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‘Israel’s’ lobbyists pushing hard for another war in the Middle East

by Jeremy Salt – Ankara, source

Two million refugees out of Syria, some of them Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and some Iraqi refugees from 2004.  They are the consequences of war and yet the raging beast that is devouring the Middle East is still not satiated. Another war looms. Another country already devastated is to be shattered by missile attacks. Who wants this war: who could want it?  Who could even think of avenging the dead by calling for more killing?

It is not the people of the world.  All polls show they are against it.  Not just the people of Latin America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and China but the American people, the British people, the French people and the Turkish people. It is only the politicians who want this war: Obama, Kerry, Hagel, McCain and others in the US; Cameron and Hague in Britain; Hollande in France; and Erdogan in Turkey. None of them has any proof of their accusation that the Syrian army used chemical weapons around Damascus, but proof is beside the point. Their Muslim contras have failed to destroy the government in Damascus and now in the chemical weapons attack they have their pretext for doing the job themselves.

The US administration is now deciding how long this attack should last. Should it be a few days, or a few months? Should it be aimed at just punishing the ‘regime’ or should it be aimed at destroying it altogether, which seems to be the emerging consensus? They are talking this over confidently, almost nonchalantly, McCain playing poker on his mobile phone because he is so bored, as though  their  missile attacks on other countries have lulled them into thinking that their military power is so great  they could not possibly be hurt themselves.

Erdogan wants a ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial campaign.  In 1999, NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 ‘sorties’ over Yugoslavia, of which number 10,484 were strike attacks. Operation Allied Force lasted for 78 days, not the 30 days claimed by Kerry when being questioned by the Senate committee which finally voted for war on Syria. In 2011 NATO launched Operation Unified Protector against Libya ‘to protect the people from attack or threat of attack.’ This particular  ‘operation’ lasted for seven months, during which 26,500 ‘sorties’ were flown, 9700 of them strike sorties.  Even the National Transitional Council, the incoming government after the destruction of the government in Tripoli, said 25,000 people had been killed. A similar operation over Syria, a country much better able to defend itself, and with powerful allies besides, would cause enormous further destruction and the death of many thousands of people. This is the meaning of ‘Kosovo-style’ aerial warfare.  In fact, what is shaping up is even worse, an air war that will have more in common with Iraq than the bombing of Yugoslavia. The targets and objectives are being expanded all the time.

Saudi Arabia has no politicians and no public opinion polls which would tell us what the Saudi people think of their government and its role in the destruction of Syria. The only country in which the government and the people are clearly united in their support for an attack on Syria is Israel. Polls show that nearly 70 per cent of  Jewish Israelis – Palestinians are fully against it – are in favor of the US striking Syria, while thinking that Israel should stay out unless Syria or Hezbollah retaliate with strikes against Israeli targets. The British vote against war and Obama’s hesitation forced Israel and its lobbyists in the US to break cover, ending the silly pretense that Israel is not involved in Syria and does not really care who wins. David Horowitz, the former editor of the Jerusalem Post, wrote an infuriated piece about  ‘how a perfect storm of British ineptitude and gutlessness sent the wrong message to the butcher of Damascus and left Israel more certain than ever that it can rely only on itself.’ The novelist Noah Beck accused Obama of being spineless. Others in the media called him weak and unreliable.  By ‘blinking’, he had sent a dangerous message to ‘cruel regimes’ and terrorists everywhere. Debkafile, an outlet for disinformation and other scrapings from the floor of Israeli intelligence, echoed this line. Obama’s   ‘about turn’ had let Iran, Syria and Hezbollah ‘off the hook ’, creating a ‘military nightmare’ for Israel, Jordan and Turkey.

The same lines of attack and support were duplicated by Israel’s formal and informal lobbyists in the US.  Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post sneered at Obama for hesitating: ‘Perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus’. Wrote William Kristol in the Weekly Standard: ‘Is President Obama going wobbly on Syria? No. He’s always been wobbly on Syria – and on pretty much everything else … the worst outcome would be for Obama not to call Congress back or not to act at all but to falter and retreat. For his retreat would be America’s retreat and his humiliation America’s humiliation.’ Kristol’s stablemate, Thomas Donnelly, thought Obama content ‘‘to see Assad kill his own people – which he has done in the tens if not hundreds of thousands – as long as Assad doesn’t use chemical weapons’. Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times that the most likely option for Syria was partition, ‘with the pro-Assad, predominantly Alawite Syrians controlling one region and the Sunni and Kurdish Syrians controlling the rest.’ The fragmentation of Syria on ethno-religious lines, of course, has been a Zionist objective for decades. No mention by Friedman of the Druze,  but never mind that:  in the interim,  America’s best option is not the launching of Cruise missiles ‘but an increase in the training and arming of the Free Syrian Army – including the antitank and antiaircraft weapons it’s long sought.’ Friedman thought this might increase the influence on the ground of the ‘more moderate groups over the jihadist ones.’

At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the entire stable was off and running. ‘Forget the red line and engage in Syria,’ wrote David Schenker, as if the US has not been intensely engaged in Syria for the past three years, fomenting the violence which has built up to the present catastrophic situation.  Wrote Robert Satloff: ‘Given the strategic stakes at play in Syria which touches [sic.] on every key American interest in the region, the wiser course of action is to take the opportunity of the Assad regime’s flagrant violation of global norms to take action that hastens the end of Assad’s regime … this will also enhance the credibility of the president’s commitment to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability.’ Michael Herzog thought the US could learn from Israeli air attacks on Syria: ‘In Israel’s experience Assad has proven to be a rational (if ruthless) actor. He was deterred from responding to recent and past strikes because he did not want to invite the consequences of Israeli military might. Therefore, the United States has a good chance of deterring him as well.’

In Commentary, Max Boot called on the US to use air power in cooperation with ground action by ‘vetted’ rebel forces to ‘cripple and ultimately bring down Assad’s regime, making impossible further atrocities such as the use of chemical weapons.’ How these forces are to be ‘vetted’ and how they, rather than the Islamist groups who are doing most of the fighting, could bring down the ‘regime’  Boot does not say, most probably because he doesn’t know. Daniel Pipes, the long-term advocate of Israeli violence in the Middle East, writing in National Review online, wanted not a ‘limited’ strike but something that would do real damage and brings the ‘regime’ down.

Outside these journals and the think tanks, former ‘government advisers’ and ‘foreign policy experts’  signed a petition calling for ‘direct military strikes against the pillars of the Assad regime’.  Many of the names will be familiar from the Project for the New American Century and plans laid long ago for a series of wars in the Middle East: Elliott Abrams, Fouad Ajami, Gary Bauer, Max Boot, Ellen Bork, Eliot A. Cohen, Paula Dobriansky, Thomas Donnelly, Douglas Feith, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Bernard-Henri Levy, Michael Makovsky, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Karl Rove, Randy Scheunemann, Leon Wieseltier and Radwan Ziadeh.

AIPAC and the Jewish organizations piled the pressure on Congress and the White House. AIPAC’s statement on Syria stressed the sending of a ‘forceful message of resolve to Iran and Hizbullah’ at a time ‘Iran is racing towards obtaining nuclear capability.’ The Politico website quoted unnamed AIPAC officials as saying that ‘some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon … they are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress’. Their ‘stepped-up involvement’ comes at a welcome time for the White House, wrote the Politico correspondent, given its difficulty in securing support for the resolution. The two top Republican leaders in the Senate, minority leader Mitch McConnell and minority whip John Comyn, had already been urged ‘by top Jewish donors and AIPAC allies’ to back the war resolution.

The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations called for an attack that would demonstrate ‘accountability’ to ‘those who possess weapons of mass destruction, particularly Iran and Hezbollah.’ Morris Amitay of the pro-Israel Washington Political Action Committee thought that ‘for our [United States] credibility we have to do something.’ Bloomberg reported the Republican Jewish Coalition as sending an ‘action alert’ to its 45,000 members ‘directing them to tell Congress to authorize force.’ The same message of support for an attack was sent out by the National Jewish Democratic Council and   Abe Foxman of the so-called Anti-Defamation League, who stressed that while ‘he’s not doing this for Israel,’ the attack may have  serious consequences for Israel.

With the exception of the Foxman statement, these organizations carefully kept any mention of Israel out of their public statements. In off the record discussions, however, it was the central concern. On August 30 Obama had a conference call with 1000 rabbis, with Syria, ‘at the White House’s request,’ according to Bloomberg, being the first question asked. Iran was not mentioned either but, said a leading rabbi from New York, ‘we have a strong stake in the world taking seriously our insistence that weapons of mass destruction should not proliferate’. Bloomberg quoted Obama as ‘arguing’ that ‘a military response is necessary to uphold a longstanding international ban on the use of chemical weapons use and to deter Assad from using them again on his own people or such neighbors as Israel and Jordan.’ Of course, this was not an argument at all but Obama telling the rabbis what they wanted to hear. In a separate approach, 17 leading rabbis ‘covering the religious and political spectrum’, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, sent a letter to Congress calling on it to authorize force against Syria. The language could scarcely be more Orwellian: ‘Through this act, Congress has the capacity to save   thousands of lives.’

Another conference call was held between representatives of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and White House deputy national security advisors Tony Blinken and Ben Rhodes. The representatives waited until Blinken and Rhodes were ‘off the call’ before advising constituent organizations ‘not to make their statements ‘Israel-centric’,’ according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. A powerful figure wheeled out by the lobby is Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who funds settlement in Jerusalem and on the West Bank and spent (along with his wife) $93 million trying to see Obama defeated in the presidential election last year. Adelson is a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and supports the pressure it is putting on Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria.

The carefully crafted outlines of this deceitful campaign are very evident:

1. This is not about Israel
2. This is about America’s national interest.
3. This is about punishing a government which has used chemical weapons on its own people.
4. This is about saving lives
5. This is about a government that has no respect for international law and norms.
6. This is about sending a ‘forceful message of resolve to Hezbollah and Iran.’
7. This is about showing that Obama’s red lines are not empty threats.

