Dorothy Online Newsletter


Dear Friends,


8 items tonight—some fairly long.  The international press is of course still focusing on Egypt , Syria , and US et al. sanctions against Iran .  Nevertheless, even in the international media here and there articles about Israel-Palestine appear as well.   The 8 items below consist of reports and of commentary.


In item 1 Amos Schocken explains why now it is necessary to eliminate Israel ’s democracy.  His theory is interesting and is combined with historical episodes.  However, it seems to me to be somewhat simplistic—not that Gush Emunim hasn’t had influence, but rather that the desire for the ‘greater Israel ’ did not begin with Gush Emunim.  It can be found in early Zionist Reconstructionist and Labor Zionist writings.  The desire was not, in other words, restricted to Gush Emunim.   Moreover, had Israel ’s leaders wanted to come to terms with the Palestinians, there were ample opportunities.  Certainly they would not have ignored the Arab League proposal (also known as the Saudi-Arabian proposal) in 2002 when it was first offered, nor again in 2007 when it was again proposed.  Given this, Schocken is right about the influence that Gush Emunim has had on policy.  But this is also because Gush Emunim served Israeli governments’ aims for the Greater Israel well. 


Item 2 furnishes interesting data on the arms trade and military cooperation between Israel and other countries. 


Items 3 and 4 are both reports about recent events in the West Bank and Gaza —item 2 being OCHA’s ‘Protection of Citizens’ report for November 16-22.  Item 3 being the PCHR report on human rights violations in the OPT for the same period.  There is some duplication but not entirely.


Item 5 reports that Israel has hardened its freeze on transmitting Palestinians funds that are theirs by right to the Palestinians.   Israel uses as excuse the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah—as excuse just as Israel used the UNESCO acceptance of Palestine as a full fledged member as excuse to hold the money back.  Had neither of these taken place, Israel would have found another reason.  For sure!


Item 6 is an interesting theory that explains why the Palestinians might reject US aid.


In item 7 Noam Chomsky shows and explains why the United States is not taking any practical steps to ensure a nuclear free Middle East .   How could it without insisting that Israel rid itself of its stockpile of nuclear weapons?


Item 8 ends this session with the story of a former Palestinian prisoner who, though released in the Shalit exchange, feels safer in prison than outside.


All the best,

Dorothy, who continues to hope for better days


1.  Haaretz

Friday, November 25, 2011

The necessary elimination of Israeli democracy

Haaretz publisher and owner Amos Schocken says there is a difference between the apartheid of South Africa and what is happening in Israel and in the territories, but there are also similarities.


By Amos Schocken

Tags: West Bank Israel settlements Knesset Yitzhak Rabin


Speaking in the Knesset in January 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, ” Iran is in the initial stages of an effort to acquire nonconventional capability in general, and nuclear capability in particular. Our assessment is that Iran today has the appropriate manpower and sufficient resources to acquire nuclear arms within 10 years. Together with others in the international community, we are monitoring Iran ‘s nuclear activity. They are not concealing the fact that the possibility that Iran will possess nuclear weapons is worrisome, and this is one of the reasons that we must take advantage of the window of opportunity and advance toward peace.”


At that time, Israel had a strategy – which began to be implemented in the Oslo accords, put an end to the priority granted the settlement project and aimed to improve the treatment of Israel ‘s Arab citizens.


If things had gone differently, the Iran issue might look different today. However, as it turned out, the Oslo strategy collided with another, stronger ideology : the ideology of Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful ), which since the 1970s, apart from the Oslo period and the time of the withdrawal from Gaza , has established the concrete basis for the actions of Israel ‘s governments. Even governments that were ostensibly far removed from the Gush Emunim strategy implemented it in practice. Ehud Barak boasted that, in contrast to other prime ministers, he did not return territory to the Palestinians – and there’s no need to point out once again the increase in the number of settlers during his tenure. The government of Ehud Olmert, which declared its intention to move toward a policy of hitkansut (or “convergence,” another name for what Ariel Sharon termed “disengagement” ) in Judea and Samaria, held talks with senior Palestinians on an agreement but did not stop the settlement enterprise, which conflicts with the possibility of any agreement.


