Tibi: For Israel, the life of an Arab has less value
Israeli Arab lawmaker slams IDF court decision to hand suspended sentences to soldiers who used Palestinian boy to open suspicious packages.
By handing light sentences to IDF soldiers who knowingly risked the life of a non-combatant Palestinian child, an Israel Defense Forces court has conveyed a message that the lives of Arabs have less value than the lives of Jews, Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi said Sunday.
Tibi made the comments after an IDF court demoted two Givati Brigade staff sergeants to the rank of sergeant, and handed them suspended sentences of three months each for inappropriate conduct during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008.
|Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi spars with National Union MK Michael Ben Ari|
|Photo by: Emil Salman|
The military court found the soldiers guilty last month of forcing a nine-year-old Palestinian boy to open a number of bags they thought could contain explosive materials. The bags eventually turned out to be free of any explosives.
“The entire system conveys the message that the life of a Arab, especially the life of a Palestinian child, is worth less. It’s no surprise that up to now, hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed by the Israeli army, and it has not led to any punishments or even condemnation,” Tibi said.
“This whole court case has been a grand deception from the start. These soldiers deserve to be sent to jail, with their commanders in tow,” Tibi added.
National Union MK Michael Ben Ari praised the convicted soldiers and condemned their demotion.
“The judicial lynch perpetrated on the Givati heroes is a sign of surrender to the enemies of Israel, who are interested in castrating our ability to pulverize the enemy. The Givati soldiers deserve to be awarded medals, not a judicial lynch,” Ben Ari said.
Following the sentencing, another Givati soldier told Army Radio that all the soldiers involved in the incident were left with “a sense of satisfaction and joy over the sentence.”
“I don’t know how many people have been in combat situations, but if it won’t end well if we are made to think about every thing we do,” the IDF soldier said.
The soldier added that “no one thinks that ‘neighbor procedure’ is positive… but does that mean that decision soldiers have to make during an operation should enter a courtroom? Will we find ourselves in court every time we are forced to confront a civilian population?”
Last month’s conviction triggered a wave of protests. The trial’s opening session was accompanied by a demonstration of more than 200 Israelis, including reservists, outside the court.
IDF soldiers demoted after convicted of Gaza war misconduct
Two combat soldiers found guilty of forcing 9-year-old Palestinian boy to open bags they thought could contain explosive materials.
The Israel Defense Forces court on Sunday demoted two combat soldiers convicted of inappropriate conduct during Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008.
|Givati Brigade soldiers receiving sentence in military court, Nov. 21, 2010.|
|Photo by: Nir Kafri|
The two Givati Brigade staff sergeants were demoted to the rank of sergeant, as well as receiving suspended sentence terms of three months each.
The soldiers were convicted last month of forcing a 9-year-old Palestinian boy to open a number of bags they thought might contain explosive materials during Operation Cast Lead. The bags turned out to be harmless.
The incident in question occurred in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in south Gaza City in January 2009, toward the end of the war.
While the demotions means that the two could still serve as commanders during their reserves service, the suspended sentence will be included in the soldiers’ criminal record.
In its ruling, the military court said that “operational duty does not grant immunity” for actions, with the presiding judges adding, however, that one could not “ignore the difficult conditions in which fighters sent by the State of Israel had to operate.”
The judges stressed that by separating a 9-year-old boy from his mother, and using him for military aims, the defendants acted in contradiction to known orders, and in a way which represented an injury to “the moral stamina of the IDF and of the people [of Israel], which is tested in difficult times.”
On the other hand, the judges also indicated a long list of considerations which may have affected the soldiers’ actions, such as the fact that they did not seek to harm the boy, that they worked in dangerous conditions and under extreme time constraints, and that both soldiers had a record of excellence and good behavior.
The court also mentioned the possible damage a severe sentence could do to the future of the two Givati fighters, who completed their army duty 18 months ago.
Ilan Katz, the soldiers’ attorney, expressed satisfaction at the relatively conservative sentence, saying that the “military court has spoken and the only conclusion one can reach in its wake is that we could have reached a settlement that excluded criminal charges without having to put the [soldiers] through this ordeal.”
“They remain IDF commanders, and we need people like that in the IDF,” Katz added.
Following the sentencing, a fellow Givati soldier told Army Radio that everyone involved was left with “a sense of satisfaction and joy over the sentence.”
“I don’t know how many people have been in combat situations, but if it won’t end well if we are made to think about every thing we do,” the IDF soldier said, adding that “no one thinks that ‘neighbor procedure’ is positive.”
“But does that mean that decision soldiers have to make during an operation should enter a courtroom? Will we find ourselves in court every time we are forced to confront a civilian population?” the soldier asked, adding that he felt that such a situation would ‘hurt us as an army.’
Last month’s conviction triggered a wave of protests, as even the trial’s opening session was accompanied by a demonstration by more than 200 Israelis, including reservists, outside the court.
The supporters’ main argument was that the soldiers paid the price of international pressure on Israel. Some even claimed the army sacrificed the grunts in order to protect their superiors from prosecution.
Thousands of settlers converge on Jerusalem to protest U.S. freeze proposal
Infrastructure minister leaves cabinet meeting to join the demonstration held near PM’s office.
Thousands of Israeli West Bank settlers and their supporters converged on Jerusalem Sunday morning to protest a possible freeze in construction in their settlements, as proposed by the United States in order to get peace talks going again.
|Settlers protesting against the freeze in Jerusalem Nov. 18, 2010|
|Photo by: Tomer Appelbaum|
The demonstration, which took place opposite the Prime Minister’s Office as the cabinet was meeting inside, was a “warning” strike against accepting the freeze, settler leaders said.
Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau left the cabinet meeting to join in the protest.
Under the terms of the U.S. proposal, Israel will suspend construction at its West Bank settlements for three months, so as to get the peace talks out of the limbo they have been in since a previous Israeli construction freeze expired nearly two months ago and was not renewed.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted the talks will not resume until and unless Israel renews the freeze.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to be in favor of accepting the US proposal, despite the objections of many in his government, including around half the parliamentary caucus of his Likud Party.
However, he is waiting for the U.S. to provide written guarantees before he brings the proposal to a vote in the cabinet.
Israeli war jets resume airstrikes on Gaza
GAZA, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) — Israeli war jets late on Friday resumed striking on the Gaza Strip in response to earlier rocket attacks at southern Israel from the coastal enclave, security sources said.
An F16 warplane fired two missiles at a smuggling tunnel under the border area between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt, the unnamed source said, adding the tunnel was destroyed, but no injuries were reported.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli war jets struck three separate targets in the Gaza Strip, including a house east of the strip’s central town of Deir el-Ballah, and according to medical sources, at least six Palestinian civilians were injured.
