Thursday, November 07, 2013

JFK assassination conspirator shows up on CIA Allende ouster order

JFK assassination conspirator shows up on CIA Allende ouster order

The CIA's point man for Western Hemisphere operations, David Atlee Philiips, CIA cover name "Maurice Bishop," is the originator of a formerly Secret CIA order to the agency's Santiago, Chile station to "contact the [Chilean] military and  let them know USG [U.S. Government] wants a military solution." The "military solution" referred to in the October 7, 1970 order, which was heavily redacted before its release in 2000, would eventually result in the September 11, 1973 coup against democratically-elected Socialist President Salvador Allende Gossens by Chile's military chief, General Augusto Pinochet.

Although CIA-financed media continue to maintain that Allende committed suicide with an AK-47 during the military assault on the presidential palace, it is clear that Allende was assassinated. And when it came to assassinations, Phillips was unmatched in the CIA. Phillips, who hailed from Fort Worth, Texas, was the agency's liaison to the Cuban exile guerrilla group Alpha 66. Accused "Marxist" defector to the USSR, Lee Harvey Oswald, attended at least one meeting of Alpha 66 at which Phillips was also present. Phillips was also allegedly Oswald's CIA control officer in Dallas prior to the November 22, 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After the assassination, Phillips ensured that his young "apprentice" was silenced before he could reveal the extent of the conspiracy to murder the president.

Phillips was also assigned to the CIA station in Miami, JM/WAVE, which plotted to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. After he retired in 1975, Phillips was implicated in the 1976 terrorist car bombing on Sheridan Circle in Washington, DC that killed former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and his American colleague, Ronni Moffitt of the Institute for Policy Studies. CIA director George H. W. Bush was also implicated in the car bombing.
Many JFK assassination experts have identified the black-haired man standing behind the reporter holding the microphone up to alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and the Dallas sheriff wearing the Stetson hat to be David Atlee Phillips.

Phillips's order to the CIA station in Santiago was to "use all available assets and stratagems including the rumor-mill to create at least some sort of coup climate." The memo instructs the CIA to attempt to provoke the left. The CIA Santiago station is ordered to give first priority to lay the groundwork for a military coup "between now and 24 October." The instructions state that "all other considerations are secondary . . . and (the station] should not let other activity [by it and its officers to] vitiate [spoil] this three-pronged task." The CIA station is ordered not to concern itself with the PDC [Christian Democratic Party], Frei [former Christian Democratic Party President Eduardo Frei Montalva, believed to have been medically assassinated by Pinochet's regime in 1982], Vital Center, and PN [National Party].

Atlee's final order is: "In sum, we want you to sponsor a military move which can take place, to the extent possible, in a climate of economic and political uncertainty." The "we" to which Atlee referred included then National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger.

The same CIA playbook of fomenting political turmoil and economic chaos prior to staging military coups were used in other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, and is being used at this very moment in Venezuela.


Related note:

Due to the ground work and advance liaison with embassies in Washington required to examine the national archives of Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay for information relating to the role of Kissinger in the Chile coup and Operation CONDOR, WMR has had to delay our planned archival hunt to early 2014. WMR again thanks all those who contributed to our special research fund to carry out this important research opportunity.

WMR will also be present in Dallas for the Coalition on Presidential Assassinations (COPA) conference, which will be held during the 50th anniversary observances of President Kennedy's assassination.

National Security Agency – The only part of the government that really listens to what you have to say By William Blum

The Anti-Empire Report #122

By William Blum – Published November 7th, 2013
National Security Agency – The only part of the government that really listens to what you have to say
The New York Times (November 2) ran a long article based on NSA documents released by Edward Snowden. One of the lines that most caught my attention concerned “Sigint” – Signals intelligence, the term used for electronic intercepts. The document stated:
“Sigint professionals must hold the moral high ground, even as terrorists or dictators seek to exploit our freedoms. Some of our adversaries will say or do anything to advance their cause; we will not.”
What, I wondered, might that mean? What would the National Security Agency – on moral principle – refuse to say or do?
I have on occasion asked people who reject or rationalize any and all criticism of US foreign policy: “What would the United States have to do in its foreign policy to lose your support? What, for you, would be too much?” I’ve yet to get a suitable answer to that question. I suspect it’s because the person is afraid that whatever they say I’ll point out that the United States has already done it.

