Studies show that US coverage is Israeli-centric. The main bureaus for CNN, Associated Press, Time, etc. are located in Israel and often staffed by Israelis. The son of the NY Times bureau chief is in the Israeli army;"pundit" Jeffrey Goldberg served in the IDF; Wolf Blitzer worked for AIPAC. Because the U.S. gives Israel over $8 million/day - more than to any other nation - we feel it is essential that we be fully informed on this region. Below are news reports to augment mainstream coverage.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

53 Israeli Artists boycott new Cultural Center in Ariel settlement

IMEMC - Dozens of prominent artists in the Israeli theatre community – including actors, playwrights and directors -- have signed a pledge that they will not perform in a newly-constructed cultural center in the Israeli settlement of Ariel. The pledge could cause the artists to be booted from the government-funded guild for theatre professionals, but they argue that this act of conscience is more important than their salaries.

Signatories include some of Israel's most prominent actors like Yousef Sweid and Rami Heuberger, as well as playwright Joseph Sobol, famous for a play he wrote about the Holocaust called 'Ghetto'. Some of those who signed the boycott pledge say that it is ironic that the new cultural center in Ariel settlement will be inaugurated with performances of the plays of Bertolt Brecht, who stood for justice for the oppressed – they say he would be turning in his grave if he knew his plays were being used as a tool of political oppression.

While the Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat argued that there is no difference between performing inside Green-line (1967 armistice borders) Israel and settlements, saying, “I call for the scheduled performances to be carried out as scheduled in Ariel and all over the country, as each citizen has the right to consume culture anywhere he chooses”, others disagree with the Minister, saying that performing in settlements constructed across the Green Line in violation of international law constitutes an inherently political act.

Analyst Gideon Levy wrote in his column in Ha'aretz, “At a time when the Tate Modern in London is presenting the impressive video work of Francis Alys, an artist who walked with a bucket of paint to draw the Green Line anew, Israel is doing its utmost to blur it. Now theater has mobilized on behalf of this campaign of obfuscation and darkness. Yes, there is a difference between legitimate, sovereign Israel and the areas of its occupation. Yes, there is a moral difference between appearing here and appearing there, in the heart of an illegal settlement (illegal, like all of its settlement siblings ) built on a plot of stolen land, in a performance designed to help settlers pass their time pleasantly, while surrounded by people who have been deprived of all their rights.”

The Yesha Council of Settlements responded to the boycott with a statement saying, “Our response to the letter signed by the army evaders and anti-Zionist left-wing activists will be very harsh.” They called on the theatre managers to fire all of those who signed the petition. The mayor of Ariel settlement told reporters that the artists in question cannot both receive government salaries and have a conscience.

Analyst Gideon Levy responded with, “Theater is not an army, actors are not soldiers, and artists who boycott performances are not draft dodgers. The few dozen theater figures who have signed the statement saying they will boycott Ariel are people of conscience who deserve praise. Should more be added to this list, the show won't go on at Ariel.”

Israeli universities condemn 'witch hunt' by right-wing groups

IMEMC - In a joint statement released by Israel's largest and most prominent universities, the academic leadership challenged a foreign-funded campaign to undermine academic freedom in the name of Zionism, led by radical Israeli rightists and Christian fundamentalists.

The pressure campaign against Israeli universities was launched last year, led by the rightwing 'Institute for Zionist Strategies' and Im Tirtzu. It is at least partially supported by the current Education Minister, which raises a special concern on the part of Israeli academics.

The statement released by the major universities in Israel urged "condemnation of this dangerous attempt to create a thought police.”

The statement continued, "No Israeli university has to prove its staff's love of their homeland to any organisation, and certainly not to a political one that is trying to present a tendentious political position to advance its own public relations. As is proper in an enlightened democratic country, Israeli academia is not a political body, and members of faculty are selected solely according to objective criteria of excellence in research and teaching."

Tel Aviv University, the country's largest, has been a major target of the right-wing campaign. The Insititute for Zionist Strategies has put together a list of professors that they consider too left-leaning, and is now demanding that the University President personally review the reading material in these professors' classes, then “balancing” the professors with extreme right-wing ones.

The Tel Aviv University President said that this pressure campaign is based on a fundamental misinterpretation of Zionist values, writing, “Anyone who criticises our universities for lacking concern about the values of Zionism does not understand that maintaining a pluralistic environment is the cornerstone of the Zionist and democratic vision on which the State was founded. Only through discourse is it possible to educate generations of citizens who are aware of such basic democratic and liberal values.”

Im Tirtzu, the other right-wing group involved in the pressure campaign, has focused on Ben Gurion University, submitting to the President a list of professors that they consider to be too left-wing. In their letter to the Ben Gurion University President, they stated that “if the anti-Zionist tilt does not end” within one month, they will convince major donors to stop supporting the university.

Thus far the University President has refused to accede to the demands, saying “As a matter of principle, I don't respond to threats or extortions, or in this case, of a witch hunt.”

Israel prevents Palestinian student from traveling to continue his studies, tried to recruit him to be collaborator

Ma'an – Israeli authorities on Tuesday prevented a Palestinian student from exiting the West Bank at the Allenby Bridge, as he was en route to Cyprus to continue his studies, the young man said.

The Ramallah resident said it was the second time he had tried to cross the bridge and return to the Near East University in Cyprus, and the second time he was denied permission to cross out of the West Bank.

Not permitted to travel out of the Tel Aviv or the now-defunct Gaza airports, Ala Idreis said he was on his way to the Queen Aliya International Airport in Amman.

Idreis said he had completed two our of three years at the Cyprus university for a degree in finance, and returned home to Ramallah partway through the semester. "I had family problems to deal with," he explained.

When he attempted to return to Cyprus via the bridge on 2 August, Idreis said he was refused and taken to an interrogation room where he was asked to become a collaborator.

The young man said he refused and returned home to his family. Three weeks later he attempted the crossing again but was denied a second time. He told Ma'an he was concerned that he would lose his place at the university if he did not return in time for registration, and was in the process of appealing to the Palestinian civil affairs department to get an explanation as to why he was being refused permission to travel.

Sha'ath to accompany Abbas to Washington, says Israel has continuted settlement construction during 'freeze'

Ma'an -- Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha'ath will accompany President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington, the official announced on Tuesday in Ramallah during a meeting on Israel's settlement policy.

Sha'ath is expected to be among a small handful of officials traveling to the American capital for a short series of peace talks, the first face-to-face meetings in more than 20 months.
The peace-talk delegate made the announcement in parallel with a news conference accusing Israel of only partially implementing its 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank.

The partial and temporary freeze on private building was only implemented in "isolated settlements," Sha'ath said, allowing for construction to continue on settlement blocs. "These blocs are the most dangerous, because most of them in Jerusalem and aim to judaize the city," he said.

The construction freeze did not include Jerusalem, a fact which Palestinain leaders cited when they called the Israeli move insufficient to fulfill the condition of a halt to settlement construction ahead of peace talks. Construction of homes on the West Bank was also observed during the 10 months; at least three mobile homes were brought into the illegal settlement of Elon Moreh near Nablus on Tuesday.

Wile Sha'ath said an extension of the settlement freeze would not likely take effect until November, two months after it expires, he said "We can bear this but we cannot stand to continue negotiations under settlement construction."

Abbas is due to arrive in Washington to relaunch peace talks at a summit on 2 September. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Tuesday for the US ahead of talks.

Former chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadai Yosef's comments calling for the Palestinian people to "perish" are "a clear, horrible escalation," Sha'ath said, but added that they would not effect the start of negotiations.

Ten armed Israeli settlers fire at three teenagers as they tend their land

Ma'an -- A village mayor in Salfit said Tuesday that 10 armed Israeli settlers opened fire at three Palestinian teenagers as they tended to their land in Deir Istiya.

Village Mayor Nathmi Salman said Yousef Muhammad Al-Qaysi, 17, Sharaf Dawoud Ubeid, 18, and Udayy Azzam Ubeid, 18, were all tending to their land at 7:40 a.m. on the northern side of the village when mounted settlers rode past and fired on them.

No injuries or damage were reported in the incident he said, adding that the village is in close proximity to the illegal West Bank settlement of Immanuel, which were built on lands owned by village residents.

Illegal Israeli settlement attempts expansion, such activity could 'blow up' peace talks

Ma'an -- Residents of an illegal West Bank settlement attempted on Monday to install additional housing units to its plot, Israel's Civil Administration confirmed.

A spokesman for Israel's Civil Administration said three trucks carrying three mobile homes were seen trying to enter the Elon Moreh settlement, amid an government-issued ban on settlement construction set to expire on 26 September. Inspectors sequestered the trucks, which were held by the Civil Administration, he said Tuesday.

Palestinian officials reported earlier that at least five new homes were being constructed in Elon Moreh, in the northern Nablus district, near the Palestinian villages of Azmut and Deir Al-Hatab.

Ghassan Doughlas, who heads the file on northern settlement activity, said settlers were also bulldozing land to make way for electricity poles and lights near the Shifat Gilad outpost, and warned that further settlement activity could "blow up" direct peace talks set to begin on Thursday.

Several Israeli settlement councils have sought to defy Israel's 10-month settlement moratorium on West Bank construction, vowing to continue building once the freeze expires on 26 September.

The PLO and PA have urged Israel to extend the freeze and include East Jerusalem in its mandate, warning that continued settlement building could derail talks.

On Monday, President Mahmoud Abbas said US and international officials have been notified that "Israel will bear sole and full responsibility for the collapse of negotiations should settlement building continue," ahead of talks set to begin in Washington on 2 September.

Palestinian Prisoners' mothers plan sit-in at Red Cross HQ

Ma'an -- The Detainees' Mothers Committee said Monday that it will spend a night in front the International Committee of the Red Cross' headquarters in Gaza City to protest Israel's policy of barring Strip residents from visiting detainees, a member said.

Mother of detained Ibrahim Baroud said the sit-in will be held a day before Eid begins, the Muslim holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected around 10 September.

Rafat Hamdounah, the head of the Detainees' Studies Center, said dozens of mothers will join the sit-in to "express their condemnation of the Israeli Administration's treatment of them and their sons," a statement read.

Hamdounah called for organizations to support the sit-in and for the media to widely cover the issue.

Poll: Palestinians back negotiations with Israels but are pessimistic about US mediation

Ma'an -- Two-thirds of Palestinians are in favor of either direct or indirect negotiations with Israel, the results of a new poll released Monday finds.

The Palestinian Center for Public Opinion surveyed over 1,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza earlier this month, ahead of the resumption of direct talks in Washington on 2 September.

Around one-third (31.7 percent) of Palestinians were in favor of resuming direct negotiations, while 31.1 percent favored continuing indirect talks.

Center director Nabil Kukali said the result indicated “that the Palestinian people chose the strategy of peace.”

Palestinians expressed pessimism about US involvement, however. A clear majority (79.4 percent) believe the visit of the US envoy George Mitchell will not lead to any progress in the peace process, while two-thirds do not think US President Barack Obama was capable of establishing a Palestinian state.

More than half of the respondents supported a two-state solution, while 26.7 percent were in favor of a one bi-national state. A minority of 4.9 percent said there is no solution to the conflict.

Asked about internal Palestinian politics, almost half the respondents said they believed a government with a majority of independents would best serve the interests of Palestinian people. One-third would prefer a Fatah majority, while 14 percent said a Hamas majority would be in Palestine’s best interests.

