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Total number of comments: 149 (since 2011-04-05 12:01:17)

old leftie

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  • Obama outmaneuvers Netanyahu, at last
    • I was happy to see the interview in y-net, but I would stop short of claiming Obama outmaneuvered Netanyahu.

      "I imagine him saying: “Only do this if it’s a win either way… It’s a win if the impossible happens and we get a positive outcome, and it’s also a win if it produces nothing and we seize the moment to set the record straight as to who’s fundamentally at fault.”

      The only way it is a win to set the record straight on fault is if this is translated into an action ending the occupation of Palestine. I expected that Obama would either obtain a final status agreement (less likely) or pass the ball to the UN/EU having proved fault (more likely). Either way, it would be a win and well worth the enormous energy poured into this latest "peace process". Until Obama makes that pass... the Palestinians are more in danger now than they were before the Kerry mission.

  • Who will be the last neoconservative?
    • The Robert Kagan column in the Washington Post is stunning. Shocking. I felt the ground shifting under my feet:

      "Many members of Congress also believe that by backing the Egyptian military they are helping Israel, which, through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has actively lobbied Congress for full restoration of military aid." (isn't this an acknowledgement that AIPAC is acting as direct conduit for a foreign government?)

      "To Israel, which has never supported democracy anywhere in the Middle East except Israel, the presence of a brutal military dictatorship bent on the extermination of Islamism is not only tolerable but desirable."

      un-flucking-believable. unbelievable but real. this from a neocon Israel-firster. Is the world coming to an end or what? People have lost their jobs, their careers, their life as they knew it for saying this kind of thing in public.

    • "It appears that the PNAC site has been suspended. Some regretful neocon has evidently been scrubbing those letters from history."

      it matters not. Those PNAC letters are embedded in a special loop in our brains. We will never forget those flucking neocons and their wonderful plans for Israel -- with friends like these...

      Phil, thx for WaPo link, I will read it with interest. Also, why are you no longer posting my comments?

  • In historic interviews, US officials blame end of talks on Israeli land theft
    • try not to feel too badly, Krusty. My last several comments are still awaiting moderation. It could be either I'm too radical or too conservative...

    • "On April 29, the nine months allotted to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had run their course. What will also run its course is Indyk’s leave without pay. It is believed that in light of the stalemate in the talks, Indyk will not extend his leave and will walk away from the negotiations. However, a final decision has yet to be made. An explicit request from US President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry might change that."

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/martin-indyk-us-ambassador-israel-resignation-kerry-obama.html#ixzz30kU0ELlN

      I take a soupcon of heart from the implication that there was no request from Obama or Kerry that he stay on. The US needs to get out of the arena now and force the UN/EU to get in. I am shocked and dismayed that Obama did not make the pass -- maybe I'm just being impatient, but the Palestinians will not wait forever and the Israelis are getting positively scary. I believe they would welcome an intifada, go in full military and take what's "theirs" for once and all.

    • "...they still intend to help Israel block Palestine’s application to international organizations."

      Hostage, do you have any information on this other than the quote you highlighted from the y-net piece?

      Obama did say in his Bloomberg News interview last winter that if the peace talks went down the US would be unable to manage the international fallout -- but what does that actually translate to, according to your knowledge of UN processes/international law?

      In the past, the US veto meant everything. How can it be less than everything now that the peace talks have gone down? When Obama said "unable" do you think he was saying "will not"? Or "I'm bluffing"?

      How can it be somewhere in between? Isn't it either giving the veto as usual or abstaining?

  • The Algeria model -- a conversation with James D. Le Sueur
    • ok, Phil, you've brought el Cheapo to her knees. Donation on its' way to Mondoweiss as soon as I figure out how to do it. Great interview. Brilliant choice. And you asked all the right questions.

  • Kerry's Last Ditch Effort
    • "The thing is, nobody in US leadership position will float the idea of cutting off aid to Israel until they become more accountable"

      Citizen, this very point came up a lot in Matthew Taylor's piece on the y-net interview. American brought this up to me shortly after I began commenting at Mondoweiss. But the way I see it, there is a huge divide between Congress and the executive branch -- and it is Congress which votes 'the aid" (more accurately described as "a shakedown") The President can only do what he can do within his own part of government, we are a democracy not a dictatorship, Israel has found our weak spot and is milking it for all it's worth (which is quite a lot).

      The y-net interview dealt simply with the negotiations sponsored by the President as part of his foreign policy. It would have been ludicrous for the American presidential mission to have started complaining about Congress to an Israeli newspaper. There's nothing Obama can do about that, but he can put pressure on the Israelis during the peace talks and afterwards, which is what he did. I'm pretty sure this interview came from Obama through his man in Israel, Dan Shapiro the US ambassador. Ben Caspit is one of my fave Israeli journos at al-Monitor -- a couple of weeks ago when Kerry citing 'reality check' left Martin Indyk to carry on in his place, Caspit mentioned that Indyk was being closely advised by Dan Shapiro.

      also not to forget, yes what the American officials told y-net was naïve or worse to a Mondoweiss readership -- but it was directed to an Israeli readership. These guys are not as stupid as what they sound sometime. They knew the effect they wanted to produce.

      I haven't been following Rand Paul much but I did send his father several drafts of money when he ran for the Republican nomination in 2012. Always liked Ron Paul, he and Nader were not that far apart on most things...

    • a great political cartoon, and makes a point but doesn't tell the entire story. Kerry did bend over backwards to accommodate Netanyahu (for this alone he should get a medal, for services rendered over and above etc.) But he was also looking after US interests, as were every one of the presidential missions to the peace talks over the past 45 years. And as usual, the Israelis proved intransigent -- they are looking after their own interests, thank you very much America for your help etc. As far as Palestine is concerned, the US is not directly looking out for Palestinian interests but Palestine will get a leg up if the US prevails -- IOW, what is in US interests is also in Palestine interests. Israel is outside of both US & Palestine interests, fighting hard on the other side.

      Y-net has an incredibly revealing interview from 'an unnamed senior American official' (I think it might be Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel) going over what happened during the talks. Abbas is given a good hearing, Israel comes up short. How I wish we could get this kind of press in the US. Y-net is Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most-read newspaper, totally mainstream. This isn't a 'left-wing' piece from Ha'aretz

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4515821,00.html

    • very nicely put, Citizen. You have a way with words.

    • I can't comment on Russia, but it's hard to imagine anything more servile than the US press. Probably the Russian press has at least a basic understanding of Russian interests and writes to that.

  • Red Card for Racism: Activists demand FIFA kick out Israel
    • "...we are demanding Israel be kicked out of FIFA"

      Brilliant, Annie. Truly, this would be even better than boycotting Starbucks.

      "South Africa did not compete at Olympic Games from 1964 to 1988, as a part of the sporting boycott of South Africa during the Apartheid era." wikipedia has a page, I looked it up because it rang a distant bell -- I remember that

  • A surprise: Bush is respected in Africa for launching huge campaign against AIDS
    • Every once in awhile I run across a reference like this, something outside of the prevailing ideology on the Bush presidency. It was stunning the first couple of times this happened to me. Not that I've changed my mind on anything important, just a realization that we did demonize Bush -- the same way the right demonizes Obama. The Martin Luther King quote is very apt.

  • Peace process: Aaron Miller moves from 'too big to fail' to 'rock and roll will never die'
    • fine comment, James, much better than what Aaron David Miller did say. I found Miller's comment quite obscene.

  • Don't destroy our dream-castle Israel! (Why the Jewish establishment shut out J Street)
    • thanks for getting back to me, Hostage. I'll spend some time with these links, hopefully some good news to be found somewhere.

    • The Times of Israel is running a couple of pieces on this story today:

      Reform Movement May Bolt President's Conference in Wake of J Street Rejection (piece cites this as reason behind rejection)
      "J Street is a strong critic of the policies of the current Israeli government and backs the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran, which many pro-Israel groups oppose."

      Read more: Reform movement may bolt Presidents Conf. in wake of J Street rejection | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/reform-movement-may-bolt-presidents-conf-in-wake-of-j-street-rejection/#ixzz30V0Rhn9x

      Another Israeli press source cites ZOA as rejecting of J Street because of its support of BDS (??)

      off topic, I'm getting a little worried about no hand-off to UN/EU after April 29 deadline, Kerry apparently keeping future "peace process" talks under his purview, and UN wanting talks to go on under US sponsorship. I hope this is just a case of everyone legitimately waiting to see how Palestinians do in new government/elections rather than a case of "after you, Alphonse"

  • J Street rejected from the imperial court of contemporary Jewish life
    • ".. it was obvious that J Street was AIPAC-lite. That hasn’t changed. Yesterday even that wasn’t enough to be admitted to the Jewish mainstream.

      "The “political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans” – as J Street bills itself – survives to fight another day. The question remains – for what?"