The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo – 22 years in a row

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
YearVotes (Yes-No)No Votes
199259-2US, Israel
199388-4US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994101-2US, Israel
1995117-3US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996138-3US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997143-3US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998157-2US, Israel
1999155-2US, Israel
2000167-3US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001167-3US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002173-3US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003179-3US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004179-4US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005182-4US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006183-4US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007184-4US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008185-3US, Israel, Palau
2009187-3US, Israel, Palau
2010187-2US, Israel
2011186-2US, Israel
2012188-3US, Israel, Palau
2013188-2US, Israel
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
Speaking before the General Assembly, October 29, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.
However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:
“The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.”1
So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest 2 ; that their encampments were violently smashed up; that many of them were physically abused by the police.
Does Mr. Godard ever read a newspaper or the Internet, or watch television? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person?
As to “independent journalism” – what would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?
The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba? The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.
How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 3 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

The Cold War Revisited

I’ve written the Introduction to a new book recently published in Russia that is sort of an updating of my book Killing Hope4 Here is a short excerpt:
The Cold War had not been a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. It had been a struggle between the United States and the Third World, which, in the decade following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, continued in Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
The Cold War had not been a worldwide crusade by America to halt Soviet expansion, real or imaginary. It had been a worldwide crusade by America to block political and social changes in the Third World, changes opposed by the American power elite.
The Cold War had not been a glorious and noble movement of freedom and democracy against Communist totalitarianism. It had typically been a movement by the United States in support of dictatorships, authoritarian regimes and corrupt oligarchies which were willing to follow Washington’s party line on the Left, US corporations, Israel, oil, military bases, et al. and who protected American political and economic interests in their countries in exchange for the American military and CIA keeping them in power against the wishes of their own people.
In other words, whatever the diplomats at the time thought they were doing, the Cold War revisionists have been vindicated. American policy had been about imperialism and military expansion.
Apropos the countless other myths we were all taught about the Soviet Union is this letter I recently received from one of my readers, a Russian woman, age 49, who moved to the United States eight years ago and now lives in Northern Virginia:
I can’t imagine why anybody is surprised to hear when I say I miss life in the Soviet Union: what is bad about free healthcare and education, guaranteed employment, guaranteed free housing? No rent or mortgage of any kind, only utilities, but they were subsidized too, so it was really pennies. Now, to be honest, there was a waiting list to get those apartments, so some people got them quicker, some people had to wait for years, it all depended on where you worked. And there were no homeless people, and crime was way lower. As a first grader I was taking the public transportation to go to school, which was about 1 hour away by bus (it was a big city, about the size of Washington DC, we lived on the outskirts, and my school was downtown), and it was fine, all other kids were doing it. Can you even imagine this being done now? I am not saying everything was perfect, but overall, it is a more stable and socially just system, fair to everybody, nobody was left behind. This is what I miss: peace and stability, and not being afraid of the future.
Problem is, nobody believes it, they will say that I am a brainwashed “tovarish” [comrade]. I’ve tried to argue with Americans about this before, but just gave up now. They just refuse to believe anything that contradicts what CNN has been telling them for all their lives. One lady once told me: “You just don’t know what was going on there, because you did not have freedom of speech, but we, Americans, knew everything, because we could read about all of this in our media.” I told her “I was right there! I did not need to read about this in the media, I lived that life!”, but she still was unconvinced! You will not believe what she said: “Yes, maybe, but we have more stuff!”. Seriously, having 50 kinds of cereal available in the store, and walmarts full of plastic junk is more valuable to Americans than a stable and secure life, and social justice for everybody?
Of course there are people who lived in the Soviet Union who disagree with me, and I talked to them too, but I find their reasons just as silly. I heard one Russian lady whose argument was that Stalin killed “30, no 40 million people”. First of all it’s not true (I don’t in any way defend Stalin, but I do think that lying and exaggerating about him is as wrong)*, and second of all what does this have to do with the 70s, when I was a kid? By then life was completely different. I heard other arguments, like food shortages (again, not true, it’s not like there was no food at all, there were shortages of this or that specific product, like you wouldn’t find mayo or bologna in the store some days, but everything else was there!). So, you would come back next day, or in 2-3 days, and you would find them there. Really, this is such a big deal? Or you would have to stay in line to buy some other product, (ravioli for example). But how badly do you want that ravioli really that day, can’t you have anything else instead? Just buy something else, like potatoes, where there was no line.
Was this annoying, yes, and at the time I was annoyed too, but only now I realized that I would much prefer this nuisance to my present life now, when I am constantly under stress for the fear that I can possibly lose my job (as my husband already did), and as a result, lose everything else – my house? You couldn’t possibly lose your house in Soviet Union, it was yours for life, mortgage free. Only now, living here in the US, I realized that all those soviet nuisances combined were not as important as the benefits we had – housing, education, healthcare, employment, safe streets, all sort of free after school activities (music, sports, arts, anything you want) for kids, so parents never had to worry about what we do all day till they come home in the evening.
We’ve all heard the figures many times … 10 million … 20 million … 40 million … 60 million … died under Stalin. But what does the number mean, whichever number you choose? Of course many people died under Stalin, many people died under Roosevelt, and many people are still dying under Bush. Dying appears to be a natural phenomenon in every country. The question is how did those people die under Stalin? Did they die from the famines that plagued the USSR in the 1920s and 30s? Did the Bolsheviks deliberately create those famines? How? Why? More people certainly died in India in the 20th century from famines than in the Soviet Union, but no one accuses India of the mass murder of its own citizens. Did the millions die from disease in an age before antibiotics? In prison? From what causes? People die in prison in the United States on a regular basis. Were millions actually murdered in cold blood? If so, how? How many were criminals executed for non-political crimes? The logistics of murdering tens of millions of people is daunting. 5
Hillary: Defending the Bush regime all the way

