zaterdag 9 januari 2010

Obama 143

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted:James Cridland)

I've been writing about unbelievably bad news for more than a decade now, so when the New Year came around this time, I made up my mind to try and come up with something to write about that was optimistic, positive, more upbeat, or something. It's all been so grim for so long now, with recent events providing no exception - a less-than-half-a-loaf health care "reform" process, underwear bombers and a new nascent war in Yemen, the Afghan escalation, more suicide attacks in Iraq, bad housing stats, bankers running banking "reform" and a bunch of Congressional Democrats whose imminent retirement could put Congress back in the hands of the people who lined up behind George W. Bush like ducks on a pond, which matters less thanks to the stark level of spinelessness evinced by those aforementioned Democrats and their ilk - and the first chore I gave myself after the holidays was to turn that frown upside down.

Press play to listen to author William Rivers Pitt read his column, "Go":


The term "blood from a stone" leaps nimbly to mind. I tried, for the better part of a week, to come up with something, some angle, to argue that all is not as bleak as it so readily seems. No soap. A lot of the air has gone out of the hope and change balloon, and as for the Left in general, well, let's just say disarray and despair are the most optimistic of outlooks lately. A lot of people seem to be stuck in the mud these days; progressive voters are furious with President Obama, Democratic voters are furious with progressive voters for being furious with President Obama, and everyone else is kind of standing around waiting for someone to get off the mark and start leading.

But then I remembered something.

I remembered how a halfwit Texan and his Supreme Court allies jobbed the electorate and snatched the presidency away from the rightful winner of the 2000 election, and two years later, parlayed their own failure to defend the homeland from terrorism into a push toward war in Iraq.

By comparison, the war in Vietnam had been churning along for many, many years before its opponents were able to organize public protests of any size or import. George W. Bush's Iraq debacle was still five months away from becoming a reality in October of 2002, but that didn't stop the Left from organizing one of the largest and most important antiwar protests in American history. Washington, DC, San Francisco, and cities all across the nation saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets on October 26 to stop a war that hadn't even started yet. I saw it. I was there.

In February of 2003, one month before the start of the Iraq war, the single largest protest in the history of humanity took place. Tens of millions of people in dozens of countries across the world spoke with one voice to say "No!" to Mr. Bush and his plans. The war happened anyway, because nothing short of God Herself denouncing Bush from the Capitol Dome was going to stop the damned thing, but what the Left accomplished before the war even started beggars likeness. I saw it. I was there.

The Left has a reputation, partially deserved, for being a motley collection of scatterbrained, cause-of-the-week, ego junkies who never really get anything done. But I saw what the Left was able to do when confronted with the criminal ambitions of the Bush administration, and it didn't stop after the war got going. Groups sprung up in every corner of the country and kept the heat on until they made a difference. Whatever one may think about the Democratic Party today, there is no doubt the fortunes of that party were turned in 2006 and 2008 because of the tireless efforts of millions of people to push popular opinion and understanding away from the yawning precipice of national neoconservatism.

So, here's what I think: do it again.

If you're disappointed in Mr. Obama, go back to your anti-Bush roots and put together some concerted activism. Organize a protest, or a letter-writing campaign or find a Congressional candidate you like and volunteer to help them. Raise money, raise issues and start pushing back against what you believe to be wrong. If you support Mr. Obama and the Democrats, get back on your '08 horse and ride to the rescue, because for sure they need all the help you can provide. Get back into the game, and stop being paralyzed and demoralized because politicians aren't doing the right thing.

The Left has done some truly amazing things in the last ten years, things that took great effort, concentration, passion and will. The need for those qualities did not evaporate with the election of the "good guys." Indeed, those qualities are needed more than ever before.

I wanted to write about some good news for the New Year. That good news? You faced harder challenges than this before, and can do it again. As Congressman Dennis Kucinich said many times, you are the one you've been waiting for. He was right. I saw it. I was there. So were you.


John Berger 3

Look at the power structure of the surrounding world, and how its authority functions. Every tyranny finds and improvises its own set of controls. Which is why they are often, at first, not recognized as the vicious controls they are.

John Berger. Meanwhile

Obama 142

Let’s Break from the Party of War and Wall Street

By Stanley Aronowitz
From the January 8, 2010 issue | Posted in National | Email this article

People cannot live without hope. The long night of the eight Bush years was tolerated only because many of us believed it would come to an end. That Obama seized on that belief better than his Democratic opponents is a testament to the high expectations people had that regime change in Washington just might bring about a better life. While Hillary Clinton, his main primary opponent, evoked the traditional symbols of military preparedness combined with liberal domestic policies, Obama steadfastly preached the gospel of peace and hope and carefully avoided making lavish promises. Clinton won the backing of most organized labor, women’s organizations and major Democratic politicians. But Obama, the only fresh face in the gallery of candidates, outmaneuvered the traditional party dons. With little support at the top, Obama went for the grassroots, correctly gauging the country to be fed up with the old ties and old ideas.

Obama had the advantage of being African-American, even though many black politicians had hopped on the Clinton bandwagon early in the campaign. But Obama’s not-so-secret weapon was his appeal among youth who, responding to his bold message of hope and change, came out of the woodwork by the thousands to volunteer in his campaign, trudging door to door in the cities and tipping the balance in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. They also delivered much of the West to the insurgent. What befuddled the pros and the pundits was Obama’s ability to mobilize youth who chronically stay away from the polls, largely because they see little point in voting. He seemed to have the power to make them believe in the system. Although the overall vote count was not remarkable compared to past presidential elections, the proportion of voting youth and blacks helped give Obama a relatively easy victory over John McCain, the lapsed maverick.

For many who voted for Obama, 2009 has been a year of deep disillusionment. The degree to which the Obama administration revealed its basic war and big business orientation was first shown by his major cabinet and staff appointees. Robert Gates, Bush’s defense secretary, was retained; Hillary Clinton, perhaps the Senate’s leading hawk, became secretary of state; the crucial position of treasury secretary went to a Federal Reserve bureaucrat and Wall Street ally, Tim Geithner; and Lawrence Summers, Bill Clinton’s last Treasury head, became Obama’s chief economic advisor.

What was obscured by Obama’s rousing campaign and nimble rhetoric has become brutally apparent in the aftermath. The Democratic Party has, since the end of World War II, been the favored party of finance capital. That mantle once belonged to the Republicans — the fabled party of the rich and wealthy. But the GOP has sunk into a right-wing party of opposition and no longer pretends to be a party of government. Its cast, begun as far back as the Goldwater takeover in 1964, is anti-internationalist, narrowly ideological and administratively incompetent. Meanwhile, the Democrats live a glaring contradiction: on the one hand, they rely on labor and the new social movements of feminism, ecology and black freedom both for votes and for a large portion of their political cadres. On the other, they need hundreds of millions of dollars to oil the party apparatus and run 535 national election campaigns. Aside from the unions, most of this money comes from corporate sponsors and wealthy individuals.

