TRIANGLE FIRE ~~ 104 YEARS AND COUNTING

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pilfering and work-breaks will not be tolerated

The Triangle Shirtwaist fire

March 23, 1911

By Tom Karlson

doors chained

exits blocked

!fire!

infernoed smoke and heat everywhere

elevator pulleys buckle,

fire-escape collapses

women leap

bodies smashed

sculpted by fire and crash

charred pick-up sticks

to be counted and named

by shattered lovers and family

148 sweatshop workers

148 Italian and Jewish women

148 from 14 to 48

on that sidewalk morgue

a flat temporary mausoleum

lined with

tears and blood

from mass murder will come new laws

protecting labor

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A look at the history

MUSLIMS IN ADVERTISING

The Anatomy of Advertising Deception Using Muslims

By Robin
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Where to begin? Let’s start with the advertisement itself. One that has “stirred controversy” yet according to the company who put out the ad, SnoreStop, their new campaign is supposed to be about diversity while it purposely stirs controversy. They have chosen to portray “couples” Couples who you “don’t see but which exist”

“As a snoring solution company, we’re in the business of keeping people together,” said Melody Devemark, spokeswoman and member of the family that owns the Camarillo, California-based company, in a press release. “So we found the most polarized couple and thought: ‘If we can keep them together, we can keep anybody together.'” 

The company said the ad is inspired by a real life couple — veteran Jamie Sutton and his wife Aleah, who is Muslim. (source) Note the spokeswoman says the ad was “inspired by”. She does not claim the couple portrayed on the billboard is an actual couple. Or do they? Five days ago “Stefanianne” who claims to be part of the promotion claimed on her  Instagram (note the comment by SlexyDayz and various hashtags)

Read what is purported in this San Diego FOX News report on the ad. “Officials said the models, U.S. soldier Paul Evans and his Muslim girlfriend are also a real couple.”

Are they? Let’s see. Starting with the female in the ad whose name is Lexi Panterra, “slexydayz” First question. Is Lexi a niqabi? Is this how she normally dresses as a conservative Muslim? You can judge for yourself from her own WEBSITEHERE is a music video of Lexi’s. Is niqab her attire as a conservative Muslim? Absolutely not.Now ask yourself these questions:


1. While the FOX News article claims Lexi is Paul Evans’ girlfriend. Ask yourself “do niqabis” have boyfriends? Besides, look at that wedding ring she is prominently showing on her finger on the billboard. The indication is that they are married.

2. Do conservative Muslim women marry non-Muslims? Answer is “no” they don’t.Per Islam, Muslim women marry Muslim men. Do mixed marriages occur sometimes between Muslim women and non-Muslim men? Yes. Among secular Muslims, not conservative Muslims who wear niqab, absolutely not. Can a non-Muslim male convert (actual proper term in Islam is REvert) to Islam and marry a Muslim woman? Yes, it happens often.  So the billboard might lead a thinking person to “assume” that since they are a “couple” as the company claims, Paul Evans must also be Muslim which is a very reasonable assumptioin due to the fact that there are many Muslims serving in the US military. Of course the woman in the ad is identified easily as a Muslim because she is wearing niqab. Paul Evans however is only portrayed as a soldier with no religious identity indicated in any way. Is this purposeful on the part of the advertising company and SnoreStop? I would say “definitely” otherwise the company would have clearly stated this is a Muslim COUPLE, not just a soldier, Paul Evans with a niqabi who has stated “”You know, as soldiers, that’s really what we fight for right there; I mean, we just want our freedoms, we just want that equality,” . (source) I ask Mr. Evans, did the US have to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, occupy those countries, in order for you and others to marry or DATE a conservative Muslim niqabi? Shades of WWII occupied Japan and Germany. Why not go further back and portray a US Calvary soldier with a Native American woman? After all, you became a soldier for “freedom” right? 
3. Are Paul Evans and Lexi Panterra (who is not a niqabi) a couple as both the company and Paul Evans claim? One needs to go no further than Lexi’s Instagram and Tumbler accounts to find the answer. On Halloween she posted an Instagram video “boyfriend’s makeup” Is that Paul Evans in the video? No it is not. It is a man named Sebastian Praga. How long have Lexi and her boyfriend Sebastian Praga been together? That can be documented per her Tumbler account to some degree by the pictures she has posted of him there. October 18,2013 “My boyfriend does my makeup tag“. You know conservative Muslim niqabis change out “boyfriends” easily right? They also take niqab on and off easily, one day making  sexy music videos, another day donning niqab as an ACTRESS in an ad to “keep couples together” by stopping snoring. 
SnoreStop must not work as claimed to “keep couples together” because if Paul Evans and Lexi Panterra were ever a couple in the first place, they sure aren’t now! #product fail #advertising deception #fighting wars so you can have the freedom to DATE slexidayz who dresses up as a niqabi and is NOT a niqabi #using deception in advertising to “stir controversy” when your product does not work as advertised LOL. 
To note, none of the above addresses the use of CONCOCTED political controversy when the US invasioins of Iraq resulted in the deaths of millions of Muslims and countless refugees, the longest US occupatiion of any country, Afghanistan which is an utter fail, the use of drones which have killed countless innocents. 
That’s a whole different aspect of this DECEPTIVE advertisement which is easily documented. 
Hat’s off to SnoreStop. You pulled a fast one all right.  Sleep tight! Don’t let the bed bugs bite. 
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Video on the making of this ad can be found in THIS article at Huffington Post. 
Written FOR

THE ANATOMY OF ISLAMOPHOBIA

racism-on-wheels
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The Anatomy of Islamophobia: Rehash an OLD Story as New: Set LOOSE in Internet Land: How the Clarion Project Did It

FROM By Robin

To open, what this story is not about. It is not about the Qatif Girl. She is but a prop in this instance, used by an organization that has rightfully been named as one of the top propagators of Islamophobia, The organization is the Clarion Fund, founded in 2006 by Canadian-Israeli Raphael Shore. Read about this organization HERE giving their history, and their agenda.

Now for the unfolding of the Anatomy of Islamophobia: the REHASH of an old news story, set lose on the Internet. How I saw this unfold (and it’s still unfolding as more and more sites are posting this “news”)

On Thursday Sept 26 Nick Kristoff posted the following on his Facebook page, linking to an article at Examiner.com by Timothy Whiteman (who Loonwatch wrote about in a very interesting article) Note how many followers Nick Kristoff has (623,734) Notice how many likes he received for the post.(1,084)

 

 

Then commenters, including myself, did just a bit of digging and realized that the article he had linked to, the story, had an uncanny resemblance to the story of the Qatif Girl. However, what the Whiteman article failed to note was that the Qatif Girl story was old news, she had been pardoned in December 2007 by King Abdullah. Whiteman’s  story is alarming! It is NOW and the girl has had her punishment increased to 200 lashes just this week! Due to  proof of how this story seemed eerily similar to the Qatif Girl, Nick Kristoff wrote:

 

 
More comments ensued, namely by myself, noting that the Whiteman article that he had posted, sourced an article on the Clarion Fund website as the only source of his “news”.  Note the date Whiteman says Clarion posted the article: Sept 22, 2013. 
I asked Kristoff to look into the the organization that had rehashed an old story as “news”, leaving out the resolution of the story, the Qatif Girl’s pardon. I asked him to look into the Clarion Fund because they are a top propagator of Islamophobia. He ignored me and eventually deleted the entire post writing: “
 
Nicholas Kristof Folks, I don’t have confidence in this article any more, and I’m going to delete this post. I think it’s the 2007 Qatif Girl case, just recycled.
When I tried linking to the Clarion Project link Whiteman gave, it didn’t work (at that time). So I went to The Clarion Project’s Facebook page and lo and behold it was there. That link worked. The article has since been removed from the Clarion Project’s Facebook page. As well, the article date on the Clarion Project’s website has been changed from September 22, 2013 to November 15, 2007 (in keeping with when the news was actually news) As well an UPDATE has been added at the bottom which reads
Update: Since publishing this article it has been reported that Saudi King Abdullah took note of the negative media coverage surrounding this case and that resulted in his direct intervention in the case and the pardoning of the woman.” 
That update was added yesterday morning after I left a comment there that has been deleted, calling them “Liars”, this isn’t news, and the Qatif Girl was pardoned in December 07. 

Unable to find the article in cache with the original date of Sept 22, I have found other proof that Clarion published the article as “news” on Sept 22, 2013. As well, since they did, this “news” has spread to page after page of Whiteman’s article and Clarion’s original article. Here is the screenshot of Googling this phrase “Clarion Saudi Arabia lashing: Note the date.

Now, here is what I would like you to do, read the comments on Whiteman’s article. It’s the usual, Saudi Arabia of course is mentioned, but most of the comments (as usual) are bashing all Muslims. Why? Because this is how it works in the Islamophobe Industry, search out every single thing you can find negative regarding Muslims and then paint all Muslims with that brush. Paint them all as women abusers. (and in Whiteman’s case call the Clarion Project a “women’s rights news portal which is beyond laughable) Yes Saudi Arabia is rife for use by the Islamophobe Industry but this is NOT about the Qatif Girl or Saudi Arabia, this is about smearing all Muslims any chance you can get, even if it means rehashing OLD news and omitting that the woman in question has been free since December 2007 and never received ANY lashings and lashings are certainly not imminent for her NOW. Indeed it is Whiteman’s article that is spreading like wildfire across the internet, now on page after page NOT saying she was pardoned, but rather she is in danger NOW. Shark chum, and boy oh boy are they biting. They always do.Now, just as Whiteman picked up Clarion’s Sept 22nd “news” story, another journalist has also picked it up through other sources writing after Clarion’s article and written

his own story at opposingviews.com. Jonathan Vankin has listed his sources as New York Times,Daily Bhaskar and AP. Note the dates on the sources. The NYT article is from 2007, the AP article is from 2007 but the Daily Bhaskar article is dated Sept 27, 2013 and gets it ALL wrong saying the woman was raped on Sept 22 just last week! Notice that the Daily Bhashkar article sites the Clarion Project as the source. (apparently not reading it very thoroughly because Clarion states the case goes back to 2006) How could Jonathan Vanig who has so many credits to his name get it so wrong? Answer, he did, and he didn’t put two and two together that the 2007 articles had an entirely different date on which the woman was raped! I have emailed Mr. Vankin but as of this moment he has not responded to me. How many times is Mr. Vankin’s article now going to be shared in Internet Land? How many times is it going to be used NOW as shark chum to bash all Muslims? 

This latest shark chum all started with the Clarion Fund on Sept 22.  They have attempted to cover their tracks, but it doesn’t work, for the proof is there above, they published on Sept 22 and since then one more “incident” has hit Internet Land. A woman is going to be lashed 200 times! Look at those EVIL Muslims who are doing this. That old saying, “Everything old is new again” applies.

To liars.

(I will post updates as they occur)

Read: Fear Inc.

Read CAIR’s Sept 2013 report 

Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States

KERRY’S ‘PEACE’ PLAN ~~ A PEEK AND A LEAK

The first proclaimed leak from Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it is so often called, were published last week in the reputable London-based daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat.
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abbas-netanyahu-kerry
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A Peek inside Kerry’s “Peace” Efforts or Propaganda?
By Sam Bahour

The first proclaimed leak from Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it is so often called, were published last week in the reputable London-based daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat. The source is said to be from a posting from the website of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, who claim the information was leaked to them by someone attending the tightly closed negotiating sessions. The validity of this claim and the contents of the leak are unverifiable and the infighting between Hamas and Fatah give both a vested interest to publicly damage the other, however, a read through the supposed leaked information makes anyone familiar with this issue take a worrying note.

 

The Al-Hayat article on the leak states that Secretary Kerry obtained Palestinian President Abbas’ approval on general parameters for the restart of negotiations, at meetings between the two in Amman on 17-18 July 2013, prior to Secretary Kerry’s announcement that negotiations would restart. According to the leaked document, “Kerry set a maximum period of time ranging from 6 to 9 monthswould be dedicated to bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations … without anypreconditions,” beyond the principles listed below and whereby Jordanparticipates in meetings on refugees, Jerusalem and borders where necessary:

 

1.                The Separation Wall will serve as the security borders of the ‘Jewish’ state, and the temporary border of the ‘Palestinian’ state… Both parties will acknowledge and announce this.” 

2.                There will be “an exchange in disputed territories within the plan of the Separation Wall noted above, as agreed to by both parties and with the blessing of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, as specified by this Committee to Mr. Kerry during their last visit to Washington, ranging in size from eight to ten percent of West Bank lands.”

3.                There will be also be a “freeze in the settlement projects at a number of outposts, as approved by the Israeli government, which does not apply to existing projects in large settlement communities located in the vicinity of Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley, including the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Har Homa, Gilo, Neve Yacov, Ramat Shlomo, Ramat Alman, Kiryat Arba’, and other densely populated settlements.

4.                The document adds that “residents in frozen settlement communities will have the right to choose between Israeli citizenship, or Palestinian citizenship, or both, at the conclusion of negotiations,” and that “talks will culminate with a historic agreement … along the lines of the Oslo Agreement, during which both parties will announce the end of the historic conflict between their peoples, as well as full normalization with all Arab states, at a celebratory meeting attended by the Arab League and representatives of all Arab countries, announcing their approval of Israel’s establishment of a Palestinian state within the limits set out … above, according to agreements…. concluded by the two parties at the end of the negotiations, which will also entail Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

5.                It adds that “at the end of negotiations some Palestinian families will be allowed to reunite in the West Bank, Rafah and Gaza, while others will have the right to compensation, or emigration … to Arab countries, especially the Gulf…” where they will be “…naturalized… utilizing the Right of Return Fund for this purpose.

6.                Concerning the status of East Jerusalem, the leaked document indicates that it will be “placed under an international administration (Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian) for ten years, whereby  resident Israelis in East Jerusalem will have the right  to choose their identity,” i.e. citizenship. 

7.                Furthermore, “Israelis and Palestinians agree to discuss the issue of land exchanges, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, through negotiating committees despite the non-core points of contention between the two parties… especially those points that are considered important by the delegation of the Arab League, including the proposal to grant citizenship to every Palestinian who has been resident in the Gulf for more than ten years.

8.                The document indicates that there will be a “discussion of executive steps in this agreement during negotiations within the time-limit mentioned above, and that its implementation will extend to ten years from the signing of the agreement.

9.                Israel will also “release a number of Palestinian detainees have who spent twenty years or more in detention, and no longer pose a security threat.

10.           It also stipulates that “President Mahmoud Abbas will call for legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank after the public announcement of the Agreement, in anticipation of the possibility of the emergence of objections to it, and that the terms of the agreement will not fully be announced until after the start of negotiations and the preoccupation of Palestinians with the battles of the Legislative Council and the Presidency.

11.           It also says that “with the signing of the agreement at the end of the specified time-limit and the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, the Palestinians and Jordanians will, with the blessing of Israel and the Arabs, reach an understandings on the role of Jordanian security assistance … to the Palestinian Authority … to stand by its side and help it overcome potential internal or external dangers … as part of a Confederation, which will be announced in conjunction with a trilateral economic initiative, in which Israel will play an active role in its formation.

Shocking, to say the least!

 

If these are anywhere near the truth, the region should be preparing for yet another major fallout, this time in Palestine and Israel, again.

 

If the U.S. and Israel continue to choose the game of might is right, then they should expect, sooner rather than later, a new generation of Palestinians to lookIsrael straight in the eye and say, “You win! You get it all Israel: Israel, theWest Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, both east and west sides, all of the settlements, all of the water, all of the Jordan Valley, all of the electromagnetic spectrum, all of the airspace, and most importantly, you also get all of us. Now, we heard you have free health care in Israel; where do we pick up our medical cards? We also want some of that free education too.”

 

In other words, if the U.S. and Israel are adamant to throw into the sea international law, humanitarian law, UN resolutions, human rights, rights of refugees, and sheer common sense, then expect the Palestinians to redefine their self-determination from a struggle for statehood to a struggle for civil rights between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

 

In the words of the late Palestinian (and global) intellectual, Edward Said, it’s “equality or nothing.” What is it about these three simple words that are so hard to comprehend?

 

Written FOR

50 YEARS AFTER ‘THE DREAM’, THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

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WHITE SKIN AMERICA
By Tom Karlson
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That White Skin

Another man gone done

He could not stand his ground                

Another man gone

Ah those riflin’

Standin’ your ground

Hoodie baitin’

Black skin huntin’

Legal lynchin’

Terrorizin’

White skinned privileged motherfucker

Judged prosecuted defended juried

Tag teamin’

three card Monty playin’

Strange fruit swingin’

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A shot to the heart

The dead man’s on trial

The shooter whines

Feared for his life

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The heads talk

And talk of

Post racial America

A black presidented America

A beyond reasonable doubt America

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Not a murmur

Of a million stop and frisks

A thousand legal lynchings

The 21st century Jim Crowed prison complex

And never not ever

0f white skin privileged America

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Another man done gone

He could not stand his ground

Another man done gone

Another man done gone

THE LANGUAGE OF POWER AND OTHER ISSUES

rhetoric-words-politics-1348800099
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Prepared by Nima Shirazi
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As expected, the dog whistles of war have began blowing again. And they’re as shrill as ever, regurgitating the same old talking points we’ve heard for decades now.  Whether from Obama’s pick for the next US Ambassador to the United Nations, a megalomaniacal, obsessed Israeli Prime Minister, or a delisted terrorist cult with deep pockets and well-connected friends, the media amplifies unfounded allegations as fact and fails, as usual, to challenge long-established narratives that lead inevitably to a misinformed and fearful public and the potential for unspeakable violence.