Obama’s own ‘full court press strategy’ includes interviews with six television anchors ahead of the congressional vote. The moment Obama said everything AIPAC wanted to hear during the primaries was the moment he took the first step into the tight corner in which he now finds himself. This is now a global confrontation with a lot at stake besides Israel’s interests, but it is pushing as hard as it can to make sure this war goes ahead.  Like David Cameron, a congressional vote against war will allow Obama to back out of the corner by saying that the American people have spoken and he cannot take them into war against their wishes. Will he do that, or is really going to plunge his country into war irrespective of what Congress or the American people think? By the end of the coming week we should have the answer.

Israel lobby threatens freedom of speech in Germany

Despite lobby pressure, German solidarity with Palestine continues. (Photo: Sabine Utopia/Palestine Chronicle)

by Dr. Ludwig Watzal – Bonn, source

Due to the pressure from the “Israel lobby”, events and exhibitions about Palestine can hardly take place in Germany anymore. The pro- Zionist “Israel lobby” is well organized. When an event is announced publicly, perfectly organized machinery is set in motion, which exercises massive pressure on those who provide the premises for a Palestinian event. Consequently, it has become almost impossible to have an open debate about Israel’s policy towards the Palestinian people and the Zionist colonization in Palestine.

The latest “success” of this lobby was garnered in Berlin. The cultural department of the Iranian Embassy in Berlin wanted to organize a conference entitled “Palestine – Peace based on justice” on Friday, August 16, 2013 at the educational institution “Urania”. All formalities were cleared. Speakers were committed among them the journalist Petra Wild who just published a book entitled “Apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestine: The Zionist settler colonialism in word and deed”,  the film-makers Stefanie Landgraf and Johannes Gulde who’s film “We refuse to be enemies” was highly acclaimed but also defamed by the lobby in cooperation with one of the cities deputy majors in Nuremberg, Dr. Gabi Weber who runs the organization “Café Palestine” in Freiburg, Raif Hussein, the chairman of the German-Palestine society, and Dr. Yavuz Özoguz who operates the website “Muslim Market” who is also regularly defamed. Why was not Ilan Pappe or Felicia Langer invited?

Because of the pressure from the “Israel lobby”, the director of “Urania”, Dr. Ulrich Bleyer, unceremoniously pulled back from an already given commitment. Adding his voice of that to the usual suspects, the chairman of the German-Israeli Society, Reinhold Robbe (SPD), wrote a letter to Bleyer in which he not only misquoted the newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani, but also linked this misquotation to the unspeakable crimes committed by the Nazi regime against the Jews. In this case, the “Israel lobby” restored even to lies in order to blackmail an institution to renege on its existing commitments.

Dr. Bleyer, visibly giving in to the pressure, wrote inter alia to the Iranian Embassy: “The program and the research on the speakers can clearly expect that our statutory goal of international understanding, which is also defined in the terms of our agreements as a condition of hire is not respected.” Why didn’t the director of “Urania” inform himself beforehand about the speakers? He further was afraid that the speakers could challenge “Israel’s right to exist” and legitimize terrorism as “a form of resistance against an occupying power”. Dr. Bleyer wrote that he expected a “large number of protesters”, and “that there will be clashes during the event or at the Urania.” The threats in the protest letters must have been so intimidating that he has canceled the event.

Cafe Palestine and Dr. Gabi Weber are increasingly in the crosshairs of this lobby, too. The lobby, for example, succeeded to prevent a lecture by Prof. Christophe Oberlin of the University of Paris on the topic “Plastic Surgery in Gaza” at the University of Freiburg. The lobby is always proceeding along the same pattern: Defame and put pressure on the institutions. “Café Palestine” was compelled to sue the University for bowing to the pressure to obtain cause.

Another object of attack by “Israel lobby” is the traveling exhibition “Nakba – flight and expulsion of Palestinians in 1948″, organized by the association “Refugee children in Lebanon”, and headed by Ms. Ingrid Rumpf. Organizers and local authorities are regularly subjected to by German-Jewish and Zionist organizations to prevent this exhibition. Their goal is to prevent public awareness of this crucial chapter in the history of the State of Israel. Claiming that the exhibition is one-sided, the lobby prefers to prohibit it than to engage in a rational debate regarding the subject-matter. In many cases, German institutions bow to the pressure of the “Israel lobby”.

The problem appears not so much to reside to the real power of the “Israel lobby” but rather in the submissiveness of the German side. If the lobby cannot rely on their uncritical support, they can easily refute because the lobby does not have real arguments.

Chas Freeman, a former U. S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and a respected scholar, was bullied by the “Israel lobby” before he could even take a job in the Obama administration. His blunt characterization of this lobby may also hold true for the lobby’s German branch: “The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, and the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.”

It is high time for the Germans to recognize that the commitment for freedom in Palestine has become a fight for our own freedom to inquire, know and express the truth.

Remarks at the UN international meeting on Palestine in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

by Cynthia McKinney, source

My name is Cynthia McKinney and I served as a Member of the U.S. Congress for 12 years. During my time in Congress, I strove to make respect for human rights a central feature in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. Amid minor successes, I have to say that my efforts while, broadly appreciated by many, failed miserably. That failure stems in part from the peculiarities of U.S. politics that allow policy formulation to deviate from and in many cases become diametrically opposed to the values of the people of the U.S. Sadly, what we in the U.S. call “special interests” are able to buy public policy by way of campaign contributions and misleading media campaigns. These “special interests” are aided and abetted in the U.S. by a concentrated media that has no obligation according to U.S. court decisions to tell the public the truth. In other words, U.S. media have won in U.S. court the right to knowingly lie to the people they ostensibly serve. I will briefly delve into this unusual and anti-”democratic” state of affairs now controlling in the U.S. once again before I conclude my remarks.

After my tenure in Congress, I became involved in international human rights activism. During Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (which was its war against Hamas and others), I joined with a group of human rights activists who tried to deliver medical supplies to the people of Gaza; the Israeli Military stopped us. While in international waters, an Israeli Defense Forces warship rammed the pleasure boat that I was on with the other volunteers, and totally destroyed our boat. Neither the medical supplies nor us volunteers reached Gaza.

Approximately six months later, we, the volunteers from the first thwarted effort, reassembled in order to make another attempt to reach Gaza by sea, traveling through international waters, with the hopes of entering into Palestine by way of Gaza’s territorial waters. By this time, Operation Cast Lead had ended, President Barack Obama had been sworn in, and he had appealed publicly for an easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Gazans had made an appeal for school supplies for the children still reeling from the trauma of three weeks of what the United Nations called “one of the most violent episodes in the recent history of the Palestinian territory.” So, some of us answered that call with school supplies for the children and building supplies for the adults so that Gaza could rebuild from the devastation after Operation Cast Lead. On this effort to answer a humanitarian call for help, I, along with 20 other volunteers, was kidnapped by the Israeli military while in international waters, our boat was seized, we were taken by an extremely circuitous route to Israel where we never intended to go, and I was incarcerated in an Israeli prison for 7 days. Sadly, what I witnessed while in Israeli prison pointed to Israel as an apartheid state and the gross mistreatment of, particularly, Ethiopian women who had been lured to the “Holy Land” for job opportunities that vaporized because they were not of the correct religion. In addition to that, my observation at the time was that Ethiopian Jews are used as an important pillar–even enforcer, ironically, of Israeli apartheid. I can expand on this aspect of my observations later if there are specific questions or requests for more information from this body or from individuals in attendance at this Conference.

Needless to say, for a second time, I was prevented from entering Gaza. Upon hearing of my ordeal, Member of Parliament George Galloway who was in Cairo leading “Viva Palestina USA,” contacted me and invited me to come to Cairo and enter Gaza by land, which I did. Upon entering Gaza, I was able to see the destruction inflicted on the people by Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. I scooped up a bit of the soil and put it in this container. Sadly, as noted in the Goldstone Report and admitted by the Israeli Defense Forces, this Gaza soil is probably contaminated with whatever remains of the chemicals that were used by the Israelis against the people of Gaza: chemicals ranging from white phosphorus to inert metals. And while I unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation in Congress to end the use of depleted uranium in U.S. munitions because of the health effects, the Goldstone Report mentions that allegations were made that Israel used depleted uranium during Operation Cast Lead, which also might be in this soil. The United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights is also aware that civilian targets were bombed and totally destroyed. I visited a few of those targets.

One stop on my private tour of the destruction in Gaza was the American International School and amid the rubble I spotted a bright yellow something that I couldn’t quite make out what it was. So, I climbed through the jutted shards of concrete and exposed rebar to retrieve the object. This is that object: an English language children’s art book stamped with the initials of the American International School in Gaza, “AISG.” I was standing in what was left of the School’s library.

Another stop on my tour of the effects of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead was a neighborhood school, not nearly as big and grand as the American School. There, I could see the path of one missile that blew a hole clear through several walls of the school. There were markings on the chalkboard, including the Star of David. I saw several cans of peanuts on the floor. This is one of them. It is written in Hebrew. The Israeli soldiers blew up the school and then sat down in its ruins and enjoyed peanuts and drew religious and political markings on the chalkboard.

Both boats that I was on were seized by the Israelis and destroyed by them. The humanitarian aid on the boats did not reach Gaza and only token aid was delivered by the land convoy to the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the bulk of it stranded in Egypt, not allowed into Gaza by the Egyptians or the Israelis.

What is amazing is not only that this happens over and over again, but that Israeli leaders who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, leave office, and are never held accountable for their policies., as was done by victims of Augusto Pinochet, and as is being done currently by the International Criminal Court. Another aspect of this impunity is that Israel continues to receive U.S. weapons and technology which it uses against civilians in contravention of U.S. law. As these weapons are used or become outdated, the U.S. replenishes Israel’s weapons stock every year.