      J Street does seem irrelevant at this point, although I remember being excited about it when it started up. This latest foray by J Street does highlight just how right-wing the US Jewish power structure is. I almost wouldn't mind it if Israel had as much weight in US politics if we heard from the progressive liberals in Israel -- but we never do, what we get is Netanyahu/Likud. You can get a better spectrum of opinion in Israel itself.

      I'm also wondering about J Street aspirations related to MJ Rosenberg's attack on Mondoweiss editors -- did he have aspirations to re-join the Jewish mainstream and the attacks were an attempt to purify himself? He sits on the J Street board.

  • Very far from paradise: Palestinians from Fureidis protest 'price tag' attack
    • a smidgeon of good news:

      "Israeli police on Thursday challenged Washington's inclusion of Jewish extremist attacks on Palestinians in a global terror report, saying such incidents could not be likened to militant attacks.

      "For the first time, the State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, published Wednesday, included a reference to a growing wave of racist anti-Palestinian vandalism, euphemistically known as "price tag" attacks.

      "Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted," the report said, citing UN and NGO data.

      Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Israel-Palestinians-US-attacks/2014/05/01/id/568825#ixzz30YmPQkMG

      "The US report noted that "the UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage.

      "Violent extremists, including Israeli settlers, vandalised five mosques and three churches in Jerusalem and the West Bank."

      "Defining price tag attacks as "property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement," the report said that over the year, the phenomenon had spread into Israel from the occupied West Bank."

      ...the big question is: can the US State Dept. stand against the Israeli police? Stay tuned...

  • J Street woos the lobby as Israel considers annexing the West Bank
    • "So with the latest peace process in shambles... "

      I don't know if I am ready to accept this yet. The next week should tell the tale, but my reading of the entrails -- it looks to me like it ain't over yet.

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4513218,00.html
      "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon published a press release also on Thursday, in which he expressed concern for Palestinian living conditions in Gaza and the illegality of settlements in the West Bank, but also noted the importance of Israel's security.

      "More importantly, the Secretary General urged a continuation of peace talks past the current deadline saying, "The costs of walking away from the negotiating table would be exponentially higher than the pain of the compromises required to resolve the conflict."

      "No lasting peace can be achieved away from the negotiating table, and the current situation is not sustainable for both parties, the region and the international community," he said.

      little shot over the bows from the UN. Israel might have a hammerlock on US politics but it's going to take more than controlling the US Congress, making Kerry eat a word and refurbishing the Lobby.

      The y-net piece makes nice reading for those interested in the Palestinian voice:

      "Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, shot back in an interview with the BBC, saying, "I don't see why it is any of Netanyahu's or even America's business to tell us who's acceptable and who's not in a pluralistic political system."

      "I can tell you I don't want to talk to Lieberman or we don't want to talk to Naftali Bennett; these are people who are either racist or settlers or who deny Palestinian rights or who treat us as a sub-human species or who want to take all of historical Palestine for greater Israel. These are people who are in the Israeli government coalition," said Ashrawi.

      Reuters Y-net also reporting today that Kerry hasn't given up on peace talks, to continue push in a few months
      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4514919,00.html

  • Boycott on the horizon if Starbucks buys stake in SodaStream
  • Apartheid label will stick
    • "Starting the 2nd of May, the UN and the other contracting states have a treaty obligation to make Israel comply with its obligation respecting Palestine as a state capable of concluding treaties on communications, airports, sea ports, and establishing diplomatic and consular relations."

      Hostage, can we hear more along this line please? Is there a link for this kind of breaking news?

  • Kerry's cowardly apology on 'apartheid' is giant blunder for Israel's propagandists
    • "...Justice Minister Livni, former Prime Ministers Barak and Ohlmert have all invoked the specter of apartheid to underscore the dangers of a unitary state for the future, it is a word best left out of the debate here at home."

      well, he did manage to get in a kicker at the end. Take home message as it were...

  • Two-state solution is 'psychological solution' allowing people to take themselves off the moral hook -- Telhami
    • weak, JeffB. Can't you come up with anything better than this?

      Also wondering, do you hold dual citizenship? If so, is there any cognitive dissonance for you in the finely written US Constitution (it was an inspiration for aspiring nations of the early 20th Century) and the lack of any national constitution in Israel?

    • very fine commentary, Zofia. I always enjoy reading your posts.

  • Jewish Voice for "Real" Peace
    • "... the main cause of the failure of decades of peace talks — Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion and the entrenchment of the occupation, materially and diplomatically supported by the United States.

      "... decades of failed US-orchestrated peace talks that have deepened the hold of Israel’s occupation... "

      I would like to question the primary assumption. The primary assumption of every left-thinking person in America is that the US is complicit in Israel's ongoing belligerent occupation of Palestine, and the US sponsored "peace process" is designed to fail. There are all those "Israel's lawyers" involved etc, etc, etc. And that's why the situation continues -- it's because of the United States.

      I humbly submit the idea that it continues because of Israel. I submit that the relationship existing between Israel and the United is one of blackmailer & client. Extortionist & client. I submit that it is unfair to blame the victim -- the US -- for being victimized. The responsibility for the situation accrues to the aggressor, Israel. The US is not "enabler" here. I have been an ardent critic of the United States policies in my time, I'm no knee-jerk patriot and I'm not blind to the flaws of this country. But here, on the I-P 'conflict', in this instance the US is not at fault. Here the US is cleverly held hostage to the imperial ambitions of another nation.

      Take a look at "the peace process" -- it began during the Nixon administration and every American president since that time, Republican or Democrat no matter, all of them have had the exact same runaround from Israel and have not been successful in moving the goalpost an inch in the direction they intended. These men are the most powerful men in the world, supposedly, and yet they have not succeeded in this endeavor, not one of them. I submit this is not because they did not intend to succeed. I submit it happened because Israeli politicians managed to find the weak spot in the American political system that would work for them -- control of Congress. Control of Congress through poor US campaign finance laws, control of Congress through political intimidation via AIPAC.

      It ends with the American president fighting Congress for control of US foreign policy -- and losing.

  • Kerry says that Israel could wind up being 'an apartheid state'
    • (thanks to Kay for the link and Phil for following up)

      Yes, I love it when Kerry talks like this. The one thing that rings an ominous note:
      from the Daily Beast piece, "Kerry on Friday repeated his warning that a dissolution of the peace process might lead to more Palestinian violence. “People grow so frustrated with their lot in life that they begin to take other choices and go to dark places they’ve been before, which forces confrontation,” he said"

      There are prominent elements in Israeli politics and society who would love to see another violent intifada because in this milieu they could finally achieve the goal. Naftali Bennett and others further to the right, and their followers, have been openly calling for annexation of WB, less openly outright no-holds-barred war against Palestine. There is already a lot of Israeli/IDF incitement towards such a scenario, goading the Palestinians to break the non-violence, non-retribution policy of Abbas. It's funny how no one seems to notice that Hamas rhetoric, action, and policy is mirrored in Israeli society. The IDF is more effective than Hamas but otherwise similiar.

      The clock is running down. Tomorrow is formal ending of US peace talks -- unless the two principals agree to extend the talks. Abbas, bless him, yesterday stated for publication that he is willing to extend the talks. For good measure he threw in a statesman-like acknowledgement of Holocaust Memorial Day. Again he was spurned by that idiot Netanyahu. As far as the Europeans are concerned, they can back Palestine unconditionally in the UN. It looks like it will be Ending #2.

      Let's hope Hamas and Abbas can keep their beleaguered population dampened down for another little while until the Europeans get their ducks in a row. We really do not want another intifada at this stage of the games.

  • NBA owner Sterling reportedly sought to justify his racism by citing Israeli racism
    • Citizen, MJ Rosenberg used to work for AIPAC. It was his very situation as an AIPAC 'insider' that later made him not only its' most devastating critic, but also allowed him to see the way out -- he was the one who proposed the solution that AIPAC be lawfully and legitimately registered, recognized and treated as a foreign lobby.

      If you can bring yourself to read MJ Rosenberg before The Fall -- this piece was published less than 3 years ago, when he was really hot. Before he got kidnapped...

      "How Israel's lobby chills Middle East debate: Any criticism of Israel by US politicians is viciously attacked by pro-Israeli groups to make sure they won't try again"
      http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/06/20116291558270488.html

      This week, following that tumultuous reception for Prime Minister Netanyahu at the congressional joint meeting, I want to share a personal recollection of how the Middle East status quo is preserved on Capitol Hill.

      It was in 1988 and I was a foreign policy aide to Senator Carl Levin (D-MI). One February day, Levin called me into his office to say that he was disturbed at a quote he saw in that day's New York Times. An article quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir saying that he rejected the idea of withdrawing from any of the land Israel captured in the 1967 war:

      Mr Shamir said in a radio interview, "It is clear that this expression of territory for peace is not accepted by me."

