60 years ago, first Defense Sec’y said ‘Zionist pressure’ endangered US security, all the way to Afghanistan

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….
August 1948…
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.”

Neocon front orgs

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.

In an interview with Deborah Solomon published by the New York Times Sunday Magazine last week, the chairman of [the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq] CLI’s advisory board, former Secretary of State George Shultz, had this to say about his role and involvement:
Shultz: There was a group — there was a committee that didn’t really exist, was a name, and it supported the war.
Solomon: What do you mean it didn’t exist?
Shultz: It didn’t exist in the sense that it never met, and I don’t even know who the members of it were.

Clifton adds, “That’s often how neo-cons work,” and calls these groups LHOs, or Letter Head Organizations. 

Qualitative Military Edge — another name for US-backed Israeli brutality

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:

[T]he term ‘qualitative military edge’ means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors. [Emphasis mine.]

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.
This is how he presented the United States’ obligation to serve Israel’s interests in a speech he delivered at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Friday:

For decades, the cornerstone of our security commitment to Israel has been an assurance that the United States would help Israel uphold its qualitative military edge — a commitment that was written into law in 2008. Israel’s QME is its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties. The Obama Administration has demonstrated its commitment to Israel’s QME by not only sustaining and building upon practices established by prior administrations, but also undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before.
Each and every security assistance request from the Israeli Government is evaluated in light of our policy to uphold Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge. At the same time, QME considerations extend to our decisions on defense cooperation with all other governments in the region. This means that as a matter of policy, we will not proceed with any release of military equipment or services that may pose a risk to allies or contribute to regional insecurity in the Middle East.
The primary tool that the United States uses to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge is security assistance. For some three decades, Israel has been the leading beneficiary of U.S. security assistance through the Foreign Military Financing program, or FMF. Currently, Israel receives almost $3 billion per year in U.S. funding for training and equipment under FMF. The total FMF account is $5 billion annually and is distributed among some 70 countries. So it is a testament to our special security relationship that each year Israel accounts for just over 50 percent of U.S. security assistance funding distributed through FMF.
The Obama Administration is proud to carry on the legacy of robust U.S. security assistance for Israel. Indeed, we are carrying this legacy to new heights at a time when Israel needs our support to address the multifaceted threats it faces.
For Fiscal Year 2010, the Administration requested $2.775 billion in security assistance funding specifically for Israel, the largest such request in U.S. history. Congress fully funded our request for FY 2010, and we have requested even more — $3.0 billion — for FY 2011. These requests fulfill the Administration’s commitment to implementing the 2007 memorandum of understanding with Israel to provide $30 billion in security assistance over 10 years.
This commitment directly supports Israel’s security, as it allows Israel to purchase the sophisticated defense equipment it needs to protect itself, deter aggressors, and maintain its qualitative military edge. Today, I can assure you that — even in challenging budgetary times — this Administration will continue to honor this 10-year, $30 billion commitment in future fiscal years. [Emphasis mine.]

Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin challenged Shapiro during Q&A:

[I]t 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 this “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 and go to Gaza, see the results of the Israeli invasion there, see the destruction, talk to people in Gaza, talk to the elected government, which is Hamas. You don’t have to like them to talk to them. I also wonder if you’ve spent any time with people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to see what it feels like for Palestinians, the daily humiliations they suffer.
And I also wonder, given the financial crisis here at home and the great needs of impoverished nations around the world, couldn’t you think of a better use of $3 billion than giving it to a wealthy country like Israel that is abusing the human rights of Palestinians on a daily basis?

Benjamin drew a round of applause — Shapiro declined to respond directly to her challenge.
As Shapiro noted, the concept of Israel’s QME has been in use for decades, but it was only when the Bush administration let Israel draft American law, that QME turned into a license to use force with impunity.
In January 2008, William Wunderle, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and Andre Briere, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, wrote in a paper for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

The US commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) is a long-standing tradition that every president since Lyndon Johnson has maintained and reiterated. The basic principle behind this commitment is simple: Israel is a bastion of liberal representative government in the Middle East, and, as such, its continued survival is a vital national interest of the United States. To ensure this longtime ally’s continued existence in a sea of nations that reflexively call for its destruction, Israel must be able to defend itself militarily and deter potential aggression. In this effort, Israel will always be militarily outnumbered with regard to the artillery, tanks, and combat aircraft that can be deployed by a coalition of Arab states. Israel’s continued survival can be ensured only if it is able to maintain qualitative military superiority, relying on superior weaponry, tactics, training, leadership, and other factors of military effectiveness to deter or defeat its numerically superior adversaries in the Middle East.

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.
These analysts noted however that:

Israel defines QME as “the ability to sustain credible military advantage that provides deterrence and, if need be, the ability to rapidly achieve superiority on the battlefield against any foreseeable combination of forces with minimal damage and casualties.”

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.”
Let’s put that in context. The law was signed just two years after Israel had visibly lost its qualitative military edge in Lebanon in 2006 when it faced Hezbollah, and less than three months before it used the assault on Gaza to once again demonstrate its ability to wreak massive destruction while sustaining minimal damages and casualties.
The war on Gaza, which President-elect Obama watched in silence, showed not merely the brutality that Israel is willing to use under America’s political protection, but the extent to which Israel’s military agenda is empowered through its ability to control the United States Government.
The war on Gaza was QME in action.
This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

Hillary Clinton says we need more intermarriage

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. 

