Friday, March 26, 2010

A second Israeli assassination in eastern Europe?

Israel appears intent on maintaining its image as a pariah state that flouts international law in carrying out political assassinations using what many Israelis now see as a revived Mossad -- an intelligence agency that provides the same type of national self-esteem for Israelis as the Waffen SS did for German Nazis.

Israel is now suspected to using two Israel Defense Force (IDF) Gulfstream V intelligence aircraft in the skies over Budapest to assassinate Bassam Trache, a Hungarian-Syrian citizen. Trache was shot in his car by a single assassin on foot while he was stopped at a traffic light in the suburbs of Budapest. Trache's assassin, who has not been identified, also removed a briefcase from his car. The United States and the rest of NATO failed to respond to the Israeli aggression by using the collective defense clause that states that and attack on one NATO nation -- in this case, Hungary, is an attack against every NATO country. In fact, there is now evidence that three NATO nations -- Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania conspired with the Israelis in allowing the IDF planes to overfly their territories to complete their deadly mission in Budapest. The Turkish General Staff and Air Force Command admitted that it had granted "conditional" overflight rights to the Israelis. The conditions stated by the air force were that the aircraft had to stay within set air corridors, could not refuel in mid-air, and not be "equipped with electronic apparatuses intended for photography, exploration and intelligence."

The Israeli aggression against Hungary follows the Mossad's assassination in a Dubai hotel of Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. The assassins used cloned passports from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, and Australia to enter the United Arab Emirates. The actions resulted in Britain expelling from the Israeli embassy in London the Mossad station chief and Dubai restricting the entry of Israelis into the city-state.

The Israeli incursion into Hungarian airspace took place on March 17 and Hungary's security services claimed they were not informed that the planes were flying into Hungary. The political toll in Hungary over the incident has already resulted in the suspension of the chief of the air transport division of Hungary's National Transport Authority (NKH) and members of his staff. Hungarian Defense Minister Imre Szekeres countered the Hungarian security services by saying the Defense Ministry had previously been informed of the Israeli aircraft "training exercise" over Budapest. However, Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai appeared to have been caught surprise by the Israeli action and he ordered a full investigation.

Israeli ambassador to Budapest Aliza Bin-Noun denied the Israeli planes conducted an intelligence mission even though Israel Radio reported the planes were equipped with the IDF's most sophisticated intelligence systems. After the Dubai incident and Israel's surprise announcement of further settlements building in east Jerusalem during Vice President Joe Biden's visit, a number of governments are inclined to disregard Israeli diplomatic statements as lies and distortions.

There were also reports that Hungary's Defense Ministry had not been informed of the Israeli aircraft mission. Defense Ministry spokesman Istvan Bocskai denied his ministry had been informed about the flights while Szekeres said the Israeli flights had been cleared with NATO and the European civil aviation administration, EUROCONTROL.

According to the4 Hungarian MTI news agency, Peter Honig, the Transport Minister, said the Israeli aircraft flight was not in full compliance with Hungarian law, while Gyorgy Keleti, a Socialist MP, said the planes represented a "national security risk" to Hungary.

Bajnai, a Socialist, faces a parliamentary election on April 11 and Jewish propaganda outlets in Israel and Hungary suggested that the opposition conservative Fidesz Party was hyping the Israeli aircraft incident to cater to anti-Semitic voters. However, polls conducted before the Israeli action showed Fidesz would trounce the Socialists without any grandstanding to anti-Semitic voters.

The overflight of several eastern European countries by two Israeli F-16s on the same day the Gulfstream Vs flew over Budapest was also reported by some eastern European media outlets.

On March 24, the Hungarian newspaper Nepszabadsag reported in an editorial that the Israeli aircraft were merely flying missions to collect radar signature data on the Russian-supplied advanced radar system at Slovak Nyitra in Slovakia and other Russian-manufactured radar systems used in Bulgaria and Romania. The paper, which generally leans to a pro-George Soros and Zionist line, suggested that the Israelis were collecting radar electronic signature data on the systems because they are also used by Iran. The editorial also suggested that Israel's operation was carried out with the knowledge of the United States.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fidel Castro's secret archive on JFK Assassination: US Special Ops prepares to snatch five decades of damaging material

WMR has learned from knowledgeable sources in the Pentagon that the U.S. Special Operations Command has recently been tasked to come up with a covert operation designed to snatch the secret archives complied over five decades by former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Our sources report that among Castro's archives are documents proving the collaboration of top U.S. Mafia figures, including Mafia financial boss Meyer Lansky, with the CIA in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963. Castro apparently kept track of many of those involved in the assassination of Kennedy because they were also actively involved in anti-Castro plots associated with right-wing Cuban exiles that were organized out of Miami, New Orleans, Houston, and Dallas, cities where the Mafia was extremely active.

WMR has learned that Castro's extensive archives have been secured in a well-protected facility on the Isle of Youth (formerly the Isle of Pines) off the southwest coast of Cuba.

In addition to documents that point to the mob's and CIA's involvement in the Kennedy assassination, including the roles played by the Canadian Bronfman family and their wealthy attorney, the CIA-connected Louis Bloomfield of Montreal, the Castro archives reportedly contain a wealth of information about Cuban support for Angola's government and liberation movements in Africa and Latin America. The archives also have details about the role of the CIA in the Angolan civil war and the coups that toppled Chilean President Salvador Allende and other leaders, as well as Henry Kissinger's infamous Operation Condor that "disappeared" thousands of leftist, student, and labor leaders in Latin America.

The plans by the U.S. Special Operations Command to surreptitiously land on the Isle of Youth and secure the Castro archives may have something to do with the recent arrest of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor as he was boarding a plane in Havana. Alan Phillip Gross of Potomac, Maryland was arrested on December 5 last year and charged with espionage. Gross entered Cuba on a tourist visa but began working on projects designed to provide Internet technology services for Cuban Jewish communities. Gross worked for Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) of Bethesda, Maryland, a State Department contractor that specializes in bringing high-technology services to "civil society organizations." Gross is reportedly a satellite technology expert.

Gross reportedly made a number of trips to Cuba before his arrest. Throwing doubt on claims that Gross was in Cuba to help provide Internet access to the Cuban Jewish community, several prominent members of Cuba's Jewish community said they never met Gross. In addition, Cuba's small Jewish community was already receiving computer and Internet assistance from ORT, a non-governmental organization.

Gross's mission in Cuba has been clouded in mystery. Cuba said Gross was illegally distributing satellite communications equipment, which would be important for in-country support in a mission to secretly insert a U.S. military team in Cuba to spirit away Castro's archives.

Due to Gross's visibility with Jewish groups in the United States, his arrest has affected on-going talks between Washington and Havana designed to improve relations between the two nations.

DAI's website states the company started operations in 1970 and by 1980 was active in Sudan, the then-Zaire, Tanzania, and Indonesia. In a move that mirrors that of Barack Obama and his mother Ann Dunham, DAI extended its development operations from Indonesia to Pakistan and by 1982 the firm was fully active in that nation at a time the U.S. was using Pakistan as a base to support the Afghan mujaheddin against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. DAI is also active in Jordan, Palestine, Mexico, and South Africa.

The arrest of Gross in December came as former President Fidel Castro began to reassert control over the government, particularly through the appointment as Vice President of the Council of State of Ramiro Valdes Menendez, a Castro loyalist and former Interior Minister who understands the need to protect the Island of Youth archives from being snatched by the United States or other non-state players.