      Levin instantly understood what Shamir was saying. He was repudiating UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (which Israel had helped draft) which provided for "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict" in exchange for peace and security. Those resolutions represented official US and international policy then, and they still do.

      But, in 1988, Shamir tried to declare them null and void.

      Levin asked me to draft a letter to secretary of state George Shultz stating that it was the view of the Senate, that the UN resolutions remained the policy of the US whether Shamir liked it or not. Of course, the letter wasn't written in that kind of language. It was more than polite. Additionally, Levin wanted it addressed to Shultz, not to Shamir, to avoid ruffling too many feathers in Israel.

      I wrote the draft. Levin edited and re-edited it. Then he called in the head of AIPAC, Thomas A Dine, to run the language past him. Tom said it was "great". Levin told Dine that he would not embarass him by revealing that he had approved the letter.

      Levin then asked me to deliver it to the secretary of state but said that first he would try to round up a few other senators to join him in signing it. In an hour he had 30. He probably could have gotten three times as many but it was Friday afternoon and most of the senators had decamped.

      I delivered the letter. Because Levin wanted to avoid a brouhaha, the Levin office did no press about it. It was essentially a secret initiative.

      But then one of the senators who had the letter gave it to the New York Times. And within minutes the phones started ringing off the hook. Reporters and AIPAC donors (who had no idea Dine had signed off on the letter) were going crazy.

      Levin was asked to appear on all three Sunday morning talk shows. He declined. In fact, he took off for Moscow, on a long-planned trip.

      On Sunday, news of the Levin "Letter of 30" was the lead story in the New York Times.

      "Thirty United States senators, including many of Israel's staunchest supporters, have written a letter criticising Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his Likud party, suggesting they may be obstructing efforts to reach a peace settlement in the Middle East.

      The extraordinary public criticism of Israel was contained in a letter addressed to secretary of state George P Shultz, who returned home today after several days in the Middle East. Mr Shultz has proposed the broad outlines of an interim settlement between Israel and the Palestinians ...

      The senators who signed the letter said they were dismayed at Mr Shamir's continued resistance to the concept of Israel's ceding some territories it occupies in exchange for peace, a cornerstone of Mr Shultz's efforts. Although the letter also criticises Arab states except for Egypt, congressional aides said it was intended principally to send a message to Mr Shamir and the Likud bloc."

      So significant was the fact that any US senator had criticised any Israeli policy in any way (albeit mildly), that the Sunday Times reprinted the whole text.

      On Monday all hell broke loose. Because Levin was in Russia, staffers had to field both the press calls and the threats from outraged donors, constituents, and "pro-Israel" organisations.

      Then some real weirdness happened.

      A top Israeli embassy official came to the office to deliver a protest from Prime Minister Shamir. When Levin's chief of staff, Gordon C Kerr, told him that it was inappropriate for a foreign official to protest a letter senators had addressed to their own government (ie: the secretary of state), the Israeli official insulted Levin and made ugly threats. Kerr then threw him out of the office.

      In the meantime, Levin heard from President Ronald Reagan, who thanked him for organising support for the administration's position. Meanhile, Shamir began calling senators to express "astonishment" that his policies had been criticised.

      Then came a moment that was, for me, the most shocking experience I ever had during my years working for the United States government.

      William Safire, the most influential New York Times columnist, phoned me in a rage. He told me that he knew for a fact that neither Levin nor I had drafted the letter. He said that he knew that the letter was written by an aide to the leader of the Labour Party opposition in Israel, Shimon Peres.

      He said that aide, one Yossi Beilin, had hand-delivered the text to me, and that I had convinced Levin to circulate it. He said that my goal was to unseat Shamir and replace him with Peres.

      I almost laughed.

      The very idea that a senate aide had such power was astounding. But then Safire asked if I thought it was appropriate for a senate aide to be the agent of a foreign political party, and what would Levin think when he read about that in Safire's column.

      That was scary. As a senate aide, I had sworn allegiance to the United States and the constitution. I also had a security clearance. This could be serious.

      I told Safire that I had written the draft and that Levin had (as is his wont) extensively edited it. I told him I had no idea who Beilin was (which was the truth). Safire then got really nasty and told me that he knew I was lying because he had the story on good authority (Israeli UN ambassador Binyamin Netanyahu and AIPAC's number two guy, Steve Rosen, who was subsequently indicted for espionage).

      I said I didn't care who he heard it from, it was a lie. Additionally, Levin had undertaken the initiative to help Israel because he thought that if Israel ruled out territorial withdrawal, the conflict would never end.

      The call concluded with Safire backing down after warning me that if he ever found out I was lying, I would be "finished". He said he would not write the column because - get this - in the end he believed me more than his sources.

      And that was that. Nothing more happened with the Letter of 30, except that after the vicious attacks on Levin, few senators have challenged the Israeli government or AIPAC since.

      So what's the moral f the story?

      It is this: Criticising Israel is dangerous business. On what other issue would a New York Times columnist call a senate staffer and threaten to destroy his career? None. And why was a New York Times columnist acting as if he was working for the Israeli government? Safire wasn't a journalist that day; he essentially was a representative of the Israeli government.

      Accordingly, is it any wonder the whole congress abased itself the other day by jumping up and down and hurling love at Netanyahu? Who wants to mess with an 800-pound gorilla? Certainly not members of congress.

    • Annie, it's MJ who has the blind spot, of that there is no argument. I'm wondering if he's drinking. Alcohol, not Kool-Aid. In reference to and as part of 'mid-life crisis' -- could be it. In any case, this is not the MJ Rosenberg we once knew and relied upon to lead us out of the AIPAC craziness. It really is a shame; he was such a groundbreaker.

    • I agree, MJ Rosenberg, one of my longtime idols in the fight against AIPAC, has truly gone over to the dark side. It's like he's been kidnapped. But it's good news that Tikkun took down his post -- thank you Annie for confronting him and forcing him to show his hand fully -- and also, I notice that Mondoweiss is on Tikkun's blogroll.

      I know how hurtful it is to be unfairly accused of anti-Semitism. I was told in a public forum that I should seek psychiatric care. It takes awhile to realize your accuser is in need, and to not respond in kind.

  • As Israel 'staggers toward the abyss,' criticizing it is now 'the most fashionable cause' on the left
    • thanks for the link, lysias, but it was a commentary from MLA written last February "When it comes to the topic of Israel and Palestine, discussion is curtailed before it begins."

      the Times of Israel did a news story "US academic group starts vote on anti-Israel resolution" The voting started April 21, ends June. Nothing in the US press as far as I can tell.

    • This story on Modern Language Association academic boycott vote appears in The Times of Israel today but a simple google search reveals no other coverage. What's up with that?

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-academic-group-begins-vote-on-anti-israel-resolution/

      April 27. 2014 "WASHINGTON — The 30,000 member-strong Modern Language Association has launched an all-membership vote on an anti-Israel resolution passed in the group’s Delegate Assembly last January."

  • 'NYT' scrubs 'analysis' that Hamas is 'seen in West as the devil'
    • those links made interesting reading, Annie. This background helps put into perspective the EU stance on recent PA/Hamas union.

      "It was a decision made under intense US (and Israeli) pressure."

      y'know, it makes me even more impatient about the Israeli intrusion into US governmental processes -- if our legislators spent this kind of energy attending to US interests it might possibly help...

    • thanks for posting this video, chuckcarlos. Excellent production values as well as message. Hajo Meyer puts me in mind of Israel Shahak, an Israeli dissident, gadfly critic (starting in 1965) and worker for Palestinian rights. Shahak was also a child survivor of Polish concentration camps, worked as a professor of science in an Israeli university.

  • Five reasons the breakdown of peace talks is a good thing
    • As much as I believe that a binational state is a good thing, probably the best possible outcome, I think the end of the occupation is what is needed right now if not sooner. These people have suffered long enough -- re-read Alex Kanes account of life in the Jenin refugee camp. The two-state-solution is something at hand, something do-able, something that will bring relief even if not perfect justice to Palestine, and something that might eventually (long after all of us are dead, not just the old geezers) lead to a binational state in the Middle East populated by Jews and Arabs peacefully living together and doing very well for itself in the world.

    • oldgeezer, there are a couple of things in play to bolster hope.

      #1 regime change in Israel -- the breakdown in the peace talks is very likely to lead to new elections. Israel is not some lockstep hegemonic entity. There is plenty of political opposition to the Netanyahu policies, plenty influential Israeli politicians do see a peace agreement with Palestine as being a favorable thing for Israel.

      If you are an American looking for some good news about US foreign policy, you could say this is a major achievement on our part -- regime change for a good end for once....

