a pharmacy around the corner explained, “It’s regime change here and in Tehran and nothing less! They will bomb anywhere at will because their top 75 listed targets have already been emptied and keep shifting. We are all working to provide Obama with no targets.”
This observer was dumbfounded by the sophistication and quality of interventions by the impromptu gathering. One student preparing to return to classes late this month at Damascus University rattled off statistics regarding the Congressional vote prospects and explained to the growing assembly that the House of Representative count as of 9/4/13 were 47 members of the House as firm or inclined to a yes vote, 187 firm or inclined to a no vote, and 220 unknown or undecided. Then she expressed her view that she was pretty certain that the President will be forced to withdraw the resolution or postpone a vote in the House.
Another lady, who I have seen around my hotel garden, mentioned yesterday’s report in the Washington Post that the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has linked with the Israeli lobby AIPAC in an all-out public campaign for a U.S. war on Syria. I had no idea about this and wondered how she was so current with her information. She then explained, “So far, only 21 senators have said they support or are likely to support the Obama resolution, thirteen have said they oppose or are likely to oppose the resolution, while 66 votes are undecided or unknown.”
The question that ended our gathering early this morning was when one young man, presumably a law student, zeroed in on this observer and started reciting from memory, not a summary mind you, but rather word for word, Article One, Section Eight, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution: “The Congress shall have Power To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.
He then explained that the particular passage provides no specific format for what form any legislation must have in order to be considered a “Declaration of War” nor does the Constitution itself use this term.
Then came the zinger, “Sir can you compare and contrast this Article and Clause with the 1973 War Powers Act and share with us your interpretation of both with respect to what your President is threatening to do to my country.”
“Who is this guy?” I thought to myself and I began to stutter and in anguish thought to myself, “Where is Professor Richard Falk when I need him. He could handle this question perfectly!”
I did not know where or how to begin to answer the gentleman. I started to mumble something like “that’s an excellent question, can we meet later to discuss it because it’s very late now.”
But just as I glanced at my watch and noticed it was 4:28 a.m. mercifully, we all heard the Adhan, (Islamic call to prayer) which is called out by a muezzin from the nearby mosque. The somehow reassuring strains, even a bit eerie, wafted around us. It was time for al fajr (Dawn) prayers.
It was this observers very good luck and I could duck the question. The soldiers on the street fell silent and listened and became contemplative. One can only imagine their thought about next week’s likely American bombing campaign. They started to disperse as did about half of the assembly.
I was saved. No thanks to Professor Falk.
The people of the Syrian Arab Republic are politically very sophisticated and amazingly well informed about the details of the current crisis and with specifics about external players and their plans.
One can only wish the Syrian people well and join with them and all people of good will, as many Christians and, reportedly more Muslims will do, for the day of fasting and prayer that his Holiness Pope Francis has called to be observed on September 7, 2013
Will 1000 American ‘human shields’ stop another criminal war?
Damascus – A sort of roller coaster atmosphere pervades Damascus these days with “good” and “bad” news rising and falling, often by the quarter hour. Much of the population is monitoring closely the news and quickly expressing their interpretations of the latest media reports and rumors as well as predicting the fairly precise timing of the now assumed American attack on their country.
In the very popular, and normally crowded Abaa Coffee House on the edge of the old city in what is called the Sarugha section, students and others enjoy the fine cool mist, as Damascenes have done for years, that is sprayed from ceiling pipes to provide welcome relief from the 37 degree Celsius (98 degrees F) outside temperatures. Many are clued to their laptops and/or in animated conversation analyzing the likely extent and timing of the soon believed to be arriving American missiles.
This observer often meets interlocutors in the Abaa because it’s very pleasant, large with dozens of tables, cheap and two blocks from my hotel. I have noticed that common greetings are changing from “kif hallack” ” (how are you?) and “Arak lahekan” (see you later) to “Get home safely” and “Good luck with the checkpoints.”
But there is also a distinct growing esprit de corps and a broad coming together of much of the population here as the countdown to the American attack on Syria begins. An evident rallying around the Assad regime, which one presumes is the opposite of what the White House was hoping would result from its threats.