This contradictory existence accounts for several important political realities: Despite a large “progressive” congressional delegation, especially in the House of Representatives, the Democrats’ weight of governance falls on its debts to, and alliances with, leading financial corporations. For example, that the Democrats are forced to sponsor some version of healthcare “reform” cannot disguise the fact that the big insurance companies have called the tune on the legislation. Nor are the Democrats’ ostensible commitments to dealing with global warming as powerful as the influence of the energy giants who have systematically thwarted any attempt to address what may be the defining public issue of this century. And the Obama administration has handled the most profound economic crisis since the Great Depression by continuing the Bush policy of bailing out the banks and insurance companies and virtually ignoring rising joblessness, burgeoning foreclosures and deepening black and Latino poverty. In short, Obama is the perfect manifestation of the contradiction that rips across the Democratic Party bow.

Lees verder:

The Empire 511

The Quiet American
Yemen – America’s second Afghanistan and third Vietnam

By Uri Avnery

10 January 2010

Uri Avnery considers the USA’s ill-conceived adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their disastrous outcomes, and predicts a similar catastrophe if Washington embarks on another misguided adventure – this time in Yemen.

”Terrorism is nothing but an instrument of war. It is used by organizations that are vastly different from each other, which are fighting in vastly different countries for vastly different objectives. A war on ‘International Terror’ is like a war on ‘International Artillery’ or ‘International Navy’...

“If the Quiet American, in his usual mixture of idealism and ignorance, decides to bring democracy and all the other goodies [to Yemen], that will be the end of this happiness. The Americans will sink into another quagmire, tens of thousands of people will be killed, and it will all end in disaster.”

The quiet American was the hero of Graham Greene’s novel about the first Vietnam war, the one fought by the French.

He was a young and naïve American, a professor’s son, who had enjoyed a good education at Harvard, an idealist with all the best intentions. When he was sent to Vietnam, he wanted to help the natives to overcome the two evils as he saw them: French colonialism and Communism. Knowing absolutely nothing about the country in which he was acting, he caused a disaster. The book ends with a massacre, the outcome of his misguided efforts. He illustrated the old saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Since this book was written, 54 years have passed, but it seems that the Quiet American has not changed a bit. He is still an idealist (at least in his own view of himself), still wants to bring redemption to foreign and faraway peoples about whom he knows nothing, still causes terrible disasters: in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now, it seems, in Yemen.

The Iraqi example is the simplest one.


The American soldiers were sent there to overthrow the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. There were, of course, also some less altruistic objectives, such as taking control of the Iraqi oil resources and stationing an American garrison in the heart of the Middle Eastern oil region. But for the American public, the adventure was presented as an idealistic enterprise to topple a bloody dictator who was menacing the world with nuclear bombs.

That was six years ago, and the war is still going on. Barack Obama, who opposed the war right from the start, promised to lead the Americans out of there. In the meantime, in spite of all the talking, no end is in sight.

Why? Because the real decision-makers in Washington had no idea of the country which they wanted to liberate and help to live happily ever after.

Iraq was from the beginning an artificial state. The British masters glued together several Ottoman provinces to suit their own colonial interests. They crowned a Sunni Arab as king over the Kurds, who are not Arab, and the Shi’is, who are not Sunni. Only a succession of dictators, each of them more brutal than his predecessor, prevented the state from falling apart.

The Washington planners were not interested in the history, demography or geography of the country which they entered with brutal force. The way it looked to them, it was quite simple: one had to topple the tyrant, establish democratic institutions on the American model, conduct free elections, and everything else would fall into place by itself.

Contrary to their expectations, they were not received with flowers. Neither did they discover Saddam’s terrible atom bomb. Like the proverbial elephant in the porcelain shop, they shattered everything, destroyed the country and got bogged in a swamp.

After years of bloody military operations that led nowhere, they found a temporary remedy. To hell with idealism, to hell with the lofty aims, to hell with all military doctrines – they’re now simply buying off the tribal chiefs, who constitute the reality of Iraq.

The Quiet American has no idea how to get out. He knows that if he does, the country may well disintegrate in mutual bloodletting.


Two years before entering the Iraqi swamp, the Americans invaded the Afghan quagmire.

Why? Because an organization called Al-Qaeda (“The Base”) had claimed responsibility for the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York. Al-Qaeda’s chiefs were in Afghanistan, their training camps were there. To the Americans, everything was clear – there was no need for second thoughts (neither, for that matter, for first thoughts).

If they had had any knowledge of the country they were about to invade, they might have, perhaps, hesitated. Afghanistan has always been a graveyard for invaders. Mighty empires had escaped from there with their tails between their legs. Unlike flat Iraq, Afghanistan is a country of mountains, a paradise for guerrillas. It is the home of several different peoples and uncounted tribes, each one fiercely jealous of its independence.

The Washington planners were not really interested. For them, it seems, all countries are the same, and so are all societies. In Afghanistan, too, American-style democracy must be established, free and fair elections must be held, and hoppla – everything else will sort itself out.

The elephant entered the shop without knocking and achieved a resounding victory. The air force pounded, the army conquered without problems, Al-Qaeda disappeared like a ghost, the Taliban (“religious pupils”) ran away. Women could again appear in the streets without covering their hair, girls could attend schools, the opium fields flourished again, and so did Washington’s protégés in Kabul.

However – the war goes on, year after year, the number of American dead is rising inexorably. What for? Nobody knows. It seems as if the war has acquired a life of its own, without aim, without reason.

An American could well ask himself: “What the hell are we doing there?”

The immediate aim, the expulsion of Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, has ostensibly been achieved. Al-Qaeda is not there – if it ever really was there.

I wrote once that Al-Qaeda is an America invention and that Osama Bin-Laden has been sent by Hollywood’s Central Casting to play the role. He is simply too good to be true.

"The US is always in need of a worldwide enemy”

That was, of course, a bit of an exaggeration. But not altogether. The US is always in need of a worldwide enemy. In the past it was “International Communism”, whose agents were lurking behind every tree and under every floor tile. But, alas, the Soviet Union and its minions had collapsed, there was an urgent need for an enemy to fill the void. This was found in the shape of the worldwide jihad of Al-Qaeda. The crushing of “World Terrorism” became the overriding American aim.

That aim is nonsense. Terrorism is nothing but an instrument of war. It is used by organizations that are vastly different from each other, which are fighting in vastly different countries for vastly different objectives. A war on “International Terror” is like a war on “International Artillery” or “International Navy”.

A world-embracing movement led by Osama Bin-Laden just does not exist. Thanks to the Americans, Al-Qaeda has become a prestige brand in the guerrilla market, much like McDonald’s and Armani in the world of fast food and fashion. Every militant Islamist organization can appropriate the name for itself, even without a franchise from Bin-Laden.

American client regimes, who used to brand all their local enemies as “communist” in order to procure the help of their patrons, now brand them as “Al-Qaeda terrorists”.

Nobody knows where Bin-Laden is – if he is at all – and there is no proof of his being in Afghanistan. Some believe that he is in neighboring Pakistan. And even if he were hiding in Afghanistan – what justification is there for conducting a war and killing thousands of people in order to hunt down one person?