The Israeli airstrikes were a response to earlier Palestinian Grad rocket and mortar attacks carried out by militant groups. The Popular Resistance Committees, loyal to the Hamas movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it’s a response to Israel’s daily violations against the Palestinian people.
US report: Religious coercion, violence in Israel rising
State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report points to strict conversion policy, segregated bus lines, violent haredi protests in Jewish state
The past year has seen a significant rise in religious coercion and violence on a religious background in Israel, a US State Department report on religious freedom issued on Wednesday stated. The report surveys religious freedom parameters in some 200 countries around the world and devotes a 29-page chapter to Israel.
Religious slam supervision of education content / Kobi Nahshoni
Ultra-orthodox leaders call supervision of educational content ‘existential threat’
The report states that “approximately 360,000 citizens who immigrated from the former-Soviet Union under the Law of Return but are not considered Jewish by the Orthodox Rabbinate, cannot be buried in Jewish cemeteries, divorce, or marry within the country.”
It also noted that most of the Jews in Israel are not religious-Orthodox and oppose the Orthodox establishment’s control of crucial aspects of their lives.
The report also mentions the High Rabbinical Court’s 2009 ruling which cast a doubt on 40,000 conversions performed by the state.
According to the report, there has been a significant rise in hostility manifestations between secular Jews and religious Jews in the past year and pointed to violent haredi demonstrations involving vandalism and violence towards police officers.
Inter-religious conflicts are also mentioned: “There were reports on haredi Jews insulting and spitting at priests and nuns, and defacing with graffiti and throwing garbage and dead cats at monasteries in Jerusalem.”
In the field of religious coercion, the report pointed to the separation between men and women in services in the Western Wall and the operation of the ultra-Orthodox chastity squads.
The State Department also reported that the “public transportation company, Egged, continued to operate some sex-segregated buses along inter-and intra-city routes frequented by ultra-Orthodox Jews” and noted that “women who refused to sit at the back of such buses risked harassment and physical assault by male passengers.”
The report states that “ultra-Orthodox groups that proselytize secular Jews, encouraging them to adopt ultra-Orthodox practices and beliefs, enjoyed government funding.” On the other hand, it was also noted that the Supreme Court continued to issue rulings based on freedom of religion and equality. The report also addressed the growing tension between the Orthodox establishment and the secular courts, particularly in relation to the Emmanuel affair.
Chairman of the Hiddush foundation For Freedom of Religion and Equality, Rabbi Uri Regev said in response: “It appears that when it comes to religious freedom Israel is closer to radical Islam countries than the Western democratic world.
“The report discusses at length the Israeli government’s capitulation to the haredi parties’ extortion and the way in which it compromises marriage rights, freedom of worship, women’s dignity, the immigrant population, the non-Jewish communities and many others as part of a policy which gains power by funding religious institutes and capitulting to religious coercion while disregarding the will of the majority of the Jewish people in Israel and in the Diaspora.”
Israel turns in 6th straight quarter of growth
Gross domestic product grew annualized 3.8% in third quarter, Central Bureau of Statistics says in initial estimate, but falling exports stemming from weak US and European economies slowed rate and are expected to dampen growth into 2011
Israel’s economy grew for a sixth straight quarter in the July-September period, but falling exports stemming from weak US and European economies slowed the rate and are expected to dampen growth into 2011.
Gross domestic product grew an annualized 3.8% in the third quarter, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in an initial estimate on Tuesday. A Reuters survey of nine analysts had forecast a 3.2% increase.
Growth slowed from a 4.5% pace in the second quarter but the economy has expanded at least 3.6% in every three-month period since the third quarter of 2009, as Israel rebound from a brief recession in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The Bank of Israel forecasts 4% growth in 2010, easing to 3.8% in 2011. The economy grew 0.8% to NIS 768 billion (about $210 billion) in 2009.
“The economy is very robust. We are seeing a rapid growth rate and other drivers are making up for the drop in exports, so the total economy is in pretty good shape,” said HSBC economist Jonathan Katz. “Because of the soft global environment, growth may come down a notch to 3.4%.”
Some analysts believe the data support another short-term interest rate increase later this month. Strong growth and high inflation expectations have already led to six, quarter-point rate increases to 2% since August 2009.
Israel’s two main growth drivers – exports and consumer spending – were weak in the third quarter and resulted in a slowdown from the previous quarter. However, a jump in government spending and in investments softened the blow.
“The composition of growth was disappointing. Private consumption was very weak, exports and imports declined sharply and most of the contribution to growth came from public consumption, from investment in residential construction and from the activity of start-up companies,” said Michael Sarel, head of economic research at Harel Finance.
Consumer spending slowed to a growth rate of 1.3%, mainly due to a large decline in spending on durable goods, while exports fell 9.6%.
Exports – which comprise more than 40% of Israel’s economic activity – grew sharply in the prior four quarters but slipped in the third quarter due to weak US and European economies, which account for some 70% of Israeli exports.
Imports dipped 4.6% for the first decline since the first quarter of 2009.
Government spending rose 10.2% after marginal gains in the prior two quarters and investment in fixed assets increased 9.7% to continue strong gains this year following a weak 2009.
“The composition of the data shows the start of a process moving to growth based on domestic demand compared with early stages of exiting the recession that was based on higher exports,” said Rafi Gozlan, an economist at Leader Capital Markets.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer believes the country needs to base its economy more on domestic activity than exports. He has urged exporters to expand sales to faster growing markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Excluding state spending, Israel’s economy grew 3.9% in the third quarter, slower than a 5.1% pace in the second quarter.
Second-quarter GDP growth was unrevised at 4.5%.
Onward, Jewish Soldiers
A surge of ‘knitted skullcaps’ is transforming Israel’s military—and that worries their secular countrymen.
Among the elite troops of the Israeli military’s Maglan special-forces unit, Naftali Bennett was an oddity. As an officer in the unit in the early 1990s, he commanded more than 80 young men, all of them secular and many from kibbutzim communities aligned with the left-center Labor Party. Bennett is an observant Jew, and among combat officers throughout the military he was one of the few who wore a yarmulke, didn’t travel on Saturdays, and never ate cheeseburgers because of the Jewish ban on mixing milk and meat.
Now long a civilian, Bennett had a chance recently to visit with new recruits in his old unit. Two things struck him: the large number of religious Jews among the young men, and the Army’s extraordinary efforts to accommodate them. “In my day, no one gave it a thought,” he says.
A transformation is sweeping the Israeli military: deeply religious Jews are now filling leadership positions in numbers far exceeding their share of the general population. Given that religious Israelis tend to be more hawkish than most, the trend raises a real question about whether Israel can rely on the Army to implement the toughest parts of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.
