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AIPAC speakers say the enemy is BDS, while ‘biggest Jewish-led protest’ surges outside

Young Jewish demonstrators from IfNotNow outside AIPAC conference yesterday

Young Jewish demonstrators from IfNotNow outside AIPAC conference yesterday

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by video to the Israel lobby group AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in Washington. He bragged about his warm relationship with President Trump to great applause, and said that many states in his region were turning to Israel in the fight of modernism against medievalism. He said it was time for Palestinian Authority to “above all, once and for all, recognize the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu also addressed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement aimed at Israel, saying Israel will defend itself on the “moral battlefield… We’ll defend ourselves against slander and boycotts.”

Last night Vice President Mike Pence was introduced as an enemy of BDS. He told the AIPAC conference, “The president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv,” to huge applause. He then called on the next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a supporter of settlements, to stand. He also got a warm reception.

Martin Indyk took a jaundiced view of Pence’s promise, saying that George W. Bush had seriously considered the move for eight years, and Trump will still be seriously considering in another four years. “We’re freiers [suckers] to think otherwise.”

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on AIPAC’s followers to opposed the BDS movement. While former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper said that BDS was the most serious threat to Israel and merely the latest form of classical anti-Semitism.

“The third threat to Israel is the one we actually need to take the most seriously as Canadians and Americans, and that is the BDS movement… One can disagree with the Israeli government’s policies in this aspect or that, but the BDS is not about that. The BDS movement is about translating the old ideology of anti-Semitism into something acceptable to a new generation.”

The theme was echoed by AIPAC officials.

Democratic political consultant Paul Begala said this morning on the AIPAC stage that he was thinking of making “aliyah” to Israel because of political developments in Washington but affirmed: “I have never worked for someone who is anti-Israel and I never will… How could I and be true to my progressive values?”

As for progressive values: there was a large demonstration yesterday outside the Washington convention center by the “Jewish resistance,” led by IfNotNow. A few demonstrators from IfNotNow managed to get inside the hall and drop a banner protesting the occupation. While hundreds of others in the resistance group led a march to the convention center in an effort to stop the conference. Ben Norton said it’s the “biggest-ever Jewish-led protest” of AIPAC. Bigger than Neturei Karta.

Here’s Ahmed Shihab-Eldin’s thorough video coverage of the demonstration for AJ+.

One organizer says what makes this anti-AIPAC demonstration different is that it’s the 50th year of occupation, and these young people are not going to let AIPAC speak for the Jewish community anymore. Others emphasized the crisis inside the Jewish community. Among the soundbites:

Fifty years is too long. It’s a moral crisis for the Palestinians, it’s eroding our community. AIPAC does not speak for American Jews.

The Trump administration is forcing the American Jewish community to pick.

AIPAC stands for endless occupation. We are the Jewish Resistance.

I’m here fighting for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians, and a Jewish community that stands up for those things.

Jews can’t have liberation if Palestinians don’t.

We refuse as Jews and humans to be part of the American Jewish establishment…. I feel heartbroken that it’s taken our community so much to move…. We have a long way to go.

At Minute 20 you can see a dozen demonstrators forming a human chain outside the convention doors.

Shortly after, a group said to be part of the Jewish Defense League attacked the demonstration.

Some shouted at IfNotNow, “sharmouta,” Arabic for prostitute.

Shihab-Eldin asked why no one from JDL was arrested.

Thanks to Annie Robbins. 

 

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Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America’

Israel/Palestine

on March 24, 2017 25 Comments

While Richard Gere was in Israel and the occupied West Bank promoting his film “Norman,” he was recorded in an unguarded moment wandering the desolate streets of Hebron’s Old City. A dumbfounded Gere is near at a loss for words in the clip, which aired on Israel’s Channel 2 network.

Not a Palestinian in sight. Soldiers and settlers roam comparatively carefree. The roads are too quiet. All of the shops are shuttered. Gere is stunned:

“This is the thing that’s flipping me out right now,” Gere stammers to his Hebron guides, activists with the Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, former soldiers that now advocate against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory, “Of everything we’ve seen for two days, the people we’ve talked to, it’s…I mean…I’m…I’m touched by that, I know that story. But this is really bizarre.”

“This is genuinely strange,” Gere adds, before telling his guides, Hebron is like the Jim Crow South:

“It’s the dead city, but who owns the city? And their [the settlers] feeling of ‘I’m protected, I can do whatever I want,’ and that sense of where the boundaries are. I mean it’s like…it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go, they could drink from that fountain, they couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t eat in that place. It was well understood. You didn’t cross it or you’d get your head beat in or lynched,” Gere said.

At one point soldiers stopped Gere and asked for his passport. He didn’t have it on him. But he’s from New York, he told them. Once the soldiers realized he is the Richard Gere–“Richard Gere, wow,” one said–the mood softens. But Gere is still visibly unsettled.

A car driven by a settler zooms by. Gere catches on, “These guys driving through. It’s a really dark energy. Wow,” he says, “it was kind of Mad Max.”

