What does Washington really think of those under their power?Posted: 08 Jun 2010

This sounds juicy beyond belief. What, I wonder, do American diplomats really think of Israeli leaders and their corrupt Palestinian colleagues in the West Bank?

An Army intel analyst charged with leaking classified materials also downloaded sensitive diplomatic cables. Are America’s foreign policy secrets about to go online? Philip Shenon reports.
The State Department and American embassies around the world are bracing for what officials fear could be the massive, unauthorized release of secret diplomatic cables in which U.S. diplomats harshly evaluate foreign leaders and reveal the inner-workings of American foreign policy.
Diplomatic and law-enforcement officials tell The Daily Beast their alarm stems from the arrest of a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst based in Iraq who has reportedly admitted that he downloaded 260,000 diplomatic cables from government computer networks and was prepared to make them public.
Specialist Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now under arrest in Kuwait, is also accused of having leaked—to Wikileaks, a secretive Internet site based in Sweden—an explosive video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that left 12 people dead, including two employees of the news agency Reuters. The website released the video in April.
“If he really had access to these cables, we’ve got a terrible situation on our hands,” said an American diplomat. “We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to. A lot of my colleagues overseas are sweating this out, given what those cables may contain.”
He said Manning apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders.
The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency computer networks available to the Army and contained information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.
He added that the State Department and law-enforcement agencies are trying to determine whether, and how, to approach Wikileaks to urge the site not to publish the cables, given the damage they could do to diplomatic efforts involving the United States and its allies.

The Gaza Strip uncoveredPosted: 08 Jun 2010

Everything you wanted to know about Gaza but were too afraid to ask.

Jews who make excuses for not really speaking outPosted: 08 Jun 2010

Following the revealing article in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald on Jewish dissent, these letters appear today:

It saddens me that Peter Slezak wants to be a “non-Jewish Jew”, apparently glorying in some weird self-imposed excommunication (”Promised land needs home truth”, June 8). If he was an activist in the Australian Jewish community he would know that dissent and debate in that community are as Jewish as chicken soup. Hannah Arendt was a proud Jew. She took her role seriously in sparking stormy debate and saw no contradiction in doing so as a Jew, but also as a citizen of the world.
He would also know there are many steadfast friends of Israel who, like me, want its government to stop supporting extremist settlers in the West Bank, using young Israelis in the army to protect those settlers and to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state by withdrawing the army from the West Bank.
He would also know there are many Israelis and Jewish Australians (also Zionists) who are as deeply perturbed by the short-sighted and block-headed attitude of the Netanyahu government as they are by the determination of those on the “anti-peace flotilla” to precipitate a violent confrontation.
Irving Wallach Bronte
Peter Slezak’s article and the accompanying image distort the truth. Israel was, and is, the David to the Goliath of those Arab nations that are committed to its annihilation.
I have some sympathy with much of what he says. But it all falls down by failing to represent the truth that Israel has ”lurched” to a far-right position only because it is the right that promises strong action against the rocket attacks on civilians and the infiltration across its borders of suicide bombers. Without this aggression, Israel would not be blockading Gaza.
It is also untruthful to represent the famous Jews he cites as ”heretics”. None espoused alternative religious formulas against Judaism. They were secular Jews who – like so many others – did not practise their religion yet remained identified as Jews, having been nurtured in the culture of their parents.
The sophistry of much of Slezak’s article can only perpetuate the deplorable cycle of violence in the Middle East.
Ron Spielman Paddington
Lee Rhiannon (Letters, June 8 ) says she does ”not support Islamic militancy”. But when she stands happily surrounded by Islamic flags and an angry mob shouting ”Allahu Akbar”, what other conclusion can anyone draw?
Daniel Lewis Rushcutters Bay

Pappe on Israel’s ultimate goalPosted: 07 Jun 2010

One of Israel’s finest historians, Ilan Pappe – now based in England – has a necessary take on the Jewish state’s current path of self-destruction:

One would have thought that Israel’s drastic decline in international reputation would prompt new thinking by its leaders. But the responses to the attack on the flotilla in the past few days indicate clearly that there is no hope for any significant shift in the official position. A firm commitment to continue the blockade, and a heroes’ welcome to the soldiers who pirated the ship in the Mediterranean, show that the same politics would continue for a long time.
This is not surprising. The Barak-Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman government does not know any other way of responding to the reality in Palestine and Israel. The use of brutal force to impose your will and a hectic propaganda machine that describes it as self-defence, while demonising the half-starved people in Gaza and those who come to their aid as terrorists, is the only possible course for these politicians. The terrible consequences in human death and suffering of this determination do not concern them, nor does international condemnation.
The real, unlike the declared, strategy is to continue this state of affairs. As long as the international community is complacent, the Arab world impotent and Gaza contained, Israel can still have a thriving economy and an electorate that regards the dominance of the army in its life, the continued conflict and the oppression of the Palestinians as the exclusive past, the present and future reality of life in Israel. The US vice-president Joe Biden was humiliated by the Israelis recently when they announced the building of 1,600 new homes in the disputed Ramat Shlomo district of Jerusalem, on the day he arrived to try to freeze the settlement policy. But his unconditional support now for the latest Israeli action makes the leaders and their electorate feel vindicated.
It would be wrong, however, to assume that American support and a feeble European response to Israeli criminal policies such as one pursued in Gaza are the main reasons for the protracted blockade and strangulation of Gaza. What is probably most difficult to explain to readers around the world is how deeply these perceptions and attitudes are grounded in the Israeli psyche and mentality. And it is indeed difficult to comprehend how diametrically opposed are the common reactions in the UK, for instance, to such events to the emotions that it triggers inside the Israeli Jewish society.
The international response is based on the assumption that more forthcoming Palestinian concessions and a continued dialogue with the Israeli political elite will produce a new reality on the ground. The official discourse in the West is that a very reasonable and attainable solution is just around the corner if all sides would make one final effort: the two-state solution.
Nothing is further from the truth than this optimistic scenario. The only version of this solution that is acceptable to Israel is the one that both the tamed Palestine Authority in Ramallah and the more assertive Hamas in Gaza could never ever accept. It is an offer to imprison the Palestinians in stateless enclaves in return for ending their struggle.