Some say: OK, so there is no Bin-Laden. But the Taliban have to be prevented from coming back.

Why, for god’s sake? What business is it of the US who rules Afghanistan? One can loathe religious fanatics in general and the Taliban in particular – but is this a reason for an endless war?

If the Afghans themselves prefer the Taliban to the opium dealers who are in power in Kabul, it is their business. It seems that they do, judging by the fact that the Taliban are again in control of most of the country. That is no good reason for a Vietnam-style war.

But how do you get out? Obama does not know. During the election campaign he promised, with a candidate’s foolhardiness, to enlarge the war there, as a compensation for leaving Iraq. Now he is stuck in both places – and in the near future, it seems, he will be stuck in a third war, too.

”Yemen – a second Afghanistan, a third Vietnam”

During the last few days, the name of Yemen has been cropping up more and more often. Yemen – a second Afghanistan, a third Vietnam.

The elephant is raring to enter another shop. And this time, too, it doesn’t care about the porcelain.

I know very little about Yemen, but enough to understand that only a madman would want to be sucked in there. It is another artificial state, composed of two different parts – the country of Sanaa in the north and the (former British) south. Most of the country is mountainous terrain, ruled by bellicose tribes guarding their independence. Like Afghanistan, it is an ideal region for guerrilla warfare.

There, too, is an organization that has adopted the grandiose name of “Al-Qaeda of the Arab Peninsula” (after the Yemeni militants united with their Saudi brothers). But its chiefs are interested in world revolution much less than in the intrigues and battles of the tribes among themselves and against the “central” government, a reality with a history of thousands of years. Only a complete fool would lay his head on this bed.

The name Yemen means “country on the right”. (If one looks towards Mecca from the West, Yemen is on the right side and Syria on the left.) The right side also connotes happiness, and the name of Yemen is connected to al-yamana, an Arabic word for being happy. The Romans called it Arabia Felix (“Happy Arabia”) because it was rich through trading in spices.

(By the way, Obama may be interested to hear that another leader of a superpower, Caesar Augustus, once tried to invade Yemen and was trounced.)

If the Quiet American, in his usual mixture of idealism and ignorance, decides to bring democracy and all the other goodies there, that will be the end of this happiness. The Americans will sink into another quagmire, tens of thousands of people will be killed, and it will all end in disaster.

It may well be that the problem is rooted – inter alia – in the architecture of Washington DC.

This city is full of huge buildings populated with the ministries and other offices of the only superpower in the world. The people working there feel the tremendous might of their empire. They look upon the tribal chiefs of Afghanistan and Yemen as a rhinoceros looks down at the ants that rush around between its feet. The Rhino walks over them without noticing. But the ants survive.

Altogether, the Quiet American resembles Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust, who defines himself as the force that “always wants the bad and always creates the good”. Only the other way round.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer and peace activist.

Hugo Chavez

Venezuela Says Its Jets Intercepted U.S. Plane

CARACAS -- President Hugo Chávez said he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept a U.S. military plane that twice violated Venezuelan airspace on Friday in what he called the latest provocation in the South American nation's skies.

Brandishing a photo of the plane, which he described as a P-3, Mr. Chávez said the overflight was the latest incursion in Venezuelan skies by the U.S. military from its bases on the Netherlands' Caribbean islands and from neighboring Colombia.

There was no immediate response from the U.S. Defense Department or the White House.

Separately, Mr. Chávez announced a currency devaluation for the first time since 2005. The president said Venezuela's currency, the bolivar, will now have two government-set rates depending on the use, either 2.60 to the dollar for transactions deemed priorities by the government or 4.30 to the dollar for other transactions. The currency's official exchange rate has been held by the government at 2.15 bolivars to the dollar.

On the plane interception, Mr. Chávez said the F-16s escorted the U.S. plane away after two incursions lasting 15 and 19 minutes each.

The perceived threat of U.S. intervention has become a central element of Mr. Chávez's political discourse and a rallying cry for his supporters.

Foes say the president is hyping the idea of a foreign threat to distract Venezuelans from domestic problems such as a recession and inadequate public services. Mr. Chávez surprised the diplomatic world in December when he accused the Netherlands of abetting potential offensive action against his government by granting U.S. troops access to its islands close to Venezuela.

The Dutch government says the U.S. presence is only for counternarcotics and surveillance operations over Caribbean smuggling routes.


De Nederlandse Spoorwegen

Ik zit in de TGV van Parijs naar Nederland en krijg net in Brussel te horen dat de machinist vanuit Amsterdam op weg is hier naar toe, en dat daarom de trein nu het eerst komende halfuur zeker niet kan vertrekken. De privatisering van de Nederlandse Spoorwegen is een totale flop geworden. De politici hadden dit kunnen weten als ze naar de VS hadden gekeken, waar de privatisering al veel eerder had geleid tot uitholling en andere derde wereldverschijnselen. De wonderlijke situatie ontstaat nu dat passagiers een halfuurtje eerder vertrekken om zeker ervan te zijn dat ze op tijd arriveren op hun plaats van bestemming en dat tegelijkertijd machinisten van de NS dit niet doen. Dat is pas echt klantvriendelijk. Heerlijk, dit ouwe mannengekanker van me.

Frits Bolkestein en de Beschaving

[94-frits-bolkestein.jpg]Eind vorig jaar beweerde Frits Bolkestein in de Volkskrant dat zelfkritiek, zelfrelativering en schuldbesef christelijke waarden zijn die hebben geleid tot vrijheid, tolerantie en welvaart.

Deze gemakkelijk aantoonbare nonsens behoort tot het gedachtegoed van mensen voor wie de wereld zwart/wit is, de eenvoudigen van geest die overal hun praatjes kwijt kunnen omdat hun beweringen niet meer zijn dan mentale fastfood, de gebruiker ervan hoeft er niet over na te denken. Sterker nog, men kan er niet langer dan 10 seconden serieus over nadenken.

De filosoof Tzvetan Todorov schrijft in Torture and the war on terror over het feit dat de Amerikanen na 11 september 2001 bepaalde vormen van martelen hebben goedgekeurd door het martelen domweg geen martelen meer te noemen, 'a form of magical thinking' stelt hij, 'in sofar as it pretends that we can act on things by changing their name.' En dan schrijft Todorov: Let me remind the reader in a few words of the kind of treatments inflicted on prisoners that 'do not amount to torture' as reported in the international press. In prisons scattered throughout countries outside the US, the detainees have been regularly raped, hung from hooks, immersed in water, burned, attached to electrodes, deprived of food, water or medicine, attacked by dogs, and beaten until their bones are broken. De filosoof gaat nog een halve pagina door, maar die gruwelen bespaar ik u. Gruwelen die door sommige Amerikaanse journalisten en academici zijn verdedigd, zolang ze maar door ons worden gepleegd en niet onze vijanden, de barbaren.