I think it says a lot about not only the two young people involved and their strong love but also their deep faith, both of them. But it says a lot about the United States, it says a lot about this wonderful experiment known as America, where we recognize the right that every single person has to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And over the years so many of the barriers that prevented people from getting married, crossing lines of faith, or color or ethnicity, have just disappeared. Because what’s important is, Are you making a responsible decision, have you thought it through, do you understand the consequences? And I think that in the world we’re living in today, we need more of that…

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.

Nargila ban distracts attention from ethnic cleansing

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:

While the Sheikh Jarrah expulsions are attracting interest in Israel and elsewhere, hardly anyone notices or protests what’s going on in the Jordan Valley.
There, far from view, Israel has been trying for several years to methodically remove Palestinian inhabitants from wide swaths of land. And in a week when the prime minister was making more promises about a “package of gestures” to the Palestinians, in order to curry favor in Washington, the Civil Administration bulldozers brutally destroyed several more encampments, leaving dozens of residents helpless and destitute under the open sky.

For ‘Birthright’ tourists, hill above Gaza is fun like the Grand Canyon

Posted: 19 Jul 2010 06:46 AM PDT

hillofshame1Max 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…

While [guide Eric] Yellin described conditions inside Gaza and discussed the rocketing of nearby communities, a bus filled with students from Argentina on a Birthright Israel-style tour pulled up to the hill.
The students rushed out of the bus and began taking photos in front of the Gaza landscape as though they were at the Grand Canyon. I asked a group of them what they thought of the people living inside the Gaza Strip. A girl looked at me, then at our group, then remarked about us in Spanish to her friends, “They’re Palestinians. Let’s get out of here.” Strangely, there were no Palestinians in our group; it consisted mostly of white people from the United States.
All of the sudden, a group of soldiers from the Givati Brigade motored up the hill to meet the Argentinian students. As soon as the soldiers emerged from their jeeps, they were surrounded by giggling girls eager to climb all over them and their jeeps. The guys, who were wearing the IDF t-shirts and hats sold in Jerusalem tourist shops, lined up for photos with the troops, who enthusiastically obliged…
Besides learning fanciful and discredited notions about the usefulness of fortress Israel in a dark, Jew-hating world, Birthright tourists are taught to worship the power of the IDF and are taught that the army is in fact defending “the Jewish people.” Meanwhile they learn nothing about the culture of Palestinians and are expressly forbidden from meeting them. Instead of meeting Israeli peace activists like Eric Yellin, they receive a lecture from an Orientalist huckster (check out one of Birthright’s favorite speakers here) about Palestinian “incitement” and the threat of radical Islam. In their free time, Birthright tourists are urged to enjoy a Goldstar-sodden, Porky’s-style bachannal in the hope that they will someday contribute to a spike in the Jewish birthrate. Sleeping with a soldier, whether male or female, is especially encouraged.

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.

Demonizing Mississippi

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:

“Freedom Summer” is about the more than 700 college students who, in the summer of 1964, under the supervision of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, risked their lives to travel to Mississippi to register black voters and open schools. It was a summer, Mr. Watson writes, that “brought out the best in America” but “the worst in Mississippi.”
…“Freedom Summer” opens with these students, many if not most from places like Yale and Oberlin and Harvard and Berkeley, arriving in Ohio in June 1964 to study with coordinating-committee members before heading south. What they learned made some flee. They were taught how to take a beating. A security handbook read, “No one should go anywhere alone, but certainly not in an automobile and certainly not at night.”
Organizers cherry-picked the students they wanted. Any student with a “John Brown complex” was out. So was anyone who expressed an interest in interracial sex. Those who made the cut, the author writes, made up “a group portrait of American idealism.”
The summer of 1964 in Mississippi was in some ways a failure for the volunteers. They didn’t register as many voters as they had hoped. Their plans to unseat Mississippi’s all-white delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City came to naught. But their actions had permanent resonance, bringing the nation’s full attention to Mississippi’s second-class citizens. “If it hadn’t been for the veterans of Freedom Summer,” Representative John Lewis of Georgia says in this book, “there would be no Barack Obama.” ..
…To be with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee members during the civil rights era — “walking a picket line in the rain in Hattiesburg, Miss. … to see them jabbed by electric prod poles and flung into paddy wagons in Selma, Ala., or link arms and sing at the close of a church meeting in the Delta” — was, Mr. [Howard] Zinn wrote, “to feel the presence of greatness.”

Obama aide dodges Syrian ambassador on Israeli nukes and Medea Benjamin on ’special relationship’

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.

Today in Palestine: bulldozed homes, and loyalty oaths

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)”
Although the pressure to demolish is constant — the Israeli authorities have demolished 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and new orders are issued daily — the current wave of demolitions can only be explained on the background of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington a few weeks ago.

Israeli forces demolish 2 homes near Hebron
Hebron – Ma’an – The owner of one of two homes demolished southwest of Hebron said he produced paperwork to prove his home was constructed with a permit, but that bulldozers razed his home anyway.  Speaking on behalf of the home owner, head of the Abu Al A’rqan-village council Mohammad Ash-Shawamreh said Israeli troops entered the village with orders to demolish the homes of Fathi Mahmoud Ash-Shawamreh and Mustafa Ibrahim Ash-Shawamreh. Fathi is currently being held in an Israeli prison.