Let’s not repeat the Barack fuckup with Hillary

Not that it really matters who the Democrats nominate for the presidency in 2016. Whoever that politically regressive and morally bankrupt party chooses will be at best an uninspired and uninspiring centrist; in European terms a center-rightist; who believes that the American Empire – despite the admittedly occasional excessive behavior – is mankind’s last great hope. The only reason I bother to comment on this question so far in advance of the election is that the forces behind Clinton have clearly already begun their campaign and I’d like to use the opportunity to try to educate the many progressives who fell in love with Obama and may be poised now to embrace Clinton. Here’s what I wrote in July 2007 during the very early days of the 2008 campaign:
Who do you think said this on June 20? a) Rudy Giuliani; b) Hillary Clinton; c) George Bush; d) Mitt Romney; or e) Barack Obama?
“The American military has done its job. Look what they accomplished. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. They gave the Iraqis a chance for free and fair elections. They gave the Iraqi government the chance to begin to demonstrate that it understood its responsibilities to make the hard political decisions necessary to give the people of Iraq a better future. So the American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions which are important for their own people.” 6
Right, it was the woman who wants to be president because … because she wants to be president … because she thinks it would be nice to be president … no other reason, no burning cause, no heartfelt desire for basic change in American society or to make a better world … she just thinks it would be nice, even great, to be president. And keep the American Empire in business, its routine generating of horror and misery being no problem; she wouldn’t want to be known as the president that hastened the decline of the empire.
And she spoke the above words at the “Take Back America” conference; she was speaking to liberals, committed liberal Democrats and others further left. She didn’t have to cater to them with any flag-waving pro-war rhetoric; they wanted to hear anti-war rhetoric (and she of course gave them a bit of that as well out of the other side of her mouth), so we can assume that this is how she really feels, if indeed the woman feels anything. The audience, it should be noted, booed her, for the second year in a row.
Think of why you are opposed to the war. Is it not largely because of all the unspeakable suffering brought down upon the heads and souls of the poor people of Iraq by the American military? Hillary Clinton couldn’t care less about that, literally. She thinks the American military has “succeeded”. Has she ever unequivocally labeled the war “illegal” or “immoral”? I used to think that Tony Blair was a member of the right wing or conservative wing of the British Labour Party. I finally realized one day that that was an incorrect description of his ideology. Blair is a conservative, a bloody Tory. How he wound up in the Labour Party is a matter I haven’t studied. Hillary Clinton, however, I’ve long known is a conservative; going back to at least the 1980s, while the wife of the Arkansas governor, she strongly supported the death-squad torturers known as the Contras, who were the empire’s proxy army in Nicaragua. 7
Now we hear from America’s venerable conservative magazine, William Buckley’s National Review, an editorial by Bruce Bartlett, policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan; treasury official under President George H.W. Bush; a fellow at two of the leading conservative think-tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute – You get the picture? Bartlett tells his readers that it’s almost certain that the Democrats will win the White House in 2008. So what to do? Support the most conservative Democrat. He writes: “To right-wingers willing to look beneath what probably sounds to them like the same identical views of the Democratic candidates, it is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton is the most conservative.” 8
We also hear from America’s premier magazine for the corporate wealthy, Fortune, whose recent cover features a picture of Clinton and the headline: “Business Loves Hillary”. 9
Back to 2013: In October, the office of billionaire George Soros, who has long worked with US foreign policy to destabilize governments not in love with the empire, announced that “George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary.” 10
There’s much more evidence of Hillary Clinton’s conservative leanings, but if you need more, you’re probably still in love with Obama, who in a new book is quoted telling his aides during a comment on drone strikes that he’s “really good at killing people”. 11 Can we look forward to Hillary winning the much-discredited Nobel Peace Prize?
I’m sorry if I take away all your fun.