Below are links to a number of my recent posts on these (and some other) issues.

The Language of Power:

Obama’s “Humanitarian Hawk” & Israel’s New Gladiator at the UN
July 18, 2013

In her first appearance before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Samantha Power, Obama’s pick for next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, made clear that she will spend her time in the role much as her predecessor Susan Rice did: acting as Israel’s consummate defender, fear-mongering about Iran, and opposing any move to champion Palestinian human rights or self-determination.

In her confirmation hearing yesterday, Power revealed her adherence to AIPAC talking points, essentially working her way down the tried and true list of boilerplate phrases. Perhaps her most disturbing comments, however, were about Iran. She claimed that the Islamic Republic’s “continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat to international peace and security,” echoing precisely George W. Bush’s own UN Ambassador, perennial Iran hawk John Bolton, who in 2006, insisted to the UN Security Council that Iran, by “continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons…constituted a direct threat to international peace and security.”

 
[Read more]

July 16, 2013

In a renewed propaganda blitz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS‘ Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” that Iran is getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and resurrected a number of embarrassing phrases including “red line,” “credible military threat” and something about ticking clocks.

Netanyahu has been leading the charge against Iran since the mid-1990s, warning of weapons programs that don’t exist and calling for sanctions and explicit military threats. His talking points since then literally have not changed and are identical to those he used to encourage the United States to invade Iraq a decade ago.

Here’s a reminder of why the Israeli Prime Minister’s CBS interview may actually have been a rerun…

On January 11, 1995, Benjamin Netanyahu told a nearly empty Knesset hearing that “within three to five years, we can assume that Iran will become autonomous in its ability to develop and produce a nuclear bomb, without having to import either the technology or the material.”  His solution to this crisis? “[The nuclear threat] must be uprooted by an international front headed by the U.S. It necessitates economic sanctions on Iran,” he declared.

Fourteen years later, then-Prime Ministerial candidate Benjamin Netanyahu told an American Congressional delegation that Israeli “experts” determined Iranian nuclear weapons capability “was probably only one or two years away.”

 
[Read more]

July 13, 2013

Embracing its recent removal from the U.S. State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranianterror cult with deep pockets and close ties to the Washington establishment, is attempting to ramp up the fear-mongering and propaganda over Iran’s nuclear program following last month’s election of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani as the Islamic Republic’s next president.

In April 2013, the group opened an office in Washington DC and officially registeredas a lobbying organization the following month.

Now, a Reuters article from July 11, 2013 reported the MEK and its affiliate organizations such as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claim to have “obtained reliable information on a new and completely secret site designated for [Iran's] nuclear project,” despite providing no credible evidence to back up the allegation.

 
[Read more]

Relax, Iran Isn’t Going to Withdraw from the NPT

July 11, 2013

An article in The Cairo Review by Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former ambassador who served as spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team from 2003 to 2005 under Hassan Rouhani, outlines five options for addressing the stand-off between the United States and Iran over the latter’s uranium enrichment and nuclear energy program.  The most striking option Mousavian floats is that Iran could potentially “[w]ithdraw from the NPT and all WMD treaties” and merely “substitute the treaties with the supreme leader’s religious fatwa banning all WMDs.”

“This move,” Mousavian writes, “will relieve Iran of its treaty obligations, which have been used by the West to place further sanctions on Tehran,” adding, “Withdrawing from the NPT has become an increasingly attractive option within the decision-making circles of the country,” because, he argues, “since the 1979 Revolution, the NPT has proven more harmful than beneficial for Iran.”

This argument, surprisingly coming from such a consistently reasoned and rationaldiplomat like Mousavian, doesn’t actually make much sense.  In fact, while it’s essentially the same suggestion that various Iranian parliamentarians have been making for a decade now out of frustration with Western duplicity and arrogance, Iranian policy towards the NPT has been consistent: as a charter member of the treaty, Iran abides by its tenets and will continue to do so.

 
[Read more]

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Nima Blogs AT
 

THE ANGUISH OF A JEWISH PEACENIK FROM THE CLASS OF ’62

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Mirah and I attended the same High School for four years, grew up just blocks from each other, yet we never met. We had many mutual friends, yet we never even crossed paths. Some 40 odd years later we finally did meet via a Social Network known as Classmates.Com. She visited Israel about ten years ago and we spent a day together. Since then, we have been very close and are in constant contact.
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Yesterday she sent me the following piece which I must share with you. In her own words, “This article took a LONG TIME – 68 years – to coalesce and articulate!”
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I Am A Jewish Peacenik

What ‘Never Again’ Means To Me

By Mirah Riben
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I’m a Post WW II Brooklyn born Jewish woman living in retirement community. I didn’t choose to live here for its disproportionally predominantly Jewish population but here I am. I have enjoyed all of my life, since leaving my family of origins, living in more heterogeneous environments, yet there is the comfort of chicken soup being here surrounded by those I feel a shared history with, and being reminded of the few, long-forgotten Yiddish words and phrases I recall from my childhood. Yet, at the same time it brings back old outcast feelings of high school where I never quite “fit in.” 
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I am a life-long social justice and peace activist and not a gung-ho Zionist and more now than ever, here in this community, I often find myself in the midst of an uncomfortable conversation such as this: Two women, a generation apart but both Jewish immigrants, one from Ukraine and the other from Poland began talking about how things were so different for them than for current immigrants. “We” came here and learned English and worked hard; “they” live on welfare and food stamps.
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Why do I as a Jewish woman in my retirement years eschew these activities my peers love so dearly? Why do their conversations make me bristle with discomfort? The answer for me oddly lies in the lessons learned from the Holocaust.
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Since childhood, I cringed at the racist, judgmental talk that was commonly acceptable at the time. My father’s use of bigoted and discriminatory language extended to all “gentiles” or non-Jews. By high school I was well aware of, and not at all fond of, the hypocrisy between my parents‘ lack of religious observance and their insistence on Jewish superiority. Dad’s southern cousins used to welcome us with open arms calling us “DamnYankees” in one word and never thought it offensive. My father likewise called all non-Jews “DumbGoyim” in one word.
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The recent we/they dichotomy conversation was not just uncomfortable, it was blatantly, historically untrue. It disregards the fact that all immigrants have a hard time and most are very hard-working and not lazy bums living off the dole, while many American born families suffer inter-generational welfare mentality. Chinese immigrants built our railroads while others worked in mines under life-threatening conditions getting paid barely more than slave-labor. Living as we do on the East Coast, the vast majority of immigrants we see here are from Asia. In New Jersey in particular we have the largest population of Asian Indians in the nation. They, ironically, not unlike Jewish immigrants are derided for the exact opposite of being lazy! Many grumble that Asians from India and China are filing all the college openings leaving the children of less demanding American-born parents, behind.
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What does all of this have to do with the Holocaust? The lesson of the Holocaust for all Jews is “Never Again.” But what does that mean? How do we as Jews interpret that and put those two powerful words into action, politically and personally?
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For many of Jewish decent “Never Again” is a rally cry to make Jews a stronger people who will not take it but instead will stand and fight oppression when it comes; take up arms and fight back against hatred. “Never Again” is a show of strength and pride of our Jewish culture, our heritage, the state of Israel, and a battle cry to fight for it so it is never taken from us again. All of which I fully understand.
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I, however, try to take a more Gandhian approach: Working to prevent hatred, nipping it in the bud, and most of all not being party to it. For me, the lesson learned from the Holocaust is to not become my enemy. Like a child who grew up abused one can decide to never “take it” – never to be the beaten down underdog again – and in doing so replicate their parents, or chose to break the cycle.
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As Jews, who suffered the worst discrimination – genocide – I believe we need to be all the more sensitive to and refrain from all we/they talk. It is that very kind of talk of one race or ethnicity being superior and another being inferior that led to the Holocaust which cemented for Jews around the world our world view and underlies beliefs and politics.
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I hear it as a call for peace; a rally cry that no people should ever be persecuted. Islamophobia is every bit as offensive to me as is anti-Semitism. The Civil Rights movement did not just teach us to integrate and extend equal rights to Blacks but rather continues to teach us shape our policies on women’s rights and LGBT rights. Hate is hate. Persecution is persecution and none of us are free until all of us are free.
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I struggle to have, maintain and nurture a healthy sense of my Jewish cultural and ethnic identity without allowing it to become ethnocentric. I have been called a “bad Jew” for my views: pro-Hitler, pro-Muslim and pro-Palestine for not supporting every offensive, defensive and divisive action of the Israeli government. I’ve heard it all. I have been shunned by friends and some family who so fervently disagree.
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We seem able to accept that the Holocaust, understandably, made some more devout in their religious beliefs and turned others into atheists. Yet we are less able to accept world views shaped differently from the same event.
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If we cannot accept – not tolerate – but and accept, honor and value with dignity differences amongst ourselves, how can we ever hope to accept them amongst and between “others.”? And until we can do that, how can we co-exist on this planet? What is the alternative: Endless war? Or can we learn to “Never HATE Again”? 

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Mirah Riben is the author of shedding light on…The Dark Side of Adoption (1988) and THE STORK MARKET: America’s Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry (2007) http://www.AdvocatePublications.com and on the Board of Directors of Origins-USA.org

 

THE ‘ANTI-SEMITE’ WHO ISN’T

The controversy as to who is an anti-Semite and who isn’t one has become the most talked about item in the Progressive Jewish Blogesphere. Both the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre have outdone themselves in this year’s listings. These Progressive sites are helping to ‘Break the Silence’ daily.
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at50e5df5f
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The following was written by Mark Elf of Jews Sans Frontiers …. in case you missed THIS post, it’s a must read, as is THIS one.
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The more idiotic their accusations get, the more legimate our struggle to liberate Palestine becomes.
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After the list was published, a passionate debate erupted in German newspapers over what constitutes justifiable criticism of Israeli policies and what exactly defines anti-Semitism.
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Jakob Augstein: also ran in Wiesenthal’s Zionist Olympics

In the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s top ten antisemites list there were bound to be some real cases of antisemitism.  Carlos Latuff stood out in third place as the kind anti-zionist who you’d expect to be smeared by a zionist organisation like SWC.  Carlos came sufficiently high in the hit parade to be noticed.  He also has a very large anti-racist following.  But there is another highly questionable case and that is Jakob Augstein.

Here’s Der Spiegel:

The usual suspects can be found in the top spots of the 2012 list of “anti-Semitic/anti-Israel slurs”: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is in first place, followed by the Iranian regime, which aims to destroy the state of Israel. Not the kind of list one wants to be a part of.
[note they stopped short of third place which was awarded to Latuff]
But prominent German journalist Jakob Augstein, publisher of the weekly newspaper Der Freitag and author of a regular column on SPIEGEL ONLINE (which is occasionally translated into English for publication), appears in 9th place on the list.
 
It’s a scandal. SPIEGEL immediately sought to find out what had happened and why Augstein had appeared on the list — but failed. It is a failure that speaks volumes about the methods and position of the Wiesenthal Center. At issue are absurd demands and emails that seem to stem from a different world.
 
After the list was published, a passionate debate erupted in German newspapers over what constitutes justifiable criticism of Israeli policies and what exactly defines anti-Semitism. Most journalists felt that the accusation against Augstein was absurd, with the exception of Henryk Broder, a former SPIEGEL writer and well-known polemicist. Broder, in an effort to illustrate Augstein’s lack of self reflection, even went so far as to liken him to a pedophile who views himself as a friend of children.
Salomon Korn, vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, seemed to put an end to the debate when he said that he had never had the impression that Augstein’s writings were anti-Semitic, and suggested that the Americans hadn’t done their homework. Korn said on the radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur, that the Americans were “pretty far removed, in a manner of speaking, from German reality.”

Now of course Germany has all sorts of issues around Jews, Israel and zionism so what’s a mainstream publication to do when one of its own contacts is falsely accused of antisemitism by so august an organisation as Wiesenthal? And for Der Spiegel there was another problem:

It’s a tricky issue for SPIEGEL. Augstein isn’t a member of the editorial staff, nor does he have any influence over the content of the magazine. Augstein doesn’t even write for the magazine per se, since SPIEGEL ONLINE, its Web-based sister publication, has its own editorial staff.
Nevertheless, he is the adopted son of SPIEGEL founder Rudolf Augstein. As heirs, he and his siblings own 24 percent of the SPIEGEL publishing house. We didn’t want to attack him, because we believe that the accusation against him is wrong. But we could hardly defend him, because every reader would expect us to defend him. Doing so would devalue every sentence.
But there was a possible solution: We believed that readers could form their own opinions about the accusations if we presented both positions. So we tried to organize a debate between Augstein and the person at the Wiesenthal Center in charge of the list so as to allow the opponents to argue their sides in detail. We contacted Augstein by telephone, and he agreed.

But the SWC didn’t seem up to defending its position:

It took Cooper less than 24 hours to respond by email. He wrote that he appreciated the “kind offer” and that he was willing to participate, but only under certain conditions. “If you wish to interview me together with him,” Cooper wrote, “Mr. Augstein must publicly apologize in advance for the statements that earned him his designation on the Wiesenthal Center’s Top Ten anti-Semitism List.” Otherwise, he added, he would refuse to “sit in the same room with him.”
 
Such a request is nothing less than a snub, yet Augstein reacted matter-of-factly when told about Cooper’s response. Of course he wouldn’t apologize for criticizing Israel, he said, noting that he is, after all, a journalist.
 
Since Cooper apparently finds Augstein’s physical presence intolerable, we thought the debate could also be held via Skype. The two men could sit in two different rooms, as Cooper wanted, and conducting the debate online wouldn’t diminish its quality.
 
Augstein doesn’t really like Skype conversations owing to the sometimes poor technical quality, but there was no getting around it. The editorial office sent Cooper the proposal, along with a plan covering its technical aspects.

In his email response to the proposal, Cooper was even more adamantly opposed to the idea: “I will not participate in any face-to-face, simultaneous ‘discussion’ live, in the same room or digitally with Mr. Augstein unless he has apologized,” Cooper wrote (italics in original). Instead, he added, he would prefer to have a page for himself in SPIEGEL, apparently so that he could tell its readers about his accusations without having to entertain any opposing arguments.

The SWC are actually being more underhanded than simply dodging the debate.  See this tweet:

German media: ‘Der Spiegel’ heir not anti-Semiticfb.me/2v9YQqqTA

It could be a withdrawal of the allegation but the link is to a Jerusalem Post article which pretty much supports the SWC. 

All fairly standard zionist stuff. Allege antisemitism and then refuse to debate. The difference this time is that mainstream German media has come into the frame and traveled a long way up its learning curve in the process.

YOU CAN BE THE CHANGE ….. JUST LIKE ROSA WAS

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The Legacy of a Civil Rights Hero

By Peter Amsel
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You have heard the name, but do you know the story of Rosa Parks and the role she played in the Civil Rights Movement? What happened in Montgomery in 1955 was far more important than anyone imagined when the events were unfolding at the time. Rosa Louise McCauley did not begin her life dreaming of becoming the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, she was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, the granddaughter of former slaves and the daughter of a carpenter and rural schoolteacher. Rosa moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and attended Alabama State College, an all-black school. It was there, in 1932, that she married Raymond Parks, who worked as a barber. It was at this time that Rosa also became active in Montgomery’s chapter of the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People.

Her work with the NAACP was more than just passive membership; when she joined the organization in 1943 she worked with the state president, Edgar Daniel Nixon in mobilizing a voter registration drive in Montgomery. Rosa Parks was also elected Secretary of the Montgomery branch of the NAACP in 1943. There should be no doubt that the heart of a true activist beat within the chest of this future Civil Rights leader, even years before the most significant act of her career would take place; an act that was born out of a desire for nothing more than fairness.

In the 1950s Rosa Parks began working as a tailor’s assistant in a department store, Montgomery Fair, she also worked part-time for a white liberal couple who encouraged Parks in her Civil Rights work. Six months before the arrest that would change the history of the Civil Rights movement Rosa received a scholarship to attend a workshop on school integration held at the Highlander folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The workshop was aimed at community leaders, and Rosa Parks spent several weeks there.

In the segregated South public transportation allowed for anyone to use the service, but it was anything but “public” in the sense that if you were a “coloured” person you had to surrender your seat to a white person, and move to the back of the bus. African Americans were required to pay to ride the bus at the front of the bus and then re-board through the back door, they were not even good enough to take a seat through the front of the bus: that is how they were perceived at the time. The first ten seats on the buses in Montgomery were permanently reserved for the white passengers, and when the bus become crowded the drivers would instruct any black passengers to make room for white passengers. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move.