More than half (54.4 percent) of Palestinians thought the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority governed better than the Hamas-led Gaza government, while 17 percent preferred Hamas. Both had performed equally according to 22.7 percent of respondents.

Family and money dominated, with 43.5 percent citing the economy as their primary concern. For 30 percent of Palestinians, the future was their main concern.

Almost 70 percent said they were worried about the subsistence of their family.

Barghouthi: Abbas should reconsider talks - cover for illegal settlement expansion

Ma'an - Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouthi said Monday that any concessions made by Palestinians in negotiations would only embolden Israel

Speaking at a press conference in Ramallah, Barghouthi urged President Mahmoud Abbas to reconsider his decision to engage in direct talks, set to resume Thursday in Washington after a 20-month hiatus.

Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reluctance to extend the 10-month partial freeze on settlement building, due to expire on 26 September, Barghouthi noted that in practice, illegal settlement construction has continued in Jerusalem and the West Bank throughout the freeze.

The Palestinian National Initiative Secretary-General added that settlement building looks likely to intensify significantly at the end of next month, and said negotiations were a cover for illegal settlement expansion.

The lawmaker said Israel had already derailed the talks by setting provocative preconditions, such as insisting on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which he said would liquidate the rights of Palestinians living inside Israel, and consecrate the apartheid regime.

The US stance had backfired, and not one of President Barack Obama’s promises was fulfilled, Barghouthi continued, noting that the US administration said terms of reference for talks should be decided by the two parties. In this way, he added, the US granted Israel the right to veto issues in negotiations.

“Among the many international, Arab and Palestinian officials I met with recently, no one expressed even the slightest optimism about the success of the negotiations. The direct talks are going to be another Israeli game as no real Israeli partner is available for peace,” Barghouthi concluded.

Israel orders 6 Palestinian families to vacate homes for demolition - in West Bank farming area near Nablus

Ma'an - Israeli forces on Monday told six Palestinian families in the Nablus district their homes would be demolished and ordered them to vacate within 48 hours, an official said.

The families were from Um Ar-Rashash, near Duma village, Palestinian Authority settlement affairs officer Ghassan Doughlas said.

He added that the PA had authorized $100,000 to build a school in the area, whose 300 residents support themselves by farming.

A call to Israel's Civil Administration after business hours Monday was not immediately returned.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS: The mobsters who funded AIPAC, AIPAC's JDL/nuke ties

IRMEP - Today the Israel Lobby Archive releases documents obtained from newly unsealed Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation files. Disclosure forms and subpoenaed documents filed by AIPAC and its predecessor organizations (the AZC and AZCPA) reveal organized crime figures such as "Jake the Barber," "Meyer Lansky's right-hand-man" Aaron Weisberg, arms smuggler associate Zimel Resnick, and Israeli nuclear bomb funding coordinator Abraham Feinberg all provided critical and timely start-up funding to AIPAC.

A recently declassified 1970 file tightly held by the Department of Justice's National Security Division and reluctantly released under Freedom of Information Act appeals reveals the foreign agent activities of AIPAC founder Isaiah L. Kenen. Kenen may have been an "insider source" for information about the Jewish Defense League. A Department of Energy study later concluded, "For more than a decade, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) has been one of the most active terrorist groups in the United States. Since 1968, JDL operations have killed 7 persons and wounded at least 22."

Analysis :

Israel Lobby Archive - AIPAC's mob donors:

Israel Lobby Archive - AIPAC-JDL ties:

************Excerpt: Could "Ground-Zero" Mosque's Backers Be Worse Than AIPAC's?************

.....Does the "Ground Zero Mosque" have a budding "father of the atomic bomb" backing it, or an aspiring proliferator such as A.Q. Khan? AIPAC certainly does. According to "Israel and the Bomb" author Avner Cohen, in 1958 Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly designated Democratic Party fundraiser Abraham Feinberg to be the key "benedictor" for organizing and raising private American donor funding for the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program in direct opposition to the sitting U.S. president's nuclear non-proliferation drive.

In 1960 Feinberg began a series of payments [.pdfs] to AIPAC, then only recently renamed [.pdf] from the American Zionist Council for Public Affairs, the lobbying division of the American Zionist Council (AZC). In return, the AZC helpfully ran U.S. publicity [.pdf] promoting Dimona as a peaceful research facility rather than a nuclear weapons production site.

AIPAC founder Isaiah L. Kenen penned an article called "No Bombs Possible" in his AZC-subsidized [.pdf] Nov. 2, 1961, Near East Report newsletter to Congress and activists. Kenen wrote, "Meanwhile, many asked whether the Israel reactor could really produce sufficient plutonium, a nuclear weapon component, to construct a bomb. Science editor William L. Laurence of the New York Times deflated these reports, on Dec. 25, when he wrote that 'the plutonium produced in a small nuclear reactor of 24,000 thermal kilowatts is very minute indeed' and 'completely useless for bomb material.' The basic facts, if fully understood, would make it clear why only great industrial nations, particularly the United States and Soviet Russia, can be full-fledged members of the 'atomic club.'"

AIPAC and Feinberg's well-financed Dimona PR deception, boosted by overseas funding, was a complete success in fooling the American public. Today mainstream news pundits advance theories that the "Ground Zero" mosque could be all "mobbed up" with crime family or wise guy funding through unknown and murky international hawalas. It's an effective strategy, because such ties are usually hard to verify.

Thanks to the passage of time, AIPAC's own ties are not.

Mob accountant Meyer Lansky's associate Aaron Weisberg was a Las Vegas investor who testified reluctantly in the tax-evasion case of notorious mobster Joseph "Doc" Stacher. Beginning in 1955, Weisberg provided many rounds of AIPAC startup funding at $500 a throw straight [.pdfs] from the Sands Casino, which he partially owned. According to E. Parry Thomas, who helped clean up Las Vegas by forcing all shadowy backers to stand before casino licensing boards, "Aaron Weisberg had 20 [percent] and he probably owned only half of it [the Sands] because he was Meyer Lansky's man. This went on everyplace."

But Weisberg was small potatoes next to John Factor (a.k.a. Iakov Faktorowicz) known to friends and enemies alike as "Jake the Barber." Factor shaved English investors of an estimated $8 million through stock frauds. In the U.S. he colluded with Al Capone to fake his own kidnapping in order to frame and take down a rival. Like Weisberg, Jake the Barber became a "straw buyer" for a Chicago criminal ring's purchase of the Stardust Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Factor's infamy was well known by the time AIPAC eagerly swept up [.pdf] the Barber's $1,000 investment late in 1959. It may have been a winning bet. Just before his immanent extradition from the U.S., Factor received a rushed, mysterious presidential pardon on Dec. 24, 1962, from John F. Kennedy......

More at:

Scavengers collect rubble of Gaza's bombed airport

Looting reflects situation in Strip, where three-year blockade has made jobs scarce and kept out badly needed building supplies

Scores of men swinging hammers and pickaxes attack the runway and terminal of Gaza's bombed-out airport before dawn every day, scavenging gravel and metal bars to resell as construction material.

The looting of the Gaza International Airport — once hailed as a step toward Palestinian statehood but destroyed during years of fighting with IsraeL — reflects the dire situation in the impoverished territory, where a three-year blockade has made jobs scarce and kept out badly needed building supplies.

The scavengers who come daily, working long hours to take home as little as $15 a day, say they can't find other jobs.

"I have no work but to spend my day under the sun trying to feed my children," said Hilmi Izawied, 34, taking a break from work on Monday.

Despite the 98-degree Fahrenheit (37 Celsius) heat, about 120 men worked in the area Monday, some digging up gravel, others hammering on what were once terminal walls to remove bars. Many refrained from food or drink in observance of the dawn-to-dusk fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began last week.

Izawied and four friends had been there since 3 am, he said, pulling up heavy slabs of runway asphalt, digging up the gravel below and filtering it into large sacks. Come evening, they would sell about five tons of gravel to merchants at the airport's entryway. They usually earn about $30 each for a day of backbreaking work, he said.

Izawied, a father of six, said he used to earn more as a mechanic in an industrial zone in northern Gaza that Israeli airstrikes have also reduced to rubble. Many working at the airport used to scavenge at the industrial zone until they ran out of rubble.

Israel and Egypt imposed a strict blockade on Gaza after Hamas violently seized control of the strip in 2007. Israel has recently loosened restrictions on goods that can enter Gaza, but has continued to exclude building materials, fearing the Islamic militants of Hamas will use them to build bunkers.

This has prevented Gazans from repairing the thousands of buildings that were damaged or destroyed in Israel's offensive against Hamas during the winter of 2008-9. Many of Gaza's factories were also damaged, further increasing unemployment.

Israel says it struck civilian areas because Hamas fighters took cover in them.

Digging through former runway of Gaza's bombed-out airport (Photo: AP)

The scavenged materials are mixed with cement smuggled into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border. While fine for smaller repairs, the quantities don't permit large building projects.

Israel has said it would allow construction materials in for projects supervised by international bodies like the United Nations, and a few shipments of such goods have been delivered to Gaza.

The fate of Gaza's airport reflects the territory's decline over the last decade. At its festive opening in 1998, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat flashed a victory sign from the runway as each of the first seven flights touched down. "This is a preparation for the declaration of the Palestinian state," he said at the time.

Seeking refuge from sun

In the late 1990s, the $75 million facility had a Moroccan-themed passenger terminal, a VIP lounge and a runway long enough to receive all but the biggest jumbo jets.

Its last flight left in 2001, a year after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation. Israeli forces later shelled the airport, positioned tanks inside and knocked down its outer wall and air control tower.

They have regularly bombed it since militants linked to Hamas captured an Israeli soldier in 2006, badly damaging the terminals and most of the runway.

Gaza looters — including women and children as young as 14 — have followed each step in its destruction, first hauling off doors, tiles, windows and air conditioners and now coming for the metal in the walls and gravel under the tarmac.

Gaza's other sites have been mostly picked clean, making the airport Gaza's final scavenging frontier, with the largest number of workers turning out there on any given day.

Last month, the UN prevented scavenging at the site for about two weeks to prepare for an event at which more than 7,000 children simultaneously dribbled basketballs on an intact part of runway in an attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

After the event, the workers dug up that strip too, leaving behind a vast field of broken chunks of asphalt.

Seeking refuge from the midday sun under a destroyed terminal on Monday, Rami Abu Warda, 23, and a group of other workers calculated their profits.

After subtracting their costs for transportation and equipment rental, Abu Warda handed each man his share: just under $15.

"This is a blessing from God," he said, slipping his cut into his wallet.

Israeli Rabbis flog sinner for forbidden gig

YNET - Rabbi convenes special religious court to carry out punishment against newly religious man who sang in front of integrated audience of men, women

The sinner lifted his shirt and recited the confession. A court clerk pressed him against the tree pole and began flogging him with a special whip. The three judges declared, "May your evil be lifted and your sin atoned." Only a mobile phone ringtone reminded all present that the year is in fact 2010.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, who heads the Shofar organization for the distribution of Judaism, has been  waging a war against religious singers who perform to an integrated audience of both men and women, and in the spirit of the Ten Days of Repentance has taken the campaign one step further.

On Wednesday, Yitzhak and other rabbis conducted a rare ceremony in which they flogged Erez Yechiel, a newly religious singer who was seeking atonement for various religious offences he made in the past.

Rabbis Yitzhak and Benzion Mutzafi together with a third person formed a court which would carry out the punishment. The event was documented on video and has been uploaded to the Shofar organization's website.