In April 2003, a Cuban man hijacked an Antonov-24 from the Isle of Youth and, after a brief landing at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport where some women and children passengers were released, was allowed to fly to Key West. The hijacker, who threatened to blow up the plane with two hand grenades, was eventually granted asylum in the United States after the ritualistic debriefing by FBI and CIA personnel.

Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday that "Jerusalem is not a settlement." He continued that the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel cannot be denied. He added that neither could the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. He insisted, "The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today." He said, "Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital." He told his applauding audience of 7500 that he was simply following the policies of all Israeli governments since the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

Netanyahu mixed together Romantic-nationalist cliches with a series of historically false assertions. But even more important was everything he left out of the history, and his citation of his warped and inaccurate history instead of considering laws, rights or common human decency toward others not of his ethnic group.

So here are the reasons that Netanyahu is profoundly wrong, and East Jerusalem does not belong to him.

1. In international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, as are the parts of the West Bank that Israel unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907 forbid occupying powers to alter the lifeways of civilians who are occupied, and forbid the settling of people from the occupiers' country in the occupied territory. Israel's expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, its usurpation of Palestinian property there, and its settling of Israelis on Palestinian land are all gross violations of international law. Israeli claims that they are not occupying Palestinians because the Palestinians have no state are cruel and tautological. Israeli claims that they are building on empty territory are laughable. My back yard is empty, but that does not give Netanyahu the right to put up an apartment complex on it.

2. Israeli governments have not in fact been united or consistent about what to do with East Jerusalem and the West Bank, contrary to what Netanyahu says. The Galili Plan for settlements in the West Bank was adopted only in 1973. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave undertakings as part of the Oslo Peace Process to withdraw from Palestinian territory and grant Palestinians a state, promises for which he was assassinated by the Israeli far right (elements of which are now supporting Netanyahu's government). As late as 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak claims that he gave oral assurances that Palestinians could have almost all of the West Bank and could have some arrangement by which East Jerusalem could be its capital. Netanyahu tried to give the impression that far rightwing Likud policy on East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been shared by all previous Israeli governments, but this is simply not true.

3. Romantic nationalism imagines a "people" as eternal and as having an eternal connection with a specific piece of land. This way of thinking is fantastic and mythological. Peoples are formed and change and sometimes cease to be, though they might have descendants who abandoned that religion or ethnicity or language. Human beings have moved all around and are not directly tied to any territory in an exclusive way, since many groups have lived on most pieces of land. Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion. It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews. But when it was founded Jews did not exist.

4. Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem. It does not mean City of Peace but rather 'built-up place of Shalem."

5. The "Jewish people" were not building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE. First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism as a religion centered on the worship of the one God took firm form. It appears to have been a late development since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE. There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE. The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor. The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor does not know about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 12 plagues & etc. Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites over a period of centuries inside Palestine.

6. Jerusalem not only was not being built by the likely then non-existent "Jewish people" in 1000 BCE, but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history. Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE, the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. So Jerusalem was not 'the city of David,' since there was no city when he is said to have lived. No sign of magnificent palaces or great states has been found in the archeology of this period, and the Assyrian tablets, which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East, such as the actions of Arab queens, don't know about any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.

7. Since archeology does not show the existence of a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period, it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem except for the Hasmonean Kingdom. The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722. The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran, who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE. Alexander's descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198 when Alexander's other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city. With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE, the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE, though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean, only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE. Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE (CE= 'Common Era' or what Christians call AD). The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE when the Iranian Sasanian Empire Conquered it, ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.

The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city. The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return, and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether for about 1192 years.

Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so, i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.

8. Therefore if historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims, here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years in the second millennium BCE.

C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids, for three years under the Parthians (insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal), and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek. If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians, that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

F. The successor states to the Byzantines, which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years, though if we consider the heir to be Greece and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it, that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin's dynasty), who were Kurds from Iraq.

9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple, whenever that connection is dated to. But that link mostly was pursued when Jews were not in political control of the city, under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule. It cannot therefore be deployed to make a demand for political control of the whole city.

10. The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine did not for the most part leave after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE. They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine under Roman rule and then Byzantine. They gradually converted to Christianity. After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam. The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.

PS: The sources are in the hyperlinks, especially the Thompson edited volume. See also Shlomo Sands recent book.

Obama squeezed between Israel and Iran

Obama squeezed between Israel and Iran
By Pepe Escobar

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual show in Washington would hardly be out of place in a Quentin Tarantino movie; picture a giant hall crammed with 7,500 very powerful people regimented by a very powerful lobby - plus half of the United States Senate and more than a third of the congress - basically calling in unison for Palestinian and Iranian blood.

The AIPAC 2010 show predictably was yet one more "bomb Iran" special; but it was also a call to arms against the Barack Obama administration, as far as the turbo-charging of the illegal colonization of East Jerusalem is concerned.

The administration has reacted to the quarrel with a masterpiece of schizophrenic kabuki (classical Japanese dance-drama) theater. Corporate media insisted there was a deep "crisis" between the unshakeable allies. Nonsense. One just has to look at the facts.

Only 10 days after scolding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 43 minutes over the phone, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed up at AIPAC spinning the usual platitudes. At least she talked about a "change of facts on the ground" in Palestine and stressed the current status quo is untenable. Netanyahu for his part apparently told Clinton in private (and later Obama as well) that Israel would take "confidence-building measures" in the West Bank, but would continue anyway to build settlements like there's no tomorrow.

When Clinton switched to Iran demonization mode, she was met with universal rapture. The Obama administration will "not accept a nuclear-armed Iran"; is working on sanctions "that will bite"; and the leadership in Iran must know there are "real consequences" for not coming clean with their nuclear program. The demonization seemed to turn Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei into a paradigm of wisdom. Khamenei remarked this week, "If they are extending a metal hand inside a velvet glove, we won't accept it."

Israel rules, Washington follows
AIPAC arm-twisted members of the US Congress to sign a letter to the White House calling for the US to bypass the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally sanction Iran. And AIPAC also urged lawmakers to pass with no comments the annual US$3 billion US aid to Israel. This means the new made-in-USA F-35 fighter jets Israel buys will be basically financed by US taxpayers.

No surprises here. This is a congress that backed Israel's assault in Gaza in late 2008 and condemned the Goldstone Report on Israeli atrocities in that conflict by a vote of 334 to 36. After all, the Democratic party depends heavily on very wealthy Jewish - and Zionist - donors for a chunk of its budget.

Just one day after Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced the building of 1,600 exclusively Jewish apartments in East Jerusalem (part of a planned, non-negotiable 50,000 which will block it from becoming the capital of a Palestinian state and prevent Palestinian residents of the city from traveling to the West Bank), publicly humiliated US Vice President Joe Biden went to Tel Aviv University and told his audience he is ... a Zionist.

He added, "Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as vice president of the United States."

Of course it does not matter that General David "I'm positioning myself for 2012" Petraeus, chief of US Central Command, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee that the Israeli-Arab conflict "foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel". Even though "perception" may be the understatement of the millennium, as a potential Republican presidential candidate Petraeus knows he will be in deep trouble with the Republican hardcore Christians and with the Christian-Zionist fringe.