One measure of this impunity is brought to bear by the pro-Israel Lobby that operates in the political sphere of the U.S. I am a former Member of Congress because pro-Israel sympathizers known as the “pro-Israel Lobby” ensured my ouster from Congress and that of many other Members of Congress who dared to try and draw attention to U.S. law, Israel’s human rights violations, Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons, or any other inconvenient facts that were better buried and left unknown.

What many of you might not know, because these things just aren’t discussed as widely as they should be, is that many of those Members of Congress who were put out of office by the pro-Israel Lobby were the stolen children of Africa, descendants of Africans trafficked in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. I will call the names of a few and tell you where you can find information about them as they tell their own stories:

· Gus Savage, Member of Congress from Chicago, Illinois was targeted for defeat by the pro-Israel Lobby because he dared to engage in foreign relations within the purview of a Member of Congress on the African Continent, in Egypt among other places. He recounted his ordeal on the Floor of the House of Representatives and revealed the secrets of the pro-Israel Lobby on the Congressional Record where students and others interested in this topic can find his words today.

· Earl Hilliard, Member of Congress from Birmingham, Alabama was the first Black Member of Congress to serve the people of Alabama since the U.S. Civil War’s Reconstruction Era. He was ejected from the Congress by the pro-Israel Lobby because he, like Gus Savage, traveled to Africa, and in particular to Libya. He also traveled to Lebanon and learned of new weapons for that time, that had been used there by Israel. For this transgression, Earl Hilliard had to go. He is interviewed in a Dutch documentary that is available on youtube where he describes the vicious campaign that was run against him by the pro-Israel Lobby.

· And then, there’s me. Just this month, I published a book entitled Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom, in which I describe just a few of the tactics that were used against me by the pro-Israel Lobby to destroy my career in Congress.

· These three political “take-downs” were very publicly done in order to send a message to others who might also be inclined to speak up out of moral conviction, as Savage, Hilliard, and I did.

· This weeding out also occurs on the local level with state and local elected officials like my father and others targeted for defeat because of the potential threat to the interests of the pro-Israel Lobby that they pose.

· In addition, on a public and private level, targeted individuals have to endure soft repression that makes life difficult. All of this needs to be put on the record if one is to fully understand the power of the pro-Israel Lobby and the pall that it casts on the political process in the U.S. and from what I have been told, also in Europe.

· Finally, the political landscape for Blacks in the U.S. is negatively affected by this weeding out process, because their strongest and most outspoken authentic leaders are vulnerable to the challenges from candidates that are well funded by outside “special interests.”

In light of this, I would like to put this thought to you: can you even imagine what U.S. policy would be like at the United Nations if the will of the people were carried out without the interference of the pro-Israel Lobby? The Durban World Conference Against Racism was a watershed that could be revisited time and time again with U.S. support and participation, except that powerful Lobbies want otherwise. I know, it’s hard to imagine things differently. But it is not hard for me and that is one vision that keeps me going: U.S. policy made in the image of the values of the people of the U.S. At a Conference whose theme is African solidarity with the Palestinian people, I thought it was important to mention not only how the pro-Israel Lobby skews politics in the U.S. against the Palestinians, but also against African-descendants inside the U.S.

I focus on this important aspect of policy-making by focusing on who gets to make the policy because I believe that this is one key reason why Palestinians are forced to suffer while, at best platitudes and delay, serve as the effective policies of the US and European countries.

The short version of this tragic story is that pro-Israel forces inside the U.S. are willing to use their money to buy political influence and protection for Israel across the political spectrum while the same cannot be said of pro-peace, pro-justice forces. I liken the situation to game day when one team shows up in beautiful new uniforms with all of the latest and best equipment, primed and ready to execute its strategy in the game of play, while the other team doesn’t even show up on the pitch. I believe that one remaining untested justice frontier is the political battleground in U.S. and European capitals. It is inside these essential capitals that pro-Israel Lobbies have become comfortable operating with very little opposition from the other side.

I am tired of losing when, I believe, we really do not have to lose. I fundamentally believe that the people of this world are good and want peace. I have spoken to Afghanis and Pakistanis, to Yemenis and to Somalis, Palestinians and Americans, and I find them to be peace-loving peoples.

So, how do we move from where we are to where we need to be? That is the fundamental question. I focus on the political because the political creates the legal. And the political creates impunity.

Just in my personal experiences, I have outlined breaches of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international law, and U.S. law by the occupying power: Israel.

I served as a juror on the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine that recently concluded its Sessions with a finding that both the U.S. and Europe are guilty of contributing to the atmosphere of impunity with which apartheid Israel carries out its policies against Palestinians and anyone who stands in its way.

I also recently served as an Official Observer as the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission received testimony from Palestinians on their treatment inside Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories.

Through my service with both of these organizations, I have met too many courageous Palestinians and Israelis who want to live peacefully with each other and who put their lives and their livelihoods on the line every day for peace and the rule of law. I do believe that much of the suffering could be alleviated if we would put sufficient energy and resources behind putting out in public view how the pro-Israel Lobby misdirects U.S. and European policies and prevents pro-peace and justice politicians from ever having the opportunity to put those values, along with our basic human dignity, permanently on the table for public debate.

Finally, I am not Palestinian. I am not Arab. I am not Muslim. But I am human. And that is enough for me to acknowledge the dignity of others who are oppressed and to epitomize what this Conference is all about: African Solidarity with the Palestinian People for the Achievement of its inalienable rights, including the sovereignty and independence of the State of Palestine.

Thank you.

The fiscal cliff and “Israel’s” appetite for US welfare funds

by Jamal Kanj, source

US legislators who regularly squabble over local spending, never fail Israel’s appetite for taxpayer’s largesse. Now they have another opportunity to show their servitude when considering bill H.R. 938 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013; a uniquely privileged status putting Israel’s welfare ahead of members of the US army.

Failing to agree on ways to reduce the deficit, the US president was forced earlier this month to enact the Budget Control Act (BCA) into law. The debt ceiling compromise was originally agreed to between Congress and the president in summer 2011. Known as sequestration, it forces across the board spending cuts by over $85 billion in 2013, increasing to $109bn thereafter reaching $1.5 trillion by 2021.

BCA cuts were divided equally between domestic and defence programmes. It was originally stipulated to take effect on January 1, 2013 but was delayed for two months to avoid the “fiscal cliff”.

Economists predicted the US economy would nosedive into recession if the compulsory budget cuts were combined with the expiration of the Bush tax breaks for the rich and increased payroll tax. Each of the two parties were hoping the results of the 2012 election would send a resounding message to the new leadership to settle the argument over the best approach to reduce US budget shortfall.

The election, however, put things back to pre-summer 2011 when it re-elected again one party for the executive branch and another, albeit weakened, remained leading the House of Representatives. The discretionary reduction in the defence covers areas such as weapon purchases, base operations, construction work, educational assistance to American soldiers, in addition to $168 million for security enhancement at US embassies.

The domestic cuts came from both mandatory and discretionary spending on low-income programmes ranging from aid for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Head Start for low-income children, “Meals-on-Wheels” for hungry seniors, unemployment trust fund to Social Security and Medicare. All in all, BCA could cost the US economy more than 750,000 jobs and over half a point from GDP growth.

It is certain when considering the impact of budget cuts on taxpayers neither political party gave much consideration to foreign beneficiaries. Not until now at least.

While American taxpayers became content with the painful cuts, Israel and its lobby were not. To the chagrin of Israeli firsters, sequestration stands to reduce Israel’s welfare cheque this year by more than $200m. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz expressed trepidation over the looming US budget constraints at the Israeli cabinet meeting on March 3 declaring: “the economic difficulties in the United States worry us. I hope that we will not be hurt by them”. Steinitz’s message was heard by America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Literally two days later, AIPAC massed thousands of Israeli firsters at its annual policy conference in Washington for this year’s mission. The inculcated lobbyists swarmed the Halls of US Congress readied with two-prong strategy:

– first urge US Senators to pass a resolution supporting an Israeli attack on Iran.

– second seek exemption of Israel’s $3.1bn as well as its extra $211m for the Iron Dome missile defence system from sequestration.

To do so, AIPAC solicitors contrived a clever approach to sidestep BCA by promoting a US legislation to designate Israel as a “major US strategic ally”. A status enjoyed by no other nation which will presumably save Israel’s aid from BCA axe.

Last week Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren echoed AIPAC’s objectives and in what sounded like lecturing US legislators, he warned in the Jerusalem Post: “This is no time to reduce critical assistance which would only result in greater and graver costs”. While BCA across the board cuts did not spare more than $40bn from America’s defence budget, the Israeli ambassador and AIPAC want elected officials to preserve US taxpayers’ funding for Israeli military budget. US legislators who regularly squabble over local spending, never fail Israel’s appetite for taxpayer’s largesse.

Now they have another opportunity to show their servitude when considering bill H.R. 938 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013; a uniquely privileged status putting Israel’s welfare ahead of members of the US army.

AIPAC’s doomsday conference

It’s the End of the World Again

by WILLIAM BLUM, source

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recent convention in Washington produced the usual Doomsday talk concerning Iran’s imminent possession of nuclear weapons and with calls to bomb that country before they nuked Israel and/or the United States. So once again I have to remind everyone that these people – Israeli and American officials – are not really worried about an Iranian attack. Here are some of their many prior statements:

In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.”

2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington”, reported the Washington Post(March 5), asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.”

In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, -pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”

January 2012: US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience:

“Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.”

Later that month we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts – the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz – all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”

Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:

Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?

Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.

In an April 20, 2012 CNN interview Barak repeated this sentiment: “It’s true that probably [Iranian leader] Khamenei has not given orders to start building a [nuclear] weapon.” 

And on several other occasions, Barak has stated: “Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel.” 

Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a January 2012 report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead.

So why, then, do Israeli and American leaders, at most other times, maintain the Doomsday rhetoric? Partly for AIPAC to continue getting large donations. For Israel to get massive amounts of US aid. For Israeli leaders to win elections. To protect Israel’s treasured status as the Middle East’s sole nuclear power.

Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:

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. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem.

AIPAC: “Israel’s” agent feeling squeezed?

by Franklin Lamb, Al Manar

The American Israel public affairs committee (AIPAC) has seen headier days according to US congressional staffers forced to work regularly with the pro-Zionist agent of Israel. The grip of fear and the lock on Congress that the Israel first organization has long touted in its service to Israel may be weakening against a backdrop of American Jews rejecting the increasing rants of Prime Minister Netanyahu that are driving many Jews to distance themselves from him, from AIPAC, from other Arabphobic US Zionist organizations, and from Israel.

AIPAC tells some Congressional aids that fund raising is hurting and it can’t keep promises it made to certain candidates that it would arrange “indirect” funding for their current election campaigns. Netanyahu is increasing becoming the butt of jokes across the Israeli and American political spectrum. Several in his cabinet and the US Congress reportedly view him as an embarrassment. A perception likely added to by his recent General Assembly cartoon gimmick and his repeated Nazi style arm and hand gestures that were widely distributed by the main stream American media outlets especially Reuters, AP and even the Zionist Drudge Report.

In addition, there are signs that some members of congress and their staffs, who are heavily lobbied by AIPAC to donate, are beginning to chaff at heavy handed AIPAC fundraising tactics.

Perhaps reflecting financial pressures on its free spending policies including astronomical administration costs, on 9/24/12, Jonathan Missner, AIPAC’s Director of National Affairs and Development sent out more 500,000 emails in a desperate and thinly veiled bid to raise cash to defeat Obama.

Wrote Missner:

Dear Friend of Israel:

I am writing because we have not yet heard from you, and your support is greatly needed by September 30th.

As I’m sure you know, Israel and America are now facing serious threats throughout the Middle East. In recent months alone we have seen:
• Protestors in multiple Arab countries storm U.S. embassies, burn American and Israeli flags, and chant “death to America, death to Israel,” amidst false reports that a video was created by an Israeli Jew and backed by 100 Jewish financiers.
• Iran sent military personnel and large quantities of weapons across to Syria to aid the Assad regime’s violent crackdown.
• A deadly terror attack along the Egypt-Israel border that killed 16 Egyptians and enabled terrorists to penetrate into Israel.
• Leaders in Iran and its regional proxies increased their vitriol against Israel. The frequency and intensity of these recent statements has been troubling: “Anyone who loves freedom and justice must strive for the annihilation of the Zionist regime.” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (August 17th).
• If you’re like most pro-Israel Americans, these events have made you more scared for Israel’s existence than you’ve likely felt in many years.
• But as you watch these dangers continue to unfold, it is important to remember there is something you can do to help keep Israel safe.
• You can join AIPAC, and help ensure that our leaders in Washington speak out clearly and unequivocally in support of Israel and that the aggressions shown toward our greatest ally Israel must immediately cease.
• At this dangerous time, the number one strategic answer to the threats facing Israel is for America to express – in every possible way- an unwavering, unshakable commitment to Israel.
• We must ensure that President Obama speaks out for Israel.
• We must ensure that America stands by its full commitment to Israel’s security assistance for fiscal year 2013, which is vital for Israel to be able to defend herself.
• And we must ensure that America continues to pledge 100% of its diplomatic support to Israel.
• We must do all of this, so that we can send a strong and loud message that America stands by Israel and that any attacks on Israel’s security is an attack on America’s security.”

AIPAC appears to be failing in carrying orders from the Israeli Embassy in Washington “to defeat Obama, whatever is required.” The latest polls, including two commissioned by the American Jewish Committee and one from the Anti-Defamation League shows Obama likely avoiding the defeat on November 6th that Tel Aviv hoped his combative attitude toward Israel would produce. Obama currently leads Mitt Romney by a 69-20 percent margin among likely Jewish voters. If these polls hold, while they represent a marked decline from the 78 percent of the Jewish vote Obama got in 2008, they show Romney’s promise to put Israel “first no matter what “ is not resonating with American Jews. By now even garnering 25% of the Jewish vote this shows there is plenty of resistance to Romney on a variety of domestic social issues that increasingly among the American public matter more that Israel’s zany schemes. The poll projections may have been reflected at the UN last week when Netanyahu appeared to back off a bit from his pillorying of the Obama administration as being weak on terrorism.

Meanwhile, according to an Arab American Institute poll, 52 percent of all Arab-Americans say they plan to vote for Obama, compared to 28 percent who have declared their support for Romney. Broken down by religion, Arab American Muslims support Obama overwhelmingly (75% to 8%), while Orthodox/Protestants support Romney by a 16% margin. According to the poll, Arab American Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin (46% to 22%), continuing a steady migration away from the GOP toward the Democratic Party since 2002.

Congressional staffers report that the Obama White House is rejecting the tactics being employed behind its back to assert pressure for the “red lines” that Netanyahu’s has been pushing and is aware that AIPAC is actively working to defeat President Obama on November 6th.

What is confusing much of the American Jewish community appears to be the same as what perplexes a growing segment of the non-Jewish American public. And that is Netanyahu’s nonsense over Iranian progress in having nuclear weapons and the history of this “the sky is falling-we must cry wolf!” canard.

It was back in April of 1984, that the British defense magazine Jane’s Defense Weekly got things started with its false claim that Iran was “engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years.”

Jane’s became embarrassed since it could offer no proof to back its sensationalist claim and soon admitted that its speculation was based on a West German intelligence source which turned out to be an assistant engineer who visited the unfinished Bushehr nuclear reactor that year and became curious. Soon, a pillar of the US Zionist US Senator Alan Cranston’s lobby picked up on the report and declared that Iran would have nuclear weapons by 1991.

The next year, Benjamin Netanyahu, a onetime campaign volunteer for Cranston, now an Israeli parliamentarian, began a campaign to inform the World that Iran could develop nuclear weapons within “three to five years” and therefore must be stopped through “an international front headed by the US.”

The current President of Israel Shimon Peres announced in 1992 that Iran would have nuclear weapons by 1999. As noted by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent, current Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in 1996 that Iran would have a nuclear arsenal by 2004.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joined the project and reported to Congress in 1998 that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear or a biological payload that could hit the US within five years. Secretary of State Colin Powell soon claimed in 2004 that if fact, Iran had been working on technology to fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile. These allegations boldly came from Powell’s less than one year after his Iraqi weapons of mass destruction assertions were being proven to be false.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joined the project and reported to Congress in 1998 that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear or a biological payload that could hit the US within five years. Secretary of State Colin Powell soon claimed in 2004 that if fact, Iran had been working on technology to fit a nuclear warhead onto a missile. These allegations boldly came from Powell’s less than one year after his Iraqi weapons of mass destruction assertions were being proven to be false.

The current President of Israel Shimon Peres announced in 1992 that Iran would have nuclear weapons by 1999. As noted by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent, current Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in 1996 that Iran would have a nuclear arsenal by 2004.

For his part, Netanyahu reportedly got into an ugly argument with the American ambassador to Israel last month over the Obama administration’s unwillingness to take matters regarding Iran to a more aggressive level. The Israeli prime minister was, according to the New York Times, “at his wit’s end” because, he claimed, Iran was “only four to six weeks away from a nuclear bomb”. A few weeks later, Netanyahu backtracked and pushed the deadline “to six or seven months away.”

And round and round it goes.

Congressional sources insist that White House staff will not forget Netanyahu’s blatant attempts to humiliate and defeat their boss.

The American public, as well as the international community are exhibiting exhaustion over this incessant hysteria which was summed up recently by Professor Stephen M. Walt, writing in Foreign Policy. “Those prophesying war with Iran are starting to sound like those wacky cult leaders who keep predicting the End of the World, and then keep moving the date when the world doesn’t end on schedule. At what point are we going to stop paying attention?”

One Congressional source emailed: “Time will tell if next year’s AIPAC conference finds President Obama or any of his top aides on its program.”

Franklin Lamb, former Assistant Counsel, US House Judiciary Committee and Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law in Oregon, earned his Law Degree at Boston University and his LLM, M.Phil., and PhD degrees at the London School of Economics. Following three years at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Lamb was visiting fellow at the Harvard Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center.

He is currently doing research in Lebanon and volunteers with the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign and the Sabra-Shatila Foundation. Lamb is the author of: Israel’s 1982 War in Lebanon: Eyewitness Chronicles of the Invasion and Occupation, South End Press, First Printing, 1983, International Legal Responsibility for the Sabra-Shatila Massacre, Imp. TIPE: 42, Rue Lebour 93100 Montreuil, Paris, France 1984, The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons in Lebanon (Lamont Press) 2007, His latest book, The Case for Palestinian Civil Rights in Lebanon, is due out shortly.

How the “Israel” lobby gets what It wants

Red Lines and Presidential Politics

by LAWRENCE DAVIDSON, source

Much is being made of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s involvement in the on-going American presidential campaign. His public stance has been characterized as an Israeli effort to “openly…topple [President] Obama.” The truth is that the only thing unusual about this meddling is its open and advertised nature. In a more discreet fashion, Zionist pressure bordering on blackmail and bribery goes on every day.

I have written elsewhere about this corrupting process that I call “lobbification.” In brief, this is how it operates:

Step One: A lobbyist, in this case someone from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), approaches Congresspersons or Senators. At some point in time that means every single one of them has been approached: all 435 voting members of Congress and every one of the 100 voting members of the Senate. Party affiliation is not an issue here.

Step Two: The lobbyist offers to organize financial campaign assistance, positive media coverage, briefings on situations in the Middle East, trips to Israel, etc.

