Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israeli Savagery: Exchange on wagging the dog

I took the opportunity of a colleague’s argument that U.S. support for the current Israeli barbarism in Lebanon and Palestine was another case of the Israeli Lobby wagging the dog of U.S. Middle East policy, to highlight the role of the Bush clique in the present crisis.

Jeff wrote:

The present onslaught by Israel in Lebanon should put an end to speculation
about who wags who. The spectacle of virtually the entire Congress putting itself
on record in supporting crimes against humanity while Washington sends more precision
bombs to Israel, shows clearly who is serving who. Despite the efforts to make
it appear otherwise, Hizbollah is not an international player, and the destruction
of Lebanon is not in American interests, imperial or otherwise. George Sr. wanted
to sanction Israel the last time it invaded but was overruled by Reagan, and he
would not let the Israeli tell him who he could or could not talk to. Also, is Syria,
really a threat to the US, or just in Israel's way? After Dubya backed off
from criticizing Sharon in 2002 after Jenin, when he was taken to the woodshed by
the lobby for so doing, he has been dutifully responsible to the lobby's demands
which led Brent Scowcroft, former Nat Sec advisor to "say that Sharon had Dubya
wrapped around his finger." Now it's Olmert's turn. But, hey, what does
Scowcroft know?

I responded:

On who is wagging whom in the current crisis, I agree that destroying Lebanon is not in US interests. However, one thing the Bush administration has made clear over and over again, is that it acts knowingly and recklessly (not to say criminally) against the US and the international interest. After 9/11 and especially now in their second term, they less and less bashfully pursue their goal of heightened tensions, international anarchy and permanent war. The new phrase going around is: the long war.

The question revolves around where U.S. policy is determined. Condi Rice’s shameful, vicious and reprehensible public statements from the area are not only greenlighting continuing Israeli barbarity but insisting – just in case Tel Aviv at some point might want to reconsider -- on an indefinite continuation of the terror campaign.

(My own take on Condi’s personal views is that she would have been much more comfortable calling for a cease fire. Yet, like Powell before her, she’s playing the good soldier and following the heinous orders of her bosses.)

The critical question is where were these remarks and her talking points drafted? Where they presented to the White House and State Department by AIPAC, or did they emanate from Cheney’s office, with the full support of the White House? (See my note below on Bush’s deft handling of Blair’s too little attempt to set some limit on Israeli destruction.)

Needless to say, AIPAC and the Lobby are playing a key supportive role, and in an imaginary world where they opposed Bush’s Middle East policy, they could have stopped it -- by themselves and the help of a like thinking media -- just as Congressman Jim Moran, famously said.

Tragically, we are dealing with an exceptional heedless and criminal clique that is running the U.S. government. The closest one to the present is the Reagan government which greenlighted the 1982 Lebanon invasion. But decades ago, when it came down to continuing the war indefinitely and spreading it, cooler heads prevailed and Alexander Haig was cashiered.

Too many Lebanese and Palestinians and the rest of us are learning that there are no cooler heads in sight when it comes to current U.S./Israeli policy.

Readers of the late Israel Shahak’s commentaries on articles he translated from the Hebrew press will recall that over the years, he would from time to time point to some of the crazy, radical, bellicose ideas typically emanating from the Israeli military that had to be put down by the political echelon. Now with neophytes at the head of Israeli politics, the military crazies are in control. The problem for the world –never mind the Arabs and Muslims – is that an equally crazy and radical government in the U.S. is not only cheering the Israelis on but helping to drive them to endless butchery and war, for Israel's perceived benefit and for their own demented and suicidal purposes.

Will this evident White House campaign for war, war, war give pause to those who argued that the neoncons were sidelined in Bush’s second term? Though they’re not Jewish, Bush, Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld are the neocons in chief, delightedly turning William Kristol’s and Michael Ledeen’s ravings into reality.

Gabriel Ash’s important article on Israeli Terror (http://dissidentvoice.org/July06/Ash18.htm) must be among the first to point to the solution of the problem of how, after the embarrassment of being caught out lying about the war in Iraq, the Bush administration was going to manage to get us into more wars, first with Syria and Iran, and eventually with Russia and China.

The only question seems to be how much of their hoped for WW4, the Clique will manage to impose before the 2008 election campaign.

NYT and Bush’s curse word

In the penultimate paragraph of an 800+ word NYT article on Bush’s overheard conversation at the G8 summit where he spoke of the Lebanon crisis with Blair (“Look Ma, No Script: What That Says About Me,” NYTNWR, 23 July 06), reporter Jim Rutenberg almost offhandedly points to the obvious purpose of Bush’s comment about Hezbollah:

Rutenberg (NYT) “But was that distraction or deflection as Mr Blair tried to press Mr. Bush to sign off on a plan to dispatch an international force to the region.”

(Rutenberg carelessly gets the details wrong. Blair is talking about going the Middle East himself in order to pave the way for Condi’s trip The rest of Rutenberg’s article is fluff, perhaps as a way for the Times to indicate that it’s suitably repentant after the recent vicious administration and media attacks on it.)

Reviewing the conversation we see that Bush’s expletive laced comment comes directly after Blair pressed the possibility of his making a trip to the area.

Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out, she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see, the ... thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over.

In a normal world, where the lives of the Lebanese people, and the very viability of their country would be considered to have some importance to the US and the rest of the international community, this revelation would be sufficient embarrassment for the main actors to do what is necessary to put an end to the ongoing carnage.

