Mondoweiss Online Newsletter


Even ‘NYT’ says Israel is bluffing to play Obama
Aug 16, 2012
Philip Weiss
The idea that Israel is trying to bait the U.S. to attack Iran by threatening to do so itself is gaining hold in the US mainstream. In the Times, Jodi Rudoren hints at the purpose of the Israeli bellicosity:

“There is a window of opportunity,” said the official, Uzi Dayan, a former deputy chief of staff in the military. “This window is closing, but if the United States would be much clearer and stronger about the sanctions on one hand and about what can happen if Iran won’t make a U-turn — there is not a lot of time, but there is still time to make a difference.”
Mr. Dayan’s assessment seems to buttress the theory that the collective saber rattling is part of a campaign to pressure the Obama administration and the international community, rather than an indication of the imminence of an Israeli strike.

Robert Wright at the Atlantic says Israel is bluffing:

it’s yet more evidence that their hope is to get action out of Obama, not to bomb Iran themselves.
None of this means that Israel couldn’t possibly wind up bombing Iran in the next few months. Bluffs can be hard to back away from, and a bluff this loud makes for a particularly embarrassing climbdown. But the calculation seems to be that Obama, in high-anxiety pre-election mode, will deliver at least enough rhetoric–if only a more high-profile or in some other sense more binding articulation of things he’s already said–to make for a graceful climbdown.
Personally, I hope Obama doesn’t deliver.

At Foreign Policy, Steve Walt agrees:

The Israelis know that they cannot do the job themselves, and their larger aim is to keep attention riveted on Tehran (and not on settlement expansion) and to make sure that if war does come, the United States does the heavy lifting.
In short, all this war talk is a bluff, but one can scarcely blame Israel for employing a tactic that keeps working so well. It’s our fault we keep falling for it.

MJ Rosenberg calls it most directly:

To me, it is clear. Their entire game is to squeeze President Obama during the run-up to the presidential election. True, the tactic is not new but the urgency of the current campaign is unprecedented.
That is because the primary fear motivating Netanyahu and Barak is not of Iran. It is that President Obama will be re-elected and will, after November, be significantly more immune to their demands for more Iran sanctions, support for some future Israeli strike against Iran and even for U.S.-back-up should an Israeli strike not be able to finish the job. Then there is what former Prime Minister Golda Meir called the“shopping list” of whatever else the military and intelligence community wants from the United States at any given moment. Netanyahu and Barak know that the window to ask and to get could close in November so the name of the game is getting as much as possible now.
They may be right. President Obama will probably give Israel almost anything to prevent an attack on Iran during the election campaign, an attack that could quite conceivably crash the world economy and incidentally elect Israel’s preferred candidate, Mitt Romney. So now is the moment. ..
So here is my prediction. There will be no war any time soon. But Israel will be getting more and more goodies from President Obama between now and the election just to ensure it, and probably afterwards as well.

Video: Israeli youths violently detain Palestinian under eyes of soldiers
Aug 16, 2012
Annie Robbins
At Youtube: “Israeli soldiers out of uniform violently detaining a Palestinian at Checkpoint 56, Tel Rumeida, Hebron”
Abir Kopty of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee states:

The video shows a group of soldiers out of uniform beating Abd-Elaziz Elfakhouri (20) who was protesting the detention of his colleague taken by the same group of soldiers, and dragged into a house.
The soldiers gathered around the man and started beating him. He was shortly pushed and shoved down the hill towards the same building where the soldiers were still holding Elfakhouri’s friend behind closed doors. Elfakhouri was dropped to the ground and dragged across the concrete.
More soldiers came to the area and started shoving people away declaring it a Closed Military Zone, as one soldier out of uniform tried to steal several witnesses’ cameras and passports. In one case the soldier managed to take one passport and ran down the hill hiding amongst other soldiers. The soldiers kept the passport for 35 minutes and then handed it over to Israeli police officers while saying “Make sure to write down his name for the airport, so he can’t come back here.”
Elfakhouri and his friend were eventually put in military jeeps and taken to the military base even though police were present.
Issa Amr, coordinator of Youth Against Settlements says: “This is not the first case, in the last month we documented cases of soldiers out of uniform beating and detaining Palestinians. Whether uniformed or not, there is no accountability to the soldiers; when a soldier killed a woman and her daughter in Gaza in 2009, he was only sentenced for 45 days. Soldiers get the message that they have a free hand.”

The report at Youtube from Palreports Khalil states the following:

A Palestinian man was detained by soldiers at checkpoint 56 and dragged into a house were they closed the door. Another Palestinian, a teenager, protested against this just as a group of soldiers out of uniform came jogging by. They immediately went for the young Palestinian protesting the detainment and started wrestling him to the ground in an efford to detain him as well. As they were wrestling him one soldier kicked him while another hit him with his hand. The soldiers proceded to carry him down the hill towards the same building where they still kept the first detained Palestinian behind closed doors. As they went they dropped the young Palestinian man to the ground but just kept on dragging him across the concrete. More soldiers came to the area and started shoving people away declaring it a Closed Military Zone (CMZ), but refusing to show the papers they are required to have in order to create a CMZ. One soldier out of uniform tried to steal several witnesses camera and passport and succeded in one case, after which he ran down the hill hiding amongst the other soldiers. The soldiers kept the passport for 35 minutes at which point they handed it over to the police, saying “Make sure to write down his name for the airport, so he can’t come back here”, referring to the many solidarity activists who has been registrered and banned from entering Israel. The two Palestinian men were put into military jeeps and taken to the military base even though the police were present.

Exile and the prophetic: Normalizing the Hitler Youth
Aug 16, 2012
Marc H. Ellis
This post is part 43 of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Last night the program had a barbeque and a dance.  I stayed for both, though the music was so contemporary it didn’t have words or a danceable beat – at least for my taste.  The students like to observe the fact that their professor dances, a change in their perception of the talking head, so I attend dances in the programs where I teach.  Once I start dancing, it’s fun for everyone.  So why not collapse the age/thought divide for a night.  We return to sanity the following day. All is well.
During the barbeque a bombshell. One of the students in the larger group approached me with a rumor.  Had I heard that the buildings we use for the program had been a Hitler Youth camp during the war?  I was shaken by this and asked one of my Austrian students to check it out.  His immediate “so what” response interests me.  Obviously Austria was Nazified during the late 1930s and some of the buildings in Austria that stood and are still standing were used for whatever the Nazified Austrian government needed to carry on.  If all the buildings that had been used for Nazi programs were destroyed after the war, a massive building program would have ensued.  Much of Austria would have to be reconstructed.
Same and more for Germany.  So, as the research begins, does it matter, as in, should such a program such as this have its living and teaching quarters where Nazi youth were once trained in Hitler’s madness?  It should at least be known to all, I would think.  It certainly would reinforce my sense and my teaching that Europe isn’t free of history. The program would need to acknowledge that it too has a historical foundation.
Rumors of Nazi background.Rumors of genocide.  Some more reflection on Hillary Clinton’s address and the Atrocity Prevention Board set up by President Obama.  Timothy Snyder, our Bloodlands author, was quoted in the article, as knowing that global warming will bring episodes of mass death, a strong statement for sure and perhaps an accurate one.  A strange future for sure, though he also warns that superpowers like the United States and China will deflect the consequences of global warming from their shores.
What strikes me is how easy “mass death” roles off the tongue at the Holocaust museums of the world.  Politicians and intellectuals who are protected from the ravages of everything they predict for others.  At least for now. This, at the place where they mourn the past. Strange digs to predict the end of the world as we know it?
Returning to the Israel’s “Never Again” Drones and Germany on the “We Repent” prowl again. Everyone who is anyone are preparing for the Global Warming world where drones will monitor the earth for every movement of weather, food, armaments, you name it.  Monitoring for our security is the name of the Global Warming future.
This reminds me of the time I spoke at the Holocaust museum – itself a long story and one for another time.  The image I remember is a reception held for a conference that was being held at the same day I was speaking.  As I was brought to the reception and introduced all around, I noticed the food and the drinks were extensive and beautifully presented.
It was a lavish spread.  Noting that we were surrounded by Holocaust depictions and artifacts, I hesitated before partaking of the feast before me.  Of course, I had eaten earlier that day and would eat again.  I was also hungry.  The memory of the Holocaust had not interrupted my eating patterns.  Yet, right there, in the Holocaust museum, the feast before me and the hum of friendly interactions, I was caught up short.  When I mentioned this to my host he assured me that partaking of the food and conversation was appropriate.  He offered to help by gathering food for me.
Hitler Youth camps.Mass death rolling off our tongues.  Drones being manufactured, bought and sold.    Receptions at Holocaust museums.  Should all of this be normalized, as in, Marc, enjoy the food, would you like some tomato juice?
An earlier discussion in the program.I told the group that when a Palestinians comes to my home on Friday night, I will not light the Shabbat candles or say the blessings in front of them or that I was against my son, Isaiah, learning German as his college program’s foreign language – shall we say that it elicited controversy?  Obviously I was just sharing my perspective to provoke thought.  In light of everyone’s desire to normalize what shouldn’t exist in history or now, it may seem even more idiosyncratic.  Who cares about Shabbat and my son learning German?
Disturbing it is, though.  I suppose memorializing the dead and predicting more death is normal for the protected and the affluent, as in, we know it happened and is coming, let’s eat a sandwich and drink some coffee before we return to the continuing discussion, and, oh yes, Hillary Clinton’s keynote is next where she will note her husband’s failure as the Rwandan genocide unfolded.  Not a problem, he has already acknowledged it as he acknowledged and tried to bridge the Israel/Palestine gap.  President Clinton even attended Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral after he was assassinated as a friend and a man of peace without mentioning that Rabin was an ethnic cleanser.   Clinton normalized Rabin as the Hitler Youth camps, mass death in the future, drones galore, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide – all of it rolling off our tongues so easily.
The Congo line. The Apartheid Wall.  Do you remember when no one thought the Wall could be built because the international community would stop it?  I remember people arguing that it was best that Israel start building the Wall precisely because the situation would be then so crystal clear that the whole Israel/Palestine affair would be resolved.  I was amazed and asked whether if the proponents of the Wall for the express purpose of exposing Israel had ever been ghettoized.  If they had ever watched their worlds being walled in as the international community was called upon to act.  Didn’t they realize that they were wrong, that if the record in the past of stopping Israel was a predictor then the Wall wouldn’t be stopped and that soon the world be on to other global hot spots? That the Wall would be normalized and that a people would be ghettoized as another fact on the ground?
Normalizing the once unthinkable. Mass death. The Apartheid Wall. So much before and after.  So much to come, it just rolls off the tongue.
The Hilter Youth. Pope Benedict time, a whole other story.  In the main building here, now being renovated, the crucified Jesus hangs on the wall where meals are eaten and in each room above the bed.  I mean vivid depictions of Jesus’ agony.  Were they there when the Nazis were around?
It seems that the Swastika and the Cross rarely clashed during the Nazi era.  When they did it sometimes had to do with Crucifixes on the wall.  Should they be removed or if they remained how vigorous did the churches support for the Nazis  have to be?
The Catholic Church coexisting and then normalizing the Nazis.The Cross and mass death.  Not synonymous.  Not in absolute opposition.
Scary stuff. The raw dough of history.
Where I am teaching now, receptions where plates of food were passed, then.
Dancing last night – on the graves of others.  Such is history.  If we don’t dance on the dead, there would be no place to dance.
Life goes on, Global Warming mass death rolling off our tongues.  Receptions will continue for the protected.  As with the Apartheid Wall.  Life goes on.

Even in majority-minority congressional district, Dem runs way right of Obama on Israel
Aug 16, 2012
Philip Weiss
Dan Halloran is a Republican City Councilman in New York City who is running for Gary Ackerman’s congressional seat in Queens and Long Island.
You’d think this is a safe Democratic district. According to the Almanac of American Politics for 2010, it was 29 percent Asian, 24 percent Hispanic, and 41 percent white. (40 percent Asian,per the NYT.)
But, big surprise, Halloran is now in Israel giving red meat quotes on standing by Israel and attacking Iran:

“The Arab Spring has turned into a nightmare in Egypt, where an Islamist government is coming into power, Syria is a complete mess, and of course Iran is on the brink of nuclear weapons,” he added.

And Halloran’s opponent Grace Meng, a liberal NY assemblywoman, is   running to Obama’s right, and Halloran’s right, on Israel. Check out her statement “Where Grace Meng Agrees and Disagrees with President Obama on Israel,” in the NY Jewish Week, in which she invokes the neoconservative red line: even an Iranian “capability” to produce nuclear weapons should bring us to war.
And she sells out the president on the ’67 lines! Reminder: there will be no Palestinian state, ever.

Although I truly believe President Barack Obama has had good intentions in his policies toward Israel, and has accomplished much in the region, there are several key respects where he could have been — and still can be — a greater friend to Israel.
With regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, the President needs to clarify that he will not allow Iran to become capable of developing a nuclear weapon. We cannot allow Iran to get within sprinting distance of developing a nuclear warhead that can be used against Israel. President Obama should make clear to Iran and the world that the United States will use military force against Iran’s nuclear program if Iran achieves nuclear weaponscapability. So there are no tragic mistakes on the world stage, there should be no misunderstanding on this point.
On the issue of negotiations with the Palestinians, the President was misguided in calling for a return to pre-1967 borders, and he was misguided in linking the freezing of West Bank housing construction to the advancement of peace negotiations. Furthermore, he should have visited Israel. The failure of the President’s peace initiative largely results from these missteps.

Several months ago the Times warned us this race would become “Israelapalooza,” on the heels of Robert Turner’s defeat of David Weprin in the Brooklyn congressional election. The Times said it was a competition for Jewish voters; which is to say, Jewish swing voters are hard right on Israel. I have to believe fundraising is also a big issue…

Israeli opposition leader accuses Netanyahu of trying to wag the dog
Aug 16, 2012
Philip Weiss
Two additions to Nima Shirazi’s inventory of Israeli efforts to push an American war with Iran. As Nima notes, the mainstream US press is not covering this stuff. Simply amazing.
First, from the Times of Israel, a report that Israel with David Axelrod is trying to broker a political commitment from Obama to attack Iran by next June.

American and Israeli officials are working to arrange a meeting between US President Barack Obama and  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at which the White House will assure Israel that the US will use force to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons drive by next June at the latest if the Islamic Republic has not halted its program by then, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported on Tuesday night.
The meeting will take place in New York or Washington at the end of September or the very beginning of October, the report said. David Axelrod, senior strategist in Obama’s re-election campaign, is coordinating arrangements for the meeting, the report said.
The key formulation being discussed for Obama to assure Netanyahu is that the US “will attack Iran by June 2013″ if the Iranian nuclear weapons drive has not halted by then, the report said.

Next, a sanity check from Shaul Mofaz, the chairman of the opposition Kadima party in Israel, who attacks Netanyahu for promoting a war as a means of political intervention in the US election:

“Over the past few months, Israel has waged an extensive and relentless PR campaign with the sole objective of preparing the ground for a premature military adventure.”
“This PR campaign has deeply penetrated the ‘zone of immunity’ of our national security, threatens to weaken our deterrence, and our relations with our best friends. Mr. prime minister, you want a crude, rude, unprecedented, reckless, and risky intervention in the US elections. Tell us who you serve and for what? Why are you putting your hand deep into the ballot boxes of the American electorate?

‘I love the Jewish people’ is refrain in NYT homage to American Jews joining Israeli army
Aug 16, 2012
Philip Weiss
New York Times report on 127 American Jews going to serve in the Israeli army often reads like a promotion of the idea of dual loyalty. The word “love” is used 8 times in the piece, including in the headline, “Enlisting From Afar for the Love of Israel.” And the piece features this frankly-Israelist statement:

“Their motivation is often way higher than the average Israeli,” said Col. Shuli Ayal, who oversees the lone-soldier program. “They want to make their service as meaningful as possible.”

Did any of these people consider enlisting in the U.S. army? the Times doesn’t ask. Of 22-year-old Josh Warhit, an American Jew who is the focus of the piece, Marsha Cohen tells me: “If he were a Muslim and going anywhere else in the world, he’d be labeled a brainwashed jihadi.”
Here are the love references:

Enlisting From Afar for the Love of Israel
Josh Warhit: “I love the Jewish people. Love involves commitment.”
“I hope to spend my time in Israel protecting those I love, not torturing those who hate me,” Mr. Rechenbach, also 22, said in an e-mail interview ahead of the flight
“You want to teach your kids to love Israel, but you don’t want them necessarily to take you so literally,” his mother, Ilissa Warhit, said
“I love my family, I love my friends and I love the Jewish people.” [Warhit]

Do Americans who go serve in a foreign army lose their citizenship? Good question. Apparently that was once true, no longer. Note the rules from the State Dept. here, and an interpretation of dual citizenship here. Why didn’t the Times raise this issue? Is the occupation in American interests?

Not the book my Pekar promised me
Aug 16, 2012
Philip Weiss
Guernica has published an excerpt of the great Harvey Pekar’s posthumous volume on Zionism, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, and the promise of the title is undermined,just as I feared it would be, by the intervention of JT Waldman, a young Jew who serves as Pekar’s interlocutor in the discussion and who is constantly interjecting things like, Israel has no partner for peace; they left Gaza and got Katyusha rockets, I called a friend in Israel yesterday… Or, There must be an economic peace; give the Palestinians prosperity. These are propaganda points that a liberal Jew passes on with no awareness that they are tired old hasbara; and so the dialogue reminds us that our community– and when I say our I am putting on my Jewish hat– is reactionary on this question. Pekar (1939-2010) was a great irascible leftwing oddball who took on NBC when Letterman had him on air and who is lionized for that eruption. Yet his unvarnished thoughts on the new Jewish Question question could not be passed on without some Zionist sugarcoating. Tragic, really. And you ask how the Jewish leadership could marry apartheid? Because the conscience community was muzzled.
Points of no return, zones of immunity: The constant Israeli hype over Iran
Aug 16, 2012
Nima Shirazi

“For the greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
– President John F. Kennedy, Yale University Commencement Address, June 11, 1962
“Propaganda by its very nature is an enterprise for perverting the significance of events and of insinuating false intentions…The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed; he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime that he himself is about to commit. He who wants to provoke a war not only proclaims his own peaceful intentions but also accuses the other party of provocation.”
– Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, 1965

A report in The Times of London, with the headline “Israel steps up plan for air attacks on Iran”, enumerates the various “options” and “military contingency plans” available to the Israeli military in order to “neutralise” Iran’s “nuclear weapons programme.”  Journalist Christopher Walker writes that Israeli “[m]ilitary planners are studying” the possibility of “hitting Iranian missile plants…with the ‘long arm’ of its airforce or targeting foreign scientists at the facilities rather than the buildings themselves.”  He adds that “surgical air strikes” would be carried out by “advanced F-15I fighter planes.”
The piece also quotes the Israeli Defense Minister as warning, “A country like Iran possessing such long range weaponry – a country that lacks stability, that is characterised by Islamic fundamentalism, by an extremist ideology that is striving to become a superpower in the Middle East – is very dangerous.”
Another alarming article, this one in The Washington Times, begins this way:

Reports that Israel is preparing for pre-emptive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and is now able to fire nuclear missiles from submarines were seen as reflecting deep anxiety in Israel for Tehran’s nuclear program.
Israeli newspapers said officials appear to have leaked the reports in an attempt to focus the attention of the international community on the dangers of Iranian nuclear weapons development.

In The New York Times, Hebrew University professor Martin van Creveld writes of the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran, explaining, “With the United States now in the midst of a hotly disputed election campaign,” if the Israeli Prime Minister “wanted to act, the time to do so would be between now and November.”
The first report is from December 9, 1997.  The second from October 13, 2003.  The third was published on August 21, 2004.
It is now August 2012.  Another election cycle is nearing an end and with it as always comes the same tired fearmongering and war hysteria.  Threats and predictions of an unprovoked,illegal Israeli assault on Iran are once again flooding the media with dire warnings of fabricated and meaningless – but sufficiently spooky – phrases such as Iran’s supposedly looming “zoneof immunity,” which until recently was ominously dubbed the “point of no return.”  We’ve been through this charade for three decades with no end in sight.
Early this month, Israeli national security adviser Ephraim Halevy, who was once director of Mossad, was quoted as saying that if he were Iranian he “would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks.”  Meanwhile, Iranian diplomats continue to assert that the Islamic Republic has no intention of attacking Israel.  “We will react if there is any provocative act from the other side,” Mohammad Khazaee, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporter Laura Rozen just a month ago. “We will not initiate any provocative steps.”
Iran’s defense doctrine has been reaffirmed at the highest levels of the U.S. intelligence community.  Earlier this year, Defense Intelligence Agency chief Ronald Burgess told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his agency continues to assess that “Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”
On the very same day that the editors of the New York Daily News took their cues from Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren to warn that “Tehran is on the verge of being able to produce a bomb,” a spokesman for the White House National Security Councilmaintained that U.S. intelligence “continue[s] to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”
Last week, reliable Netanyahu administration mouthpiece Barak Ravid reported in Ha’aretzthat “[n]ew intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing components for its nuclear weapons program than the West had previously realized.”  He also published an article claiming that “President Barack Obama recently received a new National Intelligence Estimate report on the Iranian nuclear program, which shares Israel’s view that Iran has made surprising, significant progress toward military nuclear capability,” adding that the alleged report contains “new and alarming intelligence information about military components of Iran’s nuclear program.”
Not only was Ravid’s reporting – tactlessly and transparently planted by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak – full of evidence-free claims by the MEK and over-hyped falsehoodsabout a secret detonation chamber and atomic particles washed away from an Iranian military installation legally off-limits to IAEA inspectors that have long been debunked, it’s mainscoop was immediately denied by the Obama administration.  In response to Ravid’s claims,Reuters reported a National Security Council spokesman as saying that “U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.”  Both the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Ronald Burgess have consistently assessed that Iran is not building nuclear weapons.
Essentially confirming suspicions that he was the source of Ravid’s information, Ehud Baraktold Israel Radio,  “There probably really is such an American intelligence report…making its way around senior offices” in Washington that, “makes the Iranian issue even more urgent and (shows it is) less clear and certain that we will know everything in time about their steady progress toward military nuclear capability.”
That’s right: probably really.
Ehud Barak even resorted to totally inapplicable and inappropriate historical analogies toanonymously fear-monger about Iran.  Utilizing the ultimate in Zionist emotional blackmail and hasbara, Barak evoked the threat of Nazi Germany: “What happened in the Rhine in 1936 will be child’s play compared to what will happen with Iran,” he declared.
Seemingly responding to former Mossad head Meir Dagan’s January 2011 determination that Israel “should use military force only if it is attacked, or if it has ‘a sword at its neck,'” Barak also pulled the phony, back-up-against-a-corner, self-defense card: “The sword at our throat is a lot sharper than the sword at our throat before the Six-Day War,” he told Ha’aretz.
Neither of these claims makes any sense.  That Iran is not the industrialized, military powerhouse that Nazi Germany was, nor does it have any expansionist or genocidal goals, hardly merits attention.  With regard to the Six-Day War, Barak is hoping his audience knows nothing of history.  The Israeli attack on Egypt that began the war was not a preemptive act of self-defense, but rather an aggressive military action.  Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin even admitted in 1982, “In June 1967 we again had a choice.  The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us.  We must be honest with ourselves.  We decided to attack him.”  He added, “Who knows if there would have been an attack against us? There is no proof

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