The ramifications of this action shook Montgomery to its core, changed America, and began an action that was watched by the world. It also launched the career of another Civil Rights activist, someone who would galvanise the movement, and transform it in ways no one could have foreseen before Rosa Parks’s actions that day.

After the arrest of Rosa Parks she was released on a $100 bond that was posted by her employers, the Durrs, and the president of the NAACP, Edgar Nixon. Rosa decided to allow the NAACP to take on the case and another organisation, the Women’s Political Council, which was led by JoAnn Robinson, came up with the idea of having a one day bus boycott coinciding with the date of Park’s trial. The WPC printed and distributed more than 52,000 fliers spreading the word about the boycott, on December 5, the day Rosa Parks would stand trial.

On that day the buses went through Montgomery almost empty and Rosa Parks was convicted by the local court and fined $14. With the assistance of her lawyer, Ed Gray, she immediately filed an appeal to the circuit court. While her appeal languished in red-tape, the U.S. District court was dealing with another case having to do with racial segregation and public buses, ruling that it was unconstitutional. That case, Browder v. Gayle, was ruled upon on June 4, 1956, by a three-judge panel that included Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. The decision was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in November 1956. Rosa Parks never paid her fine.

On the day of the boycott, December 5, 1955, there was a new minister in the town of Montgomery named Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. He became the president of the boycott committee, urging the residents of Montgomery to stay off the buses, fighting for justice by opposing those who denied them the same. The boycott ultimately lasted 381 days and propelled King into the spotlight of national prominence as a Civil Rights leader whose voice could not be ignored. The Montgomery bus Boycott remains as one of the seminal Civil Rights actions, a marking post in the history of the movement, and it all began with the actions of one woman named Rosa.
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Written FOR

STATUTE OF LAMENTATIONS

WrongSide-Carousel
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There are many times where the term “wrong side of history” is used, but it is still a valid term, it is not an overused term, particularly when it comes to important events in history.
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Palestinian Shame

By Peter Amsel
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There are many times where the term “wrong side of history” is used, but it is still a valid term, it is not an overused term, particularly when it comes to important events in history. A recent event that qualifies to have the term applied to it is the vote that took place in the United Nations to grant the embattled Palestinian Authority the status of “non-member observer state” in the United Nations. This would not give them the full status of a “member nation” like the United States, or Canada, but it would allow them to join other UN agencies, and more importantly, eventually bring cases to the International Criminal Court.The vote in the United Nations took place sixty-five years after the historic partition of the British ruled territory that became Israel, but which was also supposed to become an Arab controlled nation; the nation of Palestine. The treaty has been broken from the first, and it is time for Palestine to be born. One hundred and thirty-eight nations decided that giving Palestine the stylus of a “non-member observer state” was the least that they could do at this time, while perhaps being a token, it was also the right thing; they recognised that the Palestinian people have been living under an apartheid rule, living under the threat of Israeli aggression at the slightest provocation. Guns answering rocks, bombs being dropped on unarmed civilians, and refugees languishing in camps for generations hardly seems like the fair observation of a treaty.
 
Instead of having the ambassador to the United Nations from Canada speak, the Foreign Minister himself, John Baird, decided to take it upon himself to travel to New York and personally address the UN on this matter. Rather than supporting the idea that Palestine deserved to have a greater voice in the international community, Canada’s Foreign Minister chose to be a vocal opponent to the vote. Canada’s Foreign Minister chose to stand on the wrong side of history.

“This resolution will not advance the cause of peace or spur a return to negotiations. Will the Palestinian people be better off as a result? No, on the contrary, this unilateral step will harden positions and raised unrealistic expectations.” (Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird; Delivered at the UN, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2012)

If by “unrealistic expectations” Mr Baird is referring to the idea that the Palestinians might call on the international criminal court at some point, perhaps he is correct; the ICC tends to be slow to judgement, but that is no reason to deny the Palestinians admission to the United Nations, even if it is not a full member status. The fact that Canada, particularly under the leadership of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has reiterated its staunch support of Israel and its policies regarding the Palestinians does not mean that the government must deny the Palestinian people representation in the United Nations. In fact, equality for the Palestinians would benefit both them and the Israelis. People who are equal, people who have the dignity of knowing that neither is being discriminated against, are less likely to take up irrational, violent acts, in order to make the point that could better be made politically. 

How many violent acts have the Irish Republican Army committed since the issues in Ireland were dealt with politically? If you ignore the problems they do not go away on their own; they will not go away unless they are dealt with one way or the other. Some people believe that they can be dealt with through violence, something many people abhor, but it is used nonetheless. If Palestine were recognised as a state, and the rights of the people were recognised and respected, is it not conceivable that many of the problems being experienced in that part of the world would no longer be an issue? What are the causes of the problems today? People building houses, settlements, on land that is supposed to belong to the Palestinians; unlawful arrests and attainments; blockades of medicine; people being prevented to go to work because they cannot cross checkpoints; and other things that degrade and humiliate the population living within the Palestinian Authority. 

Human dignity is being denied these people, and nine nations voted against giving them “non-member observer state” status in the United Nations. Those nine nations are on the wrong side of history. Canada, the United States, Israel, Panama, Palau, the Marshal Islands, Nauru, the Czech Republic, and Micronesia: these nine nations are not only on the wrong side of history, they are cowardly, insensitive, and ignorant of the historic importance of this vote. 

Forty-one nations decided not to vote for, or against the proposal to upgrade the Palestinian status. The motive for the abstention is curious, but neither here nor there: these nations chose to ignore the opportunity to grant another nation more rights. For some of the nations this might not seem like a difficult choice, especially when you consider a nation like Romania, or Albania, both of which have histories where suppressing their citizens is not uncommon. However, the United Kingdom also abstained, as did the Netherlands, which is quite confounding when you consider that both nations received tremendous damage during the Second World War, and are intimately familiar with the suffering associated with persecution. One would have thought that this knowledge would have made them more sensitive, more empathetic to the cause of the Palestinians. 

In the words of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority:

“We did not come here seeking to delegitimatize a state established years ago, and that is Israel; rather we came to affirm the legitimacy of the state that must now achieve its independence, and that is Palestine. We did not come here to add further complications to the peace process, which Israel’s policies have thrown into the intensive care unit; rather we came to launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace. Our endeavour is not aimed at terminating what remains of the negotiations process, which has lost its objective and credibility, but rather aimed at trying to breathe new life into the negotiations and at setting a solid foundation for it based on the terms of reference of the relevant international resolutions in order for the negotiations to succeed.

“Every voice supporting our endeavour today is a most valuable voice of courage, and every state that grants support today to Palestine’s request for non-member observer state status is affirming its principled and moral support for freedom and the rights of peoples and international law and peace.” (Delivered at the UN, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2012)

In light of these words, and the recent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it only seems fair that diplomacy should be given the chance that it deserves, rather than pushing a military agenda against a mostly un-armed civilian population. The reply to the words by President Abbas was nothing less than scathing, dripping with hatred and menace, and they came from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“The world watched a defamatory and venomous speech that was full of mendacious propaganda against the IDF and the citizens of Israel. Someone who wants peace does not talk in such a manner. … The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is in direct negotiations, with out preconditions, and not in one sided UN decisions. By going to the UN, the Palestinians have violated the agreements with Israel, and Israel will act accordingly.” (Delivered at the UN, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2012)

One must ask, what does the Prime Minister mean by “acting accordingly”? After all, this was an act of peace, not an act of aggression; no one was killed, no missiles were launched, and no bombs were exploded. The United Nations is a diplomatic body, it is where peace is negotiated, it is where people go to negotiate treaties, it is where people go to have “peace talks” with their neighbours, and other nations. For the Prime Minister of Israel to assert that seeking “non-member observer state status” is some sort of precondition to the way the Palestinians will be addressing Israel in future negotiations is, in a word, delusional. One might want to remind Mr Netanyahu that even should the Palestinians become signatories of the Rome Statute, and therefore the International Criminal Court, Israel is not a signatory of the statute and does not fall under the ICC’s jurisdiction. 

Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu is feeling a pang of conscience knowing that charges could well be brought against Israel in the ICC, but unless Israel decides to sign the Rome Statute, there is nothing to fear, just as the Goldstone Report had no binding powers against Israel when it indicated that war crimes had been committed against the Palestinian people during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

Advancing the rights of Palestinians has nothing to do with religion, nor does it have anything to do with whether or not you support Israel as a nation. Israel will continue to exist, just as Palestine has a right to exist as well. This vote by 138 nations is an acknowledgement that a majority of the members of the United Nations agree that the status of Palestine should be increased. It is a recognition that the fact that there is something wrong in the “Holy Land” is obvious; the only question that remains is which side of history will you be on when the final lines are drawn.

 

Written FOR
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See also THIS related essay

THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE AND IRAN ~~ 9 THINGS TO REMEMBER

“There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill”

- John Lennon, Working Class Hero
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What We Won’t Hear in Boca:
Nine Things to Remember During the Iran Section of the Presidential Debate Tonight

By Nima Shirazi


“How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

- George W. Bush, in his 2010 memoir Decision Points
“There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill”
- John Lennon, Working Class Hero

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Yesterday, Politico posted a copy of the predetermined topics of discussion for this evening’s third and final presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida, the focus of which will be foreign policy.One of the topics is, naturally, “Red Lines – Israel and Iran.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking this might mean that the two candidates will discuss what sort of limitations – identified by non-negotiable trigger points and definable events – the United States would set on Israeli war crimes, colonization, human rights violations and warmongering, but that would just mean you’re a logical, thinking person who doesn’t pay attention to the world in which we actually live.

No, instead, two grown men vying to be the most powerful person on the planet, will trip all over themselves to prostrate themselves at the altar of Israel fear-mongering, gloating about how much Iranians are suffering because of US-imposed sanctions, cyberattacks, sidewalk executions, covert operations, industrial sabotage, economic hardship and hyperinflation and threatening to launch an unprovoked military attack if Iran doesn’t do as its told by the United States.  These actions are intended, we will hear from President Obama, to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; or, in Romney’s case, to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability - that is, the point at which Iran will have the technical, technological and scientific ability to theoretically begin the process of assembling a single atomic bomb, if the leader of the country were to ever make that decision, which at this point everyone agrees he hasn’t done and probably won’t ever do.

We will hear Romney clam that “Iran is now four years closer to a nuclear weapon” and watch Obama insist that “all options are on the table” when it comes to confronting Iran over its national rights.  We’ll hear that Iran’s nuclear program poses a great – if not the greatest – threat to not only Israel and its neighbors in the region, but to Europe, the United States and the entire world.

So, as you’re watching the show tonight, it might be best to keep some things in mind:

1. Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons.  Iranian officials have consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Brigadier General Martin Dempsey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess, President Barack Obama, his National Security Council, and Vice President Joe Biden have all agreed Iran isn’t actively building nuclear weapons.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and Military Intelligence Director Aviv Kochavi have also said the same thing.

Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continually confirms – that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.” (emphasis added)

2. Iran has never violated its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran is a signatory, and charter member, to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which affirms (not grants, merely acknowledges) the “inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty.”

Under the terms of the treaty, non-nuclear weapons states such as Iran are fully entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and must have a safeguards agreement in place with the autonomous IAEA, the “exclusive purpose” of which is the “verification of the fulfillment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Iran has never been found to have breached its NPT obligations as such a violation could only occur if Iran began “to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.”

With regard to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, Iran – while in the past had been found in non-compliance for its “failure to report” otherwise totally legal activities due to the deliberate policy of obstructionism of the United States – has never been found to have diverted any nuclear material to weaponization.

“Claims of an imminent Iranian nuclear bomb are without foundation,” IAEA spokesman Georges Delcoigne stated on May 9, 1984.  In 1991, then-IAEA Director-General Hans Blix explained that Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear technology was “no cause for concern.”

Twelve years later, in November 2003, the IAEA affirmed that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.” And the following year, after extensive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities were conducted under the auspices of the IAEA’s intrusive Additional Protocol (implemented voluntarily by Iran for two years) the IAEA again concluded that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

In 2007, then-IAEA Director-General Mohammad ElBaradei confirmed, “I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons program going on right now,” adding, “Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weapons program? No.”

After agreeing on a “Work Plan” to “clarify the outstanding issues” between Iran and the IAEA, by February 2008, ElBaradei was able to report, “We have managed to clarify all the remaining outstanding issues, including the most important issue, which is the scope and nature of Iran’s enrichment programme” and the IAEA continued “to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”

“As long as we are monitoring their facilities, they cannot develop nuclear weapons,” ElBaradei said. “And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight.”

In September 2009, ElBaradei told the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that “the idea that we’ll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is an idea that isn’t supported by the facts as we have seen them so far,” continuing, “Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn’t have an ongoing nuclear weapons program,” adding that “the threat has been hyped.”

The following month, ElBaradei stated:

“The only time we found Iran in breach of its obligations not to use undeclared nuclear material was when they had experimented in 2003 and 2004 at Kalaye. Those were experiments. And I have been making it very clear that with regard to these alleged studies, we have not seen any use of nuclear material, we have not received any information that Iran has manufactured any part of a nuclear weapon or component. That’s why I say, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype.”

The “alleged studies” ElBaradei referred to are alleged documents supposedly obtained from a mysterious stolen Iranian Laptop of Death, the authenticity of which has long been known to rest somewhere on the spectrum of dubious to fabricated, and which was provided to the IAEA by the United States by way of the MEK by way of the Mossad and has never been made fully available to the IAEA itself, the press, the public or even Iran itself to investigate, authenticate or assess.  In fact, reportedly, the laptop’s “information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.”

Furthermore, a 2007 report from The Los Angeles Times revealed that, according to IAEA officials, “most U.S. intelligence shared with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency has proved inaccurate, and none has led to significant discoveries inside Iran” and confirmed that its inspectors “have found no proof that nuclear material has been diverted for use in weapons.” A senior diplomat at the IAEA was quoted as saying, “Since 2002, pretty much all the intelligence that’s come to us has proved to be wrong.”

Despite the appointment of Yukiya Amano, the America’s man in Vienna (and self-declared as “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision”), as IAEA Director-General, the agency has continued to verify Iran’s safeguard commitments.

3. The IAEA safeguards and inspects all nuclear facilities in Iran.

Iran’s nuclear sites, facilities, and centrifuges are all under 24-hour video surveillance by the IAEA, subject to IAEA monitoring and bimonthly inspections, and material seal application.  Though not required or authorized under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, since March 2007 the IAEA has conducted dozens of unannounced and snap inspections of Iran’s facilities.

“There is no truth to media reports claiming that the IAEA was not able to get access” to Iran’s nuclear facilities, IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire affirmed in 2007. “We have not been denied access at any time.”

The IAEA has consistently confirmed – often four times a year for nearly a decade – that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

Parchin is not a nuclear facility.  It is a military facility not safeguarded by the IAEA and therefore off-limits legally to its inspectors.  Iran voluntarily allowed two rounds of inspections of Parchin by IAEA personnel in 2005.  No traces of nuclear weapons work were found.

4. Iran, by default, already has “nuclear weapons capability.”

Iran, with its operational enrichment facilities and a functioning power plant, theoretically already has such “capability,” as do at least 140 other countries that “currently have the basic technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons.” Additionally,according to Green Peace, “[o]ver 40 countries have the materials and knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly, a capacity that is referred to as ‘rapid break-out.'”

Nevertheless, Iran has consistently offered curbing and capping their enrichment program, accepting international cooperation, and have actually taken serious scientific and technological steps to reduce their medium-enriched uranium stockpile, thus decreasing the perceived threat of any nascent Iranian “breakout” capacity.
5. Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons.  It is not a member of the NPT.
Unlike Iran, which doesn’t have a single nuclear bomb, Israel maintains a massive, undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons. Additionally, Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to do so when repeatedly called upon to do so by the international community.  The hypocrisy is staggering.

In May 2010, the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – including Iran – agreed to “the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.” In response, Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and declared, “As a nonsignatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

The document called upon Pakistan, India, and Israel (the only three states never to have signed to NPT, each of which has a nuclear arsenal unmonitored by the IAEA) to all sign the treaty and abide by its protocols “without further delay and without any preconditions,” and demanded that North Korea (which withdrew from the NPT in 2003) abandon “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.”

Nevertheless, both President Obama and National Security Adviser General James Jones condemned the resolution (which the U.S. signed) as unfairly “singl[ing] out Israel.”  Obama added that the U.S. would “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”  Considering Obama’s alleged determination to address the issue of global nuclear proliferation, this statement and the absence of any high-level U.S. government personnel at the summit speaks volumes.

Early in his presidency, in April 2009, Obama delivered a major speech in Prague about nuclear weapons and proliferation.  In it he declared, “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” shortly thereafter reaffirming that “the United States will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

While Obama set out parameters to strengthen the NPT, stating his vision that “countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy,” he name-checked both North Korea and Iran, while never once mentioning Israel’s stockpile of hundreds of deliverable nuclear warheads.

