September 24, 2007

Only Cheney Knows for Sure
Just How Powerful is the Israel Lobby?
By SHERWOOD ROSS

How large a role does the “Israeli Lobby” play in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East?

Some answers may be contained in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, reviewed in the Sept. 23 New York Times, and Rulers and Ruled in The U.S. Empire by James Petras, just published by Clarity Press. Mearsheimer teaches at the University of Chicago and Walt teaches at Harvard.

According to Petras, a sociologist at Binghamton University, New York, the pro-Zionist “power configuration” is not just the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC). The Zionist lobby is so powerful, Petras argues, it “calls the shots” and “supports the escalation of the Iraq war and the savaging of Palestine, Somalia and Afghanistan.”

“It (the Lobby”) has neutralized the biggest and most concerted efforts by big name centrist political figures to alter White House policy,” including James Baker, (former Secretary of State under the first president Bush,) former president Carter and “protesting former military commanders” in Iraq.

Petras charges, “the White House is putting into practice the war strategy presented by the American’ Enterprise Institute, which he dubs a Zioncon thinktank. Led by “arch-Zionist” Michael Ledeen a resident scholar of AEI, “some in the Jewish Lobby dismissed the Baker Iraq Study Group as the realists and anti-Semites.'” The ISG “was unable to deal with Israeli violence against Palestinians or enter into a dialogue with Syria and Iran on any but the most narrow and unpromising terms,” Petras asserted.

Petras goes on to say the Lobby includes investment bank Goldman Sachs, which exerts a “dominant presence” in the Bush government. Among its alumni are Joshua Bolton, White House Chief of Staff; Robert Steel, former GS vice chairman who advises Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on domestic finance; and Assistant Secretary of State Randall Fort, an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Paulson is a former chairman and CEO of GS.

What’s more, Petras writes, high Bush officials from the Lobby have played top Pentagon policymaking roles and have “longstanding and deep ties with the Israeli state.” Elliott Abrams, President Bush’s deputy national security advisor, Petras writes, is a “stern defender of Jewish purity and intimate collaborator with the Israeli high command” and “gave full support in early summer to an Israeli plan to destroy Hezbollah,” a month before last year’s controversial border incident when two Israeli soldiers were captured. David Wurmser, former Mideast adviser to Vice President Cheney is also an “Israeli Firster”, according to Petras.

“An examination of AIPAC’s agenda shows a new war against Iran on behalf of Israel at the top of its list of priorities,” Petras asserts. “For the last three years, the publications, conferences and press releases of the Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations(CPMAJO) had urged their members to go all-out to fund and back candidates (mostly Democrats) who supported Israel’s military solution’ to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.”

CPMAJO consists of 51 national organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, several hundred local and regional Jewish federations, and the United Jewish Communities. Petras would doubtless include the Rabbinical Council of America.

“The Lobby,” Petras says, also includes seven major “think tanks” that “crank out” position papers arguing “Israel is always right” and “the Arabs and Muslims are a threat to peace.” Besides the AEI, these think tanks, Petras identifies as the New Citizenship Project, the Project for the New American Century, the Center for Security Policy, the National Institute for Public Policy, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy, and the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies.

In Congress, Petras cites the pro-Israeli stance of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.) and Senator Charles Schumer, (D-N.Y.), campaign finance directors, and calls House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) “100% Israel supporters.”

Writing of Mearsheimer-Walt book, reviewer Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, says its authors contend “the lobby has made U.S. policy so lopsidedly pro-Israel that if fuels Muslim terrorism against the U.S., fosters the spread of nuclear weapons in Arab states and puts at added risk America’s critical energy supplies from the Persian Gulf.”

Gelb concedes “It’s true” the Lobby “has made America’s longstanding $3 billion annual aid program to Israel untouchable and indiscussible” but notes the U.S. is also giving $2 billion a year to Egypt. He also points out for several decades every occupant of

A Dire Situation Gets Worse Every Day
The Quality of Mercy in Gaza
By SONJA KARKAR

In these days of warmongering, peace and justice are tossed about like hot potatoes with no end to the suffering in sight. But, where is the compassion for the children, women and men who are being subjected to the excesses of power in all its guises?

Right now, some mercy for the Palestinians in Gaza is desperately needed before it is too late.

Shakespeare saw mercy as “an attribute to God himself” and above “the force of temporal power”[1], but it seems that for all the Christian rhetoric today, and particularly amongst our Western leaders, mercy towards other human beings has been well and truly forgotten. Perhaps the Palestinians do not qualify most are Muslim and the rest who are Christian, are still Arabs. To some, that means they are not like us because we have been told as much. An Israeli prime minister referred to them as “beasts walking on two legs”, [2] and although the context has been disputed, the analogy with animals has been used often enough to give credence to the Zionist mindset. It is no wonder there are those who think that is good enough reason to herd them behind concrete walls, check and search them whenever they want to move about inside their prison, and drop bombs on them when they get out of line. Yet still not satisfied with these measures, Israel has resorted now to starving them.