But we are not living in such a world. We are living in a world today dominated by radical monsters in Tel Aviv and Washington who want more war. It's a war where, as Gabriel Ash points out, civilians are Israel’s deliberate target in order to ensure a wider war.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Archives -- Bleier's Blog

Archives for Bleier's Blog

Note: Previously I had divided my blog into three separate blogs: one concentrating on Bush's malefactions, one on the Middle East and one on 9/11 inquiry.

In future, all posts will go under the compendium of Bleier's Blog.




Note that blog entries represent only a fraction of the posts that Ronald Bleier sends to his private email lists:

Compendium list
This list gets everything Ronald Bleier sends out

Middle East list

Political List
Due to current politics there is a lot of overlap with Middle East and the 9/11 list below.

9/11 Inquiry list
See note for political list above.

To join any of these lists, write to: rbleier AT igc DOT org

Monday, July 17, 2006

"Letter from Beirut

I found Rasha's Letter from Beirut on a blog which I seem to recall getting from Angry Arab's blog.

In the interests of space (and time) I've left out some of the theories he/she repeats. I've left in the part where she mentions the Israeli military getting the upper hand with Olmert. To which I'd add, as I've done before, that the current and apparently growing horror is being cheerleaded by Bush, Rove, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Note that they have sent Eliot Abrams, the most vicious anti Arab in the US government to the area. That says much and if we needed more, all we have to do is look at the way they are blocking any and all efforts to reduce tensions..

Readers will have heard that Bush was caught muttering an anti Hezbollah expletive to Tony Blair at the G8 summit. The NYT site provided the audio but I couldn't make it out, but I gather I caught the correct gist.

[Later I got the transcript:

What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over," Bush says with his mouth full as he buttered a piece of bread.

"Who, Syria?" asked Blair, standing next to the seated Bush.

"Right," Bush said. ]

I'm wondering if the tone and substance of Bush's comment will shed some light on the extent to which Bush is NOT merely a facade: he's a real player, and as we well know, not on the good side or the realistic side or the side interested in scaling down hostilities. He's just as evil as Cheney for example in his neocon, suicidal, desire for increasing tensions and expanding the war. And he's as vicious and heartless and lacking compassion as the very worst tyrants in all of human history. (Needless to say, this goes for Cheney and Rumsfeld as well.) He's truly a sick and disturbed person -- doubtless a result of his mother's brutality, as Alexander Cockburn opined years ago. That's who's leading this parade.

(For those following the Blankfort-Farber back and forth, I suppose I'm closer to Farber on this one. It's not the Lobby that's keeping the US from tamping down this firestorm. As powerful as they are, they couldn't keep the US -- if we had a sane government -- from intervening to stop hostilities. The horror continues because of the sickness and perversity of the neocon Bush clique.) --Ronald Bleier


Letter from Beirut


My Israeli friend Moshe Behar has forwarded this letter from his friend Rasha. She is in Beirut:

Rasha wrote:

Dear All,

I am writing now from a cafe, in West Beirut's Hamra district. It is filled with people who are trying to escape the pull of 24 hour news reporting. Like me. The electricity has been cut off for a while now, and the city has been surviving on generators. The old system that was so familiar at the time of the war, where generators were allowed a lull to rest is back. The cafe is dark, hot and humid. Espresso machines and blenders are silenced. Conversations, rumors, frustrations waft through the room. I am better off here than at home, following the news, live, on the spot documentation of our plight in sound bites. The sound of Israeli warplanes overwhelms the air on occasion. They drop leaflets to conduct a "psychological" war. Yesterday, their sensitivity training urged them to advise inhabitants of the southern suburbs to flee because the night promised to be "hot". Today, the leaflets warn that they plan to bomb all other bridges and tunnels in Beirut. People are flocking to supermarkets to stock up on food. This morning, I wrote in my emails to people inquiring about my well-being that I was safe, and that the targets seem to be strictly Hezbollah sites and their constituencies, now, I regret typing that. They will escalate. Until a few hours ago, they had only bombed the runways of the airport, as if to "limit" the damage. A few hours ago, four shells were dropped on the buildings of our brand new shining airport.

The night was harrowing. The southern suburbs and the airport were bombed, from air and sea. The apartment where I am living has a magnificient view of the bay of Beirut. I could see the Israeli warships firing at their leisure. It is astounding how comfortable they are in our skies, in our waters, they just travel around, and deliver their violence and congratulate themselves.

The cute French-speaking and English-speaking bourgeoisie has fled to the Christian mountains. A long-standing conviction that the Israelis will not target Lebanon's Christian "populated" mountains. Maybe this time they will be proven wrong? The Gulfies, Saudis, Kuwaities and other expatriates have all fled out of the country, in Pullman buses via Damascus, before the road was bombed. They were supposed to be the economic lifeblood of this country. The contrast in their sense of panic as opposed to the defiance of the inhabitants of the southern suburbs was almost comical. This time, however, I have to admit, I am tired of defying whatever for whatever cause. There is no cause really. There are only sinister post-Kissingerian type negotiations. I can almost hear his hateful voice rationalizing laconically as he does the destruction of a country, the deaths of families, people with dreams and ambitions for the Israelis to win something more, always more.

Although I am unable to see it, I am told left, right and center that there is a rhyme and reason, grand design, and strategy. The short-term military strategy seems to be to cripple transport and communications. And power stations. The southern region has now been reconfigured into small enclaves that cannot communicate between one another. Most have enough fuel, food and supplies to last them until tomorrow, but after that the isolation of each enclave will lead to tragedy. Mayors and governors have been screaming for help on the TV.