Rabbi Yitzhak's religious court (photo from Shofar organization's website)

The clip shows Rabbi Mutzafi explaining the need for the special form of atonement, saying that many sinners, including artists who lead men and women to dance in public, have no place in the afterlife and must be banished by the court.

He further explained that the mekubalim used to subject themselves to flagellation during the Ten Days of Repentance for the purpose of atonement. He presented a whip made of ox and donkey skin and instructed to flog Yechiel 39 times while alluding to various Kabbalah issues. "He is receiving a new soul," Rabbi Mutzafi said.

Yechiel was filmed saying, "I hereby subject myself to 39 floggings for my sins from the day I was born and until this very day. May these floggings serve as atonement and lift from me sins, evils and crimes and I shall be clean and pure in this world and the next."

Rabbi Mutzafi then read out to Yechiel the confession which is recited during Yom Kippur and during the death of a person. He burst in tears and said "When judgment is made down here, there is no judgment up there."

Dozens of Gaza patients may die because of fuel shortage caused by Israeli siege

Ma'an - The director of Gaza City's Dar Ash-Shifa Hospital warned Monday that dozens of patients in the hospital's care may die as a result of a fuel shortage.

Hospital director Hussein Ashour told Ma'an that only 16,000 liters of fuel remained but that generators consume 7,000 liters daily. The generators will not supply electricity to the hospital in case of a power cut, he warned.

"We try to supply electricity to the wards which need it desperately, such as intensive care, operating rooms, dialysis wards, the cardiac unit and oxygen suppliers," he added.

On 8 August, Gaza's hospitals declared a state of emergency following the shutdown of the Strip's sole power station a day earlier. At the time, director of ambulance and emergency services Muawiya Hassanein warned of a potential humanitarian disaster as a result of the blackout, resulting from an ongoing fuel shortage.

He warned of a severe deterioration in heath services, particularly in children's hospitals, maternity wards, intensive care units and for patients requiring dialysis and premature babies in incubators.

The Palestinian NGO Network said Wednesday that 600,000 liters of industrial diesel were delivered to Gaza, providing relief for residents as the fuel shortage lead to the sole power station's closure two weeks ago.

The delivery followed an announcement made by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday, explaining that the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company transferred $2 million to the account of the Ramallah-based energy authority, prompting the supplier company to transfer 320,000 liters of diesel per day for five days starting Wednesday.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls on Israel to release Palestinian nonviolence leader Abu Rahmah of Bil'in

Ma'an - Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa expressed concern Saturday over the conviction of a Palestinian anti-wall campaign leader by an Israeli military court for his involvement in non-violent protests.

"I am deeply concerned about the conviction earlier this week of Abdallah Abu Rahmah by an Israeli military court. When I met him with my fellow Elders last year, we were very impressed by his commitment to non-violence and the wise leadership he showed," Tutu said in a statement.

"He and his fellow activists have had some success in challenging the wall that divides the people of Bil’in from their land. Israel’s attempt to crack down on this effective resistance movement by criminalizing peaceful protest is unacceptable and unjust," he added, calling on Israeli authorities to release Abu Rahmah "immediately and unconditionally."

Abu Rahmah, well regarded for organizing the weekly rallies against the wall in his native village Bil'in, near Ramallah, was convicted by an Israeli military court on 24 August. According to his supporters, Abu Rahmah's conviction was based solely on the testimony of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and denied legal counsel despite significant ills in their questioning.

On Tuesday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton expressed her concern over the conviction.

Israeli forces storm Silwan in East Jerusalem

Ma'an - Clashes reportedly broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents of the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem on Monday morning, following a wave of detentions.

Ma'an's correspondent said Israeli police, intelligence officers and border guards stormed the Wad Hilwa, Al-Bustan and other areas in Silwan to arrest Palestinians suspected of taking part in clashes last Thursday. Residents said Israeli settlers provoked the previous violence after attempting to enter the Al-Ein Mosque.

The reporter identified those detained as: Su'ad Abu Rumouz and her brother Jawad from Al-Bustan Muezzin of the Al-Ein Mosque Adam Simrin, 68 Fadi Siyam, 28, and his brother Nur, 20

A third Siyam brother, 16-year-old Hamza, was summoned to the police station on Tuesday morning and will be escorted by his father.

A spokesman for Israel's National Police did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Israeli forces invade southern Gaza, attempt to bulldoze land, are repulsed

Ma'an - The Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades said violent clashes followed an Israeli military incursion east of Rafah, southern Gaza, overnight Sunday, a leader said.

Abdul Muntaser Omar said the entering force was attempting to bulldoze land in the An-Nahda neighborhood. Brigade members and Israeli forces exchanged fire, forcing the troops to retreat, he added.

The brigade leader further said Israeli forces used machine-guns during the exchange of fire, with no reports of injuries.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said the army was not familiar with the incident, following a Ma'an inquiry.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported Monday that a mortar shell from Gaza exploded in an open field in southern Israel with no injuries or damage reported.

Israel tries to silence dissidents, gag press

Ma'an - Georgina Reeves - "The silenced minority speaks out"- For a state that ignores international laws and conventions in murdering Palestinians and internationals, and shrugs off all condemnation with no apology or regret, it’s little surprise that it spends a great deal of energy persecuting voices of dissent within its own citizenry. Particularly when that voice of dissent is Palestinian.

Ameer Makhoul, Omar Said, Hanin Zoabi, Sheikh Raed Salah, Lubna Masarweh and Mohamad Zeidan are all Palestinians with Israeli citizenship; and they are all paying a high price for their political activism challenging and confronting a state that would rather expel them than accept them as equal citizens with equal rights.

On 22 April Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, a Palestinian NGO based in Haifa, was prevented from leaving Israel. Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishay said "I have reached the conviction that the exit of Ameer Makhoul from the country poses a serious threat to the security of the state." Two weeks later Makhoul’s home was raided in the dead of night by Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. Makhoul was arrested, and computers and papers were seized from his home and office.

At various stages of his detention Makhoul has been denied access to a lawyer, been repeatedly tortured to obtain a confession and, as is common with political persecution of Palestinians, neither he nor his legal team has been given access to any evidence the state claims to have. The charges are serious: assistance to the enemy in a time of war, conspiracy to assist an enemy, aggravated espionage, and contact with a foreign agent. Makhoul vigorously denies all charges.

Prior to Makhoul’s detention Dr Omar Said, a leading expert in traditional Arabic herbal medicine and an environmental activist, had already been arrested. He is also leader of the Arab nationalist party, Balad, and a committed proponent of co-existence between Arabs and Jews. He, too, has been charged with espionage.

In both cases the authorities slapped a gagging order on the press. It was through the strenuous activities of political activists, both inside Israel and beyond, that the details of the cases against Makhoul and Said became public knowledge. Both men vehemently protest their innocence, and those of us who know them do not believe that the charges against them are true. Israel uses political persecution as an attempt to delegitimize Palestinian demands for equality.

Hot on the heels of these cases of political persecution against Israel’s minority came the lethal raid on the Free Gaza flotilla. Among the passengers were a number of Palestinian Israelis. Lubna Masarweh is an organizer with the Free Gaza movement, Hanin Zoabi is one of the few Palestinian members of the Knesset, Mohamad Zeidan is chairman of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee and Sheikh Raed Salah is a leader of the Islamic Movement.

Following the commando assault on the Mavi Marmara, passengers who were not killed or injured were transferred to Israel and held in prison. Masarweh, Salah and Zeidan were then released and put under house arrest. As an MK, Zoabi should have parliamentary immunity but was stripped of this on 13 July.

The scenes that followed, particularly in the Knesset chamber, demonstrated the antagonism toward Palestinians in Israeli society. While Zoabi was trying to speak at the podium, hostile MKs verbally and then physically attacked her. Zoabi was branded a traitor, has received numerous death threats and now has bodyguards to protect her. There have been calls for her citizenship to be revoked.

Individually, each of these cases is shocking. Israel, after all, persists in describing itself as a democracy. The hostility against the people concerned and the lengths at which Israel goes to in suppressing them is extraordinary.

But it is important to view these cases in a wider context. Politically active Palestinians who criticize Israel and actively promote the right to a Palestinian identity automatically become targets. Israel has always viewed its non-Jewish citizens as hostile enemies, linking their activities in demanding equal rights and recognition as citizens of Israel to the resistance of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and beyond.

The hostility Palestinians face in daily life is ever present and is now increasing at a dangerous pace. The rise in public attacks on Palestinian Israelis also paves the way to more extreme legislation that will be used to force vocal Palestinians into prison or exile.

Israel, to maintain its façade of democracy, is desperately trying to ensure this minority is silenced by any means necessary, but this strategy will likely fail. Israel uses propaganda to place Palestinians within a framework of violence, terrorism and, more recently, radical Islam. It has succeeded to a degree, but as recent public support has shown, this rhetoric is being challenged more and more. And as attacks against Israel’s Palestinian minority continue to rise, so too does the prospect of greater internal conflict.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Israel's Shas spiritual leader: Says Palestinians should 'perish', in 2001 called for Arabs' 'annihilation' - 'It is forbidden to be merciful...'

Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef denounced upcoming peace talks with the Palestinians, which are set to start September 2 in Washington, and called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "perish from this world," Army Radio reported overnight Saturday.

"Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world," Rabbi Ovadia was quoted as saying during his weekly sermon at a synagogue near his Jerusalem home. "God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians." 

The Shas spiritual leader also called the Palestinians "evil, bitter enemies of Israel" during his speech, which is not the rabbi's first sermon to spark controversy.

In 2001, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox faction gave a speech in which he also called for Arabs' annihilation. 

"It is forbidden to be merciful to them," he was quoted as saying. "You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable."

The Palestinian Authority had condemned the speech as racist and inciteful.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, also from Shas, earlier this week also remarked on the forthcoming peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that Shas would oppose extending the West Bank settlement building freeze due to expire in late September.

Yishai has suggested that Israel would continue construction in the main settlement blocs likely to remain part of Israel in the framework of a peace deal, but freeze construction in outposts or more remote settlements.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

VIDEO: "The Israel Lobby" - Dutch television documentary

VIDEO: Dispatches: "Inside Britain's Israel Lobby" - the most powerful lobby in Britain


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VIDEO: Gaza inventor changes lives

Ma'an - Ramadan programs broadcast across the Middle East gave TV crews at Ma'an a new challenge: to find stories of Palestinians that encapsulated the challenges of occupation, as well as the spirit of hope and creativity that predominates.

Mundhar Al-Qassas, a taxi driver from Gaza City, was one of those stories. An inventor by night, he designs assisted living devices for the disabled in his community.

Last year Mundhar patented a machine that operates with wireless technology and head movements to turn the pages of a small book reader which quadriplegics, and others without the use of their hands, can use independently.

With a continued ban on materials for Mundhar's inventions, he salvages scraps from other equipment, and puts together unique devices for friends and neighbors.

The program, part of Ma'an's This is Our Country series, is broadcast at 9:30 p.m. nightly throughout Ramadan on Mix TV.

The Israeli connection to Sweden's charges against Wikileaks' Assange - pro-Israel Bonnier family, biggest media owners in Sweden

CounterPunch - By ISRAEL SHAMIR and PAUL BENNETT: "Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land..."