The strategy that follows from the ideology of Gush Emunim is clear and simple: It perceives of the Six-Day War as the continuation of the War of Independence, both in terms of seizure of territory, and in its impact on the Palestinian population. According to this strategy, the occupation boundaries of the Six-Day War are the borders that Israel must set for itself. And with regard to the Palestinians living in that territory – those who did not flee or were not expelled – they must be subjected to a harsh regime that will encourage their flight, eventuate in their expulsion, deprive them of their rights, and bring about a situation in which those who remain will not be even second-class citizens, and their fate will be of interest to no one. They will be like the Palestinian refugees of the War of Independence; that is their desired status. As for those who are not refugees, an attempt should be made to turn them into “absentees.” Unlike the Palestinians who remained in Israel after the War of Independence, the Palestinians in the territories should not receive Israeli citizenship, owing to their large number, but then this, too, should be of interest to no one.


The ideology of Gush Emunim springs from religious, not political motivations. It holds that Israel is for the Jews, and it is not only the Palestinians in the territories who are irrelevant: Israel ‘s Palestinian citizens are also exposed to discrimination with regard to their civil rights and the revocation of their citizenship.


This is a strategy of territorial seizure and apartheid. It ignores judicial aspects of territorial ownership and shuns human rights and the guarantees of equality enshrined in Israel ‘s Declaration of Independence. It is a strategy of unlimited patience; what is important is the unrelenting progress toward the goal. At the same time, it is a strategy that does not pass up any opportunity that comes its way, such as the composition of the present Knesset and the unclear positions of the prime minister.


The term “apartheid” refers to the undemocratic system of discriminating between the rights of the whites and the blacks, which once existed in South Africa . Even though there is a difference between the apartheid that was practiced there and what is happening in the territories, there are also some points of resemblance. There are two population groups in one region, one of which possesses all the rights and protections, while the other is deprived of rights and is ruled by the first group. This is a flagrantly undemocratic situation.


Since the Six-Day War, there has been no other group in Israel with the ideological resilience of Gush Emunim, and it is not surprising that many politicians have viewed that ideology as a means for realizing personal political ambitions. Zevulun Hammer, who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of the National Religious Party, and Ariel Sharon , who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of Likud, were only two of many. Now Avigdor Lieberman, too, is following this path, but there were and are others, such as the late Hanan Porat, for whom the realization of this ideology was and remains the purpose of their political activity.


This ideology views the creation of an Israeli apartheid regime as a necessary tool for its realization. It has no difficulty with illegal actions and with outright criminality, because it rests on mega-laws that it has adopted and that have no connection with the laws of the state , and because it rests on a perverted interpretation of Judaism. It has scored crucial successes. Even when actions inspired by the Gush Emunim ideology conflict with the will of the government, they still quickly win the backing of the government. The fact that the government is effectively a tool of Gush Emunim and its successors is apparent to everyone who has dealings with the settlers, creating a situation of force multiplication.


This ideology has enjoyed immense success in the United States , of all places. President George H.W. Bush was able to block financial guarantees to Israel because of the settlements established by the government of Yitzhak Shamir (who said lying was permissible to realize the Gush Emunim ideology. Was Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan University speech a lie of this kind? ). Now, though, candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination are competing among themselves over which of them supports Israel and the occupation more forcefully. Any of them who adopt the approach of the first President Bush will likely put an end to their candidacy.


Whatever the reason for this state of affairs – the large number of evangelicals affiliated with the Republican party, the problematic nature of the West’s relations with Islam, or the power of the Jewish lobby, which is totally addicted to the Gush Emunim ideology – the result is clear: It is not easy, and may be impossible, for an American president to adopt an activist policy against Israeli apartheid.


Legalizing the illegal


Because of its inherent illegality, at least in democratic terms, an apartheid regime cannot allow opposition and criticism. The Gush Emunim ideology is obliged to eliminate the latter, and to prevent every effort to block its activity, even if that activity is illegal and even criminal, meant to maintain apartheid. The illegal activity needs to be made legal, whether by amending laws or by changing their judicial interpretation – such things have occurred before, in other places and at other times.