Step Three: All that is asked in return is that the recipient consistently vote in a pro-Israel way. In other words, AIPAC wants the politician to surrender a part of his or her mind to the lobby — that part that might exercise critical and considered judgment on issues pertaining to Israel.

Step Four: There are several unspoken, but publicly acknowledged, consequences of turning down this offer, or alternatively, managing to get elected on your own and then voting the wrong way.

1. If you say no, the same offer will be made to your opponent both at the primary and general election levels.

2. If you are elected and vote against Israel, AIPAC will do all it can, sooner or later, to see you defeated. It has a good record of turning such people out of office.

Step Five: If you sign up for this Faustian bargain and are elected, the lobby becomes your permanent partner. It is a constant presence. Its agents are always hovering about, rating your performance, letting you know they are there. Prove yourself reliable and they will underwrite you for life.

The President and Red Lines

President Obama made this bargain as solidly as have most other politicians in Washington. You can witness him affirming and reaffirming this deal in front of AIPAC conventions, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly, on those rare occasions when he addresses the press, and whenever else he feels it is politically necessary. He was even willing to debase his own national party convention to make a point of his loyalty to the Israel lobby.

Yet all this has proven insufficient. The issue over which Obama has fallen short is Iran.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu (the deus ex machina of the Israel lobby) insists that Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons and, taking that assumption on faith, their nuclear energy program should be stopped or placed under international control. It should be noted that, back in 2002, Netanyahu incorrectly made the same charge against Iraq and that today, just as in 2002, there is no real evidence for his assertion about Iran’s aims. All U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the Iranians are not presently developing nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, Netanyahu, who appears prone to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to other people’s nuclear programs, demands that Washington set “red lines” for Tehran which, if crossed, would trigger U.S. military action. In other words, on the basis of unsupported Zionist fears, the Israeli government is trying to maneuver the United States into yet another Middle East war. To his credit, President Obama has refused to comply with the demand for “red lines.”

The standard retribution practiced by the Israel lobby against a recalcitrant American politician is to try to get him or her kicked out of office. Usually this is done in a low-key way and most Americans don’t even know it is happening. But this time the act of revenge, driven by an egocentric and bellicose Israeli Prime Minister, is being carried out in full public view. Here are some of the ways Netanyahu is doing this:

1. Netanyahu has joined Mitt Romney in accusing Barack Obama of being too easy on Iran and too unresponsive to an ally, Israel.

2. Netanyahu has acquiesced in the use of his image and words in a blatantly false and distorted media campaign that accuses Obama of being “cozy” with the Society of Muslim Brotherhood.

3. Netanyahu has asserted that Obama has “no moral right” to pressure Israel not to attack Iran. What the Prime Minister leaves out is that such an attack would constitute aggression under international law and violate treaties to which both the U.S. and Israel are signatories. Under these circumstances it would be immoral if President Obama did not pressure Israel to hold its fire.

4. When accused of interfering in the presidential elections, Netanyahu has replied, “This is not an electoral issue….I think there is a common interest of all Americans of all persuasions to stop Iran.” The bit about this not being “electoral” is clearly disingenuous. If Netanyahu wants to hold an opinion about alleged common interests that is fine. However, if as the head of a foreign government, he publicly and repeatedly asserts that opinion in ways that aid one candidate for president over another, he has certainly made both himself and his opinion, an “electoral issue.”

There is speculation that, if Mr. Obama is reelected, then Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indiscreet behavior might result in “a sea change in U.S.-Israeli relations.” Unfortunately this is highly unlikely. The system of “lobbification” is solidly in place at the national political level. When it comes to Israel, only two things are likely to change it:

1. Meaningful campaign finance reform that would free politicians from their present reliance on lobby affiliated contributions.

2. The Israel-American connection becomes a voting issue such that continued blind support for Israel hurts a politician’s chance of election.

Neither of these possibilities seem to be on the horizon:

It is the way the U.S. political system is run that makes politicians so vulnerable to lobby power. The fact that there are some lobbies out there that have decent and humane goals is not sufficient to justify a system that otherwise does so much damage. For instance, under the present circumstances it is impossible to define the national interest in an objective way. As it stands, the national interest is replaced by the parochial interests of lobbies that are successful at suborning Congress and the White House–Zionists pushing support for a racist and expansionist foreign power, Cuban-Americans carrying on a 53 year old vendetta against the government in Havana, the NRA striving to protect the right of every American to own a submachine gun, and the like.

In large part it comes down to money and how it is used manipulate leaders and parties. There is something age-old about this situation. It was the Roman Senator and master rhetorician Cicero (108 to 43 BCE) who said “Nihil tam munitum quod non expugnari pecunia possit.” Translated as: “No fortification is such that it cannot be subdued with money.” That is still the rule by which lobbyists live.

“Israel” Lobby of Germany: Targeting Judith Butler

RB comment: Freedom of speech anyone? It seems to apply to some and not to others or rather the rights is abused to certain ends.

by Ludwig Watzal – Bonn, source

Smear campaigns against people who do not follow the narrowly defined, politically correct, rhetoric concerning the permanent violations of human rights and Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people are regularly conducted by the right-wing pro-Zionist ‘Israel Lobby’ in Germany.

Their newest victim was Judith Butler, Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature and the Co-director of the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler is also active in gender and sexual politics and human rights, anti-war politics, and the Jewish Voice for Peace. She was awarded this year’s Adorno prize of the city of Frankfort. The prize is endowed with 50,000 Euro and is awarded every three years.

Why was Judith Butler slandered? Her “misdemeanors” were that she considers Hamas and Hizbollah as belonging to the global left and because of her support of the BDS-campaign (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), targeting Israeli goods coming from the occupied Palestinian territories. After the decision to award her the Adorno prize was announced, all hell broke loose. The protesters’ procession was led by the secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, followed by Israel’s ambassador in Germany and the usual others.

Kramer accused Butler of being an “avowed Israel hater” and an “accomplice” to the BDS initiative, despite Judith Butler’s nuanced approach towards BDS. But classifying Hamas and Hizbollah as part of the global left ignores their archaic and fundamentalist worldview, especially towards women. Kramer did not, however, conflate Butler’s critique of Israeli government’s policy with “anti-Semitism”. The controversy surrounding the Adorno prize revealed also the tension between universalistic ethic within Judaism and the nationalistic, self-righteous tendencies of Zionism.

In the controversy that surrounded her, Butler remained steadfast, and she received support inter alia from German intellectuals such as Professor Micha Brumlik from the University of Frankfort and from Professor Neve Gordon of the Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva. Gordon wrote, “The well-orchestrated witch-hunt initiated by the so-called Scholars for Peace in the Middle East against Judith Butler is a sly attempt – based on half-truths and lies – to silence a staunch critic of Israel’s rights-abusive policies in the Occupied Territories.”

The smear campaigns by the “Israel Lobby” in Germany occur periodically. Before the current campaign against Butler, there was one against Nobel laureate in literature Guenter Grass who dared – in his poem “What has to be said” – to suggest that the Israeli government is a bigger threat to world peace than Iran. Although the Central Council of Jews in Germany was also involved in that campaign, most slander was carried out by mainstream German media with the exception of Jakob Augstein’s weekly “der Freitag”.

Two years ago, the famous Israeli human rights lawyer Felicia Langer, who lives in Germany, was severely slandered by the “Israel Lobby” and its infamous extremist supporters, when she received the prestigious “Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany First Class”. Some of the slanderers did not even shrink from attempting to blackmail Germany’s President by threatening to return to him their own medals, should he fail to withdraw the Order of Merit from Ms. Langer.

How Palestinian scholars are treated by German institutions and their representatives is exemplified by the case of the renowned British-Palestinian scholar Dr. Ghada Karmi from the University of Exeter. In February 2012, Ms. Karmi was invited to deliver a speech on Palestine at a Middle East conference at the University of Bremen. At the last minute the invitation was withdrawn, the university suddenly claiming that her views were “not appropriate”. Later it turned out that an Israeli Ph. D. student had protested that the conference and Ms Karmi were “anti-Semitic”. Such unfounded allegations were also leveled against Professor Ilan Pappé, an Israeli Jew, to prevent him from speaking in public in Germany.

But things got even worse for Ms Karmi as she attended a conference on June 8-9, 2012 at the Free University of Berlin, organized by the university’s Research College in cooperation with the German Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Karmi later commented: “What followed was a depressing display of German sycophancy towards the Israeli participants and a barely disguised discomfort with me, as if they had regretted their boldness in allowing a Palestinian voice to be heard.” She was introduced to the conference by a representative of the German Council on Foreign Relations as a person who according to “some Israelis” is “a Palestinian terrorist”. There was no outcry by the audience and no apology to her followed. Had a representative of the German Council on Foreign Relations dared to introduce an Israeli scholar as a person, who according to “some Palestinians” is “an Israeli terrorist”, his career would have immediately ended.

These smear campaigns reflect the desolate political landscape in Germany.

Mainstream press misses the king of the hill: The “Israel” lobby’s return to congress

by ALISON WEIR, source

You might think that twenty percent of the American Congress going on all-expense-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country – paid for by a lobby for that country – would be considered newsworthy. Especially when the top Congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

81 Congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen Congressmen and include half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, and is located in the same building (AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near to controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to their favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one Congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband – a normally extremely tough man – was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the Congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their Congress people are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tell them.

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give it a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington DC said they knew about the trips and were “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN, ABC, et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. (The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS news made no mention of the junkets on-air.)

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual Congress people. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expense-paid junkets, and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:

Washington DC’s Politico covered it twice; the Atlantic’s AtlanticWire posted a story on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, while emphasizing that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, but failed to report that this will apparently account for only a few hours out of the 7-day trip. LA’s Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,” and Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the President of the United States.

While Commentary claims that the willingness of Congressional representatives to go on all-expense-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually not accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans – typically between two-thirds to three-quarters – do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine.* Such widespread desire for neutrality is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news media across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israeli-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and others don’t tell them.