This is all bringing back echoes of 1982, the Israeli siege of Beirut. My living nightmare, well one of my living nightmares. It was summer then as well. The Israeli army marched through the south and besieged Beirut. For 3 months, the US administration kept dispatching urges for the Israeli military to act with restraint. And the Israelis assured them they were acting appropriately. We had the PLO command in West Beirut then. I felt safe with the handsome fighters. How I miss them. Between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army I don't feel safe. We are exposed, defenseless, pathetic. And I am older, more aware of danger. I am 37 years old and actually scared. The sound of the warplanes scares me. I am not defiant, there is no more fight left in me. And there is no solidarity, no real cause.

I am furthermore pissed off because no one knows how hard the postwar reconstruction was to all of us. Hariri did not make miracles. People work hard and sacrifice a lot and things get done. No one knows except us how expensive, how arduous that reconstruction was. Every single bridge and tunnel and highway, the runways of that airport, all of these things were built from our sweat and brow, at 3 times the real cost of their construction because every member of government, because every character in the ruling Syrian junta, because the big players in the Hariri administration and beyond, were all thieves. We accepted the thievery and banditry just to get things done and get it over with. Everyone one of us had two jobs (I am not referring to the ruling elite, obviously), paid backbreaking taxes and wages to feed the "social covenant". We faught and faught that neoliberal onslaught, the arrogance of economic consultants and the greed of creditors just to have a nice country that functioned at a minimum, where things got done, that stood on its feet, more or less. A thirving Arab civil society. Public schools were sacrificed for roads to service neglected rural areas and a couple Syrian officers to get richer, and we accepted, that road was desperately needed, and there was the "precarious national consensus" to protect. Social safety nets were given up, healthcare for all, unions were broken and coopted, public spaces taken over, and we bowed our heads and agreed. Palestinian refugees were pushed deeper and deeper into forgetting, hidden from sight and consciousness, "for the preservation of their identity" we were told, and we accepted. In exchange we had a secular country where the Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces could co-exist and fight their fights in parliament not with bullets. We bit hard on our tongues and stiffened our upper lip, we protested and were defeated, we took the streets, defied army-imposed curfews, time after time, to protect that modicum of civil rights, that modicum of a semblance of democracy, and it takes one air raid for all our sacrifices and tolls to be blown to smithereens. It's not about the airport, it's what we built during that postwar.

As per the usual of Lebanon, it's not only about Lebanon, the country has paradigmatically been the terrain for regional conflicts to lash out violently. Off course speculations abound. There is rhetoric, and a lot of it, but there are also Theories.

1) Theory Number One.

This is about Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah negotiating an upper hand in the negotiations with Israel. Hezbollah have indicated from the moment they captured the Israeli soldiers that they were willing to negotiate in conjunction with Hamas for the release of all Arab prisoners in Israeli jails. Iran is merely providing a back support for Syria + Hamas.

2) Theory Number Two.

This is not about solidarity with Gaza or strengthening the hand of the Palestinians in negotiating the release of the prisoners in Israeli jails. This is about Iran's nuclear bomb and negotiations with the Europeans/US. The Iranian negotiator left Brussels after the end of negotiations and instead of returning to Tehran, he landed in Damascus. Two days later, Hezbollah


There are more theories... There is also the Israeli government reaching an impasse and feeling a little wossied out by Hezbollah and Hamas, and the Israeli military taking the upper hand with Olmert.

The land of conspiracies... Fun? I can't make heads or tails. But I am tired of spending days and nights waiting not to die from a shell, on target or astray. Watching poor people bludgeoned, homeless and preparing to mourn. I am so weary...


Posted by Abbas Raza at 05:43 PM |

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tanya .Reinhart:: IDF Hungry for War

Finally, with Hamas' electoral victory, we get a definition of what it means to defeat the Palestinians who were defeated in 1948 and never recovered. Defeat means electing an Arafat-type who will collaborate with Israel -- even as Sharon and Olmert declared they wouldn't talk even to him or his Fatah replacement. As Reinhart puts it:

In Israel`s view, the Palestinian elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel`s demands.

But defeating the Palestinians is the penultimate step: the final step is the expulsion of the mass of Palestinians from what used to be Palestine.

Tanya Reinhart and I were the only ones predicting that Gaza Disengagement would never happen. Here she explains again how it was really supposed to go down and why it finally happened last year.

Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the USA imposed a veto. Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious and stormy, and the army was forced to back down (3). Now, the time has finally came. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with excessively-reported attacks on civilians.(4)

As far as I know, I was the only one who predicted that the Israelis would never leave their _security zone_ in Lebanon. My thinking was based on the water they were getting from Lebanon. Now it looks like they may be taking it back soon.

Reinhart speaks of the Islamophobia that permits the US to allow Israel's brutal attack on millions of innocent peoples. Of course she's right and if anything understates the issue. Beyond the Lobby, beyond the neocons gleefully cheering on the Israelis as if it were the World Cup, it's Islamophobia which explains how Americans and others can sit and watch Israeli depredations with such complaisance. In the same way, the reason that BushCo understood that 9/11 wouldn't be seriously questioned or investigated was their choice of enemy. --Ronald Bleier

Bastille Day Weekend Edition
July 14 / 17, 2006

The IDF is Hungry for War
What Are They Fighting For?