Wat ik stellen wil is het volgende: ondanks de westerse terreur blijven onnozele kwasten als Bolkestein rondbazuinen dat het Westen beschaafder is dan alle andere culturen. Deze mensen zijn niet meer dan propagandisten die de volle ruimte krijgen van onze commerciele media, niet omdat ze een serieuze zienswijze hebben, maar omdat ze de juiste reflexen vertonen, wij goed, zij fout. Tot het straks te laat is en de Bolkesteinen gewonnen hebben. Daarom: 'It is not because we say that the systematic destruction of a person will not be called torture that it ceases to be torture. Common usage and international conventions would designate such practices as belonging to the category of torture; thus reality is not altered in any way by this new designation,' aldus Todorov. Maar dat wist u toch al, nietwaar?

De Nuance van de NRC 159

In de trein vanuit Parijs naar Amsterdam. Een stapel boeken gekocht, van onder andere Todorov, Berger, Zinn. Prachtige tentoonstellingen gezien, o.a. over vrouwelijke kunstenaars in Centre Pompidou. Goede gesprekken gevoerd met in Parijs levende kosmopolieten. En nu:

het weekend-nieuws zoals de 'kwaliteitskrant' NRC deze op het internet zet:

Ter Horst voorziet tekort strooizout na weekend
Tot maandagavond is er voldoende strooizout om alle wegen open te houden, maar vanaf dinsdag wordt de situatie „problematisch”.

11:07Waardering werk Hirsch Ballin neemt toe
10:36''Dodenherdenking moet internationaal karakter krijgen''
10:30Floresmens stamt af van kleine voorganger Homo erectus
10:23Statistische analyse herkent hand de oude meester
10:09Boermans verkoopt theater voor 3,2 miljoen
10:04Hans Kamps schrijft PvdA-programma
10:03Veiligheidsdiensten VS moeten slagvaardiger opereren
09:40Twijfel aan strengere Ondernemingskamer
09:33Referendum IJsland uiterlijk 6 maart
18:48Brussel: scanners Europees regelen

Aldus NRC. Kortom van de 11 berichten, zijn er 8 direct over de polder en 2 indirect. Puur buitenlands nieuws: 2 berichten.

De provincialen kunnen weer rustig gaan slapen in onze geglobaliseerde wereld.

De Israelische Terreur 1103

De schrijver van dit artikel is de bejaarde Arie Kuiper die decennialang tot de christelijke supporters van Israel behoorde. Nu schrijft hij:

De zionistische droom

„Laten we er geen doekjes om winden, de politieke situatie waarin Israël zich op dit moment bevindt is slechter dan ooit.” Volgens Abel Herzberg-biograaf Arie Kuiper is het land bezig met een langzame politieke zelfmoord. „Dat klinkt onheilspellend, maar ik meen het wel.”

De sympathie voor Israël is in de westerse landen tot een minimum gedaald. Op Amerikaanse en Britse universiteiten wordt gepleit voor een academische boycot van de Joodse staat. Anderen pleiten voor een economische boycot. In Nederland hebben politici als Hans van den Broek, Hans van Mierlo, Frans Andriessen, Klaas de Vries, Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Pieter Kooijmans en Hedy d’Ancona zich aangesloten bij The Rights Forum van Dries van Agt – een man die door de Joden diep wordt gewantrouwd.

Peilingen hebben uitgewezen dat de meeste Europeanen momenteel Israël zien als het grootste gevaar voor de wereldvrede. In het jongste nummer van het Joods-Amerikaanse maandblad Commentary schrijft de Israëlische journaliste Evelyn Gordon dat Israëls groeiende status van paria in de wereld op de lange termijn een groter gevaar is voor zijn voortbestaan dan welke militaire dreiging ook.

Esther Voet, waarnemend hoofdredacteur van het Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad, schreef eind december dat Israël de zondebok van de wereld dreigt te worden. Zij voorziet ’een donkere nacht’. Veel Joden in Nederland voelen zich onbehaaglijk. Voet citeert met instemming de uitspraak van de zionist en schrijver Abel Herzberg: „Zonder Israël is elke Jood een ongedekte cheque.”

Bijna de enige vrienden die Israël in Nederland nog heeft zijn de Christenen voor Israël. Ik ben bepaald geen bewonderaar van deze pressiegroep waarvan de aanhangers menen dat de totstandkoming van de Joodse staat onderdeel is van Gods heilsplan en dat de komst van de Messias daardoor zal worden bespoedigd. Diens komst zal in hun ogen samenvallen met de wederkomst van Christus, want de Joodse Messias en de christelijke Verlosser zullen dan, mirabile dictu, dezelfde persoon blijken te zijn. Daar zullen de Joden te zijner tijd nog van opkijken.

Maar aan sympathie voor Israël mankeert het mij niet. De term ’liefde voor Israël’ vermijd ik, want ik zou niet weten hoe je van een land kunt houden. Ik weet niet eens hoe ik van Nederland zou moeten houden. Sympathie dus voor Israël, en oprechte belangstelling.

Een oplossing voor het conflict tussen de Joodse staat en de Palestijnen is in geen velden of wegen te bekennen. President Obama en zijn speciale gezant voor het Midden-Oosten, George Mitchell, doen hun best, maar tot nu toe hebben zij niets bereikt.

The Empire 510

Study: More Families Using Food Stamps to Feed Kids

Friday 08 January 2010
by: David Goldstein | McClatchy Newspapers

The United States has more poor children now than it did a year ago.

As recession-hammered families increase, more are using food stamps to feed their kids, according to a study by the Brookings Institution and First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy group.

"They are a really good barometer, a kind of economic needs test," said Mark Rank, an expert on social welfare programs at Washington University in St. Louis. "If you're receiving food stamps and you're a child, by definition, you're in poverty."

Across the nation, 7 million people joined the food stamp rolls from August 2008 to August 2009, the study said. Users rose from 29.5 million to 36.5 million. Half were children.

States scattered coast to coast showed "very high growth" in food stamp caseloads. In Florida, almost half a million people joined the rolls, a 34 percent increase; in North Carolina, nearly 200,000, a 21 percent increase.

Other states that showed a high increase in the percentage of food stamp caseloads include Idaho, with a 36 percent increase; Washington state, up 32 percent; Georgia, up 27 percent; California, up 21 percent; and Texas, up 20 percent.

"As parents lose jobs and as work becomes scarcer, it's only natural to see your needs-based programs have more people applying for that assistance," said Scott Rowson, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Social Services.

The study appears to buttress a U.S. Census report last fall, which found that nearly one in five children live in poverty. Julia Isaacs, a Brookings scholar, said that could end up closer to one in four by 2012.

The food stamp program is now known as SNAP, for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Participants use ATM-like cards instead of the old scrip.

The benefits always have been aimed at a broader audience of the poor than most anti-poverty programs are. To become eligible, generally one must earn less than 130 percent of poverty guidelines — below $28,665 for a family of four — and have no more than $2,000 in the bank.

Unemployment was 4.9 percent in December 2007, when the government pegs the start of the recession. Now it's 10 percent. Many workers have seen their paychecks cut and benefits such as health insurance disappear.

Despite the food-stamp safety net, experts worry.

"Children in households that experience poverty are at risk of other kinds of problems, so it's definitely something to be concerned about," Rank said. "It has bad effects on families."