The scene that Gere had entered for the first time includes Palestinians who are made to use alleyways as the main roads are for settlers only. Palestinians cannot drive in the Old City, settlers can. There is one notorious sidewalk with a rope to segregate Palestinian and Israeli pedestrian traffic. It’s a scene many are horrified by the first time they enter. Philip Weiss had a similar response back in 2006:

“Every now and then in life, and maybe just when you want it, god throws down a thunderbolt. It happened to me on Friday in Hebron, in the Occupied Territories. A group of seven Israelis and I were sitting in an Arab man’s house, discussing the harassment and denial of movement to Palestinians in the center of that city—the second largest city in the West Bank—when I wondered for the 100th or thousandth time how the conditions I was seeing for myself in the occupation compared to apartheid in South Africa, which Americans rose up against 20 years ago.”

Before Gere went to Hebron, he spoke with Haaretz in Jerusalem:

“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone,” he says. “There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal – and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process.” He pauses before adding, “Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”

Later that same trip Gere met with Palestinian former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Following the meeting Gere was asked if he would ever act in a production by a Palestinian filmmaker (“Norman” writer and director, Joseph Cedar, is Israeli). “Why not,” Gere told the Arab News, continuing: 

“My only criteria are the quality of the script and the production. Naturally I’d have to be emotionally connected, but that isn’t enough. It has to be a quality film. I won’t discriminate if it’s a Palestinian film. In fact, I’d look closer if it was a Palestinian director.”

Gere added, “I have a special place in my heart for Palestinians, and I have a special empathy for their suffering.”

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/03/richard-exactly-america/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=c8c689aa43-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-c8c689aa43-309259350&mc_cid=c8c689aa43&mc_eid=39adaa9ab6#sthash.VPpHdxYv.dpuf

Shimon Peres and the nuclear world

Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres.

As the world media eulogizes former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, there are three key moments that won’t get much press.

Israel’s Nuclear Program

The recently leaked email written by Colin Powell in 2015 has confirmed the estimate that Israel has 200 nuclear weapons. But how did Israel get a nuclear weapons program in the first place?

The story begins in an unlikely place. In 1956, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal: an event that, seemingly, has nothing to do with Israel developing nuclear weapons. But it does. In response to Nasser’s move, Britain and France planned an invasion of Egypt. But Britain’s Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, was concerned about Britain’s reputation in the Middle East and was determined not to look like the aggressor. So the French asked Israel to invade and conquer the Sinai.

Peres, then the Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, met with the French General Staff and, in response to their query, assured them that Israel was capable of taking the Sanai in two weeks. The plan was that Israel would invade, Egypt would respond, and France and Britain would demand that they both withdraw from the Sinai. Israel, as planned, would agree, while Egypt would not. Now Britain and France had a pretext to invade, and Britain would not appear the aggressor.

But in exchange for invading Egypt and touching off the Suez War, Peres set Israel’s price at a nuclear reactor. Peres insisted, and France agreed: they promised to finance the construction of a nuclear reactor in Israel.

Israel invaded on October 29, 1956. Things didn’t go as planned, but Israel had France’s word. Perez fiercely lobbied the French to honour the agreement, and, in 1957, France inked the deal and financed the construction of a 24 megawatt nuclear reactor. According to Sasha Polakow-Suransky, “both parties knew [it] was not going to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes”.

Peres is sometimes called the “architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program.” But, he was more than its architect: he was its father.

South Africa

When, in 1990, South Africa became the first country in history to terminate its nuclear weapons program, the world found out that South Africa had developed the bomb. What the world did not know was that Israel was deeply engaged in helping her.

Israel actively helped South Africa with technology for systems to deliver the warheads, provided her with tritium and cooperated in testing. South Africa brought Israeli atomic scientists into the country and the two countries exchanged secret scientific intelligence. Importantly, Israel helped South Africa to build the longer range missiles she desired to deliver nuclear warheads. Israel also provided South Africa with thirty grams of tritium, a radioactive substance that increases the explosive power of thermonuclear weapons. The thirty grams–enough to boost several atomic bombs–was delivered to South Africa in batches between 1977 and 1979, during the UN weapons embargo on South Africa.

It was Peres who, in November of 1974, opened the secret meetings with South Africa leaders that would lead to the April 3, 1975 signing of SECMENT, an extremely secret security and secrecy agreement that governed every aspect of this new military agreement. And it was Shimon Peres who, on April 3, 1975, signed it.

So, Peres is not only the father of Israel’s nuclear weapons program: he also midwifed South Africa’s.

Peres also helped South Africa in other ways. In 1976, Defense Minister Peres dispatched Colonel Amos Baram to the apartheid regime to act as an advisor to the South African military. His function was to advise on “security problems,” and not just on South Africa’s borders, but “internal problems too”: a clear reference to Israel’s helping South Africa to maintain apartheid. Polakow-Suransky quotes Colonel Baram’s admission years later that “I was advising them on how to defend it”.