“They want us to be loyal to the occupation”: Muhammad Totah interviewed, Max Blumenthal

Muhammad Totah is one of three Palestinian legislators staging a sit-in to protest Israel’s decision to expel them from Jerusalem. In an interview with The Electronic Intifada contributor Max Blumenthal, he details the Israeli government’s plan for mass deportations of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Palestinians unite on housing rights
The al-Rajabi family of the Beit Hanina neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem were made homeless on Tuesday, 13 July, after Israeli demolition vehicles razed their home to the ground. Five other homes and structures were destroyed earlier in the day in the Issawiya and Jabal al-Mukabber neighborhoods, also in East Jerusalem.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Anti-wall protests continue; 2 injured in Bil’in
Ramallah – Ma’an – Two residents of the West Bank village of Bil’in were injured on Friday, during a protest against Israel’s separation wall, which cuts off agricultural lands from farmers, despite a High Court ruling mandating the wall’s removal.  Israeli forces stationed on the western side of the wall responded to attempts by the villagers to access the lands using tear-gas canisters shot from high-velocity launchers.

Libya’s Gaza aid ship unloading in Egypt (AFP)
AFP – A Libyan ship that failed to break Israel’s Gaza blockade was being unloaded in the Egyptian port of El-Arish on Friday, a day after docking there, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.*

Israeli activists ‘bring the blindfolded’ to the Jerusalem Film Fest, Adam Horowitz

Activists from Just Jerusalem (the main Israeli organization working on the Sheikh Jarrah protests) greeted moviegoers attending the opening of the Jerusalem Film Festival with a scene they’ll not soon forget. Members of the group acted as “detainees” and “guards” to, in their words, “convey the essence of the occupation to the escapist public.” The action was called “Bringing the Blindfolded to Jerusalem Film Festival” and the activists explain, “[The street theater was] simulating what thousands of Palestinians suffer. Our objective was to force Israelis to recognize the reality that is done on our behalf.”

TIAA-CREF: Divest from the occupation: To sign the TIAA-CREF petiton go to:

Violence/Aggression… past and present
Israeli troops invade village near Jenin, break into homes and vandalise property
An Israeli military force consists of at least 20 armored vehicles invaded the village of Barta’a near Jenin in the northern West Bank and break into residents homes in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mother of five killed by Israeli artillery fire close to Gaza buffer zone
Three relatives also wounded in shelling on Gaza border, as family say no rockets were heard being fired before attack. A mother of five was killed by Israeli artillery fire when she went to fetch her two-year-old son from outside her village home close to the “buffer zone” created by Israel along its border with Gaza.  Three of her relatives were wounded in the shelling earlier this week, but Red Crescent ambulances were not permitted to reach the family for several hours.

12 July ’10: Military Police to investigate killing of Bil’in demonstrator from firing of tear-gas canister 15 months ago
Three videos prove the canister was fired directly at Bassem Abu-Rahmeh, but the army ordered the investigation only after threat of High Court petition.  The Judge Advocate General (JAG), Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, ordered the Military Police Investigation Unit to investigate the circumstances of the killing of Bassem Abu-Rahmeh, from the West Bank village of Bil’in , who was killed when a high-velocity tear-gas canister struck him during an anti-barrier demonstration in the village on 17 April 2009. Until today, the JAG’s Office refused to order a criminal investigation into the incident. The JAG announced the change in his position in a letter to the Abu-Rahmeh family’s attorney, Michael Sfard, who had threatened to petition the High Court of Justice, and after receiving the findings of forensic special imaging experts, proving that the canisters were fired directly at the protester in violation of the open-fire regulations.

‘Tape proves Shin Bet tried to coerce me to commit murder’
In newly released recordings, alleged Shin Bet agent can be heard urging Chaim Pearlman to assassinate Sheik Ra’ad Salah.

Victim’s son: I hope Pearlman’s daughter doesn’t get to know him
Son of Kheiri Alkam, first victim of suspected ‘Jewish terrorist’ Haim Pearlman, tells Ynet of emotions after learning of killer’s arrest, 12 years after father’s murder: It was like he was murdered all over again.,7340,L-3920643,00.html

Friend of alleged Jewish terrorist: Shin Bet is panicking
Israeli forces search Pearlman’s parents home; Pearlman: Shin Bet encouraged me to commit violent acts.

CPT: Israeli Police Invade Palestinian Home, Arrest Father in Hebron’s Old City
On July 13, 2pm about 20 Israeli police and soldiers invaded the Awewi family home in Hebron’s Old City. They forced the mother and the eight children into the kitchen and arrested the father, who is a Palestinian Authority (PA) police officer. The mother attempted to force the door of the kitchen open to give her husband his shoes and trousers, but a soldier pushed her against the counter in spite of her obvious pregnant status. She threw the shoes down the stairwell, hoping her husband could retrieve them.

IOA reduces food to Palestinian captives in Negev prison
The Israeli occupation authorities (IOA) has decided Thursday to reduce the amount of food it gives to the Palestinian captives in the Negev desert prison.

Hamas: PA forces arrest 5 West Bank affiliates
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Officials from within the Hamas movement released a statement on Friday, accusing Palestinian Authority police and security officer of detaining five party affiliates from areas in the northern West Bank.  The detentions were said to have occurred between Thursday and Friday morning, and were reportedly carried out based on political motives to repress the Hamas movement, the statement said.