Whatever may be the fate of the captive soldier Gilad Shalit, the Israeli army's war in Gaza is not about him. As senior security analyst Alex Fishman widely reported, the army was preparing for an attack months earlier and was constantly pushing for it, with the goal of destroying the Hamas infrastructure and its government. The army initiated an escalation on 8 June when it assassinated Abu Samhadana, a senior appointee of the Hamas government, and intensified its shelling of civilians in the Gaza Strip. Governmental authorization for action on a larger scale was already given by 12 June, but it was postponed in the wake of the global reverberation caused by the killing of civilians in the air force b! ombing the next day. The abduction of the soldier released the safety-catch, and the operation began on 28 June with the destruction of infrastructure in Gaza and the mass detention of the Hamas leadership in the West Bank, which was also planned weeks in advance. (1)

In Israeli discourse, Israel ended the occupation in Gaza when it evacuated its settlers from the Strip, and the Palestiniansí behavior therefore constitutes ingratitude. But there is nothing further from reality than this description. In fact, as was already stipulated in the Disengagement Plan, Gaza remained under complete Israeli military control, operating from outside. Israel prevented any possibility of economic independence for the Strip and from the very beginning, Israel did not implement a single one of the clauses of the agreement on border-crossings of November 2005. Israel simply substituted the expensive occupation of Gaza with a cheap occupation, one which in Israelís view exempts it from! the occupierís responsibility to maintain the Strip, and from concern for the welfare and the lives of its million and a half residents, as determined in the fourth Geneva convention.

Israel does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza strip. If they are given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control the West Bank, Israel needs full control Gaza. The new form of control Israel has developed is turning the whole of the Strip into a prison camp completely sealed from the world.

Besieged occupied people with nothing to hope for, and no alternative means of political struggle, will always seek ways to fight their oppressor. The imprisoned Gaza Palestinians found a way to disturb the life of the Israelis in the vicinity of the Strip, ! by launching home-made Qassam rockets across the Gaza wall against Israeli towns bordering the Strip. These primitive rockets lack the precision to focus on a target, and have rarely caused Israeli casualties; they do however cause physical and psychological damage and seriously disturb life in the targeted Israeli neighborhoods. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the Qassams are a response to the war Israel has declared on them. As a student from Gaza said to the New York Times, ìWhy should we be the only ones who live in fear? With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together.î (2)

The mightiest army in the Middle East has no military answer to these home-made rockets. One answer that presents itself is what Hamas has been proposing all along, and Haniyeh repeated this week - a comprehensive cease-fire. Hamas has proven already that it can keep its word. In the 17 months since it announced its! decision to abandon armed struggle in favor of political struggle, an d declared a unilateral cease-fire (ìtahdiyaî - calm), it did not participate in the launching of Qassams, except under severe Israeli provocation, as happened in the June escalation. However, Hamas remains committed to political struggle against the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. In Israel`s view, the Palestinians elections results is a disaster, because for the first time they have a leadership that insists on representing Palestinian interests rather than just collaborating with Israel`s demands.

Since ending the occupation is the one thing Israel is not willing to consider, the option promoted by the army is breaking the Palestinians by devastating brutal force. They should be starved, bombarded, terrorized with sonic booms for months, until they understand that rebelling is futile, and accepting prison life is their only hope for staying alive. Their elected political system, institutions and police should be destroyed. In Israel`s vision, Gaza should be r! uled by gangs collaborating with the prison wards.

The Israeli army is hungry for war. It would not let concerns for captive soldiers stand in its way. Since 2002 the army has argued that an ìoperationî along the lines of ìDefensive Shieldî in Jenin was also necessary in Gaza. Exactly a year ago, on 15 July (before the Disengagement), the army concentrated forces on the border of the Strip for an offensive of this scale on Gaza. But then the USA imposed a veto. Rice arrived for an emergency visit that was described as acrimonious and stormy, and the army was forced to back down (3). Now, the time has finally came. With the Islamophobia of the American Administration at a high point, it appears that the USA is prepared to authorize such an operation, on condition that it not provoke a global outcry with excessively-reported attacks on civilians.(4)

With the green light for the offensive given, the army`s only concern is public image. Fishman reported this Tue! sday that the army is worried that `what threatens to burry this huge military and diplomatic effort` is reports of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Hence, the army would take care to let some food into Gaza. (5) From this perspective, it is necessary to feed the Palestinians in Gaza so that it would be possible to continue to kill them undisturbed.

Tanya Reinhart is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and the author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and The Roadmap to Nowhere. She can be reached through her website: http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart

*Parts of this article were translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall.

(1) Alex Fishman, Who is for the elimination of Hamas, Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, June 30, 2006. See also Alex Fishman, The safety-catch released, Yediot Aharonot June 21, 2006 (Hebrew), Aluf Benn, An operation with two goals, Ha`aretz, June 29 2006.

(2) Greg Myre, Rockets Create a `Balance of Fear` With Israel, Gaza Residents Say. The New York Times, July 9, 2006.

(3) Steven Erlanger, ìU.S. Presses Israel to Smooth the Path to a Palestinian Gazaî, New York Times, August 7 2005.
(4) For a detailed survey of the U.S. administration`s present stands, see Ori Nir, U.S. Seen Backing Israeli Moves To Topple Hamas, The Forward, July 7, 2006.

(5) Alex Fishman, Their food is finished, Yediot Aharonot, July 11, 2006.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bleier on atheism, Malthus, Overpopulation, etc.

Readers interested in my essay/memoir on how I became an atheist and related views on Malthus, overpopulation, war the meaning of life and more can find it on my DESIP website using the following link.