      ... uh, I had a couple of other points to make about what the American mission accomplished but I forgot what I wanted to say, getting on myself y'know...

  • Jenin refugee camp hit by wave of Israeli raids and killings
    • Alex, the non-violent credo of Ghandi, "if an eye for an eye, then after awhile the whole world will be blind" is surely the very hardest of any to put into practice.

  • BDS activists leaflet Ben & Jerry's shops on commercial ties to Israeli settlements
    • yes, can always be better in the effect, but all the same, an amazing accomplishment for: "What began as a conversation in 2011 between a small band of activists in Vermont on how to contribute locally to the international BDS movement... "

    • "...Starbucks (already comfortable doing business in settlements) ... "

      Woo! Is BDS targeting Starbucks? that would have to be huge, no? "No triple latte for you if you want to be PC"

    • amazing response after only 2 years, thanks for the good news.

  • Israel stops US-led peace talks citing Palestinian unity (Updated)
    • Obama applies the brake:

      "U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday a "pause" might be needed in U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, suggesting leaders on both sides lacked the will to make the necessary compromises."
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/25/us-palestinian-israel-obama-idUSBREA3O0RW20140425

      good move. Israeli politicians have been making noises about calling new elections related to crisis in peace talks and new government in Palestine needs to get its act together over next 6 months -- elections planned for Palestine also.

      I think our team has done ok, everything considered. An unpromising line-up that did better than expected and still moving steadily to the goal. Gave the Izzies more grief than what they expected.

    • I think this train has left the station

    • Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel
      PA ‘won’t complete the reconciliation process’ unless Hamas agrees to international conditions, senior (Palestinian) official says

      Read more: Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/fatah-insisting-unity-government-recognize-israel/#ixzz2ztjvcc5J
      Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

      Abbas and Fatah, the official said, “won’t agree to complete the reconciliation process” unless Hamas agrees to a new government that “accepts the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine — along the 1967 lines.” The new government must also “adhere to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet: recognize Israel, ratify all signed agreements and renounce violence,” he said.

      The official said that a phone conversation on Thursday between Abbas and US Secretary of State John Kerry was “positive” and that Washington would “continue to promote” the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
      The official’s comments echoed remarks attributed to Abbas on Thursday evening after a meeting with the United Nations’ peace envoy, Robert Serry, in Ramallah.

      According to a statement from Serry’s office, Abbas emphasized during the meeting that a Palestinian unity government would have to be founded on “recognition of Israel, nonviolence, and adherence to previous agreements,” along with “continued commitment to peace negotiations and to nonviolent popular protests.”

      Read more: Fatah insisting unity government recognize Israel | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/fatah-insisting-unity-government-recognize-israel/#ixzz2ztiyRLvP
      Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

    • yes, very good point, thanks for bringing it up. I noticed during an earlier press conference on I-P how closely the reporters were grilling the State Dept. spokeswoman but the penny didn't drop for me -- it's a new day!

      "EU welcomes Palestinian unity, but says talks still 'top priority'
      Spokesman stresses the EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation and the establishment of a unity government."
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.587208

      and China joins the crowd also:
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/24/us-palestinian-israel-china-idUSBREA3N0M120140424

    • "The April 23 agreement in Gaza appears, on paper, to be a total Hamas capitulation to the PLO and Abbas": this is from Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab. If all goes well, hopefully we can expect an announcement that will satisfy the US State Department -- that Hamas has rejected violence and recognizes the state of Israel, conforming with long time Palestinian Authority policy.

      Kuttab's analysis makes interesting reading; here are a few excerpts:

      "With the reconciliation agreement signed, Palestinians need to answer the important question: What next? Israel’s prime minister already returned to his usual rhetoric, repeating an earlier statement that Abbas has to choose between peace with Hamas and peace with Israel.

      "Responding to a question about a post-talks strategy, (Fatah leader) Zannoun said the alternative is “steadfastness,” as well as the Arabization and internationalization of the conflict.

      "We will approach the international community and will activate our membership in 65 international organizations and treaties. We will also go back to the Arab initiative and prove on all fronts that we have given everything that needs to be given and that the Israeli side is not interested in what is offered by Americans, Europeans and the Arab League," he said.

      " Zannoun was also supportive of nonviolent activities against Israel. “I support BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] and all nonviolent actions against Israel. We support the peaceful popular struggle against Israelis.” It is not clear though how much a bump that BDS and other nonviolent activists will get out of the expected end of direct peace talks.

      "Palestinians and Israelis are well-aware of their needs of each other and will most likely be back at the negotiating table sooner or later, possibly under different terms of reference.

      "For the time being, Abbas can register a big win in his internal fight with Hamas and a draw in the Palestinian struggle for freedom with Israelis.

      "Unless Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama can pull a last-minute rabbit out of their magic hat, the current round of talks will not be renewed."

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/fatah-hamas-reconciliation-merger-palestine-peace-talks.html#ixzz2zozQzlXv

  • 'Al Jazeera' examines Jewish constellation of lobby elites, and marginalized 'universalists'
    • could you go back over that again please, Lea? Is it 6 articles per month with a subscription to Ha'aretz? Or is it how to get past the firewall without any subscription?

      el Cheapo here anxiously awaiting your response.

    • "an American nationalist perspective"

      Phil, to me this is the operative phrase. This is exactly what is missing in the US "debate". It is framed as "Israel vs. Palestine", and within that framework a huge majority of Americans will root for Israel (thanks to assiduous, persistent and truly excellent propaganda) That is how Israel would have us perceive the situation, something between Israel and Palestine. As if we have no skin in the game.

      A few years ago, when I commented at Huffington Post occasionally I was confronted by a typical pro-Israel supporter as being on the side of Palestine. "Not at all. Although I have sympathy for the underdog, Palestine, I'm rooting for the United States" -- I didn't have much of a following at Huffington Post....

      "A Jewish-Jewish debate has heated up in recent years in the United States with new critical voices of Israel taking centre stage…. " -- and one side of that debate is expressed at Mondoweiss. But even within that one side, the "new critical voices", look at the falling out among the various critical voices. I know this is typical of lefties in general, not just critical Jewish voices towards Israel. When lefties make a firing squad they form a circle... what I'm saying is, please give us more on those AIPAC fluckers and less on poor old MJ Rosenberg, even if he did attack you. A lot of these guys, MJ, Finkelstein etc, they fought the good fight, they're having a conflicted breakdown when actual peace with Palestine is on the horizon -- but none of this will have any relevance to the ultimate outcome of the I-P situation. Meanwhile, we've got a serious challenge to US democracy going on related to political intrusions from a foreign country.

    • "It won’t matter unless “this discussion” takes place in the 98% Gentile American community.... Americans simply don’t get any objective factual or historical information from our government or mainstream media; it’s all the Israeli narrative in the very controlled “breaking news”

      I am in total agreement. You get much better journalism, you get the entire nuanced story from the Israeli press -- and I'm not just talking about Ha'aretz. If Americans could read 'the news' from Israeli mainstream media, like The Times of Israel or The Jerusalem Post they might have a clue. They might wake up from the trance.

    • The April 23 agreement in Gaza appears, on paper, to be a total Hamas capitulation to the PLO and Abbas.

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/fatah-hamas-reconciliation-merger-palestine-peace-talks.html#ixzz2zo9QYfRo

      This reported from the horse's mouth, long time Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab. He writes an interesting analysis.

      This will go over well with the Europeans. Palestinian Authority has longstanding practice of non-violence non-retribution policy towards Israel. Israel greeted the news of peaceful reconciliation Palestine political parties by bombing Gaza.

  • Registration of Jews and other human beings
    • "Contrast this uproar with the recent decision of the Israeli Supreme Court ... Israel will continue to require its citizens to register as Jewish or one of several other non-Jewish categories, just as it has been doing for more than 65 years."

      thank you for this, David Samel. It is a perfect metaphor -- perfectly illuminating.

      I liked your way with words enough to look at the author archive. Even though this one didn't illuminate a MURKY point, because the reader 'gets it' right away, already knew it -- it is hilarious! I hope Phil sees fit to re-publish it, maybe on a down news cycle when we all need a little cheering up.

      "Worldwide poll finds Iran least popular country; American-Iranian Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) complains of delegitimization" June 3, 2013 David Samel

    • Page: 1
  • Peter Beinart misses South Africa's apartheid lesson, Gideon Levy gets it
    • giladg, I'm afraid you have been outfoxed. Israel is not calling the shots anymore. This will go to the UN unless Israel folds. Abbas has played his hand perfectly. Not only with what he is saying now, but in all the years that he has forcefully maintained a non-violent, non-retributive policy in the face of the most outrageous Israeli incitement.

      You were the one who brought up Mandela, not me.

    • piotr, this is brilliant! I love it when someone elucidates an important piece of propaganda. I can tell you from long experience of hasbara fighting on the commentary of mainstream media political threads, "adorable" is stock-in-trade. Adorable Israel is an essential component of the hasbara playbook.