…as no doubt the story of Julian Assange’s escapades in Sweden will be known once it inevitably makes its way into the hands of one of the goofier Hollywood directors – say Robert Zemeckis or Mel Brooks, or perhaps Stephen Herek of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. It would do better in the hands of Andy Wachowski, where he might do for Julian Assange what he once did for Keanu Reeves.
Who could ask for a more beautiful set-up? It’s a story fit for a tabloid, yet it might be transformed into something an intellectual could read without embarrassment. This latest adventure is the stuff of pulp fiction, and chock full of Langley spies, computer hackers, crazy feminists, flatfooted cops and sleazy rags in the female kingdom of Sweden!
Julian Assange is a character that might have been ripped from the celluloid frames of the Matrix: flaxen and lanky, he moves through cyberspace like a superman. When, on those rare occasions that he does emerge into the real world, it is to perform Kung Fu exercises. He hardly ever eats or drinks. His corporeal body can normally be found sitting in front of a MacPro or two, while his digital alter ego commutes and computes, battling the odds and the system in fantastic virtual combat. Like Neo, he is a natural-born hacker who hacked just for the heck of it until he discovered the Matrix. He had hundreds of remarkable hacking achievements to his name when in 1992 he pleaded guilty to twenty-two of them. We like to think that someday, after he has passed on in the fullness of time, he will become a kind of guardian angel for hackers, or perhaps the Greek God of Cyberspace with His Golden Board, forever surfing the web.
His adventurous style and quick wit have earned him many Swedish fans, and so when Fate led him into the sun-drenched late summer of Sweden, Julian found himself dazzled by reddening apples, cooling lakes, and boisterous crayfish-parties. Captain Neo soon paid the price for letting down his guard! It was only a few days later that this unassuming computer geek awoke to discover his own face plastered across a tabloid’s front page, and the headlines screaming Arrest of Double Rapist Imminent! Imagine yourself on vacation, visiting friends, and finding yourself suddenly the object of a nationwide manhunt. Captain Neo felt the eerie presence of the Matrix, and he pinched himself to make sure he was still in the real world. The newspaper was still there on the table, and it told him – and all of Sweden – that two women had accused him of rape, and that the police were closing in.
No, Captain Neo did not passively wait for the police to come to his door. Captain Neo is no stranger to the tactics of the Matrix. Ever since Julian’s WikiLeaks website had published the Afghan War Diary (a huge pile of secret intelligence reports that reveal the dirty war the US is running against Afghanistan), Uncle Sam has been hunting for ways to have him carted off to Guantanamo. The Right Wing News site has, just below an icon of Sarah Palin, recommended a summary death sentence for our hero: “Can we have a CIA agent with a sniper rifle rattle a bullet around his skull the next time he appears in public as a warning? You bet we can -- and we should. If that's too garish for people, then the CIA can kill him and make it look like an accident. Either way, Julian Assange deserves to die.” Other right-wing American sites bristle with similar murderous commentary about our beleaguered computer programmer.
Captain Neo understands death squads. To forestall further threats, Assange publicly placed a huge, encrypted file onto the WikiLeaks site. This file contains all the most sensitive secret information he has in his possession. He called it Insurance, and thousands of activists all over the world await the password that will release this Pandora’s Box onto the heads of the US administration.
Instead, the Matrix plays dirty and lets loose a sex bomb upon our intrepid Neo. When you can’t contest the message, you smear the messenger. Sweden is tailor-made for sending a young man into a honey trap. Sweden has particularly thorny anti-rape legislation, where a conviction might be secured from something as thin as an anonymous accuser’s allegation.
In any case, our lucky Neo Julian Assange was only able to enjoy his fugitive-from-justice status for a few hours. By noon, the charges were already dropped, and he was free to be defamed from one end of Sweden to the other, not to mention the countless websites. It’s a simple system: the websites show the headlines, and the headlines report the web gossip. It’s Character Assassination 101, but why in Sweden of all places couldn’t the dirty tricks department make the accusations stick?

Swedish bloggers uncovered the full story in a few hours. The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden's Social Democratic Party. She had invited Julian Assange to a crayfish party, and they had enjoyed some quality time together. When Ardin discovered that Julian shared a similar experience with a 20-year-old woman a day or two later, she obtained the younger woman’s cooperation in declaring before the police that changing partners in so rapid a manner constituted a sort of deceit. And deceit is a sort of rape. The prosecutor immediately issued an arrest warrant, and the press was duly notified. Once the facts were examined in the cold light of day, the charge of rape seemed ludicrous and was immediately dropped. In the meantime the younger woman, perhaps realizing how she had been used, withdrew her report, leaving the vengeful Anna Ardin standing alone.
However, before we absolve the Swedish police as unwitting, if zealous, dupes, please note that Swedish law strictly forbids police and prosecutors to release to the media the details of any rape-connected complaint. The Expressen had all the details of the case, including the names of the accused and the complainant, within a matter of minutes. Please note further that the right-wing tabloid Expressen belongs to the Bonnier family, the biggest media owners in Sweden, who are not only pro-American but very much pro-Israel, too. As you know, the pro-Israeli lobby is warmly supportive of America’s Middle Eastern wars, while Assange and his WikiLeaks have the potential to undermine America’s weakening support for the war.
Were the criminal reporters of the Expressen that good, or is it possible that Ms. Ardin willingly collaborated with the Expressen in targeting our plucky Neo? She interned for the editorial page ofGT , the Gothenberg edition of Expressen. f
Ardin has written and published on her blog a “revenge instruction”, describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote. Ardin was involved in Gender Studies in Uppsala University, in charge of gender equality in the Students’ Union, a junior inquisitor of sorts.
In other words, she was perfect for the job. In order to frame Julian in Singapore, they would have to fit him up with drugs. To frame Julian in England, they might have to report he had skinned and roasted cats or at least dumped a kitten in a trash bin. To hang a frame on Julian in Sweden only required reporting sex between consenting adults.
If the setup was so perfect, why did it fail? Overreach, as always. When Anna Ardin maneuvered the younger girl into assisting her in her revenge, she overreached herself. When the girl withdrew her report, Anna’s “deceit equals rape” accusation failed. However, this is just conjecture, and the true facts of the case lie deep in the vaults of the Expressen.
Hopefully it is all over, and our Neo will continue his perilous runs for the benefit of all civilization. And the Swedes? Perhaps now they will recognize that they went too far. “When the reporter from the Washington Post realized that I was not joking, (said a Swedish legal figure this week), that it does not need more than one woman's word for the police to arrest a man and charge him with rape, he said: “But my God, are you completely crazy? It's worse than Iraq of Saddam Hussein ...”

Israel Shamir can be reached at

Non-violent protest in Beit Ummar attacked by Israeli forces

IMEMC - A protest against Israeli settlements in the Hebron area was met with tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets on Saturday afternoon, when Israeli forces attacked the non-violent demonstration.
Beit Ummar protester (photo by activestills)

The protest was organized by the Popular Committee Against the Wall to protest the expansion of the settlement of Karmi Zur, built on land belonging to the people of Beit Ummar village, near Hebron.

The protest began on Saturday afternoon in the village, where residents gathered to march to the site of settlement construction. Before they reached the construction site, Israeli forces began firing tear gas projectiles and rubber-coated steel bullets into the crowd. No injuries were reported.

The protests in Beit Ummar and nearby village have been a regular occurrence since Wall construction began on village land three years ago. Since that time, the Wall route has extended even further onto village land, confiscating olive groves that are the sole source of income for many families in the village.

At several recent protests in Beit Ummar, Israeli forces have abducted journalists who were covering the demonstrations, which organizers say is a blatant attempt by Israeli authorities to suppress peaceful protest and the coverage of these protests by news agencies.

Demonstrator Suffers Moderate Wounds in Bil'in

IMEMC - During the weekly non-violent demonstration in Bil'in Friday afternoon, one demonstrator was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital with moderate injuries, after a rubber coated bullet shot at him from a short distance lodged itself in his knee.

This week's demonstration in Bil'in commemorated the 9th anniversary to the assassination of PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa by a missile shot into his home by Israel. A large PFLP delegation as well as some fifty Israeli and international activists joined the people of Bil'in.

Demonstrators also denounced the recent conviction of Abdallah Abu Rahmah on charges of incitement ond organizing illegal demonstrations. Some protesters wore masks of Abdallah's face, delivering the message that in imprisoning Abu Rahmah, Israel only strengthens the spirit of resistance he represents.

Demonstrators had only a few minutes to protest before the weekly unprovoked salvo of tear-gas began. The continuous firing of tear-gas forced most of the demonstrators to retreat, leaving only a small number of youth, photographers, and a few older protesters who preferred risking arrest over running into the thick clouds of gas.

When the soldiers saw that these last few demonstrators couldn't be scared away, they invaded the village, chasing after the youth. The demonstrators were pushed further back by the gas, far from the area designated as a closed military zone. Following the invasion, limited confrontations began as local youth attempted to hold back the army from entering the village.

The soldiers escalated the violence and added the use of rubber-coated bullets to their arsenal. Just before the soldiers finally retreated, one youth was hit with a rubber bullet that lodged itself inside his knee. He was evacuated to the Ramallah hospital suffering moderate wounds.

Israeli forces arrest medical workers at weekly protest, Ni'lin

IMEMC - Israeli writer and film maker Joseph Dana has reported, via his twitter account, that the Israeli military has conducted a number of arrests in Ni'lin, near Ramallah, including the five member team from the Red Crescent.

Dana, who regularly attends Ni'lin's weekly protest against Israel's construction of the separation and annexation wall, updates followers of his Twitter account as the protest happens.

This week he has reported that the Israeli military have arrested the Red Crescent team, a photographer reporting on the non-violent action, and a member of the Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem.

The Israeli military have confirmed that the seven arrests have occurred, but have failed to report that five of those arrested were paramedics working for the Red Crescent.

The Red Crescent are the Muslim equivalent of the Christian Red Cross, and provide necessary medical care at the sites of various non-violent protests in the West Bank to those suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation and rubber bullet fire; tactics regularly used by the Israeli military under the claims of riot dispersal tactics.

The village of Ni'lin holds weekly protests, on Friday's, against construction of Israel's annexation wall, that has reduced Ni'lin's land from 58,000 dunums to approximately 10,000. By the end of construction, the village will be left with only 7,300 dunums.

Joseph Dana runs his own website ( and writes for blog +972 (, amongst others.

Israeli Education Ministry Approves New 'whites-only' Settlement School

IMEMC - Several months ago, a religious school in the illegal Israeli settlement of Immanuel was criticized for segregating white Jewish students from non-white Jewish students in classes.
Ethiopian Jewish student - not allowed to study at new school (photo by Jewish Middlesex)
Ethiopian Jewish student - not allowed to study at new school (photo by Jewish Middlesex)

Originally, the school was fined for this policy of racial segregation, because the school was state funded. Now, the Israeli education ministry has agreed with the white parents' request to allow the school to continue with its racial discrimination under private funding.

There is no law preventing racial discrimination by private organizations, even schools, in Israel.

The Israeli court has interpreted these laws to also apply to illegal West bank settlements, like Immanuel, which are located in areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control. The Palestinian Authority does not allow racial discrimination, but due to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories, it has no authority over the area in question.

74 white girls who have been studying in a building next to the school will now be allowed to study in whites-only classrooms that are privately funded, as their parents claim they do not want their girls to study in racially-mixed classrooms.

Wikileaks: CIA paper cites Jewish acts of terrorism

Ha'aretz - JTA - A recent CIA paper cited Jewish acts of terrorism in the West Bank in its analysis of whether the United States is an exporter of terrorism.

The papers were released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Wednesday. They were classified under the relatively low-grade “secret.”