  1. Democracy Now!, “U.N. General Assembly Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo of Cuba”, October 30, 2013 
  2. Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012 
  3. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 
  4. Copies can be purchased by emailing 
  5. From William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire (2005), p.194 
  6. Speaking at the “Take Back America” conference, organized by the Campaign for America’s Future, June 20, 2007, Washington, DC; this excerpt can be heard on Democracy Now!’s website 
  7. Roger Morris, former member of the National Security Council, Partners in Power (1996), p.415 
  8. National Review Online, May 1, 2007 
  9. Fortune magazine, July 9, 2007 
  10. Washington Post, October 25, 2013 
  11. Washington Post, November 1, 2013, review of “Double Down: Game Change 2012” 
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: NSA routinely intercepted Jimmy Carter's and Hillary Clinton's phone calls

EXCLUSIVE: NSA routinely intercepted Jimmy Carter's and Hillary Clinton's phone calls

The National Security Agency intercepted so many of the phone calls and other communications of former President Jimmy Carter and then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, special internal procedures were established within NSA to handle the intercepts. According to declassified formerly CONFIDENTIAL HANDLE VIA COMINT CHANNELS ONLY memos issued by the NSA General Counsel's office, Mrs. Clinton was to be treated as any other U.S. government employee owing to her being the Chairperson of the President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform.

An NSA memo dated December 15, 1994 states that intercepts of President Carter's phone calls pertaining to his efforts to bring about a peace agreement with Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic were to identify Carter as a "U.S. person" and not as a "former President."Transcripts of Carter's calls were only to refer to him as a "former U.S. President" if his status changed from private peace envoy to official U.S. government representative.

If Carter's status had become official in 1994 or 1995, there were only four living "former U.S. Presidents -- Carter, Ford, Reagan, and Bush -- but only Carter was involved in Balkan peace talks. It would not have been difficult for anyone reading a "minimized" transcript omitting Carter's name to determine the intercepted communications involved Carter. Even being referred to as a "U.S. person" would not have done much to mask Carter's identity since he would have been one of but a few involved in peace talks with Karadzic, who was considered an international pariah and a number one target for NSA surveillance.

However, the memo on Carter does not mention his private life or potential criminal wrongdoing as does the July 8, 1993 memo dealing with intercepts of Mrs. Clinton's communications by NSA. NSA sources have told WMR that every government employee or contractor who uses a U.S. government telephone or e-mail account is subject to NSA monitoring of their domestic and international communications. Domestic monitoring is done for the purpose of ensuring communications security or "COMSEC." NSA sources have also revealed that on more than one occasion, Mrs. Clinton's conversations while she was First Lady revealed some potentially embarrassing sexual content to NSA eavesdroppers. The 1993 memo states that "no reports may be published concerning Mrs. Clinton's private life."