State .........% increase in SNAP participants From Jan-June 2008 to Jan-June 2009

Alabama ......... 19

Alaska ........... 12

Arizona .......... 30

Arkansas ......... 9

California ....... 21

Colorado ......... 27

Connecticut ...... 13

Delaware ......... 22

DC ............... 15

Florida .......... 34

Georgia .......... 27

Hawaii ........... 19

Idaho ............ 36

Illinois ......... 13

Indiana .......... 14

Iowa ............. 16

Kansas ........... 17

Kentucky ......... 11

Louisiana ........ 8

Maine ............ 16

Maryland ......... 26

Massachusetts .... 25

Michigan ......... 14

Minnesota ........ 17

Mississippi ...... 13

Missouri ......... 16

Montana .......... 15

Nebraska ......... 10

Nevada ........... 37

New Hampshire .... 23

New Jersey ....... 14

New Mexico ....... 22

New York ......... 18

North Carolina ... 21

North Dakota ..... 9

Ohio ............. 18

Oklahoma ......... 11

Oregon ........... 24

Pennsylvania ..... 12

Rhode Island ..... 19

South Carolina ... 17

South Dakota ..... 15

Tennessee ........ 18

Texas ............ 20

Utah ............. 39

Vermont .......... 31

Virginia ......... 20

Washington ....... 32

West Virginia .... 10

Wisconsin ........ 30

Wyoming .......... 18

Source: SNAP data from National Data Bank Version 8.2 Public Use, adjusted by data on disaster assistance from the Disaster Report by Fiscal Year.


The Brookings Institution news release

The full report by the Brookings Institution and First Focus

De Israelische Terreur 1102

Imposing Middle East Peace
By Henry Siegman
This article appeared in the January 25, 2010 edition of The Nation.
January 7, 2010

Israel's relentless drive to establish "facts on the ground" in the occupied West Bank, a drive that continues in violation of even the limited settlement freeze to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed himself, seems finally to have succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project. As a result of that "achievement," one that successive Israeli governments have long sought in order to preclude the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from "the only democracy in the Middle East" to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.

The inevitability of such a transformation has been held out not by "Israel bashers" but by the country's own leaders. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to that danger, as did Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who warned that Israel could not escape turning into an apartheid state if it did not relinquish "almost all the territories, if not all," including the Arab parts of East Jerusalem.

Olmert ridiculed Israeli defense strategists who, he said, had learned nothing from past experiences and were stuck in the mindset of the 1948 war of independence. "With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop," he said. "All these things are worthless. Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel's basic security?"

It is now widely recognized in most Israeli circles--although denied by Israel's government--that the settlements have become so widespread and so deeply implanted in the West Bank as to rule out the possibility of their removal (except for a few isolated and sparsely populated ones) by this or any future Israeli government unless compelled to do so by international intervention, an eventuality until now considered entirely unlikely.

It is not only the settlements' proliferation and size that have made their dismantlement impossible. Equally decisive have been the influence of Israel's settler-security-industrial complex, which conceived and implemented this policy; the recent disappearance of a viable pro-peace political party in Israel; and the infiltration by settlers and their supporters in the religious-national camp into key leadership positions in Israel's security and military establishments.

Olmert was mistaken in one respect, for he said Israel would turn into an apartheid state when the Arab population in Greater Israel outnumbers the Jewish population. But the relative size of the populations is not the decisive factor in such a transition. Rather, the turning point comes when a state denies national self-determination to a part of its population--even one that is in the minority--to which it has also denied the rights of citizenship.

When a state's denial of the individual and national rights of a large part of its population becomes permanent, it ceases to be a democracy. When the reason for that double disenfranchisement is that population's ethnic and religious identity, the state is practicing a form of apartheid, or racism, not much different from the one that characterized South Africa from 1948 to 1994. The democratic dispensation that Israel provides for its mostly Jewish citizens cannot hide its changed character. By definition, democracy reserved for privileged citizens--while all others are kept behind checkpoints, barbed-wire fences and separation walls commanded by the Israeli army--is not democracy but its opposite.

The Jewish settlements and their supporting infrastructure, which span the West Bank from east to west and north to south, are not a wild growth, like weeds in a garden. They have been carefully planned, financed and protected by successive Israeli governments and Israel's military. Their purpose has been to deny the Palestinian people independence and statehood--or to put it more precisely, to retain Israeli control of Palestine "from the river to the sea," an objective that precludes the existence of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state east of Israel's pre-1967 border.

A vivid recollection from the time I headed the American Jewish Congress is a helicopter trip over the West Bank on which I was taken by Ariel Sharon. With large, worn maps in hand, he pointed out to me strategic locations of present and future settlements on east-west and north-south axes that, Sharon assured me, would rule out a future Palestinian state.

Just one year after the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan, then defense minister, described Israel's plan for the future of the territories as "the current reality." "The plan is being implemented in actual fact," he said. "What exists today must remain as a permanent arrangement in the West Bank." Ten years later, at a conference in Tel Aviv whose theme was finding a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Dayan said: "The question is not, What is the solution? but, How do we live without a solution?"

Prime Minister Netanyahu's conditions for Palestinian statehood would leave under Israel's control Palestine's international borders and airspace, as well as the entire Jordan Valley; would leave most of the settlers in place; and would fragment the contiguity of the territory remaining for such a state. His conditions would also deny Palestinians even those parts of East Jerusalem that Israel unilaterally annexed to the city immediately following the 1967 war--land that had never been part of Jerusalem before the war. In other words, Netanyahu's conditions for Palestinian statehood would meet Dayan's goal of leaving Israel's de facto occupation in place.

From Dayan's prescription for the permanence of the status quo to Netanyahu's prescription for a two-state solution, Israel has lived "without a solution," not because of uncertainty or neglect but as a matter of deliberate policy, clandestinely driving settlement expansion to the point of irreversibility while pretending to search for "a Palestinian partner for peace."

Sooner or later the White House, Congress and the American public--not to speak of a Jewish establishment that is largely out of touch with the younger Jewish generation's changing perceptions of Israel's behavior--will have to face the fact that America's "special relationship" with Israel is sustaining a colonial enterprise.

President Barack Obama's capitulation to Netanyahu on the settlement freeze was widely seen as the collapse of the latest hope for achievement of a two-state agreement. It thoroughly discredited the notion that Palestinian moderation is the path to statehood, and therefore also discredited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, moderation's leading Palestinian advocate, who announced his intention not to run in the coming presidential elections.

Netanyahu's "limited" freeze was described by the Obama administration as "unprecedented," even though the exceptions to it--3,000 housing units whose foundations had supposedly already been laid, public buildings and unlimited construction in East Jerusalem--brought total construction to where it would have been without a freeze. Indeed, Netanyahu assured the settler leadership and his cabinet that construction will resume after the ten-month freeze--according to minister Benny Begin, at a rate "faster and more than before"--even if Abbas agrees to return to talks. In fact, the Israeli press has reported that the freeze notwithstanding, new construction in the settlements is "booming." None of this has elicited the Obama administration's public rebuke, much less the kinds of sanctions imposed on Palestinians when they violate agreements.