      I knew there was something fishy about this stuff, but it is so hard to fight against -- but brilliant on their side don't you think? Right wing government has important liberal credentials, deal with it. Leave us in peace while we complete our ethnic cleansing.

    • Getting back to Matthew Taylor's article (which I apologize for disrupting with Breaking News) -- the language used by Peter Beinart, "Israelis and Palestinians – at least at this stage of history – must negotiate the terms of a divorce" is resonant of language first used by up-and-coming Israeli politician Yair Lapid. Lapid's voice strident over the past few months; "we must separate from the Palestinians" (ie. for our own good) Lapid leads influential Yesh Atid party in the Netanyahu governing coalition, he is also Finance Minister -- he was one of the first to raise the alarm on the harm boycotts will wreak on the Israeli economy. His party is described in the Wikipedia article as "the center of Israeli society, the secular middle class"

      Secular or not, Lapid still carries fundamentalist views about The Land of Israel. And I would think that Beinart et al also hold some of these views:

      "Al-Monitor: Do you believe that Bibi [Netanyahu] entered the negotiations wholeheartedly and willingly?

      Lapid: I don’t think any of us entered these negotiations wholeheartedly and willingly. Obviously, it tears us up inside. You want to reach an arrangement so that we can part ways with the Palestinians, but any such arrangement comes with a cost that we would rather not pay if we could avoid it. "Two states for two peoples" may be nothing more than a sentence, but behind that sentence lies the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their homes and from a place that for me, with my family history — I come from a home that aligned with the nationalist camp — is really part of our homeland. I can tell you which prophet walked on which hill. In that sense, everyone is uneasy about it. But we have to do it so that we can separate from the Palestinians."

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/yair-lapid-negotiations-kerry-fair-mediator.html#ixzz2zisLlW4Z

    • People conveniently forget that Mandela was a terrorist before he became a man of peace. As president of South Africa he established the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, binding up the wounds and preventing a relapse into violent retribution for the many wrongs done by white supremacists to blacks during apartheid. If you wouldn't mind going back to read the excerpt from The Times of Israel you will notice that Abbas in on the same path as Mandela, even though Abbas never was a terrorist.

      I believe it was you who delivered a "diatribe", giladg. I merely reported the news.

    • "... if someone files for divorce and the partner claims it will have grave implications for the marriage… "

      Annie, it takes a woman's clear simplistic view to cut through the crap rhetoric flooding the arena.

    • you need to get out more, giladg. Here's something today from The Times of Israel, a publication you are sure to approve of, describing Abbas:

      "Abbas said he “did not want to continue the conflict [with Israel] for eternity, but rather end the conflict in a respectable agreement which will fulfill the minimal Palestinian demands for justice. “Any other agreement,” Abbas warned, “could lead to a new outburst of violence in two years, which we do not want.”

      "In his largely conciliatory appeal to the Israeli public in which he quoted former Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion, Abbas said he did not seek to isolate Israel in the international arena through unilateral bids to join UN treaties and agreements, but rather reach an honorable peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

      “We do not want to isolate Israel, nor do we want to alienate it from its immediate surroundings. We want to end a painful episode in the history of our nations and turn a new leaf.”

      "Regardless of the outcome of negotiations, Abbas insisted, Palestinians would not stop security coordination with Israel “as long as I’m around.”

      “I do not consider security coordination with Israel to be shameful,” Abbas said, referring to statements by Hamas officials claiming exactly that. “I consider this coordination obligatory. It is obligatory whether or not negotiations exist, whether they succeed or whether they fail.”

      He also condemned the recent killing of Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrachi on April 14.

      “This is a mistake and a crime. Sixty Palestinians were also killed, that’s a mistake and a crime. We hope it will not repeat itself.”

      Read more: Abbas says talks can continue if settlement building stops | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-says-talks-can-continue-if-settlement-building-stops/#ixzz2zf2wTDLZ
      Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

      I think you are going to see Israel living in peace sometime soon, giladg. And Abbas having the same Nobel Prize as Mandela.

    • The terms of divorce are being vigorously negotiated by the Palestinian Authority led by Abbas, as we speak. It's down to the wire, the last several days before Palestine commitment to the peace talks expires. Not much movement on the other side, which is holding out for the status quo. The Palestinians are playing their cards well, they have a backup plan which Israel likes even worse. Interesting rapprochement happening between PA and Hamas, they meet on April 26, just 3 days before D-Day (the day of decision by Palestine, whether to go or stay)

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-says-talks-can-continue-if-settlement-building-stops/
      http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/palestinian-central-council-abbas-peace-talks.html

      Palestine wants a divorce. If Israel doesn't let her walk it's a binational state they're both looking at. Palestine is ready for that eventuality, Israel is not. This is an interesting story, I would hate to see you miss it. The Israeli press and al-Monitor are very hot right now.

      also this from al-Monitor:
      Meretz leader justifies Abbas applications to UN treaties

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/gal-on-meretz-interview-abbas-netanyahu-negotiations-un.html#ixzz2zdvk7uFj

  • John Judis's Truman book is a landmark in anti-Zionism
    • that's what I was afraid of, Pabelmont. We could really be in trouble. How much money do you think it would take to take a case like this to the Supreme Court? And how much political leverage would you need to have to get the Court to hear it?

      Let's hope the Supreme Court rules in favor of the United States rather than Israel.

    • that link made interesting reading, lysias. Do you know what the normal designation would be for a person born overseas to American parents? If born in England for example, would something like "Birmingham, UK" be entered on the legal document, or would it be simply "UK"?

  • How many 'Palestinian Arabs' want to kill 'all Jews?'
  • Obama and Kerry are spurred by 'vainglory' in pursuing talks -- Finkelstein
    • " Their incoherence is genuine, it isn’t some sort of clever plot to deceive the unwary."

      I feel the same way on this that you do, Stephen. I think there is a lot of uncomfortable inner turmoil going on there, very painful feelings all round, with them and with their critics -- just more of the fallout from this whole horrible situation.

    • Would you agree that the raison d'etre for J Street lobby is to advance the cause of a foreign country?

      also about this: "A foreign lobby is an organization run by foreigners designed to lobby the USA government for policy changes."

      Would you agree that Israel is a foreign country?

      and about this: " Israel issues are a no brainer for congress because the public strongly favors Israel."

      Would you say that the US public strongly favors Britain? Would you say the lobby lawfully registered in the US to promote British interests (such as trade) has no need to be registered? Because after all the US public thinks highly of Britain, therefore no need for the US to look after its own interests related to trade. Is that right?

    • I was wondering...

      JeffB just has to be AIPAC. Has to be, has too much ready information in rebuttal etc. But yes, J Street fits also. Maybe better...

      So Jeff, you at least have an interest in the J Street lobby. So let me ask this question: If the only way to rein in AIPAC is by requiring it to register as a foreign lobby, would you then agree that J Street should also be registered as a foreign lobby? The only reason for J Street's existence is to put forward the cause of a foreign country, right?

      I anxiously await your response

    • thanks for directing me to the Hostage commentary, Lea. It is amazing the resources here on Mondoweiss -- very fine to have someone who is knowledgeable about international law and can interpret what is going on from that aspect.

      about Finkelstein's piece, The End of Palestine? He wrote in March. Sometime before that he wrote (somewhere I cannot now find the link) that he thought the Kerry mission would be successful in rendering a peace deal. Great, I thought, there is at least one other person on the planet who thinks as I do. Finkelstein did express contempt for Obama in that piece, which didn't sit well with me but that is ok.

      To me, a peace deal under whatever auspices is the thing to have -- I am looking at this thing from the viewpoint of an ordinary Palestinian woman, an elderly woman who was made a refugee as a child, who saw her sons and her grandsons wasted in the fight against Israel, who sees no future for her family. No chance of living an ordinarily dignified and productive life. To me, the ending of the occupation is paramount, even if under Obama/Kerry there will not be the perfect justice for the Palestinian State -- I would put my elderly Palestinian woman and her family against all of the intellectual arguments.

      I've taken a look at the Palestine negotiators and governing authority -- and I am ok with them as I am ok with Obama/Kerry. Not perfect, but will give relief to the present situation. Finkelstein's allusion to an intifada -- he specified non-violent but it is unlikely to remain that -- would be disastrous for Palestinian aspirations in my opinion.