In October of that year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize would be “awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” continuing that, “[t]he Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”

After Obama convened and presided over a Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010, he gave a press conference in which he noted that “[w]hen the United States improves our own nuclear security and transparency, it encourages others to do the same,” adding, “When the United States fulfills our responsibilities as a nuclear power committed to the NPT, we strengthen our global efforts to ensure that other nations fulfill their responsibilities.”

Scott Wilson of the Washington Post asked Obama whether, in his effort “to bring U.S. policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally” and “eliminate the perception of hypocrisy that some of the world sees toward the United States and its allies,” he would “call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty” and “if not, why wouldn’t other countries see that as an incentive not to sign on to the treaty that you say is important to strengthen?”  Obama replied,

Well, Scott, initially you were talking about U.S. behavior and then suddenly we’re talking about Israel…

And as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program.  What I’m going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT.

So there’s no contradiction there.

This non-answer harkens back to the president’s very first White House press conference in February 2009, when veteran correspondent Helen Thomas asked Obama a painfully simple question: “Mr. President, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

In response, the new commander-in-chief responded, “With respect to nuclear weapons, I don’t want to speculate. What I know is this: that if we see a nuclear arms race in a region as volatile as the Middle East, everyone will be in danger. And one of my goals is to prevent nuclear proliferation generally.”

Clearly, though a world without nuclear weapons may be a goal of Obama, maintaining Israel’s posture of “nuclear ambiguityappears to be a presidential obligation.

Exactly a week before the Nobel Committee announced Obama as its Peace Prize laureate, it was reported on October 2, 2009 by Eli Lake of the Washington Times that, in May of that year, Obama had “reaffirmed a 4-decade-old secret understanding that has allowed Israel to keep a nuclear arsenal without opening it to international inspections.”  Lake explained, “Under the understanding, the U.S. has not pressured Israel to disclose its nuclear weapons or to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which could require Israel to give up its estimated several hundred nuclear bombs.”

A Senate staffer familiar with the secret agreement told Lake:

What this means is that the president gave commitments that politically he had no choice but to give regarding Israel’s nuclear program. However, it calls into question virtually every part of the president’s nonproliferation agenda.  The president gave Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card.

6. Sanctions are the West’s other weapon of mass destruction.

Tonight, Obama will praise his policy of collective punishment of a civilian population over a nuclear weapons program even he has admitted doesn’t even exist while Romney will call for even more destructive measures to hurt the Iranian people.  Sanctions target Iran’s citizens with the hope of causing enough suffering to instigate regime change.  That won’t happen.  In the meantime, the Iranian people suffer for a crime their government isn’t even committing.

During the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden boasted, “These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period, period.”

While Mitt Romney will surely scold the president for “not supporting” the so-called Iranian opposition following the election in 2009 (even though no dissident leader or group asked for “help” from the U.S.; quite the contrary), we won’t hear that Iranians across the political spectrum uniformly oppose sanctions and wholly support their country’s indigenous nuclear energy program.

Just today, AFP reports, “Some six million patients in Iran are affected by Western economic sanctions as import of medicine is becoming increasingly difficult” because restrictions on Iran’s banking sector “severely” curtail “the import of drugs and pharmaceutical devices for treatment of complex illnesses.”

As sanctions mount and more are promised, thought should be given to the lethal effects of a decade of similarly draconian measures on Iraq following the Gulf War.

In 1995, The New York Times reported, “As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council.”  When, the following year, Leslie Stahl interviewed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 60 Minutes about these tragic and genocidal effects of brutal economic U.S. sanctions against Iraq and asked, “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Nonplussed, Albright immediately replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Despite the uninformed lip-service both candidates pay to caring about the welfare of the Iranian people, there is no doubt both Obama and Romney believe the current sanctions on Iran are also worth it.

“In many ways, the sanctions on the Iraqi people were worse than the war because the economy was taken back decades and the health service deteriorated massively,” Carne Ross, former British Foreign Office diplomat and the UK’s Iraq expert at the United Nations Security Council, has said.

But deliberately causing a humanitarian disaster that destroys the lives of an entire civilian population isn’t an alternative to war.  It is one.

7. Attacking Iran is not only immoral, it is uncontrovertibly illegal.

Any military campaign against Iran would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

As journalist Marsha Cohen pointed out earlier this year, a 2009 study produced for theCenter for International and Strategic Studies briefly addressed “the human and environmental human catastrophe that would result just from an attack on the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr,” and determined:

Any strike on the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.

A devastating new analysis on “The Human Cost of Military Strikes Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities” has determined “it is highly likely that the casualty rate at the physical sites will be close to 100 percent” and continues:

Assuming an average two-shift operation, between 3,500 and 5,500 people would be present at the time of the strikes, most of whom would be killed or injured as a result of the physical and thermal impact of the blasts. If one were to include casualties at other targets, one could extrapolate to other facilities, in which case the total number of people killed and injured could exceed 10,000.

David Isenberg, in a Time article on the report, writes that “attacks at Isfahan and Natanz would release existing stocks of fluorine and fluorine compounds which would turn into hydrofluoric acid — a highly-reactive agent that, when inhaled, would make people ‘drown in their lungs.’ Fluorine gases are more corrosive and toxic than the chlorine gas used in World War I. Once airborne, at lethal concentrations, these toxic plumes could kill virtually all life forms in their path.”

He adds:

Aside from the fluorine, the uranium hexafluoride itself also poses dire consequences. The report estimates that if only 5% of 371 metric tons of uranium hexafluoride produced at the Isfahan facility becomes airborne during or after an attack, the toxic plumes could travel five miles with the Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) level of 25 milligrams per cubic liter spreading over 13 square miles:

With prevailing wind directions and speeds at 9.4 miles/hour moving towards the city, in about one hour, this plume could expose some of the 240,000 residents in Isfahan municipality’s eastern districts, particularly districts 4 and 6. At a 20% release, the IDLH plume will travel 9 miles covering 41 square miles and could expose some of the 352,000 residents, mainly in districts 13, 4, and 6, as well as residents in the region north of district 4. If we assume a conservative casualty rate of 5 to 20% among these populations, we can expect casualties in the range of 12,000-70,000 people. [emphasis in original]

Not only would such an attack by unconscionable for moral reasons, an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities, military installments and civilian infrastructure would in no be considered legal.

All so-called “preemptive” military attacks are illegal and explicitly forbidden by Chapter I, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter. The Charter also makes clear that it recognizes the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations,” (Chapter VII, Article 51), which undoubtedly rules out any and all “preemptive,” “precautionary,” “anticipatory self-defense,” or “preventative” military actions of one State against another.

Moreover, following World War II, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg described the willful initiation of a “war of aggression” as “the supreme international crime,” a defining tenet of current international law.

“Preemptive self-defense is clearly unlawful under international law,” law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell wrote in 2002.  In her extensive analysis, “The Myth of Preemptive Self-Defense,” O’Connell explains, “The right of self-defense is limited to the right to use force to repel an attack in progress, to prevent future enemy attacks following an initial attack, or to reverse the consequences of an enemy attack, such as ending an occupation” and also points out that “the United States as a government has consistently supported the prohibition on such preemptive use of force.”

O’Connell continues, “the reality is that the United States has no right to use force to prevent possible, as distinct from actual, armed attacks. The further reality is that the United States does not advance its security or its moral standing in the world by doing so.” Throughout her paper, O’Connell stresses that all nations are bound by these same rules.

“There is no self-appointed right to attack another state because of fear that the state is making plans or developing weapons usable in a hypothetical campaign,” she states, elaborating that “a state may not take military action against another state when an attack is only a hypothetical possibility, and not yet in progress—even in the case of weapons of mass destruction” since even “possession of such weapons without more does not amount to an armed attack.”

Also, the simple act of attacking any nation’s nuclear facilities is in itself unquestionably illegal.

On September 21, 1990, the IAEA General Conference adopted a resolution during its 332nd plenary meeting which addressed “measures to strengthen international co-operations in matters relating to nuclear safety and radiological protection.”

The resolution specifically and unconditionally called for the “Prohibition of all armed attacks against nuclear installations devoted to peaceful purposes whether under construction or in operation.”

The resolution refers to an earlier IAEA document which maintains that “any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Statute of the Agency” and that warns that “an armed attack on a nuclear installation could result in radioactive releases with grave consequences within and beyond the boundaries of the State which has been attacked.”

Furthermore, the resolution “[r]ecognizes that attacks or threats of attack on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes could jeopardize the development of nuclear energy; [c]onsiders that the safeguards system of the Agency is a reliable means of verifying the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; [r]ecognizes that an armed attack or a threat of armed attack on a safeguarded nuclear facility, in operation or under construction, would create a situation in which the United Nations Security Council would have to act immediately in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter; [and e]ncourages all Member States to be ready to provide – if requested – immediate peaceful assistance in accordance with international law to any State whose safeguarded nuclear facilities have been subjected to an armed attack.”

It is important to note that while Israel is not a signatory of the NPT, it has however been a member of the IAEA since 1957 and therefore such a resolution is just as binding upon Israel as it is upon all other member states.

The illegality of any Israeli or American attack on Iran is clear.  It would not only be a war crime in the truest sense of the term as articulated by the Nuremberg Tribunal, but it would also constitute a grave crime against humanity due to the inevitable and unavoidable cost of human lives and suffering such an attack would cause.  That both Israel and the United States are naturally aware of such consequences would make any attack all the more despicable and its crimes deliberate.

8. This is really about maintaining unchallenged American and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.

The scariest thing for proponents of American empire and Israeli impunity is the prospect of the U.S. and Israel not being able to invade, occupy, overthrow bomb, blockade and murder at will.  Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out that the real fear over the Iranian program is that “Iranian nuclear weapons would prevent the US from attacking Iran at will, and that is what is intolerable.”

In his December 2011 call for the United States to soon launch an unprovoked attack on Iran, Matthew Kroenig wrote in Foreign Affairs that a “nuclear-armed Iran would immediately limit U.S. freedom of action in the Middle East. With atomic power behind it, Iran could threaten any U.S. political or military initiative in the Middle East with nuclear war, forcing Washington to think twice before acting in the region.”

The same month, hawkish American Enterprise Institute maven Danielle Pletka admitted, “The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it. It’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it.”

Yet even the mere “breakout capacity” is what worries Israel the most.  Writing in Asia Times this past summer, Richard Javad Heydarian explained that “the Iranian nuclear issue is fundamentally about the balance of power in West Asia. Israel is essentially concerned with the emergence of a ‘virtual’ – possessing a ‘break-out’ capacity to develop a warhead on a short notice – nuclear-armed state in Tehran, eliminate Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly. This would undermine Israel’s four decades of strategic impunity to shape the regional environment to its own liking,” adding, “Thus, it is crucial for Israel to prevent any Iran-West diplomatic compromise, which will give Tehran a free hand to enhance its regional influence and maintain a robust nuclear infrastructure.”

9. What we won’t hear.

The reason we’ll be subjected to a quarter-hour of Obama and Romney talking about our unbreakable, sacrosanct, unique special bond and unflinching commitment to Israel’s security, how the United States will never allow Iran to threaten our “number one ally in the region,” how bumblingbipolar used-car salesman are deployed by an evil regime to assassinate our best friends’ ambassadors and how Iranian leaders threaten Israel with genocidal destruction, is because, that way, we won’t hear the words “Palestinian human rights,” “Israeli war crimes,” “apartheid,” “occupation,” “Gaza,” “colonial settlements,” “African migrants in internment camps,” or “ethnic cleansing.”

Get it?

Mission accomplished.

Written FOR

ARE WE HOSTAGES TO HOLLYWOOD’S HISTORY?

Argo‘s Asinine Auteur and his American Audience:
Are We Hostages to Hollywood History?

*

By Nima Shirazi

Student demonstration, Washington, D.C., November 9, 1979

(Marion S. Trikosko)


Ben Affleck’s new film, Argo, hit theaters today.  It tells the tale of six American diplomats who, having escaped the besieged Embassy in Tehran in late 1979 and taken shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor, were successfully smuggled out of Iran in a daring Hollywood-produced CIA operation under the guise of being a Canadian film crew.

From the movie trailer, one can tell a great many things.  The story is fascinating, the plot suspenseful and action-packed.  Yet there are worrying signs that the events depicted will present a rather decontextualized and myopic perspective of Iranian actions in the wake of their revolution.

“The actions of Iran have shocked the civilized world,” President Jimmy Carterdeclared two weeks after the embassy’s occupation during a November 28, 1979 press conference.  This was coming from the leader of the nation whose operatives orchestrated a coup d’etat 26 years earlier to overthrow the Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh for the crime of nationalizing his country’s oil industry and which funded and supported the brutal Pahlavi dictatorship for the next quarter century. Civilized, indeed.

A video of Carter speaking those very words opens Argo‘s trailer which is replete with sinister music, angry bearded mobs, clenched fists pumping the air, sounds of gunfire, glaring portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini and plenty of hand-wringing, hapless, innocent Americans and the concerned, humanitarian heroes of Tinsel Town and the Central Intelligence Agency who saved them.

The mastermind behind the clandestine mission featured in the film is CIA operative Tony Mendez, portrayed by Affleck himself.  In a short clip of the movie shown on The Daily Show, Mendez is described as an “exfil[tration] spec[ialist]” who “got a lot of the Shah’s people out after the fall.”  What a hero.

The issue is not that hostage-taking is legitimate or moral or that amazing true stories shouldn’t be made into big budget movies.  It’s not and they should be.  The issue here is context.  Without it, Manichean views of the world – with good guys and bad guys neatly identified – continue to prevail.  At a time of especially heightened tension between Iran, the United States, and now Canada, films likeArgo – with its narrative of American victimhood and Middle Eastern rage – certainly do favors.

I have not seen this film.  I could be wrong about all this.  Argo may very well include a nuanced and sophisticated exploration of the causes behind the Iranian Revolution and U.S. government decisions leading up to the hostage crisis, but then again, it might not.

In an interview at the Toronto Film Festival, Affleck said, “While the [action portrayed in the] movie is 30 years old, it really is still relevant.  Both in the sense that it’s about the unintended consequences of revolution and in the sense that we’re dealing with the exact same issues now than we were then.”

Earlier this week, Affleck joined blowhard ignoramus Bill O’Reilly on Fox News to discuss the film.  In describing Argo, Affleck said, “You know, it was such a great story. For one thing, it’s a thriller. It’s actually comedy with the Hollywood satire. It’s a complicated CIA movie, it’s a political movie. And it’s all true.”

In a thrillingly complicated comical twist, about thirty seconds later, the star of Surviving Christmas and Reindeer Games contradicted himself completely: “To me, I made a movie that my friends who are Democrats and my friends who are Republicans can both watch. It’s not a political movie.”

Affleck also spent much of his time praising the U.S. intelligence and foreign service agents, including those who actively worked against the popular revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi monarchy. “[T]his is really a tribute to the folks and our clan that’s in services, and diplomats in the foreign service who are risking their lives over there, tragically seeing examples of that very recently. And folks who are — what they give up to serve us and to serve our country.”  He added, “I’ve been to the CIA. I met General David Petraeus. These are extraordinary honorable people at the CIA. Make no mistake about it.”

O’Reilly summed it up: “This is a Valentine from Ben Affleck to the Intelligence Community,” he declared.

Affleck also demonstrated a dizzying fealty to alarmist misinformation over the Iranian nuclear program.  If the “Islamist regime,” he warned, “got a bomb, I think everybody thinks that would be trouble.”  Affleck then proceeded to opine that “Israel is not entirely capable of whacking them to the extent in which they need to be whacked.”  Read that again.

He continued, “And I wouldn’t outsource U.S. foreign policy to any other government…However, we have to have a line beyond which we say this is not acceptable in Iran.”  It didn’t take much for O’Reilly to draw out what his Fox News audience most wanted to hear.  “I wouldn’t oppose military action,” Affleck obliged.

Considering its filmmaker’s perspective, there’s a good chance Argo may not present a particularly erudite understanding of the events of Autumn 1979, despite the fact that the film itself opens with a quick review of Iranian history and the revolution.

With this in mind, there is some vital context that might – I repeat, might – be missing from Argo which every theatergoer should know in order to better contextualize what they’ll be watching this weekend:

Tyranny and Terror Under the Shah, Bankrolled by the U.S.

Jimmy Carter and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Tehran 1977


For most Americans, the history of Iranian-U.S. relations began on November 4, 1979, the day revolutionary students seized control of the American Embassy in Tehran.  According to the American narrative, one November morning – out of the blue – some crazy Iranian fanatics seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of innocent Americans hostage for 444 days because they were mean and hated Americans for no reason.

Here’s some of what’s missing:

The United States of America backed, armed and supported the tyrannical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, for more than 25 years,

As late as 1977, President Jimmy Carter, speaking at a New Years Eve state dinner, called the Shah’s Iran “an island of stability” in an otherwise turbulent Middle East. Carter said this at a time when in Iran, under the Shah, “dissent was ruthlessly suppressed, in part by the use of torture in the dungeons of SAVAK, the [American and Israeli-trained] secret police,” Time magazine reported, adding:

The depth of its commitment to the Shah apparently blinded Washington to the growing discontent. U.S. policymakers wanted to believe that their investment was buying stability and friendship; they trusted what they heard from the monarch, who dismissed all opposition as ‘the blah-blahs of armchair critics.’