Peres also nursed South Africa’s invasion of Angola. The Israeli Defense Forces welcomed South African officials and trained South Africans in airspace control techniques. Peres sent Admiral Binyamin Telem, commander of the Israeli navy, to South Africa where, together with Baram, he would advise the Chief of South Africa’s army, General Constand Viljoen “on everything,” according to Telem, on South Africa’s Angolan invasion.

Iran

Surprisingly, Israel’s relationship with Iran did not immediately sour after the Islamic Revolution. In 1977, the Israeli’s even began working with Iran to modify an Israeli missile so that Iran could have a missile with the longer range of two hundred miles. But–and here’s the incredible part–these weapons were capable of being fitted with nuclear warheads. According to Iranian expert Trita Parsi, though the two countries did not exploit this possibility at the time, Iran read Israel’s signals “as indications that this possibility could be explored down the road”. According to General Hassan Toufanian, then in charge of Iran’s military procurement, secret Israeli documents left “no doubt about it”.

It was Peres who was largely responsible for the change in policy that turned Iran into the archenemy of Israel and the Western world.

In 1992, the Labour Party won a landslide election that brought first Rabin and then Peres into power. Peres was first the Foreign Minister and then the Prime Minister. Several important geopolitical changes brought about by the Intifada, alterations in demographics and shifts in regional powers led Peres to see the doctrine of the periphery in a new way.

The doctrine of the periphery can be traced back to two leaders of Mossad: Reuven Shiloah and Isser Harel. But its central premise, that political compromise with the Arabs is impossible, may be traced back even further to Vladimir Jabotinsky. According to this perspective, Israelis look out from a tiny island to find themselves surrounded by a sea of hostile Arab nations whose differences with Israel are so essential that compromise and friendship are impossible. This impossibility of political ties with her neighbours drives Israel to reach for alliances with non-Arab states just beyond the circumference of her neighbours: to the periphery.

This local world view was adopted by David Ben-Gurion and became his doctrine of the periphery. It has been a dominant piece in the Israeli foreign policy puzzle ever since. The doctrine of the periphery had made allies of Israel and Iran for quite some time.

But Peres pushed the pendulum. For him and Rabin, the threat no longer came from the Arab vicinity, but from the Iranian periphery. In Peres’ “New Middle East,” Israel would move closer politically and economically to the Arabs and push Iran out of the neighbourhood.

It was Peres, to the total shock of the Iranians, who first cast Iran in the role of Israeli enemy and international threat. This bold move as casting director produced a total shift in Israel’s foreign policy and world view. It represented a complete realignment of the periphery doctrine. Rabin and Peres, who had until recently been pushing the Americans to improve relations with Iran, would now attempt to make friends with the Arab vicinity and vilify the Iranian periphery.

It was this reorientation by Peres that first severed relations with Iran and sought to cast the Islamic Republic as a world threat. It was this reorienting and casting decision by Peres and Rabin that set in motion the push for conflict with Iran. It was now, for the first time—with obvious implications for today—that Israel began to accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and warning the world that Iran would have a nuclear bomb before the millennium: a script still being read by Netanyahu.

Though none of these three key moments will be mentioned as the press remembers Shimon Peres, they all played important roles in the story of the nuclear threat faced by the world.

 

Media are stunned by Congress’s ‘loyalty’ to Netanyahu (but refuse to explain it)

 

 

 on March 4, 2015 10 Comments

In the Emperor’s New Clothes, only the little boy can say that the emperor is naked. The good news about yesterday’s speech by Netanyahu to a joint meeting of Congress is that lots of media are taking on that boy’s role, and pointing out the nudity: exclaiming over the fact that a foreign leader came into our house of government to try and overrule our president on foreign policy. Chris Matthews was especially forceful, describing it as a takeover. While a New York Times article said that Democrats have to choose between “loyalty to the Jewish state” and the president.

But journalists have a bigger job than merely exclaiming. They must explain to readers why this outrage took place. Why did Netanyahu get this platform? The answer is the power of the Israel lobby inside our politics. And while there was some talk about the Christian Zionist component of the lobby compelling Republicans to show up, no one could explain why so many Democrats– about 175 of them– sat still for this insult to the president. They did so because of the importance of the Jewish part of the lobby inside the Democratic Party, epitomized by Alan Dershowitz in the gallery. This was surely obvious to viewers. But the media were silent on that score.

Here is some of the coverage I’m talking about. A piece at the New York Times saying that Netanyahu had issued an effective policy challenge to Obama pointed out the strangeness of the spectacle–

Mr. Netanyahu’s hotly disputed address constituted a remarkable moment in Washington: a foreign leader taking the podium before members of the House and Senate to argue strenuously against the policies of the sitting American president. In doing so, the Israeli leader was essentially urging lawmakers to trust him — not Mr. Obama — when it comes to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon…

Times reporters Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear then openly spoke of Democrats whose “loyalty to the Jewish state” is competitive with their support for the president:

For Democrats who have long viewed themselves as supporters of Israel, Mr. Netanyahu’s speech sought to impress upon them the likelihood that they will eventually need to make an awkward, painful choice between the president of their country and their loyalty to the Jewish state.