On 19 September 2007, the Israeli government designated Gaza “a hostile entity”[3] and decided to impose “additional sanctions” which will reduce even more drastically the basic necessities of living for the entire population. This unrelenting aggression against every man, woman and child for having elected a government that Israel and the US do not want, is known as collective punishment and is prohibited by international law. But, rather than castigate Israel, the international community, as is its wont, may well decide to sever all ties with Gaza in case it is seen to be aiding this “hostile entity”. If this happens, the Palestinians will find themselves totally isolated and at Israel’s mercy and whim.

Gaza’s population has already been severely punished since Israel completely cut it off from the outside world and forced it into extreme poverty, making it humiliatingly dependent on international aid. Almost no one and nothing is allowed to enter or leave this godforsaken hellhole without approval from Israel. Further restrictions would be unsustainable. Without the basic necessities like electricity, fuel, water, food and medicines, the lives of ordinary people would be held to ransom. It does not take much imagination to know what happens to a population when there is no clean drinking water, inadequate sewage and waste disposal and no refrigeration for food and medicines.

Do we really want to see 1.5 million people scrabbling for food in the garbage dumps, people withering away as diseases begin to spread into an epidemic and the descent into chaos as absolute desperation forces the people to grab at anything for survival? Just in case anyone thinks that this is an exaggeration, the beginnings of that scenario are already in play. Israel is setting up a demonic experiment in human behaviour reduced to the extremes of existence. By demonising the Palestinians over the years and rendering them unfit for human compassion, these now “sub-human” people are to be kept in Dov Weisglass’ formaldehyde with the peace process. [4] Give it any name you want, this is genocide.

The situation in Gaza is so dire now that mercy is just about all they can hope for if they want to survive. Neither justice nor peace have been offered in any measure nor are likely to be if Israel has its way. The Palestinians know only too well the futility of the peace processes and the barriers to justice. The powers that be have already thrown their weight behind Israel enough times for the Palestinians to be sure that their next generation will be suffering even worse humiliations than they have experienced themselves. But for many, the choice of being killed or living as slaves is not a choice at all. No wonder some of them are fighting back, even if their crude attempts at resistance are met with formidable and unmatchable retaliation. Only last November, the Israeli military attacked Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip with a vengeance that left 82 Palestinian civilians dead and 260 injured. [5] This was the culmination of five months of killing by Israeli soldiers which saw the number of dead soar to 382 Palestinians with 1,229 injured. In the same period, Palestinian rocket fire had killed one Israeli and injured 26 others. [6]

It is impossible to make sense of this brutality unless we understand that Israel, since its creation, has been willing the Palestinians to vanish not only those living in Gaza, but also in the West Bank and even inside Israel itself. That what is happening in Gaza is just part of the long and

September 19, 2007

Israel’s Agenda For Ethnic Cleansing and Transfer
By VICTORIA BUCH

The stage for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians has been set in the Occupied Territories, and ethnic cleansing is in progress. At present, this is the major project of the state of Israel. For an impartial person of medium intelligence, a tour of the Occupied Territories may be sufficient to understand this fact.

The prime ethnic cleansing tool is, forever, land grab of Palestinian property in conjunction with expansion of settlements. Various stages of annexation process are in evidence in the originally rural part of the West Bank, constituting 60 per cent of its area. By now, nine per cent of the West Bank land has been transferred to the direct control of the settlements. A recent Peace Now investigation (July 2007) revealed that only twelve per cent of this land is being used at all. “The state earmarks huge tracts for the settlements, out of all proportion to their size, in order to prevent Palestinian construction in those areas. Yet once an area is closed to Palestinians, the settlers begin seizing adjacent Palestinian lands, often privately owned, that lie outside their jurisdiction”.

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, already in 2002, 41.9 per cent of the West Bank was assigned to the Israeli regional councils. And for years, the entire rural Area C has been under administrative control of the so called “Civil Administration”, which, in close cooperation with other branches of the Israeli army and with the settlers, toils to make the life of its Palestinian residents as miserable as possible; the obvious objective being to make them leave. (Comprehensive information can be found, e.g., in the Occupation Magazine, the website of the Israeli anti-occupation activists.)