A good friend from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) an humanitarian organization doing amazing rescue, and medical services for Syrians and Palestinians during this expanding crisis, described one way that her friends are preparing for the American attack. “We gathered our important documents, birth, marriage certificate and passport and made photo copies. Then we leave them with friends in “safe” areas or even bury them somewhere. No one knows how bad the Americans will bomb us. At work we have been told during our final practice drill last Saturday that the next siren will be the ‘real thing’ and we will do as we have planned for.” She added, “Many of my friends and family are leaving but it’s not easy and is very expensive now to go to Lebanon and they don’t want us– and my family has decided to stay in our home no matter what happens in the coming days.”
One common topic being discussed is the reluctance of the American public to attack Syria and how Obama can ignore it. “What kind of Democracy do you have that your President can ignore the will of the American public?” this observer is frequently asked. One soldier who is stationed with his unit just outside my hotel seemed to speak from his heart: “You Americans claim you are trying to help the Syrian people. Every child knows, both here and in your country I think, that the coming attack will make things much worse for the Syrian people and many others. The American people are good and we hope they can control their government, but we are preparing for the worst and there will be consequences you will come to regret as with Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.”
The government here is assuring the public that Syria is ready for the American attack and that public services will continue. TV channels show around the clock images of heroic Syrian army exploits with marital and patriotic music. Youngsters, students and workers are gathering at presumed targets offering themselves as Human Shields in solidarity with their countrymen while challenging President Obama to bomb their beloved Syria.
Interestingly, an International Human Shield movement is coalescing according to informed sources here and abroad. One initiative is to bring 1000 Americans and thousands of others, to Syria within the next ten days to guard likely bomb sites reminding one of the International Solidarity Movement international volunteer’s efforts in Occupied Palestine in order to try to protect homes of Palestinians from Government bulldozing.
Some redacted specifics have been disclosed to this observer from an international organizing committee working around the clock on this Human Shield initiative.
Some descriptive excerpts:
“International Human Shields are planning on coming to Syria in solidarity with the Syrian people and in an effort to send a global message and hopefully deter an American attack next week.”
“Timing – While moves can be made fast and with all other key elements in place, time is not in our favor. Ten mores days for preparation would be ideal. The HS initiative assumes that it must be done in such a way that very little time lapse from the official announcement of the action to the actual arrival of the Human Shields on the ground in Syria.”
“ Impact – In order to achieve a significant impact having at least 1000 Americans and several thousand international Human Shields deployed in Syria is the objective. With ideally at least one representative from every UN Member State, as evidence of the true ‘international community’ opposing the American attack.
The US activist-based steering committee is quickly bringing together professionals in IT, marketing, logistical planning and implementation, spokesperson(s), public relations, accounting, documentarians, and experienced project managers. Ferries from European ports are to be arranged to carry significant numbers of Human Shields from Major European cities. Ideally, several jumbo jets will be chartered to carry human shields from some of the world’s major cities and use of land convoys are under consideration.
An excerpt: “HS/Government Relations – The first objective of the enemies of Syria will be to portray Human Shields as nothing more than pawns of President Bashar al-Assad. This was precisely what the mainstream media did in 2003, presenting Human Shields as pawns of Saddam. In order for the Human Shields to have power they must be seen as independent supporters of the people of Syria who represent the will of the vast majority of people around the world who oppose the pending US-led western attack. The HS should however work with prominent leaders in the civilian sector of Syrian society and great effort should be made to produce daily news stories of the Human Shields and Syrian people working together to protect Syria from the ongoing foreign instigated aggression. There are once again many details here and these would need to be discussed and agreed if any action will be able to reach its full potential.”
“Strategy – The sites that Human Shields deploy to must be very well publicized and these sites must be identified as protected sites under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The White House is saying that they are not going to attack infrastructure (as they did with Iraq in 2003), but they must attack the infrastructure as the goal is to drive Syria into the stone age and make it so weak that Israel will through its agents eventually take Syria over. They know that the Syrian people and military cannot be defeated without massive attacks on the infrastructure.