U.S. efforts to keep the talks alive continued last week as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government weighed a new 90-day ban on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But if a peace deal is ever achieved, it would undoubtedly require the evacuation of at least some settlements—a job for the Army. Some defense analysts and former officers worry that the military’s new religiosity could lead to mass insubordination. “If soldiers decide they don’t want to participate, that’s one thing,” says Mikhael Manekin, a reserve lieutenant who co-chairs the left-wing group Breaking the Silence. “If commanders don’t want to participate, that would be much more worrying.” (Manekin says all his commanding officers were settlers during his four years of active duty.)
The threat isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. Ever since the government demolished the West Bank settlement of Homesh in 2005, former residents have kept trying to establish an illegal outpost there, and authorities have kept sending troops to evict them. A year ago, during swearing-in ceremonies for new recruits of the Shimshon Battalion in Jerusalem, several soldiers unfurled a banner proclaiming: SHIMSHON DOES NOT EVACUATE HOMESH. The military court-martialed the perpetrators, sentenced them to the brig, and expelled them from their unit. But in the weeks that followed, similar signs were displayed at two other units’ training bases.
Although the military publishes little information about the backgrounds of its enlistees, a recent issue of the defense journal Maarachot reported that in recent years some 30 percent of graduates from the infantry officers’ course have defined themselves as “Zionist-religious,” up from only 2.5 percent 20 years ago. (About 12 percent of Israelis in general choose that label.) Many of those fledgling lieutenants, along with a number of higher-ranking combat officers, were drawn from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and some are residents of outposts—smaller, makeshift settlements—established without authorization from the government.
The mere specter of widespread refusal is enough to make the government think twice before ordering evacuations, whether of settlements or of outposts, says sociologist Yagil Levy, who specializes in military trends. (The threat might explain why most outposts remain standing despite Israel’s promise to dismantle dozens of them under a U.S. initiative back in 2003.) Some analysts have suggested that the police should handle future evacuations, rather than the Army.
The rise within the military of the “knitted skullcaps” has been building for years. In the 1990s, after the controversial first Lebanon war, many liberal Israelis stopped encouraging their kids to go beyond the mandatory three years of national service. “We secular people can only blame ourselves for no longer being able to convince our kids to spend as many years in the military as in the past,” says Avshalom Vilan, a former member of Parliament from the left-wing Meretz Party and a kibbutznik.
At about the same time, more religious Israelis were concluding that their community should have played a larger role in building the country’s secular institutions decades earlier. Embracing military service more fervently was a way to make up for lost time. “The religious community has to be involved in all public institutions, not just the Army,” says Rabbi Eli Sadan, 62, at his home in the settlement of Eli, deep in the West Bank. “That’s the revolution we’re creating.” Sadan oversees one of a string of West Bank pre-military academies where rabbis teach Torah and Jewish philosophy for up to two years while preparing students for military service and imbuing them (this is where some secular Israelis get nervous) with a religious sense of mission. Most graduates forgo the option of serving in strictly religious units, mixing instead with the general population.
The religious-run military academies have had a big role in reshaping the Army. Of Eli’s 2,500 alumni, about half have served as officers in combat detachments, and a quarter have spent time in the military’s most elite units. Twenty-one of the graduates have been killed in action, most in recent years. Their names and photos are displayed on the wall of a memorial room at the academy, except for one—a lieutenant colonel, killed in Lebanon; his unit is so secretive that his photo cannot be shown even after his death, say people at the academy.
That kind of heroism has brought respect. Nevertheless, critics worry about the loyalty of religious Jews in uniform: if tested, would they obey their commanders or their rabbis? In fact, a number of rabbis in West Bank settlements have repeatedly urged soldiers not to evacuate Jews from settlements in case the order is ever given. “How can anyone even consider commanding a Jew, for whom the mitzvah [commandment] to settle the Land of Israel is so central, to destroy a settlement and to displace its residents?” wrote the influential Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of the Har Bracha settlement in an online column last year. When “a ruling of the Israeli government clashes with the essential commandment to settle the Land of Israel,” Melamed wrote, “there is clear and unquestionable preference for the law of the Torah.”
To be sure, not all religious Jews support the settler movement. Even among those who do, many believe that maintaining the Army’s cohesion is more important than even the most sacred political battle. Sadan is quick to point out that few religious soldiers disobeyed orders during Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. But the evacuation of Gaza involved only 10,000 settlers. They number 300,000 in the West Bank, which is much holier to religious Jews. That settlers are among the company and battalion commanders serving in the West Bank is itself problematic, says sociologist Levy. He cites cases of soldiers who leaked information to settlers about planned evacuations of outposts, giving settlers time to organize resistance.
Others say Israel’s center of gravity will move further than ever to the right as religious Jews retire from the military’s senior ranks and move on to prestigious roles in civilian life. Bennett, the former member of Maglan, is a good example. He went on to found a startup company that he eventually sold to a U.S. firm for $145 million. Bennett now serves as the director of the settlers’ main political arm, the Yesha Council. “It’s a sea change for Israel,” he says. He’s certainly no oddity now.
Obama’s ‘bribe’ is last hope for peace
NAZARETH–Watching the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians drag on year after year without conclusion, it is easy to overlook the enormous changes that have taken place on the ground since the Oslo Accords were signed 17 years ago.
Each of those changes has undermined the Palestinians’ primary goal of achieving viable statehood – whether it is the near-trebling of the number of Jewish settlers on Palestinian land, or Israel’s increasing stranglehold on East Jerusalem, or the wall that has effectively annexed large slices of the West Bank to Israel, or the splitting of the Palestinian national movement into rival camps following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
Another setback of similar magnitude may be unfolding as Barack Obama dangles a lavish package of incentives in the face of Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to lure the Israeli prime minister into renewing a three-month, partial freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.
The generosity of the US president’s package, which includes 20 combat aircraft worth $3 billion and backing for Israel’s continued military presence in the Jordan Valley after the declaration of a Palestinian state, is so noteworthy that one influential columnist, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, said it amounted to a “bribe”.
Israeli officials said yesterday they were still waiting to see a text of the deal worked out between Mr Netanyahu and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in seven hours of negotiation.
But besides the Jordan Valley concession and the offer of combat jets that would effectively double the annual aid from the US, the deal is said to include a promise by Washington to veto for the next year any UN resolutions Israel opposes and to refrain from demanding any future limits on settlement growth.
With such a bounty in his grasp, it appears Mr Netanyahu will be able to gain agreement from his right-wing cabinet for a brief settlement freeze that this time, the US has indicated, will not include East Jerusalem.