Such commitment to the belief in the Shah’s “stability” and inevitable longevity was evidenced in many U.S. intelligence assessments at the time.   For example, as Jeffrey T. Richelson recalls in Wizards of Langley: “A sixty-page CIA study completed in August 1977, Iran in the 1980s, had asserted that ‘there will be no radical change in Iranian political behavior in the near future’ and that ‘the Shah will be an active participant in the Iranian life well into the 1980s.’

Another CIA report from mid-1978 and entitled “Iran After the Shah”, affirmed that “Iran is not in a revolutionary or even a ‘prerevolutionary’ situation.”

As Time pointed out in its January 7, 1980 report:

Even after the revolution began, U.S. officials were convinced that ‘there is no alternative to the Shah.’ Carter took time out from the Camp David summit in September 1978 to phone the Iranian monarch and assure him of Washington’s continued support.

Popular street demonstrations against the Shah’s rule became frequent throughout Iran in 1978 (as was the killing of protesters by government forces) and, eventually, many cities were placed under martial law. During a peaceful demonstration in Tehran on September 8, 1978, government security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing and wounding hundreds.

Nevertheless, that very month, the U.S. State Department expressed its confidence that the Shah would retain his control over Iran, though perhaps without “the same position of unquestioned authority he formerly enjoyed.”

At the same time that nationwide strikes spread throughout bazaars, banks, the oil and gas industry, newspapers, customs and post offices, mining and transportation sectors, as well as most universities and high schools, an “Intelligence Assessment” released by the Defense Intelligence Agency declared that the Shah “is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years.”

On October 27, 1978, as the revolution surged, the CIA issued another report, this one suggesting that “the political situation [in Iran] is unlikely to be clarified at least until late next year when the Shah, the Cabinet, and the new parliament that is scheduled to be elected in June begin to interact on the political scene.”

Just a few months later, in the face of a massive popular uprising representing the end of millennia of monarchy in Iran, the Shah and his wife Farah fled Iran in early 1979, never to return. They flew to Egypt, where they received a warm welcome by Anwar Sadat.

Following the Shah’s departure, the transitional Iranian government immediately cut ties with two countries: Apartheid South Africa and the State of Israel, both nations founded on the violent dispossession, forced displacement, and institutionalized discrimination against an indigenous population.

Despite the leading role it had played in propping up the Shah’s dictatorship for so long, Iran did not break off relations with the United States in the hopes of ushering in a new diplomatic relationship based on mutual respect.

Catalyzing the Crisis

Jimmy Carter, April 25, 1980 (AP)


Later that year, in October 1979, the Shah sought medical treatment in the United States for his worsening cancer, the interim government of Iran warned the U.S. against admitting the Shah as it wished for the deposed dictator to face trial and justice in Iran for his crimes against the Iranian people.  When asked whether it would be problematic if the Shah’s young children to enter the United States for schooling, Iran’s secular Prime Minister, Mehdi Barzargan, responded that such would not create any difficulties, but still “reiterated his warning about the dangers of admitting the shah himself.”

President Carter had to make a decision and asked the advice of his closest advisers.  “He went around the room, and most of us said, ‘Let him in.'” recalls Vice President Walter Mondale. “And he said, ‘And if [the Iranians] take our employees in our embassy hostage, then what would be your advice?’ And the room just fell dead. No one had an answer to that. Turns out, we never did.”

It is rumored, however, that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Undersecretary of State David Newsom all tried to hedge their bets and prevent the Shah’s admission to the U.S. in the hopes that it would help mend relations with the new transitional government in Tehran.

In favor of admission, on the other hand, were National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chase Bank chairman David Rockefeller, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former World Bank president John J. McCloy, who had served as Assistant Secretary of War during World War II and U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, who were collectively dubbed “influential friends of the Shah” by Brzezinski himself.  Apparently, Brzezinski personally “felt strongly that at stake were [the United State’s] traditional commitment to asylum and our loyalty to a friend. To compromise those principles would be to pay an extraordinarily high price not only in terms of self-esteem but also in our standing among our allies….”

In response to such lobbying by the Shah’s good buddies, President Carter acquiesced to the Shah’s demands on October 21, 1979.  The very next day, Pahlavi and his family arrived in New York City on October 22, 1979 aboard Rockefeller’s private jet.

Reporting in The New York Times in May 1981 following the Shah’s death and state funeral in Egypt, Dr. Lawrence K. Altman wrote that, from this decision “flowed a chain of events that dramatically reshaped recent American history and led, all too inevitably, to the 444 days of the hostage crisis.”

Henry Precht, the senior Iranian task-force officer at the State Department, who was then in Iran, is quoted in Altman’s article as saying that “the initial reaction of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the Iranians was ”exceptionally controlled.” Precht added, however, “But one had the feeling that the Iranians, always suspicious, now sensed that they had indeed been duped and that the Shah had come to the United States not for medical treatment but to set up counterrevolutionary headquarters.”  In response, Altman reveals, a group of Iranian students met “in a small mountain village above Teheran to determine what action they would take to vent their fury at the Shah’s admission to the United States.”

Following the seizure of the Embassy and the taking of hostages, a reporter asked Carter why he had reversed his previous position and permitted the Shah to enter the U.S. when “medical treatment was available elsewhere [and] you had been warned by our chargé that the Americans might be endangered in Tehran.”  Carterreplied that he has made “the right decision” and had “no regrets about it nor apologies to make.”  He said:

“The decision that I made, personally and without pressure from anyone, to carry out the principles of our country, to provide for the means of giving the Shah necessary medical assistance to save his life, was proper.”

Carter’s humanitarian mission to save Iranian lives was apparently limited to that of a single corrupt despot, a puppet dictator that served Washington’s hegemonic designs in the Middle East for decades.  The lives of Iranian civilians who suffered under the Shah’s rule and American largesse, however, had not been considered worth saving.

Decades of Torture and Repression

Iranian student demonstration in Tehran, December 15, 1979

(Mohammad Sayad/AP)


The Shah’s Organisation of Intelligence and National Security, known by its Farsi acronym SAVAK, acted as the dictator’s personal secret police force, was tasked with suppressing dissent and opposition to the monarchy.  Created in 1957 with the help of American and Israeli intelligence agents, the SAVAK grew in size and brutality and, as journalist Marsha Cohen points out, included “thousands of informers, censorship, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and widespread torture and assassination of political opponents. A censorship office monitored journalists, academics and writers, and kept a watchful eye on students. The penalty for possession of forbidden books included interrogation, torture and long term imprisonment.”

In 1976, according to Amnesty International, the Shah’s Iran had the “highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief.”  The report concluded, “No country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran.”  The number of political prisoners detained at any given point was reportedly “anything between 25,000 and 100,000.”

The same year, renowned Iranian poet and author Reza Baraheni wrote in New York Review of Books, “The CIA re-created the monarchy, built up the SAVAK and trained all its prominent members, and stood by the Shah and his secret police as their powerful ally. Iran became the police state it is now.”

He continued:

Thousands of men and women have been summarily executed during the last twenty-three years. More than 300,000 people have been in and out of prison during the last nineteen years of the existence of SAVAK; an average of 1,500 people are arrested every month. In one instance alone, American-trained counterinsurgency troops of the Iranian Army and SAVAK killed more than 6,000 people on June 5, 1963.

In another article, Baraheni wrote that “[c]orruption is so widespread that threats of jailing, even shooting, cannot solve the problem, because at the heart of corruption are the Shah himself and the royal family.”

The Associated Press also ran a story about the abusive, and sometimes lethal, treatment of prisoners by the SAVAK as reported by the Red Cross, which had gained access to “5,000 inmates in 37 jails and prisons” over three separate visits to Iran between March 1977 and February 1978.

Both the United States and Israel played a large role in the SAVAK’s activities.  As Robert Fisk points out in his book The Great War For Civilisation, “A permanent secret US mission was attached to Savak headquarters.”

Jesse Leaf, a former high-level CIA analyst in Iran until his resignation in 1973,revealed years later “that the CIA sent an operative to teach interrogation methods to SAVAK” in seminars that “were based on German torture techniques from World War II.”  While no Americans admitted to witnessing torture, Leaf recalled “seeing and being told of people who were there seeing the rooms and being told of torture. And I know that the torture rooms were toured and it was all paid for by the USA.”  When asked why none of the American agents protested such brutality, Leaf explained, “Why should we protest? We were on their side, remember?”

“Methods of interrogation” often used by SAVAK, writes Fisk, “included – apart from the conventional electric wires attached to genitals, beating on the soles of feet and nail extraction—rape and ‘cooking,’ the latter a self-explanatory form of suffering in which the victim was strapped to a bed of wire that was then electrified to become a red-hot toaster…They recorded that the inmates had been beaten, burned with cigarettes and chemicals, tortured with electrodes, raped, sodomised with bottles and boiling eggs.   Interrogators forced electric cables into the uterus of female prisoners.  The Red Cross report named 124 prisoners who had died under torture.”

According to Iranian scholar R.K. Ramazani, “Mossad was totally identified with the Shah’s CIA-created SAVAK. This was the principal instrument of the regime’s repressive measures, which included  physically punishing religious and secular political dissidents by electric shock, tearing out of fingernails and toenails, rape, and genital torture.”

The Mossad connection was confirmed earlier this year by CBS News’ Dan Raviv and Israeli journalist Yossi Melman in their book Spies Against Armageddon, in which they reveal, “Israeli intelligence trained Savak, the Shah’s brutal secret police and espionage service. As part of the compensation, the Shah allowed the Mossad to operate on his soil as a base for recruiting agents in Iraq and other countries. Iran even provided documentation to enhance the Israelis’ cover stories.”


In early January 1980, an Associated Press report noted that the “Iranian militants…holding some 50 Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran…say they will not release them until Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is returned to Iran to stand trial on charges of corruption and other crimes – including the reported torture.”  The article continued, “The Iranian government has demanded an international hearing of its grievances against the shah and his former government.”

When asked about these demands by the press, President Carter replied:

I don’t know of any international forum within which charges have ever been brought against a deposed leader who has left his country. There have been instances of changing governments down through the centuries in history, and I don’t know of any instance where such a leader, who left his country after his government fell, has been tried in an international court or in an international forum…

But as I said earlier, I don’t think there’s any forum that will listen to the Iranians make any sort of claim, justified or not, as long as they hold against their will and abuse the hostages, in complete contravention to every international law and every precept or every commitment or principle of humankind.

Within three weeks of the Embassy takeover, about a dozen women and African-Americans were released by the Iranian students in what Khomeini called an act ofsolidarity with oppressed minority groups in the U.S.  Later, a sick hostage was also released. None of the hostages were killed.

Open Hands and Iron Fists

The remaining 52 American hostages were released upon the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, in accordance with the Algiers Accord, an agreement signed by both Iran and the United States.

Shortly after the hostage-taking, President Carter imposed sanctions upon Iranand had frozen billions of dollars of Iranian government assets in an act that one U.S. official described as “economic and political warfare.” The Accord assured Iran that all assets would be returned; to date, the U.S. has never complied with this agreement.

The Accord also affirms, as its primary point, that the “United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

Since then, not only did the U.S. government renege on this promise two years later when it again imposed sanctions on Iran, it has continued to violate the agreement through relentless and inhumane economic warfaredronesurveillancecovert operationssupport for Iranian terrorist groups, and cyberattacks, not to mention the sporadic murder of Iranian civilians.

In March 2009, President Obama delivered a Nowruz message to Iranians and their government in which he declared that his new “administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community” and affirmed that the “process will not be advanced by threats.” Just nine days before this message, however, Obama had announced the extension of economic sanctions on Iran imposed by President Clinton in March 1995 and were set to expire.

Subsequently, Obama has imposed ever more brutal sanctions on the Iranianpeopleincreased arms sales to Iran’s Middle East neighbors, substantially built-upAmerica’s own armaments and warship presence in the Persian Gulf and Indian Oceanexpanded covert operations in the region (and in Iran specifically), and hasconsistently maintained the aggressive posture that “all options are on the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran, code for the willingness of the American executive to commit the supreme international crime of launching a voluntary war.

Nevertheless, this weekend, moviegoers will be treated to a full dose of Western diplomats running scared from angry Middle Eastern mobs, unwitting victims of seemingly irrational rage. Even though Argo‘s audience will obviously be rooting for the daring rescue to succeed, it’s still essential to understand what all those Iranians might have been so upset about.

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NETANYAHU: THEN AND NOW

The beast then …
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The beast now …
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That Was Now, This Is Then: Netanyahu Edition

Nima Shirazi 

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“Would I counsel, necessarily, a preemptive strike on Iran? I’m not sure. I would be very careful about that.”

- Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

Journalist Jim Lobe has done a tremendous service to those of us who follow the warmongering propaganda of American and Israeli officials over the Iranian nuclear program.  This week, Lobe reminded us of the testimony then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on September 12, 2002 in which he marshaled nearly every hackneyed talking point about weapons of mass destruction, support for terrorists and the benefits of regime change in an effort to push the United States to illegally invade and occupy Iraq.

Six months later, he got his wish.

While Lobe has already masterfully laid out the ignorant assumptions, egregious lies, hysterical hasbara, and shameful bellicosity of Netanyahu’s performance, it should also be noted that, when it comes to trying to bully the United States into setting “red lines” or even perhaps initiating a war of aggression, thereby committing once again – in the words of the Nuremberg Tribunal – “the supreme international crime,” Netanyahu has stuck to the same script for a decade now.

Of course, as we all know, then it was Iraq and now it is Iran.  In his frenzied and frustrated warmongering efforts, Netanyahu has apparently forgotten to come up with some new zingers, instead hoping that what worked for him in 2002 would work again in 2012 (spoiler: it won’t).

Here are some of his greatest hits.

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“[I]t is simply not reflecting the reality to assume that Saddam isn’tfeverishly working to develop nuclear weapons, as we speak.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, April 18, 2012:

“Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weaponsto achieve that goal.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“How imminent is it [the threat from Iraq]? Look, do you want to wait and find out?  The answer is no.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 11, 2012

“The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time,’ and I say, ‘Wait for what, wait until when?’…The fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002

“[Iraq] happens to be one of the two – now, as we know, one of the three – regimes that is racing to build nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“And for me, the issue is, as the prime minister of a country that is threatened with annihilation by a brutal regime in Tehran that isracing to develop nuclear bombs for that and, obviously, we cannot delegate the job of stopping Iran if all else fails to someone else.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Today the United States must destroy the same regime because a nuclear-armed Saddam will place the security of our entire world at risk.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, March 5, 2012:

“For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:

“Every indication we have is that he [Saddam] is pursuing, pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 16, 2012:

“Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. We know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, September 12, 2002:  

“There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and isworking and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever.”

During a March 7, 2012 interview on Fox News, Greta Van Susteren asked Netayahu about the case for illegally attacking Iran in light of what the world now knows about the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq.  “Do you have any doubt they [Iran] have a nuclear weapons program?,” Van Susteren wondered.  The Israeli Prime Minister replied: “I think there is no question.”

Van Susteren continued, “[I]n 2003, with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was so much certainty and it turned out, our intelligence was wrong on that. So I am trying to balance the two.”

The response from Netanyahu was immediate.  It was also confounding, considering his testimony to Congress ten years earlier.  He told Van Susteren:

“First of all, there is no question. There is no comparison. In the case of Iraq, I was on the Israeli cabinet when we discussed this issue. We didn’t know. We couldn’t say that they didn’t have a nuclear weapons program, we couldn’t say if they did. In the case of Iran there is absolutely no question.”

Over the past decade, Israel has made great strides in recycling.  In regurgitating his jingoistic talking points from a decade ago urging an illegal military assault on yet another Middle Eastern nation, there is no question Netanyahu is leading that charge.

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THE COLONIZATION OF MINDS: SAVE GAZA’S NEXT GENERATION

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This article is an invitation to Israeli society to think long and hard about the future of its children and that of the children of Palestine. The Israeli government relies primarily on military force as a solution to dealing with Gaza. The siege of Gaza and Israel’s violent approach to the conflict will never bring a viable solution and will only continue to cultivate a culture of violence and hatred rather than one of peace.

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The Colonization of Minds : Save Gaza’s Next Generation 

Ayman Qwaider

 


The Israeli blockade that has continued, relentlessly, for six years and the 2008-2009 invasion of the Gaza Strip have resulted in a substantial deterioration of the economic, social and political infrastructures of Palestinian society.

 

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Children of Gaza, amid destruction – Winter 2008/2009

The corrosion of these essential infrastructures is worsened by the density of Gaza’s population, a population residing in the most densely populated stretch of land in the world. According to the United Nations agencies working in the Gaza Strip, over 50 percent of the Gaza population is under 18 years of age. As a result of both socio-political (e.g., the suppression of trade by Israeli occupation) and demographic factors, the Palestinians of Gaza face a constant and growing need for healthcare and other welfare services. Israel’s routine aggression and its imposition of an oppressive blockade place Gaza’s youth and children in an unjust and violent environment where they face ruinous psychological consequences, including rampant cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If not addressed immediately, such consequences of Israel’s actions will likely become one of the greatest obstacles to peace.