So it is absolutely vital that all power plants, water treatment facilities, bomb shelters (if they exist), civilian communications sites, food storage sites and other such sites that are critical to the civilian population are the primary if not sole focus of sites for the HS to deploy. They cannot deploy to military sites, although I personally feel this is morally defensible, it will neutralize the power of the HS in the public relations realm and intelligent public relations is absolutely critical.
A comprehensive list of protected sites is to be produced immediately and these sites will need to be verified by the most independent sources we can manage to obtain. UN representatives or former representatives would be great, human rights attorneys, legal experts and others of this type are very useful.
There will be room to deploy to sites not specifically listed in the Fourth Geneva Convention, such as with ethnic and religious minority communities who are deathly afraid of the foreign invaders/terrorist. Special emphasis should be placed on Christian populations as the western audience sadly has more sympathy for Christians than Muslims. “
“Our goal is to personalize the people of Syria and show their suffering through the eyes of the HS with effective daily reports to be uploaded on the Internet and reported by legitimate news agencies such as Press TV, RT and Telesur. A massive effort must be made to educate the public about the reasons for the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) and the imperial powers undeniable record of knowingly destroying the lives of ‘protected persons’ as defined in the FGC. There must be high quality, well-spoken Arabic/English speaking spokespersons.
We should be ready to provide evidence of any attack on such sites the moment it happens and have legal briefs prepared to immediately charge the aggressors with war crimes. This is why it is critical that the HS are almost exclusively at sites that are protected by the FGC.”
The Action Plan concludes: “We cannot necessarily stop them from doing what they intend to do, but we can make their aggression harm them far more than Syria and its people in the end. Herein lays the power, using the enemies momentum against him in the most powerful way possible.
Time will tell which Americans will arrive first in Syria, the military or the American public. Many Syrian are today praying it will be the latter and have pledged to join them to defeat the coming aggression.
A US drone has just taken a photo of Mullah Omar riding on a motorcycle through the streets of Damascus. 1
So what do we have as the United States refuses to rule out an attack on Syria and keeps five warships loaded with missiles in the eastern Mediterranean?
- Only 9 percent of Americans support a US military intervention in Syria. 2
- Only 11% of the British supported a UK military intervention; this increased to 25% after the announcement of the alleged chemical attack. 3
- British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a parliamentary vote August 29 endorsing military action against Syria 285-272
- 64% of the French people oppose an intervention by the French Army. 4 “Before acting we need proof,” said a French government spokesperson. 5
- Former and current high-ranking US military officers question the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggest that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. “If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to Islamic fundamentalist rebels, they say, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.” 6
- President Obama has no United Nations approval for intervention. (In February a massive bombing attack in Damascus left 100 dead and 250 wounded; in all likelihood the work of Islamic terrorists. The United States blocked a Russian resolution condemning the attack from moving through the UN Security Council)
- None of NATO’s 28 members has proposed an alliance with the United States in an attack against Syria. NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that he saw “no NATO role in an international reaction to the [Syrian] regime.” 7
- The Arab League has not publicly endorsed support of US military action in Syria; nor have key regional players Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerned about a possible public backlash from open support for US intervention. 8
- We don’t even know for sure that there was a real chemical attack. Where does that accusation come from? The United States? The al-Qaeda rebels? Or if there was such an attack, where is the evidence that the Syrian government was the perpetrator? The Assad regime has accused the rebels of the act, releasing a video showing a cave with alleged chemical-weapon equipment as well as claiming to have captured rebels possessing sarin gas. Whoever dispensed the poison gas – why, in this age of ubiquitous cameras, are there no photos of anyone wearing a gas mask? The UN inspection team was originally dispatched to Syria to investigate allegations of earlier chemical weapons use: two allegations made by the rebels and one by the government.
- The United States insists that Syria refused to allow the UN investigators access to the site of the attack. However, the UN request was made Saturday, August 24; the Syrian government agreed the next day. 9
- In rejecting allegations that Syria deployed poison gas, Russian officials have argued that the rebels had a clear motivation: to spur a Western-led attack on Syrian forces; while Assad had every reason to avoid any action that could spur international intervention at a time when his forces were winning the war and the rebels are increasingly losing world support because of their uncivilized and ultra-cruel behavior.