Against this background, we are now seeing the campaign of legislation against, and the unbridled slandering of the Supreme Court, against human rights organizations and against the press, as well as the so-called boycott law, which is aimed at preventing the possibility of dealing with Israeli apartheid in the way South African apartheid was dealt with. It is against this same background that legislation has been submitted that is directed against the Arab citizens in Israel , such as the Loyalty Law and the proposal for a ” Basic Law of Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.” It is against this background that a campaign of incitement and intimidation is being waged against the necessary and justified critique being voiced by members of academia.


The Supreme Court, which permitted the settlement project and effectively collaborated with the Gush Emunim ideology, has now become an obstacle that needs to be removed – in the eyes of those who still adhere to that ideology – primarily because the court refuses to recognize the possibility of settling on privately owned Palestinian land and did not overturn the government decision to evacuate the settlements in the Gaza Strip. Because the land belongs to the Jews by divine decree and history (from this perspective, there are similarities between Gush Emunim and Hamas ), there is no choice but to elect to the Supreme Court justices who live on Palestinian land, possibly private land, and those who understand that there is no such thing as “land under private Palestinian ownership.”


Similarly, this line of thinking goes, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of human rights laws also requires its elimination in its present format. Judgments such as those relating to the Kaadan family (allowing an Arab family to build a home in a Jewish community ); the selling of Jewish National Fund land to Arab citizens of Israel; the amendment to the Citizenship Law (no ruling has yet been handed down, but there seems to be a possibility that a majority of justices will rule it illegal ); the opening of a highway to Palestinian traffic – all these rulings conflict with essential elements in Gush Emunim ideology : the discrimination between Jews and Palestinians (in Israel and the territories ) and the deprivation of the Palestinians’ rights, which transform them into second-class people, absentees or, best of all, refugees.


Does an Israel of this kind have a future? Over and beyond the question of whether Jewish morality and the Jewish experience allow such circumstances to exist, it is clear that this is a flagrantly unstable and even dangerous situation. It is a situation that will prevent Israel from fully realizing its vast potential, a situation of living by the sword – a sword that could be a third intifada, the collapse of peace with Egypt and a confrontation with a nuclear Iran . Yitzhak Rabin understood that.


2. [forwarded by Paul L.]


— On Tue, 11/22/11, Donna Wallach   wrote re Repression-based research

On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 6:29 PM


From: Arms trade and military co-operation between Europe and Israel <[email protected]>

Date:  22 November 2011 4:44:31 AM PST


Subject: [New post] Repression-based research



 New post on Arms trade and military co-operation between Europe and Israel  

 Repression-based research

by disarmtheconflict


This month the UK based Palestine Solidarity Movement published an excellent briefing paper on military relations with Israel .


What makes the briefing paper interesting is that it not only focuses on arms exports to Israel but also on other forms of military cooperation. It highlights what makes the Israeli arms industry successful in the international marked – Israel being the world’s 5th arms exporter. A quote from the briefing: “In terms of marketing, every military operation acts as an endorsement for the weapons and techniques used.”


Battlefield as a showcase for your military products. In this, Israel is not alone. It is common arms trade marketing to point to battlefield for sales promotion. The use of Rafale fighter jets by France in the bombing of Libya is a recent example. In trying to sell the Rafale to the UAE, French Defense Minister Longuet said Libyan operations did show the plane met the UAE’s requirements.


Israel , however, has the marketing advantage of a constant ‘battlefield’ in Palestine and has therefore a permanent testing ground for its weaponry which it then sells to the rest of the world. As the briefing paper notes, even the Israeli Defense Force itself advertised the use and success of its drones in the ‘Operation Cast Lead’ – the assault on Gaza in 2008/9. It depends, of course, on what is considered a success. According to Israeli human rights organisation B’TselemCast Lead left 1,385 Palestinians dead< /a>, 762 of whom did not take part in the hostilities; 318 of them were minors.


On the defense industry portal EPICOS the advantages of working together with the Israeli military industry are highlighted once more. Israel has a “unmatched pool of highly skilled workers and world-renowned research and academic capabilities” with “operational experience gained from serving its Defense Forces, which explains why the Israeli engineers are close to the operational user, simply because they have the proper experience and knowledge.”