Along with Palestinian and Israeli leadership, the world community in general and the United Nations Security Council in particular are all responsible for the colonization of minds in the Gaza Strip. One of the goals of the organizations comprising civil society should be the cultivation of a culture of peace, tolerance, the rule of law and freedom of speech and trade. Now is the time for all of civil society and the international community to come together to address the needs of Gaza and to move forward to a just solution for all parties.

I recently had a conversation with a friend named Hatem who lives in Gaza. Hatem has a one year old boy, Karam, with a beautiful smile. Hatem described to me the harsh conditions Gaza’s Palestinians experience as Israel’s illegal siege continues unabated. He spoke of the constant blackouts, lasting up to 10 hours each day and only one of countless hardships the people of Gaza must endure, and how they affect his son’s childhood. Although Karam expresses spontaneous bursts of happiness and joy when the lights come on and life can resume with some measure of normalcy, sadly, his story corresponds with too many others, the tens of thousands of children in Gaza who perceive their broken daily lives as the norm.

A long-term consequence of Israel’s siege and its resulting brutal violence is that the lives of Gaza’s children and their perceptions are terribly restricted, and, when they are constantly and directly subjected to death and destruction, all of their social interactions, including education and learning, are severely compromised. Also, Gaza’s isolation from the rest of the world because of its permanently closed borders means that Gaza’s Palestinians must rely on Israel for many of their medical needs and essential services. This dependency represents another way the Zionists control the daily lives of Palestinians in Gaza. According to a recent report by the United Nations, school hours in Gaza are often shortened because of frequent blackouts and over-crowded classes, resulting in lowered education standards. This, coupled with psychological trauma and a lack of healthcare professionals equipped with the training necessary to treat PTSD and other issues, has devastating ramifications.

Children are the primary victims of Zionist aggression and Israel’s blockade. One think tank in Gaza reported that the long-term impacts of continuing the siege, as well as the constant violent military operation on the already exhausted Gaza Strip, will not be limited to Gaza. It concluded that this cruel environment will have implications not only for children in Gaza, but also for those children living in Israel. Palestinian children in Gaza do not know Israeli children. Their only knowledge of Israel is informed by and limited to daily military operations, targeted killings, blackouts and the lack of essential goods and services denied them by the Israeli siege. This generation of abused Palestinian children suffering from profound psychological trauma will become the next generation’s freedom fighters who will believe they have no choice other than to fight and die for the freedom of their people. Such is the cycle of war and oppression in Palestine.

This article is an invitation to Israeli society to think long and hard about the future of its children and that of the children of Palestine. The Israeli government relies primarily on military force as a solution to dealing with Gaza. The siege of Gaza and Israel’s violent approach to the conflict will never bring a viable solution and will only continue to cultivate a culture of violence and hatred rather than one of peace.

The international community should invest more in a culture of peace by demanding that Israel open Gaza’s borders to international trade and that it put a stop to its militaristic adventures while at the same time intensifying peace education programs. Immediate measures should be implemented to promote positive attitudes and knowledge in order to bring about the behavioral changes and develop the skills necessary to teach children to prevent conflict and structural violence and to move forward in ways that are positive and peaceful. That being said, without accompanying and appropriate policy changes by the Israeli government in Tel Aviv, such educational measures will prove ineffective. As long as Israel continues to wage war and impose a brutal blockade on the Palestinians of Gaza, the people will continue to resist and fight violence with violence. The children of Gaza will continue to suffer. The cycle will continuead infinitum.

 

His blog 

 

 Transmitted by the author

WHO SAID PALESTINE HAS NO OIL?

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Palestine’s Golden Oil

BY SAM BAHOUR

Underneath much of the Middle East lies the world’s oil supply, which is pumped year-round to keep the global economy humming along. In one special place in the Middle East—better known as the Holy Land—a different type of oil reigns supreme: olive oil. In this strategic region in the Levant, Palestine has a large amount of land devoted to the olive tree; about 45% of agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is planted with twelve million olive trees, the vast majority of which are in the West Bank, and its valuable, healthy fruits take center stage in the political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis every harvesting season.

Land is at the core of this conflict. Israel’s military has confiscated land for illegal Israeli settlements, erected an illegal “Separation Barrier” that separates Palestinian farmers from their plantations, and has not spared Palestinian olive groves: it has uprooted olive trees as a way of punishing the population. The vast majority of Palestinian olive trees are in the West Bank, which has 739,500 dunams (184,875 acres), or 98.6% of the total, whereas, the Gaza Strip had only 11,200 dunams (2,800 acres) of olive trees, which is 1.4%. However, in the Gaza Strip, over 7,300 dunums (1,825 acres) of land along the perimeter fence with Israel, previously cultivated with olive trees, were leveled during Israeli incursions in recent years. An olive seedling can take several decades to fully mature and many of Palestine’s olive trees are hundreds of years old. The horrifying reality is that Israel has added olive trees to their campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and the result is that Palestine’s golden oil is becoming scarcer and much more dangerous to harvest.

olives on branches, Palestine

Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

Cultivating olive trees and harvesting this murky, tangy, golden liquid is the livelihood for approximately 100,000 Palestinian families. Olive picking is more than a seasonal chore—it is a way of life. Families tend to their olive trees all year round to harvest them in October and November. Family members, young and old, gather in the fields from early morning to sunset to share in the hard work of hand picking the olives, collecting them in large nylon bags, then hauling them to the nearest olive press to extract the valuable yield of olive oil. For the thousands of families who have harvested olives for generations, the value of land means little if not cultivated, hence the olive tree, being a lifelong investment in the land, takes on special meaning. It is not uncommon to find inheritances that distribute olive trees among descendants, thus one can understand how the Israeli destruction of trees is viewed as a direct, deliberate, and violent provocation.

Palestinian olive oil is sold locally this year for 400 NIS ($114) for a 16-kilogram jug. A recent Oxfam briefing paper, “The Road To Olive Farming,” notes that “in a good year, the [Palestinian] olive oil sector contributes over $100 million of income annually to some of the poorest communities.” This figure amounts to one quarter of the gross agricultural income in the OPT.

Olive oil cultivation is a core sector in Palestine’s economic mix. The Oxfam paper notes that “in 2006, 21,000 tons of olive oil remained [for export] once the needs of the domestic market had been met.” The global olive production industry is valued at over $10 billion; the export potential for Palestinian olives and olive oil has not even begun to be tapped.

olives on branches, Palestine

Photo credit: Vivien Sansour

When the Israeli occupation is not making its presence felt, the season of the olive harvest is absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation cannot be ignored. The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the OPT issued an “Olive Harvest Factsheet” in October 2011 lists the threats facing Palestine’s olive sector:

  • 44 out of 66 [Separation] Barrier gates are only open during the harvest season, impeding the regular maintenance of the groves and undermining their productivity.
  • Some 40% of applications for “visitor permits” to access [Palestinian] olive groves behind the Barrier, submitted by Palestinians on the eve of the 2010 harvest season, were rejected.
  • In the vicinity of 55 Israeli settlements, Palestinian access to olive groves is limited to certain times during the harvest season, when Israeli forces are deployed on the ground.
  • Between January and September 2011, more than 7,500 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were uprooted, set on fire or otherwise vandalized by Israeli settlers.
  • Of 97 complaints about settler attacks against Palestinian trees, followed up by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, none (zero) has so far led to the indictment of a suspect.

These facts speak for themselves. It is not enough that Israel has confiscated and illegally annexed Palestinian lands by constructing the Separation Barrier; Israel is determined to make sure that even those Palestinian lands that remain will be inaccessible for Palestinians to earn a dignified livelihood. But Palestinians are not known to give up so easily. Rural communities everywhere feel a deep attachment to their land, trees, and crops, more so than those who live in urban societies. It is this attachment that accounts in part for the Palestinian determination to carry on, focused on our right to work our lands.

The international solidarity that has been expressed by volunteers coming from all corners of the world to join in planting saplings in February and harvesting the olives in October is a tremendous source of strength. Whether you actually participate along side Palestinian farmers, buy Palestinian olives, olive oil and olive soap from anywhere in the world, or you are helping to get the word out to hold Israel accountable for its actions, together we are standing on the side of humanity in a conflict that seems to have none.

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SURFING AROUND THE SEWAGE OF GAZA

From Your Middle East
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The surfers have no choice but to make their way around the sewage and litter that is scattered all over the beach. The sea surrounding Gaza is believed to be polluted with at least 60 to 80 million liters of sewage traced from Wadi Gaza, a natural wetland in the center of the strip, every day.
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The surfers of Gaza
“Despite the daily challenges we all face here in Gaza, the peaceful beaches here have the tendency of drowning our worries; even if it’s for a little while. I particularly have some sort of connection with the sea,” said Ahmed Mousa. © Mohammed Asad have the tendency of drowning our worries; even if it’s for a little while. I particularly have some sort of connection with the sea,” said Ahmed Mousa. © Mohammed Asad
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The surfers of Gaza
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The surfers of Gaza
“The couple of hours of the happiness and freedom I experience as I surf is more than I can ever ask for. The waves seem to take me in with wide arms; flushing all my sorrow away,” said Ahmed Mousa. © Mohammed Asad
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The surfers of Gaza

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The surfers of Gaza

Rana E. Manna

With his board tightly tucked in beneath his arm, Ahmed Mousa makes a run towards the ever-stretching sea of Gaza calling out for the others to join in.

Ahmed and nearly 40 other young Palestinian men between the ages 20 to 30 have managed to put the hardships of their lives aside by riding the waves of the Gaza sea.

“Despite the daily challenges we all face here in Gaza, the peaceful beaches here have the tendency of drowning our worries; even if it’s for a little while. I particularly have some sort of connection with the sea,” Ahmed said.

“The couple of hours of the happiness and freedom I experience as I surf is more than I can ever ask for. The waves seem to take me in with wide arms; flushing all my sorrow away,” he continued, breathing heavily from the effort exerted in surfing just minutes before.

Many, if not all of these men, who mainly live in refugee camps, are unemployed. Having plenty of free time on their hands, surfing is the best thing to do. According to the United Nations, more than 45% of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are unemployed.

“What distinguishes me from the other bums around here is the way I spend my time. Instead of sitting around sobbing about my fate, I do something that I love and fill my time with, I surf,” Ahmed said proudly. 

The sea has always been of great value to the people of Gaza, from the native Gazans to the refugees in the northern coastal cities. Caged up in a strip no bigger than 360 square kilometers due to the Israeli blockade, the people find no better place than the Strip’s ever-stretching sandy coastline. 

Riding the tides of the Gaza sea is clearly one of the few joys for these surfers. Nevertheless, complications still manage to track their every step; even to their only source of happiness.

The surfers have no choice but to make their way around the sewage and litter that is scattered all over the beach. The sea surrounding Gaza is believed to be polluted with at least 60 to 80 million liters of sewage traced from Wadi Gaza, a natural wetland in the center of the strip, every day.

“Although we’ve got no other choice but to make the best of it, surfing certainly is not the same with all this waste floating around. Some days are better than others; as are areas. However there are times when we have to turn back and leave it for another day when there is less pollution,” said Mohammed Abu Ramadan, the coach of Gaza’s small surfing club.

Today, the surfboards, worn out and in terribly bad shape, are still constantly being used. With the Israeli blockade restricting humanitarian aid, supplying Gaza with surfboards seems like an almost impossible task.

Revealing a battered board, Ahmed said that “most of the boards we own are in pretty beat-up shape. It’s scary knowing that the board underneath you may not be able to hold you up. According to past experience, repairing the boards just won’t do the job since we don’t have the tools and equipment necessary to restore them back to the way they were.”

“I would do anything for a shiny new board,” he concluded gazing at the sun setting over the ocean’s gold and red horizon.

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IRANOPHOBIA AND THE CANCEROUS TUMOR CALLED ZIONISM

 In the 1820s, former president John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson that “slavery is a cancer to be isolated.”  On October 16, 1854, in an stridently abolitionist speech in Peoria, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln likened the Constitution’s vague references to slavery to a “cancer,” hidden away, which an “afflicted man…dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time.”
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Iranian Rhetoric and the History of the Cancer Analogy

By Nima Shirazi

 

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.,
April 16, 1963

“If we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up.”
– Shmuel Dayan,
Member of the Knesset, 1950

The rhetoric used in recentspeeches by top Iranian officials has garnered much attention in the mainstream media.  In addition to the outrage expressed over the statement that the Israeli governmental system and guiding Zionist ideology is an “insult to humanity,” comments that the “Zionist regime” is a “cancerous tumor” have also met fierce condemnation.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has compiled a list of recent reported statements made by Iranian officials.  National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told the press that the United States government “strongly condemn[s] the latest series of offensive and reprehensible comments by senior Iranian officials that are aimed at Israel,” adding, “The entire international community should condemn this hateful and divisive rhetoric.”

Rabbi David Wolpe took to the pages of The Los Angeles Times to specifically condemn the cancer analogy.  Wolpe incidentally did so by presenting a litany of outrageous statements of his own.  He writes that the “state of Israel” is 3000 years old, thus absurdly conflating an ancientBiblicalminoritycommunity with a modern, settler-colonial nation-state.  He insists Israel is notexpansionist, a claim that doesn’tstand up to even the most cursory awareness of basic facts, the historical record and current aggressive Israeli policy.

Wolpe also states that the cancer analogy “leads inevitably, inexorably, to the prospect of genocide,” which he obviously follows up by invoking the Holocaust and asserting that “Iran eagerly pursues nuclear weapons,” thereby ignoring the consistent conclusions of U.S. intelligence and IAEA inspections.  He concludes by suggesting that, were Israel not to maintain such a destructive military capability, segregationist occupation infrastructure, rampant legal discrimination, and a two-tiered justice system, the result would be the “wholesale slaughter” of Jewish Israelis, presumably by vengeful Arab hordes.

Such a characterization recalls the ludicrous fears that beset the vast majority of white South Africans just years before Apartheid ended, many of whom were consumed by “physical dread” at the prospect of equality and their loss of racial dominance and superiority and foresaw a future full of “violence, total collapse, expulsion and flight.”  Even in 1987, as Apartheid was becoming increasingly untenable, about 75% of white South Africans feared that their “physical safety…would be threatened” as a result of “black rule.”  Nearly 73%, including over 85% of Afrikaners, believed “white women would be molested by blacks.”  Incidentally, as recently pointed out in Ha’aretz, in 1987, “Israel was the only Western nation that upheld diplomatic ties with South Africa” and was one of the last countries to join the international boycott campaign.

Southern whites in the antebellum United States nurtured the same irrational apprehension, fearful that the violent and successful 1791 slave rebellion in Haiti would be replicated across the Gulf of Mexico, especially in states like South Carolina where slaves outnumbered whites two to one.  Following emancipation, and in reaction to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, southern states enacted “black codes” restricting the voting, land ownership, and speech of former slaves.  Whites feared that their loss of racial dominance and an enslaved labor force would not only ruin the southern economy, but also that the newly-freed black population would seek revenge on their masters and rape white women; this led to numerous race riots and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan that same year.

In April 1868, Alabama newspaper editor Ryland Randolph praised the Klan for opposing what he called the “galling despotism” of the federal government over the southern states, which he “deemed a fungus growth of military tyranny” with the goal of “degrad[ing] the white man by the establishment of negro supremacy.”

Forrest G. Wood writes in Black Scare: The Racist Response to Emancipation and Reconstruction:

Although white men certainly feared for their jobs and income, they were more alarmed by the threat to their physical safety that the “savage African” presented…Pointing to the absence of an advanced (by Western standards) African civilization, extremists described the Negroes as primitive, barbaric, and cruel…Freedom, the white supremacist now asserted, would stimulate the black man’s worst passions, leading him to crimes of arson, murder, and rape.

Newspapers often deliberately published grossly exaggerated or wholly fictitious stories of criminal acts and violence committed by blacks, stoking even more fear in the racist white population.  For these white supremacists, rape was “the most frightful crime which negroes commit against white people” and the accusation of sexual assault (or even consensual interracial relationships) was a surefire way to spark a lynch mob.

Just this past Spring, Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that many Israeli women have been raped by African migrants and refugees, “but do not complain out of fear of being stigmatized as having contracted AIDS,” insisting that “most of the African infiltrators are criminals.”   At an anti-African rally, Tel Aviv resident Carmela Rosner held a sign that read: “They rape girls and elderly women, murder, steal, stab, burglarize. We’re afraid to leave home.”

Yishai said that Africans, “along with the Palestinians, will bring a quick end to the Zionist dream,” while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the growing population of African immigrants “threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state,” as well as “the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity.”  Palestinians in Israel along with their actual and potential offspring are regularly referred to as a “demographic threat” and a “demographic bomb,” a racist construction that exposes the discriminatory and supremacist nature of Zionism itself.