    • "The only conceivable way of slowing down or stopping Likud's drive to build Greater Israel is through BDS or through heavy pressure from the American government to achieve a political settlement."

      remove the "or" and I'll agree with you. well, I'll agree with you if you say BDS, American government pressure and threat of European sanctions/UN sanctions. It will all of this.

      also would have you look a bit closer at Indyk, as I did several months ago. Yes, that name raises hackles. Neocon, AIPAC linked. But I didn't believe Kerry would choose an envoy who would work against his mission -- that was just too unbelievable given the energy Kerry is putting into it, ditto Obama. Both men have taken considerable personal hits from the Israelis also. Here is a link from ZOA. They do not like Indyk, for all the right reasons. This is worth a read.
      http://zoa.org/2013/07/10208640-zoa-opposes-possible-appointment-of-martin-indyk-as-u-s-chief-negotiator-with-israel-p-a/

      Another one of the usual suspects is the US Ambassador to Israel; but as it turns out, this one -- Dan Shapiro -- even though he has all the credentials that would endear him to the Israelis is actually acting for US interests. I've followed him in the Israeli press, he's ok. He's standing firm for the policy of his boss, Obama. But a truly nice guy, not confrontational, just stands firm -- which should be easy when you come to think of it, when you have the power of the US government behind you it should be easy. Here's the way you know he's working for us and not for Israel -- they refer to him as "a court jew" (look it up)

      Otherwise, I think there is something to your analysis but I don't feel like getting involved with infighting among the tribe. Just let them fight it out, it's their nature. The political story will continue apace and will be resolved without reference to this aspect.

    • I read the whole piece; it seemed rambling and even incoherent in places. The end paragraphs especially:

      "It’s our job to patiently explain the reality of Kerry’s so-called two-state solution: that it breaches international law, as it shafts the Palestinians. As Palestinians stand poised on the precipice of a historic defeat, shouldn’t exposing Kerry’s perfidy rank at least as high a priority as chronicling the comings and goings of Scarlett Johansson? The good news is, for all my criticism of it, BDS has, to its credit, managed to plant in the public consciousness the idea of imposing sanctions on Israel if it flouts its legal obligations. If Palestinians in the occupied territories enter into revolt, the foundation will already have been laid for a global campaign compelling Israel to comply with the law.

      "I said it’s hard to be optimistic, but I still sincerely believe that victory—a just and lasting peace—is within reach if we are guided by truth, on the path to justice, and make one last push, before it’s too late."

      My take: needs editing

  • 'Haaretz' removes red-baiting headline -- 'I'm not anti-Israel' -- on Steve Walt interview
    • "Why does this man want to end the U.S.-Israel special relationship?"

      this is the Ha'aretz headline. My point is: why should we be distracted by a question arising from this source? It is not that Stephen Walt has taken on a personal anti-semitic quest to end the special relationship as the headline implies. He and Mearsheimer were simply reporting, in 2006, from their area of expertise; political science/US foreign policy and the effects of the special relationship in the US.

      The question is more aptly applied to Benjamin Netanyahu -- Ben Caspit is a journalist, not a columnist with an opinion like Chemi Shavel. Caspit asks the question but applies it to a different man: why is Netanyahu challenging the US in a way that could (finally) end the special relationship? And if you wanted to go further along that line of thought, you could apply it to the entirety of Israel's relationship with the US over the past several decades, back to at least 1991:

      "Administration officials said Mr. Bush believes that Mr. Shamir simply does not take him seriously and thinks that he can still have everything he wants: American aid, housing guarantees, no halt on settlements and a peace conference virtually entirely on Israeli terms... the Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and a broad coalition of Jewish organizations in the United States, made clear that they too would fight the President on the issue."

      Israel, Ignoring Bush, Presses for Loan Guarantees
      http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/07/world/israel-ignoring-bush-presses-for-loan-guarantees.html

      If the special relationship is breaking down, it is not because someone like Stephen Walt wanted it to happen. Walt is only the messenger. The reason it is breaking down is because Israel is increasingly putting pressure on the relationship.

    • "Why does this man want to end the U.S.-Israel special relationship?
      Good question. why aren’t US publications asking him the same thing?"

      Answer: We haven't evolved that far as a nation yet, Phil, and never will while the Israel Lobby is sitting in the catbird seat. But this question is being addressed by independent Israeli journalists. Ben Caspit of al-Monitor (owned by a Lebanese American and Washington based) goes into it:

      "If US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, US special envoy Martin Indyk and Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator, are able to salvage the prisoner release deal that collapsed earlier this month and come up with a new package, Netanyahu will have to choose sides. His options would be between Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Barack Obama. It will either be Israel’s messianic political right or the United States.

      "Nobody in Israel has any intention of chipping away at the relationship with Washington, but the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. If Israel and the Palestinians are able to reach a new package that will help resume negotiations, Netanyahu will have to decide what to do. Just imagine him saying, “No.”

      "At precisely that moment, Netanyahu’s government will become the Bennett government, and the United States and Israel will get a divorce. Fighting tooth and nail, Kerry will get a public slap in the face and leave Israel to its own devices. Obama will feel as if he has been punched in the gut, after personally rallying support for the deal and having agreed to swallow the most bitter of pills from his standpoint, Jonathan Pollard’s release.

      "Israel will be left behind with Netanyahu and Bennett, the radical rabbis, the settlers and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who has just annexed a few dozen acres to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. This might become the most radical Israel ever, quickly finding itself more isolated than it has ever been. This is how catastrophes come about."

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/netanyahu-bennett-obama-elections-palestine-peace-talks.html#ixzz2zMLOvIzj

      this is a long piece, I left out most of the middle. Caspit has some light to shed on the Netanyahu/Putin coziness, leaving Obama out in the cold. Interesting reading.
      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/netanyahu-bennett-obama-elections-palestine-peace-talks.html#ixzz2zMKVKmrf

  • Haaretz joins Rush Limbaugh and company in trying to link Max Blumenthal to KC shooter suspect
    • no, puppies, the aim is not 'punishment'. It is as pabelmont says -- in a democracy it is do-able and the aim is change of egregious government policies. The Israelis have got the option of changing their government and their government policies, and they will do this if they are pressed hard enough. Close to half the Knesset seats are held by politicians who favor a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

    • Donald, your posts on the boycott are really excellent and completely reflect my own view. I have just one thing to add to "BDS hurts Israel to some degree economically, but its main value is symbolic. It has been drawing attention to the issue far more effectively than any other tactic in recent years and obviously Israel is concerned"

      Having read reactions in the Israeli press, much of which is defiant -- "who cares? We can trade with China, India, lots of places other than Europe want our business" -- there is also this: the Israeli elite is Eurocentric culturally. The important part of Israel is Western in orientation, not Eastern. It would represent a great loss at some significant level to be cut off from Europe economically and diplomatically, even if the trade can be made up for in the East.

    • I really liked Burg. I gave his book 5 stars in an Amazon review. He is a brave man (and an excellent writer btw) -- the fact that the great Israeli liberals are unable to take that final step which would deliver the country finally to peace is, I think, a consequence of the country being on perpetual military alert from the beginning. Perpetual war, a perpetually "dangerous neighborhood" from the time you were a child.... that has to have an effect on the most liberal grown-up psyche.

    • Ellen, I readily admit, it took me awhile to embrace the boycott also. I was disappointed that Phil seemed to lose his original orientation, the fight against AIPAC. The US was what needed cleaning up, attacking Israel seemed counter-productive -- as well as personally dangerous for Phil. Well, I was wrong, he was right. It will take everything, including the boycott, to bring Israel to heel and deliver the US to some semblance of an independent foreign policy.

    • It is good that Ha'aretz took the article down after pressure was applied. A victory for our side I would say, although had to have been hard for Max at some level. It is a tough business, political activism, especially when that activism is directed towards Israel. Lots of wounding.

      Ha'aretz has been my regular reading for many years. It is superb in that it showcases the very best of Israeli liberalism and dissent, but from time to time there will be an article or opinion that shocks, that seems to be going in the opposite direction. I think it's best to keep in mind that this is a foreign country and at bottom every Israeli, liberal or no, is a nationalist. Even my fave, Akiva Eldar at al-Monitor recently put up a piece criticizing the US for the failure of the peace talks, and I unfortunately had to take him down -- at bottom I am a nationalist too.

      In 2009 Israeli politician/government minister, scion of Israeli political elite going back to the founding of the nation, Avraham Burg published a stunning memoir, "The Holocaust is Over, We Must Rise From the Ashes" Reviewed thus by Tony Judt; "The shadow of the Shoah and its abusive application to the contemporary Middle East have been a catastrophe for Jews, Israelis and Arabs alike. In Burg's view Israel must move beyond Hitler's poisoned legacy. If they cannot or will not do this, the Middle East will never see peace and Israel has no future.” Burg didn't hold back, he confirmed everything that Israel's most virulent critics have to say; the country is on the same slippery slope as pre-Nazi Germany. And yet in a follow-up interview on Democracy Now!, when asked if he supported BDS he replied absolutely not! "The boycott is barbaric," he said. My thought was, more barbaric than Nazi Germany? He felt strongly enough about the threat to Israeli civil society to write a book which estranged him from the polity, but could not bring himself to follow through on any activity which could hurt Israel, even something that could apply enough pressure to avert the fatal drift.