When Obama, as a presidential candidate, addressed AIPAC on June 3, 2008, he said, "We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran ... I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power. Everything and I mean everything." Obama even pulled a Netanyahu avant la lettre and declared, "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

At AIPAC this week, Netanyahu said the Israelis were already building in Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and will continue to do so. Even without referring to Israel's religious supremacist and colonialist approach to Jerusalem for these past few decades, historian and Middle East expert Juan Cole at his blog "Informed Comment" demolished Bibi's claim. For instance, "Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem. It existed for perhaps 2,700 years before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose. Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so."

Cole points out that Muslims, Egyptians, Romans, Iranians and Greeks have the greatest claim on the city.

All in all, it's no wonder Stephen Green, in Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with Militant Israel, a book published in 1984, had already noted how "since 1953, Israel, and friends of Israel in America, have determined the broad outlines of US policy in the region. It has been left to American presidents to implement that policy, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, and to deal with tactical issues."

Free-for-all Zionism
Former Moldovan bouncer turned Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is basically a spokesman for Zionist settlers and a million immigrants from the former Soviet Union. He can tell the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel that "Iran is threatening the whole world" and still get away with it. No wonder multitudes across the developing world - and not only Muslim lands - increasingly deplore Zionism policies of occupation/colonization, targeted assassinations, Lebensraum (living space) and degrading Palestinians.

But crisis? What crisis? Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies could not have put it better. "Someone seems to have told the Obama administration that a series of polite requests equals pressure. It doesn't. Real pressure looks like this: 'Please stop settlements.' Answer: 'No.' 'Then, you know that [the] $30 billion that [former president George W] Bush arranged for you from US tax money, and we agreed to pay - you can kiss that goodbye.' That's what pressure looks like."

It won't happen. This "crisis" between Tel Aviv and Washington is a non-event. On the other hand, no one knows exactly whatever hardball Obama and Netanyahu played behind closed doors for three-and-a-half hours in Washington. Did Netanyahu "spit into Obama's eye", according to Israeli Labor Party member Eitan Cabel? Or was this was just more kabuki designed to obscure a not-so-silent drive towards an attack on Iran - where once again fresh American blood will be spilled to placate a non-existent "existential threat" to Israel?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Bibi Netanyahu's American 'Ho'

By Dr. Alan Sabrosky*

There has been something verging on the surreal in the US-Israel interplay over the past year or so, culminating in the kick in – er, the face delivered to Vice President Biden two weeks ago with Israel's surprise announcement of yet more new settlement construction, and capped by Secretary of State Clinton's groveling submission to Netanyahu at a recent AIPAC conference. Her speech was the verbal equivalent of what a White House intern allegedly did for her husband once (or more) upon a time, supposedly earning "Presidential kneepads" thereby.

Israeli officials have repeatedly not only ignored but also openly insulted in word or deed the persons or policies of almost every senior American official with whom they have dealt, including Clinton, Biden, Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, and President Obama himself.

And they have taken it, one and all, occasionally with brief bursts of verbal anger that rapidly subsided into yet another steadfast affirmation of the eternal, undiminished, unchallenged and unchallengeable US willingness to underwrite the security of Israel, and especially to its absolute unwillingness to deny Israel a single dollar, bomb or bullet. God knows, I wish they had even half the same demonstrated commitment to the security of the United States and the well-being of the American people — but then, no one can easily serve two masters.

Creating a Shambles and Calling it Policy

Sure, America's Middle East policy is a shambles. America's standing is much lower now than when Obama came into office. The Iraq war is winding down, with no certainty at all how that country will go. Afghanistan is a mess, but then, Alexander the Great couldn't do much with it either, so that's no surprise. And Israel — not wanting America to be bored with only one and a half wars — evidently is trying to help by encouraging us into war with Iran, to spare them the cost of attacking it. Such a friend!

Then there are the long-suffering Palestinians, a people whose situation Obama himself declared in his one bright moment in Cairo last June to be "intolerable." Hello? Mr. Obama, did you sleep through so many classes that the meaning of that word slipped past you? Something that is "intolerable" needs to be put right, and by any objective measure, the US has the power on absolutely every dimension needed to do just that.

Ah, but that would mean actually doing something to Israel, or at least withholding something from it, or perhaps even voting against it in the UN. And that would mean bypassing Congress and going to the American people. And that isn't going to happen, at least with this Administration. Obama just isn't the man to do that job.

From Bad to Worse

The whole thing almost reminds me of a turnabout "battered spouse" exercise, in which the stronger lets the weaker do the beating, murmuring "now, dear" at intervals but letting the beatings continue. And as usual, whenever anyone else dares to point out what is happening, the battered spouse staunchly affirms a determination to stand by the battering partner, no matter what happens.

What is manifestly going to happen is that a demonstrably bad situation is going to get worse, and more than a few people are making that abundantly clear. Probably the only thing that might jolt the Israeli-dominated train of US Middle East mismanagement off its tracks, would be a catastrophe following a US strike against Iran producing US casualties way beyond those from the Vietnam War — something that could happen all too easily. And then, yet again, there is Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian Bantustan….

More dangerously, Clinton's hat-in-hand, I-love-you-now-and-forever verbal burlesque at the AIPAC conference makes two things abundantly clear. One is the extraordinary extent of Zionist control within and over the US Government — when you hurt someone or some Administration and it comes back for more, you have them. The other is how little the members of AIPAC themselves, at least nominally US citizens, care about the US itself — there isn't any longer even a facade of "dual loyalty," only loyalty to Israel alone.

I am very old-fashioned, and a decade in the US Marines gave me an odd affinity for qualities such as pride and loyalty and duty and honor. I'd like to hope that somewhere way down deep these supposed "leaders" of the most powerful country on earth would find something of those qualities in themselves, or at least acquire a sense of shame, and understand that they are there to safeguard America and Americans, and not to sustain Israeli militarism, racism and colonialism.

If they did, then Israel would find itself confronting sanctions and embargoes, its aid from the US would end, and the illegal blockade of Gaza would be forcibly broken — and that would be just for starters.

But that, too, isn't likely in the here and now. In the Middle East, as in so many other areas of public policy, the US Government and its so-called "leaders" simply are not a part of any workable solution. So perhaps we should just send them all some diplomatic kneepads emblazoned with the Star of David — although I do wonder what kind of a cigar Netanyahu will flash.

*Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Venezuela in Washington's Crosshairs

- by Stephen Lendman

Washington fears Hugo Chavez for good reason. His "good example" threat raises concerns that other regional leaders may follow. As a result, throughout his tenure, he's been targeted and vilified - to discredit, weaken and undermine his government to destroy Bolivarian benefits millions of Venezuelans now enjoy, won't easily give up, nor should they.

Several failed coup attempts included:

-- April 2002 for two days, an effort aborted by mass street protests and support from many in Venezuela's military, especially from the middle-ranking officer corp;

-- the 2002 - 2003 general strike and oil management lockout, causing severe economic disruption and billions of dollars in losses; and

-- the August 2004 national recall referendum that Chavez won overwhelmingly with a 59% majority.

Thereafter, disruptions regularly followed to help domestic and US oligarchs regain what they lost, so far without success, but they persist, with supportive editorial, op-ed, and on-the-ground reporting. Also from an Organization of American States (OAS) report, the Vision of Humanity's annual Global Peace Index (GPI), US State Department, and Pentagon.