Battlefield tested products and battlefield experienced researchers : the Israeli arms industry definitely has something special to offer. This is one of the reasons why some European institutes are keen on common R&D projects with Israel . In the European Union funded security research program known as FP7, Israel is the biggest non-EU recipient of funds. Not only industries but also many European universities participate in FP7 research with the Israeli arms industry. In a small country like Belgium , already two universities are involved. The Catholic University of Leuven is participating in common research with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a stateowned manufacturer of drones, and the University of Namur participates in research with Elbit Systems, one of Israel’s largest military technology firms. In this way, European universities are building on Israeli knowledge, gained by repression and tested on Palestinians in Gaza .


disarmtheconflict | November 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm | URL:


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3.   Published: 2011-11-25    

   Protection of Civilians Weekly Report

 16 – 22 November 2011


During the week, Israeli forces injured 11 Palestinians and settlers injured another three in the West Bank. Settler violence declined, partially, due to the ending of the olive season. Israeli forces demolished two water-related structures. Also in this weeks report: Another family in Silwan was ordered to evacuate their house; and Israeli bulldozers continued leveling land along the new route of the Barrier in Azzun Atmeh village (Qaqiliya). Gaza remained calm throughout the week. One Palestinian worker was killed inside a tunnel. Electricity blackouts throughout Gaza increased.  


The full report is available at



United Nations Office for the

Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Mac House

P.O.Box 38712


Tel:++ 972-2-5829962/5853


email:[email protected]





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4.  PCHR


Palestinian Centre for Human Rights  LTD(non-profit)


Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in theOccupied Palestinian Territory (17- 23 Nov. 2011)



Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks against Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Gaza Strip


IOF have continued to use force against peaceful protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


3 Palestinians, including a media worker, were wounded in a peaceful demonstration in al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah.


The Israeli Navy has continued to attack Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.


Israeli naval troops opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in the north and the south of the Gaza Strip.


IOF opened fire at bird hunters in the north of the Gaza Strip but no casualties were reported. 


IOF conducted 66 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 2 limited ones into the Gaza Strip.  


IOF arrested at least 19 Palestinians, including 4 children.


IOF raided the houses of many Palestinians who were released recently from Israeli jails, delivered them notices to appear before the Israeli intelligence and threatened some of them. 


Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the OPT and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.


Israeli soldiers arrested at least 5 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, at a checkpoint in the West Bank .


IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.


IOF delivered 10 notices requiring Palestinians to stop construction works in the south of Hebron





Israeli violations of international law and humanitarian law in the OPT continued during the reporting period (17-23 November 2011):





During the reporting period, IOF wounded 3 Palestinians, including a media worker, who were participating in a peaceful demonstration in protest against settlement activities in al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah. 


During the reporting period, IOF used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall in the West Bank .  As a result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a media worker and a Palestinian female solidarity activist, were wounded in a peaceful demonstration in al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah. In addition, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders suffered from tear gas inhalation or sustained bruises as they were beaten by IOF soldiers. 


In the Gaza Strip, on 23 November 2011, IOF positioned in observation towers near Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing, in the north of the Gaza Strip, opened sporadic fire at a number of Palestinians who were hunting birds in the ex-settlement of “Nissanit”, 300 meters from the border, in the northeast of the Bedouin village, north of the Gaza Strip.  The bird hunters were forced to flee but no casualties were reported.


As part of targeting Palestinian fishermen at sea, on 21 November 2011, IOF gunboats stationed off the northwest of Beit Lahia, north of the Gaza Strip, opened intensive fire at Palestinian fishing boats.  Palestinian fishermen fled the area in fear for their lives.  Neither injuries nor damages to fishing boats were reported. A similar incident took place of Khan Yonis on 22 November 2011 and 23 November 2011.


On 22 November, an IOF drone fired a missile at a training site belonging to the Nasser Saladin Brigades, military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, west of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.


The full report is available online at:



Public Document


For further information please visit our website ( or contact PCHR’ s office in Gaza City, Gaza Strip by email ([email protected]) or telephone (+972 (0)8 2824776 – 2825893).


*Office Hours are between 08:00 – 16:00 hours (05:00 GMT – 13:00 GMT) Sun – Thurs.