6 illegal Palestinians workers arrested at old age home 
Six Palestinians illegally working in Israel were caught in Petah Tikva on Friday.  All of the workers were working at a senior citizens’ home with false identity papers.  The owners of the old age home are being investigated by police for illegally employing Palestinian workers.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights
Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory 07 – 14 July 2010

Position paper: Suppression of demonstrations
The Separation Barrier causes severe violations of human rights, and gave rise to popular Palestinian resistance. In a new position paper, B’Tselem examines the army’s increased efforts to quell these demonstrations, in light of the right to demonstrate.

Waiting in line becomes full-time job in the West Bank – Feature
Bethlehem, West Bank – “We wait here like animals,” Khalid Arouri complains, tossing his cigarette stub against the imposing, eight-metre-tall border wall.It is 5 am and the sun is just rising over Bethlehem. Already, the Palestinian man’s neck veins are bulging with anger.The 43-year-old migrant worker from the West Bank is in a hurry. His job in Jerusalem starts in less than three hours and he can not be late. Yet, the line of people in front of him is not budging.At Checkpoint 300 between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, this is part of everyday life. The border crossing is part of the fence erected by Israel in 2003 in response to a wave of suicide bombing attacks.,west-bank-feature.html

Human Rights Committee considers report of Israel
The Human Rights Committee has concluded its consideration of the third periodic report of Israel on the measures undertaken by that country to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Aharon Leshno Yaar, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in opening remarks, said that Israel was proud of its long-lasting recognition of the inherent dignity, and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, which, as proclaimed by the Charter of the United Nations, and reemphasized within the Covenant itself, was the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Even in the face of serious threats to its national security, Israel had maintained its commitment to sustain its policy of opening itself to international scrutiny by United Nations’ human rights treaty bodies, other mechanisms and civil society, so as to continuously enhance and improve its compliance with its international commitments and obligations. But some understanding of Israel’s pressing security, political and social situation was clearly necessary to recognize the context in which it had made advancements, as well as to identify those challenges that still lay ahead.

Global Open Day: Women in the Gaza Strip Highlight the Impact of the Humanitarian Crisis
Gaza — The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, received a group of 20 women leaders and peace activists in Gaza on 12 July, for a consultation on their concerns regarding peace and security in the Gaza Strip. The meeting was the last in a series of Global Open Days for Women and Peace, held around the world in the context of the 10th anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325.

Gaza tunnels going out of business
Tunnels used to smuggle in goods to Gazans are closing down after Israel eased its blockade.

‘No comment’ on arbitrary treatment

Qalqiliya – Ma’an – A father of five from Azzun Atma village in the northern West Bank was told by Israeli soldiers manning the single civilian crossing into the area that on Tuesday, 50kgs of flour was too much and he could not bring it home.  Hassen Mahmoud Qadus was also told to leave two kilograms of meat, purchased for his family, at the checkpoint to rot. The quantity of meat, a soldier told him, was above what was permitted for personal consumption.

Palestinians Suffer as Courts’ Authority Hits All-time Low, Jonathan Cook – Nazareth
The Israeli government is facing legal action for contempt over its refusal to implement a Supreme Court ruling that it end a policy of awarding preferential budgets to Jewish communities, including settlements, rather than much poorer Palestinian Arab towns and villages inside Israel.   The contempt case on behalf of Israel’s Palestinian minority comes in the wake of growing criticism of the government for ignoring court decisions it does not like — a trend that has been noted by the Supreme Court justices themselves.

Driver: ‘No black Ethiopians on my bus’
An Egged bus driver is being sued for NIS 200,000 after allegedly slandering, insulting, and verbally and physically assaulting an Ethiopian passenger, according to a statement released by Tebeka, an advocacy organization for Ethiopian Israelis. The Ethiopian college student waited at a bus stop in Rishon Leziyyon, and tried to board the bus, but the driver closed the door in her face, refusing to let her on. She managed to get on the bus anyway, and the driver yelled at her, saying “I don’t let black Ethiopians on my bus,” and “these blacks – who let you into Israel?

Palestinians may soon have to swear loyalty to ‘Jewish’ state
The cabinet is expected to approve measures on Sunday that would make it harder for Palestinians to acquire permanent residency or citizenship in Israel.

Tibi: Racist law will face no obstacle
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian MK Ahmad Tibi confirmed reports that the Israeli cabinet is set to pass a law requiring Arab residents to swear allegiance to a Jewish State.  The law would be one of a series of measures poised to be voted into law on Sunday by the Israeli cabinet, all of which would make it more difficult for Palestinians to be granted permanent residency or citizenship in Israel.

Israeli Delusions, See Article Below: MESS Report / New cars, a sign of West Bank good life
The multitude of car dealerships springing up in cities like Nablus and Jenin reflect the economic growth that is taking place in the West Bank.

West Bank poverty ‘worse than Gaza’
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith reports on how the poor pay a heavy price  in the West Bank.  Children living in the poorest parts of the West Bank face significantly worse conditions than their counterparts in Gaza, a study conducted by an international youth charity has found.  The report by Save the Children UK, due to be released on Wednesday, says that families forced from their homes in the West Bank are suffering the effects of grinding poverty, often lacking food, medicine and humanitarian assistance.

Political/Other Developments
We will continue to shield Israel, militarily and diplomatically, U.S. official says
Speaking during a reception for outgoing Israeli UN envoy Shalev, U.S. envoy Susan Rice says that Washington remains fully and firmly committed to Israel’s security.