In reaching this juncture in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy, Mr Obama has nearly exhausted his political capital, and there were intimations this week that the White House felt it could afford no further humiliation and was going for broke.
The timetable for negotiation now calls for reaching an agreement on borders within three months – the duration of the settlement construction freeze – followed by a final resolution of the conflict within a year or so.
The logic behind this ambitious schedule – an expression of either confidence or wishful thinking, depending on your point of view – is that a renewal of the freeze will be unnecessary in three months because an agreement on borders will already have established whether a settlement is permitted to expand.
In a similarly optimistic vein, the US apparently expects the problem of refugees simply to dissolve through the creation of a special international fund to compensate them. The right of return appears to be off the table.
If these obstacles can be surmounted this way – a very big “if” – only one significant point of contention, the future of East Jerusalem, remains to be resolved.
This is where things get more awkward. The US is not proposing that the three-month freeze apply to East Jerusalem, after settlement-building there caused friction between Israel and the US during the last freeze.
This concession and the outlines of a previous US peace proposal under president Bill Clinton hint at Washington’s most likely strategy. East Jerusalem will be divided, with the large settlement blocs, home to at least 200,000 Jews, handed over to Israel while the Old City and its holy places fall under a complicated shared sovereignty.
In the face of this intense US-Israeli diplomacy, Palestinians are dismayed. They have described the agreement between the US and Mr Netanyahu as “deeply disappointing” and are demanding from the White House similarly generous inducements to ease their path back to negotiations. The Arab League, which has taken a prominent role in overseeing the Palestinian negotiations, has also objected to the deal.
According to the US-Israeli scenario, the Palestinians will be left with a patchwork of disconnected areas – what Israel has previously termed “bubbles” – as their capital.
If the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, can be made to swallow all this, which seems highly improbable, he will then have to contend with Hamas, the rival Palestinian faction, which can be expected to do everything in its power to disrupt such an agreement.
And then there is Mr Netanyahu. It is by no means clear that he has become what Israelis like to call, with a different party in mind, a “partner for peace”. Few Israeli analysts think he has suddenly become more amenable to US plans.
Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University in the Negev and author of an important study of the occupation, believes the Israeli prime minister is simply playing the part demanded by Mr Obama.
“He is taking the US ‘merchandise’ on offer, but will hold firm on key issues that guarantee the talks’ failure. That way he gets the credit for keeping the negotiations on track and lets the Palestinians take the blame for walking out.”
This sounds suspiciously like a re-run of the last proper peace talks, at Camp David in 2000. Then, Israeli intransigence stalled the negotiations, but Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, was blamed by the US and Israel for their collapse.
The Camp David failure led to the outbreak of Palestinian violence, the second intifada, and the demise of the Israeli peace camp. Mr Netanyahu may be prepared to risk a repeat of both such outcomes from these talks if it means he can avoid making any real concessions on Palestinian statehood.
No, Mr. Netanyahu, you and yours are responsible for the “demonization” of Israel
By Alan Hart
When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America recently, he was relaxed, charming and at his deluded best. For Jewish audiences which don’t want to know the truth of history, there’s nobody who can deliver Zionism’s propaganda lines and lies more effectively than him. (Though he didn’t say so, he was obviously delighted that President Obama had taken a hammering in the mid-term elections).
I could take issue with Netanyahu on many of his mad assertions but on this occasion I will settle for challenging just one of them.
At a point he was quite (not completely) fulsome in his praise for Theodore Herzl, who is generally regarded as the founding father of Zionism’s colonial enterprise. Herzl, Netanyahu said, was right about many things. “He was right about the conflagration that would soon engulf Europe and right about the need for a Jewish state and for a Jewish army to defend that state.”
What Netanyahu didn’t say is that before he came up with the idea of a Jewish state, actually in places other than Palestine, Herzl believed that the only way for the problem of anti-Semitism to be solved was by Jews converting to Christianity. As his complete and uncensored dairies reveal, Herzl put a great deal of effort into advocating such a course of action and trying and failing to make it happen.
Netanyahu went on (my emphasis added):
“Yet Herzl was too optimistic in believing that the rebirth of the Jewish state would gradually put an end to anti-Semitism.
“The establishment of Israel did not end the hatred towards the Jews. It merely redirected it. The old hatred against the Jewish people is now focused against the Jewish state… Today in many quarters Israel is demonized, singled out and denied the rights automatically granted to other nations, first and foremost the right of self-defense.”
My first point of challenge is this. After the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, and because of it, the giant of anti-Semitism would most likely have gone back to sleep, remained asleep and, most probably, died in its sleep if – IF Zionism had not been allowed by the major powers to have its way, ethnic cleansing and all.
My second and related point of challenge is this. What we are witnessing in the world today is not anti-Semitism re-directed but a gathering, global manifestation of anti-Israelism.
This is happening because of the Zionist (not Jewish) state’s arrogance of power, including its resort from time to time to state terrorism; its contempt for, and defiance of, international law and a host of UN Security Council resolutions; and its insufferable self-righteousness.
Simply stated, the more the peoples of nations (if not their governments) become aware of Israel’s racist policies and criminal actions, and that its leaders are not interested in peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims could just about accept, the more anti-Israelism will continue to grow.
Implicitly Netanyahu was saying to his audience – he didn’t need to be explicit – that if American Jews do not support without question whatever Israel does, there is a danger that it will not be capable of becoming the refuge of last resort for all the Jews of the world when it turns against them.
The truth and the tragedy in the making is the opposite of what Netanyahu was implying. The only way for American and European Jews to best protect their own interests is by distancing themselves from Zionism’s monster child.
In an article for The Financial Times on 7 December 2009, the late Tony Judt put it this way:
“If the Jews of Europe and North America took their distance from Israel, the assertion that Israel was ‘their’ state would take on an absurd air. Over time, even Washington might come to see the futility of attaching American foreign policy to the delusions of one small Middle Eastern state. This, I believe, is the best thing that could possibly happen to Israel itself. It would be obliged to acknowledge its limits. It would have to make other friends, preferably among its neighbours.”
In the Epilogue to Volume Three of the American edition of my book, ZIONISM: THE REAL ENEMY OF THE JEWS, sub-titled Conflict Without End?, I speculate that an Israel that was obliged by the Jews of the world to acknowledge its limits might also be an Israel that was prepared to listen to the wise words of one of its own – Avraham Burg. Between 1999 and 2003 he was the speaker of the Knesset. By the end of his term in that office he was a leading advocate of the idea that Israel and a viable Palestinian state could coexist in peace. In August 2003 he wrote a most remarkable essay which was published in its original Hebrew by Yediot Aharonot and subsequently newspapers in Europe and America.