5.  France24

Friday, November 25, 2011


Israel hardens on tax freeze over Hamas-Fatah meet


By blade


The Hamas-Fatah rapprochement has hardened Israel ‘s resolve to maintain its stranglehold on Palestinian tax monies, although commentators agreed Friday the two movements were far from a true reconciliation.


Hours after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held top-level talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal at which they announced a new era of “partnership”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet to ponder a response.


At the late night meeting, ministers decided, for the time being, to maintain a freeze on the transfer of tens of millions of dollars in tax monies to the Palestinian Authority, government sources said.


The transfer of funds, which make up a large percentage of the Ramallah government’s monthly budget, was frozen on November 1 as a punitive measure after the Palestinians won full membership in the UN cultural organisation.


“If the Palestinians have signed an agreement over a unity government, it would make a transfer of funds impossible,” a senior government official told AFP.


Israel ‘s main concern is that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority will patch up ties with the Islamist movement, whose charter still calls for the destruction of the Jewish state , and set up a unity government in a move which the Palestinians say will only happen after elections in May.


“We have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything to do with the Palestinian nation,” Meshaal told reporters in Cairo after nearly two hours of dialogue with Abbas.


“There are no more differences between us now,” said Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement. “We have agreed to work as partners with joint responsibility.”


Such sentiments provoked anger in Israel , although few commentators harboured any illusion the two rival movements were any closer to ending the rift and forming a unified Palestinian front.


“After the reconciliation and after what Abu Mazen said there?s not a chance in the world that we?ll transfer the money,” Israeli sources told the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily.


Speaking to Israel ‘s army radio, deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom described the Cairo summit as “a negative and dangerous development.”


“We will ask the international community not to talk to a government in which Hamas is an essential component when this terrorist organisation continues to call for the destruction of Israel ,” he said.


Despite the upbeat public statements from Abbas and Meshaal, there was little indication the two men had made any concrete progress in resolving disputes which have blocked implementation of a reconciliation agreement signed six months ago, sparking a flurry of commentary in the Israeli press.


“This was merely a tactical reconciliation rather than a genuine step, as the differences that divide both sides are still great,” Yediot said.


“Despite the celebratory pronouncements, Abu Mazen and Khaled Meshaal have no compromise plan that will make real reconciliation possible. That is why in their meeting, they did not bridge their differences on any major problem,” wrote Yediot commentator Alex Fishman.


The meeting had a single goal, he wrote: to reach elections in May 2012.


“Everything else is pretence. Fatah and Hamas have no common denominator or interest in reconciliation anytime soon. Nobody, not Fatah, not Hamas, not Israel and not the US , pins any hope on the reconciliation in Cairo .”


Israel ‘s decision to continue withholding the tax monies in response to the Cairo summit looked to draw more criticism from the international community. In recent days, Netanyahu’s government has come under heavy pressure from UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Middle East Quartet to release the funds which amount to an estimated $100 million a month.


Israel often freezes the transfer of funds as a punitive measure in response to diplomatic or political developments viewed as harmful.






Source URL:



6.  Washington Post

Friday, November 25, 2011


Why the Palestinians might reject U.S. aid





Few in Washington may realize that the issue of U.S. funding for Palestine is the talk of the town in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities. And the talk is not pleasant.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been telling aides that he plans to reject some $150 million in federal money earmarked for Palestinian security.


Abbas’s opposition is principled. The funds are part of an $800 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development that Congress appropriated in June 2009. Shortly before the funds were disbursed this summer, however, the larger grant was held up by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. A Republican from Florida , Ros-Lehtinen, now chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, placed an informational hold on this budgetary line item in August. It is her prerogative to do so as a member of Congress. But rather than delay the funds to investigate a concern, the hold was meant as punishment — a warning to the Palestinian Authority not to seek recognition as an independent state at the United Nations General Assembly meeting the following month.


Abbas, of course, made the Palestinians’ application for statehood in September. And Palestinians note that when President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in September 2010, he said he hoped that “when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations — an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.” To Palestinians, their efforts for recognition fall within the Wilsonian doctrine of self-determination. But others don’t see it that way.