On March 19, Reuters reported that, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, General Douglas Fraser, USSOUTHCOM (US Southern Command) head, claimed Chavez backs Colombian leftists, saying:

His government "continue(s) to have a very anti-US stance and look(s) to try and restrict US activity wherever they have the opportunity to do that. (It's) continuing to engage with the region....and continuing to pursue (its) socialism agenda. (It) remain(s) a destabilizing force in the region."

He said Venezuela continues to support FARC-EP rebels, providing "financial logistical support" and a safe haven based on evidence found on a laptop seized in a 2008 Ecuadorean guerrilla camp raid - information later proved bogus.

Yet a week earlier, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Fraser testified otherwise, saying:

"We have not seen any connections specifically that I can verify that there has been a direct government-to-terrorist connection" between Chavez and either the FARC-EP or the Basque separatist group ETA. "We have continued to watch very closely for any connections between illicit and terrorist organization activity within the region. We are concerned about it. I'm skeptical. I continue to watch for it," but as yet haven't found it.

During her March 1 - 5 Latin American tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gratuitously insulted Chavez. So did Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela, in Senate testimony, accusing him of FARC-EP ties - suggesting much more to come to boost opposition candidates in September parliamentary elections.

US State Department 2009 Human Rights Report: Venezuela

Released on March 11, it followed earlier ones, bogusly accusing Chavez of:

-- harassing and intimidating political opponents;

-- targeting the media; and

-- numerous human rights violations, including:

-- "unlawful killings;

-- summary executions of criminal suspects;

-- widespread criminal kidnappings for ransom;

-- prison uprisings resulting from harsh prison conditions;

-- arbitrary arrests and detentions;

-- corruption and impunity in police forces;

-- a corrupt, inefficient, and politicized judicial system characterized by trial delays and violations of due process;

-- (targeting) political opponents and selective prosecution(s) for political purposes;

-- infringement of citizens' privacy rights by security forces;

-- government closure of radio and television stations and threats to close others;

-- government attacks on public demonstrations;

-- systematic discrimination based on political grounds;

-- considerable corruption at all levels of government;

-- threats and attacks against domestic NGOs;

-- violence against women;

-- inadequate juvenile detention centers;

-- trafficking in persons; and

-- restrictions on workers' right of association."

Other charges have included drugs trafficking and ties to bogusly designated "foreign terror organizations" like the FARC-EP and ETA.

These sham charges and similar ones repeat regularly to discredit and undermine Chavez. Ironically, they're more descriptive of American domestic and foreign policies - ones that defy US and international laws with regard to human and civil rights, equal justice, war, occupation, domestic tranquility, and the Constitution's Article I, Section 8 for the Congress to "provide (for) the general welfare of the United States," the so-called welfare clause applying also to the Executive and judiciary.

In contrast, Chavez promotes world solidarity, democratic freedoms, human and civil rights, judicial fairness, fair and open elections, and a free and open media. He doesn't invade other countries, has no secret prisons, doesn't practice torture, or conduct fraudulent elections. As a result, he inspires millions worldwide, and has widespread domestic majority support. Yet bogus State Department charges persist.

Ones as well from a recent OAS report titled, "Democracy and Human Rights in Venezuela," produced under the mandate of the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Among others, its bogus accusations include:

-- restricting human rights "enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights;"

-- no independent separation among government branches;

-- state punitive power to "intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions;"

-- denying journalists the right to report freely;

-- "a pattern of impunity in cases of violence," especially against "media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous peoples, and women;"

-- restricted opportunities for opposing political candidates to secure "access to power;"

-- disempowering opposition politicians through legal and other means;

-- intimidating and punishing dissent against official policy through harassment, violence, and criminal proceedings;

-- targeting peaceful opposition demonstrations;

-- the absence of an independent, impartial judiciary; and

-- numerous other charges like the US State Department's, more descriptive of America, suggesting a hidden motive behind the report's issuance; perhaps also its timing, two weeks before the State Department's similar accusations.

Chavez called it "pure excrement....ineffable (and) ignominious" in denouncing the IACHR as "menacing....a true mafia and is part of the OAS, which is why one of these days this organization must disappear....It is the same Commission which backed (the de facto government of Pedro) Carmona" after the April 2002 coup. "But this is part of the attacks, of continued threats against the Bolivarian Revolution, (a) continued campaign (supported by Venezuelan and American oligarchs to) isolat(e) Venezuela."

OAS history is long and shameful in deference to US interests.

Writing in Granma Internacional in June 2009, Editor Oscar Sanchez Serra said:

Throughout its history, the OAS "made democracies ungovernable, turned them into dictatorships, and when they were no longer useful, reconverted them into even more diminished and servile democracies, because in the new, neoliberal era, with transnationalized oligarch(ic) capital, they were part of a much more sophisticated power structure, whose bases were not necessarily located in the presidential palaces or parliaments, but in continental corporations."

OAS nations had decades of "involvement with death, genocide and lies for (it) to survive these times. It is a political corpse and should be buried as soon as possible....The reality is, without the OAS, the United States would lose one of its principle political/legal instruments of hegemonic control over the Western Hemisphere."

In February 2004, Washington got its backing to justify ousting Haiti's President Jean-Betrand Aristide. Then in 2009, it abstained from strong actions after Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed, opting instead for symbolic toothless measures. It's new report reveals transparent support for bogus US charges, not Venezuela's participatory democracy, largely absent in the region and unimaginable in America where Washington is corporate controlled territory, and popular interests go unaddressed.

The Global Peace Index (GPI)

Launched by Australian entrepreneur, Steve Killelea, in May 2007, it claims to be the first study of its kind ranking nations according to peacefulness, identifying key peace drivers. Its initial report included 121 countries, increased to 140 in 2008 and 144 in its latest 2009 report, released in June last year.

Its problematic endorsers include:

-- the Dalia Lama, a known CIA asset from the late 1950s to mid- 1970s, and may still be one now;

-- John Malcolm Fraser, former Australian Prime Minister;

-- Kofi Annan, infamous as UN Secretary-General for backing US imperial wars while ignoring the plight of oppressed Africans and others globally;

-- Ban Ki-moon, current UN Secretary-General, performing the same services as Annan;

-- corporate figures including Ted Turner (CNN founder) and Richard Branson (chairman, Virgin Group);

-- an array of prominent current and past political and diplomatic figures;

-- two members of Jordanian royalty;

-- numerous academics; and others.

Organizations preparing GPI's report and/or responsible for its data include:

-- the Economist Intelligence Unit (founded by a former UK director of intelligence), calling itself "the world's foremost provider of country, industry and management analysis" since 1946;

-- the Uppsala Conflict Data Program at Sweden's Uppsala University, producing annual "States in Armed Conflict" reports;

-- the Oslo, Norway International Peace Research Institute, a private/publicly funded organization, producing "Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Annual Reports;" and

-- the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), calling itself "the world's leading authority on political-military conflict" with 450 corporate and institutional members.

The world was less peaceful in 2008, according to GPI, reflecting intensified conflicts and the effects of rising food and fuel prices at a time of global economic crisis, impacting employment, incomes, savings, and for many shelter, enough to eat, and the ability to survive.

GPI used 23 indicators to measure the level or absence of peace, divided into three broad categories, including:

-- ongoing domestic and international conflict;

-- safety and security in society; and

-- militarization.

Scores were then "banded, either on a scale of 1 - 5 (for qualitative indicators) or 1 - 10 (for quantitative data, such as military expenditure or the jailed population, which have then been converted to a 1- 5 scale for comparability when compiling the final index)."