His lead point was that Israel had to “shed its illusions” and choose between “racist oppression and democracy.” The Jewish people, he wrote, “did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programmes or anti-missile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto nations. In this we have failed.”
My own guess is that Netanyahu’s biggest fear is that America’s Jews might be on their way to understanding that support for Israel right or wrong is not in their own best interests. There is some evidence to suggest that might, repeat might, be so. If it is, perhaps there is some reason to hope that the countdown to Armageddon can be stopped before it is too late.
Pollard’s father: He’s served too long
Father of Israeli spy jailed in United States for 25 years calls for release of son in Washington Post editorial; asks whether Obama will ‘bring injustice to long overdue end or be partner in its perpetuation?’
Pressure in the United States to release jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard continues to mount – The Washington Post on Saturday published an article written by Pollard’s father, Professor Morris Pollard, in which he calls for his son’s release.
The article, titled “Locked up for too long,” was published ahead of the 25th anniversary to Pollard’s arrest, which will be marked on Sunday.
“Twenty-five years ago this month, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian naval intelligence analyst, was arrested for passing to Israel classified US data concerning Iraq, Syria and other Arab states, including evidence of Saddam Hussein’s development of chemical weapons,” his father writes.
“Pollard was later sentenced to life in prison – the only person to receive such a punishment for spying for an American ally or neutral country,” he adds.
In his article, Pollard cites Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense at the time of Pollard’s arrest, who has been actively campaigning to release his jailed son.
Among his activities, Korb has appealed to President Barack Obama and asked him to mitigate Pollard’s prison sentence.
Prof. Pollard also mentions an editorial published by the newspaper in December 1993, which also called to alleviate Pollard’s punishment.”(Former) Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was urging President Bill Clinton to commute Pollard’s sentence to the eight years then served. That call was supported by members of Congress and a range of prominent religious and political figures,” he writes.
In the editorial, Prof. Pollard claims other spies received much lighter sentences: “CIA agent David Barnett, who sold the Soviets the names of 30 American agents, was sentenced to 18 years and paroled after 10. Michael Walker, a key figure in the Walker family Soviet spy ring, was sentenced to 25 years and released after serving 15. William Kampiles, a CIA officer who sold the Soviets the operating manual to the KH-11 satellite, America’s “eye in the sky,” received a 40-year sentence and was released after 18 years.”
According to Pollard senior, “The message of those still opposed to Pollard’s release is that, apparently, we can wink at espionage on behalf of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and China; we can limit the punishments of those who expose American agents, compromise sophisticated US electronic intelligence capabilities, advance the development of enemy weapons systems and even fight alongside enemy combatants – but that unauthorized transmittal of classified data about Arab states to warn Israel of existential threats is unforgivable. For that crime even 25 years in prison is not enough.”
At the bottom of the article, he concludes with an open ended question, writing “A petition for executive clemency for Jonathan Pollard sits on President Obama’s desk. Will he bring the injustice in this affair to a long overdue end or be a partner in its perpetuation?”
PM asks for Pollard’s release as part of freeze deal
‘Post’ told of new bid for jailed agent’s release on 25th anniversary of his arrest, with support of notable American and Israeli officials involved in Pollard’s arrest.
Sunday is the 25th anniversary of Pollard’s arrest at the gates of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He is serving a life sentence in prison in Butner, North Carolina, for passing classified information to an ally, a charge that normally carries a sentence of no more than 10 years.
When Army Radio first reported last month that Pollard’s name had been raised in talks with senior American officials about restarting the settlement freeze, Israeli officials denied that his fate was on the bargaining table. But sources confirmed that Netanyahu and American officials had discussed whether Pollard’s release could persuade Israeli ministers to accept another moratorium.
The sources said American officials had sought to determine whether Pollard’s release could result in Netanyahu agreeing to renew the freeze, and if so, by how much. The sources said such discussions had occurred recently, but they did not know whether Pollard’s fate had been raised in a seven-and-a-half-hour meeting between Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on November 11, in which the prime minister agreed to seek approval in the security cabinet for a three-month freeze in return for a series of gestures that reportedly do not include releasing Pollard.
The Post quoted sources last month who said that “no minister in Netanyahu’s government would oppose a two-month extension of the settlement freeze in return for Pollard’s freedom.”
Netanyahu faced criticism forrefusing to take along a letter from 109 MKs asking US President Barack Obama to grant Pollard clemency when he met with Vice President Joe Biden in New Orleans on November 8. But the source said Netanyahu had been active behind the scenes recently in seeking Pollard’s release.
Justice For Jonathan Pollard and the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home have unequivocally called for his release, “as a matter of simple justice, not as part of any deal that would weaken Israel or endanger other Jews in any way.”
Nevertheless, the organizations called it shocking that Israel would even consider making a major gesture to the Americans at this time without first pulling Pollard out of harm’s way.
“Israel’s continuing failure to demonstrate the most minimal responsibility for the fate of her agent is shocking, particularly in light of all of the latest revelations of government malfeasance by both the US and Israel toward Pollard for the last 25 years,” the organizations said in a statement.
“If there is any American ‘incentive’ to release Pollard as a gesture to Israel – and a matter of simple justice – it is particularly at a time when the US is negotiating with Israel for what it wants. Now is the time to secure Pollard’s release, before any gestures are considered by Israel. Our position remains, now more than ever: Pollard must be freed as a matter of simple justice – and he must be freed now.”
In the weeks ahead of Sunday’s 25th anniversary, notable American and Israeli officials who were involved with Pollard’s arrest have pushed for his release. The officials include Pollard’s former handler, Rafi Eitan, and Lawrence Korb, who was undersecretary of state under Caspar Weinberger at the time of Pollard’s arrest.
The latest to join the list was Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who was an attaché in Washington and the most senior official at the Israeli Embassy on the day Pollard was arrested. In a speech at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem on November 15, Rubinstein said he heard about the arrest only after it happened.
“I hope and believe that the government of Israel will continue to act to free Jonathan Pollard,” he said. “Many mistakes have been made. But there is no way to go back and undo the past. The time has come, for both moral and humane reasons, to free Jonathan Pollard.
“Twenty-five years is a heavy price. It is my hope that the United States, as an enlightened country, will release him.”
On November 18, Congressmen Barney Frank, Bill Pascrell Jr., Anthony Weiner and Steven Rothman, along with representatives of major US Jewish organizations, held a press conference to call for Obama to grant Pollard clemency.
At the press conference, they released a letter to Obama, signed by 39 Democratic members of Congress, asking him to act on the Pollard issue.
“We believe that there has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served – or not served at all – by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations that, like Israel, are not adversarial to us,” the letter says.