Despite diplomatic tensions, U.S.-Israeli security ties strengthen
This week, Israel successfully conducted a test of a new mobile missile-defense system designed to shield Israeli towns from small rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. When the “Iron Dome” system is fully deployed in the next year, about half the cost — $205 million — will be borne by U.S. taxpayers under a plan advanced by the Obama administration and broadly supported in Congress.

Abbas unlikely to agree to direct talks soon, say Ramallah sources
Mitchell in region to meet Palestinian president and PM Netanyahu, in latest bid to see direct peace negotiations resume.

Fatah rejects direct talks with Israel as US envoy visits (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas should not hold direct talks with Israel because indirect negotiations had yielded nothing, his Fatah movement said on Thursday.*

Dahlan: No direct talks until issues addressed
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinians will not enter direct talks until Israel addresses issues raised in proximity talks, Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan said Thursday.  Speaking to Ma’an Radio, Dahlan affirmed news reports that US President Barack Obama had agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pressure the Palestinian side into direct talks, but said a specific date or agenda had not been set.

Arab League chief voices doubts over peace process
BEIRUT: Arab League chief Amr Moussa voiced doubts Thursday over the progress of indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and talked down the possibility of direct talks between the two sides.  On an official visit to Damascus to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and other top level officials, Moussa said: “I am very pessimistic over the future of this process.”

World parliaments criticize Israel, Cambodia
GENEVA — Representatives of world parliaments on Thursday criticized Israel, Cambodia and 19 other countries for their treatment of lawmakers.  The chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s human rights committee, Rosario Green, urged Israel not to deport Palestinian lawmakers Mohammed Abu Teir, Mohammed Totah and Ahmed Abu Atoun after they were recently released from prison.   The three were ordered expelled from Jerusalem for links to Hamas. But Green, a former Mexican foreign minister, said the expulsion violates the lawmakers’ human rights.

Report: Lieberman wants Gaza as independent entity
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to absolve Israel of responsibility for Gaza, Israeli press reported Friday.  Lieberman reportedly intends the move to achieve the international recognition the 2005 unilateral pullout from Gaza – when Israeli forces removed 21 settlements and thousands of soldiers from the enclave – was envisioned as. Israel’s continued presence on Gaza’s land and sea borders as well as airspace, prevented the international community from recognizing an end to the occupation.

Hamas rebuffs Israel’s plan to isolate Gaza
GAZA, July 16 (Xinhua) — Gaza Strip-ruling Islamic Hamas movement on Friday rebuffed an Israeli plan to isolate the costal enclave and turn it into a complete separated entity.  Sami Abu Zuhri, Gaza-based Hamas spokesman, said in a press statement that “Although the actual occupation of the Gaza Strip territories has ended in 2005, but legally and practically, it is still under the occupation.”

Other News
Int’l lawyers meet to defend Gaza flotilla activists

ISTANBUL, July 16 (Xinhua) — Sixty lawyers from 25 countries met here on Friday to defend 577 activists onboard Mavi Marmara, the flagship of the aid flotilla that tried to break through the Gaza blockade and was violently intercepted by Israeli naval forces, local Dogan News Agency reported.  The lawyers, coming from many Western countries as well as Muslim ones and even Israel, met here to discuss a common strategy to defend the activists from 36 countries, said the report.

Jerusalem Christians support Hamas ministers
Jerusalem – Ma’an – A delegation representing Christian communities in Jerusalem visited a sit-in tent outside Red Cross headquarters on Friday, erected by three Palestinian lawmakers faced with expulsion from the city.  Former Jerusalem affairs’ minister Khaled Abu Arafah and two other Palestinian Legislative Council members, Ahmad Atoun and Muhammad Totah, who were all voted into public office with the Hamas bloc, began the demonstration in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood shortly after the deadline for their deportation orders passed in late June.

Israelis see Obama as pro-Palestinian: poll
JERUSALEM — Forty-six percent of Israelis believe US President Barack Obama is more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israeli, according to an opinion poll published by the English-language Jerusalem Post on Friday.  Only 10 percent of the 515 Jewish Israelis interviewed thought Obama was more pro-Israel, 34 percent said he was neutral and 10 percent did not express an opinion.

Most British Jews want Israel-Hamas talks: survey (AFP)
AFP – A majority of British Jews think Israel should negotiate with the militant Palestinian movement Hamas in a bid for peace, a survey out Thursday said.*

Guirab – Palestinian bagpipe band from Burj al-Shamali refugee camp in Lebanon
photos, videos – listen to the music.
Who’d be a travel agent in Gaza?
Nabil Shurafa breaks off his explanation of the trials of being a travel agent in a territory where the large majority of citizens cannot travel, to take a call from one of his few lucky clients. It is a bank employee booked on a Cairo-Damascus Egyptair flight at 2.30am tomorrow. “You’ll get the bus from Rafah at 11. Be sure to tell the [Egyptian] soldier that you have to be at the airport by 1am at the latest. The flight goes from terminal three.”