A June 6, 1996 NSA memo reveals that special procedures were put in place for NSA interception of the communications of U.S. presidential and Senate candidates, as well as U.S. political parties. The memo also states that NSA intercepts were not merely confined to a "U.S. political party" or a "U.S. Senate candidate," but other office seekers as well. The 1996 presidential campaign pitted Democratic President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore against the Republican ticket of Senator Bob Dole and former Representative and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp.

Several newspapers have refrained from publishing the names of NSA or British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) personnel. The NSA and GCHQ claim that these names are sensitive. WMR has obtained a circa early 1990s UNCLASSIFIED organization chart, complete with names of NSA and GCHQ, from the NSA station (F83) in Menwith Hill, England.If the identities of NSA and GCHQ personnel are so sensitive, the UNCLASSIFIED chart does not indicate so. WMR is publishing the organizational chart in full, without redactions. We can only hope that newspapers like The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Washington Post, and Le Monde, will see the foolishness of their past redactions of names.

F83 (Menwith Hill) org chart. Click image to enlarge.

The Washington Post
, in particular, has treated its cache of classified NSA documents as if they were in possession of the keys to the gold vaults at Fort Knox. However, the Post was not always so reticent over publishing details about NSA surveillance. For example, on July 19, 1980, the Post ran a story titled "Magazine Says NSA Is Tapping Phones, Telex from Britain." The original article about the tapping, which involved Menwith Hill and British Post Office microwave towers, appeared in the New Statesman in the UK. The Post reporter in London who covered the surveillance story was none other than Leonard Downie, Jr., who would later become the managing editor of The Washington Post.

Once upon a time, when The Washington Post had just a little intestinal fortitude.

The Guardian
 had no problem in skirting Britain's infamous "D-Notice" press censorship regulations when, on February 7, 1981, it ran a story titled "US agency 'bugged Labour MPs.'" The paper was reporting on a BBC "Panorama" television story that revealed that the NSA was bugging the telephones of Labor Party Members of Parliament. It has always been assumed that NSA does not spy on the British government in keeping with the UK-USA signals intelligence agreement, originally the BRUSA (British-US Agreement of 1946, that prohibits reciprocal surveillance of each government by NSA or GCHQ.

Former MI6 agent James Rusbridger revealed that NSA was authorized by GCHQ to spy on Labor MPs because the Margaret Thatcher government believed they were in contact with Communist agents or were, themselves, Communists. NSA spying resumed on British MPs after Prime Minister Harold Wilson put a stop to the practice, according to Rusbridger.
NSA did spy on the British government. The Labor Leader of the Opposition in 1981 was Michael Foot, believed by Margaret Thatcher, GCHQ, and NSA to be a Communist sympathizer. Leader of the Opposition in Britain is an official position.

Rusbridger said the surveillance of Labour MPs by NSA was carried out by the NSA's "Special Projects Division." Rusbridger said his job w at MI6 was to smuggle large amounts of cash overseas through front companies like "J. A. Goldschmidt" of London. Rusbridger wrote a number of books on espionage, including his 1989 book, The Intelligence Game: The Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage."In February 1994, Rusbridger's body was found hanging from a ceiling beam in his Cornwall home. His death was ruled as a case of auto-asphyxiation. Rusbridger was wearing a black raincoat and a gas mask and pornographic photos of black women in bondage scenes were strewn on the floor. A pulley connected his neck and ankle to a rope. Such "accidental" deaths with pornographic and bizarre sexual practices are a favorite method of MI6 to silence critics and whistleblowers. The embarrassment of the scenes of death are so great, family members decide not to investigate the deaths of their loved ones any further. James Rusbridger should not be confused with Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian who had the final call on pulling the June 30, 2013 Guardian web article quoting the WMR editor on NSA surveillance and Europe's hypocrisy over the NSA revelations.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Israel and the Dangers of Ethnic Nationalism ~ An interview with Jonathan Cook