But what is widely believed to have been the final blow to a two-state solution may in fact turn out to be the necessary condition for its eventual achievement. That condition is abandonment of the utterly wrongheaded idea that a Palestinian state can arise without forceful outside intervention. The international community has shown signs of exasperation with Israel's deceptions and stonewalling, and also with Washington's failure to demonstrate that there are consequences not only for Palestinian violations of agreements but for Israeli ones as well. The last thing many in the international community want is a resumption of predictably meaningless negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas. Instead, they are focusing on forceful third-party intervention, a concept that is no longer taboo.

Ironically, it is Netanyahu who now insists on the resumption of peace talks. For him, a prolonged breakdown of talks risks exposing the irreversibility of the settlements, and therefore the loss of Israel's democratic character, and legitimizing outside intervention as the only alternative to an unstable and dangerous status quo. While the Obama administration may be reluctant to support such initiatives, it may no longer wish to block them.

These are not fanciful fears. Israeli chiefs of military intelligence, the Shin Bet and other defense officials told Netanyahu's security cabinet on December 9 that the stalled peace process has led to a dangerous vacuum "into which a number of different states are putting their own initiatives, none of which are in Israel's favor." They stressed that "the fact that the US has also reached a dead-end in its efforts only worsens the problem."

If these fears are realized and the international community abandons a moribund peace process in favor of determined third-party initiatives, a two-state outcome may yet be possible. A recent proposal by the Swedish presidency of the European Union is perhaps the first indication of the international community's determination to react more meaningfully to Netanyahu's intransigence. The proposal, adopted by the EU's foreign ministers on December 8, reaffirmed an earlier declaration of the European Council that the EU would not recognize unilateral Israeli changes in the pre-1967 borders. The resolution also opposes Israeli measures to deny a prospective Palestinian state any presence in Jerusalem. The statement's endorsement of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's two-year institution-building initiative suggests a future willingness to act favorably on a Palestinian declaration of statehood following the initiative's projected completion. In her first pronouncement on the Israel!
-Palestine conflict as the EU's new high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton declared, "We cannot and nor, I doubt, can the region tolerate another round of fruitless negotiations."

An imposed solution has risks, but these do not begin to compare with the risks of the conflict's unchecked continuation. Furthermore, since the adversaries are not being asked to accept anything they have not already committed themselves to in formal accords, the international community is not imposing its own ideas but insisting the parties live up to existing obligations. That kind of intervention, or "imposition," is hardly unprecedented; it is the daily fare of international diplomacy. It defines America's relations with allies and unfriendly countries alike.

It would not take extraordinary audacity for Obama to reaffirm the official position of every previous US administration--including that of George W. Bush--that no matter how desirable or necessary certain changes in the pre-1967 status may seem, they cannot be made unilaterally. Even Bush, celebrated in Israel as "the best American president Israel ever had," stated categorically that this inviolable principle applies even to the settlement blocs that Israel insists it will annex. Speaking of these blocs at a May 2005 press conference, Bush affirmed that "changes to the 1949 armistice lines must be mutually agreed to," a qualification largely ignored by Israeli governments (and by Bush himself). The next year Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was even more explicit. She stated that "the president did say that at the time of final status, it will be necessary to take into account new realities on the ground that have changed since 1967, but under no circumstances...should !
anyone try and do that in a pre-emptive or predetermined way, because these are issues for negotiation at final status."

Of course, Obama should leave no doubt that it is inconceivable for the United States not to be fully responsive to Israel's genuine security needs, no matter how displeased it may be with a particular Israeli government's policies. But he must also leave no doubt that it is equally inconceivable he would abandon America's core values or compromise its strategic interests to keep Netanyahu's government in power, particularly when support for this government means supporting a regime that would permanently disenfranchise and dispossess the Palestinian people.

In short, Middle East peacemaking efforts will continue to fail, and the possibility of a two-state solution will disappear, if US policy continues to ignore developments on the ground in the occupied territories and within Israel, which now can be reversed only through outside intervention. President Obama is uniquely positioned to help Israel reclaim Jewish and democratic ideals on which the state was founded--if he does not continue "politics as usual." But was it not his promise to reject just such a politics that swept Obama into the presidency and captured the amazement and respect of the entire world?

About Henry Siegman
Henry Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project in New York, is a visiting research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America. more...

woensdag 6 januari 2010

Iran 313

IRAN: New Revelations Tear Holes in Nuclear Trigger Story
Analysis by Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Jan 5 (IPS) - New revelations about two documents leaked to The Times of London to show that Iran is working on a "nuclear trigger" mechanism have further undermined the credibility of the document the newspaper had presented as evidence of a continuing Iranian nuclear weapons programme.

A columnist for the Times has acknowledged that the two-page Persian language document published by The Times last month was not a photocopy of the original document but an expurgated and retyped version of the original.

A translation of a second Persian language document also published by The Times, moreover, contradicts the claim by The Times that it shows the "nuclear trigger" document was written within an organisation run by an Iranian military scientist.

Former Central Intelligence Agency official Philip Giraldi has said U.S. intelligence judges the "nuclear trigger" document to be a forgery, as IPS reported last week. The IPS story also pointed out that the document lacked both security markings and identification of either the issuing organisation or the recipient.

The new revelations point to additional reasons why intelligence analysts would have been suspicious of the "nuclear trigger" document.

On Dec. 14, The Times published what it explicitly represented as a photocopy of a complete Persian language document showing Iranian plans for testing a neutron initiator, a triggering device for a nuclear weapon, along with an English language translation.

But in response to a reader who noted the absence of crucial information from the document, including security markings, Oliver Kamm, an online columnist for The Times, admitted Jan. 3 that the Persian language document published by The Times was "a retyped version of the relevant parts of that original document".

Kamm wrote that the original document had "contained a lot of classified information" and was not published "because of the danger that it would alert Iranian authorities to the source of the leak".

In offering the explanation of the intelligence agency that leaked the document to The Times, Kamm was also damaging the credibility of the document. A document that had been both edited and retyped could obviously have been doctored by adding material on a neutron initiator.

The reason for such editing could not have been to excise "classified information", because, if the document were genuine, the Iranian government would already have the information.

Furthermore there would have been ways of avoiding disclosure of the source of the leak that would not have required the release of an expurgated version of the document. The number of the copy of the document could have been blacked out, for example.

The Times claimed in a separate story that the "nuclear trigger" document was written within the military technology development organisation run by Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

A second document, also published in Persian language by The Times, shows Fakhrizadeh's signature under the title, "Chief, Department of Development and Deployment of Advanced Technology", and includes a list of 12 "recipients" within that organisation, and is dated the Persian equivalent of Dec. 29, 2005 on the Western calendar, according to an English translation obtained by IPS.

The Times reporter, Catherine Philp, wrote that the neutron initiator document "was drawn up within the Centre for Preparedness at the Institute of Applied Physics", which she identifies as "one of the organization's 12 departments".

But the reference to a "Centre for Preparedness at the Institute of Applied Physics" is an obvious misreading of a chart given to The Times by the intelligence agency but not published by The Times.