- President George W. Bush misled the world on Iraq’s WMD, but Bush’s bogus case for war at least had details that could be checked, unlike what the Obama administration released August 29 on Syria’s alleged chemical attacks – no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but “trust us,” points out Robert Parry, intrepid Washington journalist.
So, in light of all of the above, the path for Mr. Obama to take – as a rational, humane being – is of course clear. Is it not? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? – Bombs Away!
Pretty discouraging it is. No, I actually find much to be rather encouraging. So many people seem to have really learned something from the Iraqi pile of lies and horror and from decades of other American interventions. Skepticism – good ol’ healthy skepticism – amongst the American, British and French people. It was stirring to watch the British Parliament in a debate of the kind rarely, if ever, seen in the 21st-century US Congress. And American military officers asking some of the right questions. The Arab League not supporting a US attack, surprising for an organization not enamored of the secular Syrian government. And NATO – even NATO! – refusing so far to blindly fall in line with the White House. When did that last happen? I thought it was against international law.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the United States did not respond to the use of chemical weapons the country would become an international “laughingstock”. Yes, that’s really what America and its people have to worry about – not that their country is viewed as a lawless, mass-murdering repeat offender. Other American officials have expressed concern that a lack of a US response might incite threats from Iran and North Korea. 10
Now that is indeed something to laugh at. It’s comforting to think that the world might be finally losing the stars in their eyes about US foreign policy partly because of countless ridiculous remarks such as these.
United States bombings, which can be just as indiscriminate and cruel as poison gas. (A terrorist is someone who has a bomb but doesn’t have an air force.)
The glorious bombing list of our glorious country, which our glorious schools don’t teach, our glorious media don’t remember, and our glorious leaders glorify.
- Korea and China 1950-53 (Korean War)
- Guatemala 1954
- Indonesia 1958
- Cuba 1959-1961
- Guatemala 1960
- Congo 1964
- Laos 1964-73
- Vietnam 1961-73
- Cambodia 1969-70
- Guatemala 1967-69
- Grenada 1983
- Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
- Libya 1986
- El Salvador 1980s
- Nicaragua 1980s
- Iran 1987
- Panama 1989
- Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
- Kuwait 1991
- Somalia 1993
- Bosnia 1994, 1995
- Sudan 1998
- Afghanistan 1998
- Yugoslavia 1999
- Yemen 2002
- Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular no-fly-zone basis)
- Iraq 2003-2011 (Second Gulf War)
- Afghanistan 2001 to present
- Pakistan 2007 to present
- Somalia 2007-8, 2011 to present
- Yemen 2009, 2011 to present
- Libya 2011
- Syria 2013?
The above list doesn’t include the repeated use by the United States of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and other charming inventions of the Pentagon mad scientists; also not included: chemical and biological weapons abroad, chemical and biological weapons in the United States (sic), and encouraging the use of chemical and biological weapons by other nations; all these lists can be found in William Blum’s book “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”.
A story just released by Foreign Policy magazine, based on newly-discovered classified documents, reports how, in 1988, the last year of the 8-year Iraq-Iran War, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks by Iraq far more devastating than anything Syria has seen. 11 Indeed, during that war the United States was the primary supplier to Iraq of the chemicals and hardware necessary to provide the Saddam Hussein regime with a chemical-warfare capability. 12
Now, apparently, the United States has discovered how horrible chemical warfare is, even if only of the “alleged” variety.
Some of those currently advocating bombing Syria turn for justification to their old faithful friend “humanitarian intervention”, one of the earliest examples of which was the 1999 US and NATO bombing campaign to stop ethnic cleansing and drive Serbian forces from Kosovo. However, a collective amnesia appears to have afflicted countless intelligent, well-meaning people, who are convinced that the US/NATO bombing took place after the mass forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stopthis “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic forced deportations of large numbers of people from Kosovo did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a Serbian reaction to it, born of extreme anger and powerlessness. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, and the few days after. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads:
… with the NATO bombing already begun, a deepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina [the main city of Kosovo] that the Serbs would NOW vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation.
