A.Loewenstein Online Newsletter


Finally, what Washington cares about in Arab world; maintaining Zionism
Posted: 05 Feb 2011 05:02 AM PST

At least the New York Times and Obama administration are honest; for them, Egypt is all about Israel, Israel and Israel:

The demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak’s government in Egypt are rocking the relationship between the United States and its most important Arab ally. But they are also rocking an even more fundamental relationship for the United States — its 60-year alliance with Israel.
Obama administration officials have been on the telephone almost daily with their Israeli counterparts urging them to “please chill out,” in the words of one senior administration official, as President Obama has raced to respond to the rapidly unfolding events.
But the crisis raises many questions about how the United States will navigate its relationship with Israel — in particular the balance between encouraging the development of a democratic government in Egypt and the desire in Washington not to risk a new government’s abandoning Mr. Mubarak’s benign posture toward Israel.
The unsettled outlook in Egypt has also scrambled American calculations about nurturing peace talks back to life between Israel and the Palestinians. And it has left both American and Israeli diplomats wondering about a broader regional realignment in which Israel would be left feeling more isolated and its enemies, including Iran and Syria, emboldened.
Israeli government officials started out urging the Obama administration to back Mr. Mubarak, administration officials said, and were initially angry at Mr. Obama for publicly calling on the Egyptian leader to agree to a transition.
“The Israelis are saying, après Mubarak, le deluge,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator. And that, in turn, Mr. Levy said, “gets to the core of what is the American interest in this. It’s Israel. It’s not worry about whether the Egyptians are going to close down the Suez Canal, or even the narrower terror issue. It really can be distilled down to one thing, and that’s Israel.”


Better PR won’t help Israel and nor should it
Posted: 05 Feb 2011 01:33 AM PST

This newly released video, for a campaign called Take Back Zionism, will do nothing for Israel’s image:
When will these people learn? You won’t be taken seriously until you address the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, fundamentalist rabbis and settlers and discrimination against Israeli Arabs. Featuring pretty young things in the US is utterly pointless in the face of such facts.
Seems like some people also believe the cause is lost:

The assignment is to help the country promote its vision in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as prevent an international boycott of Israeli goods, amongst other things. Each PR agency would receive approximately 20 million kroner annually.
Israel has contacted specialists in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Norway. Five of Norway’s largest PR firms have said ‘no’.
“Israel is an highly controversial project,” Sigurd Grytten, Burson-Marsteller’s Managing Director, tells Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
Statements by heads of Geelmuyden.Keise, Gambit H&K, Apeland Informasjon, and First House range from “difficult”, to “no comment”. Only Kreab’s Gavin Anderson says he might consider the assignment.
According to the paper, 27 Israel-friendly Norwegian MPs believe slanted media coverage of Israel is to blame.
“Press coverage of Israel in Norway is one-sided. There is a discouragingly little talk of Israel as a dynamic and modern society which is among the world’s leaders in technology, science and culture”, says Christian Democratic Party (KrF) MP Hans Olav Syversen (KrF), leader for Israel’s friends in Parliament.
He also believes it is because PR agencies fear how their customers would react, expressing surprise at how little independence they display.
“I didn’t think they shared their clients’ view wholeheartedly.”
Aviad Ivri, Counselor at the Israeli embassy in Oslo, admits Israel faces a considerable challenge.
“It’s no secret that Israel has a reputation problem,” he says.

Deep inside the battle for Egypt
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 11:33 PM PST

Independent reporting at its finest from Democracy Now!:


Fighting the privatisation beast
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 11:31 PM PST

The Greens are the only major Australian political party to reject the spurious “progress” of privatisation. It’s a disease so widely accepted by the corporate press and mainstream politicians that even suggesting it’ll lead to worse services for the public is almost never uttered. Well, it should be and loudly:

The NSW Greens have vowed to try and reverse the $5.3 billion sale of the state’s electricity assets and prevent the future privatisation of state assets.
The Greens will introduce legislation in the next parliament to return the electricity industry to public ownership and stop future governments selling assets without the approval of both houses of parliament, Greens MP John Kaye announced today.
“The people of NSW have had a frightening taste of what privatisation brings,” Mr Kaye told reporters before a rally on the issue in Sydney. 
“They’ve seen a massive loss of value, a threat of rising prices in electricity and they’ve seen an incredible range of problems arising from the electricity privatisation.
“It’s not too late to reverse the botched sale by the NSW government of the electricity assets, bring it back to public ownership and then protect it with legislation to make sure no assets are sold unless they have the approval of both houses of parliament and there is appropriate, proper public debate.”
The NSW Labor government had been “stealing from the coalition’s playbook of policies” to privatise behind closed doors, Mr Kaye said.