Why is that choice awkward and painful? I would like to hear why those Democrats feel that “loyalty.” Why aren’t we hearing about Haim Saban and other leading funders of the Democratic Party? Why aren’t Chris Matthews, Jon Stewart, Anderson Cooper and Chris Hayes interviewing John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the scholars who wrote the book The Israel Lobby?

Stewart did a lot of Jewish shtik about the Netanyahu speech yesterday. He called it the longest blowjob a Jewish man has ever received. But he tried to put it on the Republicans– “the state of the union speech the Republican wanted.” Hold on. As the Times informed us:“Some Democrats who are strong supporters of Israel praised Mr. Netanyahu’s speech.”

Stewart briefly hinted at the power of the lobby when he played Obama’s rather-restrained response to the insult:

[whispering] That’s how powerful Israel is. Their prime minister comes here, publicly slaps Obama in the face and the president’s response is, That’s OK, in fact, everyone should know, I’m buying him gloves, so when he hits me, it doesn’t hurt his hand as much.

Good that Stewart got in US aid to Israel.

Respecting the Israel-loving climate on the Democratic side, Chris Matthews was very careful about the speech. He praised it lavishly as a masterful performance. And then he blew his top. First yesterday afternoon:

This man from a foreign government walked into the United States legislative chamber and tried to take over foreign policy…. He said you should trust me, not your president on this… I’m the man you should trust, I’m your true leader on this question of U.S. geopolitics….

It was a startling situation… It’s a remarkable day when the leaders of the opposition in Congress allowed this to happen. Think it through, what country in the world would let a foreign leader come in and attempt to wrest from the president control of U.S. foreign policy? And that’s what the applause was about today…. This was a takeover attempt by Netanyahu with his complying American partners to take American foreign policy out of the hands of the president.

Last night on Hardball, Matthews also blew up– and asked the all-important Why? question:

Can you name another time in American history that we have invited someone into the US Congress chamber to criticize a president’s foreign policy? I can’t think of one. I’ve never heard of that done before. Has it ever been done before? Why now?

Why do we break a tradiiton”? Why do we do something all of a sudden for the first time in history let someone from a foreign government come into our governing chamber and tell us the president is wrong?

No answer to his own questions.

The New York Times was also opaque. Its editorial board exclaimed over the spectacle but then had no words to explain it.

With Republicans and most Democrats as his props, he entered the House of Representatives to thunderous applause on Tuesday, waving his hand like a conquering hero and being mobbed by fawning lawmakers as he made his way to the lectern.

Even Washington doesn’t often see this level of exploitative political theater; it was made worse because it was so obviously intended to challenge President Obama’s foreign policy.

I suppose I should be happy that the press is at least exclaiming over the outrage, and that it’s now obvious to Americans. The Democratic lib-left is now taking on the Israel lobby, though not by name. Stewart castigated Netanyahu for pushing the Iraq war 12 years ago, and Matthews went further, saying that Netanyahu had worked with the US neoconservatives:

Let’s be honest here.  Bibi Netanyahu would have a chunk more credibility on this peace-and-war issue if he hadn’t been blowing his bugle over the heads of the Bushes and the neo-cons as we rushed into Baghdad.

His complaint about Iran’s grab of other countries would have more blare to it if it hadn’t been that he, Bibi Netanyahu, had not been totally “in” on the war that turned Iraq into an Iranian pawn.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post called out Netanyahu for all but committing the Congress to go to war.

[Nancy Pelosi’s] agitation was not difficult to comprehend. It’s a rare thing for Congress to declare war — and rarer still to do it at the request of a foreign leader.

It wasn’t literally a war declaration, of course, just symbolic applause from Republicans, and several Democrats, for Netanyahu’s bid to scuttle U.S. negotiations with Iran.

So that’s the plus side of the coverage yesterday. The political dynamics are so obvious that the American people are feeling outraged. A friend writes from abroad:

Yesterday, the US was not only publicly, but globally insulted…. Now that the dual loyalty business is out of the closet, I hope the US won’t return to its usual induced coma.

Commenters on the New York Times editorial are clued in to the whole charade. ScottW:

That is Bibi’s stick and it never changes. Iran is the boogeyman and while Israel has untold numbers of nuclear weapons, has never signed the nuclear nonproliferation agreement, and permits no inspectors in its country, the Iranian’s somehow pose a greater threat. Pure baloney.

The congressmen who gave Bibi an ovation for a speech that offers nothing new, only the old, is disgraceful. Are they trying to placate the Jewish Lobby in hopes of securing hundreds of millions in donations?

Fortunately for the process, neither Bibi nor any of his cheerleading representatives are involved in trying to reach a deal with Iran that will bring us into the 21st Century.