On March 27, we find the first reference to a “forced march” or anything of that sort.
But the propaganda version is already set in marble.
If you see something, say something. Unless it’s US war crimes.
“When you sign a security clearance and swear oaths, you actually have to abide by that. It is not optional.” – Steven Bucci, of the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, speaking of Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley) 13
Really? No matter what an individual with security clearance is asked to do? No matter what he sees and knows of, he still has to ignore his conscience and follow orders? But Steven, my lad, you must know that following World War II many Germans of course used “following orders” as an excuse. The victorious Allies of course executed many of them.
Their death sentences were laid down by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany, which declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”
Nuremberg Principle IV moreover states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”
Manning, and Edward Snowden as well, did have moral choices, and they chose them.
It should be noted that Barack Obama has refused to prosecute those under the Bush administration involved in torture specifically – he declares – because they were following orders. Has this “educated” man never heard of the Nuremberg Tribunal? Why isn’t he embarrassed to make this argument again and again?
I imagine that in the past three years that Manning has had to live with solitary confinement, torture and humiliation, adding mightily to her already existing personal difficulties, the thought of suicide has crossed her mind on a number of occasions. It certainly would have with me if I had been in her position. In the coming thousands and thousands of days and long nights of incarceration such thoughts may be Manning’s frequent companion. If the thoughts become desire, and the desire becomes unbearable, I hope the brave young woman can find a way to carry it out. Every person has that right, including heroes.
The United States and its European poodles may have gone too far for their own good in their attempts to control all dissenting communication – demanding total information from companies engaged in encrypted messaging, forcing the closure of several such firms, obliging the plane carrying the Bolivian president to land, smashing the computers at a leading newspaper, holding a whistle-blowing journalist’s partner in custody for nine hours at an airport, seizing the phone records of Associated Press journalists, threatening to send a New York Times reporter to jail if he doesn’t disclose the source of a leak, shameless lying at high levels, bugging the European Union and the United Nations, surveillance without known limits … Where will it end? Will it backfire at some point and allow America to return to its normal level of police state? On July 24, a bill that would have curtailed the power of the NSA was only narrowly defeated by 217 to 205 votes in the US House of Representatives.
And how long will Amnesty International continue to tarnish its image by refusing to state the obvious? That Cheleas Manning is a Prisoner of Conscience. If you go to Amnesty’s website and search “prisoner of conscience” you’ll find many names given, including several Cubans prominently featured. Can there be any connection to Manning’s omission with the fact that the executive director of Amnesty International USA, Suzanne Nossel, came to her position from the US Department of State, where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations?
A phone call to Amnesty’s office in New York was unable to provide me with any explanation for Manning’s omission. I suggest that those of you living in the UK try the AI headquarters in London.
Meanwhile, at the other pre-eminent international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, Tom Malinowski, the director of HRW’s Washington office, has been nominated by Obama to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Is it really expecting too much that a high official of a human rights organization should not go to work for a government that has been the world’s leading violator of human rights for more than half a century? And if that designation is too much for you to swallow just consider torture, the worst example of mankind’s inhumanity to man. What government has been intimately involved with that horror more than the United States? Teaching it, supplying the manuals, supplying the equipment, creation of torture centers in much of the world, kidnaping people to these places (“rendition”), solitary confinement, forced feeding, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Chicago … Lord forgive us!
One of the reactions of the United States to Russia granting asylum to Edward Snowden was reported thus: “There was a blistering response on Capitol Hill and calls for retaliatory measures certain to infuriate the Kremlin. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), long one of the Senate’s leading critics of Moscow, blasted the asylum decision as ‘a slap in the face of all Americans’ and called on the administration to turn up the pressure on Moscow on a variety of fronts, including a renewed push for NATO expansion and new missile-defense programs in Europe.” 14
But we’ve long been told that NATO expansion and its missiles in Europe have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO in 2001, “this is a military organization. It’s moving towards our border. Why?” 15 He subsequently described NATO as “the stinking corpse of the cold war.” 16
We’ve been told repeatedly by the US government that the missiles are for protection against an Iranian attack. Is it (choke) possible that the Bush and Obama administrations have been (gasp) lying to us?