Indicators include:

-- number of external and internal conflicts from 2002 - 07;

-- estimated number of deaths from external conflicts;

-- estimated number from internal ones;

-- level of internal conflicts;

-- relations with neighboring countries;

-- perceptions of criminality in society;

-- number of displaced people as a percentage of population;

-- political instability;

-- level of disrespect for human rights;

-- potential for terrorist acts;

-- number of homicides per 100,000 people;

-- level of violent crime;

-- likelihood of violent demonstrations;

-- number of jailed population per 100,000 people;

-- number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population;

-- military expenditures as a percent of GDP;

-- number of military personnel per 100,000 population;

-- volume of major weapon imports per 100,000 people;

-- volume of major weapon exports per 100,000 people;

-- funding for UN peacekeeping missions;

-- total number of heavy weapons per 100,000 people;

-- ease of access to small arms and light weapons; and

-- the level of military capability.

Conspicuously absent is any measure of outside influence causing internal violence, instability, and/or disruption. Top rankings went to New Zealand, Denmark and Norway. Ranked worst were Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Israel.

Venezuela ranked an implausible 120th behind Yemen, Haiti, Iran, Honduras, Uzbekistan, Uganda, Rwanda, and dozens of other unlikely choices. America was 83rd, despite hands down being the world's most violent lawless state, directly or through global proxy wars for unchallengeable world dominance.

It's also a domestic armed camp, using police state laws to quash human rights and civil liberties, criminalize dissent, illegally spy, control information, persecute political opponents, steal elections, and transfer public wealth to elitist private hands.

In contrast, Venezuela is democratic and peaceful, except during periods of Washington-instigated disruptions. America alone endangers global stability and world peace, waging permanent wars, targeting peaceful nations, and claiming the unilateral right to use first strike nuclear weapons preemptively. It also maintains over 1,000 bases and many secret ones in over 130 countries. Its annual military budget tops all other nations combined - way over $1 trillion plus tens of additional billions for intelligence and black operations, mostly for covert destabilization.

It overthrows democratically elected governments, assassinates foreign leaders and key officials, props up friendly dictators, practices torture as official policy, operates the world's largest domestic and offshore gulag, destabilizes world regions, and is hated and feared globally as a result.

In contrast, Chavez seeks regional and global alliances; engages foreign leaders cooperatively; assassinates no one internally or abroad; has no nuclear weapons or seeks them; spends less than one-half of one percent of the Pentagon's official budget; doesn't export weapons to neighbors; is socially responsible at home; has no secret prisons; respects the rule of law; is a model participatory democracy; governs peacefully; supports civil and human rights and social justice; affirms free expression; bans discrimination; and uses Venezuela's resources responsibly - for people needs, yet is friendly to business at home and abroad.

Nonetheless, GPI ranks it below America in human and civil rights, level of organized internal conflict, relations with neighboring countries, potential for terrorist acts, level of violent crime, political instability, perceptions of criminality in society, ease of access to small weapons, freedom of the press, political democracy, adult literacy (way above the US Department of Education's assessment), and willingness to fight.

Transparency International (TI) also rates Venezuela low in its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), indicating the perceived level of public sector corruption by country, claiming a 90% confidence of accuracy. It ranks America implausibly high at 19th and Venezuela outrageously low at 162nd out of 180 countries, behind notoriously corrupt states, including corporate occupied Washington, siphoning trillions of public dollars to private hands as part of the greatest ever wealth transfer.

In ranking America v. Venezuela, TI, GPI, and OAS measures look suspiciously manipulated to place a global hegemon above a peaceful democratic state that coincidentally is Washington's top regional target.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



Caution: The images presented here are so horrific that it had me in tears just dealing with the ‘technics’ of uploading them. As with the Gaza victims file, I have left them off the Home Page. If you wish to view them click on the Continue Reading link. And I urge folks to do something about this, how can we stand aside? It is after all, being done in OUR name. The Ed

Dear readers and viewers:

These photos of newly-born infants have been taken by Dr. Mohammad Daud Miraki, a well-known Afghan researcher, anthropologist, sociologist and scholar. He visited Afghanistan to find out about the situation after the American invasion of Afghanistan. The deformed infants are the result of the uranium munitions used by American troops and bomber aircrafts all over Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting terrorism. However, the majority of deformed babies cases have been found in Pashtu-speaking areas which are bearing the brunt of the American attacks. American troops use weapons like white phosphorus bombs and depleted uranium which are banned on world level.

For the past eight years when American and Allied invading troops invaded our dear country Afghanistan, more than one hundred thousands Afghans have lost their lives during American aerial bombardment and ground attacks. No night passes without the American special operations force, joined by the CIA and Blackwater operatives launch raids on civilian houses and kill innocent people including children, women and old men.

American intelligence agents equipped with sophisticated arms violate human rights in Afghanistan and kill civilians with impunity.

We call on all anthropologists to come forward and expose the brutalities of the American invading troops committed under the name of war on terror. It is the responsibility of all writers, statesmen, and freedom-loving personalities to save the dignity and humane values from being effaced from the world at the hand of the evil empire of America.



I took this photo on the last day of my journey: one the triplets

Afghanistan has become the disaster words could not describe, hence, I decided to illustrate this disaster via these photos of babies born deformed.

On many occasions, I pointed out that we need funds to build a research institute and the linked monitoring stations. Unfortunately, majority of you simply brushed off my request. I wonder if these photos could make you think.

Again, it is up to you, to do whatever you think is humane; however, it should not be too difficult. The funds for the research institute are very small price you have to pay after all your tax dollars–though you are not in control of– have nonetheless created this disaster. If everyone visiting this web site pays the amount they spend on soft drinks in a month, we would have the funds to build our research facility:

The Gift that Keeps on giving: Uranium munitions
This child’s family also had hopes
The painful reminder of Democracy Made in America
Imagine what would the parents of this child think about the US and the people here?
Painful, IS IT NOT?
A child born with one eye




Due to the use of massive amount of uranium munitions used by the US forces in the initial bombing and subsequently, massive amount of congenital deformities occur all over Afghanistan. The rate of various cancers has gone up significantly. Leukemia and esophageal cancers are very high among children. According to doctors at maternity and children hospitals in Kabul, the rate of various congenital deformities have increased by many folds since the US invasion. In fact, the magnitude of man made isotopes was established by the Uranium Medical Research Center after their investigators made to trips to Afghanistan and collected urine and soil samples. They established that the rate of man made isotopes was gone up 2000 times in some subjects located near the bombed areas.

Since uranium used in the weapons have a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the US forces ensured that generations of Afghans suffer from cancers and deformities. This is certainly not development. In fact, it is the biggest crime ever committed by anyone in the history of humanity.

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Depleted Uranium: A War Crime Within a War Crime By William Bowles

As if destroying a country and its culture ain’t bad enough, how about destroying its future, its children? I want to scream it from the rooftops! We are complicit in crimes of such enormity that I find it difficult to find the words to describe how I feel about this crime committed in my name! In the name of the ‘civilized’ world?

uranium-baby.jpg“Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al-Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer. Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment.” — Jalal Ghazi, for New America Media

According to Dahr Jamail,

“The U.S. and British militaries used more than 1,700 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in the 2003 invasion (Jane’s Defence News, 4/2/04)-on top of 320 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War (Inter Press Service, 3/25/03). Literally every local person I’ve ever spoken with in Iraq during my nine months of reporting there knows someone who either suffers from or has died of cancer.