TDW:

If this doesn’t prove to the world that the United States is nothing more than Israel’s puppet state I don’t know what will. Remember this is the guy who appeared on all the Sunday morning blab fests telling us about Saddam’s WMDs prior to our adventure in Iraq.. The paranoia, ignorance, and xenophobia displayed by the republicans can all be traced to their master “President” Bibi. I’m ashamed of my country today because of this disgrace.

Alison:

Every Congressman who contributed to Netanyahu’s photo op and campaign rally from within our hallowed hall did a disservice to our nation, our presidency, and our voters. We need their names and we need them held publicly accountable for their choice.

Banzai:

Wow. Looking at that picture, I’m hard pressed to believe Netanyahu is not the American President, and those beaming congressmen are not reprensentatives of the American people.

The NSA should be alarmed at this enormous influence of a foreign country on our legislative body.

Thanks to Susie Kneedler for pointing out all the progress.

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/03/congresss-netanyahu-explain#sthash.f8VnfbDI.dpuf

US and Israel divorce rumors over Iran

 on February 16, 2015 55 Comments

A lot has been going on on the diplomatic front over the U.S., Israel, and Iran over the weekend. Things are on a boil because of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress in March, the Israeli elections that month, and the impending deadline at the end of the month on the P5+1 talks with Iran.

Here are some of the reports. First, David Ignatius in the Washington Post has published a widely-circulated story on a supposed breakdown in confidence between the U.S. and Israel because Netanyahu allegedly leaked details of the U.S. negotiating position that President Obama had conveyed him in confidence to Israeli journalists.

The decision [by the U.S.] to reduce the exchange of sensitive information about the Iran talks was prompted by concerns that Netanyahu’s office had given Israeli journalists sensitive details of the U.S. position, including a U.S. offer to allow Iran to enrich uranium with 6,500 or more centrifuges as part of a final deal….

An initial report Sunday by Israel’s Channel 2 news that the administration had cut all communications with Israel about the Iran talks was denied by White House spokesman Alistair Baskey. Sources here said that Philip Gordon, the Middle East director for President Obama’s National Security Council, would see Israeli national security adviser Yossi Cohen and other senior officials on Monday. The discussion would include Iran policy, but U.S. officials aren’t likely to share the latest information about U.S. strategy in the talks.

Ignatius’s tick-tock on the spat goes back before the invitation from the Republican leadership of Congress to Netanyahu to speak following Obama’s State of the Union speech.

This latest breach in the U.S.-Israeli relationship began around Jan. 12 with a phone call from Netanyahu. Obama asked the Israeli leader to hold fire diplomatically for several more months while U.S. negotiators explored whether Iran might agree to a deal that, through its technical limits on centrifuges and stockpiles, extended the breakout period that Iran would need to build a bomb to more than a year. But Netanyahu is said to have responded that a year wasn’t enough and to have reverted to Israel’s hard-line insistence that Iran shouldn’t be allowed any centrifuges or enrichment.

Obama was concerned because the United States had shared with Israel its goal of a one-year breakout period since the beginning of the talks. The White House saw Netanyahu’s comment as a change, one that could potentially scuttle the negotiations. The Israeli response is that Netanyahu has always argued for “zero enrichment.”

Relations began to unravel quickly after the phone call. On Jan. 21, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Netanyahu to address Congress and share his concerns about the talks. The invitation hadn’t been pre-negotiated with the White House, as is usually the case when foreign leaders are invited to address Congress.

Then came the alleged leaks about the nuclear talks. On Jan. 31, the Times of Israel reported that an unnamed senior Israeli official had told Channel 10 TV news that the United States was ready to allow more than 7,000 centrifuges and had “agreed to 80 percent of Iran’s demands.” Channel 2 reported that the U.S. offer was 6,500 centrifuges. U.S. officials believed that Netanyahu’s office was the source of these reports and concluded that they couldn’t be as transparent as before with the Israel leader about the secret talks.

Ignatius sees it all coming to a head in March:

The Iran issue will come to a head next month. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is scheduled for March 3. Israeli elections, in which Netanyahu is running against a coalition of more moderate Israeli politicians, will take place March 17. The deadline for reaching a framework deal in the Iran negotiations is March 24. It’s a month that could shape the future of the Middle East, not to mention the U.S.-Israeli relationship, for years to come.

At Vox, Max Fisher channels neoconservativism in deploring the apparent intelligence breakdown between the U.S. and Israel:

Some proponents of a nuclear deal with Iran may welcome this news as demonstrating that Netanyahu is a bad actor who should be sidelined from the negotiations process. But this would be misguided, and even proponents of a deal should worry about this development. One reason that Iran is willing to negotiate at all is that the US has succeeded in putting enormous pressure on the country and its nuclear program — often with crucial Israeli help. That has meant both gathering intelligence and, in cases such as the 2010 cyberattack on centrifuges via the Stuxnet virus, offensive operations.