America’s love affair with Guns
Adam Kokesh is a veteran of the war in Iraq who lives in the Washington, DC area. He’s one of the countless Americans who’s big on guns, guns that will be needed to protect Americans from their oppressive government, guns that will be needed for “the revolution”.
On July 4 the 31-year-old Kokesh had a video made of himself holding a shotgun and loading shells into it while speaking into the camera as he stood in Freedom Plaza, a federal plot of land in between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. This led to a police raid of his home and his being arrested on the 25th for carrying a firearm outside his home or office. The 23-second video can be seen on YouTube. 17
I sent Kokesh the following email:
“Adam: All your weapons apparently didn’t help you at all when the police raided your house. But supposedly, people like you advocate an armed populace to protect the public from an oppressive government. I’ve never thought that that made much sense because of the huge imbalance between the military power of the public vs. that of the government. And it seems that I was correct.”
I received no reply, although his still being in jail may explain that.
Kokesh, incidentally, had a program on RT (Russia Today) for a short while last year.
- The three preceding jokes are courtesy of my friend Viktor Dedaj of Paris ↩
- Reuters/Ipsos poll, August 26, 2013 ↩
- Sunday Times (UK), YouGov poll, August 25 ↩
- Le Parisien, August 30, 2012 ↩
- Christian Science Monitor, August 29, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 29, 2013 ↩
- The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- UN Web TV, August 27, 2013 (starting at minute 12:00) ↩
- The Washington Post, August 31, 2013 ↩
- Shane Harris and Matthew M. Aid, “CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran”, Foreign Policy, August 26, 2013 ↩
- William Blum, “Anthrax for Export”, The Progressive (Madison, Wisconsin), April 1998 ↩
- Washington Post, August 22, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, July 31, 2013 ↩
- Associated Press, June 16, 2001 ↩
- Time magazine, December 2007 ↩
- Washington Post, August 13, 2013 ↩
Countdown to Apocalypse Now?
Tehran — Truth told, it’s a bit intense these days in Tehran as in most other countries in this region, and this observer fairly soon may be on what just might be the last Tehran-Damascus flight for some time in light of what could occur in the coming days.
Not that one is in any hurry to leave the Islamic Republic. I love Iran and its people, who in their basic values and outlook on life are about as American as apple pie. Iranians think a lot like me and my friends back home, and Americans think a lot like them, this despite the extremist, politically motivated portrayals of each other designed by their governments.
I have been attending the Habilian Association (families of Iranian terror victims) Congress on Terrorism and Terror Victims in Tehran, and continuing also an undertaking with students from Tehran University to survey the effects of the US-led economic sanctions. Both endeavors presented an excellent opportunity to listen to Iranian views on a number of current events. The students are examining a sanctions scheme that targets their families and countrymen, and part of their work involves a definition of “economic terrorism” (a term employed by the Pentagon when done by someone other than the US government or its allies). Rather amazing in their clarity of thinking, they exhibit truly inspiring optimism and humanity in these ominous times.
As it happens, economic terrorism was also one of the topics at the Iranian Congress on Terrorism, and the American delegation decided to focus solely on that subject during its presentation, a presentation that was months in preparation. As part of its work, the delegation presented a Draft International Convention outlawing the use of economic sanctions targeting civilians for political purposes, including regime change. Elaborating on the history of economic terrorism, the group urged the Tehran-based Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to use its newfound international political power to lead the campaign for global ratification of the new draft convention, and to present it to the United Nations during next month’s opening session of the General Assembly. NAM leaders promised to study the draft and to arrange a consultative follow-up meeting(s).
Sanctions targeting a civilian population for the political purpose of forcing regime change constitutes an act of terrorism as defined by several US government agencies—this was the position of the American delegation, and it would apply to any government, including their own, with a deep history of targeting peoples with economic sanctions (Cuba, Vietnam, China, Korea, Iran, and Nicaragua, among others, come to mind).