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Twilight Zone / Gestures to the Palestinians
While the prime minister is dispensing promises about easing restrictions in the territories, Israel is expelling hundreds of shepherds from the Jordan Valley

‘Emergency Committee for Israel’ is housed in ‘Liberation of Iraq’ offices,  Philip Weiss
Remember all the folks who denied that there was any meaningful Israel agenda in the push for war with Iraq? Well here are Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton at lobelog covering the rollout of the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel, which has been getting so much mainstream media attention:  Some things are just too good to be true.  It seems that the new Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) is based out of the same office as the old Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), suggesting that, Yes, Virginia, the same people who led the march to war in Iraq are behind the new Emergency Committee, which, in its very brief existence to date, has attracted a lot of mostly critical attention in the blogosphere. The link, Clifton shows, is to Randy Scheunemann, the man who schooled Sarah Palin in pro-Israel foreign policy as she was being rolled out two years ago. When will this network be exposed by the mainstream media? Before an attack on Iran, I pray.

Rep Weiner’s pet org awards student prizes for propaganda about Jewish religious right to West Bank, Philip Weiss
Many powerful people kiss up to the extremist group, Zionist Organization of America. Anthony Weiner does, saying he is from the “ZOA wing of the Democratic Party.” So does Mort Zuckerman (same link). The Zionist Organization of America is also a constituent body of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (of which Americans for Peace Now is also a constituent).

Congress finally stands up to Israel – over Jewish conversion?!, Adam Horowitz
They said it couldn’t be done. Members of Congress are circulating an “unprecedented” letter criticizing Israel for legislation under consideration in the Knesset. Which legislation? The bill criminalizing boycotts? The effort to revoke MK Haneen Zoubi’s parliamentary privileges? Nope.

Netanyahu is Mocking America and Leading us Astray, Gideon Levy
No more claims that the Palestinians are to blame for the failure of the Oslo Accords. After years in which we were told that the Palestinians are to blame, the truth has emerged from the horse’s mouth.

Netanyahu tape
The man who is now, for a second time, Israel’s Prime Minister — Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu — went to visit an Israeli settler family in 2001, some two years after his defeat to Ehud Barak [the man who is now Defense Minister, and who is therefore the ruler of the West Bank, making him co-regent, with Netanyahu, of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean].  Last Friday night, for the first time, Israel’s Channel 10 television broadcast a homemade video made of this visit — it shows the man who is now Prime Minister, again, discussing the Oslo Accords, and how he’s arranged everything according to his vision of the way things should be. In the videotaped visit, Netanyahu bragged that he had stopped the Oslo agreement.

Hirst: Lobby’s bigotry and disdain for US interests mean its days are numbered, Philip Weiss
At Pulse, Robin Yassin-Kassab interviews David Hirst, author of Beware of Small States, and asks two really important questions re the lobby. Read the whole piece to see Hirst’s analysis of the next war, starting with Lebanon, and how big it could get. Egad. Though I share some of Hirst’s glass-jaw analysis of the lobby, below.

‘Arab villages get bus routes’, Rahim Kurwa
That was the headline in the Jerusalem Post the other day. It is about the Israeli government approving, for the first time ever, bus routes that actually reach Palestinian towns in Israel. As offensive as this inequality is, it reminds us how little is known about the rampant discrimination against Palestinians in Israel. Many people are probably aware of the most egregious violations, or can at least guess at them (housing, employment, education, health, military, and so on), but it’s understandably difficult to grasp just how thoroughly unequal Israeli society is today.
Report: Israelis got included in planning US attack because they threatened to whack Iran, Philip Weiss
Joe Klein resisted service in the Iraq War media brigade of 2002-03, but he seems to be getting recruited in the Iran war frenzy. Here’s a Time column on an attack on Iran being back on the table. Though Klein insists that Obama is skeptical about such a plan, notice the blackmail in the excerpt below.

Isabel Kershner misleads on Israel’s ‘far-reaching proposal’, Alex Kane
New York Times
reporter Isabel Kershner writes a news analysis of why “peace talks” between Israel and the Palestinians are at a virtual standstill, despite the “upbeat atmosphere” in Washington following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama’s recent meeting.

The Israeli right wing and the one state debate, Adam Horowitz
Fascinating article in this weekend’s Haaretz magazine by Noam Sheizaf on the Israeli right wing’s flirtation with the one-state solution (or at least their version of it). It’s called “Endgame,” and it’s certainly worth reading the whole thing.

A moderate Hamas terrifies Israel
The more pragmatic the resistance movement becomes, the more violently the Zionist state reacts.

Off the Grid in the South Hebron Hills, IRIS KELTZ
Bedouin villages in the South Hebron Hills are poised to skip the industrial age and take a leap from primitive to sustainable. They will never have to worry about reducing their carbon footprint– unlike those of us from affluent societies in the US or Israel. Renewable energy systems– wind turbines and solar panels are being built for the poorest and most marginalized communities in the occupied West Bank. This help is a matter of life-support. Environmental studies reveal their cisterns are toxic and they have been denied access to the electricity grid servicing nearby settlements. The project is a joint initiative of Israelis and Palestinian community workers who believe borders of fear and racism are best overcome by neighbors working together.

Daoud Kuttab: Are We Approaching a Major Conflict for Millions of Arab Youths?
Arab civil society leaders gathered on the shores of the Dead Sea were quite sure about the future of Arab youth. Leaders from Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Palestine (both West Bank and Gaza) and Jordan were invited by Naseej (“weaving” in Arabic), a five-year community development initiative launched in 2005 by Save the Children with funding from the Ford Foundation.  While many worry about the future of Arab youth, Nassej states on its website: “Young people who account for 60 per cent of the region’s population can be engaged as active agents in their own development and that of their communities.”