Yes, what a great partnership. At Lobelog, Jim Lobe has rerun a post he first ran three years ago, detailing Netanyahu’s horrid advice to the U.S. on the urgent need to invade Iraq. Excerpt of Netanyahu’s counsel in 2002:

the question of time [for taking preemptive action], I think the sooner the better. But now the question is when you choose a target, I think Iraq brings two things, a confluence of two things. One, it is sufficiently important in this network to have a tremendous effect. If it collapses, it will have a beneficial seismic effect

Lobe’s piece is titled, “Lest We Forget: Bibi’s ‘Wisdom’ on Iraq.” Lobe writes:

Republican members of Congress say they are eagerly waiting to hear directly from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on why the nuclear deal being negotiated between the United States and its P5+1 partners (including its three closest NATO allies) and Iran is so dangerous…. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) [wrote] in a letter signed by 47 of his House Republican colleagues in support of Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Bibi last week. “It is necessary now for Congress to hear from Prime Minister Netanyahu, and welcome his expertise on Iran’s regional designs.”

Which, of course, brings to mind once again Netanyahu’s demonstrated regional expertise in his enthusiastic promotion of the invasion of Iraq in testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on September 12, 2002. His appearance was transparently part of the Bush administration’s (and the neoconservatives’) campaign to persuade Congress to approve the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq—which it did one month later, on October 16, 2002.

Bibi’s timing was superb; he spoke on the day after the first anniversary of 9/11 and five days after Vice President Dick Cheney told “Meet the Press” that, “We do know, with absolute certainty, that he is using his procurement system to acquire the equipment he needs in order to enrich uranium to build a nuclear weapon.”

The excerpts of Netanyahu’s “wisdom” are to die for. Chris Matthews really owes it to his viewership to air this testimony in advance of Netanyahu’s visit.

Netanyahu greets Giuliani, Feb. 1, 2015

More in the unhinged department. Former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani met Netanyahu two weeks ago (above). Now he calls Obama a “moron” for dealing with Iran.

[Talking to Iran] is like playing poker with a guy who cheated you twice before. You know who does that? A moron. An agreement with Iran in to regard to nuclear power should be very simple. Iran should not be allowed to have any form of nuclear power…. The Ayatollah is insane. He’s like the guy walking around Bellevue Hospital thinking he’s George Washington. He’s a madman.. And we’re upset that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to come here and defend his country?

The Netanyahu speech is doing great things for our country. It’s allowing Americans to talk about what’s in our interest and what’s in Israel’s, and distinguishing between the two categories. Thanks to Annie Robbins

– See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/israel-divorce-rumors#sthash.bey2e5vG.dpuf

Exhibit of iconic 1948 photos — ‘The Long Journey’ — opens today in NYC

 on January 23, 2015 

The UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees has opened a new digital archive including many images from the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled the Zionist army and militias when the state of Israel was established in Palestine.

And Alwan for the Arts in New York and UNRWA USA are honoring the archive with an exhibition in New York of iconic photographs from 1948 through to the present day. The exhibit opens today downtown and will run for three weeks, culminating in an auction of photos on the night of Thursday February 12.

The exhibition is called “The Long Journey,” and you can see it for free any afternoon during the week from 2-5. The press release is below. Here is a preview of some of these wrenching photos, which will some day be inscribed in American consciousness the way that photos of the Jewish experience of eastern Europe are.

This one is very famous. We often hear the words “forced into the sea” — these people had that experience.

Iconic UNRWA photo of Palestinian refugees

Or this one could be viewed with a reading from S. Yizhar’s book Khirbet Khizeh, in which he describes the noble/defiant expression on the face of a Palestinian woman being forced to leave her village and get into a transport truck:

UNRWA photograph from  1948

The children’s photo at the top of this post is reminiscent in its beauty and innocence of Annemarie Jacir’s great movie, When I Saw You, about militant refugees in Jordan. Is it any surprise that many of these young people became radicalized, and built their lives around the idea of getting their homes and country back?

Here is the press release from UNRWA USA:

UNRWA USA, in partnership with Alwan for the Arts, presents “The Long Journey,” a collection of historical photographs (1948-2014) from the Archives of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, recently exhibited at the UN Headquarters.

On view at Alwan:
Friday, January 23 -February 12, 2015
Monday through Friday
2pm-6pm daily, or by appointment

In this 1967 photo from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, archive, Palestine refugees flee across over the Jordan river on the damaged Allenby Bridge during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Closing Reception & Charity Auction:
Thursday, February 12, 2015
6:30-8:30pm

Photographs to be auctioned with all proceeds/reception donations benefiting UNRWA’s Gaza emergency relief fund. (Donations through UNRWA USA are tax-deductible.)

Free and open to the public

The Long Journey is an exhibition that recounts the life and history of the Palestine refugees since 1948 through a selection of iconic pictures and films from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)’s archives. The exhibition draws public attention on human stories and the works of UNRWA in the Middle East.