My Path to Atheism: An Essay Disguised as a Memoir


--Ronald Bleier

T.Reinhart: A Week of Israeli Restraint

A Week of Israeli Restraint*

Tanya Reinhart

Yediot Aharonot, June 21, 2006, Translated from Hebrew by Mark Marshall (Footnotes added)

In Israeli discourse, Israel is always the side exercising restraint in its conflict with the Palestinians. This was true again for the events of the past week: As the Qassam rockets were falling on the Southern Israeli town of Sderot, it was “leaked” that the Israeli Minister of Defense had directed the army to show restraint.1

During the week of Israeli restraint, the army killed a Palestinian family who went on a picnic on the Beit Lahya beach in the Gaza Strip; after that, the army killed nine people in order to liquidate a Katyusha rocket. But in the discourse of restraint, the first killing does not count, because the army denied its involvement, and the second was deemed a necessary act of self-defense. After all, Israel is caught in the midst of Qassam attacks, and must defend its citizens. In this narrative, the fact that Israel is content merely to bombard the Gaza Strip from air, sea and land is a model of restraint and humanity that not many states could match.

But what is driving the Qassam attacks on Israel? For 17 months, since it declared a cease fire, Hamas has not been involved in firing Qassams. The other organizations have generally succeeded in launching only a few isolated Qassams. How did this evolve into an attack of something like 70 Qassams in three days?

The Israeli army has a long tradition of “inviting” salvoes of Qassams. In April of last year, Sharon took off to a meeting with Bush in which his central message was that Abbas is not to be trusted, has no control of the ground, and cannot be a partner for negotiations. The army took care to provide an appropriate backdrop for the meeting. On the eve of Sharon’s departure, on 9 April 2005, the Israeli army killed three youths on the Rafah border, who according to Palestinian sources were playing soccer there. This arbitrary killing inflamed a wave of anger in the Gaza Strip, which had been relatively quiet until then. Hamas responded to the anger on the street, and permitted its people to participate in the firing of Qassams. On the following two days, about 80 Qassams were fired, until Hamas restored calm. Thus, during the Sharon-Bush meeting, the world received a perfect illustration of the untrustworthiness of Abbas.2

At the beginning of last week (11 June), Olmert set out on a campaign of persuasion in Europe to convince European leaders that now, with Hamas in power, Israel definitely has no partner. The USA does not appear to need any convincing at the moment, but in Europe there is more reservation about unilateral measures. The Israeli army began to prepare the backdrop on the night of the previous Thursday (8 June 2006), when it “liquidated” Jamal Abu Samhanada, who had recently been appointed head of the security forces of the Interior Ministry by the Hamas government. It was entirely predictable that the action may lead to Qassam attacks on Sderot. Nevertheless, the army proceeded the following day to shell the Gaza coast (killing the Ghalya family and wounding tens of people), and succeeded in igniting the required conflagration, until Hamas again ordered its people, on 14 June, to cease firing.

This time, the show orchestrated by the army got a bit messed up. Pictures of the child Huda Ghalya succeeded in breaching the wall of Western indifference to Palestinian suffering. Even if Israel still has enough power to force Kofi Annan to apologize for casting doubt on Israel’s denial, the message that Hamas is the aggressive side in the conflict did not go unchallenged in the world this time. But the army has not given up. It appears determined to continue to provoke attacks that would justify bringing down the Hamas government by force, with Sderot paying the price.

Even though it is impossible to compare the sufferings of the residents of Sderot with the sufferings of the residents of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya in the North of the Gaza Strip, on which 5,000 shells fell in the past month alone3, my heart also goes out to the residents of Sderot. It is their destiny to live in fear and agony, because in the eyes of the army their suffering is necessary so that the world may understand that Israel is the restrained side in a war for its very existence.


* This op-ed went to press an hour before the Israeli air force killed three more children in a crowded street in North Gaza, on Tuesday, June 20.
1. On Monday, June 12, the headlines announced that the Defence Minister Peretz blocked an initiative of the army to launch a massive land offensive in Gaza (e.g. Amos Har'el and Avi Issacharoff, Ha'aretz, June 12, 2006). In the inside pages of the weekend papers, it turned out that this was a "media spin" produced by Peretz bureau "based on a security consultation held the previous night" (Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, Lost innocents, Ha'aretz, June 16-17, 2006).
2. This sequence of events is documented in detail in my book The Road Map to Nowhere, to appear in July, 2006 (Verso).
3. Alex Fishman, Senior security analyst of Yediot Aharonot reports that at the beginning "the artillery shelling of the Gaza strip was debated", but then, "what started ten months ago with dozens of shells a month that were fired at open areas today reached astronomical numbers of shells. The battery that fired the six shells on Friday [June 9] fire an average of more than a thousand shells a week towards the north of the Strip. This means that the battery which has been placed there for four weeks has already fired about 5000 (!) shells" (Yediot Aharonot Saturday Supplement, June 16, 2006).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

*K.Nimmo: Creating Holland Tunnel Terrorists

Once again, why does it take a Kurt Nimmo to point out the obvious to smart people like us that to do any significant damage to the Holland Tunnel, it would take quite a bit of engineering, demolition and much other expertise. But maybe what the Feds had in mind on this one was a repeat of WTC 93 where they supplied the putative terrorists with the explosives. Here they would also have had to arrange for access to sensitve areas of the Tunnel and the other targets.

The whole thing is so silly when you stop for a second to examine it, that it's a bad sign that the real terrorists are willing to go public on indictments for terror acts that they acknowledge had no chance of becoming a reality. Or even worse that the media is continuing to take this seriously.

Another thought is that one of the quiet but important benefits of the 911 inquiry movement is that it has shown the covert ops people and their political masters that they won't be able to get away so easily with the next 911. Blowing up or doing significant damage to the Holland Tunnel would be of such technical difficulty (harder than making 3 skyscrapers come down at the speed of gravity in their own footprint?) that even a Noam Chomsky might be hard put to ignore it.