The documents analyze U.S.-backed Jewish, Muslim and Irish terrorist attacks. They conclude that international perceptions that the United States is an exporter of terrorism may lead to foreign countries’ non-cooperation in anti-terrorism operations and less willingness to share relevant intelligence. Those perceptions could even lead to the arrest of CIA or other American agents overseas, according to the documents.

The analysis cites the example of Jewish-American doctor Baruch Goldstein, among others, as an example that the U.S. exports terrorism. Goldstein emigrated from New York to the West Bank in 1994 and joined the extremist group Kach. In 1994, he killed 29 Palestinians praying at a mosque in Hebron.
The paper was released in February by the CIA’s Red Cell, a think tank set up by former CIA director George Tenet to analyze intelligence issues. Last month WikiLeaks published 76,000 classified U.S. military records and reports about the war in Afghanistan.

Yossi Sarid: "Any bastard can be a rabbi" - permit the killing of gentile children

Ha'aretz - Some 30 years ago, the Hebrew slogan was coined: "Medinat halakha - halkha hamedina," which means more or less that if Israel becomes a state governed by Jewish law, that will be the end of the state. Is the end near? It is coming.

Something like this has never happened before, even though it seems as if everything possible has already happened - two rabbis being summoned to a police investigation, and announcing that they will not go. Even settlers are kind enough to turn up. True, they are instructed to remain silent, to lead the police astray, but they show up. Rabbis, on the other hand, are even more important people, and if a rabbi is also a settler, there is no one with greater airs than he. Even after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the authorities dealt with the killer but left alone those who had killed wisdom.

Only rabbis permit themselves, with the authority of the Torah, to pass their sacred water in public without fear, and the police keep quiet about this, as do the attorney general and the head of the prosecution, and the legislators and law enforcers.

Not only have they not reported to the police, they are assembling communities of supporters - 250 of their species gathered last week to lend support to their colleagues, Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef, who have approved the book of abomination, "Torat Hamelech" (The King's Torah ) written by one Yitzhak Shapira from the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in Yitzhar.

This theological treatise is a kind of guide to the perplexed - when it is permitted to kill Gentiles in general and babies in particular, and all of this according to Jewish law. Even the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, who does not particularly like police investigations, has declared the rabbis who did not report to the police as being in the right. 

At the conclusion of the gathering, rabbis from among the religious Zionists who, as civil servants, get their salaries from the taxpayer, had the following to say: "The moral values of the Torah have to be the moral code for the Israel Defense Forces ... Our holy Torah is not a subject for investigation or trial by flesh and blood." Even their colleagues from the holy city of Qom would have been hard pressed to produce a more enduring manifesto.

With this in mind, let us reexamine the meaning of certain terms:

"Rabbis" - Judaism has never been blessed with so many rabbis; how happy is this generation to have so many. No other country has such a rare and generous ratio of clergymen per capita.

"Find yourself a rabbi" [as the Mishna says] - so they find one, why not? Just so there should be someone. Any good-for-nothing can be a teacher for them and any charlatan who gets a number of students together is called a rabbi. It is not clear who has ordained him, and it is not clear whether the one doing the ordination is ordained to ordain, and according to which principles. It is easier to be a rabbi than a professor, and even that is not very difficult.

"Halakha" - If the Torah has 70 faces then halakha (Jewish religious law ) has 700. The sages said that everything can be understood on different levels and in different ways, and everything is included, and if one person has given an interpretation, another can come and overturn it. After all, there is no religious authority that is recognized and accepted by all in these times, to whom people listen and according to whom people act. The halakha says that any bastard can be a rabbi, and he can even give his own kashrut certificates in return for money. And the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is nothing but a depleted organ in a body that is bruised all over.

These masters of Jewish law act as if they have not heard of Shmaya, and contrary to his recommendations in the Mishna tractate "Avot" (Ethics of our Fathers ), they actually very much like the rabbinate. Their halakha looks the kingdom straight in the eye, and the kingdom is humiliated.

Israeli settlers in Jerusalem assault 9 year old, parents say

Ma'an - A nine-year-old boy said he was beaten by Israelis affiliated with the Atarot Kohanim settler group in Jerusalem's Old City on Wednesday evening.

Anas Sa’ad Ash-Shaloudi said he was on his way to his uncle’s house for the fast-breaking iftar meal at sunset, and was assaulted by five men standing outside his uncle's home.

"They hit me on my head and I fell on the ground. They took off my shoes and started beating me on my back. I yelled for help," Anas told Ma'an.

He said relatives and an older brother came out of the home, located near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, to intervene, and police arrived to the scene shortly thereafter.

"The Israeli police came to protect the settlers," Anas said. He was accompanied by is 17-year-old brother to the Jaffa Gate police center and later taken to a clinic for treatment.

Representatives from the Israeli police could not be immediately reached for comment by phone.

Israeli abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli jails "widespread, systematic and institutionalised"

Ma'an - Testimonials and events documented by human rights organizations show the abuse of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons to be regular and widespread.

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, torture, threats and intimidation as well as the denial of basic basic human rights, such as access to education are the most common forms of abuse, documents show.

In 2009, a report from the UK-based children's rights group Defence for Children International found, there were 305 Palestinian children being held in Israeli jails. The US-based NGO Save the Children further estimates, that over 6,700 children were arrested between October 2000 and April 2009. Both organizations confirm Israel routinely prosecutes Palestinian children as young as 12, describing the ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children as "widespread, systematic and institutionalised."

Forms of abuse

In 2009, DCI collected 100 sworn affidavits from Palestinian children and teenagers who said they were abused in Israeli military and police custody. Almost 70 percent complained of being beaten, four percent reported being sexually assaulted, and 12 percent said they were threatened with sexual assault.

According to the report, most of the incidents occurred during interrogation and were used against detainees to force a confession.

Physical abuse

The physical abuse of children by soldiers has most frequently been documented as involving "slaps, kicks, punches or blows with a rifle stock or club," DCI stated.

Nearly all children surveyed by DCI, 97 percent, were held for hours with their hands cuffed, and 92 percent were blindfolded for long periods of time. Twenty-six percent said they were forced to remain in painful positions.

In 2010, Palestinian lawyer Hiba Masalha reported the case of Muhammad Rashid Abu Shahin, 16, from the Balata refugee camp. After being arrested, the youth said he was manhandled and beaten by soldiers using rifle butts. He was then transported to the Huwwara detention centre where where he was beaten with a plastic pipe to force a confession. The child is suffering chronic back pain as a result of being hit on the spine.

Sexual abuse

Fourteen percent of child prisoners surveyed by DCI said they were sexually abused or threatened with sexual assault to pressure them into confessions.

In May 2010, the Dubai-based Al-Jazeera news network published the testimony of an unnamed Palestinian child released from an Israeli jail.

"There was a dog barking outside the room… The soldier told me he would bring it in to f**k me if I didn't confess… I was so scared… The guy then took out a stick; he whipped it forward and it got longer. He told his friends, who were looking on and laughing at me: "This boy doesn't want to talk. Let's pull down his pants so I can shove this stick up his a**."

"I tried to hold on to the chair; he kept poking me, groping my privates with the stick, trying to get me off the chair."

Threats and intimidation

Many Palestinian child prisoners testify to being forced into confession by threats and intimidation, including threats against family members, threats of prolonged imprisonment and threats of physical and sexual abuse.

Abuse by other prisoners

Palestinian child prisoners are reportedly confined in close quarters with adult prisoners and become the subject of physical and sexual abuse.

Denial of basic services

Palestinian children in Israeli detention only received limited education in two out of five prisons and no education whatsoever in any of the interrogation and detention centers. According to Save the children, in 2009, Israel prevented 1,821 detainees from writing the high school certification exam, known locally as the Tawjihi.

Typical scenario

According to Save the Children, Palestinian children are typically arrested between midnight and 4a.m. without their families being notified where the child is being taken. The children are normally handcuffed, blindfolded, and subjected to physical abuse in addition to humiliating treatment during arrest and can be detained up to 90 days without access to a lawyer whilst being interrogated. Children can be detained for two years from the time charged until the trial.

Stone throwing is the most common offense Palestinian children are charged with under Israeli military law accounting for 26.7% of cases. The maximum penalty is 20 years imprisonment. Save the Children reports that in 91 percent of cases involving Palestinian children, bail is denied. The group also says that currently, 32.9 percent of sentenced children are 15 years of age or younger and that 21.25 percent are sentenced for a one-year period or longer.

Effects on the child

A 2009 report by Save the Children says most detainees develop Post Traumatic Stress symptoms as a direct result of their abuse in prison. The psycho-social consequences of detention affect the immediate behavior of children, the way they think including their analysis of the outside world.

International and domestic law

The UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty states imprisoning children should only be a "last resort and for the minimum period and should be limited to exceptional cases" further stating that "fundamental international law must be respected at all times with no exceptions" and "the welfare, special needs, best interests, and human rights of juveniles "shall be a primary consideration".

Despite being a State member of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Israel identifies a "child" as any person below the age of 12, "youth" as any person between 12 and 14, "young adult" as any person between 14 and 16 and "adult" as any person above 16. Israeli citizens however, are legally considered an adult at 18. This denies Palestinian children many of the basic services granted to Israelis of the same age.

Israeli accountability

Reports by groups such as B'Tselem, Save the children and DCI are regularly dismissed by the Israeli military as "inaccurate" and are rarely investigated. A 2009 report from the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, says that from 600 complaints regarding abuse of children all were dismissed without a single criminal investigation.

Full text: UN Security Council brief: In 1 month Israeli forces invade Palestinian Territories 324 times, kidnap 162, dispossess 212, kill 4, injure 44; Palestinians fire 6 rockets - cause no injuries

Ma'an - Reporting period: 21 July- 17 August

-- For negotiations to succeed, it is crucial to maintain an enabling climate on the ground. Parties should adhere to their Roadmap commitments and obligations under international law.

-- We are hopeful that leaders on both sides will seize the opportunity and engage in a path of decisive progress towards a sustainable, mutually acceptable two-state solution, within a realistic time-frame. To support them in taking this step, we remain in close contact with Quartet partners to promote the start of meaningful direct negotiations as soon as possible.

-- We urge for the continuation of the settlement halt beyond its scheduled expiry and its extension to all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. Under the Roadmap, Israel is obligated to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle outposts erected since March 2001.

-- The number of obstacles to movement throughout the West Bank remains over 500. Easing on movement and access should be expanded, including with regard to barrier-related obstacles.

-- Demolition or dismantlement of Palestinian-owned structures in Area C displaced or otherwise affected 212 people.

-- During the reporting period, Israeli security forces conducted 313 incursions in the West Bank, resulting in one Palestinian shot dead by Israeli soldiers on 22 July while he attempted to intrude into the settlement of Barkan. Overall, 15 Palestinians were injured and 162 Palestinians arrested, while 3 Israeli soldiers were also injured.

-- Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians amounted to 22 incidents, resulting in seven Palestinians injured and damages to property.

-- Without significant additional external financing, the Palestinian Authority will face a serious liquidity crisis in September and will have difficulty paying August salaries. Financing to date – USD 507 million – falls almost USD 200 million short of the budget.

-- Current initial estimates of donor commitments through 2010 suggest that the financing deficit will exceed USD 300 million.

-- The weekly average of imported truckloads entering Gaza has reached 1,006 – an almost 30 percent increase over the average from the last reporting period [780], and an 80 percent increase over the 2010 weekly average before the policy change [553].