For accuracy’s sake, it should be said that, unexpectedly, due to last minute visa problems, the whole US delegation at the Congress ended up being comprised of a total number of—well, one international lawyer. A last minute effort was indeed made to coax Jeffrey Feltman, who never has visa problems to this observer’s knowledge, and who was staying at the same hotel, to attend the Terrorism Congress, hence doubling the size, weight, and authority of the US delegation. Mr. Feltman was even offered the chairmanship of the American delegation as an incentive, but, regretfully, the gentleman declined, citing other commitments.
Getting visas to visit Iran and especially Syria these days is no easy feat for Americans, given ‘payback’ or reciprocal changes in policy at both countries’ foreign ministries. Last year, revised guidelines were sent out by both governments on how to process visa requests submitted by Americans. US citizens wanting to travel to certain countries these days pay a stiff price for their government’s actions.
Talking with average Iranians and shop keepers, and especially students, one gets a fairly good idea of just how engaged public opinion is in Iran on current events. It offers a very different picture than that presented by the western media, beholden as they are to their corporate paymasters, but this is beginning to be true of much of the non-western media as well. Here on the street one finds, even in the face of the ever-rising cost of living and near-rampant inflation and the suffering they engender, pride at how this country has resisted the US-led sanctions. A common view expressed in informal discussions—and also at the Congress—is that while there are many states who practice terrorism of one kind or another, including economic terrorism, the US is unusual in that its foreign relations record argues strongly that it is officially committed to international economic terrorism. Moreover, that this is on a scale far exceeding other actors on the world stage.
One professor summarized for this observer his analysis of the effect of US-led sanctions, noting the severe impact on Iranian consumers at the grocery store, dramatically shrinking their real income, as well as government efforts to maintain some subsidies to lessen their impact. He also discussed innovative ways both the government and private sectors have been able to lessen the impact of some of the sanctions, while completely skirting others, mentioning as well a ‘circle the wagons’ public spirit that has arisen in unexpected ways, leading to, among other things, neighborhood initiatives designed to help one’s neighbors with economic problems.
One finds also among Iranians a smoldering anger over the current chemical weapons ‘red line’ issue in Syria, along with an awareness that this may well lead to regional war. The American campaign to bomb Syria is viewed here as utmost American governmental hypocrisy. More than one interlocutor expressed disdain, remembering the Reagan administration’s actions during the late 1980s, when not only did the White House take no action when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons—against Iranian forces as well as “his own people”—but the United States also aided the attacks by providing intelligence and firing coordinates. In other words, finding Iranians to kill, and providing gas to murder them with.
The Tehran Times wrote yesterday: “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Saddam Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.” The effects of these US-facilitated gas attacks are seen everywhere in Iran today, in the skin scars and poor health of its hundreds of thousands of victims.
“How can the American people accept this double standard, where its ok and your government will help to gas Iranians and your enemy’s population?” is a common question put to this observer.
There is visible excitement and even a sort of joy this morning that the UK Parliament, to its great credit, just voted to reject the Cameron government’s motion authorizing British forces to boom Syria. A taxi driver expressed his hope that “Your Congress will follow the lead of the British Parliament?” Iranians appear to view the Parliamentary vote as a victory for themselves. Given the Islamic Republic’s role as a key pillar of resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine and US-Israel regional hegemonic goals, few here, if any, believe the US attack on Syria is not aimed at them.
As the war drums become nearly deafening in certain capitals, public expressions in Iran regarding the grave prospects that are looming appear to this observer less knee-jerk rhetoric than in recent years. No doubt there are many reasons for this, including the results of the recent elections in Iran—viewed here as an encouraging sign of stability and democracy in the region. Tehran made clear to Jeffrey Feltman this week that it is ready for serious cooperation in order to peacefully resolve the crisis in Syria.
As Hossein Mousavian, a researcher at Princeton University, recently pointed out, the cooperation of the US and Iran in 2001 regarding Afghanistan, resulting in the fall of the Taliban and al-Qaeda (at least for a while), is a blueprint for a new collaboration. Writes Mousavian: “This collaboration should not be limited to Syria. The Middle East requires management for the time, and therefore, crisis management (of this and other crises) would be a useful path for this collaboration.” This observer believes much of the Iranian and American public would agree, and that there are hopeful signs during this feared apocalyptic period.