In this exhibit, UNRWA unveils the first part of its newly digitized archive, which consists of over half a million negatives, prints, slides, films and videocassettes covering all aspects of the life and history of Palestine refugees from 1948 to the present day. The first group of iconic photographs are part of the exhibition, The Long Journey, which opens on 23 January, 2015, at Alwan for the Arts in Lower Manhattan.

UNRWA’s archive has been inscribed on the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register, which includes collections of outstanding cultural and historical significance. In tandem with the digitized archive, UNRWA is also launching a website,http://archive.unrwa.org/, where the 1,948 images will be available to media, academics, writers and others who wish to study, explore or just have a window into the world of Palestine refugees from 1948 to the present day.

The Long Journey is organized and endorsed by UNRWA USA.

The following video “The Long Journey” records Lebanese photographer and filmmaker George Nehmeh, whose iconic footage and photography from Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon working for UNRWA from the 60’s through the 90’s is displayed in this exhibit, as he retraces his steps years later.

Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview

On eve of University of California honor, Bill Maher defends anti-Muslim hate speech in Vanity Fair interview

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Bill Maher with Ben Affleck and Sam Harris.

This weekend, UC-Berkeley honors its graduates and Bill Maher’s Anti-Muslimism, together.

Unlike Harris-Maher-Affleck-Gate, a very peculiar comment from Bill Maher recently flew completely under the journo radar.  Sally Kohn of Vanity Fair said to him:

“The religious scholar Karen Armstrong did an interview with Salon and talked about what you and Sam Harris said. And she said that your comments fill her with despair because this is ‘the sort of talk that led to the concentrations camps in Europe. The sorts of things that people were saying about Jews in the 30s and 40s.’ That’s gotta sting, especially coming from her.”

To which he replied:

“It doesn’t sting because it’s beyond stupid. Jews weren’t oppressing anybody. There weren’t 5,000 militant Jewish groups. They didn’t do a study of treatment of women around the world and find that the Jews were at the bottom of it. There weren’t 10 Jewish countries in the world that were putting gay people to death just for being gay. It’s idiotic.”

Here, we see that Maher disagreed with the comparison between American Muslims in concentration camps and European Jews in concentration camps by listing off “reasons” for why the latter did not deserve it (and the former would?).  The big fat realization staring us all right in the face is…did Bill Maher just justify the mass murder of American Muslims?  What the hell did he just say?

Let’s go through this again, for the sake of clarity.  The scholar Karen Armstrong says she is fearful that if anti-Muslim bigotry (like Maher’s) persists in this country, one day American citizens will get targeted based on whatever classifies as “Muslim”, will get illegally picked up one by one, and will get forcefully placed in 21st century concentration camps where a Muslim Holocaust may or may not be happening.  Instead of laughing her off as hyperbolic or the idea off as preposterous (which I thought was going to follow after his “it’s beyond stupid”), or instead of giving liberal assurances to assuage such fears, Bill Maher instinctually accepts the notion of a Muslim genocide in America and proceeds to contextualize it by blaming Muslims themselves.  Armstrong validated.

According to Maher’s response, the entire spectrum of American Muslims then are at fault for matters outside of their control, involving people that they’ve never met.  For actions that they don’t condone, by subcultures that are different from their own.  For mentalities that they don’t share, by groups whose names they can’t even pronounce.  All because they happen to fall under the same category of religious identity.  This is extreme bigotry against a people that Maher has been able to professionally masquerade as rational critique against a religion…a maneuver only popular, self-identified “liberals” can get away with if they keep saying the words “free speech” louder than others are saying “hate speech”.

In the same interview, Maher proudly claimed “way more people came over to my side” after the exchange with Ben Affleck.  He’s right.  And he loved that racists, homophobes, illegal Mexican blamers, Anti-Semites, climate-change-denying crackpots, White-supremacist nut jobs, and all the other groups of people that he’s been ridiculing for decades jumped the fence and hi-fived him on this one.  This is where they join forces, where their bigotry circles intersect to form that Anti-Muslim vesica piscis in the middle, where they’re brothers in discrimination.  After all, Sean Hannity praised him.  Yeah…take a moment if you need to.

Maher claims he has “two” “Muslim” “friends” but after all he’s spewed about Muslims over the years, we don’t really know what that means.  Maybe they enjoy his impossible ignorance, gross generalizations, warmongering, misinformation, and chronic out-of-context taking.  In the interview, he made it a point to say that Reza Aslan considers him a friend instead of the other way around, despite Aslan trying to publicly make a case for Maher not being a bigot.  My guess is he didn’t make the cut as the third official Muslim friend because he doesn’t do the whole former-Muslim-pet-for-Islamophobes song and dance that Maher loves to spotlight.  Makes you think about his “two” “Muslim” “friends” and if Maher would intervene on their behalf in the American Muslim Holocaust.

Congratulations UC-Berkeley, this Saturday, December 20, you’ll be on the wrong side of history.

– See more at: site

Why did Netanyahu respond to chickenshit with ‘grassy knoll’ remark?