In the remaining West Bank, Palestinians became virtual prisoners in their own towns and villages. Every aspect of normal Palestinian life – economy, health, education, is being crushed by a well organized and deliberate military-bureaucratic machine, masquerading as a security establishment. Every now and then, the strangulation noose around Palestinian existence is being tightened. Ethnic cleansing, by means of home and field demolitions, is also pursued diligently by the state of Israel towards its Bedouin citizens residing in the Negev desert (see the excellent tutorial movie at the website Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights).
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All of the above scarcely registers in minds of my compatriots. No wonder, since it is covered by a monumental but eagerly believed hoax of “negotiations with Abu-Mazen”, diplomatic efforts, and promises of good will gestures towards Palestinians (which are forever un-implemented, or implemented marginally for short periods). For reasons of their own, some Palestinian politicians including President Abbas chose to participate in this farce.

An average Jewish-Israeli does not know – or does not want to know – about the ethnic cleansing program executed by their state – she or he prefers to think of it as “fight against terror”.

Jewish-Israeli citizens live in virtual reality, thoughtfully provided for them by the leaders, the media, and the education system. In this reality, the Israelis figure as good guys, fighting for their existence, rather than as colonizers and occupiers. In this virtual world, it is believed that our government has worked hard to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians; and if this goal has not been not achieved, it is because of Palestinian intransigence. Impediment of negotiations by settlers is admitted, but settlers are viewed as troublesome extremists, rather than as an offshoot of deliberate and consistent annexationist policy of the Israeli government.

But the key Israeli politicians KNOW – the ethnic cleansing project could not possibly proceed otherwise. I have been wondering if every new minister in Israeli government gets a manual spelling the facts of life, written in the past by somebody like Golda Meir or Arik Sharon. Otherwise, how would you explain the remarkable continuity of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories during the long years of the Occupation? How come the current maps of the Jewish settlements and the Palestinian enclaves match the Drobles and Sharon’s blueprints for colonizing the West Bank, prepared decades years ago? However I rather think that no such manual exists, and every minister is expected to figure it out by himself/herself. Yitzhak Rabin paid with his life for what then appeared to be a sincere effort to break away from the ethnic cleansing program (although Rabin never even tried to remove the settlements; and his was the idea of the infamous “bypass roads” for settlers; in the end, the Oslo years turned out to be a golden opportunity for settlement expansion under the cover of the bogus “peace process”. Barak, promoter of large scale colonization

In praise of the occupation
By Amira Hass
The occupations brought about by the 1967 war accomplished one great thing: They reunited the majority of the Palestinian people within the boundaries of their homeland. For the first time in 19 years it was once again possible for Palestinians to live and experience together, as a group, the expanse between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Up until the start of the 1990s this was a basic experience that was taken for granted, and it played a part in empowering and reconstructing the Palestinian people after the catastrophe and the disintegration that was brought upon it by the establishment of the State of Israel. Only today, as this expanse is being butchered into dozens of separated and distanced enclaves in a process that is causing Palestinian society to crumble, is it possible to understand the importance of space during about a quarter of a century. In 1967 Israel learned from the “mistake” it made in 1948. It took care not to grant citizenship to the inhabitants of the occupied territories, not even the inhabitants of the 70 square kilometers it annexed to Jerusalem. But it made a new “mistake”: It opened one expanse to both Jews and Palestinians. Of course the Jews had the hegemonic privilege to settle in the entire expanse, to take over Palestinian lands and precious water sources to build expansive settlements for themselves. This right is denied not only to the Palestinians in Hebron or to the Jaffa refugees, now living in the Jabalya refugee camp, but also to the inhabitants of Nazareth and Sakhnin, who are Israeli citizens.
But the right to movement within the expanse and the basic rights that derive from it – the right to earn a living, to study and to develop cultural ties – opened up possibilities of development and progress for people, both as individuals and as a national community. The experience of the expanse compensated for the many vacuums that the Israeli policy of discrimination had created.

For about a quarter century of occupation, relatives and natives of the same villages came together again. People from the Galilee and from the Gaza Strip studied together in educational institutions in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, developed cultural and political ties and met in mosques and churches; people who had been separated until then by signs saying “Danger: Border Ahead,” found themselves working at the same hospitals, the same factories, the same markets, the same construction sites and afterward at the companies they established together; couples were formed and children were born, who were familiar with the changing landscapes of their homeland not from songs of longing but rather from visits to relatives.
Indeed, the right to live together in the home expanse was denied not only to the 1948 refugees, but also to the new refugees of 1967: About 240,000 people, inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who were expelled and fled fearing the battles, and another approximately 60,000 who were abroad when the war broke out. The young state, only 19 years old at the time, acted as though it were mature and experienced: It hastened to deny the vast majority of them the status of residency in their land. By means of various tricks it also denied residency to another 100,000 individuals who went abroad to work or study after 1967, with a skillfulness that created another link in the chain of dispossession that began in 1948 and to which we have not put an end to this day.
But it was only in the 24th year of the occupation that Israel began to “correct” the empowering “mistake” of 1967: If until then the occupation had been characterized by the theft of land (and water), it was now also characterized by the robbery of the Palestinian expanse. Starting in 1991, Israel has been creating two kinds of expanses between the Mediterranean and the Jordan: a superior, open, developed and improved space for the Jews, and a shattered space tainted by intentional de-development for the Palestinians.
This radical change began in January 1991, when Israel revoked the right of all Palestinians to freedom of movement in the whole country and established a regime of permits for limited amounts of time, doled out only to a minority. First the inhabitants of Gaza were cut off from the entire expanse. Then came the turn of the inhabitants of the West Bank. Later the accelerated construction of the Jewish settlements and the building of the bypass roads in the West Bank (all under the cover of “the peace process”) cut the northern part of the West Bank off from its southern part and increasingly distanced villages from their lands and their provincial towns. Gradually, Israel also restricted the movement of the state’s non-Jewish citizens in the expanse and denied their entrance into the Gaza Strip (from 1994 onward) and afterward into the West Bank as well (from 2000 onward). And this is how we arrived at the present: an archipelago o