-- While we welcome Israel’s recent approval of 11 United Nations construction projects in Gaza, we are nonetheless concerned about bottlenecks in project implementation if the current cumbersome procedures for approval and entry of materials are not streamlined. The Khan Younis housing project, approved at the time of the Quartet meeting on 19 March 2010, took 3 months to move from approval in principle to approval in practice.

-- During the reporting period, Palestinian militant groups fired six rockets and three mortars from Gaza into Israel, causing no injuries.

-- Israeli Security Forces conducted 11 air strikes and 11 incursions into Gaza, resulting in the death of three militants; two militants were injured as well as 22 civilians and 5 policemen.

-- Members of the Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident of 31 May, launched by the Secretary General, will meet together again in early September. They will strive to produce for the Secretary General an interim report on 15 September.

-- On Lebanon - Israel: Throughout the month, aerial over flights of Lebanon’s territory continued, almost daily, constituting a violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and of Lebanese sovereignty.

VIDEO: 'Internet killed Israeli PR' mocks flotilla response

Ma'an - A YouTube video surfaced Thursday lampooning the Israeli military's public relations efforts following its 31 May raid on a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla that left nine crew members dead.

"Internet Killed Israeli PR" parodies The Buggles' 1979 "Radio Star" hit and features a mash-up of clips released by the Israeli army and activists who were on board in the immediate aftermath of the raid in international waters.

The anonymous users who uploaded the video go by the handle Minor Demographic Threat, a throwback to a 1980s US punk band as well as a parody of Israel's race-based arguments against the right of return. MDT says its members are a multi-ethnic group predominantly of American and Israeli Jews, but also Palestinians and others.

"You could say 'Internet Killed Israeli PR' is our answer to [deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post Caroline Glick's] 'We Con The World,'" MDT told Ma'an on Thursday, referencing a pro-military music video that mocked the activists on board the Freedom Flotilla as well as Arabs in general which Israel's Government Press Office publicized but later distanced itself from.

(The video was banned from YouTube in Israel, France, and several other European states within hours of this posting. It is reproduced here for viewers from those countries.)

Gaza flotilla video mashup: Internet Killed Israeli PR

"We're gratified by the positive response to the video so far, and we hope people will share it and even make their own," MDT said, in a phone interview. "Video is an extremely powerful tool as is humor. When those intersect they can be used to an even greater effect."

The video was inspired by bloggers Philip Weiss, Max Blumenthal, and Ali Abunimah, who scrutinized the military's version of events and led to the army backtracking on some its stronger allegations.

The army released carefully edited video it seized from activists and journalists, insisting that the soldiers opened fire only after they were attacked by Islamist terrorists masquerading as peace activists.

Activists say the footage was distorted to tell only Israel's version of events, and the music video takes note of the controversy: "The Shin Bet mined my SD card/And played it back on NPR."

Press freedom groups, including the Foreign Press Association, have called on Israel to release all of the footage it seized from journalists and activists who were on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara.

The group urges fans to support pro-Palestinian advocate groups like Artists Against Apartheid, an international alliance of musicians who reject normalization with Israel until it ends its four-decade occupation of the Palestinian territories and allows refugees to return to their homes.

The mash-up "rightfully ridicules Israel's futile desperation to maintain a clean public image while carrying out rabid attacks on human rights on the ground (or in international waters)," Artists Against Apartheid music producer and engineer Andrew Felluss told Ma'an.

"This had been working OK for the Zionist movement, until now, when internet 2.0 is increasingly decimating its information power," the New York-based organizer wrote in an email message. "Now we are seeing this impotence in action, in real time, and the effect is quite hilarious."

The video debuted a day after the Israeli army's chief of staff told a state inquiry panel that his forces acted proportionally during the raid.

Gabi Ashkenazi, in his testimony before an internal probe headed by former Israeli chief justice Jacob Tirkel, said that "The commandos exhibited calm, bravery and morality."

High-ranking Israeli officials began testifying Monday, among them Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Medics: 2 Gaza workers injured by Israeli fire near crossing

Ma'an - Medics said Saturday that two Palestinian workers were injured by Israeli fire near the northern Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The injured were transferred to hospital, medics said, describing their wounds as moderate.

Israel bans Palestinian lawyer from visiting female prisoners

Ma'an - Lawyer Jamal Abdo said Israeli prison authorities prevented him from visiting female detainees on Thursday.

Abdo, affiliated with the Hurrayyet human rights center, said he had coordinated with prison authorities to visit Ibtisam Isawi, Wourud Qasem, Du’a Jayousi and Sumoud Karajah at the Al-Damon prison.

Despite previous coordination, Abdo said that after waiting for 90 minutes the prison administration informed him that he could not see the women.

In a statement, Hurreyyet condemned the incident as further pressure imposed on female Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sniegoski: Vaïsse’s 'Neoconservatism' obfuscates key facts

By Stephen Sniegosky: Review of Justin Vaïsse, Neoconservatism: The Biography of a Movement (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), 366 p.

The mainstream media acclaim Neoconservatism:  The Biography of a Movement as the best book on neoconservatism—the definitive account—and portray its author, Justin Vaïsse, a French specialist on American foreign policy and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as a veritable Alexis de Tocqueville for his masterly insights. The mainstream’s high praise of this book, however, would seem to be due in large part to its minimization of two taboo issues—neoconservatism’s Jewish nature and its focus on Israel. 

Where the book breaks through what  was heretofore largely blacked-out in the mainstream media is its discussion of the major role played by the neoconservatives in bringing about the war on Iraq. The black-out had essentially placed the entire idea that the neoconservatives played a central role in bringing about the US attack on Iraq in 2003 beyond the pale of public discussion.  In its most extreme form, this approach denied the very existence of neoconservatives.  More moderate variants accepted the neocons’ existence  but denied their influence on US policy.  Instead the war on Iraq was alleged to have been essentially planned by President George W. Bush and/or  Dick Cheney; or, for the anti-war Left, the  war was brought on by the greedy oil interests or by unnamed nebulous corporatists (presumably gentile).    Even to dwell on the neoconservatives could be taken as a sign of being “anti-Semitic.”

Vaïsse, however, candidly writes “that neoconservatism played an important role in launching the war in Iraq,” pointing out that the “neoconservatives  had been advocating the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, though not necessarily through direct American intervention, since 1997.” (p. 13)  He goes on to show how the neocons, both inside and outside the Bush administration, promoted the bogus intelligence that was able to generate public support for the war.

Vaïsse does offer a faux qualification to his emphasis on the neocons’ role by observing that “the decision to intervene militarily in Iraq cannot be ascribed solely to the influence of neoconservatives.  This book seeks to put the intellectual history of the neoconservative movement in perspective so as to avoid errors of distortion.” (p. 13) Vaïsse presumably wants to differentiate his book from those still taboo ones, perhaps like mine, which mentioned the role of the neocons some time ago.  But Vaïsse essentially slays a strawman since he does not cite any works that actually attribute the attack on Iraq “solely to the influence of neoconservatives,” and I am not aware of any  works making such a claim.  I should add here that although reviewers praise Vaïsse’s book as “definitive,” he refrains from mentioning (much less refuting)  those works (again mine being one of these) that provided an account of the neocons’ primary role in shaping the Bush II foreign policy on Iraq (which Vaïsse duplicates in a briefer form) and offered substantial proof for the truth of the still tabooed topics.

Vaïsse downplays the significance of Israel and the overall Jewish nature of neoconservatism.  At least, that is how the mainstream readers interpret his writing, and that would seem to be the author’s intent since his general interpretations of neoconservatism reflect this minimization.  However, if read closely, one can find that interspersed within this book is considerable information, including the author’s direct statements, indicating otherwise.

In minimizing the Jewish nature of neoconservatism, Vaïsse  writes that the idea that “neoconservatism is ‘in essence’ a Jewish movement” is “unconvincing,” though acknowledging that the perception that neoconservatism is Jewish is “based on the observation that a majority of neoconservatives are Jews.” (p. 273)  He maintains, however,  that “many of the most prominent neoconservatives are not Jewish, and the overwhelming majority of American Jews are not neoconservatives.” (p. 273)

Now it is obviously true that most American Jews are not neoconservatives, but that no more proves that neoconservatism is not fundamentally Jewish than the fact that most Muslims are not members of Al-Qaida would prove that Al-Qaida is not Islamic, or that most Poles and  Polish Americans are not members of the Polish National Catholic Church would prove the latter is not essentially Polish.

Now although there are gentile neocons, it is not apparent that Vaïsse  has actually  demonstrated that “many of the most prominent neoconservatives are not Jewish.”   For example, Vaïsse  places  Patrick Moynihan into this category.  In neoconservatism’s early years, Moynihan did espouse ideas held by the neocons, but he was a significant individual before the neocons supported him, and their backing would simply reflect, in large part,  their need to attach themselves to influential allies who held views consonant with their own.  Moynihan’s positions would diverge from those of the neocons in the 1980s.

Henry Jackson, whom Vaïsse  describes at length, was an unreconstructed  hard-line Cold War warrior and devotee of Israel, who certainly staffed his office with younger neoconservatives, but cannot be called a bona fide neoconservative any more than Dick Cheney, whom Vaïsse explicitly describes as a neoconservative ally as opposed to an actual neoconservative (p. 149), but who likewise served as a neocon patron.  And it would seem that Cheney was more deserving of the neocon designation since he actually adopted the neocon agenda, whereas Jackson’s already existing positions converged  with those of the neocons.

Vaïsse  refers to Admiral Zumwalt as “yet another example of a non-Jewish neoconservative” (p. 108)  because of his support for both hard-line Cold War policies and for Israel.  But Zumwalt is not conventionally known as a neoconservative.  He did not have long-term intimate connections with the neoconservative network, and was simply a significant person in his own right whose views converged with those of the neoconservatives.  Zumwalt  was associated with the neocons far less than Dick Cheney, who, as just pointed out, is described by Vaïsse as a neoconservative ally, rather than a true neoconservative. (p. 149)

It is quite apparent that most major figures in the neoconservative movement such as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, and Bill Kristol have been Jewish along with most of their associates.  And those generally identified as  neoconservatives are distinguished by more than just their ideas; they have formed and sustained close working and personal connections between themselves over a long period of time.

Neoconservatism essentially involves a network of people which has been perpetuated by becoming institutionalized in a number of influential think tanks and organizations. These close ties help to explain the neocons’ great power, which far exceeds their rather limited numbers.

Social anthropologist Janine R. Wedel, the author of  Shadow Elite: How the World’s New Power Brokers Undermine Democracy, Government, and the Free Market,  describes the successful neocon network as a “flex group,” which she defines as an informal faction adept at “playing multiple and overlapping roles and conflating state and private interests. These players keep appearing in different incarnations, ensuring continuity even as their operating environments change.” (Quoted in The Transparent Cabal, p. 29)  Vaïsse  makes reference to this network when he writes of “a definite clannishness to the neoconservative movement” (p. 206),  but nonetheless when looking for prominent gentile neocons includes people outside of this network who simply have collaborated with the neocons, though in a few places he does make a distinction–for example,  when he differentiates  “hard-core neoconservatives” from  “pragmatic hawks such as Nitze and Kampelman.” (p. 195)

While claiming the existence of important gentile neoconservatives, Vaïsse  acknowledges that  Jews make up the majority of its membership, but then goes on to downplay the significance of this fact, maintaining  that there is nothing extraordinary about such Jewish overrepresentation because “Jews are disproportionately represented in almost all left and liberal political movements in the United States, as well as among intellectuals.” (p. 273)   Although Jews may be represented in many groups in numbers exceeding their proportion of the American population,  it is not apparent that most intellectual movements have been, or are, so overwhelmingly Jewish as neoconservatism. Moreover, it should be pointed out that if anyone unsympathetic to Jewish interests were to allege such extensive Jewish predominance, he or she would almost certainly be branded as an “anti-Semite,” not only by the Jewish establishment but by the same mainstream liberals who now applaud Vaïsse’s work.