The chart, which can be found on the website of the Institute for Science and International Security, shows what are clearly two separate organisations relating to neutronics - a "Center for Preparedness" and an "Institute of Applied Physics" – under what the intelligence agency translated as the "Field for Expansion of Advance Technologies' Deployment".

But George Maschke, a Persian language expert and former U.S. military intelligence officer, provided IPS with a translation of the list of the 12 recipients on the cover page document showing that it includes a "Centre for Preparedness and New Defense Technology" but not an "Institute of Applied Physics".

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports have referred to the Institute of Applied Physics as a stand-alone institution rather than part of Fakhrizadeh's organisation.

The English translation of the document shows that none of the other five Centres and groups on the list of recipients is a plausible candidate to run a neutron-related experimentation programme, either.

They include the chiefs of the Centre for Explosives and Impact Technology, the Centre for Manufacturing and Industrial Research, the Chemical and Metallurgical Groups of the Centre for Advanced Materials Research and Technology, and the Centre for New Aerospace Research and Design.

Contrary to The Times story, moreover, the other five recipients on the list of 12 are not heads of "departments" but deputies to the director for various cross-cutting themes: finance and budget, plans and programmes, science, administration and human resources and audits and legal affairs.

The absence of any organisation with an obvious expertise in atomic energy indicates Fakhrizadeh's Department of Development and Deployment of Advanced Technology is not the locus of a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

The nuclear weapons programmes of Israel, India and Pakistan prior to testing of an atomic bomb were all located within their respective atomic energy commissions. That organisational pattern reflects the fact that scientific expertise in nuclear physics and the different stages through which uranium must pass before being converted into a weapon is located overwhelmingly in the national atomic commissions.

The Times story claimed a consensus among "Western intelligence agencies" that Fakhrizadeh's "Advanced Technology Development and Deployment Department" has inherited the same components as were present in the "Physics Research Centre" of the 1990s. It also asserts that the same components were present in the alleged nuclear weapons research programme that the mysterious cache of intelligence documents now called the "alleged studies" documents portrayed as being under Fakhrizadeh's control.

Those claims were taken from the chart given to The Times by the unidentified intelligence agency.

But the idea that Fakhrizadeh has been in charge of a covert nuclear weapons project can be traced directly to the fact that he helped procure or sought to procure dual-use items when he was head of the Physics Resource Center in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The items included vacuum equipment, magnets, a balancing machine, and a mass spectrometer, all of which might be used either in a nuclear programme or for non-nuclear and non-military purposes.

The IAEA suggested in reports beginning in 2004 that Fakhrizadeh's interest in these dual-use items indicated a possible role in Iran's nuclear programme.

That same year someone concocted a collection of documents – later dubbed "the alleged studies" documents - showing a purported Iranian nuclear weapons project, based on the premise that Fakhrizadeh was its chief.

Iran insisted, however, that Fakhrizadeh had procured the technologies in question for non-military uses by various components of the Imam Hussein University, where he was a lecturer.

And after reviewing documentation submitted by Iran and verifying some of its assertions by inspection on the spot, the IAEA concluded in its Feb. 22, 2008 report that Iran's explanation for Fakhrizadeh's role in obtaining the items had been truthful after all.

But instead of questioning the authenticity of the "alleged studies" documents, IAEA Deputy Director for Safeguards Olli Heinonen highlighted Fakhrizadeh's role in Iran's alleged nuclear weapons work in a briefing for member states just three days after the publication of that correction.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.


Parijs 2010

Parijs, woensdag 6 januari 2010


De Nuance van de NRC 158

[article2_1.jpg]Ik kreeg dit gemaild van oud-ambassdeur Jan Wijenberg:

Geachte heer Van Es,

Dank voor uw reactie. Ik vermoed dat andere lezers evenmin gecharmeerd zijn van de foto's, noch van de achterliggende gedachten. Daarom ben ik wel benieuwd welke reactie(s) NRC Weekblad voor plaatsing zal kiezen.

Met vriendelijke groeten.

Jan Wijenberg
----- Original Message -----
From: E-mail Weekblad
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 3:39 PM
Subject: RE: Gadverdamme ...........

Geachte heer Wijenberg,

Het spijt mij dat u zich heeft gestoord aan de fotoreportage over de vrouwelijke Israëlische soldaten in NRC Weekblad van 2 januari jl. De redactie van NRC Weekblad heeft de foto's niet gepubliceerd om geweld in het algemeen en van het Israëlische leger in het bijzonder te romantiseren. Wij menen dat onze lezers de rol van Israël en z'n leger in dit conflict kennen en er een eigen oordeel bij kunnen vormen. Ikzelf heb de foto's niet gezien als romantisering maar als een scherp "statement", als een illustratie voor het absurde contrast tussen enerzijds deze foto's en anderzijds het gebruik van geweld. U heeft gelijk dat het tijdstip van publicatie niet gelukkig is gekozen.

Wat betreft plaatsing van uw brief in NRC Weekblad moet ik u laten weten, dat wij, aangezien het aanbod van reacties de beschikbare ruimte overtreft, plaatsing van uw brief niet kunnen garanderen. Wel zullen wij uw reactie op onze site plaatsen.

Vriendelijke groet,
Gijsbert van Es,
chef NRC Weekblad

Aangezien ik een paar dagen in Parijs ben, kom ik hier later uitgebreid op terug, want de rechtvaardiging van de NRC-porno door chef Gijsbert van Es lijkt me wartaal. De NRC plaatst namelijk terecht geen foto's van bijvoorbeeld sexy bedoelde foto's van Latijns Amerikaanse vrouwelijke militairen die onderdeel zijn van een leger dat met doodseskaders werkt, of pin-ups van andere terreurgroepen die via 'disproportioneel geweld' vooral gewone burgers treffen. Daarentegen heeft de NRC-redactie precies een jaar geleden wel het Iraelisch terrorisme laten rechtvaardigen via de krant. De slijpsteen voor de geest heeft er een traditie van gemaakt om de zionistische terreur op talloze manieren te rechtvaardigen. Het filosemitisme van de NRC getuigt van een ernstig gebrek aan intellectuele integriteit. Inderdaad, zij kunnen ook doden, en de militairen kunnen het niet alleen, ze doen het ook. Meer dan 300 Palestijnse kinderen werden in Gaza vermoord in drie weken tijd, met als rechtvaardiging in de NRC dat die kinderen nu eenmaal 'de kans [lopen] een zeer hoge prijs te betalen. Mais c'est la guerre.' Letterlijk citaat!

De Israelische Terreur 1101

Israel Has No Intention of Granting a Palestinian State

If Hamas Did Not Exist


Let us get one thing perfectly straight. If the wholesale mutilation and degradation of the Gaza Strip is going to continue; if Israel’s will is at one with that of the United States; if the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and all the international legal agencies and organizations spread across the globe are going to continue to sit by like hollow mannequins doing nothing but making repeated “calls” for a “ceasefire” on “both sides”; if the cowardly, obsequious and supine Arab States are going to stand by watching their brethren get slaughtered by the hour while the world’s bullying Superpower eyes them threateningly from Washington lest they say something a little to their disliking; then let us at least tell the truth why this hell on earth is taking place.