Israel and the Dangers of Ethnic Nationalism ~ An interview with Jonathan Cook

israelflag2[1]Jonathan Cook has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the past 12 years.
Extracts from this interview with Joseph Cotto.
Cotto: What sort of general impact would you say Zionism has had on the Middle East?
Cook: Zionism was a reaction to the extreme ethnic nationalisms that dominated – and nearly destroyed – Europe last century. It is therefore hardly surprising that it mirrors their faults. In exporting to the Middle East this kind of nationalism, Zionism was always bound to play a negative role in the region.
Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, developing the concept of a Jewish state in response to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe in the late nineteenth century. One notorious incident that appears to have shaped his views was France’s Dreyfus affair, when a very assimilated Jewish army officer was unjustly accused of treason and then his innocence covered up by French elites.
The lesson drawn by Herzl was that assimilation was futile. To survive, Jews needed to hold firmly on to their ethnic identity and create an exclusivist state based on ethnic principles.
There is a huge historical irony to this, because Europe’s ethnic nationalisms would soon end up tearing apart much of the world, culminating in the expansionary German war machine, the Second World War and the Nazi death camps. International institutions such as the United Nations and international humanitarian law were developed precisely to stop the repeat of such a cataclysmic event.
Once in the Middle East, Zionism shifted the locus of its struggle, from finding a solution to European anti-semitism to building an exclusive Jewish homeland on someone else’s land, that of the Palestinians. If one wants to understand the impact of Zionism in the Middle East, then one needs to see how destabilising such a European ideological implant was.
The idea of ethnic-religious supremacism, which history suggests is latent in many ethnic nationalisms, quickly came to the fore in Zionism. Today, Israel believes in:
* segregation at all levels – made concrete in the separation wall across the West Bank;
• in ethnic exclusivism – Palestinian citizens inside Israel are even denied an Israeli nationality;
• a kind of national paranoia – walls are built to protect every border;
• but at the same time, and paradoxically, a refusal to define those borders – and with it a craving for expansion and greater “living room”.
All of this was predictable if one looked at the trajectory of ethnic nationalisms in Europe. Instead, we in the West see all this as a reaction to Islamism. The reality is we have everything back to front: Zionism, an aggressive ethnic nationalism, fed reactionary forces in the region like political Islam.
Cotto: If Israel adopted its pre-1967 borders, would this, in your opinion, contribute to the peace process?
Cook: Of course, it would. If nothing else, it would show for the first time two things: one, that Israel is prepared to exhibit good faith towards the Palestinians and respect international law; and two, that it has finally decided to define and fix its borders. Those are also two good reasons why I don’t think we will see Israel adopt such a position.
There is a further, implicit question underlying this one. Can a Palestinian state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, separated into two prison-cantons with limited access to the sea, be a viable state?
No, I don’t think it can – at least not without remaining economically dependent on Israel and militarily vulnerable to it too. That, we should remember, also appears to have been the view of the international community when it tried to solve this problem more than 60 years ago. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 gave the Jewish minority 55 per cent of historic Palestine to create a Jewish state, while the Palestinians, the majority of the population, received 45 per cent for an Arab state.
One doesn’t have to believe the partition plan was fair – as most Palestinians do not – to understand that even the Western-centric UN of that time did not imagine that a viable state could be created on 22 per cent of Palestine, or half of the “Arab state” it envisioned.
That is why I have long maintained that ultimately a solution to the conflict will only be found when the international community helps the two sides to find common ground and shared interests and to create joint institutions. That might be vaguely termed the one-state solution, but in practice it could take many forms.
Cotto: It is often noted that Palestinians live in far more impoverished socioeconomic conditions than Israelis do. From your standpoint, can this be attributed to Israeli aggression?
Cook: In essence, it is difficult to imagine it could be attributed to much else, unless one makes the racist assumption that Palestinians or Arabs are naturally lazy or incompetent.
In terms of Israel’s greater economic success, there are several factors to take into account. It receives massive subsidies from the US taxpayer – billions of dollars in military aid and other benefits. It has developed very lucrative hi-tech and homeland security industries, often using the occupied territories as laboratories for it to test and showcase its weapons and surveillance systems. It also benefits from the financial connections it enjoys with worldwide Jewry. Just think of the property market in Israel, which is artificially boosted by wealthy US and European Jews who inject money into the economy by buying an Israeli condo.