Ghazi reported that in Fallujah, which bore the brunt of two massive U.S. military operations in 2004, as many as 25 percent of newborn infants have serious physical abnormalities. Cancer rates in Babil, an area south of Baghdad, have risen from 500 cases in 2004 to more than 9,000 in 2009. Dr. Jawad al-Ali, the director of the Oncology Center in Basra, told Al Jazeera English (10/12/09) that there were 1,885 cases of cancer in all of 2005; between 1,250 and 1,500 patients visit his center every month now. — ‘The New ‘Forgotten’ War’ By Dahr Jamail, 15 March, 2010

Even the BBC was forced to acknowledge the reality (Listen: ‘Child deformities ‘increasing’ in Falluja’ 4 March, 2010). True to form I searched the BBC Website in vain for the video clip I watched last week, so you are spared the horrific scenes I witnessed, recorded in Fallujah’s main hospital. Had this been Saddam’s legacy, we would have seen images like the one above endlessly repeated in the mass media, complete with UN resolutions and the like.

The short piece posted on the BBC Website ends thus:

“In a statement, the Pentagon said that “No studies to date have indicated environmental issues resulting in specific health issues. Unexploded ordinance, including improvised explosive devises, are a recognised hazard.””

End of story as far as the BBC is concerned. So how come this isn’t a headline? Even Stop the War Coalition barely mentions it, more concerned it seems with the plight of imperialism’s warriors, Britain’s warriors who have shooting this foul stuff at not only Iraq’s innocents but at the innocents of the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. But then we are the citizens of Empire which explains why Stop the War has little or nothing to say on the subject.

“When they said that depleted uranium was the US empire’s weapon of choice, they lied. The word “depleted” is a public relations spin. It makes it sound like the nuclear material is worn out. It’s not. It’s Uranium. Let’s just call it Uranium. In other words, DU is low-level nuclear waste. DU can also contain trace amounts of “neptunium, plutonium, americium, technitium-99 and uranium-236.”

British and US government statements that Depleted Uranium is a ‘conventional’ weapon are contradicted by the facts:

  • Depleted uranium (DU) weaponry meets the definition of weapon of mass destruction in two out of three categories under U.S. Federal Code Title 50 Chapter 40 Section 2302.
  • Since 1991, the U.S. has released the radioactive atomicity equivalent of at least 400,000 Nagasaki bombs into the global atmosphere. That is 10 times the amount released during atmospheric testing which was the equivalent of 40,000 Hiroshima bombs. The U.S. has permanently contaminated the global atmosphere with radioactive pollution having a half-life of 2.5 billion years.
  • The U.S. has illegally conducted four nuclear wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and twice in Iraq since 1991, calling DU “conventional” weapons when in fact they are nuclear weapons.
  • DU on the battlefield has three effects on living systems: it is a heavy metal “chemical” poison, a “radioactive” poison and has a “particulate” effect due to the very tiny size of the particles that are 0.1 microns and smaller.
  • The blueprint for DU weaponry is a 1943 Manhattan Project memo to Gen. L. Groves that recommended development of radioactive materials as poison gas weapons – dirty bombs, dirty missiles and dirty bullets.
  • DU weapons are very effective kinetic energy penetrators, but even more effective bioweapons since uranium has a strong chemical affinity for phosphate structures concentrated in DNA.
  • DU is the Trojan Horse of nuclear war – it keeps giving and keeps killing. There is no way to clean it up, and no way to turn it off because it continues to decay into other radioactive isotopes in over 20 steps.
  • Terry Jemison at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stated in August 2004 that over 518,000 Gulf-era veterans (14-year period) are now on medical disability, and that 7,039 were wounded on the battlefield in that same period. Over 500,000 U.S. veterans are homeless.
  • In some studies of soldiers who had normal babies before the war, 67 percent of the post-war babies are born with severe birth defects – missing brains, eyes, organs, legs and arms, and blood diseases.
  • In southern Iraq, scientists are reporting five times higher levels of gamma radiation in the air, which increases the radioactive body burden daily of inhabitants. In fact, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan are uninhabitable.
  • Cancer starts with one alpha particle under the right conditions. One gram of DU is the size of a period in this sentence and releases 12,000 alpha particles per second. —

So come on all you allegedly civilized people, what are you going to about it?

PS: Oh, I forgot about the DU weapons supplied to Israel by the US, also dropped on the people of Gaza.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Israel, Obama and the Doomsday Weapon - The Root Cause By URI AVNERY

It is already a commonplace to say that people who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat their mistakes.

Some 1942 years ago, the Jews in the province called Palaestina launched a revolt against the Roman Empire. In retrospect, this looks like an act of madness. Palestine was a small and insignificant part of the world-wide empire which had just won a crushing victory against the rival power – the Parthian Empire (Persia) – and put down a major rebellion in Britain. What chances could the Jewish revolt have?

God knows what was going on in the mind of the “Zealots”. They eliminated the moderate leaders, who warned against provoking the empire, and gained sway over the Jewish population of the country. They relied on God. Perhaps they also relied on the Jews in Rome and believed that their influence over the Senate would restrain the Emperor, Nero. Perhaps they had heard that Nero was weak and about to fall.

We know how it ended: after three years, the rebels were crushed, Jerusalem fell and the temple was burned down. The last of the Zealots committed suicide in Masada.

The Zionists did indeed try to learn from history. They acted in a rational way, did not provoke the great powers, endeavored in every situation to attain what was possible. They accepted compromises, and every compromise served them as a basis for the next surge forward. They cleverly utilized the radical stance of their adversaries and gained the sympathy of the whole world.

But since the beginning of the occupation, their mind has become clouded. The cult of Masada has become dominant. Divine promises once again start to play a role in public discourse. Large parts of the public are following the new zealots.

The next phase is also repeating itself: the leaders of Israel are starting a rebellion against the new Rome.

* * *

WHAT BEGAN as an insult to the Vice President of the United States is developing into something far bigger. The mouse has given birth to an elephant.

Lately, the ultra-right government in Jerusalem has started to treat President Barack Obama with thinly veiled contempt. The fears that arose in Jerusalem at the beginning of his term have dissipated. Obama looks to them like a paper black panther. He gave up his demand for a real settlement freeze. Every time he was spat on, he remarked that it was raining.

Yet now, ostensibly quite suddenly, the measure is full. Obama, his Vice President and his senior assistants condemn the Netanyahu government with growing severity. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has submitted an ultimatum: Netanyahu must stop all settlement activity, East Jerusalem included; he must agree to negotiate about all core problems of the conflict, including East Jerusalem, and more.

The surprise was complete. Obama, it seems, has crossed the Rubicon, much as the Egyptian army had crossed the Suez Canal in 1973. Netanyahu gave the order to mobilize all the reserves in America and to move forward all the diplomatic tanks. All Jewish organizations in the US were commanded to join the campaign. AIPAC blew the shofar and ordered its soldiers, the Senators and Congressmen, to storm the White House.

It seems that the decisive battle has been joined. The Israeli leaders were certain that Obama would be defeated.

And then an unusual noise was heard: the sound of the doomsday weapon.

* * *

THE MAN who decided to activate it was a foe of a new kind.