* * *

* Two thirds want the United States to “lean toward neither side” – Brookings: “Attitudes Toward the Middle East Peace Process: Surveys of Arab and Jewish Opinion in Israel and Public Opinion in the United States”.

71 percent favor not taking a side – World Public Opinion: “International Poll: Most Publics–including Americans–Oppose Taking Sides in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”.

65 percent favor not taking either side – CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. May 24-26, 2011. Adults nationwide.

“Although more Americans show sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, a strong majority has consistently felt that the US should play an even-handed role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since December 1998, Gallup and other organizations have asked respondents many times whether the US “should take Israel’s side, take the Palestinians’ side, or not take either side.” Strong majorities have consistently said the US should take neither side. In July 2000, 74% endorsed this position. Shortly after September 11th, 2001, this number dropped to 63% (Israel’s side rising to 27%) then recovered to 70% in early November (Israel’s side 20%). Israel’s military actions of April 2002 had little impact on this majority view. CNN/USA Today/Gallup found 71% in April for the US taking neither side” – World Public Opnion: “Israel and Palestine”.

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew.

Former French FM: “Israel” controls French intelligence, lobby pressures US president

Source

Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas referred in a book he published entitled “Coups et blessures” (Assaults and Injuries), that “The “Israelis” are doing whatever they want in France, and are controlling the French Intelligence with what serves them”.

On another hand, Dumas confirmed that the “Israelis” are mistaken not to negotiate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, even if the latter refuses any kind of agreement. He also added, “I made some special relations with him [Bashar al-Assad] like those I had with his father (President Hafez Assad)”.
Furthermore, Dumas revealed in the same book that when current Zionist President, Shimon Perez was still the entity’s Foreign Minister, he advised Dumas to pay President Hafez Assad a visit in 1992. At that time Perez was aware that the US is seeking a new way to understanding with Damascus, so he [Perez] believed that France could also gain interest through being involved in the Middle East peace process.

In this context, Former French Minister added, “The deceased Syrian President had little faith in Perez, and he knew the mazes of the internal “Israeli” relations”. Hafez al-Assad was aware that the “Israeli” Foreign Minister might adopt unilateral initiatives, and therefore it won’t lead into anything effective”.

In his “Coups et blessures”, Dumas also mentioned the Islamic Republic of Iran, which he had visited several times and met its former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Wilayati, and former President Hachemi Rafsanjani. Dumas strictly affirmed, “The Iranian atomic bomb is in my view similar to the weapons of mass destruction possessed by former Iraqi President Sadam Hussein, i.e. I don’t believe in all of that. I believe that all what occurred was a misleading of facts”. He also referred to that, “The confusion in the French policies goes back to known interferences, where “Israel’s” close presence makes all analysis suspicious”.

On the same level, Dumas defended the Iranian point of view regarding the need to possess nuclear energy reactors, where its oil reserve might not last for more than 60 years. He confirmed that Iranian seek their civil nuclear program at the time when all reports refer to the non-existence of any nuclear weapons. In the context of his book, Roland Dumas clarified that former French Foreign Minister François Mitterrand had close relations with the “Israelis”, even if he wasn’t open about it.

On another level, he confirmed that the “Americans did indeed plan to kill Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi through raiding him with planes in the 1986, referring to that France did not allow them to exploit its airspace for that. Gaddafi had thanked France for delaying the arrival of the US drones for more than 15 hours because of the French refusal, which gave Gaddafi time to leave the target place”.
Regarding the “Israeli” policy adopted in the region, Dumas stated, “I don’t agree with the “Israeli” policy, and I was loyal to the balance principle founded by General Charles de Gaulle in the Middle East. The principle states that the Arab nations also have the right to respect, in addition to that the current “Israeli” policy inspired by activists close to Zionists is not on the right path”.

Roland Dumas affirmed that the negotiations between “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbass, will not lead to anything. He reiterated that the Palestinian-“Israeli” conflict is unsolvable, where US President Barak Obama stepped back from his pressures and warnings to “Israel” due to the Jewish Lobby pressure surrounding the US President”.

Dumas indicated, “Any president or Western official to approach the Palestinian-“Israeli” conflict will collide into the settlers, and that is why they would reach the drastic end where “The solution is found in the absence of any solution”.
Roland Dumas also criticized French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to include France in the united leadership of the NATO, believing that Sarkozy made a big mistake in France’s traditional position set by Charles de Gaulle.

Source: As-Safir Newspaper

First National Demonstration: Move Over, AIPAC

by Naser Al Ja'fari

by HARRY CLARK, source

The annual conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, took place in Washington the weekend of May 21-22 and the following week. As usual, the top of the federal government paid tribute—President Obama addressed the 6,000 strong delegates, and over 350 senators and representatives attended. The Rapture may have failed to appear that weekend as scheduled by evangelist Harold Camping, but it descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday, when Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress. Congress applauded almost every paragraph of Netanyahu’s speech.

For the first time ever, elements of the left, namely, Code Pink, organized a conference and a national demonstration against AIPAC, Move Over AIPAC; see http://www.moveoveraipac.org/. The conference featured Professors John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby, which mainstreamed the idea, as well as perennial critics such as journalist Jeffrey Blankfort, Janet McMahon, of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Grant Smith, author of several books on AIPAC based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Several hundreds of demonstrators greeted the AIPAC delegates as they entered and exited the Washington convention center; some groups gained admittance and staged impromptu demos, to be muscled out like Communists from a Nazi rally. Rae Abileah, one of the chief organizers of the weekend, who emceed much of it, was admitted to the visitors’ gallery in Congress. Upon unfurling a banner and denouncing Israel’s war crimes, she was assaulted by AIPAC minions before being hustled out by police. She was hospitalized with neck and shoulder injuries and arrested on her sickbed.

Apart from such heroism and the prodigious work to organize it, the
MoveOver conference was weak in my jaded view, basically because the left has been running from the “Israel lobby” issue for 40 years. The first false step was buckling to liberal Jewish pressure and letting Helen Thomas bow out. The 90-yr old dean of the White House press corps lost her journalistic career after criticizing the colonial nature of Zionism; more recently she compounded the offense by blunt talk about the power of the Jewish community. One would think Thomas an ideal figure to speak
at a rally opposing AIPAC. Her absence sacrificed media attention and weakened the protest.

There was an “upstairs, downstairs” feel to the discussion of AIPAC. Upstairs, at the plenary session, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt gave their familiar talk. Their book was important, and they mainstreamed the
question of the “Israel lobby”, but in the most narrow terms, which they reinforce with each appearance, the price they feel they have to pay to retain mainstream credibility. The left bears a large share of responsibility for this defensiveness, by not making the argument itself.

For example, Mearsheimer and Walt invariably say that AIPAC is just another interest group doing its job. It is nothing of the sort; it is a criminal organization which has operated at the edge of and beyond the law since its inception. Inter alia, Grant Smith has shown this in half a dozen books based on documents unearthed with FOIA.

Grant Smith, with Jeff Blankfort and Janet McMahon of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, spoke downstairs, after the plenary, at a crowded workshop on AIPAC. Alison Weir of If Americans Knew, moderated. Code Pink had contacted her about speakers. She tried to
get some workshop speakers onto the plenary upstairs, but failed. She had also recommended Stephen Sniegoski, author of The Transparent Cabal, about neoconservative influence on foreign policy, but he was rejected.

To their credit, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt spoke to a meeting assembled by Code Pink, supporting democratic as well as elite outreach. Ambassador Chas Freeman, former diplomat in Arab countries, whose candidacy for a position in the Obama Administration was vetoed by AIPAC, appeared on an authors’ panel.

The US has lost national sovereignty to Israel and its US supporters, chiefly the organized Jewish community. Defense Secretary Gates can visit West Point and proclaim that the days of land wars in Asia are over. He cannot say that the US-Israel relationship is over. The foreign policy “realists” and Arabist establishment are deeply alarmed by that and must be embraced as allies.

The AIPAC workshop presenters provided absorbing information. For example, Grant Smith has raised the issue of AIPAC’s registration as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice. He met with Heather Hunt, head of the Foreign Agent Registration Act section, and Hunt seemed to warm up to his case and her responsibilities. Smith, Jeff Blankfort, and Hunt and two staffers were sitting at one end of the table. At the other end was an unnamed official, who did not give out his card, and interjected remarks like “AIPAC should have an opportunity to respond to your comments”. Not in court–but as part of the decision to investigate and prosecute. If FARA and FEC law were enforced, AIPAC would be dissolved, in Smith’s view, copiously documented. Smith led a demo at Justice on May 23 with 70-80 people. We marched around the building chanting and wrote letters to Attorney General Holder and Heather Hunt at the main doors on Constitution Avenue.

Smith led another demonstration on Tuesday morning at the US Trade Commission, in support of a suit filed by a group of businesses who’ve been hurt by the US-Israel free trade accord passed in the 1980s. Israel got a copy of the classified document outlining the US negotiating position, full of confidential data from those companies. The US-Israel trade balance has been consistently negative for the US, when most bilateral agreements are neutral. See Smith’s web site http://www.irmep.org/.

Overall, the major drawback was that only a few hundred attended. In June 2007 the US Campaign to End the Occupation organized a protest about the 40th anniversary of “the occupation” that drew 5-6,000, still weak. We were told that Jewish Voice for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, American Friends Service Committee and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee did most of the work on that. The much weaker turnout for this suggests that some of these groups simply don’t want a national protest directed against AIPAC, despite all the “endorsements”.

In his presentation, Grant Smith cited the American Council for Judaism’s contributions to the hearings on foreign agents convened in 1963 by Senator William Fulbright, chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations. These were an extraordinary, by current standards, investigation of the burgeoning Israel lobby, discussed in Smith’s book Foreign Agents. ACJ was the anti-Zionist group headed by the late, great Rabbi Elmer Berger, whose entire outlook absolutely rejected Zionism and affirmed the obligations of liberal citizenship.