But equally importantly – as a just-published report from the World Bank concludes – it has prospered by plundering and exploiting Palestinian resources. The World Bank argues that Israel’s de facto annexation of 62 per cent of the West Bank, known as Area C in the Oslo Accords, has stripped any nascent Palestinian state of almost all its resources: land for development, water for agriculture, quarries for stone, the Dead Sea for minerals and tourism, etc. Instead these resources are being stolen by more than 200 settlements Israel has been sowing over the West Bank.
Israel also exploits a captive, and therefore cheap, Palestinian labour force. That both benefits the Israeli economy and crushes the Palestinian economy.
Cotto: Some say that Israel’s settlement policies directly encourage violence from Palestinian militants. Do you believe this to be the case?
Cook: Yes, of course. If you came armed with a gun to my house and took it from me, and then forced me and my family to live in the shed at the end of the garden, you could hardly be surprised if I started making trouble for you. If I called the police and they said they couldn’t help, you could hardly be surprised if I eventually decided to get a gun myself to threaten you back. If, when you saw I had a gun too, you then built a wall around the shed to imprison me, you could hardly be surprised if I used the tools I had to make primitive grenades and started lobbing them towards the house. None of this would prove how unreasonable I was, or how inherently violent.
Cotto: Many claim that, if Israel were to shed its Jewish ethnocentrism, Muslims and others nearby would adopt a more favorable opinion of it. Do you agree with this idea?
Cook: Ethnocentrism for Israel means that the protection of its Jewishness is synonymous with the protection of its national security. That entails all sorts of things that would be considered very problematic if they were better understood.
Israel needed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians in 1948 to create a Jewish state. It needs separate citizenship and nationality laws, which distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, to sustain a Jewish state. It needs its own version of the “endless war on terror” – an aggressive policy of oppression and divide and rule faced by Palestinians under its rule – to prevent any future internal challenge to the legitimacy of its Jewishness. It needs to keep Palestinian refugees festering in camps in neighbouring Arab states to stop a reversal of its Jewishness. And it has had to become an armed and fortified garrison state, largely paid for by the US, to intimidate and bully its neighbours in case they dare to threaten its Jewishness.
Ending that ethnocentrism would therefore alter relations with its neighbours dramatically.
It was possible to end similar historic enmities in Northern Ireland and in South Africa. There is no reason to believe the same cannot happen in the Middle East.
Cotto: If Israel were to cease being an ethnocentrically Jewish state, do you think it would be able to survive?
Cook: Yes. Israel’s actions have produced an ocean of anger towards it in the region – and a great deal of resentment towards the US too. And that would not evaporate overnight. At a minimum there would be lingering distrust, and for good reason. But for Israel to stop being an ethnocratic state, it would require a serious international solution to the conflict. The international community would have to put into place mechanisms and institutions to resolve historic grievances and build trust, as it did in South Africa. Over time, the wounds would heal.
Cotto: In the event that Israel were to end its ethnocentrically Jewish policies, do you believe that Islamist militants would hold less of a grudge against the Western world?
Cook: The question looks at the problem in the wrong way in at least two respects. First, Israel’s ethnocentrism – its exclusivity and its aggressiveness, for example – is one of the reasons it is useful to Western, meaning US, imperialism. Reforming Israel would indicate a change in Western priorities in the region, but that does not necessarily mean the West would stop interfering negatively in the region. Reforming Israel is a necessary but not a sufficient cause for a change in attitudes that dominate in the region.
Second, many Islamists, certainly of the fanatical variety, are not suddenly going to have a Damascene conversion about the West because Israel is reformed. But that should not be the goal. Good intentions towards the region will be repaid in a change in attitude among the wider society – and that is what is really important. When George Bush and his ilk talk about “draining the swamps”, they are speaking only in military terms. But actually what we should be doing is draining the ideological swamp in which Islamic extremism flourishes. If the Islamists have no real support, if they do not address real issues faced by Arab societies, then they will wither away.
Cotto: What do you think the future of Israel holds insofar as Middle Eastern geopolitics are concerned?
Cook: That is crystal ball stuff. There are too many variables. What can be said with some certainty is that we are in a time of transition: at the moment, chiefly economic for the West and chiefly political for the Middle East. That means the global power systems we have known for decades are starting to break down. Where that will ultimately lead is very difficult to decipher.
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is
Extracts from this interview with Joseph Cotto were published in several articles by the Washington Times Communities website.