  • Friedman prepares American Jews for a divorce from zealot Israel
    • I read the commentary on that piece (overwhelmingly unsupportive of Israel vs. US >:) There was a pretty authoritative sounding Israeli settler weighing in from "Samaria" who claimed 700,000 in what we call the West Bank. Settler says its a done deal, no way to undo it. He got 12 thumbs up. Plenty of commentary of the type you would find at Mondoweiss, thumbs up in the hundreds, largest was well over 300 thumbs up.

      Phil, the next time someone says this is a 'hardcore site', just tell them to piss off. The NYT commentary is pretty well mirroring yours.

    • " ..but like I said the first step is to cut off the US money…..and congress is busy, busy every day funding even more special projects for Israel... "

      but the thing is, American, there is no way for any US President to do this, to cut off support of Israel given by Congress. That isn't how the American system of government works. And what is Obama to do other than to keep signing off on them? He has to choose his fights, just like anyone else. He chose to fight on the resurgent Iran sanctions and it took all the chips he had to keep détente with Iran going. The House, driven in part by AIPAC, nearly brought in a veto-proof resolution -- which, significantly, contained a clause that the US military would automatically join in any Israeli military action against Iran.

      I'm seeing an end run around Congress as the only way available; the President can withhold the automatic UN veto without appealing to Congress. Whether he would do this or not, who knows? that's the drama in the situation. But in early March this year he signaled he would do this, in the Bloomberg News interview. If it comes to that, and he does withhold the UN veto, that would be "leadership", right? The President leading the country out of the unhealthy relationship with Israel, using the functions of his office which are available to him .

      American, you never answered my question: what about 'Hoosiers'? Did you ever see that movie? I always found such inspiration in that Gene Hackman line: faced with the hostile, dubious, skeptical town fathers & their followers, having lost the star player they were depending on to win the basketball tourney, falling back on his skill at developing a true team even with pretty unpromising material he introduces his line-up: "This is your team" utter silence. He repeats the line, makes them look their boys in the eye: "This is your team" ie, this is the only team you have. They go on to win the... well, I wouldn't want to spoil the ending for you if you haven't seen the movie...

    • "...this suggestion that they were just setting up Israel to convince Europe that sanctions was the only way to go is just too diabolical."

      Toivo, you need to take out the "just", then it makes sense. What they are doing, at least what Obama is doing, maybe Kerry also, is a game with 2 possible endings. What they prefer is Ending #1; the peace talks are productive of a final status agreement and the end of the occupation, an independent Palestine state. That is the best solution. Ending #2 is much messier. Probably no one, certainly not the Europeans, and arguably not the Palestinians, no one wants Ending #2. But if the Israelis insist, the board is all set up.

    • "Perhaps a future President will." I think not, American. I think Obama is the man in the arena. "This is your team" (do you remember that great Gene Hackman line in 'Hoosiers'?) This is the moment, it will not be repeated. It's ok to think about this whole thing coming to an end NOW. Or NEXT YEAR at the latest.

      Thinking about a future president, someday, not in my lifetime.... to me that is typical liberal-Israeli thinking: yes, peace, but not yet. Put it off, put it off.. meanwhile, think good liberal thoughts on peace...

    • me too. I'm still a believer.

      Obama said several weeks ago in interview that he gives his I-P initiative less than a 50/50 chance of succeeding. But even so, the US went at it all out, nothing held back. Kerry even floated out the idea of giving up Pollard not for an accomplished signed final status agreement, but merely to keep Israel in the peace talks. Done all we could, up to you now, Europe.

    • Israel has had enough time, and fortunately these worthies are not calling the shots anyway. Asking for 3 more years is playing Netanyahu's game. I think some powerful forces will be on the move the moment the Kerry initiative is formally dissolved -- that would be either April 29 (Palestine's decision) or at the end of the year (America's decision)

      "The authors gives Israel a three-year deadline to put up or shut up and withdraw from the occupied territories, and asks us to start imagining a single democracy between the river and the sea." I'm afraid it is going to take more than "imagination" -- it is going to take "force". BDS and international sanctions against Israel is forceful and can be expected to hurt, even though "non-violent".

  • Palestinians can have an embassy in Jerusalem, but God forbid not a capital -- Israeli mayor
    • BARKAT: Let me take you back 3,000 years. ...

      (you are getting sleepy, very very sleepy, you are drifting off, away from the present issue... )

      I love the way Zakaria snaps out of it right away, cutting him off in mid-sentence.

  • You know Israel's in trouble when 'NYT' runs op-ed saying it's replacing Iran as isolated theocracy
  • About that special relationship...
    • ritzl, it is that tantalizing possibility that keeps me awake at night. (I know I'm probably reading far more domestic Israeli politics than is really good for me) But one way this tantalizing possibility could work out is as a precedent which would NOT be overcome by the next US president. It could very well be that US pols are weary of the Israel Lobby yoke. I've read several off-the-record anecdotes from US pols to the effect that they are fed up with the arm twisting and the blackmail and the flooding of their offices with irate phone calls if they fall out of line ever so slightly. The flooding of their congressional offices with the AIPAC hordes in person.

      Think, for example, of what we know about President Obama required to spend hours in conversation with Netanyahu. Even during the government shut-down crisis last fall, on one of the most critical days Obama spent hours during that day talking with Netanyahu. Whenever Netanyahu calls on the telephone, which is most days, Obama jumps to answer it. This is how the most powerful man in the world, the US President, is obliged to act. This is the pay-off for winning the most important election in the most powerful country on the face of the earth? Every day you get out of bed knowing you are going to have to listen to Bibi on the telephone?

      I think there's a better than even chance if Obama's UN ambassador abstains from a critical UN vote on the occupation of Palestine this will set a precedent of relief. Hopefully it will set in motion the legal steps to require AIPAC to register as a foreign lobby -- there has been some motion in that direction in the past, it's not like the US government apparatus has never let it cross their minds.

    • The important thing is that Russia will fight for it. Crimea/Sevastapol port is as sensitive -- probably more sensitive -- to Russia sense of security than Cuba was to US during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

      The Great Powers are like stars in the sky; they each have their own orbits and if they get too close to one another there's likely to be a horrific explosion.

    • like Phil, I'm also not cheerleading the US position on Russia/Crimea -- the Crimean port Sevastapol has been home to Russian fleet for maybe a hundred years, controls access to Mediterranean Sea, is only warm water port for essentially landlocked nation, so non-negotiable. Russia will fight for it. I'm ok if Obama wants to give lip service.

      This is nice though, to see Netanyahu giving Obama the finger once again. You'd think Obama didn't control the all-so-essential UN veto, which may be coming up shortly, and Obama might want to be leaving a legacy to the nation before he leaves office. This is being a fascinating story, better than shoot-out at the OK Corral.

      Israeli journalist Ben Caspit has a recently published story along the same line: "Those looking for the source of the bad blood between the White House and the prime minister's office need look no further than to Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer. From the outset, his appointment spelled trouble. One could not have found a person more associated with the Republicans than him. In July 2012, ahead of US elections, he was the organizer and spirit behind the fund-raising dinner Netanyahu hosted in Jerusalem in honor of the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney. This was like giving President Barack Obama the finger. Later, Dermer traveled to the United States to help the casino mogul Sheldon Adelson goad as many Jews as possible into voting for Romney. That didn't pan out. Adelson’s gamble, into which Netanyahu, Dermer and Israel were dragged almost against their will, proved to be a bust. Subsequently, the already problematic relations were further shaken up. It was then that Netanyahu decided to dispatch Dermer to Washington as his ambassador"

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/ron-dermer-netanyahu-obama-republican-party-bennett.html#ixzz2yqxQQmMh

  • Israel's brand rides high on NPR
    • NPR is too compromised by its fund raising program to do anything politically controversial. Republicans sit on the board of directors, a consequence of the government grant, and act as watch-dogs. They like 'equal time' on the issues and of course they want their own issues aired too, so NPR isn't really the icon of liberalism it once was. Too bad, it's great in so many ways, but too attached to the Saturday afternoon live Metropolitan Opera. I wish they would just play whatever is in their music library and forget about the high priced accessories.

  • Florida university president who condemned boycott has financial ties to settlements
  • 'No decision has been made on Jonathan Pollard,' says State Dep't
    • I think the use of Pollard by the US was, originally, to be a face-saving device for Netanyahu after he signed on to a peace deal. To take the sting out. To make him look good to the general Israeli public for whom Pollard is an important folk hero.