Thursday: 14 Iraqis Killed, 22 Wounded
At least 14 Iraqis were killed and 22 more were wounded in the latest attacks. A large car bombing in Tikrit could produce more casualties as the day wears on. Meanwhile, the jail at Camp Cropper was handed over to the Iraqis and renamed al-Karkh prison.

40 killed in Iraq hotel fire

A fire at a hotel in central Sulaymaniya killed 40 people Thursday night including four Americans and wounded 23 others including women, children and foreigners, police said. A short circuit was blamed for starting the fire, Razkar Ahmad, an official from Sulaymaniya municipality said.

Police find decomposed body of Baghdad University professor
A decomposed body, infested with worms, of a university professor was found in the Qadissiya neighborhood of Baghdad.  Baghdad University’s professor, Adnan Makki, was stabbed to death at his home, the police said.  “His decomposed body was found on Tuesday,” a police officer, refusing to reveal his name, said.  “The professor was alone at home when attacked,” the officer added.  The police cordoned the area and investigations are ongoing on the causes of the professor’s murder.  The years since the 2003-U.S. invasion of Iraq have seen the killing, abduction and fleeing of thousands of Iraqi professionals and intellectuals.  University professors and scientists have been the main target.\2010-07-15\kurd.htm

Iraq’s Allawi hopes for new govt in August
“The negotiations between the political groups entered their last phase and we wish to close this file as soon as possible,” he said after talks in Beirut with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

U.S. hands over last Iraq jail but keeps 200 inmates (Reuters)
Reuters – The U.S. military handed over its last prison in Iraq on Thursday, ending an ignominious chapter of the 2003 U.S. invasion that saw thousands detained without charge and triggered outrage after disclosures of abuse.*

As US hands over last prison in Iraq, a glimpse at how detainees lived
The US today handed over Camp Cropper, its last detention facility in Iraq. Maj. Gen. Jerry Cannon describes how former regime officials have lived out their days watching BBC Arabic Television and growing vegetables.
Tikritis Rally Behind Jailed Imam
Detention of cleric for pro-Saddam action seen as violation of his freedom of speech.  Anger at the arrest of a well-known imam for scrawling pro-Saddam Hussein graffiti in the former dictator’s home town of Tikrit reflects his lingering popularity among local people.

Iraqi leaders and the selfish gene
Ethnic, religious and personal rivalries have snowballed into the present political crisis in Iraq, where selfish leaders are looking after themselves and their own rather than the interests of society. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s clinging onto power despite losing elections in March is a perfect example of a failure to learn from history. – Sami Moubayed

Lebanese Shepherd Escapes Israeli Kidnapping Attempt
15/07/2010 The Lebanese Army said on Thursday that an Israeli patrol crossed a UN-drawn border into Lebanese territory at the area of Kfar Shuba.   “A patrol of eight enemy soldiers crossed the line of withdrawal at the town of Kfar Shuba in an attempt to abduct a shepherd,” an army spokesman told AFP.
He said the shepherd had managed to escape but the troops had crossed 20 meters (22 yards) past the UN-drawn Blue Line, an informal border established after the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon in 2000, following a 22-year occupation.  A spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) had no immediate comment.

Lebanon arrests third ‘telecom spy’
BEIRUT — Lebanon has arrested a third person in a widening probe into a suspected network of Israeli spies employed in the country’s telecom sector, a source close to the investigation said on Friday.  “The arrest was made late last night and the suspect is a former employee in Lebanon’s telecommunications sector,” the source told AFP.  He could not say whether the suspect was linked to two telecom employees arrested in the past month, who he said were suspected of being accomplices at the company Alfa, one of Lebanon’s two mobile service providers.

Second telecom Israeli ‘spy’ arrested in Lebanon (AFP)
AFP – Lebanon has arrested a suspected accomplice of a telecom technician who is charged with spying for Israel, a source close to the investigation said Thursday.*

Hariri urges secrecy on probes into Israeli spy networks
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Thursday called for refraining from leaking information on ongoing investigations into Israeli spy networks as Hizbullah officials criticized the Cabinet at Parliament for taking its responsibilities on the issue lightly.

France defends controversial security pact with Lebanon (AFP)
AFP – France on Thursday defended a controversial security accord with Lebanon as Shiite militant party Hezbollah demanded a clear definition of the word “terrorism” in the text.*

Lebanon accuses Israeli patrol of crossing border (AFP)
AFP – An Israeli patrol crossed a UN-drawn border into Lebanese territory at the disputed area of Kfar Shuba on Thursday, the Lebanese army said.*

Lebanon postpones talks on Palestinian rights (AFP)
AFP – Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday postponed to next month talks on the controversial issue of granting employment, social security and property rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees.*

100 couples to wed in first Palestinian group ceremony
SIDON: Two hundred Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon prepare to tie the knot on Sunday, during the country’s first Palestinian group wedding. The ceremony will be held in the southern coastal city of Sidon and will be organized by Hamas authorities.

Sayyed Nasrallah Congratulates Nation in Anniversary of Victory

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah renewed on Friday his condolences over the death of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, saying that his death was a great loss for Lebanon and the nation, congratulating the nation at the same time in the anniversary of the Divine Victory achieved four years ago.

‘Suicide bombers’ hit Iran mosque
More than 20 people are feared dead and 100 injured after suspected suicide bombers strike at a mosque in Iran.

I feel that the US wants him dead because he did not cooperate
I mean, if this was really true, would the US really be revealing it? “U.S. Says Scientist Aided C.I.A. While Still in Iran”

Fact or fiction? U.S. paid Iranian nuclear scientist $5 million for aid to CIA, officials say
The Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday was paid more than $5 million by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. officials said.