Wishful thinking for sure. One of the points that Chomsky and Cockburn and so many others are ignoring is that the FBI/CIA entrapment of typically hapless and ignorant youth is so obvious that even the New York Times has taken notice. -- Ronald


Kurt Nimmo wrote:


Chat Room Terrorists and the Holland Tunnel

Friday July 07th 2006, 7:36 am

In Bushzarro world, terrorists have the expertise to blow up New York’s Holland Tunnel and flood Wall Street, even though the tunnel is buried in bedrock below the Hudson River, is constructed of concrete and cast-iron steel, and lower Manhattan is above the level of the river. Like the official version of nine eleven, the Holland Tunnel plot runs counter to science and the laws of physics.

“The FBI discovered the plot by monitoring Internet chat rooms, where the aspiring terrorists discussed striking the U.S. economy,” reports the New York Daily News.

If we are to believe the FBI and the corporate media stenographers at the Daily News, this chat room chatter, or rather puerile blather followed on the heels of a declaration uttered by a dead man.

“Al Qaeda founder Bin Laden has often urged his followers to ‘bleed’ America financially,” the Daily News continues. “They’re hell-bent on destroying the economy in the U.S.,” a so-called counterterrorism source told the newspaper.

Of course, it is not clear who is “hell-bent on destroying the economy,” supposed terrorists or the FBI.

A couple weeks ago, in Miami, an FBI “al-Qaeda” agent provocateur allegedly managed to get a handful of post-adolescent poor African-American kids to “swear allegiance” to “al-Qaeda” and discuss blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago, although the government has so far failed to produce evidence these kids planned to blow up anything.

Neocon politicos wasted not a moment and jumped all over this latest absurdity. “This is one instance where intelligence was on top of its game and discovered the plot when it was just in the talking phase,” averred Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “There was nothing imminent, but it was being monitored for long period of time,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the Ministry of Homeland Security Committee, told the Associated Press.

Recall King’s demand the New York Times be prosecuted for treason after it reported the Treasury Department is in cahoots with the CIA, snooping on the financial transactions of Americans.

Naturally, the alleged chat room blather plot, instigated by a man who died of kidney failure five years ago, will give King and his fellow “conservatives” (i.e., fascist neocons) an excuse to defend various Stasi-like snoop programs and prosecute reporters for outing government malfeasance.

Obviously, the Holland Tunnel terrorist plot is yet another publicity stunt designed to convince Americans they are under attack.

“Just as the revelation that the Bush administration has been spying on the financial transactions of Americans hit the main stream press two weeks ago, the FBI announced that it had arrested seven terrorists for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. But now the defense team for those suspected terrorists is making a strong argument that the entire operation was actually planned by the government in order to manipulate public opinion, according to the Raw Story,” reports the Free Market News Network. “The government is using the case as an example that the FBI can stop homegrown terrorists. However, critics argue that the FBI is violating its own Undercover Guidelines in order to produce cases out of thin air in an effort to create a diversion in the media away from more important news such as surveillance of financial transactions.”

More than a diversion, the effort is part of an on-going scheme to scare the heck out of average Americans, by now well-steeped in fantastical terrorist nonsense with no factual basis in reality. But then facts and common sense are not required, as a large number of Americans are easily duped.

As I write this, thousands of New Yorkers probably believe there was indeed a plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel and this improbable effort would flood lower Manhattan, never mind that it would take heavy rain or a coastal storm to flood that part of the city.

But then, according to the government, Muslims were able to melt steel with kerosene on nine eleven and through evil alchemy and conjuring Allah, cave-dwelling terrorists made the World Trade Center towers free fall to the ground while simultaneously pulverizing tons of concrete, office furniture, computers, etc., to micron-sized dust particles.

If people believe Muslims are capable of such, they will likely also believe blowing up a tunnel will result in the sort of damage only possible through hurricane or storm forces. In other words, our neocon captured government has a large number of ill-informed and ignorant people by the short hairs and right where they want them.

Monday, July 03, 2006

*M.Whitney- Transfer? G.Levy Israeli terror in Gaza; Xymphora: Israeli brutality


The current Israeli terror operation in Gaza is so brutal that it raises questions about ultimate Israeli aims, namely are they preparing a transfer/expulsion scenario as suggested in Mike Whitney’s article below?

Note that the Israelis aren’t forcing Gazans to leave immediately since they are keeping the borders closed and no one can leave even if they wanted to.

If the Israelis were to provide a means of escape as in the 1948 and 1967 expulsions, than no doubt hundreds of thousands would already be well on their way.

However the current political conditions will not allow the Israelis to do that.

Thus we come to the question of what the Israelis hope to achieve in recompense for the terrible public relations they are suffering. I suppose it’s clear to all that destroying Palestinian infrastructure, depriving 1.5 million Gazans of electricity, water, fuel and food cannot have anything to do with returning an Israeli prisoner of war alive.

Moreover, as some have noted:

1. The plan to reinvade Gaza was made well before the current pretext arose.

2. The Israelis were well aware of the tunnel and apparently allowed the Palestinian incursion. It’s not clear that they counted on the relative _success_ of the mission.

Veteran Israeli reporter Gideon Levy believes – and I find his view convincing – that we are witnessing a shaky Ehud Olmert with terrible political instincts giving in to the most bizarre and outrageous ideas of the military and security services.

(Undoubtedly, leading the cheerleading for this heinous operation are the vicious and ruthless neoncons, Eliot Abrams and John Bolton, not to mention Bush, Cheney,Rove and Rumsfeld.)