This sense is totally missing from the Jewish scene today, including the “left”, which, no less than the mainstream, is immersed in what Judaic scholar Jacob Neusner called the “Zionism of Jewish peoplehood”. “The Jewish people is my homeland. Wherever Jews live, there I am at home.”

Thus the event featured “young Jewish pride”, singing in Hebrew and baking challah and performing other astounding feats while opposing AIPAC. There were assurances that “AIPAC is bad for the Jews” as if this makes protest permissible, as if protest is not an obligation of US citizens, as if Americans of Jewish background are obligated only as “Jews”, which in secular terms is artificial and willfully constructed, Zionist essentialism.

The left is weak and confused about Palestine for lack of universalist convictions and analysis, recovering which is essential to thinking, let alone acting, at 59 minutes and 57 seconds through the eleventh hour.

Is the Arab Spring spreading to US congressional staffs?

by Franklin Lamb, Al Manar

Beirut

Millions of American voters were offended this week by the vulgar display on Capitol Hill which witnessed the annual rite of nearly 2/3’s of Members on Congress stumbling over one another at the annual AIPAC Conference in order to ingratiate themselves with their hosts and to protect their sinecures.

Equally nauseating to many was what some on Capitol Hill are calling “Congressional Black Tuesday” when they assert Congress cheapened its status in American and foreign eyes and fouled itself by taking the role of undignified cheerleaders for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during his appearance before a joint session of Congress, an invitation normally reserved for august occasions and accomplished personages.

With 41 applause interruptions and 29 standing ovations, even with some appearing half-hearted and somewhat forced, Congress sent a message that the Legislative branch, increasingly under the control of a foreign power, and not the Executive branch, will continue to determine American policy toward Israel and the Middle East.

Some Congressional scholars, historians, and longtime observers of Congress are expressing dismay over what seems to have dramatically diminished the claimed, “World’s greatest deliberative body”.

Among those objecting to what they see as the corruption of Congress are an increasing number of the more than 18,000 Congressional staffers, many of whom work as many as 70 hours per week in their sometimes highly competitive jobs. Most Congressional staffers understand and respect the institution of Congress, know their Members politics, are aware of American interests in the Middle East and are fairly well informed on the Question of Palestine.

However, many are not happy and are beginning to rise up against what they are witnessing in their offices which is the increasing smothering of their erstwhile legislative aid roles by agents of Israel such as AIPAC. The latter are seen as increasingly preempting their roles and taking over some of their work by flooding their offices with position papers and then lobbying incessantly to see their ‘recommendations” implemented.

It is not always easy being a Congressional staffer and many have been and continue to be abused in various ways, some of which become public in an institution that values discretion and averting attention from their Members foibles. Yet working in Congress can be interesting and often rewarding work for those wanting to serve their constituents and help solve myriad problems on the local and federal level.
Thanks to Skype and email, there is no shortage of access these days to friends and acquaintance who work on the Hill and whose work assignments include US Middle East policy. This longtime observer of Congress and former staffer has been somewhat pleasantly surprised by the strong reaction of some Congressional aides to last week’s events on the Hill and the rapid changes happening across the Middle East.

Congressional staff reactions to the Obama and Netanyahu AIPAC speeches and particularly the Israeli PM’s speech to Congress is strong and leads to the tentative conclusion that the effects the Arab Spring are being felt in both Houses of Congress and well as numerous support agencies such as the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.

Many House and Senate staffers identify with those of similar age who have taken to the streets across the Middle East who are thought of as courageous, smart and reasonable. They also understand that the Arab Awakening of 2011 is an historic game changer and they are often deeply sympathetic and supportive. Perhaps because of their knowledge of the issues, they express abhorrence to the Zionist falsehoods and disinformation that comes from AIPAC offices at the bottom of Capitol Hill and some of which were repeated by Netanyahu in their workplace.

Virtually all Congressional staffers who objected to Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress expressed rejection of his following assertions as ludicrously false:

• Of 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.”

• Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians and Muslims could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites, has been during Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.”

• In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.”

• In recent years, the Palestinians twice refused generous offers by Israeli prime ministers to establish a Palestinian state on virtually all the territory won by Israel in the Six-Day War.”

• We have helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.”

• The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.”

• They (Palestinians) continue to educate their children to hate.”

• A nuclear armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”

How Netanyahu received his “speech of a lifetime” ovations

Two staffers who work with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and who know the issue of Palestine very well and also how AIPAC operates on the Hill explained to this observer how Netanyahu’s “speech of a lifetime” was organized by AIPAC.

Firstly, orders were issued that nothing was to be left to chance and they essentially succeeded but for the protesting slogans shouted by Rae Abileah before AIPAC undercover security tackled her and she ended up in the hospital, groped, injured and under arrest.

“Here is how Bibi got his “spontaneous” applause”, one and then the other explained. “AIPAC, as usual with visiting Israeli officials, edited his speech for most favorable local consumption. Marks were made at the end of intended applause lines for Bibi to highlight them verbally. Key Members such as Eric Cantor (R-VA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) were designated as floor leaders and were seated in strategic locations in the Chamber. Once Bibi began his speech the floor leaders would leap up at the indicated cue phases and begin to applaud enthusiastically. Quite naturally, others would follow either not wanting to be appear impolite or to stand out and be noticed as not showing proper support for Israel and its Prime Minister.

“In addition, AIPAC staffers who prowl congressional offices daily let it be known that videos of the Members listening to Bibi would be kept on file and insinuated that how the Member’s performed during his speech to Congress would be taken into consideration when planning this summer’s Jewish fundraising events.

One aide, who supports his bosses “moderately pro-Palestinian positions”, defended his applause for Netanyahu with these words: “Look, my guy could not just sit there and be conspicuous. Of course he resents being forced to fake support for Israel’s insane policies that he believes harms our country. Believe me many Members feel like him and many Hill staffers are disgusted by what we see. But the guy needs to keep his job to work on other issues like protecting Medicare and stopping home foreclosures. Plus not many of our constituents probably even watched him grovel on TV so it was kind of a freebie for us. What would you have done?”

A surprising number of Congressional staffers explain that they feel they are stigmatized abroad and particularly in the Middle East as being part of the Israel lobby when they are not. One staffer explained: “This sounds arrogant but we who work in Congress know this subject much better than the general American public and when you understand the history of Palestine and its takeover by Europeans and the continuing ethnic cleansing of the rightful owners of the land, how do you think we feel? We feel the same as the Palestinians refugees spread all around the World feel. We are human beings too. Arab and foreign media often lumps us with the Members of Congress whereas in reality many of us are working for change.”

One lady, whose job it is to summarize and update Arab-Israeli conflict developments for her boss who is a Senator from the Midwest explained that “sometimes AIPAC sees what I write and will contact and challenge me on my work that should be between me and my boss. Everyone knows that Members of Congress are regularly pressured and targeted by AIPAC. You should know that dozens of staffers have been fired from their jobs on the Hill during the 15 years I have been here. I may be next.” And then she added, “But until that day comes I will continue to support the Palestinian cause and work to change our foreign policy and see that it’s made in the USA and not in Tel Aviv.”

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be contacted c/o fplamb@gmail.com

AIPAC conference confirms futility of negotiations

by Mike Luckovich

by Jody McIntyre, source

It was Nelson Mandela who once said, “Only free men can negotiate”. So-called negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian governments have often taken the form of slave and slave-master over the years. The rhetoric of the extreme right-wing current Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is only a confirmation of a wider truth; that negotiations with the apartheid state of Israel are futile.

The AIPAC conference provides a platform for the Zionist lobby to flex their muscular influence on US politics, with President Obama included on the list of speakers. This was his speech of real importance, and who can forget his address to the AIPAC conference of 2008, when he stated that “Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel”. With those words, he nonchalantly dismissed the UN’s interpretation of international law, which clearly specifies East Jerusalem as the capital of any future Palestinian state.

So yesterday, another conference commenced; a celebration of continued US support for Israel. The fact that is being ignored is that, as a wave of uprisings across northern Africa and western Asia are proving, US dominance and influence in the region is on the decline. Just like hundreds of millions of dollars in aid were not enough to keep Mubarak in power in Egypt, all the billions of dollars in aid will not be enough to prop up Israel forever.

There are facts that need to be recognised; however much Israel and the US want to whip up fury about the “dangers” of a conciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, the large majority of Palestinians, the refugee population, are not being represented by either of those institutions. As they proved through historic demonstrations on Nakba Day, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, they will not allow their voices to be drowned in a sea of apologist speech. However much Israel and the US want to legitimise the idea of “mutually agreed land swaps”, all Israeli colonies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are illegal under international law, and always have been.

Netanyahu’s speech was so full of untruths that it surprises me that anyone takes him seriously. He talked about a place where “Christians are completely free”, despite the Israeli checkpoints that prevent Christian Palestinians from praying in Jerusalem. As Netanyahu continued, proclaiming that “Israel unites America”, demonstrators were repeatedly interrupting his speech with chants of “Occupying land is indefensible”, “Bulldozing homes is indefensible” and “Starving Gaza is indefensible”. Does Netanyahu not realise that the long propagated myths of “only democracy in the region” and “Israel’s right to exist” are wearing thin? No racist, apartheid state has any “right” to exist.

As Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden until his assassination in 1986, once said, “Apartheid cannot be reformed, it must be abolished.”

Obama’s Hypocrisy: Insulting Our Intelligence

by Joe Catron, source

Barack Obama wants it both ways. Like every United States president since Bill Clinton, who partially brokered the now-defunct Oslo Accords in 1993, he aspires to act as a trusted intermediary in the 63-year old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, while simultaneously pandering to America’s massive pro-Israel lobby. These clashing goals have spurred him to propose an array of conflicting claims and positions that, aside from being fundamentally incompatible, are often simply painful to observe.