David Petraeus is the most popular officer of the United States army. The four-star general, son of a Dutch sea captain who went to America when his country was overrun by the Nazis, stood out from early childhood. In West Point he was a “distinguished cadet”, in Army Command and General Staff College he was No. 1. As a combat commander, he reaped plaudits. He wrote his doctoral thesis (on the lessons of Vietnam) at Princeton and served as an assistant professor for international relations in the US Military Academy.

He made his mark in Iraq, when he commanded the forces in Mosul, the most problematical city in the country. He concluded that in order to vanquish the enemies of the US he must win over the hearts of the civilian population, acquire local allies and spend more money than ammunition. The locals called him King David. His success was considered so outstanding that his methods were adopted as the official doctrine of the American army.

His star rose rapidly. He was appointed commander of the coalition forces in Iraq and soon became the chief of the Central Command of the US army, which covers the whole Middle East , except Israel and Palestine (which “belong” to the American command in Europe).

When such a person raises his voice, the American people listen. As a respected military thinker, he has no rivals.

* * *

THIS WEEK, Petraeus conveyed an unequivocal message: after reviewing the problems in his AOR (Area Of Responsibility) – which includes, among others, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen – he turned to what he called the “root causes of instability” in the region. The list was topped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In his report to the Armed Services Committee he stated: “The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR…The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.”

Not content with that, Petraeus sent his officers to present his conclusions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff,

In other words: Israeli-Palestinian peace is not a private matter between the two parties, but a supreme national interest of the USA. That means that the US must give up its one-sided support for the Israeli government and impose the two-state solution.

The argument as such is not new. Several experts have said more or less the same in the past. (Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, I wrote in a similar vein and prophesied that the US would change its policy. It did not happen then.) But now this is being stated in an official document written by the responsible American commander.

The Netanyahu government immediately went into damage-limitation mode. Its spokespersons declared that Petraeus represents a narrow military approach, that he doesn’t understand political matters, that his reasoning is faulty. But it is not this that made people in Jerusalem break out into cold sweat.

* * *

AS IS well known, the pro-Israel lobby dominates the American political system without limits – almost. Every American politician and senior official is mortally afraid of it. The slightest deviation from the strict AIPAC line is tantamount to political suicide.

But in the armor of this political Goliath there is a chink. Like Achilles’ heel, the immense might of the pro-Israel lobby has a vulnerable point that, when touched, can neutralize its power.

It was illustrated by the Jonathan Pollard affair. This American-Jewish employee of a sensitive intelligence agency spied for Israel. Israelis consider him a national hero, a Jew who did his duty to his people. But for the US intelligence community, he is a traitor who endangered the lives of many American agents. Not satisfied with a routine penalty, it induced the court to impose a life sentence. Since then, all American presidents have refused the requests of successive Israeli governments to commute the sentence. No president dared to confront his intelligence chiefs in this matter.

But the most significant side of this affair is reminiscent of the famous words of Sherlock Holmes about the dogs that did not bark. AIPAC did not bark. The entire American Jewish community fell silent. Almost nobody raised their voice for poor Pollard.

Why? Because most American Jews are ready to do anything – just anything – for the government of Israel. With one exception: they will not do anything that appears to hurt the security of the United States. When the flag of security is hoisted, the Jews, like all Americans, snap to attention and salute. The Damocles sword of suspicion of disloyalty hangs above their heads. For them, this is the ultimate nightmare: to be accused of putting the security of Israel ahead of the security of the US. Therefore it is important for them to repeat endlessly the mantra that the interests of Israel and the US are identical.

And now comes the most important general of the US Army and says that this is not so. The policy of the present Israeli government is endangering the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* * *

FOR NOW, this is being said only as a side remark, in a military document that has not been widely aired. But the sword has been drawn from its scabbard – and American Jews have started to tremble at the distant rumble of an approaching earthquake.

This week, Netanyahu’s brother-in-law has used our own doomsday weapon. He declared that Obama is an “anti-Semite”. The official newspaper of the Shas party has asserted that Obama is really a Muslim. They represent the radical right and its allies, who argue in speech and in writing that “Hussein” Obama is a Jew-hating black who must be beaten in the coming congressional elections and in the next presidential ones.

(Yet an important poll in Israel published yesterday shows that the Israeli public is far from convinced by these insinuations: the vast majority believes that Obama’s treatment of Israel is fair. Indeed, Obama got higher marks than Netanyahu.)

If Obama decides to fight back and activate his doomsday weapon – the accusation that Israel puts the lives of American servicemen at risk – this would have catastrophic consequences for Israel.

For the time being, this is only a shot across the bow – a warning shot fired by a warship in order to induce another vessel to follow its instructions. The warning is clear. Even if the present crisis is somehow damped down, it will inevitably flare up again and again as long as the present coalition in Israel stays in power.

When the movie “Hurt Locker” won its awards, the entire American public was united in its concern about the lives of its soldiers in the Middle East. If this public becomes convinced that Israel is sticking a knife in their back, it will be a disaster for Netanyahu. And not just for him.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch's book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Special Report: Morocco and AIPAC -- what they have in common

SPECIAL REPORT --WMR reporting from Rabat, Morocco

--Morocco and AIPAC -- what they have in common

As the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) begins its annual meeting in Washington on March 22, all the focus will be on the reported frayed relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu. One might think Morocco would be the furthest item on AIPAC's agenda. However, a nexus between leading American Jewish organizations, including AIPAC, the U.S. embassy in Rabat -- which appears to have become an ambassadorship virtually guaranteed to AIPAC loyalists -- and Morocco's own version of the Palestinian Occupied Territories in Western Sahara, has turned Morocco into a vital part of Israel's overseas influence peddling network.

In many ways, Morocco has become Israel's new "Turkey," an important conduit for Israelis who use their powerful lobby in Washington to ensure that Israel has a friend in the Muslim world.

Israel and Morocco have something in common, something that appears to have drawn them together, despite religious differences. Both countries illegally occupy territory in violation of United Nations decisions. Israel, of course, illegally occupies the Palestinian West Bank and has turned Gaza into a "Warsaw Ghetto" -- an embargoed strip of 1.3 million people struggling to survive. Morocco and Mauritania invaded and occupied the former Spanish Sahara in 1975, forcing many Sahrawis into squalid refugee camps on the Algerian side of the border. Mauritania later withdrew from its sector, leaving it open for Morocco to fill the void.

Israeli colonialists call the West Bank "Judea and Samaria" while the Moroccans call what the African Union recognizes as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, with POLISARIO as its chief political party and movement, the "Southern Provinces."

For some time, Turkey, which invaded and occupied northern Cyprus and called its gain the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus," was able to avoid condemnation in the United States, mostly over repeated introductions of Armenian genocide resolutions, by using AIPAC links in Washington to ensure resolutions critical of Turkey were deep-sixed on introduction. In creating the American Turkish Council (ATC) as a Turkish version of AIPAC, Turkey knew the power of the Armenian and Greek lobbies in matters dealing with genocide and the occupation of Cyprus, would be checked. That was until the Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan began to get tough on Israeli policies in Gaza and Lebanon and Turkish-Israeli intelligence and military cooperation faltered amid the discovery of Mossad links to a shadowy network of Turkish military coup planners and "deep state" players known as Ergenekon.

A mirror image of Ergenekon is beginning to emerge in Morocco, where the key players are not Moroccan military and police brass but a succession of American Jewish ambassadors in Rabat, key Moroccan-Jewish leaders, and American Jewish leaders who all have established close relations with the monarchy.