“It is indisputable in our view that the nearly 25 years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.”
The signatories stress that were Pollard released now, it would “not in any way imply doubt about his guilt, nor cast any aspersions on the process by which he was convicted.”
They called clemency for Pollard after his 25-year sentence an “act of compassion.”
The release of Pollard, a former US Navy intelligence analyst who is serving a life sentence for selling classified material to Israel, was recently floated as a possible bargaining chip for the US in its quest to convince Netanyahu to extend a settlement freeze that the Palestinians are demanding as a condition to restart stalled peace talks.
Additionally, Pollard’s lawyer has recently filed a clemency request with the White House after revelations suggesting government malfeasance in the case surfaced.
The congressmen who signed on to the letter to Obama did not cite these developments in making their appeal.
“The fact that Mr. Pollard’s sentence has been unduly harsh compared to sentences of other individuals convicted of similar crimes is wrong,” Rothman said. “The crime he committed was very serious, but the time that he has served, 25 years, has fully met the needs of punishment and deterrence. Also, Mr. Pollard has long expressed remorse for his actions.”
NATO planning integral role in enforcing Mideast peace deal
NATO chief tells Haaretz that alliance will enforce, but not forge, Mideast peace.
LISBON – NATO will play an integral role in enforcing a Middle East peace deal, but will not play a direct role in reaching that agreement, the alliance’s secretary general told Haaretz this weekend.
|Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaking at the NATO conference on Saturday.|
|Photo by: AP|
“If a Middle East peace agreement is reached, an international military force will be needed to monitor and implement it,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
At a press briefing in the Portuguese capital, the secretary general said that unlike its member states, NATO as an organization is not involved in the peace process, but expressed support for the efforts of the United States and the other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast peace negotiators to reach a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rasmussen will visit Israel in February of the coming year.
At center stage throughout the weekend summit was Afghanistan, and NATO member states agreed to continue the military campaign in the country until 2014 at least. Also on the agenda were NATO’s increasingly friendly relations with Russia, the need to bolster Europe’s defenses against surface-to-surface missiles and streamlining the alliance’s military and administrative networks.
Meeting in the Portuguese capital yesterday and the day before, the heads of government of NATO’s 28 members states signed on to a new strategic doctrine for the coming decade. The document’s central tenets are a reaffirmation of collective defense, deterrence and resource allocation, crisis management, and advancing security and stability – even beyond the North Atlantic theater of North America and Europe.
The doctrine was formulated based on the recommendations of a committee of experts assembled by former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright. Among other issues, the panel’s report offered recommendations relating to the Israeli-Arab conflict, but prior to the document’s authorization on Friday, representatives of member states decided not to touch on the issue.
When asked why the document contained no explicit reference to Iran, a country highlighted by Albright’s panel as a multi-pronged threat and the primary reason to invest in the deployment of surface-to-surface missiles in Europe, Rasmussen reaffirmed NATO’s official stance – which cites the over 30 countries that own or seek to own advanced weapons that could cause harm to the Euro-Atlantic region.
This ambiguous phrasing was adopted following pressure from Turkey, a country widely seen as forging ever-closer ties to Iran. Ankara also expressed its opposition to providing information gathered by the European missile-defense system – planned to be based partially on its soil – to “non-NATO countries,” wording that could be perceived as code for Israel.
A high-ranking official in a Western government said that at the meeting of the heads of state, French President Nicolas Sarkozy raged against the “verbal contortions” surrounding the missile-defense system. “We all know we’re talking about Iran,” Sarkozy reportedly said.
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul (representing the country in the absence of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ) did not respond to Sarkozy’s remarks, but instead expressed opposition to what he called NATO’s preferential treatment of Cyprus in circumventing Turkey’s veto of the island country’s participation in NATO negotiations with the European Union.
One result of the new NATO doctrine will likely be closer relations with non-member states. This weekend, NATO sources said high-level officials at the organization’s Brussels headquarters are cognizant of Israel’s disappointment with its apparently downgraded ties with NATO over the past few years, and are laying groundwork for strengthening those ties.
The North Atlantic Council – NATO’s most senior governing body – also announced it would launch bilateral relations (in contrast to collective ties ) with Israel and the six Arab states that comprise the Mediterranean Dialogue. Egypt and several other of the Arab states have tried to prevent NATO from forging closer ties with Israel.
Pentagon Blows up Thousands of Homes in Afghanistan
Repeating the horrors of the Vietnam War
By Brian Becker
November 19, 2010 “ANSWER” — Borrowing a page from its infamous “pacification” effort in South Vietnam, where peasant villages were napalmed and burned to the ground to “save them from the communists,” the Obama-ordered surge in Afghanistan has been secretly blowing up thousands of homes and leveling portions of the Afghan countryside.
As tens of thousands of U.S. troops have surged into southern Afghanistan, villagers have fled. Then the Petraeus-led occupation forces have determined which homes will be destroyed.
“In Arghandab District, for instance, every one of the 40 homes in the village of Khosrow was flattened by a salvo of 25 missiles, according to the district governor, Shah Muhammed Ahmadi, who estimated that 120 to 130 houses had been demolished in his district,” reported the New York Times, Nov. 16, 2010.
The Pentagon asserts that they must destroy the homes because some of them may have explosive devices inside.
The Pentagon’s murderous rampage and terror campaign 40 years ago against South Vietnamese villages, in areas that were considered sympathetic to the resistance forces, used much of the same kind of explanation. In fact, the New York Times in a throw back to Vietnam quotes the Arghandab District Governor, who is working with the occupation forces: “We had to destroy them to make them safe.”
That this tactic is part of a high-tech terror campaign against Afghan villages and the people who inhabit them is evident even by the descriptions and accounts of western media outlets that are supporting the war.
Again, from the New York Times, Nov. 16, 2010, which describes weapons as tools:
“American troops are using an impressive array of tools not only to demolish homes, but also to eliminate tree lines where insurgents could hide, blow up outbuildings, flatten agricultural walls, and carve new “military roads,” because existing ones are so heavily mined, according to journalists embedded in the area recently.
“One of the most fearsome tools is the Miclic, the M58 Mine-Clearing Line Charge, a chain of explosives tied to a rocket, which upon impact destroys everything in a swath 30 feet wide and 325 feet long. The Himars missile system, a pod of 13-foot rockets carrying 200-pound warheads, has also been used frequently for demolition work.
“Often, new military roads go right through farms and compounds, cutting a route that will keep soldiers safe from roadside bombs. In Zhare District alone, the 101st Airborne’s Second Brigade has lost 30 soldiers since last June, mostly to such bombs.”