The faces of pro-Egyptian passion in central Sydney today
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 10:17 PM PST


Thank God some reporters don’t idolise Petraeus
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 09:50 PM PST

American reporter Michael Hastings wrote a devastating portrait last year of leading US military man Stanley McChrystal. It was clear, unafraid to upset the establishment and devastating. McChrystal resigned shortly after.
Hastings is now back, with another fascinating essay on the war in Afghanistan, this time profiling the role of General David Petraeus. The conclusion is that Petraeus is engaged in a brutal and ultimately pointless war. Moreover, he’s using tactics that will only make locals hate Americans more. Warlords are embraced. “Democracy”, Washington-style:

During his time in Iraq, Petraeus earned the nickname King David, for the imperious manner in which he ruled over the ancient city of Mosul. In Afghanistan, a more apt honorific might be the Godfather. To get America out of the war, Petraeus has turned to the network of warlords, drug runners and thieves known as the Afghan government, which the general himself has denounced as a “criminal syndicate.” Within weeks of assuming command, Petraeus pushed through an ambitious program to create hundreds of local militias — essentially a neighborhood watch armed with AK-47s. Under Petraeus, the faltering operation has been expanded from 18 districts to more than 60, with plans to ramp it up from 10,000 men to 30,000.
In Afghanistan, however, arming local militias means, by definition, placing guns in the hands of some of the country’s most ruthless thugs, who rule their territory with impunity. In the north, Petraeus is relying on Atta Mohammed Noor, a notorious warlord-turned-governor considered to be one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan, to prepare militias for a long fight with the Taliban. Smaller militias in the region — which have been likened to an L.A. “gang” by their own American advisers — are also getting U.S. training. In the east, where violence has significantly increased, efforts to back local strongmen have already resulted in intertribal violence. And in the south, Petraeus has given near-unconditional support to Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president’s brother and one of the country’s most unsavory gangsters.
“The Americans have backed so many warlords in so many ways, it’s very hard to see how you unscramble the egg now,” says John Matisonn, a former top U.N. official who left Kabul last June. “There has never been a strategy to get rid of the warlords, who are the key problem. The average Afghan hates them, whether they’re backed by the Taliban or the Americans. They see them as criminals. They know that the warlords are fundamentally undermining the rule of law.”


The MSM struggles with being seriously challenged by Wikileaks
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 09:32 PM PST

The latest Wikileaks cables show the US under Barack Obama was very keen to spy on Britain. I’m sure Washington is equally interested in hearing the gossip from Australian diplomatic circles though they may be rather disappointed. Canberra pretty much follows everything America does, especially the futile colonial wars. How noble.
Of course, the media fascination with Julian Assange himself continues. Here’s the almost comical introduction to America’s 60 Minuteslast week:

Julian Assange is not your average journalist or publisher, and some have argued that he is not really a journalist at all. He is an anti-establishment ideologue with conspiratorial views. He believes large government institutions use secrecy to suppress the truth and he distrusts the mainstream media for playing along.



Beijing should be scared
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 09:16 PM PST

Censoring content will never work in the long run:

…The New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos points out. China’s 457 million Internet users (and 180 million bloggers) can no longer use the Chinese word for “Egypt” in microblogs or search engines. The government’s goal is to pre-empt any contagion effect that popular uprisings against autocracy in the Middle East might have in China, inspiring the country’s ranks of discontented.


Standing with the Egyptian people in Sydney
Posted: 04 Feb 2011 09:13 PM PST

I was there today, in the heart of Sydney, on a sweltering day showing solidarity with the millions of Egyptians demanding change. No to Mubarak. No to Israeli/US backing of Arab dictatorships:

Hundreds of demonstrators have staged an emotion-charged rally in Sydney demanding that beleaguered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stand down.
In a passionate outpouring of guilt, anger and grief, about 200 people, mainly members of the Egyptian community, braved soaring temperatures in the city on Saturday.
Waving flags and protest banners, they listened intently to rousing speeches in Martin Place, occasionally breaking out in chants of “Down, down Mubarak” and “Free, free Egypt”.

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“He says he wants a chance but Mubarak had 30 years of a chance,” Mohammed Helal, of the Islamic Egyptian Society of NSW, told the cheering crowd.
“Egypt is behind the young people in (Cairo’s) Tahrir Square. They want freedom, they want a free media.”
The death toll reportedly stands at 10, including one foreigner, with more than 800 injured after the latest round of violence that erupted when Mr Mubarak declared he intended to hold on to power until scheduled elections in September.
Nour Eldin Tarraf, 32, who attired the rally with his wife and two small children, said he feels guilty that he can’t be in his native Egypt at such an important time.
“If my circumstances allowed, I would be on the streets of Cairo,” he said, struggling to hold back tears.
“I feel very guilty that I am privileged to be here and be so safe, while others are putting their lives at risk to fight for my rights.
“Deep down, I feel like I’m a coward.”

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