Israel, acting through Washington, has been able to establish close relations witrh Morocco without the trappings of full diplomatic relations -- and the problems that would invite with an Israeli embassy in Rabat and a Moroccan embassy in Tel Aviv. Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres met with the late King Hassan II at his palace in 1986 and relations between Israel and Morocco became friendly. In 1994, an Israeli mission opened in Rabat, although it was not a full embassy due to the lack of diplomatic ties. In 1999, when King Hassan II died, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and his Moroccan-born Foreign Minister David Levy flew to Rabat for the royal funeral.

Israel, through its lobby in Washington, has ensured that Morocco maintains good, albeit informal, relations with the Jewish state. For that reason, Sam Kaplan, a Minneapolis-based Democratic Party financier who bundled $200,000 in campaign cash for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, was appointed U.S. ambassador to Morocco. Kaplan and his wife Sylvia are prominent members of Minneapolis's Jewish community. From 1994 to 1997, Marc Ginsberg, a major AIPAC player, served as Bill Clinton's ambassador in Rabat. Ginsberg was followed by Arab-American Edward Gabriel until the end of the Clinton administration in 2001. George W. Bush had different priorities and he appointed former Secretary of State James Baker's old friend and spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler to Rabat. Tutwiler and Baker, who served as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special envoy on Western Sahara, were more interested in securing Western Sahara's known off-shore energy reserves for Baker's and Bush's oil cronies in Texas.

Obama restored the status quo ante with Morocco in naming Kaplan as U.S. ambassador. Last month, obviously with a great deal of involvement from Kaplan, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations arranged for its top-level delegation to meet King Mohammed VI in Rabat. The delegation was comprised of James S. Tisch, chairman of the conference and chairman of Loews Corporation and son of the late CEO of CBS Laurence Tisch; Ronald Lauder, former Chairman, billionaire son of Estee Lauder, and fervent supporter of Netanyahu; Seymour Reich, former Chairman and former President of B'nai Brith International and the American Zionist Movement; Malcolm Hoeplein, deputy Chairman and critic of Obama's outreach to Muslims and Arabs; Representative Gerald Nadler (D-NY); Liliane Shalom, deputy-Chairwoman and Vice President of the World Sephardi Federation and a Morocco native; Alexander Mashkevitch, Chairman of the Euro-Asian Congress and the Kazakh-Israeli co-owner of London-base Alferon Management, with mining operations in DR Congo, Zambia, Kosovo, and Indonesia, and who awaiting trial in Belgiu, for money laundering and criminal activity; and Lester Pollack, former conference chairman and chairman of the Morocco-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment and once known as the "third Tisch brother" because of his close ties to the Tisch family. Also attending the meeting was King Mohammed's Moroccan-Jewish advisor, Andre Azoulay, and Serge Berdugo, Secretary General of the Council of the Israeli communities in Morocco and a former Minister of Tourism of Morocco.

One of the net results of the Israeli full-court press in Morocco is increased Israeli investment, particularly in Tangier, where an Israeli investment firm has bought land for a hotel, shopping mall, and housing complex. Morocco is also expanding its resorts, including world class golf courses, with a heavy infusion of American Jewish investment capital.

The deals between Morocco and Israel and the AIPAC lobby has paid off handsomely for Morocco. Fifty-four U.S. senators have signed off on a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama in support Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara with a grant of limited autonomy for the occupied territory. If the construct sounds familiar; it is. Morocco wants the same degree of control over Western Sahara as Israel has over the West Bank. And like Israel and the West Bank, Morocco has illegally settled hundreds of thousands of its citizens in Western Sahara in a manner similar to Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Morocco has also cracked down on dissent. It expelled Sahrawi activist Aminatou Haidar, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award. Haidar went on a hunger strike in the Canary Islands. Morocco finally relented and allowed Haidar to return to her homeland.

But the Senate letter and a companion letter in the House of Representatives, which has 229 signatories, thanks mainly to the AIPAC lobby, gives Morocco renewed impetus to dig in its heels on Western Sahara. And standing ready to take any advantage to throw around the "T" word -- terrorism -- Professor Yonah Alexander, the Zionist sycophant who heads up the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, wrote in a recent report that the Tindouf Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria, which serve as POLISARIO's base of operations, are a breeding ground for terrorist recruits.

The Israel lobby in Washington and its academic laundrymen like Alexander, have convinced Congress that POLISARIO and Western Saharans represent the same phony "Al Qaeda" threat as the Tuaregs of the Sahara and the Houthi rebels and South Yemenis in Yemen. The Israeli state has managed, through the guile of its propaganda and its influence in the halls of power and the media in the United States, to paint those who strive for freedom and self-determination around the world, as feeder pools for "Al Qaeda." Nothing could be more ridiculous and vile at the same time.

The major Senate backers of the letter to Clinton and Obama on Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara include such notable AIPAC assets as Senate Intelligence Commitee chair Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Republican on the committee Kit Bond (R-MO), John McCain (R-AZ) -- who has also given total support to Georgia's pro-Israeli President Mikhael Saakashvili in his adventuristic confrontations with Russia, Carl Levin (D-MI), and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT).

The congressional initiative follows the issuance of a Potomac Institute report on March 31; 2009, which called on the Obama administration to settle the Saharan issue in Morocco's favor. The primary authors of the Potomac -- issued in conjunction with the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University -- included such pro-Israelis and pro-Moroccans as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former NATO commander Wesley Clark, and former ambassador Stuart Eizenstat.

Never to let a moment of opportunity pass without its stealthy intervention, the current impetus by the Israeli lobby to push for Moroccan autonomy over Western Sahara comes after the death of one of the staunchest supporters of Sahrawi independence -- the late Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

The plight of Western Sahara is a direct result of the wink and a nod that arch-Zionist, war criminal, and Israel supporter Henry Kissinger, while Secretary of State, gave to Morocco in 1975 to invade Spanish Sahara upon Spain's withdrawal. The evil-minded Kissinger also gave the okay for Indonesia to invade formerly-Portuguese East Timor and India to invade the Kingdom of Sikkim. East Timor finally re-gained its independence in 2002. However, Western Sahara and Sikkim remain colonial legacies of Kissinger's perfidy.

Meanwhile; AIPAC's delegates will gather this week in Washington, DC to press the Obama administration and members of Congress to acquiesce to continued Israeli colonization over east Jerusalem and the West Bank. However, AIPACers will also be pressing for the cause of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and the resultant expansion of Moroccan settlements in that illegally-occupuied territory -- including those financed by Israeli interests linked to Moroccan and American Jews anxious to turn the California-like northwest coast of Africa, from Tangier to the Mauritanian border, into a new playground for the "rich and famous."

The U.S. embassy in Rabat has become a virtual joint U.S.-Israeli embassy, often pushing Israeli interests over American interests, as in Western Sahara.

AIPAC and its friends have been very active inside the walls of the Royal Palace in Rabat.

U.S. and Israel pushing notion that Western Saharans and other North African groups are nesting grounds for "terrorists" -- the Iranian embassy in Rabat (above) serves as a convenient strawman.

Libya's People's Bureau (above) in Rabat no longer a threat with Qaddafi joining the global new world order.

Russia, with its large embassy in Rabat (above), poses a threat to U.S.-Israeli designs in Western Sahara.

Morocco at a crossroads: does it retain its old world charm or become another over-developed playground for the rich and famous and an Arab beach head for Israel?