But it is not solely the numbers involved that leads one to consider neoconservatism a Jewish movement, but rather the fact that it promotes Jewish interests, though the very fact that the group is predominately Jewish would seem to indicate that it would be biased toward Jewish interests.
Certainly, it is unlikely that groups dominated by Arabs or African-Americans would have such a deep commitment to the  Jewish state (which will be discussed next).  In fact, the conventional view in contemporary America is that the  composition of a group does affect its outlook and thus provides the rationale for demanding diversity in all governmental organizations in the United States.  One wonders why Jewish dominance would be any different than white dominance or male dominance?

But more than this prima facie presumption, however,  there is definite evidence of the Jewish orientation of the neoconservative agenda.  For example, the original flagship of the neoconservative movement was Commentary magazine, which was put out by the American Jewish Committee, and was edited for many years by Norman Podhoretz.  The American Jewish Committee pronounced as its mission: “To safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world.” (Quoted in The Transparent Cabal, p. 26). And as Murray Friedman, the author of  The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy,  notes:  “A central element in Podhoretz’s evolving views, which would soon become his and many of the neocons’ governing principle was the question, ‘Is It Good for the Jews,’ the title of a February 1972 ‘Commentary’ piece.” (Quoted in  The Transparent Cabal, p. 27)

Another significant component of the neocon nexus is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which was set up in 1976 to put “the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship first.” In the late 1980s, JINSA widened its focus to U.S. defense and foreign policy in general, without dropping its focus on Israel. JINSA’s advisory board has included such notable neocons and neocon allies as Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, Richard Perle, Kenneth Timmerman, John Bolton,  R. James Woolsey and Dick Cheney. While the existence of Bolton, Cheney, Woolsey would show the support of some gentiles for Jewish interests, the very name of the organization indicates its ethno-religious orientation.

The origins of neoconservatism sprang from American Jews dismayed about the turn of American liberalism  and the world Left, with which most Jewish intellectuals historically had been aligned, to positions perceived as contrary to Jewish interests—support for racial quotas (which might threaten Jewish predominance in many important fields), animosity to Israel (as a racist, colonialist state), and growing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and other Communist Eastern European states.  Vaïsse goes over these Jewish concerns (pp. 58-64), without, in the end, giving them much importance in his overall assessment of neoconservative motivation.

It would seem that Vaïsse attempts to denigrate the idea of a connection between neoconservatism and Jews by writing that “only the white-supremacist extremist right (Kevin McDonald [sic] in Occidental Quarterly, for example) pushes this ethnic logic to its conclusion by considering neoconservatism as one possible expression of Jewishness.” (p. 273).  Designating MacDonald (correct spelling) a “white supremacist” would presumably serve to make this type of thinking anathema in the mainstream, and it neatly  avoids dealing with the very extensive data  showing very strong Jewish identities and commitment to Israel of the key neocons.  Considering the alacrity with which Vaïsse makes his racial supremacy charge, it is ironic—but understandable given the requisite intellectual double standards in the American mainstream—that he fails to make any effort to show how  the neoconservatives’ preachment of global democracy meshes with support for the ethnically-based state of Israel, which could be classified as a Jewish-supremacist state.

Also, considering the mainstream hosannas about Vaïsse’s alleged definitive account of  neoconservatism, it is ironic that he fails to mention the Jews who have pointed out the Jewish nature of neoconservatism, which would militate against the observation’s stigma of anti-Semitism.  For example, Vaïsse  does not refer to the aforementioned Murray Friedman or Gal Beckerman, who wrote in the noted Jewish newspaper Forward in January 2006: “[I]t is a fact that as a political philosophy, neoconservatism was born among the children of Jewish immigrants and is now largely the intellectual domain of those immigrants’ grandchildren.”  In fact, Beckerman went so far as to maintain that “[i]f there is an intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim, neoconservatism is it.” (Quoted in The Transparent Cabal, p. 26)

Vaïsse also neglects the work of Jewish-American historian Paul Gottfried who has written extensively on the neoconservatives for three decades in numerous books and articles, and who clearly recognizes the Jewish nature of the movement.  Gottfried, who wrote the introduction for my book, The Transparent Cabal, states that “the term ‘neoconservative’ is now too closely identified with the personal and ethnic concerns of its Jewish celebrities. . . . It is increasingly useless to depend on out-group surrogates to repackage a movement so clearly rooted in a particular ethnicity – and even subethnicity (Eastern European Jews).” (Quoted in Transparent Cabal, pp. 28-29)

It should be added that none of these three Jewish authors can in any sense be called “self-hating” Jews, the derogatory moniker used by pro-Zionists to delegitimize any criticism by Jews of Israel or other Jewish interests.  Even Gottfried, who is highly critical of neoconservatives, is friendly towards Israel.

And now the issue of Israel, the significance of which to the neocons Vaïsse  explicitly plays down.
 However,  while maintaining that  “Zionism is not the right key to understanding them [neoconservatives],” he acknowledges that “The Jewish state . . . had been important to neoconservatives as far back as the 1960s.  As the Middle East became central to America’s geopolitical concerns, unconditional support for Israel became increasingly decisive in their approach to international affairs.  Seeing the Middle East through ‘Israeli lenses’ led to a distortion of perspective that caused them to underestimate the importance of the Palestinian quest for nationhood in the region’s troubles and to mistake the nature of America’s enemies.” (pp. 264-65)  And he would also write that “in their intellectual and political approach to the Middle East, the close alliance with Israel often led them to identify the Jewish’s [sic] state’s struggle with that of the United States:  the same enemy (Islamic terrorists), the same tactics (preventative war, unilateralism, ‘show of force’) and the same cause (‘they hate us for what we are’).  This perspective was not analytically sound.  Although it was normal for America to worry about the fate of a close ally, this undue identification with Israel and the tendency to see things through an Israeli prism undoubtedly helped to create an inaccurate picture of the region and led to unrealistic policy recommendations.”  (p. 265)

Vaïsse’s  references to the neocons’ “unconditional support” for Israel, identifying Israel’s “struggle with that of the United States,”  “seeing the Middle East through   ‘Israeli lenses’,” are about identical to what I maintain in my book.  In fact, I had a sense of déjà vu when he referred to “Israeli lenses,” since I had used the term “lens” in the same way a number of times in my book, pointing out, for example, that “the neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest.” (The Transparent Cabal, p. 7)

Vaïsse, however, does not illustrate to any degree the neocons’ extensive personal connections to Israel, though he acknowledges that some were strong Zionists, writing that “It is of course true that many third-age neoconservatives (such as Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, and Elliott Abrams) were close to Israel’s Likud party, but their hard Zionist positions, which were not shared by all neoconservatives, cannot by themselves explain the neoconservative worldview.”  (p. 274)  Now the individuals he cites have been quite significant in neoconservatism since the 1990s—with Perle and Abrams being so even earlier—so their “hard Zionist positions” would certainly imply the significance of this allegiance in neoconservatism.  In fact, Vaïsse  fails to bring out their close connections to rightwing Israeli government officials with  Perle, Wurmser, and Feith being involved in the 1996 “Clean Break” report, which advised then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue pre-emptive attacks on Israel’s enemies in ways quite analogous to what the neocons would later propose for the Bush II administration.

It should also be added that Perle, Feith, Bryen, Wolfowitz,  and Ledeen have been suspected and sometimes investigated for allegedly providing classified material to agents of the Israeli government.  Whether or not they were actually breaking United States laws (and the laws seem to be more relaxed if the foreign state involved is Israel), these episodes clearly illustrated their close connections to the government of Israel.

And the former are not the only neocons to evince “hard Zionist positions.”  For example, as I point out in The Transparent Cabal,  Norman Podhoretz, who as the long-time editor of  Commentary had the power to determine what issues and individuals would be placed in the neoconservative spotlight, identified with the Jewish state to such an extent that, as Murray Friedman writes in The Neoconservative Revolution, “Commentary articles now [1970s] came to emphasize threats to Jews and the safety and security of the Jewish state. By the 1980s, nearly half of Podhoretz’s writings on international affairs centered on Israel and these dangers.”  (Quoted in The Transparent Cabal, p. 27)  Moreover, at the onset of the Gulf War of 1991,  Podhoretz “went  to live with his daughter in her home in Jerusalem in order to show his solidarity with Israel, which Saddam had threatened to attack by missiles, and did so to a limited extent.” (The Transparent Cabal, pp. 27-28)

Moreover, Vaïsse neglects to show that the neocons, once they were able to gain dominance in conservative organizations,  purged those traditional conservatives who were critical of Israel and American policies that seemed to be guided by Israeli interests.  Though referring to the neocon “takeover of the American Enterprise Institute” (p. 206), Vaïsse, with more than a modicum of understatement, writes of “increasing neoconservative influence over  a number of key institutions in the new [conservative] establishment . . . in other words, a competition for money” and alludes to how this “fueled this bitterness” of some traditional conservatives (p. 208), but fails to mention that the neocons were able to totally marginalize any conservatives who opposed their Israelocentric Middle East agenda—opposition which they branded as “anti-Semitic” —by depriving them of their former sources of institutional support.

It should be noted that there had been a fairly sizeable number of Jewish individuals in the conservative movement for years without arousing the ire of their conservative brethren.  What incensed the traditional conservatives therefore was not the neoconservatives’ Jewishness, but rather the latter’s successful efforts to make support for Israel and a pro-Israel Middle East agenda for the United States a litmus test for  acceptance by the now neocon-dominated conservative institutions.  Vaïsse, however, distorts this episode by implying that the neocons’ traditional conservative opponents were the aggressors and that “a hint of anti-Semitism lay behind these attacks,” and cites long-time conservative icon Russell Kirk, one of the mildest of men, as one of these attackers.  (p. 208)

Another factor ignored by Vaïsse is the connection of Israel to the US attack on Iraq.  Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu,  promoted war on Iraq during the period of the war’s build-up.  And the Israeli government provided some of the bogus intelligence trumpeted by the neocons to generate support for the war.  Furthermore, the very idea of using military force to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s regime would seem to have originated in Israel with Likudnik Oded Yinon’s 1982 work, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” which called for an overall Israeli war agenda of fragmenting its enemies into small, ethno-sectarian statelets for the purpose of enhancing its own national security.  Iraq was designated as the first target.

In short, support for Israel looms very large in neoconservative thinking, but if  Vaïsse  simply means that the neocons’ identification with Israel does not explain the  “neoconservative worldview” in its entirety, this is something with which I concur in my book, The Transparent Cabal.  For example, I write: “Undoubtedly, the overall neoconservative viewpoint does not revolve solely around the security needs of Israel, and the same is true even of the neocons’ positions on foreign policy and national-security policy.  To state that neoconservatives viewed American foreign policy in the Middle East through the lens of Israeli interest – and that this was the basis of the neocon Middle East war agenda – is not to say that their support for Israel has been the be-all and end-all of their foreign policy ideas, which encompass the entire world.” (The Transparent Cabal, p. 7)

But the neocons have had their greatest impact on American policy in regard to the Middle East, and this is the fundamental concern at the present time.  Consequently, what Vaïsse refers to as the neoconservatives’ “unconditional support” for Israel that has led to  “unrealistic policy recommendations” is currently far more significant than their positions on Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs or arms limitations agreements with the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s.
However, Vaïsse’s points about the neoconservatives’ “unconditional support” for Israel occupy but a small portion of the book and are thus overwhelmed by a lengthy discussion of the earlier years of neoconservatism, where concern for Israel, though existent, did not loom paramount.  Only  50 pages of  the book’s narrative of 279 pages cover the neoconservatives’ activities from the post-Cold War 1990s to the present—the time in which their focus on Israel becomes most apparent.