Over the course of four short days in mid-May, he managed, in three separate addresses – at the US State Department, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House briefing room, and at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful flagship of the Israel lobby – to offer blatant discrepancies, of policy or omission, on nearly every aspect of the conflict. This jarring discord did nothing to bolster Washington’s role in the situation and, to careful listeners, reinforced its ultimate irrelevance to any genuine resolution of it.

Obama’s glaring hypocrisy was perhaps at its most obvious on questions of armed force. It takes a special brand of chutzpah to proclaim, as Obama did at both the State Department and AIPAC, that “every state has the right to self-defense,” and then to propose, in the very same paragraph of both speeches, that Palestinians should settle for “a sovereign, non-militarized state.” When it comes to the rights to which all states are equally entitled, it seems, some states are more equal than others.

Despite dwelling on the theme of political violence, Obama showed little interest in violence emanating from Israelis, which killed 7,342 Palestinians between September 29, 2000 and December 31, 2010, dwarfing Israeli casualties, according to a recent report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. At the State Department, while offering multiple platitudes about “the moral force of non-violence” and sermonizing that “[t]he United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region,” he did not see fit to mention that Israeli troops had killed fifteen unarmed Palestinian refugees demonstrating at the country’s contested borders, and wounded hundreds more, only four days before. Nor did he mention this massacre while later feting Israeli representatives at the White House or AIPAC. His speech at the latter did, however, include a formulaic demand for the “rejecting [of] violence” by Palestinians.

Obama caused the biggest splash, it seems, by opining that “[t]he borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps … The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Following Netanyahu’s insistence at the White House that Israel “cannot go back to the 1967 lines,” Obama tempered his position at AIPAC to “account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.” Those “demographic realities,” incidentally, are the illegal settlements Obama has defended at every turn, most pointedly by vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning them on February 18.

Leaving aside the word “contiguous,” which the 1967 borders of the Palestinian territories are not, several obvious problems emerge. Elsewhere in his State Department address, Obama suggested that “the future of Jerusalem” should remain unresolved in the new negotiations he proposed. Surely he is not unaware that East Jerusalem falls within the 1967 borders of the West Bank? More likely, he is relying on the perceived ignorance of his American listeners, while forgetting he has any others.

Likewise, he probably hopes the public has forgotten his previous statements on the matter. The day after securing the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008, Obama told AIPAC, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” And while President Obama similarly suggested postponing deliberations on “the fate of Palestinian refugees” at the State Department, Candidate Obama blustered that “the Palestinians are gonna have to recognize that the right of return as they’ve understood it historically would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state, and that’s not an option.” Those aware of such brusque pronouncements may easily doubt the sincerity of his current garment-rending on these “wrenching and emotional issues.”

Nor did Obama stop insulting his audience’s intelligence there. Palestinians must “adher[e] … to all existing agreements,” he thundered at AIPAC. Would those be the Oslo Accords or the Wye River Memorandum, Mr. President? Surely you’re aware that the first expired on May 4, 1999, while the second was never implemented by Israel? Some of us are.

But Obama saved his greatest ire for “efforts to delegitimize Israel.” “Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist,” he said at the State Department. “[H]ow can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?” “[I]t is very difficult for Israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist,” he sympathized in the White House. At AIPAC, he hardened this line. “Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist,” he said after quoting himself: “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.”

Of course he didn’t mention the platform of Israel’s ruling Likud party, which “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” Nor did he broach the positions of its fundamentalist coalition partners like Shas, who would deny not only Palestinians’ right to exist in a self-determining state, but also their humanity.

Such hypocrisy emanating from Washington doubtlessly accounts in part for the independent course Palestinians have charted since the beginning of the Arab revolutions, and particularly the overthrow of Egypt’s Mubarak regime on February 11. The anti-settlement Security Council resolution vetoed by Obama, the reconciliation of the Palestinian Authority on April 27, the marches of tens of thousands of refugees to the borders of their historic homeland on May 15 and June 5, and maneuvers by the Palestine Liberation Organization for United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood in September have all faced opposition by the Obama administration. Together, they demonstrate that while efforts by Palestinians to achieve self-determination have not reached full accord, Palestinians are through waiting for Washington’s approval of their liberation. Americans who are equally tired of condescending deceit would do well to learn from their example.

– Joe Catron is a resident of Brooklyn, New York and a current member of the International Solidarity Movement – Gaza Strip.

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More on hypocrisy: Over 2,600 Activists Arrested in the US Since Election- The Resistance in Obama Time

The Invisible Hand on Capitol Hill: Confronting AIPAC

No more---by Naser Al Jafari

by JANET McMAHON, source

One could be forgiven for thinking that the last three letters of AIPAC stand for “political action committee.” But since the American Israel Public Affairs Committee does not itself make campaign contributions to political candidates, technically it is not a PAC. Curiously, however, the 30-odd “unaffiliated” pro-Israel PACs, most with deceptively innocuous names, all seem to give to the same candidates—almost as if there were a guiding intelligence behind their contributions. In the eyes of the Federal Election Commission, AIPAC is a “membership organization” rather than a political committee. This means that, unlike actual PACs, AIPAC is not required to file public reports on its income and expenditures.

Not for nothing, however, did Fortune magazine once name it the second most powerful lobby in Washington. So it’s easy to understand why, like a night flower that blooms in the dark and dies with the light of day, this particular organization which advances the interests of a foreign government has fought long and hard to ensure that its funding sources and expenditures are not exposed to public scrutiny.

Despite its best efforts, however, unwanted light does occasionally shine on AIPAC’s activities. Most dramatically, perhaps, two of its top operatives, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted on espionage charges in 2005. Four years later federal prosecutors dropped the charges when it became clear that Judge T.S. Ellis’ numerous rulings in favor of the defendants would require the release of sensitive government documents. Rosen then sued his former employer for defamation, claiming that AIPAC routinely dealt in classified information and that he was in no way a rogue employee, as AIPAC had claimed.

A related case of unwanted publicity involved former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who was overheard on a 2006 NSA wiretap talking to someone described by CQ’s Jeff Stein as a “suspected Israeli agent”—thought to be Haim Saban, a major AIPAC contributor. “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban described himself to The New York Times. During the course of their conversation Harman agreed to lobby the Justice Department to reduce the charges against Rosen and Weissman; in exchange, Saban would pressure then-House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman chair of the House Intelligence Committee following the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were expected to, and did, win. (Harman, who ultimately was not appointed chair, recently left Capitol Hill to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; a few blocks away, the Brookings Institution houses the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.)

Even though Pelosi resisted any pressure she may have received from Saban—reportedly because of personal animosity toward Harman as much as anything—she has demonstrated her sensitivity to AIPAC’s concerns. After Pelosi became speaker of the House following the Democrats’ 2006 victory, a provision was included in an Iraq war spending bill which would require the president to seek, with some exceptions, congressional approval before using military force against Iran. Since the Constitution grants the power to declare war to Congress, not to the president, this would appear to be uncontroversial. But AIPAC found it objectionable, and lobbied hard to have that provision struck from the bill. Speaking at AIPAC’s March 2007 annual meeting, Pelosi was booed when she described the Iraq war as being a failure on several counts. Shortly thereafter, the offending language was withdrawn from the pending legislation. After all, what’s an oath of office between friends?

Nor was that by any means the only legislation tailored to AIPAC’s wishes. Its tax-exempt fund-raising arm, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which AIPAC describes on its Web site as a “charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC,” spends the bulk of its $24 million budget paying for congressional trips to Israel. According to the Web site LegiStorm, “When Congress was working on strengthening the travel ban in 2006, reports indicated AIPAC lobbied for an exemption from the ban on lobbyist-sponsored travel. The organization did not receive a specific exemption, but the loophole on allowing non-profit travel allows the organization to continue to sponsor travel.” The non-profit AIEF simply certifies that it “does not retain or employ a registered federal lobbyist.”

That this was no accident was confirmed, perhaps inadvertently, by Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. In a 2009 C-SPAN interview, host Brian Lamb asked about the 2006 travel rules adopted as a result of the Jack Abramoff scandal whereby an “institution of higher learning” can sponsor trips. “Well,” Sloan blithely responded, “this was initially even called the AIPAC exception, there was this exception that 501(c)(3) organizations and universities could, in fact, still sponsor trips.” To Lamb’s characteristic “Why?” she replied vaguely, “That was the compromise that was reached in the House. They didn’t want to ban all private travel and they thought that these were the kind of trips that were more easily explained and didn’t have the same kind of appearance of corruption.”

More recent sightings of AIPAC’s “invisible hand” include a May 2009 letter to President Barack Obama ostensibly written by then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia—among the top five House recipients of pro-Israel PAC contributions. As the Washington Post’s Al Kamen discovered, however, the e-mail attachment of the letter, which called on the president to act as a “trusted mediator and devoted friend of Israel,” revealed its true origin: it was titled “AIPAC Letter Hoyer-Cantor May 2009.pdf.”

Do Americans want their laws and foreign policies drafted to serve the interests of a foreign government? At the very least, AIPAC’s funding sources and expenditures should be available for scrutiny by the citizens of its host country. In the meantime, the upcoming Move Over AIPAC conference, to be held in Washington, DC May 21-24—at the very time AIPAC will be hosting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his congressional supplicants at its annual Washington policy conference—will shine a critical and much-needed light on the means and ends of the Israel Lobby’s flagship organization. There concerned Americans can discover, among other things, whether their elected representatives put the needs of their constituents ahead of Israel’s demands—and visit Capitol Hill to register their opinions. For more information, visit http://www.moveoveraipac.org.

Janet McMahon is managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, whose May/June 2011 issue includes totals for 2010 pro-Israel PAC contributions to all congressional candidates.