Due to such incitement against minority communities, pogroms, race riots, and violence against non-Jews have become commonplace.

The Israeli Education Ministry is currently attempting to overturn a district court ruling that “migrant children…be fully integrated in the municipal school system and not be taught in a separate school.”  The state appeal in favor of segregation claims that the education of Israeli children will suffer if done alongside the children of African immigrants.  Meanwhile, extremist Jewish groups continue to try to “rescue” Jewish Israeli girls who date Palestinian men and threaten Palestinians with violence if they flirt with Jews.

In 2008, a Jewish Israeli woman filed a police report after discovering that a man she had just had consensual sex with was Palestinian and not Jewish, as she had assumed.  After spending two years under house arrest, an Israeli court convicted the man of “rape by deception” and sentenced him to 18 months in prison.  A former senior Justice Ministry official was quoted as saying, “In the context of Israeli society, you can see that some women would feel very strongly that they had been violated by someone who says he is Jewish but is not.”

This is to be expected, as The Palestine Center‘s Yousef Munayyer explains: “An ideology that seeks to build a society around a certain type of people defined by ethnicity or religion is inevitably going to feature racism, supremacy and oppression—especially when the vast majority of native inhabitants where such an ideology is implemented are unwelcomed.”

Unsurprisingly, commentators who routinely denounce cancer analogies when they come from Iranian officials blatantly avoid addressing the use of the identical rhetoric by Israelis themselves when referring to the growingpresence of non-Jewish communities within areas controlled by Israel.  When IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon referred to Palestinian babies as “cancerous manifestations” and Likud Knesset member Miri Regev called African migrants and refugeesa cancer in our body,” they were silent.

While calling the government and founding ideology of a state a “cancerous tumor” is certainly not a nice thing to say and supporters of that state’s policies have every reason to take offense to such a description, it is quite obviously a political statement.  Iranian rhetoric attacks a political entity, namely the “Zionist regime“, which systematically discriminates against and oppresses people based solely on their ancestry and religious affiliation.  In contrast, Ya’alon and Regev’s statements employ the cancer analogy to defend the concept of ethnic-religious exclusivity and have everything to do with people, whether Palestinian or African, who somehow – just by being born – threaten the continued dominance of a deliberately demographically engineered and maintained state.

To be sure, regardless of its intended target, this kind of rhetoric is purposefully harsh and often gratuitous.  Yet, like Ahmadinejad’s “insult to humanity” line, the cancer analogy is neither new nor original.  While Iranian officials have been employing it since 2000, it has long been wielded for the express purpose of condemning a political system or ideology one vehemently opposes.

In the 1820s, former president John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson that “slavery is a cancer to be isolated.”  On October 16, 1854, in an stridently abolitionist speech in Peoria, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln likened the Constitution’s vague references to slavery to a “cancer,” hidden away, which an “afflicted man…dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a given time.”

A New York Times article from September 8, 1863 quoted then-Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson as telling a Nashville crowd in late August, “Slavery is a cancer on our society, and the scalpel of the statesman should be used not simply to pare away the exterior and leave the roots to propagate the disease anew, but to remove it altogether.”  Johnson endorsed the “total eradication” of slavery from Tennessee.

In the final chapter of the first volume of Das Kapital (1867), entitled “The Modern Theory of Colonization,” Karl Marx excoriated British politician Edward Gibbon Wakefield for his efforts “to heal the anti-capitalistic cancer of the colonies.”

The 1968 platform of Bermuda’s first political party, the Progressive Labor Party, proclaimed, “No government can be either responsible or democratic while under the rule of another country, ” adding, “Colonialism is a cancer.”

A February 23, 1962 article in Time Magazine profiled U.S. General Paul Donal Harkins, the commander of a newly created U.S. Military Assistance Command in South Vietnam, which is described as “the first step in a more broadly based anti-Communist campaign.”  Harkins is quoted early in the piece as defining his mission as “doing all we can to support the South Vietnamese efforts to eradicate the cancer of Communism.”

In early June 1983, just a few months after Ronald Reagan delivered his “Evil Empire” speech in which he declared his belief that “Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written,” Illinois Representative Henry Hyde told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that, because “Communism is a cancer,” Congress should support covert action and assistance to Contras and anti-Sandinista forces in Latin America in an effort to “fight for freedom.”

Hamas reportedly used “Communism is a cancer inside the nation’s body and we will cut it out” as a political slogan in opposition to Fatah soon after its establishment in the late 1980s.

Perhaps most applicable, however, are the comments made by South African Reverend Allan Boesak who, in 1983, formed the United Democratic Front, a legal umbrella organization for hundreds of anti-Apartheid groups.  In his opening address to the UDF, Boesak stated:

Apartheid is a cancer on the body politic of the world. A scourge on our society and on all human kind. Apartheid exists only because of economic greed and political oppression maintained by both systemic and physical violence and a false sense of racial superiority. So many have been forced into exile. So many have been thrown into jail. Too many of our children have been shot down mercilessly on the streets of our nation.

In the same speech, Boesak called Apartheid “a thoroughly evil system” that “can never be modernized or modified, it must be totally eradicated” and, in 1985, denounced the white South Africans who continued to support Apartheid as the “spiritual children of Adolf Hitler.”

In 1988, Jim Murray echoed Boesak in the Los Angeles Times, writing that “apartheid is a cancer on the world body politic–to say nothing of its soul. You combat it the best way you can.”

Just as many others, including numerous Israelis, have described the state of Israel as practicing Apartheid, Boesak himself has endorsed such a comparison, and has gone even further.

In a November 2011 interview, Boesak reaffirmed his statement that the oppression of and discrimination against Palestinians by Israel is “in its practical manifestation even worse than South African apartheid,” adding, “It is worse, not in the sense that apartheid was not an absolutely terrifying system in South Africa, but in the ways in which the Israelis have taken the apartheid system and perfected it, so to speak; sharpened it.”

He cited the physical barriers, travel and employment restrictions, and the “two separate justice systems” for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank as examples of why “in many ways the Israeli system is worse.”  He offered his wholehearted support for the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions to impel Israel to comply with international law.

When asked whether Palestinians could ever be expected to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State,” Boesak replied:

They can’t. There is no such thing as a specifically Jewish state. You can’t proclaim a Jewish state over the heads and the bodies and the memories of the people who are the ancient people who live there. That is Palestinian land we are talking about. Most of the Jews who are there come from Europe and elsewhere and have no claim on that land and we mustn’t allow it to happen to the Palestinians what happened to my ancestors who were the original people in this land (South Africa) but now there are hardly enough of them to be counted in the census. That is Palestinian land and that should be the point of departure in every political discussion.

Similarly, official Iranian state policy maintains that the international community must “allow the Palestinian nation to decide its own future, to have the right to self-determination for itself” and that in “the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations and the fundamental principles enshrined in it…Jewish Palestinians, Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians [must] determine their own fate themselves through a free referendum.  Whatever they choose as a nation, everybody should accept and respect.”

Hysteria over Iranian phraseology (rhetoric with a long political history) relies solely on the presumption – repeated ad nauseum by politicians and the press – that the nation’s leadership has threatened to attack Israel militarily and wipe it off the map.  But Iran has never made such threats.  Quite the contrary.

Speaking to Wolf Blitzer in April 2006, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh directly addressed claims that Iran seeks the physical destruction of Israel (whatever that means).  Blitzer asked, “Should there be a state of Israel?,” to which Soltanieh replied, “If Israel is a synonym and will give the indication of Zionist mentality, no.  But if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there have to be removed or they have to be massacred, this is a fabricated, unfortunate selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is.”

In a June 2006 letter to The Washington Post, a spokesman for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations wrote, “Iran’s position is very clear: We have not threatened to use force nor have we used force against any country or government in the past 250 years. We’ve never done that in the past, and we’ll never do it in the future,” adding, “We wonder whether Israel or the United States can make the same statement.”

The letter also noted that, the same month, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”

In October 2006, President Ahmadinejad stated, “Nuclear weapons have no place in Iran’s defense doctrine and Iran is not a threat to any country…We are not a threat to anybody; even our solution to the Zionist regime is a referendum.”  The following year, Ahmadinejad was asked by the Associated Press whether Iran “would ever make a first strike against Israel.” He replied, “Iran will not attack any country,” and insisted Iran has “always maintained a defensive policy, not an offensive one” and has no interest in territorial expansion, something Israel could never seriously claim.

In a 2008 CNN interview with Larry King, Ahmadinejad stated bluntly that “we don’t have a problem with the Jewish people,” and added, with specific reference to Israel, “We are opposed to the idea that the people who live there should be thrown into the sea or be burnt.”

The same year, at a news conference during the D8 Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Ahmadinejad told reporters that because he believes the Zionist enterprise of ethnic cleansing and colonization is “inherently doomed” to failure, “there is no need for Iranians to take action” to hasten the inevitable political outcome in Palestine.  He also assured the press, “You should not be concerned about a new war.”

He also made his position clear in an NPR interview, saying, “Let me create an analogy here — where exactly is the Soviet Union today? It did disappear — but exactly how? It was through the vote of its own people. So therefore in Palestine too we must allow the people, the Palestinians, to determine their own future.”

During an October 2011 interview, Ahmadinejad told Al Jazeera that Iran “will never enter any war against the U.S. or against any other country. This is our policy…We have never attacked anybody. Why should we do that? Why should we start a war?”

This past July, Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations said, “We will react if there is any provocative act from the other side.  We will not initiate any provocative steps.”

Officialassessments by both Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, Director of Defense Intelligence Agency have affirmed that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict or launch a preemptive attack.”

The alarmism that inevitably follows boilerplate speeches by Iranian officials serves an agenda of decontextualized demonization that paints the Islamic Republic as a genocidal, eliminationist aggressor and Israel as a victim, just one spinning centrifuge away from eradication.  In fact, it is Israel that consistentlythreatensIran with an illegalmilitaryassault, not the other way around.

But it is not a military attack that actually threatens the future of Israel, it is exactly the kind of struggleundertaken by those like Allen Boesak, who courageouslystoodagainst an unjust system of ethnocentrism and supremacy and prevailed.

Were Israel to finally respect international law, put an end to decades of racism, occupation and Apartheid, and begin to consider each and every human being as equal and worthy of the same human rights and dignity, freedom of movement and opportunity, it would no longer be subject to the harsh analogies that have for so long been directed at the most oppressive and inhumane ideologies the world has ever known.

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AHMADINEJAD’S RHETORIC ECHOED BY WORLD LEADERS INCLUDING ISRAELIS

Consequently, his reference to Israel (which he sees as an Apartheid state) as an “insult to humanity” (which repeats the same verbiage used repeatedly by the United Nations itself) appears to be far less inflammatory then the outrage that followed would suggest.

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Some Notes on Ahmadinejad’s “Insult to Humanity” Comment

 By Nima Shirazi

As tends to happen whenever Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech, especially one in commemoration of Al-Quds Day that explicitly rejects the ideology of Zionism and condemns the Israeli government for its inherently discriminatory, exclusivist, and ethnocentric policies and actions, all hell broke lose after the Iranian President addressed a large crowd at Tehran University on Friday.

The existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to all humanity,” Ahmadinejad said, adding that “confronting the existence of the fabricated Zionist regime is in fact protecting the rights and dignity of all human beings.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon referred to the remarks as “offensive and inflammatory.”  The European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading nuclear negotiations with Iran, also denounced Ahmadinejad’s speech as “outrageous and hateful.”

Naturally, Ahmadinejad’s words also sparked the usual shock and horror from the usual people, the same people who still insist that (1) Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and (2) believe that such a comment constituted a direct threat of military action against the superpower-backed, nuclear-armed state of Israel.

Without delving into the persistent myths and deliberate falsehoods surrounding that particular talking point (one that has beensufficiently debunked countless times though obviously never seems to cut through the hasbara) or seeking to justify anything said by Ahmadinejad, a few things should be noted:

First: While Associated Press described Ahmadinejad’s comment as “one of his sharpest attacks yet against the Jewish state,” which seemed to indicate that this is the first time such language has been used, they failed to point out that Ahmadinejad has used this exact same phrase before.

After Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a “National and Islamic Solidarity for the Future of Palestine” conference in February 2010,Ha’aretz reported he had said that “the existence of ‘the Zionist regime’ is an insult to humanity, according to Iranian news agency IRNA.”

Later that year, he said the very same thing.

Second (and more important): The “insult to humanity” phrase was not coined by the Iranian President to describe a political power structure defined by demographic engineering,colonialismracism, and violence.

For example, a December 11, 1979 editorial in California’s Lodi News-Sentinel stated clearly, “Apartheid is an insult to humanity” and “must be ended.”

But the phrase has far deeper roots – roots with which the UN Secretary-General himself should be well acquainted.

joint declaration by 20 Asian and African countries issued to the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on October 1, 1963 called upon the agency to reject the membership of South Africa due to its racist and discriminatory regime of Apartheid.  It noted “with grave concern that the South African Government continues stubbornly to disregard all United Nations and Security Council resolutions and to maintain its apartheid policies in defiance of the United Nations General Assembly, of the Security, and consequently of the IAEA Statute.”

The declaration stated:

1. We condemn categorically the apartheid policies of the Government of South Africa, based on racial superiority, as immoral and inhuman;

2. We deprecate most strongly the South African Government’s irresponsible flouting of world opinion by its persistent refusal to put an end to its racial policies;

3. The apartheid policies of the Government of South Africa are a flagrant violation of the principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as being an insult to humanity.

The very first International Conference on Human Rights, held by the UN in (get this) Tehran from April 22 to May 13, 1968, “condemned the brutal and inhuman practice of apartheid,” “deplore[d] the Government of South Africa’s continuous insult to humanity,” and “declare[d] that the policy of apartheid or other similar evils are a crime against humanity.”

On February 15, 1995, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights adopted a resolution praising the end of “the era of apartheid in South Africa” which also reaffirmed that “apartheid and apartheid-like practices are an insult to humanity…”

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly reaffirmed “that the conclusion of an internal convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid would be an important contribution to the struggle against apartheid, racism, economic exploitation, colonial domination and foreign occupation” and, more specifically, the UN has affirmed time and again that “the inalienable rights of all peoples, and in particular…the Palestinian people, to freedom, equality and self-determination, and the legitimacy of their struggles to restore those rights.”

No one can accuse Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of having any affinity whatsoever for Zionism or the government of Israel.  Clearly he believes that Israel practices its own form of Apartheid against the Palestinian people.  And he is not alone.

Back in 1961, Hendrik Verwoerd, South Africa’s notoriously racist Prime Minister said, “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.”

In April 1976, just two months before the Soweto Uprising, South African Prime Minister (and known former Nazi sympathizer) John Vorster took an official state visit to Israel, where he was hosted by Israeli Prime Minster Yitzhak Rabin.  A number of friendship pacts and bilateral economic, military and nuclear agreements were signed.  At a banquet held in Vorster’s honor, Rabin hailed “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence” and praised Vorster as a champion of freedom.  Both Israel and South Africa, Rabin said, faced “foreign-inspired instability and recklessness.”

Vorster lamented that both South Africa and Israel were victims of the enemies of Western civilization.  Only a few months later, an official South African Government’s document reinforced this shared predicament: “Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”

Both Nelson MandelaArchbishop Desmond Tutu, and as well asmany other South Africa anti-Apartheid activists, have consistently called Israel an Apartheid state.

Michael Ben-Yair, Israel’s attorney general from 1993 to 1996, haswritten that following the Six Day War in June 1967,

We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one ‑ progressive, liberal ‑ in Israel; and the other ‑ cruel, injurious ‑ in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.

That oppressive regime exists to this day.

Avraham Burg, Israel’s Knesset Speaker from 1999 to 2003 and former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has longdetermined that “Israel must shed its illusions and choose between racist oppression and democracy,” insisting the only way to maintain total Jewish control over all of historic Palestine would be to “abandon democracy” and “institute an efficient system of racial separation here, with prison camps and detention villages.” He has also called Israel “the last colonial occupier in the Western world.”

Yossi Sarid, who served as a member of the Knesset between 1974 and 2006, has written of Israel’s “segregation policy” that “what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck – it is apartheid.”

Yossi Paritzky, former Knesset and Cabinet minister, writing about the systematic institutionalization and legalization of racial and religious discrimination in Israel, stated that Israel does not act like a democracy in which “all citizens regardless of race, religious, gender or origin are entitled to equality.”  Rather, by implementing more and more discriminatory laws that treat Palestinians assecond-class citizens, “Israel decided to be like apartheid‑era South Africa, and some will say even worse countries that no longer exist.”

Shulamit Aloni, another former Knesset and Cabinet member, haswritten that “the state of Israel practices its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.”

In 2008, the Association of Civil Rights in Israel released its annual human rights report which found that the dynamic between settlers, soldiers and native Palestinians in the occupied West Bank was “reminiscent, in many and increasing ways, of the apartheid regime in South Africa.”