The state terror unleashed from the skies and on the ground against the Gaza Strip as we speak has nothing to do with Hamas. It has nothing to do with “Terror”. It has nothing to do with the long-term “security” of the Jewish State or with Hizbullah or Syria or Iran except insofar as it is aggravating the conditions that have led up to this crisis today. It has nothing to do with some conjured-up “war” – a cynical and overused euphemism that amounts to little more the wholesale enslavement of any nation that dares claim its sovereign rights; that dares assert that its resources are its own; that doesn’t want one of the Empire’s obscene military bases sitting on its cherished land.

This crisis has nothing to do with freedom, democracy, justice or peace. It is not about Mahmoud Zahhar or Khalid Mash’al or Ismail Haniyeh. It is not about Hassan Nasrallah or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are all circumstantial players who have gained a role in the current tempest only now that the situation has been allowed for 61 years to develop into the catastrophe that it is today. The Islamist factor has colored and will continue to color the atmosphere of the crisis; it has enlisted the current leaders and mobilized wide sectors of the world’s population. The primary symbols today are Islamic – the mosques, the Qur’an, the references to the Prophet Muhammad and to Jihad. But these symbols could disappear and the impasse would continue.

There was a time when Fatah and the PFLP held the day; when few Palestinians wanted anything to do with Islamist policies and politics. Such politics have nothing to do with primitive rockets being fired over the border, or smuggling tunnels and black-market weapons; just as Arafat’s Fatah had little to do with stones and suicide bombings. The associations are coincidental; the creations of a given political environment. They are the result of something entirely different than what the lying politicians and their analysts are telling you. They have become part of the landscape of human events in the modern Middle East today; but incidentals wholly as lethal, or as recalcitrant, deadly, angry or incorrigible could just as soon have been in their places.

Strip away the clichés and the vacuous newspeak blaring out across the servile media and its pathetic corps of voluntary state servants in the Western world and what you will find is the naked desire for hegemony; for power over the weak and dominion over the world’s wealth. Worse yet you will find that the selfishness, the hatred and indifference, the racism and bigotry, the egotism and hedonism that we try so hard to cover up with our sophisticated jargon, our refined academic theories and models actually help to guide our basest and ugliest desires. The callousness with which we in indulge in them all are endemic to our very culture; thriving here like flies on a corpse.

Strip away the current symbols and language of the victims of our selfish and devastating whims and you will find the simple, impassioned and unaffected cries of the downtrodden; of the ‘wretched of the earth’ begging you to cease your cold aggression against their children and their homes; their families and their villages; begging you to leave them alone to have their fish and their bread, their oranges, their olives and their thyme; asking you first politely and then with increasing disbelief why you cannot let them live undisturbed on the land of their ancestors; unexploited, free of the fear of expulsion; of ravishment and devastation; free of permits and roadblocks and checkpoints and crossings; of monstrous concrete walls, guard towers, concrete bunkers, and barbed wire; of tanks and prisons and torture and death. Why is life without these policies and instruments of hell impossible?

The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders. It had no intention of allowing it in 1948 when it grabbed 24 per cent more land than what it was allotted legally, if unfairly, by UN Resolution 181. It had no intention of allowing it throughout the massacres and ploys of the 1950s. It had no intention of allowing two states when it conquered the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine in 1967 and reinterpreted UN Security Council Resolution 248 to its own liking despite the overwhelming international consensus stating that Israel would receive full international recognition within secure and recognized borders if it withdrew from the lands it had only recently occupied.

It had no intention of acknowledging Palestinian national rights at the United Nations in 1974, when –alone with the United States—it voted against a two-state solution. It had no intention of allowing a comprehensive peace settlement when Egypt stood ready to deliver but received, and obediently accepted, a separate peace exclusive of the rights of Palestinians and the remaining peoples of the region. It had no intention of working toward a just two-state solution in 1978 or 1982 when it invaded, fire-bombed, blasted and bulldozed Beirut so that it might annex the West Bank without hassle. It had no intention of granting a Palestinian state in 1987 when the first Intifada spread across occupied Palestine, into the Diaspora and the into the spirits of the global dispossessed, or when Israel deliberately aided the newly formed Hamas movement so that it might undermine the strength of the more secular-nationalist factions.

Israel had no intention of granting a Palestinian state at Madrid or at Oslo where the PLO was superseded by the quivering, quisling Palestinian Authority, too many of whose cronies grasped at the wealth and prestige it gave them at the expense of their own kin. As Israel beamed into the world’s satellites and microphones its desire for peace and a two-state solution, it more than doubled the number of illegal Jewish settlements on the ground in the West Bank and around East Jerusalem, annexing them as it built and continues to build a superstructure of bypass roads and highways over the remaining, severed cities and villages of earthly Palestine. It has annexed the Jordan valley, the international border of Jordan, expelling any ‘locals’ inhabiting that land. It speaks with a viper’s tongue over the multiple amputee of Palestine whose head shall soon be severed from its body in the name of justice, peace and security.

Through the home demolitions, the assaults on civil society that attempted to cast Palestinian history and culture into a chasm of oblivion; through the unspeakable destruction of the refugee camp sieges and infrastructure bombardments of the second Intifada, through assassinations and summary executions, past the grandiose farce of disengagement and up to the nullification of free, fair and democratic Palestinian elections Israel has made its view known again and again in the strongest possible language, the language of military might, of threats, intimidation, harassment, defamation and degradation.

Israel, with the unconditional and approving support of the United States, has made it dramatically clear to the entire world over and over and over again, repeating in action after action that it will accept no viable Palestinian state next to its borders. What will it take for the rest of us to hear? What will it take to end the criminal silence of the ‘international community’? What will it take to see past the lies and indoctrination to what is taking place before us day after day in full view of the eyes of the world? The more horrific the actions on the ground, the more insistent are the words of peace. To listen and watch without hearing or seeing allows the indifference, the ignorance and complicity to continue and deepens with each grave our collective shame.

The destruction of Gaza has nothing to do with Hamas. Israel will accept no authority in the Palestinian territories that it does not ultimately control. Any individual, leader, faction or movement that fails to accede to Israel’s demands or that seeks genuine sovereignty and the equality of all nations in the region; any government or popular movement that demands the applicability of international humanitarian law and of the universal declaration of human rights for its own people will be unacceptable for the Jewish State. Those dreaming of one state must be forced to ask themselves what Israel would do to a population of 4 million Palestinians within its borders when it commits on a daily, if not hourly basis, crimes against their collective humanity while they live alongside its borders? What will suddenly make the raison d’etre, the self-proclaimed purpose of Israel’s reason for being change if the Palestinian territories are annexed to it outright?

The lifeblood of the Palestinian National Movement flows through the streets of Gaza today. Every drop that falls waters the soil of vengeance, bitterness and hatred not only in Palestine but across the Middle East and much of the world. We do have a choice over whether or not this should continue. Now is the time to make it.

Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She can be reached at