Ros-Lehtinen’s hold put a freeze on many education, health and democratic governance projects aimed at defusing tensions in the Middle East and building transparent Palestinian public institutions. In addition to funds for security services that were to be spent directly by the Palestinian Authority, which Abbas controls, the USAID grant included money for the U.S. consulate to use to support democratic initiatives. Intermediary organizations that were to oversee this spending included such U.S. groups as Sesame Workshop, World Vision, Internews, Save the Children and Amideast. Friends of the Earth, an Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian organization, also was to participate.


After U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak intervened last month, $200 million for the Palestinian Authority was unfrozen. Fifty million of those funds was to go toward ongoing projects, and $150 million was pegged for Palestinian security services. All other funding remains on hold, including $4.6 million that was intended for use by the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem under the Middle East Partnership Initiative. Established during the George W. Bush administration, MEPI was initially administered by Liz Cheney with the goal of empowering democratic initiatives in the Middle East . As the Arab Spring continues to drive change throughout the region, Palestinian leaders are feeling its effect. The millions earmarked for Palestinian security have become a hot potato.


Criticism of the Abbas administration has appeared in social media platforms and newspaper editorials. Palestinian Authority leaders have been accused of being security agents for Israel . Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation has become taboo in Ramallah. Meanwhile, even though Palestinians have provided unprecedented cooperation on security, Israeli provocations continue. The Israelis have not stopped building settlements or expropriating Palestinian lands.


It would be a political misstep to accept funds earmarked for security services while schools and nurseries are not completed. Palestinians would see the aid as analogous to the 30 pieces of silver that were accepted by Judas Iscariot when he delivered Jesus — a position Abbas does not want to be in.


Beyond the trouble caused by this hold, Congress is doing little to move other budget issues forward. Not only have U.S. lawmakers been holding up approved and obligated funds for Palestinians, but the 2012 budget also has not yet been discussed. Congress is making it difficult for the White House, the State Department and the Defense Department to conduct foreign policy.


The intricacies of foreign policy are usually unknown to the average American. But it doesn’t take much to understand that aligning with one side in the Middle East peace process not only erodes the United States ’ diplomatic leverage but also plants the seeds of doom for the United States in a sensitive region.


Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and former professor of journalism at Princeton University .



8.  Al Jazeera

Thursday, November 24, 2011


The Iranian threat 

The US is not taking any practical steps to ensure a nuclear-free Middle East , says the author.


Noam Chomsky


The UN could establish a Nuclear-Free Middle East Zone with the help of the US that is busy securing oil supplies [EPA]


Editor’s note: Over the past week various elements both in Washington DC and Tel Aviv have been promoting a renewed rhetoric of an Iranian threat. Back in July of this year, Professor Chomsky wrote the following commentary on the issue that resonates even louder today.


Cambridge , Ma – The dire threat of Iran is widely recognised to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. General Petraeus informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2010 that “the Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability” in the US Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East and Central Asia, the primary region of US global concerns. The term “stability” here has its usual technical meaning: firmly under US control. In June 2010 Congress strengthened the sanctions against Iran , with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding US offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia , claimed by Britain , which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacks in the Central Command area. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group. According to a US Navy cargo manifest obtained by the Sunday Herald (Glasgow), the substantial military equipment Obama has dispatched includes 387 “bunker busters” used for blasting hardened underground structures. Planning for these “massive ordnance penetrators”, the most powerful bombs in the arsenal short of nuclear weapons, was initiated in the Bush administration, but languished. On taking office, Obama immediately accelerated the plans, and they are to be deployed several years ahead of schedule, aiming specifically at Iran .


“They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran ,” according to Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London . ” US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he said. “The firepower of US forces has quadrupled since 2003,” accelerating under Obama.


The Arab press reports that an American fleet (with an Israeli vessel) passed through the Suez Canal on the way to the Persian Gulf, where its task is “to implement the sanctions against Iran and supervise the ships going to and from Iran “. British and Israeli media report that Saudi Arabia is providing a corridor for Israeli bombing of Iran (denied by Saudi Arabia ). On his return from Afghanistan to reassure NATO allies that the US will stay the course after the replacement of General McChrystal by his superior, General Petraeus, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen visited Israel to meet IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and senior military staff along with intelligence and planning units, continuing the annual strategic dialogue between Israel and the US The meeting focused “on the preparation by both Israel and the US for the possibility of a nuclear capable Iran”, according to Haaretz, which reports further that Mullen emphasised that “I always try to see challenges from Israeli perspective”. Mullen and Ashkenazi are in regular contact on a secure line.