Ehud Olmert, when he was Prime Minister, told a Knesset committee meeting, “For sixty years there has been discrimination against Arabs in Israel. This discrimination is deep‑seated and intolerable” and repeatedly warned that if “we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”

Ehud Barak has admitted that “[a]s long as in this territory west of the Jordan river there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic.  If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Shlomo Gazit, former member of Palmach, an elite unit of the Haganah, wrote in Ha’aretz that “in the present situation, unfortunately, there is no equal treatment for Jews and Arabs when it comes to law enforcement. The legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.”

Last summer, Knesset minister Ahmed Tibi told the Jerusalem Postthat “keeping the status quo will deepen apartheid in Israel as it did in South Africa,” while Gabriela Shalev, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, told The Los Angeles Times last year that, in terms of public opinion of Israel, “I have the feeling that we are seen more like South Africa once was.”

Council on Foreign Relations member Stephen Roberts, after returning from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, wrote in The Nation that “Israel has created a system of apartheid on steroids, a horrifying prison with concrete walls as high as twenty-six feet, topped with body-ravaging coils of razor wire.”

In April 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu’s own nephew, Jonathan Ben Artzi wrote that Israel’s “policies of segregation and discrimination that ravaged (and still ravage) my country and the occupied Palestinian territories” undoubtedly fit the definition of Apartheid.

Linguist, cultural anthropologist, and Hebrew University professor David Shulman wrote in May 2012 in The New York Review of Books that there already exists “a single state between the Jordan River and the sea” controlled by Israel and which fits the definition of an “ethnocracy.”  He continues,

Those who recoil at the term “apartheid” are invited to offer a better one; but note that one of the main architects of this system, Ariel Sharon, himself reportedly adopted South African terminology, referring to the noncontiguous Palestinian enclaves he envisaged for the West Bank as “Bantustans.”

These Palestinian Bantustans now exist, and no one should pretend that they’re anything remotely like a “solution” to Israel’s Palestinian problem. Someday, as happened in South Africa, this system will inevitably break down.

Whether those who get hysterical over Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric agree with the above assessments – many of which were made by prominent Israeli and Jewish politicians, officials, and academics – is irrelevant.  It’s clear that Ahmadinejad himself would agree.

Consequently, his reference to Israel (which he sees as an Apartheid state) as an “insult to humanity” (which repeats the same verbiage used repeatedly by the United Nations itself) appears to be far less inflammatory then the outrage that followed would suggest.

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ISRAEL / IRAN: POINTS OF NO RETURN

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.
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Points of No Return, Zones of Immunity, & Windows of Opportunity: The Constant Israeli Hype Over Iran

Nima Shirazi*

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“For the greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”

- President John F. Kennedy, June 1962

“Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions…The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed; he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation.”

- Jacques Ellul, 1965

A report in The Times of London, with the headline “Israel steps up plan for air attacks on Iran”, enumerates the various “options” and “military contingency plans” available to the Israeli military in order to “neutralise” Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme.”  Journalist Christopher Walker writes that Israeli “[m]ilitary planners are studying” the possibility of “hitting Iranian missile plants…with the ‘long arm’ of its airforce or targeting foreign scientists at the facilities rather than the buildings themselves.”  He adds that “surgical air strikes” would be carried out by “advanced F-15I fighter planes.”

The piece also quotes the Israeli Defense Minister as warning, “A country like Iran possessing such long range weaponry – a country that lacks stability, that is characterised by Islamic fundamentalism, by an extremist ideology that is striving to become a superpower in the Middle East – is very dangerous.”

Another alarming article, this one in The Washington Times, begins this way:

Reports that Israel is preparing for pre-emptive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and is now able to fire nuclear missiles from submarines were seen as reflecting deep anxiety in Israel for Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israeli newspapers said officials appear to have leaked the reports in an attempt to focus the attention of the international community on the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons development.

In The New York Times, Hebrew University professor Martin van Creveld writes of the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, explaining, “With the United States now in the midst of a hotly disputed election campaign,” if the Israeli Prime Minister “wanted to act, the time to do so would be between now and November.”

The first report is from December 9, 1997.  The second from October 13, 2003.  The third was published on August 21, 2004.

It is now August 2012.  Another election cycle is nearing an end and with it as always comes the same tired fearmongering and war hysteriaThreats and predictions of an unprovoked, illegal Israeli assault on Iran are once again flooding the media with dire warnings of fabricated and meaningless – but sufficiently spooky – phrases such as Iran’s supposedly loomingzone of immunity,” which until recently was ominously dubbed thepoint of no return.”  We’ve been through this charade for three decades with no end in sight.

Early this month, Israeli national security adviser Ephraim Halevy, who was once director of Mossad, was quoted as saying that if he were Iranian he “would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”  Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats continue to assert that the Islamic Republic has no intention of attacking Israel.  “We will react if there is any provocative act from the other side,” Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporter Laura Rozen just a month ago. “We will not initiate any provocative steps.”

Iran’s defense doctrine has been reaffirmed at the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community.  Earlier this year, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ronald Burgess told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his agency continues to assess that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”

On the very same day that the editors of the New York Daily News took their cues from Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren to warn that “Tehran is on the verge of being able to produce a bomb,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Council maintained that U.S. intelligence “continue[s] to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”

Last week, reliable Netanyahu administration mouthpiece Barak Ravid reported in Ha’aretz that “[n]ew intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had previously realized.”  He also published an article claiming that “President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel’s view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability,” adding that the alleged report contains “new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Not only was Ravid’s reporting – tactlessly and transparently planted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barakfull of evidence-free claims by the MEK and over-hyped falsehoods about a secret detonation chamber and atomic particles washed away from an Iranian military installation legally off-limits to IAEA inspectors that have long been debunked, it’s main scoop was immediately denied by the Obama administration.  In response to Ravid’s claims, Reuters reported a National Security Council spokesman as saying that “U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.”  Both the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess have consistently assessed that Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Essentially confirming suspicions that he was the source of Ravid’s information, Ehud Barak told Israel Radio,  “There probably really is such an American intelligence report…making its way around senior offices” in Washington that, “makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability.”

That’s right: probably really.

Ehud Barak even resorted to totally inapplicable and inappropriate historical analogies to anonymously fear-monger about Iran.  Utilizing the ultimate in Zionist emotional blackmail and hasbara, Barak evoked the threat of Nazi Germany: “What happened in the Rhine in 1936 will be child’s play compared to what will happen with Iran,” he declared.

Seemingly responding to former Mossad head Meir Dagan’s January 2011 determination that Israel “should use military force only if it is attacked, or if it has ‘a sword at its neck,'” Barak also pulled the phony, back-up-against-a-corner, self-defense card: “The sword at our throat is a lot sharper than the sword at our throat before the Six-Day War,” he told Ha’aretz.

Neither of these claims makes any sense.  That Iran is not the industrialized, military powerhouse that Nazi Germany was, nor does it have any expansionist or genocidal goals, hardly merits attention.  With regard to the Six-Day War, Barak is hoping his audience knows nothing of history.  The Israeli attack on Egypt that began the war was not a preemptive act of self-defense, but rather an aggressive military action.  Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin even admitted in 1982, “In June 1967 we again had a choice.  The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us.  We must be honest with ourselves.  We decided to attack him.”

Speaking to reporters on August 10, White House spokesman Jay Carney revealed that, with regard to U.S. intelligence on the Iranian nuclear energy program, “we have eyes, we have visibility into the program, and we would know if and when Iran made a — what’s called a ‘breakout move’ towards acquiring a weapon.”

Furthermore, Carney bragged about his administration’s deliberate imposition upon the Iranian people of “the most stringent sanctions ever imposed on any country,” which he said are “designed to take advantage of what we believe remains to be a window of opportunity to persuade Iran through these sanctions and through diplomatic efforts to forego its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

Window of opportunity. Zone of immunity.  Point of no return.  All options on the table.  Credible military threat.

Such hype, based on dubious claims and false information, is nothing new when it comes to American and Israeli warmongering.  For instance, a CBS News report from August 18, 2002 stated, “Israeli intelligence officials have gathered evidence that Iraq is speeding up efforts to produce biological and chemical weapons, said [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon aide Ranaan Gissin.”  The article quotes Gissin: “Any postponement of an attack on Iraq at this stage will serve no purpose.  It will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction.”

Similarly, this past weekend, The New York Times reported that Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called upon the P5+1 (the five nuclear-armed permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) to “declare today that the talks [with Iran] have failed” and demand Iran cease all nuclear activity within a matter of “weeks.”  When Iran obviously does not comply, as such a demand is ludicrous and a direct abrogation of Iran’s inalienable rights, Ayalon said “it will be clear that all options are on the table.”

The threats of war come not only from politicians, but also – as it has before – from pundits and the press.

In a memorandum highlighting a particularly alarmist and dishonest speech delivered by Vice President Dick Cheney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention on August 26, 2002, neoconservative rainmaker Bill Kristol wrote, “The time for action grows near. Congressional leaders should seriously consider a resolution authorizing use of force when they return next week. Passing such a resolution as soon as possible would provide the president with maximum flexibility and an opportunity for tactical surprise, would strengthen his hand vis-a-vis our allies, and might embolden internal opposition in Iraq.”

Nearly a decade later, a Weekly Standard opinion piece published July 2, 2012 and co-authored by Kristol declared, “Time is running out and the consequences of inaction for the United States, Israel, and the free world will only increase in the weeks and months ahead. It’s time for Congress to seriously explore an Authorization of Military Force to halt Iran’s nuclear program.”

The repetition of rhetoric advocating military violence in the form of initiating a “war of aggression” – long considered “the supreme international crime” – has never been limited only to neoconservative hawks.  For example, the warmongering of so-called “liberal” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen is virtually indistinguishable from that of Kristol.

In February 2003, following Colin Powell’s dazzling display of lies before the United Nations Security Council, Cohen wrote that Iraq “without a doubt” maintained an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Such was Cohen’s certainty that he added, “Only a fool — or possibly a Frenchman — could conclude otherwise.”

This year, Cohen has been at it again, this time arguing that Israel has good reason to attack Iran, claiming that, while “the ultimate remedy is Iranian regime change,” which Cohen insists is “not as improbable as it sounds,” in the meantime, an Israeli assault “could accomplish quite a lot.”  His reasoning is based on a total misunderstanding of historical events, wholesale contempt for international law, blind acceptance of selective Israeli and American allegations, and willfully ignoring consistently reaffirmed assessments of U.S. intelligence and IAEA inspections.

Inexplicably, this man still has a job.

As it was, so it is again.  An incumbent president is in full campaign mode and a challenger is pledging eternal fealty to Israeli militarism and Zionist expansionism.  Such was 2004, so it is again.  And through it all, the Israeli government, despite making its preferences clear, feigns neutrality.

In a September 7, 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared, “I don’t interfere in elections. I never interfere in elections in other countries, and I hope that they will never interfere here either. I have no need to interfere and it is forbidden to interfere.”  He added, “It is no secret that the US is Israel’s devoted friend. There is a traditional friendship between the US and Israel. It is mutual.”

In a letter to The New York Times published on April 12, 2012, Israeli ambassador Michael Oren wrote, “Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States…and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America.”

And yet Oren continues to insist that the Israeli clock “is ticking faster” and claims “Israel, not the United States, is threatened almost weekly, if not daily, with annihilation by Iranian leaders.”  He declares diplomacy dead and suggests “that truly crippling sanctions together with a credible military threat – and that I stress, that’s a threat; not that we just say that it’s credible, the folks in Tehran have to believe us when we say that – may still deter them. But we also have to be prepared, as President Obama has said, to keep all options on the table, including a military option.”

Oren’s explicit call for not only collective punishment but a “credible military threat” – echoing the demands of his boss Netanyahu – is in fact a direct violation of the Chapter 1, Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter which declares, “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Nevertheless, the threats and speculations continue unabated with Israel always residing safely within its own zone of impunity.  Though highly-credentialed foreign policy experts, in addition to many military and defense officials, warn against the wisdom of an Israeli attack, rarely – if ever – does anyone explain that such action would unequivocally constitute a war crime.  This same scenario repeats year after year.

In his 1997 book Open Secrets: Israeli Foreign and Nuclear Policies, Holocaust survivor and Israeli professor Israel Shahak wrote,

Since the spring of 1992, public opinion in Israel is being prepared for the prospect of a war with Iran, to be fought to bring about Iran’s total military and political defeat. In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would ‘persuade’ the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence. (p.54)

We’ve been seeing exactly this situation play out with increasing frequency.  Last summer, Ha’aretz reporter Ari Shavit, this regarding the constant Israeli “threat of a military attack against Iran,” wrote:

This threat is crucial for scaring the Iranians and for goading on the Americans and the Europeans. It is also crucial for spurring on the Chinese and the Russians. Israel must not behave like an insane country. Rather, it must create the fear that if it is pushed into a corner it will behave insanely. To ensure that Israel is not forced to bomb Iran, it must maintain the impression that it is about to bomb Iran.

Yet the Iranian government isn’t falling for the bluff, despite the fact that, with inhumane sanctions, the murders of Iranian civilians, drone surveillance, covert operations, support for Iranian terrorist groups,  and continuing cyberwar, the United States and Israel are already violating Iranian sovereignty and imposing lethal violence and forced deprivation on the Iranian people and their country.

But even an air strike, let alone a full-scale war, won’t happenProbably really.

Aboard Air Force One last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that “the President remains committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and that we are leading an international effort to — yes, something exciting happened in soccer.  Sorry, excuse me, now I’m distracted.”

Carney had the right idea.  We should all be so distracted.

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ROMNEY SUPPORTED BY A COALITION OF RIGHT WING ZIONISTS AND ISLAMOPHOBES

Included in this coalition are some mainstays of the Republican Jewish world, like Eric Cantor, Dan Senor and Mel Sembler. But one of the “honorary chairmen” of the coalition is a relative newcomer to the national stage who has attracted attention from the right over the past few years: Adam Hasner. Hasner is running for Congress in Florida this year.
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Chairman of ‘Jewish Americans for Romney’ says Jews have ‘superior’ claims to land

by Alex Kane 
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Geller
Adam Hasner, chairman of the “Jewish Americans For Romney” coalition, poses with anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller (Photo: Atlas Shrugs)
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On the heels of Mitt Romney’s jaunt to Israel, the Romney presidential campaign announced a “Jewish Americans For Romney Coalition,” the latest attempt to hammer away at President Obama’s record on Israel.

Included in this coalition are some mainstays of the Republican Jewish world, like Eric Cantor, Dan Senor and Mel Sembler. But one of the “honorary chairmen” of the coalition is a relative newcomer to the national stage who has attracted attention from the right over the past few years: Adam Hasner. Hasner is running for Congress in Florida this year.

Earlier this week, Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald spotlighted Hasner’s record of Islamophobia. And fittingly enough, Hasner is also an ardent right-wing Zionist–another example of how anti-Muslim sentiment finds a home in expansionist Zionism.

First, the Islamophobia. Seitz-Wald highlights Hasner’s close relationship with a figure who should be toxic to any politician who is near her: Pamela Geller. Sadly, that’s not the case in this context, Hasner is proud of his friendship with Geller. Geller, too, is proud: she wrote yesterday on her blog that she “enthusiastically supports” Hasner.

Here’s more on Hasner’s Islamophobia from Salon:

As the Florida Independent noted in September of last year, Hasner has been involved in a “long-time crusade against the supposed threat of Sharia in the U.S.” In 2009, he appeared on a panel in D.C. with Geller and Frank Gaffney, the man behind Bachmann’s with hunt, according to a press release unearthed by the liberal research group American Bridge. Robert Spencer, another key figure in the Islamophobia cottage industry, called Hasner a “fearless truth teller” (here’s a photo them posing together via Spencer’s blog, Jihad Watch).

Before that, Hasner invited notorious Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders to Florida. “When I invited Geert Wilders to join me for a Free Speech conference in Palm Beach County, not only did the hotel cancel its plans to have him come in, but I was the one who was asked by the Hamas front group, the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations, to resign from the Florida House of Representatives, because I was an Islamophobe and a hater,” he said in the Fort Lauderdale speech. Wilders has made crusading against Islam his top priority. He was under house arrest for hate speech in Holland and is barred from visiting several countries.

Now, the right-wing Zionism. There are endless examples, but one particularly egregious comment Hasner made came in an article he wrote for Town Hall, a conservative website. “Israel is neither an aggressor nor an occupier. The Jews’ legal, religious, historical, and moral rights to the Land are superior to those of the Palestinian-Arabs. Nevertheless, they have always shown a willingness to share with the Arabs,” the politician wrote.

In other words, Hasner has no qualms about the notion that Jews should have more rights than Palestinians. In fact, he’s proud of that. At least he’s honest.

Hasner’s prominent position in the Romney campaign’s attempt to curry favor with Jewish donors and voters is the latest whistle to the anti-Muslim crowd in the Republican Party. There’s J. Philip RosenWalid Phares; and now Hasner. As Deepa Kumar wrote on Mondoweiss last week, the latest version of the GOP’s “Southern Strategy”–stoking anti-Muslim sentiment for votes–is in full swing

 

 

Written FOR

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