Nuclear Hypocrisy in the Middle East
Bush, Iran and Israel’s Hidden Hand
By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON
Former CIA Analysts

The internet is loaded these days with reports of the inevitability of a U.S., or a U.S.-Israeli, attack on Iran. Some writers allege that the attack is imminent. Others, including the writers of this article, argue only that the attack will happen sometime before January 2009, when the Bush administration leaves office. Many of these stories have by now been picked up by the mainstream media. In fact, it is probably safe to say that today a majority of the traditionally cautious and so-called respectable foreign policy experts in the U.S. think it is at least possible that Bush will attack Iran before he leaves office.

Such is the power of recollection with respect to how Bush bulled his way into invading Iraq in 2003 that many people simply accept that he might gamble on doing it again. He has made it clear that in this “War on Terror,” victory means everything to him. He might also believe that a win in Iran could reverse current setbacks in Iraq and also bring victory closer for the U.S. and Israel in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. And he has already shown that he is willing to accept the killings of hundreds of thousands or even a million people in the hope of going down in history as a great commander-in-chief.

The people of the United States are the only ones with a chance of stopping him, and it can only happen if a powerful majority of voters will join in a maximum effort to impeach both Bush and Cheney right now. This has to happen before the U.S. and/or Israel undertake any expanded military efforts against Iran.

All of this will be difficult, and many will think it impossible. We citizens of the U.S. who do not want our country to become involved in a greater war with Iran will not have most of the print and TV media with us, nor the military-industrial complex that wants more wars. The Israel lobby will desperately oppose efforts to impeach Bush and Cheney, because it will recognize instantly that the two top U.S. leaders are the lobby’s strongest backers of war with Iran. At the same time, most of the Democratic Party leadership and all but one or two of the Democratic presidential candidates will be reluctant to support impeachment because they are competing with the Republicans in an effort to show that each party supports Israel more strongly than the other.

But the people of this country have plenty of power to defeat all these forces if they will use it to support justice, particularly in the Middle East, which is today the highest priority area where U.S. and Israeli foreign policies play a major role, and the area where those policies are the most unjust. We believe it will be by no means impossible to persuade a majority of American voters, given their already established distaste for U.S. failures in Iraq, to rip off the cocoon of pleasant but apathetic consumerism in which they have encased themselves, and participate more seriously in the political processes of our country than they ever have in recent years.

The impeachment itself will have more to do with the past than the future, since a legal action can only indict (impeach) and then convict a person for past actions, not for actions that may be likely in the future. So impeachment will concern Iraq and domestic policies of the Bush administration, not Iran. But at the same time, once we get their interest, people should have a heightened awareness of future planned acts as well as of past policies of the government. If we can move fast, we will have time to show how the plans to attack Iran create a greater need than ever for an impeachment effort to succeed, and to succeed now.

The first point to make in persuading people is that Iran itself claims it has no nuclear weapons now, and no intention to produce them in the future. The first part of this statement is true; the supporting evidence is overwhelming. But Iran’s claim that it will not in the future develop nuclear weapons is subject to doubt, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has found no evidence to the contrary. The other nations in the Middle East and South Asia that have been developing nuclear weapons over the last 50 years — Israel, India, and Pakistan — all lied to the U.S., the U.N., and other countries, claiming that they were not building nuclear weapons when in fact they were. Iran might well do the same.

More important is the sheer logic of the situation. As one nation-state in a world of nation-states, Iran knows that it has every bit as much right to develop nuclear weapons as the U.S., Israel, and other present nuclear powers. Compared to Israel, Iran has both a population and a land mass that are much larger. So why is it permissible for Israel to have several hundred nuclear weapons and impermissible for Iran to have any? The answer given by Israel supporters that Israel never signed