The increasing threats of military action against Iran are of course in violation of the UN Charter, and in specific violation of Security Council Resolution 1887 of September 2009 which reaffirmed the call to all states to resolve disputes related to nuclear issues peacefully, in accordance with the Charter, which bans the use or threat of force.


Some analysts who seem to be taken seriously describe the Iranian threat in apocalyptic terms. Amitai Etzioni warns that “the US will have to confront Iran or give up the Middle East “, no less. If Iran ‘s nuclear programme proceeds, he asserts, Turkey , Saudi Arabia and other states will “move toward” the new Iranian “superpower”. To rephrase in less fevered rhetoric, a regional alliance might take shape independent of the US . In the US army journal Military Review, Etzioni urges a US attack that targets not only Iran ‘s nuclear facilities, but also its non-nuclear military assets, including infrastructure – meaning, the civilian society. “This kind of military action is akin to sanctions – causing ‘pain’ in order to change behaviour, albeit by much more powerful means.”


Iranian threat?


Such inflammatory pronouncements aside, what exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided by military and intelligence reports to Congress in April 2010 [Lieutenant General Ronald L. Burgess, Director, Defence Intelligence Agency, Statement before the Committee on Armed Services, US Senate, 14 April 2010; Unclassified Report on Military Power of Iran, April 2010; John J Kruzel, American Forces Press Service, “Report to Congress Outlines Iranian Threats”, April 2010].


The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though it does not rank particularly high in that respect in comparison to US allies in the region. But that is not what concerns the military and intelligence assessments. Rather, they are concerned with the threat Iran poses to the region and the world.


The reports make it clear that the Iranian threat is not military. Iran ‘s military spending is “relatively low compared to the rest of the region”, and of course minuscule as compared to the US . Iranian military doctrine is strictly “defensive, designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities”. Iran has only “a limited capability to project force beyond its borders”. With regard to the nuclear option, ” Iran ‘s nuclear programme and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy”.


Though the Iranian threat is not military aggression, that does not mean that it might be tolerable to Washington . Iranian deterrent capacity is considered an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that interferes with US global designs. Specifically, it threatens US control of Middle East energy resources, a high priority of planners since World War II. As one influential figure advised, expressing a common understanding, control of these resources yields “substantial control of the world ” (A A Berle).


But Iran ‘s threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence. Iran’s “current five-year plan seeks to expand bilateral, regional and international relations, strengthen Iran’s ties with friendly states, and enhance its defence and deterrent capabilities. Commensurate with that plan, Iran is seeking to increase its stature by countering US influence and expanding ties with regional actors while advocating Islamic solidarity”. In short, Iran is seeking to “destabilise” the region, in the technical sense of the term used by General Petraeus. US invasion and military occupation of Iran ‘s neighbours is “stabilisation”. Iran ‘s efforts to extend its influence in neighbouring countries is “destabilisation”, hence plainly illegitimate. It should be noted that such revealing usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace, former editor of the main establishment journal Foreign Affairs, was properly using the term “stability” in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve “stability” in Chile it was necessary to “destabilise” the country (by overthrowing the elected Allende government and installing the Pinochet dictatorship).




Beyond these crimes, Iran is also carrying out and supporting terrorism, the reports continue. Its Revolutionary Guards “are behind some of the deadliest terrorist attacks of the past three decades”, including attacks on US military facilities in the region and “many of the insurgent attacks on Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces in Iraq since 2003”. Furthermore, Iran backs Hezbollah and Hamas, the major political forces in Lebanon and in Palestine – if elections matter. The Hezbollah-based coalition handily won the popular vote in Lebanon ‘s latest (2009) election. Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian election, compelling the US and Israel to institute the harsh and brutal siege of Gaza to punish the miscreants for voting the wrong way in a free election. These have been the only relatively free elections in the Arab world. It is normal for elite opinion to fear the threat of democracy and to act to deter it, but this is a rather striking case, particularly alongside of strong US support for the regional dictatorships, emphasised by Obama with his strong praise for the brutal Egyptian dictator Mubarak on the way to his famous addres

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