Wading through all the chickensh*t over the last few days Netanyahu’s “grassy knoll” comeback somehow missed out on all the action, but what the hoot guys? Where I come from that terminology only means one thing, as far as I know, that applies to the lexicon anywhere in America, if not the world. Hey, even Google agrees with me. And what are the chances Netanyahu and/or his speechwriters don’t know this? Nada. Impossible.

Why would Netanyahu make a reference to one of the most alarming chapters in American history, the assassination of a beloved American president? And for many, an assassination still shrouded in mystery and deceit? I just thought it was very weird. Where is our press?

Winding down after scrutinizing, dissecting and eviscerating Goldberg’s now infamous Chickensh*t article, Justin Raimondo, in The Chickenshit Lobby Is Mad As Hell– but just how mad are they? makes the argument had a leader of Iran slipped “grassy knoll” into a message to an American president the press would have gone bonkers. I agree.

What’s surprising is how Netanyahu, in a speech to the Knesset, took the opportunity toanswer his critics in the Obama administration: “Netanyahu angrily insisted he was ‘under attack simply for defending Israel,’ adding that he ‘cherished’ Israel’s relationship with the US.”

The famously combative Israeli Prime Minister went on to say:

“When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede. You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels.”

Bibi, who spent many years in the United States, is surely cognizant of what his “grassy knoll” reference connotes. You can argue it was just an infelicitous phrase, or that Bibi was referring to himself, not Obama. Maybe so. But what if, say, an Iranian official, even a low-ranking one, had said such a thing? The uproar would be deafening. And so the question must be asked: was Bibi threatening the President of the United States?

If we take seriously Goldberg’s depiction of the poisoned relationship between Bibi and Obama, the possibility can’t be completely dismissed.

Do you think anyone at the White House noticed Netanyahu’s phraseology? Me too. So why the silence from the press? Grassy knoll, it only means one thing here in America:

Screehshot of Google "grassy knoll"

Netanyahu is widely faulted for helping to incite Rabin assassination, marching in a rally where guys were holding up a coffin for Rabin.

(H/t David Doppler)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

 

  1. And don’t forget all the indications that Israel and its supporters were involved in the conspiracy to assassinate JFK. The evidence is discussed quite fully in Col. John Hugh-Wilson’s JFK: An American Coup D’etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination

More Orientalist insinuations in the New York Times

Steven Erlanger, expert on the Orient

Orientalism is more cunning and subtle than just simple prejudice against Arabs and Muslims.  The other day, the New York Times offered another nice specimen of Orientalist technique. A “news analysis” by Steven Erlanger included the following paragraph:

“Unlike Fatah, Hamas claims the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Allah, which cannot be ceded. In other words, Israel is illegitimate and its occupants should ‘go home.’ The most any senior Hamas official ever offered was a ‘hudna,’ a cease-fire, which the Prophet Muhammad offered enemies to restore his strength.”

There are several Orientalist gems packed into these short sentences. First, leaving “God” untranslated from the Arabic “Allah” is a standard exoticizing practice. Timesarticles about French- or Spanish-speaking people do not have them saying “Dieu” or “Dios.” And in Israel/Palestine itself, no Times reporter would be allowed to write, say, “Jews who have settled in the West Bank claim the whole of the British mandate of Palestine as land granted by Yahweh, which cannot be ceded.”

The sentence about a cease-fire reveals even more about Orientalist thinking. There are plenty of instances in world history of cease-fires, including in the recent Middle East, but our reporter is compelled to go back to the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century for his example. This is Orientalism 101. Muslims and Arabs have an unchangeable essence, a core way of being, which is revealed in their ancient texts and in their history.

Our reporter’s sly insinuation is obvious. Nearly 1300 years ago, the first Muslim, the Prophet Muhammad, offered his enemies a truce “to restore his strength.” Therefore, Hamas, who are also Muslims, are duplicitous by their very nature, and you cannot trust them. Just like Muhammad, once their strength is restored they will stab you in the back. (This classic Orientalist view is, probably unconsciously, reinforced by the photograph which accompanies the article, which shows a large group of Muslim men praying inside a damaged mosque in Gaza.)

Imagine if the Times applied this kind of “news analysis” to the Israeli government. What if the newspaper summarized a feature of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy, and then immediately compared it to one of the villainous characters in ancient Israel who we read about in the Torah?

Hamas and its policy toward Israel is of course a large and legitimate question. Fortunately, we have genuine scholars, like Professor Jerome Slater, who study reality today instead of using the 7th Century as their guide into the Muslim Mind. Professor Slater has written about Hamas and Israel at length; he argues, using one piece of specific, present-day evidence after another, that Hamas is ready to recognize Israel, perhaps grudgingly, but of course as part of a comprehensive settlement that will bring justice to Palestinians.  Professor Slater publishes in scholarly journals, and also makes his findings available to a wider public here. Maybe the next New York Times “news analysis” will include views like his, instead of more Orientalist insinuations?

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