Activists at the organization Afghanistan Rights Monitor described the destroyed homes. “These are all mud houses, quite humble houses.”
When Gen. David Petraeus describes his counter-insurgency strategy, he always puts in a few diplomatic words about the need of surging troops to win the “hearts and minds” of the people in Afghanistan’s poverty stricken villages. That is purely for public consumption—a message echoed endlessly by the complicit corporate-owned media and the politicians of both parties that serves as a mask for the Pentagon’s campaign of systematic terror employed to subdue an occupied people.
On Dec. 16, 2010, anti-war veterans and people of conscience will stand up in a dramatic action in opposition to the terror campaign waged from the White House and Pentagon. Join us in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 16 and be part of history. http://www.answercoalition.org
An American Bribe that Stinks of Appeasement
By Robert Fisk
(The Independent) – - In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latter’s reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody else’s property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollars’ worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem – so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital – and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obama’s offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.
Anyone who panders to injustice by one people against another people is called an appeaser. Anyone who prefers peace at any price, let alone a $3bn bribe to the guilty party – is an appeaser. Anyone who will not risk the consequences of standing up for international morality against territorial greed is an appeaser. Those of us who did not want to invade Afghanistan were condemned as appeasers. Those of us who did not want to invade Iraq were vilified as appeasers. Yet that is precisely what Obama has done in his pathetic, unbelievable effort to plead with Netanyahu for just 90 days of submission to international law. Obama is an appeaser.
The fact that the West and its political and journalistic elites – I include the ever more disreputable New York Times – take this tomfoolery at face value, as if it can seriously be regarded as another “step” in the “peace process”, to put this mystical nonsense “back on track”, is a measure of the degree to which we have taken leave of our senses in the Middle East.
It is a sign of just how far America (and, through our failure to condemn this insanity, Europe) has allowed its fear of Israel – and how far Obama has allowed his fear of Israeli supporters in Congress and the Senate – to go.
Three billion dollars for three months is one billion dollars a month to stop Israel’s colonisation. That’s half a billion dollars a fortnight. That’s $500m a week. That’s $71,428,571 a day, or $2,976,190 an hour, or $49,603 a minute. And as well as this pot of gold, Washington will continue to veto any resolutions critical of Israel in the UN and prevent “Palestine” from declaring itself a state. It’s worth invading anyone to get that much cash to stage a military withdrawal, let alone the gracious gesture of not building more illegal colonies for only 90 days while furiously continuing illegal construction in Jerusalem at the same time.
The Hillary Clinton version of this grotesquerie would be funny if it was not tragic. According to the sharp pen of the NYT’s Roger Cohen, La Clinton has convinced herself that Palestine is “achievable, inevitable and compatible with Israel’s security”. And what persuaded Madame Hillary of this? Why, on a trip to the pseudo-Palestine “capital” of Ramallah last year, she saw the Jewish settlements – “the brutality of it was so stark” according to one of her officials – but thought her motorcade was being guarded by the Israeli army because “they’re so professional”. And then, lo and behold, they turned out to be a Palestinian military guard, a “professional outfit” – and all this changed Madame’s views!
Quite apart from the fact that the Israeli army is a rabble, and that indeed, the Palestinians are a rabble too, this “road to Ramallah” incident led supporters of Madame, according to Cohen, to realise that there had been a transition “from a self-pitying, self-dramatising Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood, to a self-affirming culture of pragmatism and institution-building”. Palestinian “prime minister” Salam Fayyad, educated in the US so, naturally, a safe pair of hands, has put “growth before grumbling, roads before ranting, and security before everything”.
Having been occupied by a brutal army for 43 years, those wretched, dispossessed Palestinians, along with their cousins in the West Bank who have been homeless for 62 years, have at last stopped ranting and grumbling and feeling sorry for themselves and generally play-acting in order to honour the only thing that matters. Not justice. Certainly not democracy, but to the one God which Christians, Jews and Muslims are all now supposed to worship: security.
Yes, they have joined the true brotherhood of mankind. Israel will be safe at last. That this infantile narrative now drives the woman who told us 11 years ago that Jerusalem was “the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel” proves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has now reached its apogee, its most treacherous and final moment. And if Netanyahu has any sense – I’m talking abut the Zionist, expansionist kind – he will wait out the 90 days, then thumb his nose at the US. In the three months of “good behaviour”, of course, the Palestinians will have to bite the bullet and sit down to “peace” talks which will decide the future borders of Israel and “Palestine”. But since Israel controls 62 per cent of the West Bank this leaves Fayyad and his chums about 10.9 per cent of mandate Palestine to argue about.
And at the cost of $827 a second, they’d better do some quick grovelling. They will. We should all hang our heads in shame. But we won’t. It’s not about people. It’s about presentation. It’s not about justice. It’s about “security”. And cash. Lots of it. Goodbye Palestine.
What If NATO Is Defeated In Afghanistan?
By Eric S. Margolis
Amazing as it sounds, NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance, may be losing the only war the 61-year old pact every fought. All its soldiers, heavy bombers, tanks, helicopter gunships, armies of mercenaries, and electronic gear are being beaten by a bunch of lightly-armed Afghan farmers and mountain tribesmen.
This weekend in Lisbon, NATO’s 28 members face deepening differences over the Afghanistan War as public opinion in the United States, Canada and Europe continue to turn against the conflict.
President Barack Obama again painfully showed he is not fully in charge of US foreign policy. His pledge to begin withdrawing some US troops from Afghanistan next July has been brazenly – even scornfully – contradicted by US generals and strongly opposed by resurgent Congressional Republicans. Hardly anyone believes the president’s withdrawal date.
Obama is fresh from groveling before Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He pleaded with Israel’s leader to impose a short, token freeze on settlement building in exchange for a multi-billion dollar bribe from Washington of advanced US F-35 stealth warplanes, promises of UN vetoes, and raising the value of US arms stockpiled for Israel’s use to $1 billion. Rarely has a US president crawled so low.
Israel will likely take Obama’s bribe, with more sweeteners, but not before rubbing his face in the dirt to show who really runs US Mideast policy and as a warning not to mess with Israel. The last US president to challenge Israel’s colonization of the West Bank, George H. W. Bush, was ousted in 1992 after one term.
Obama appears to want out of the Afghan War. His final gamble of sending 30,000 more troops into the $7.5 billion monthly war has so far failed to produce the hoped-for decisive victory. But powerful pro-war groups, including the Pentagon, the arms industry and Republicans, are thwarting the weakened Obama’s attempts to wind down the war.
US, Canadian and European politicians who backed the Afghan War fear admitting the conflict was a huge waste of lives and treasure. Their political careers hang in the balance.