Amiri ‘rejected bribe offer of USD 50mn’
“They [US security agents] told me they would give me 50 million dollars and provide me and my family with proper living conditions in a European country if I reversed my decision to return to Iran,” Amiri said in the press conference.

Poll: Most Americans back Israeli military action against Iran
56 percent of Americans support an Israeli strike to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, according to a poll conducted by a U.S. research firm.

U.S. and other World News
Bush Should Have Been Indicted
In a interview with Ralph Nader, Judge Andrew Napolitano said that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should have been indicted for “torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrant.”

Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart Re-Sentenced to 10-Year Term — Nearly Five Times Her Original Sentence
The civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart’s sentence was increased Thursday after an appeals court ruled that two years and four months of prison time was too light. Stewart was found guilty in 2005 of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh.” We play excerpts of Lynne Stewart’s last broadcast interview before she was jailed in November, and speak to independent journalist Petra Bartosiewicz.

US government lifts lid on alleged leak to WikiLeaks
The Army alleges that he transmitted, “to a person not authorised to receive it”, a classified US Department of State cable described as “Reykjavik 13”. The US also alleges Pfc Manning obtained 150,000 US diplomatic cables without proper authorisation.

Family separated after trip to Egypt

Mohammad Hamad and his wife, Heather, had been planning their family’s monthlong trip to Egypt for a year.  It’s been 11 years since the Sheboygan engineer and imam of a local mosque had seen his brother who lives there, and he looked forward to introducing him to his American-born wife and children.  Today, Heather Gilvary-Hamad and the kids are getting to know their family in Egypt, and Hamad is back in Wisconsin awaiting word on whether he’ll get to join them.  A U.S. citizen, he says he was told by the Egyptian Embassy – only after returning home – that he was denied entry because he was born in Gaza and would need a pre-approved visa with a special security clearance.

Classified Documents Reveal UK’s Role in Abuse of its Own Citizens
The true extent of the Labour government’s involvement in the illegal abduction and torture of its own citizens after the al-Qaida attacks of September 2001 has been spelled out in stark detail with the disclosure during high court proceedings of a mass of highly classified documents.

The torture files: the interrogations

These documents detail for the first time the experiences of a detainee under interrogation. Omar Deghayes records his complaints about his treatment in the Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan in July 2002 and the willingness of MI5 officers to let him be removed to Guantanamo Bay.

Omar Deghayes: ‘He was brought in manacled and hooded’

“He was treated better by the Pakistanis; what kind of world was it where the Americans were more barbaric than the Pakistanis?

Germany’s Anonymous Mosque Watchers
Reinhard Werner doesn’t trust Islam. The 70-year-old German is part of a group which keeps tabs on mosques across Germany, monitoring them for what he calls an “intolerant Islam of terror.” Over the years, he has gained a certain amount of notoriety.,1518,706201,00.html

Laws on teenage marriage ignite debate in Jordan

AMMAN: Wesal Jamil was 16 when her family arranged her marriage to a man in his thirties. A decade later, the mother of seven regrets her lost youth.”My dream was to become a teacher but my marriage deprived me from education and now I have many duties,” Jamil said.”I regret that. Education would have secured me a job to at least help my husband shoulder financial responsibilities,” she added.

Has Syria changed for the better?

It has been 10 years since Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, assumed leadership following his father’s death. He came into power promising many changes of freedom and growth to a country that was largely ruled with an iron fist. Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker reports on Assad’s achievements so far and whether he has delivered on his promises of change. [July 16, 2010]

Syria slammed on human rights
Bashar al-Assad’s reign ‘a wasted decade’ for freedom and civil rights, group says.

Syria Bans the Niqab in Schools
Although no formal announcement was made, local media began reporting the ban in June after women who wore the niqab began coming forward and complaining that they had been fired or reassigned to government offices where they would not come into contact with students.  “Education in Syrian schools follows an objective, secular methodology and this is undermined by wearing the face veil,” Education Minister Ali Saad reportedly said during a teachers’ syndicate meeting last month…..

Gideon Levy warns that Israeli ‘regime’ is likely ‘doomed’

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:

“Until now the Israel Defense Forces defended the Golan and Jerusalem against external threats; today the citizens of Israel can protect Jerusalem and the Golan from internal threats,” [Likud MK Carmel] Shama jovially explained. “This is a holiday for Israel.”

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?

There are many people here who know the history, who understand democracy, who should be terrified by what is going on…
They realize something is happening here that poses a greater threat than all of the external threats, whether real or imagined, that lie in wait for Israel, and they persist in their indifference.
From history they have learned that regimes that begin to act this way are doomed, that Israel is on a slippery slope, mainly because its control mechanisms have all been rendered impotent, and yet they do not protest. …they are convinced that they themselves are in no danger.
The time has come to tell them, the ones who have withdrawn and who care only about their own lives, that it’s coming. Soon, soon, it will happen to you. It won’t stop at the Arab MKs or at the NGOs, not at the universities and not at the demonstrators. It won’t even stop at your doorstep. It will enter your daily life. Police violence? It will come to your children, too. Thought police? It will reach you, too. Your newspaper and your television will look different; the Knesset, your courts and your schools will be unrecognizable. It has happened more than once, and it will happen here, too. If not today, then tomorrow.

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