Vaïsse also obfuscates the focus on Israel in his “Epilogue:  Interpreting Neoconservatism”—a part that, being at the end of the book, most readers will likely remember and that most reviewers are apt to actually read closely rather than skim.  There he portrays the neocons in the area of foreign policy as fundamentally motivated by a mixture of nationalism and universalist democratic ideals, as opposed to an attachment to Israel. “One can see neoconservatism,” he contends, “as a avatar of American messianism, as the expression of an underlying nationalism that has been present since the country was born, a reincarnation of Wilsonianism in a new, more martial form.  Owing to American exceptionalism (‘a city on a hill’), the United States has swung from protection to projection, from isolationism (synonymous with preserving the American model) to imperialism (synonymous with extending the model around the world).  See [sic] in this light, neoconservatism is above all a sign of the resurgence of this nationalist—but also universalist—faith, on the model of French Jacobin nationalism, an off-shoot of the French Revolution of 1789, which was mixed with a universalist credo.” (p. 278)

Undoubtedly, this type of nationalistic, democratic messianism has existed and still exists in United States, but there would seem to be no reason for this attitude to be connected with what Vaïsse  describes earlier in the book as the neocons’ “unconditional support” for Israel.  True nationalists—who would be focused solely on what is good for their own country—would not be in favor of “unconditional support” for  any foreign country since changing circumstances would mean that such support would not always be in the national interest.  In his famous Farewell Address, George Washington expressed this nationalist belief in his admonition to his fellow citizens to eschew a “passionate attachment” to a foreign country, which is exactly what “unconditional support” for Israel constitutes. And as has been widely recognized by Middle East experts in the United States government since the time of Israel’s creation, American support for the Jewish state makes positive relations with the Arab world, which are of crucial importance to the United States because of the region’s oil resources, more difficult.

In regard to exporting democracy, it is not apparent that some major neocon prescriptions, such as bombing Iran, even have that intent.  As most experts contend, any United States attack on Iran would unify that country behind the Islamic regime and perhaps lead to revolts by radical Islamic groups throughout the Gulf against pro-Western governments.  Moreover, America’s war on Iraq and identification with Israel have made it less popular in the Middle East and the rest the world—the effect of which is to increase the difficulty of extending the American democratic model.  It would seem quite obvious that if the goal were to export America’s form of democracy elsewhere in the world, supporting the policies of the Jewish state and making war against its enemies would not be the way to achieve it.

Regarding Israel itself, it would seem that if democracy were the neoconservatives’ watchword, they would work to eliminate Israel’s undemocratic control over the Palestinians on the West Bank and try to make the country itself more inclusive—and not a state explicitly privileging Jews over non-Jews.  The neoconservatives would either promote a one-state democratic solution for what had once been the British Palestine Mandate (Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank) or else demand that Israel allow the Palestinians to have a fully sovereign, viable state on all of the West Bank and Gaza.  Israeli governments, in contrast, have regarded a one-state solution as anathema and have never offered the Palestinians more than a faux state of non-contiguous bantustans within which Israel would maintain security zones and control vital resources such as water.  Similarly, instead of taking anything approaching a  pro-democracy stance, the neoconservatives do just the opposite, backing the Israeli Likudnik Right, which takes an especially hostile position toward the Palestinians with its fundamental goal being the maintenance of the exclusivist Jewish nature of the state of Israel.

In making these criticisms, I do not want to leave the impression that there is nothing of value in this book.  Vaïsse does a good job of describing some intricacies of the earlier years of neoconservatism (1960s, 1970s and 1980s).  Although he does not seem to provide anything to change the broad outlines of the conventional history of neoconservatism, he does add a number of poignant details.  For students of neoconology, he must be credited for puncturing as mythical the widespread claim that socialist Michael Harrington coined the term “neoconservative.” (p. 71-76)  Vaïsse also makes an interesting point as to how some neocons were still trying to shape the Democratic Party after most migrated to Reagan at the beginning of the 1980s.  And he notes that ultimately, after the end of the Cold War, one segment of the Democratic Party, the “neoliberals,” would adopt much of the neoconservatives’ interventionist foreign policy agenda.

As mentioned earlier, Vaïsse must be credited for accurately pointing out that the neoconservatives were the major factor in bringing about the United States’ attack on Iraq in 2003.  He notes that the neoconservatives laid the plans for attacking Iraq prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that those attacks created a climate of fear and anger which enabled the neocons, with their war agenda, to gain the upper hand in the Bush administration.  He observes that the neocons, both within and outside the Bush administration, provided the propaganda that generated the public and elite support for the war and that even President George W. Bush was persuaded by them.  And he shows that Bush, despite his neoconservative rhetoric, generally moved away from the neoconservative war policy during his second term, though adopting the neocons’ “surge” policy as opposed to the establishment-oriented Baker-Hamilton report on Iraq.  Finally, despite America’s failure in Iraq and the nonexistence of actual neoconservatives in the Obama administration, Vaïsse makes the cogent observation that neoconservatism itself has not died, but remains “a potent force in Washington, only waiting for a more favorable political environment in which to exert its influence on American foreign policy again.” (p. 266)

While Vaïsse deserves credit for showing the neocons’ influence during the Bush administration, he only encapsulates what is often said about the neoconservatives outside the restrictive confines of the mainstream media.  And I should add that my extensive documentation of this subject in The Transparent Cabal far exceeds what Vaïsse provides in a small portion of his book.

Where Vaïsse achieves some degree of originality is in his typology—his classification of neoconservatism according to somewhat overlapping chronological periods, which he terms “ages,” with each having a distinct agenda, political activities, and people (though he is not the first to make such distinctions).  The neoconservatives of the first age, which began in 1965, were concerned about the rise of the New Left, campus violence, the counterculture, affirmative action and the overall leftward drift of American liberalism.  Their focus was largely on domestic policy.  They criticized the unintended negative consequences of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, and while they opposed the radical state-imposed egalitarianism sought by the New Left, they were supporters of the traditional liberal welfare state and remained loyal to the Democratic Party.

I should add that in my view this first age, which consisted of many individuals who did not hold the hard-line foreign policy views that would come to characterize neoconservatism, did not represent full-fledged neoconservatism.  Thus, I would describe the individuals of this early period as proto-neoconservatives, with actual neoconservatism not really emerging until the start of the 1970s, as foreign policy became a fundamental concern.

Vaïsse dates 1972 as the beginning of the second age, which he views as a reaction to the nomination of George McGovern as candidate of the Democratic Party.  The McGovern movement embodied the anti-war, especially anti-Cold War, ethos that took hold of American liberalism during the Vietnam era.  The primary focus of the  second age would be on foreign policy, as the neocons supported hard-line Cold War policies against the Soviet Union, in opposition to both what they considered to be the “isolationism” and “appeasement” of the McGovernite Democrats, as well as the Kissingerian détente of the Nixon-Ford administrations.  They made strenuous efforts to reclaim the Democratic party for Cold War liberalism, but when President Jimmy Carter seemed to be continuing in the path of the McGovernites, the neocons reluctantly gravitated to Reagan in 1980, gaining positions in his administration, where they helped to craft his hard-line Cold War positions.

Like the second age, the third age, which Vaïsse has beginning in 1995, would also focus on foreign policy.  With the Cold War over, the neocons would emphasize the need for global democracy and focus on the transformation of the Middle East.  Their more expansive global ambitions reflected the fact that the United States had become the world’s sole superpower.  It was during this age that the neocons would achieve their greatest impact, gaining influential positions in the Bush II administration, where they would act as the driving force for the war on Iraq.

Although an interesting typology, I don’t think the ages are as separate as Vaïsse  often makes them appear, or at least as how his mainstream reviewers seem to interpret his position.  In many respects the ages blend together.  Vaïsse sometimes acknowledges this blending when he writes of the convergence between the first and second ages (p. 207 ), and when he acknowledges strong similarities between the second and third ages. (p. 221)  Moreover, full-fledged neoconservatives from one age, such as Norman Podhoretz, supported  the issues that loomed largest in the succeeding ages. (Norman Podhoretz was involved in all three ages.)  The change in ages, therefore, did not represent so  much a change in the neoconservative core membership, but rather the change represented the need to address new issues as a result of different circumstances, which did lead to changes in the neocons’ allies.
What Vaïsse fails to bring out clearly is the fact that Jewish interests loomed large in all of his three ages.  In the first age, New Left demands for group equality and their efforts to bring chaos to the universities seemed to threaten the higher status of Jews.  In the second age, neocons were concerned about liberal Democrats identifying with Third World attacks on Israel, seeking retrenchment of US military involvement that might weaken support for Israel, and advocating a friendlier policy toward the Soviet Union, which was now seen as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.  In the third age, the neoconservatives’ promotion of a “democratic” reconfiguration of the Middle East would involve the weakening of Israel’s enemies.

What is one to make of Vaïsse’s work?  A positive way of looking at it would be to describe it as the best type of work that can be produced and still receive mainstream attention.  For Vaïsse does point out that the neocons were the driving force for the war on Iraq.  And he certainly does criticize their war-oriented activities.  That he plays down the Jewish nature of neoconservatism and the movement’s focus on Israel could be interpreted as the necessary price to pay for this positive reception; in fact, as  a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, it is questionable if Vaïsse could have produced a work with an accurate discussion of the taboo subjects.  For Brookings includes the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, which was created in 2002 largely by the funding ($13 million) of Haim Saban, who has pledged additional financial support.  Saban happens to be a staunch Zionist, who has been quoted as saying: “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.”

Another way of looking at Vaïsse’s book would be to classify it in the genre of damage control or what Harry Elmer Barnes, a leading revisionist of the history of World War I and World War II, referred to as a “smother-out.”  This approach would allow a partial revelation of the truth, as the complete black-out lost credibility, in order to stave off more extensive revelations.

By downplaying the significance of Jewish ethnicity and the centrality of Israel, however, Vaïsse’s work fails to provide much help in understanding the current push by the overall Israel lobby and the government of Israel for war on Iran, which the neoconservatives intended to have as the next major target for the US after the invasion of Iraq.  More than serving as a guide for understanding the present, however, truth is good for its own sake since presumably the purpose of history is to best describe what actually happened in the past.  What Vaïsse has provided is simply a partial truth that leaves out key elements, which should be recognized by anyone who truly investigates the issue.  It would be hoped that the mainstream would open up sufficiently so that this fuller, unadulterated truth would not be shunted to the margins of society.  This, however, would appear to be but a forlorn hope.  As the 19th century New England poet James Russell Lowell put it:  “Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne.”

Stephen J. Sniegoski, Ph.D. is an American historian, with a focus on American foreign policy, and the neoconservative involvement in it. His first major work on the subject, “The War on Iraq: Conceived in Israel” was published February 10, 2003, more than a month before the American attack.  He is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.