Canada’s prime minister, who is trying to assume the former role of Britain’s Tony Blair as Washington’s most obedient ally, just announced 900 Canadian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after his own pullout date, ostensibly for “training.”
That, of course, is the new euphemism for staying on as a permanent garrison to keep the Afghan client regime in power. “Training,” as with US forces in Iraq, really means the old British Raj’s native troops under white officers.
Canadian journalists who opposed continuation of the Afghan War, or exposed many of the lies that justify it, have been purged from their newspapers under pressure from the Harper government – which claims, ironically, to be fighting in Afghanistan for “democracy.”
While the US heads deeper into war and debt, its European allies are fed up with what was supposed to have been a limited “police action” to eliminate al-Qaida bases.
Instead, Europe got a full-scale war against Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes raising uneasy memories of its 19th-century colonial “pacifications.”
France’s new defense minister, Alain Juppé, openly called the Afghan conflict a “trap” for NATO and called for an exit strategy. He is quite right.
By contrast, British Defense Chief Gen. Sir David Richards, warned, “NATO now needs to plan for a 30 or 40 year role.” In short, permanent occupation. That may be the bottom line, at least for the imperial camp. Central Asia’s resources are the real reason.
The US-installed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is demanding the US scale back military operations and night raids that inflict heavy civilian casualties. Washington counters that Karzai is mentally unstable. He is marked to be overthrown once Washington can find a suitable Pashtun replacement.
America’s rational for invading Afghanistan was to destroy al-Qaida. But CIA chief Leon Panetta recently admitted there were no more than 50 al-Qaida operatives left in Afghanistan. The rest – no more than few hundred – fled to Pakistan years ago.
So what are 110,000 US troops and 40,000 NATO troops doing in Afghanistan? Certainly not nation-building. Most reports show Afghanistan is in worse poverty and distress than before the US invasion.
While the platitudes and synthetic optimism flowed thick at Lisbon, giant US Army bulldozers, demolition teams and artillery were busy leveling wide swathes of Afghan homes around the Pashtun stronghold, Kandahar. In 2006, US Marines conducted a similar ruthless campaign to crush the rebellious Iraqi city of Falluja.
The US is using the same punitive tactics in Afghanistan and Iraq as Israel employs on the occupied West Bank: targeted assassinations, death squads, demolishing buildings and whole neighborhoods to punish and open fields of fire. In fact, the US military has often been guided by Israeli advisors in such operations.
Destroying large parts of Kandahar is a sign of growing US frustration and a sense the war is being lost. It certainly won’t win hearts and minds of the locals, the stated goal of US proconsul Gen. David Petraeus.
Like the rest of the Pentagon, Petraeus is determined that the mighty US military must not be defeated by Afghan tribesmen. The humiliation would be intolerable. Defeat in Afghanistan would bring demands for major cuts in the bloated US military, a Leviathan that consumes 50% of world military spending.
Washington’s so-called national security establishment (in Britain they used to be called “imperialists”) also fears failure in Afghanistan threatens to undermine the entire NATO alliance.
Europe is slowly re-emerging as a world power, however fitfully and painfully. NATO has been the primary tool of US geopolitical control of Western Europe since the late 1940’s. The Japan-US security pact has played the same role in north Asia.
The loss of the Afghan War by the US and its reluctant allies will call into question the reason for the alliance and likely hasten Europe building an integrated military independent of US control. America’s grip on Western Europe would be ended.
That is why Afghanistan so unnerves Washington’s right wingers. The defeat of Soviet armies in Afghanistan in 1989 began the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Could the same fate be in store for the American Raj?
Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2010 – http://www.ericmargolis.com/
Statement From The Afghan Resistance–The Americans Can No Longer Conceal Their Defeat
By Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
The White House has determined July 2011 as the deadline to begin withdrawing their defeated invader forces from Afghanistan. It is therefore necessary for them to justify this withdrawal in front of their civilians and the world at large by achieving some meaningful or tangible gain in Afghanistan.
To this end they have stationed over 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan along with all the military technology they can muster. The Americans have chosen Kandahar as their battleground both for its sentimental and strategic importance.
For the past nine months the Americans have been attempting their utmost to achieve some sort of military or political gain in Afghanistan. They employed all the propaganda tools at their disposal to turn the people away from the Mujahideen. However, failing to win the support of the people, the invaders resorted to the indiscriminate carpet bombings of the people’s lands and the mass murders of the innocent civilians. All this has caused the displacement of thousands of families from their lands and villages. However, despite all their trickeries and force, the battle for Kandahar has settled steadily in the Mujahideen’s favour.
The Mujahideen were, from the start of these operations, to carry out precise Commando-led operations against the nerve centres of the foreign forces and their puppet partners, thus seizing the initiative from the foreign occupiers. Not only did the Mujahideen conduct these operations in Kandahar city, but also extending to surrounding areas such as the airport, Dand, Arghandab, Zhiri, Panjwaee, and Maiwand districts. The head of the foreign barbarian forces, Nick Carter, last month, could not give any information on these operations to the media. This is mostly because the enemy neither knows the military strength of the Mujahideen nor their main bases. The Mujahideen, profiting from the Dagger and Marjah operations, were able to introduce several new tactics that have completely demoralised the invader forces. These tactics are the main reason why the Mujahideen have not abated their operations in the area in the winter season. These new tactics have placed the foreign invaders under significant military and domestic pressure.
Their failure in the Kandahar operations was also the main reason behind Obama’s supporters, the Democrats, defeat in the mid-term elections. Also due to their failures in the Kandahar operations, Obama’s approval ratings in America have sunk to 46% while the myth of America’s military superiority globally has been shattered. This Friday’s NATO meeting in Portugal will also address how the foreigners can prevent the escalating death toll of their soldiers in Afghanistan.
Though the eleventh month in Afghanistan is generally very cold and naturally impedes any military undertakings, the Mujahideen have been so active in Afghanistan that midway through the month, the invaders (who hide 90% of their real casualties in Afghanistan) by their own count have lost over 23 soldiers in this month. In summary it has become clear that after nine years of occupation, the invaders are doomed towards the same fate as those that tread this path before them. Their troop surges, their new strategies, their new generals, their new negotiations, and their new propagandas have been of no avail.
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan opines that the Americans have exhausted themselves in Afghanistan over the last nine years, and now will not stay long in our beloved country. What they could not gain in the last few months with their, then, fresh troops, they will not be able to gain in Kandahar, with their, now, demoralised and fearful troops. It is becoming manifest that the Americans will not be able to conceal their defeat in Afghanistan for too long. Therefore, the White House, instead of counting their mounting casualties in Afghanistan, would be better advised to formulate a withdrawal plan, to at least save those troops, which are still alive.
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