Who ever thought that we would rue the day of Sharon’s passing? -- Ronald Bleier

Is this the beginning of "Transfer" in Gaza?

By Mike Whitney

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands." -- Ariel Sharon, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

"What's driving the conflict is the radical inequality between the Jewish minority, that rules all of the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and the disenfranchised Palestinian majority, who are paying the price for the luxury that Israel lives in...But what pays for that normality for Israelis is the total dispossession of the majority population. And Israel believes that it can hide them behind walls, in ghettos, as was done to Jews in Europe in the 1930s and '40s". Ali Abunimah "Electronic Intifada"

06/30/06 "Information Clearing House" -- The Palestine Chronicle conducted an informal internet poll on Wednesday which showed that nearly 75% of the people questioned believe that the "reinvasion of Gaza was preplanned". This tells us that most people, who follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, know that Israel's actions are not simply a spontaneous reaction to the kidnapping of one of its soldiers, but are part of a broader strategy for achieving their political objectives. The abduction of Gilad Shalit is simply being used as a pretext for more ethnic cleansing and land expropriation. These are the means by which Israel traditionally achieves its territorial goals.

The Gaza invasion is better understood in terms of the statement made by Ariel Sharon at the beginning of this essay. Sharon's comments are far from original. In fact, similar statements have been made by every Israeli prime minister since the founding of the state in 1948. David Ben Gurion put it this way in 1937, "We must expel Arabs and take their places". Ben Gurion's blunt declaration is no different from Sharon's or any of his successors. It merely summarizes the prevailing sentiment of the Israeli leadership for the last 60 years.

Golda Meir elaborated on Ben Gurion's comments by denying the existence of the indigenous people altogether, saying, "There's no such thing as a Palestinian people. It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist".

Meir's denials may be foolish but they are consistent with the stated beliefs of every Israeli prime minister who has served since she left office in 1970.

Yitzak Rabin's assertions are nearly identical to those of Meir and Ben Gurion. He said,

"[Israel will] create in the course of the next 10 or 20 years conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration of the refugees from the Gaza Strip and the west Bank to Jordan."

Rabin's promise to make life miserable for the Palestinians has been taken up by present Prime Minister Olmert whose boycotts, incitements and assassinations have destabilized the democratically-elected Palestinian government and pushed the people towards fratricidal warfare. Olmert's actions are guided by his convictions just like his predecessors. Three weeks ago Olmert clarified his position in comments to the US House of Representatives saying, "I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land".

There is absolute unanimity among Israel's leaders past and present, liberal and conservative, on this one, critical issue. The rhetoric many vary, the politics may differ, but there is no substantial difference. In reality, the settlements went through their greatest period of expansion under the "dovish" Labor party.

Labor and Likud; two parties, one policy.

The invasion of Gaza has nothing to do with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier or even with Hamas' rise to power. It is simply a continuation of the same, unalterable policy of annexation through brutality and subjugation. This is simply the latest chapter in Israel's ongoing confiscation of Palestinian land.

The immensity of "Operation Summer Rain", suggests that plans have been in place for quite some time and that the aims may be farther reaching than is now apparent.

Could this be the beginning of "Transfer"; the Israeli scheme to force Palestinians off their land by creating (as Rabin said) "conditions which would attract natural and voluntary migration"?

It's very possible. The intentional destruction of electric power plants, water lines, bridges, and other vital infrastructure, as well as the cutting off of food, financial resources and medical supplies, indicate that Israel is tightening the noose on the Palestinians in an effort to make life untenable in the West Bank and Gaza. Why else would they unleash their venom against objects that are in no way related to the kidnapping of the soldier and, probably, only put him in greater danger?

Israel is doing whatever it can to make human survival impossible in the occupied territories. It is paving the way for a second Palestinian Nakba.

Ariel Sharon knew that spreading misery' throughout the territories was the only way to deal with the "demographic problem". He said, "You don't simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away. I prefer to advocate a positive policy, to create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave." (Ariel Sharon Aug 24, 1988)

In the minds of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli leadership, the invasion of Gaza is a "positive policy" which will "induce" vast numbers of Palestinians to leave. The humanitarian crisis they are precipitating is not seen as a disaster, but an opportunity. Every Palestinian, who is driven from his homeland by grinding poverty, racism or violence, provides another inch or two of ground for Israel to claim as its own. And, when the unilateral borders are set and Israel owns everything from the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, Olmert will finally realize his dream of "Greater Israel". The rivers of blood that have fed that vision will mean nothing.

Menachem Begin said much the same over 20 years ago when he proclaimed, "The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized...Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And, forever."

Who will stop them?


Last update - 11:31 02/07/2006

A black flag

By Gideon Levy

A black flag hangs over the "rolling" operation in Gaza. The more the operation "rolls," the darker the flag becomes. The "summer rains" we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2's Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.

Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit's release. What we are doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There's a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.

To prevent the army from running as amok as it would like, a strong and judicious political echelon is required. But facing off against the frustrated army is Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz's tyro regime, weak and happless. Until the weekend lull, it appeared that each step proposed by the army and Shin Bet had been immediately approved for backing. That does not bode well, not only for the chances of freeing Shalit, but also for the future management of the government, which is being revealed to be as weak as the Hamas government.

The only wise and restrained voice heard so far was that of the soldier's father, Noam Shalit, of all people. That noble man called at what is clearly his most difficult hour, not for stridency and not for further damage done to the lives of soldiers and innocent Palestinians. Against the background of the IDF's unrestrained actions and the arrogant bragging of the latest macho spokesmen, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant of the Southern Command and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, Shalit's father's voice stood out like a voice crying in the wilderness.