Blumenthal’s latest: Tel Aviv is alive to the sound of radicalismPosted: 07 Jun 2010

From the streets of Tel Aviv, the chant of “Death to the Arabs” was heard on 1 June outside the Turkish embassy.
Max Blumenthal reports:

On June 1, 2010, thousands of Israelis gathered spontaneously in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv to demonstrate in support of the Israeli Naval commando unit that killed nine passengers on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-backed boat from the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Egged on by the Israeli government and media, the demonstrators lashed out at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his support of the Marmara, accusing him and passengers on the ship of terrorist ties. Besides with the massacre of Turkish aid workers, the spectacle of massive Israeli protests against Turkey threatens to permanently rupture Israel’s ties to its closest Muslim ally and further isolate the country on the world stage.
The rally provided a clear window into the mentality of many Israelis after the raid. International condemnation has deepened the public’s siege mentality, leading many demonstrators to claim that anti-Semitism best explained the world’s motives. The belief that the Mavi Marmara was a terrorist ship with support from an assortment of Islamic evildoers including Al Qaida was nearly unanimous, and was offered by rally participants as an excuse for their killing. Many viewed the incident in the shadow of the Holocaust, convinced that Marmara passengers had shouted at the commandos, “Go back to Auschwitz!”
Such convictions were understandable in light of the aggressive propaganda campaign the Israeli Defense Forces and Israeli Foreign Ministry have waged in the wake of the flotilla raid. The IDF has claimed that it discovered 40 “Al Qaeda mercenaries” on the Mavi Marmara and blasted out an audio clip purporting to show flotilla passengers proclaiming to the IDF, “Go back to Auschwitz!” Even though the IDF retracted its claim about Al Qaida operatives and was forced to concede that its “Auschwitz” audio clip was doctored, Israeli and American media outlets that reported the army’s claims have not corrected their stories. Consequently, many Israelis are accepting their government’s view without a second thought. As one demonstrator said, “I believe every word our soldiers. Every word!”
The rally was organized through Israeli Facebook groups and by the notoriously anti-Arab football club Betar Jerusalem. It was only one of many spontaneous outbursts of extreme nationalism that have erupted across Israel since the flotilla raid. Many participants in the rally remarked that they had not seen the public so thoroughly united behind the government in all their lives. As one demonstrator put it, “I’m very happy [about] what happened because it united the country, and not all the Israelis, all the Jewish [sic]; all united for a cause, and it’s against the civil war that we always had.”

One Jew pleads to not take silence as agreementPosted: 07 Jun 2010

The response to Peter Slezak’s article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald on speaking critically about Israel has attracted a number of fascinating responses online, including this one by “repressed Jew” which is deeply distressing. This is what modern Zionism and Judaism has become. Rank tribalism, little independent thought and blind allegiance to the “party line”:

I can personally attest to the vilification, attempts at suppression and humiliation inflicted on people who try to speak out against Israels policies from within the Jewish communities. It goes like this – as soon as an ‘incident’ happens, the ‘mainstream’ Israeli line is so quickly disseminated by those in charge of the important Jewish institutions within the Jewish communities (governing bodies, the AJN, the various political bodies) that by the time people get their heads around what has happened the paradigm of ‘feisty little Israel bravely showing the world the ‘truth’ and highlighting the inherent anti-Semitism of the media’ is already flourishing out there. I swear, with this flotilla incident that happened so quickly that even those who can react quickly were pipped to the post. Without a standard pre-prepared body of material, I just don’t know how it could happen so quickly. From this point, any one who speaks about what they really think is not speaking into a vacuum, it is viewed as not just giving one’s personal thoughts, it is viewed as a deliberate and hardened attempt at self-sabotage, as a targeted attack at the fabric of Israeli and Jewish society. It is violently, aggressively ridiculed and shouted down. the atmosphere of fear is contagious, and many more people than actually believe the ‘party-line’ join in. The thing is, though – there are many people within the Jewish community who do not agree with the bulk of Israel’s actions. I have spoken to these people, I know that they exist.
However, they do not want to become alienated from their community by speaking out. Virtually no-one holds views as extreme as Antony Loewenstein, but absolutely no-one wants to be subjected to the horrendous vilification he has suffered (he is commonly thought to have utterly abandoned any ‘Jewishness’ because of his opposition to Israel, and has been ostracised by the entire community). And so they are (mostly) silent. The most commonly held view is that one must toe the party line in public, and save any criticism of Israel for the Shabbat table. A further complicating factor is that most within the community trust those that run their institutions implicitly; a societal practice that I think is generally suspect. I believe that one should be a good person before one can be a good Jew, and that the two are not mutually exclusive. So please don’t silence equals support, and please, if someone from within the community speaks up, their voice is worth consideration.

The war against WikileaksPosted: 07 Jun 2010

I’ve long admired Wikileaks, a clearing house for classified information (the “reasons” often used by Western governments to kill “liberated” Iraqis, Afghans etc).
This news is therefore intriguing, not least because it shows that there is one (and probably more) people within the US government keen to tell the world about the “war on terror” and its brutality:

Federal officials have arrested an Army intelligence analyst who boasted of giving classified U.S. combat video and hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records to whistleblower site Wikileaks, Wired.com has learned.
SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he’s being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.
Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”
“Hillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning wrote.
See: www.antonyloewensteiin.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *