- 60 years ago, first Defense Sec’y said ‘Zionist pressure’ endangered US security, all the way to Afghanistan
- Neocon front orgs
- Qualitative Military Edge — another name for US-backed Israeli brutality
- Hillary Clinton says we need more intermarriage
- Nargila ban distracts attention from ethnic cleansing
- For ‘Birthright’ tourists, hill above Gaza is fun like the Grand Canyon
- Demonizing Mississippi
- Obama aide dodges Syrian ambassador on Israeli nukes and Medea Benjamin on ’special relationship’
- Today in Palestine: bulldozed homes, and loyalty oaths
- Gideon Levy warns that Israeli ‘regime’ is likely ‘doomed’
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 08:36 AM PDT
I’ve kept dropping hints about this. It’s time to post some excerpts about the birth of Israel from the Forrestal Diaries– by James V. Forrestal, the first U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Forrestal is famous of course for tragedy: Not long after these thoughts were set down, Forrestal was sacked by Truman in March 1949 and died two months later, apparently jumping from a high floor of the Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was being treated for depression.
My introduction. 1, know your narrator: James Forrestal was a serious man to the point of humorless, rigid/repressed, intelligent, selfmade.
The son of a contractor, he became a Roaring 20s socialite and a partner at Dillon, Read in New York and was not at all political in the partisan sense. His Quixotic quest as a Truman appointee was to depoliticize the Palestine issue, to get Republicans and Democrats to cut a secret deal not to pander so that the U.S. interest could be sorted out by elected leaders and their aides without political pressure. It’s a crazy quest in a democracy– but then, just as crazy as the idea that one special interest should essentially control policy in this area unto armageddon.
2, One lesson here is that Partition, which the UN Gen’l Assembly approved on Nov. 29, 1947 amid heavy lobbying, was opposed by almost all the wise men whom Truman had assembled to steer the ship of state, and meanwhile pushed by political rabbis, including Clark Clifford and Truman’s former business-partner Eddie Jacobson, and other Zionists or envoys for Zionists who beat a track into Truman’s office. Bear in mind that the ’48 election, with Thomas Dewey challenging Truman, is in the wings;
3, Note that Forrestal meets with two powerful senators from opposing parties, J. Howard McGrath, who heads Democratic campaigns, and Arthur Vandenberg, a key supporter of Dewey for president, and they both essentially say, It’s Chinatown, Jake! The issue is too radioactive in terms of donations for us to go near.
Repeat: Money– not voters.
4, All the pressures we see today to nullify Obama’s policymaking visavis a Palestinian state were there back then, and Forrestal identified them as a lobby. The question I ask again and again on this site is, How stupid are the American media and the people, that an assertion is made by serious people not once but again and again, from Robert Lovett to Forrestal to Rabbi Elmer Berger to Paul Findley to George Ball to Walt and Mearsheimer and David Hirst and Lawrence Wilkerson– asserted again and again over 7 decades, an assertion at the core of our foreign policy today, and the media still won’t touch it?
5, Forrestal was hounded by Zionists. Because of his stance on Israel, columnists Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson smeared him, and exhumed his unhappy marriage, including his role when his glamorous wife was robbed of jewelry on Fifth Avenue 20 years before these events. Speculating about the cause of Forrestal’s tailspin is not my focus. I would only point out the Terrible Pathos/Tragic Arc of being a Defense Secretary who is calling for military support to protect the life of U.N. envoy Folke Bernadotte in Jerusalem in summer ’48 and he fails, Bernadotte is killed, and a few months later, he too dies.
And Jerusalem is not internationalized, and Zionist territorial gains well beyond Partition are memorialized. Tragedy. The tragedy of the unfolding of extremist Zionism.
6, The diaries were heavily-edited, and often paraphrased, by editor Walter Millis. (The unredacted original, at Princeton, apparently has even stronger material than what follows.) OK, take it away Mr. Secretary:
29 August 1947 Cabinet
[Under Secretary of State Robert] Lovett reported on [Palestine]…He said that the tendency in the General Assembly toward taking decisions by majority vote could constitute a danger to the United States. There was some indication of a lash-up between the Asiatic peoples and those of the Middle East on a color-versus-white basis. He said that while much emphasis had been placed upon the distress and commotion among the Jews, there was an equal danger of solidifying sentiment among all of the Arabian and Mohammedan peoples against us.
4 September 1947 Cabinet Lunch
At the end of the lunch [Robert] Hannegan [Postmaster General] brought up the question of the President’s making a statement of policy on Palestine, particularly with reference to the entrance of a hundred and fifty thousand Jews into Palestine. He said he didn’t want to press for a decision one way or the other but simply wanted to point out that such a statement would have a very great influence and great effect on the raising of funds for the Democratic National Committee. He said very large sums were obtained a year ago from Jewish contributors and that they would be influenced in either giving or withholding by what the President did on Palestine.
29 September 1947 [Conversation with president]
I asked the President whether it would not be possible to lift the Jewish-Palestine question out of politics. The President said it was worth trying although he obviously was skeptical.. [I said] It was dangerous to let it continue to be a matter of barter between the two parties…
6 October 1947 Cabinet Lunch
Hannegan brought up the question of Palestine. He said many people who had contributed to the Democratic campaign fund in 1944 were pressing hard for assurances from the administration of definitive support for the Jewish position in Palestine. The President said that if they would keep quiet he thought that everything would be all right, but that if they persisted in the endeavor to go beyond the report of the United Nations Commission there was grave danger of wrecking all prospects for settlement.
7 November 1947 Cabinet
[Middle East is a tinder box, warns Secretary of State George Marshall] I repeated my suggestion, made several times previously, that a serious attempt be made to lift the Palestine question out of American partisan politics. I said that there had been general acceptance of the fact that domestic politics ceased at the Atlantic Ocean and that no question was more charged with danger to our security than this particular one.
26 November 1947
Lunch today with Senator McGrath.
[Summary is by Walter Millis, editor of diaries] Forrestal derived several points from McGrath’s conversation. In the first place, Jewish sources were responsible for a substantial part of the contributions to the Democratic National Committee, and many of these contributions were made “with a distinct idea on the part of the givers that they will have an opportunity to express their views and have them seriously considered on such questions as the present Palestine question.” There was a feeling among the Jews that the United States was not doing what it should to solicit votes in the U.N. General assembly in favor of the Palestine partition. (To this Forrestal objected that it was “precisely what the State Department wanted to avoid; that we had gone a very long way indeed in supporting partition and that proselytizing for votes and support would add to the already serious alienation of Arabian good will.”) …
[The two men discuss a possible Gallup poll to see if Americans would support use of force to preserve Partition.]
I hoped that Senator McGrath would give a lot of thought to this matter because it involved not merely the Arabs of the Middle East, but also might involve the whole Moslem world with its four hundred millions of people—Egypt, North Africa, India and Afghanistan.
1 December 1947
…Lovett reported on the result of the United Nations action on Palestine over the week end [vote in favor of Partition]. He said he had never in his life been subject to as much pressure as he had been in the three days beginning Thrusday morning and ending Sunday night. [Herbert Bayard] Swope, Robert Nathan, were among those who had importuned him… The Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, which has a concession in Liberia, reported that it had been telephoned to and asked to transmit a message to their representative in Liberia directing him to bring pressure on the Liberian government to vote in favor of partition. The zeal and activity of the Jews had almost resulted in defeating the objectives they were after.
I remarked that many thoughtful people of the Jewish faith had deep misgivings about the wisdom of the Zionists’ pressures for a Jewish state in Palestine, and I also remarked that the New York Times editorial of Sunday morning pointed up those misgivings when it said, “Many of us have long had doubts… concerning the wisdom of erecting a political state on a basis of religious faith.” I said I thought the decision was fraught with great danger for the security of this country….
3 December 1947
Lunch today with [former Secretary of State] Jimmy Byrnes. We talked Palestine… He said that David Niles [adviser to Truman, pro-Zionist] and Sam Rosenman were chiefly responsible for the President’s decision [partition]; that both had told the President that Dewey was about to come out with a statement favoring the Zionist position on Palestine, and that they had insisted that unless the President anticipated this movement New York State would be lost to the Democrats. ….
I said I thought it was a most disastrous and regrettable fact that the foreign policy of this country was determined by the contributions a particular bloc of special interests might make to the party funds…
13 December 1947
At the Gridiron Dinner tonight I spoke to Governor Dewey about Palestine and posed to him the question of getting nonpartisan action on this question, which I said was a matter of the deepest concern to me in terms of the security of the nation. The Governor said he agreed in principle but that it was a difficult matter to get results on because of the intemperate attitude of the Jewish people who had taken Palestine as the emotional symbol, because the Democratic Party would not be willing to relinquish the advantages of the Jewish vote….
(…[T]o his [Dewey’s] inquiry as to what we could do now, I said there would inevitably be two things coming up: (1) the arming of the Jews to fight the Arabs (2) unilateral action by the U.S. to enforce the decision of the General Assembly.
At this point Vandenberg interjected to say that on the question of unilateral action he was completely and unequivocably [sic] against such action because it would breed in his opinion a wave of violent anti-Semitism in this country.)
16 January 1948
[Millis writes that Forrestal prepares a paper for Lovett; and that Forrestal] had discussed the question, the paper concluded, “with a number of people of the Jewish faith who hold the view that the present zeal of the Zionists can have the most dangerous consequences, not merely in their divisive effects in American life, but in the long run on the position of the Jews throughout the world.”
[Lovett produced a paper from the State Department, Millis continues] This, as Forrestal paraphrased it, concluded that the U.N. partition plan was “not workable,” adding that the United States was under no commitment to support the plan if it could not be made to work without resort to force; that it was against the American interest to supply arms to the Jews while we were embargoing arms to the Arabs, or to accept unilateral responsibility for carrying out the U.N. decision…
Forrestal [again per Millis] felt that the State Department was “seriously embarrassed and handicapped by the activities of Niles at the White House in going directly to the President on matters involving Palestine.
“… I gave it as my view that the Secretary of State could not avoid grasping the nettle of this issue firmly, and that it was too deeply charged with grave danger to this country to allow it to remain in the realm of domestic politics.”
12 February 1948 Meeting-National Security Council
[A]ny serious attempt to implement the General Assembly’s recommendation on Palestine would set in train events that must finally result in at least a partial mobilization of U.S. forces, including recourse to the Selective Service.
3 February 1948
[Discusses idea of depoliticizing it with late president’s son, Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr, a storng supporter of Jewish state]
I thought the methods that had been used by people outside of the Executive branch of the government to bring coercion and duress on other nations in the General Assembly bordered closely onto scandal. … I said I was forced to repeat to him what I had said to Senator McGrath in response to the latter’s observation that our failure to go along with the Zionists might lose the states of New York, Pennsylvania and California—that I thought it was about time that somebody should pay some consideration to whether we might not lose the United States. …
Had lunch with B[ernard]. M. Baruch. …
He took the line of advising me not to be active in this particular matter and that I was already identified, to a degree that was not in my own interests, with opposition to the United Nations policy on Palestine. He said he himself did not approve of the Zionists’ actions, but in the next breath said that the Democratic Party could only lose by trying to get our government’s policy reversed….
It was also on the 11th that there came… an urgent request from the State Department for a detail of enlisted men from the Mediterranean Fleet to assist Count Bernadotte, the United Nations mediator…
21 October 1948 National Security Council meeting
[according to an assistant’s note.] “Mr. Forrestal said that actually our Palestine policy had been made for ‘squalid political purposes.’… He hoped that some day he would be able to make his position on this clear.”
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 07:56 AM PDT
Speaking about the new Emergency Committee for Israel that is pushing war with Iran and is getting a ton of attention on CNN and MSNBC (Bill Kristol’s behind it), I missed this from Eli Clifton at Lobelog last week, a shrewd catch that historians will some day write books about.
Clifton adds, “That’s often how neo-cons work,” and calls these groups LHOs, or Letter Head Organizations.
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 07:45 AM PDT
On October 15, 2008, just three weeks before the US presidential election, George Bush signed into law the Naval Vessel Transfer Act which had been sponsored by one of Israel’s most loyal supporters in the US Congress, Rep. Howard Berman.
The new law, which from its title might have been assumed to relate primarily to the sale of ships from the US Navy to foreign governments, actually had a much more important purpose: to place every American president under a legal obligation to ensure that Israel maintains its military dominance over the Middle East.
What had previously been a matter of foreign policy, suddenly became law — law written to meet the interests of a foreign government.
Israel’s regional hegemony is legally enshrined in the concept of Israel’s “Qualitative Military Edge” (QME). The US Government must now guarantee that “the sale or export of the defense articles or defense services will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.”
The law states:
Andrew J Shapiro is the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. One of his primary responsibilities is to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge. Does he serve the US government or the Israeli government? It’s far from clear.
Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin challenged Shapiro during Q&A:
Benjamin drew a round of applause — Shapiro declined to respond directly to her challenge.
In other words, the US policy advocated that Israel should be able to counter a quantitative disadvantage with a qualitative advantage. It said nothing about supporting Israel’s use of that advantage at minimal cost. The expression after all was qualitative military edge — not supremacy.
The Israeli phrasing went straight into US law which says that Israel must maintain the ability to use military force “while sustaining minimal damages and casualties.”
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 07:18 AM PDT
On NBC Nightly News last night, Andrea Mitchell interviewed Hillary Clinton and (at minute 16 or so) vaguely described Chelsea’s imminent marriage as a “very interesting experience” for the Clintons, because Hillary is a “Methodist” and Chelsea is marrying “in an interfaith context.” Note that Mitchell (who is Jewish, married to a Jew) has no trouble spitting out Methodist, but cannot inform her viewers that the lucky man, Marc Mezvinsky, is Jewish.
Mitchell asked what this means to Hillary. And hat’s off to Hillary Clinton, she hit the question out of the park. Beautiful statement about American freedom.
The other night a friend said that I urge Jews to marry non-Jews. I guess I feel the same way Hillary does, that intermarriage is a good thing, and a reflection of real integration and freedom in the U.S., and why should anyone limit their potential partner pool to a tiny percentage of the population? But people choose their partners for a lot of reasons, cultural factors are significant; and I think people who want to marry along ethnic/religious lines should do so. Heck, marriage is hard enough, without more social prescriptions of any variety, including mine. Though some of the barriers Hillary describes are erected by Jews. Elliott Abrams wrote in his book Faith or Fear that Jews who marry non-Jews should be shunned. Even powerful Jews have valorized such social coercion. Shame.
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 06:59 AM PDT
The New York Times, blazing beacon of Palestinian women’s rights, broke an important story yesterday front and center on its website: Hamas bans Nargila (“water pipes”) in public, specifically targeting woman.
As Glatzer would say, once again the NYT is “spinning one for the ladies in the house tonight.” This time the groove is:
Islamic governments are oppressing women in Gaza and around the Arab world (whereas Israel is the land of women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)
Meanwhile, Israel continues to devour and ethnically cleanse the Jordan Valley, and the NYT can’t see that as news fit to print. Must be too hard to spin:
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 06:46 AM PDT
Max Blumenthal has a savage post (with many great photos by Kali Harper, including this one) about a visit to the “Hill of Shame” outside Sderot where Israelis sat to watch the Gaza assault. He just visited the spot, and this is what he saw. Please go to his site and look at the pictures of these atrocity-tourists…
Blumenthal’s entire post includes a glimpse of Peter Beinart lamenting the troubles of liberal Zionism, and the struggle of the two-state solution, and Blumenthal’s comment about how irrelevant this inter-ethnic ordeal is becoming to Palestinians in the audience.
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 06:35 AM PDT
Brian Watson’s book Freedom Summer was reviewed by Dwight Garner in yesterday’s Times. A lot of Mississippi echoes, to Emily Henochowicz and Tristan Anderson and Rachel Corrie and the fact (apropos of voter registration and the 64 convention) that Palestinians are not included in Israeli governing coalitions. Oh, and Barney Frank was among the young idealists. Empowered hypocrisy that reveals the cultural/political knot we must undo. Excerpts:
Posted: 18 Jul 2010 05:53 PM PDT
As we noted, Ass’t Sec’y of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro appeared at Saban Center on Friday (on C-Span). And if you go to minute 46, not long after Shapiro is going on about a nuclear Iran, you will see Syrian Ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, confront Shapiro on two important issues: U.S. hypocrisy about Israel’s nuclear weapons, and the use by Israel of American weapons to kill civilians in Palestine.
“I’m always puzzled,” Moustapha says. Why is it, whenever an American official talks about the Israeli military advantage, “they will always, always, never, never discuss the Israeli nuclear arsenal, which actually exists, and we don’t know why? Everyone in the world knows [Israel has a huge nuclear arsenal]…”
Shapiro, nervous laughter: “I’m not going to be the first US official to discuss you know, uh, Israeli um, um, nuclear–”
Moustapha: “Nuclear capacity”
Shapiro: “That’s your words.
But on the second point, I would say that when we sell weapons to any country, we require end-use assurances that they will be used properly, and we take seriously any suggestion that they haven’t been used properly, and we investigate and take action. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Yes, and what about the Goldstone report?
Right after Moustapha, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink rises and challenges Shapiro to go to Gaza.
“It pains me to hear you sound more like an agent of the Israeli government than a U.S. representative, because as you travel around the world, you see that his quote special relationship really endangers us, makes us more hated around the world, so I wonder if you would be willing to step in other shoes… You don’t have to like [Hamas] to talk to them… ” Shouldn’t you go see what life is like for Palestinians? And in these times of economic crisis and impoverished nations, she says, can’t you think of a better use of the $3 billion we give to wealthy Israel?
Shapiro: “I will say just a quick response, the US…. has been committed to a peace process between Israelis and Palestinians that will lead to a two-state solution.”
Benjamin: “Will you go to Gaza was the question.”
Martin Indyk: “Thanks you had your question.”
Benjamin: “He didn’t answer.”
Paul Woodward reports:
I’ve done a post on this Shapiro speech (it goes up tomorrow morning). And I noticed that the Brookings “full audio” removed the bit where Medea Benjamin asks “Will you go to Gaza was the question” and moves straight to the next questioner. The Brookings audio can be downloaded here:
It’s 1.2.33 (C-Span 1.3.46).
Brookings also removed the applause after Benjamin spoke.
Posted: 18 Jul 2010 05:06 PM PDT
And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, “ICAHD Denounces Israeli Demolitions (and American Enabling)”
Guirab – Palestinian bagpipe band from Burj al-Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon
Thursday: 14 Iraqis Killed, 22 Wounded
As US hands over last prison in Iraq, a glimpse at how detainees lived
Posted: 18 Jul 2010 05:00 PM PDT
What is Israel? Haaretz has two outcry pieces you will not read in the U.S. press, by liberal Israelis who say that rightwing intolerance is consuming their society. I imagine that both men would rather live in a democracy, from river to sea, than in the society they see Israel becoming.
Here is Zvi Bar’el saying that the right wing have now defined anyone who wants to give up the Golan Heights as “the enemy within” in legislation that would make it almost impossible to cut a deal with Syria– no return of territory without a majority approving it in the Knesset:
And here is Gideon Levy warning about the same intolerant trends and speaking of “regimes” doomed by such conduct. Maybe he is telling Israelis that the society can go on even if the construct (Jewish state) doesn’t?