Sending tens of thousands of miserable inhabitants running from their homes, dozens of kilometers from where his son is supposedly hidden, and cutting off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of others, is certainly not what he meant in his understated emotional pleas. It's a shame nobody is listening to him, of all people.

The legitimate basis for the IDF's operation was stripped away the moment it began. It's no accident that nobody mentions the day before the attack on the Kerem Shalom fort, when the IDF kidnapped two civilians, a doctor and his brother, from their home in Gaza. The difference between us and them? We kidnapped civilians and they captured a soldier, we are a state and they are a terror organization. How ridiculously pathetic Amos Gilad sounds when he says that the capture of Shalit was "illegitimate and illegal," unlike when the IDF grabs civilians from their homes. How can a senior official in the defense ministry claim that "the head of the snake" is in Damascus, when the IDF uses the exact same methods?

True, when the IDF and Shin Bet grab civilians from their homes - and they do so often - it is not to murder them later. But sometimes they are killed on the doorsteps of their homes, although it is not necessary, and sometimes they are grabbed to serve as "bargaining chips," like in Lebanon and now, with the Palestinian legislators. What an uproar there would be if the Palestinians had grabbed half the members of the Israeli government. How would we label them?

Collective punishment is illegitimate and it does not have a smidgeon of intelligence. Where will the inhabitants of Beit Hanun run? With typical hardheartedness the military reporters say they were not "expelled" but that it was "recommended" they leave, for the benefit, of course, of those running for their lives. And what will this inhumane step lead to? Support for the Israeli government? Their enlistment as informants and collaborators for the Shin Bet? Can the miserable farmers of Beit Hanun and Beit Lahia do anything about the Qassam rocket-launching cells? Will bombing an already destroyed airport do anything to free the soldier or was it just to decorate the headlines?

Did anyone think about what would have happened if Syrian planes had managed to down one of the Israeli planes that brazenly buzzed their president's palace? Would we have declared war on Syria? Another "legitimate war"? Will the blackout of Gaza bring down the Hamas government or cause the population to rally around it? And even if the Hamas government falls, as Washington wants, what will happen on the day after? These are questions for which nobody has any real answers. As usual here: Quiet, we're shooting. But this time we are not only shooting. We are bombing and shelling, darkening and destroying, imposing a siege and kidnapping like the worst of terrorists and nobody breaks the silence to ask, what the hell for, and according to what right?

"Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law" (From Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Israel is a signatory)

Blogger Xymphora wrote:
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Israeli math
From an article by R.J. Rummel (there are footnotes in the original):

“In some occupied areas in which the Nazis had to contend with well organized and active guerrilla units, they applied a simple rule: they would massacre one hundred nearby civilians for every German soldier killed; fifty for every one wounded. Often this was a minimum that might be doubled or tripled. They thus killed vast numbers of innocent peasants and townsfolk, possibly as many as 8,000 in Kraguyevats, 1,755 in Kraljevo, and overall 80,000 in Jajinci, to name just in a few places in Yugoslavia alone. Most executions were small in number, but day by day they added up. From an official German war diary: 16 December 1942, "In Belgrade, 8 arrests, 60 Mihailovich [the guerrilla Chetnik leader] supporters shot;" 27 December, "In Belgrade, 11 arrests, 250 Mihailovich supporters shot as retaliation." A German placard from Belgrade announced that the Nazis shot fifty hostages in retaliation for the dynamiting of a bridge. On 25 May 1943 the Nazis shot 150 hostages in Kraljevo; in October they shot 150 hostages in Belgrade; fifty hostages in Belgrade in August 1943; 150 Serbs at Cacak in October; and so on. In Greece, as another example, the Nazis may have burned and destroyed as many as 1,600 villages each with populations of 500 to 1,000 people, no doubt massacring many of the inhabitants beforehand. Overall, the Nazis thus slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, and France; and millions overall in Poland and the Soviet Union.”

We should also remember the massacre of the Czech town of Lidice. This kind of massive over-retaliation isn’t politically possible any longer, but the Israelis have found that a similar result can be obtained by removing access to electricity, creating terror through sonic booms and bombs, and kidnapping a large portion of a democratically-elected government. The critical point is that they continue to use the same racist mathematics as the Nazis: since a Palestinian is only worth a tiny percentage of a Jew, the taking of one Jewish prisoner of war rates the terrorizing of a million Gazans. The deafening silence of the world to this kind of calculation means that the world apparently approves of the higher Nazi/Jewish math.

From an article by Virginia Tilley:

“Israel has done many things argued to be war crimes: mass house demolitions, closing whole cities for weeks, indefinite ‘preventative’ detentions, massive land confiscation, the razing of thousands of square miles of Palestinian olive groves and agriculture, systematic physical and mental torture of prisoners, extrajudicial killings, aerial bombardment of civilian areas, collective punishment of every description in defiance of the Geneva Conventions – not to mention the general humiliation and ruin of the indigenous people under its military control. But destroying the only power source for a trapped and defenseless civilian population is an unprecedented step toward barbarity. It reeks, ironically, of the Warsaw Ghetto. As we flutter our hands about tectonic political change, we must take pause: in the eyes of history, what is happening in Gaza may come to eclipse them all.”

The barbarity is even worse as Israel, not having relinquished de facto control of Gaza and its borders, has an obligation under international law as an occupying country to protect the civilian population of Gaza.

I haven’t been able to find much under-the-bombs commentary from inside Gaza itself, but the blog From Gaza, with Love is very good.