      Obama and Kerry have been dangling this for a little while now, in various ways. Big write up and editorial in NYT recently. I did wonder if Machiavelli-Obama was milking the Pollard issue for all it was worth -- can use it to close a final status agreement, can also use it to subliminally educate the general American public to the perfidy of Israel against US. I think Obama is capable of all that. I also think he is a better chess player than Netanyahu and is already preparing the American public for the next step. Not giving the automatic UN veto if the talks go down without producing and independent Palestine/end of the occupation.

      "Obviously, if there’s a decision made because of steps by the parties that these talks will continue, then it would take longer than the next couple of weeks to come to a final status agreement." --- I think this is the operative sentence.

      great story, what? everything up in the air. stay tuned :>)

  • American Studies Association adds over 700 new members since Israel boycott call
  • 'There's a lot of anti-Semitism out there' -- Johansson reviews her role as 'new face of apartheid'
    • "thank goodness there are a lot of them who have broken thru the cultural malaise."

      I know, Annie, but the fact of the matter is we need every last one. The progressive agenda against the right in this country is like a close election. If even a portion of our progressive Jewish activists are out of action over Israel issues, we lose.

      What really riles me is that the only recourse is to hope and do what you can (which is nothing other than 'hope') to see that Israel gets peaceably integrated into the region. On that score, there are some tantalizing new developments in the US sponsored peace talks, which are ongoing despite authoritative opinions of 'dead in the water':

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.585115

      "Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met Thursday under the auspices of US envoy Martin Indyk nearly two weeks after the talks hit fresh crisis when Israel refused to release a final batch of prisoners, and Palestinians retaliated by seeking accession to 15 international treaties. Israel then said it would freeze the transfer of taxes it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority Despite the escalations, Israeli media reported a possible deal under which Arab-Israelis would be part of the fourth batch of prisoners still to be freed under commitments made when the US kick-started the peace negotiations last July... "

      the report goes on to say the Israeli negotiators accepted the Palestine moves to be part of 15 UN agencies, ie, they would still negotiate, this was not a deal-breaker. Big brouhaha from Israeli right ministers over this. Here is the part that made my heart start beating faster:

      "The real threat comes from within Netanyahu's own Likud party. Deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin said a deal including a settlement construction freeze and release of prisoners, after the Palestinians applied to international institutions, "could shock the political system and force Israel into new elections".

      YES!!! That is exactly what is needed. Regime change in Israel. New elections. Israel is wavering, there may easily be enough political will to end the occupation. And that will normalize Israel's relations with 22 Arab nations in the region. Probably including Iran. And then we will be nearly home free. No more need for AIPAC or the Emergency Committee for Israel, the whole thing goes south.

    • "Why isn’t Israel treated like every other stupid tribal war that no one cares about... ?"

      Because here in America, JeffB, the right wing Israeli government is intruding into our governmental processes in ways that are intolerable to left leaning progressive liberals. Here in America, as I am sure you are aware, there is about a 50/50 standoff between conservatives and liberals. Which is ok actually. We don't want liberals running the country without a steadying hand on the brake by conservatives, right? But we also do not want our democracy to be derailed by an influx of foreign right wingers. It doesn't take much to disturb the delicate balance.

      This is nothing to do with anti-semitism, JeffB. It has to do with conservative vs. liberal politics. If you are going to apply the anti-semitism canard, I can only think less highly of you. I really didn't think you had it in you.

      About 50% of the Israeli population supports a peace deal with the Palestinians. Some of the Israeli population, likely not from the right wing, support a goods & services boycott of West Bank products. The Knesset recently passed a law making political organization for boycott illegal, but some Israelis continue to boycott privately. Would you say these Israelis are anti-semitic? Or would you say they were progressive liberals?

    • I agree with you, Pixel. She's a useful idiot who for sure will be "used", and used relentlessly. That is the one thing I find hardest to bear, the casual way the modern state of Israel calls in Diaspora Jews to help out. As if it owned them. As if they had no overriding loyalty to whatever nation they happen to be living in, peacefully and productively. As far as our own American Jewish civil rights activists are concerned, PEPs, it's like they've been kidnapped. We flucking need them ourselves! How come there's been no big organized public demonstrations on issues such as the environment, campaign finance reform etc.? Why did the Occupy Wall St. movement die out? One answer is that our talented and energetic progressive Jewish activists are down for the count, laid out by the needs of a foreign nation. I happen to know of one myself, this isn't just theorizing. I can't believe my own experience is something unique to me.

    • the anti-Semitism canard is the last refuge of scoundrels. When they bring that out it's a sign their arguments are exhausted, and they may be exhausted also. The tide is running overwhelmingly in the other direction.

  • Because Rep. Jones voted 'present' on Israel aid, lobby group runs attack ad with burning flag
    • The Americans did a bit of messing about in Israeli politics during the course of the Kerry mission. Netanyahu's right wing government doesn't have much reserve in the Knesset. Out of 120 seats, Netanyahu controls 61. Nearly half of the Israeli government supports a peace deal with the Palestinians. The Americans were trying to exploit the fracture lines, maybe still are. That's one reason why Kerry was so viciously attacked over the course of his time there -- because he nearly succeeded.

    • thanks, American

    • Thanks for the report, Phil. This is the crux of the matter and always has been. We're not going anywhere as a nation until AIPAC is recognized, treated as and lawfully registered as a foreign lobby. That's not going to happen until the Israel-Palestine "conflict" is settled. AIPAC's power depends on a perpetual state of emergency, an Israel perpetually threatened rather than being peacefully integrated into the region.

  • Distracted by the peace process: What really happened during the talks
    • I started posting to Phil's old New York Observer blog in 2002. I remember the exact day I got enlightened to the issue -- it was a little no-account anti-Iraq War "teach-in" sponsored by our little hick high school out in the boonies. I live in a place where people still wave at cars passing by and wait politely several minutes for an oncoming vehicle to clear the little one-lane bridges. The kids had brought in an Iranian professor from the local college to explain the basic geography and politics of the Middle East to us. The meeting was busted up by three big city AIPAC types confronting the professor, rudely demanding equal time.

      I had read a bit about AIPAC and Campus Watch, but it wasn't until coming face to face with it that I got politicized. I still didn't know what was going on though. I was mostly worried about the professor. In September of that year we went to the big ANSWER anti-war march in Washington and encountered a huge, huge presence of Palestinian-Americans. It was shortly after that we lost the great Jewish anti-war and civil rights organizers. Huge loss. It isn't only the Palestinians who are losing, although for sure they are physically suffering more -- our own country needs our Jewish activists! Uncompromised and unconflicted in their loyalties. How can we hope to get any traction at all to address the very real problems here when a foreign nation is taking the cream off the top?

      I agree with Taxi, we've come a long way since Phil's column in the Observer was the only game in town. Also I notice Jonathan Cook mentioned the EU diplomats; it could be that the US has rested, but Europe is coming up to speed. Also, the negotiations are still continuing, both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are anxious to meet with Martin Indyk, the US envoy. It ain't over till it's over.

  • Apathy in Ramallah as negotiations with Israel dive
    • Bandolero

      Your metaphor the changing direction of the tide is really very apt. It describes the totality of what is happening in Israel's relationship with the world, it's more than the diplomatic action alone. Although it does also describe the effects of diplomacy, both European and US.

      Also strongly agree with you on Germany. I mentioned the Romanian foreign minister interview because he was so forthcoming on the European agenda. But yes, gosh, for Americans it's a little unsettling. Come to find out the slut has a special relationship with another nation!? Oh well. But there's good news on that front -- the special relationship with Germany is being frayed the same as ours, even the nature of the fights sound similar:

      "Recent years have seen several instances of tension between Germany and Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have even shouted at each other on the telephone while discussing Israeli policies toward Palestinians."

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/relations-between-germany-and-israel-at-all-time-low-for-merkel-a-954118.html

      shouting over the phone... shades of Obama-Netanyahu. I wonder if Netanyahu went off in a snit and started courting the Bundestag behind Merkel's back...

      "The Israelis are still deeply unhappy with Germany's abstention in a vote before the United Nations General Assembly in December 2012 to grant the Palestinians the status of a "non-member observer state." Leaders in Jerusalem had believed Germany would vote against it. Berlin's vote was particularly important because Israel had long seen Germany as a guarantee that the EU would not be unanimously opposed to Israeli interests."

      Looking good I think, Bandolero. If it gets to UN sanctions against Israel, I would be ecstatic if Obama abstained instead of giving the automatic UN veto. It would be like the 2nd Declaration of American Independence. My opinion is it will not get that far, I think the Israelis will settle on the threat. But lovely pipe-dream don't you think?

    • "Swell of boycotts driving Israel into international isolation"

      "Western activists and diplomats are gunning for Israel's settlements in the Palestinian territories, and if peace talks fail, the rain of boycotts and sanctions could turn into a flood."

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.563242

      Shingo, this is an old piece, Dec. 12, 2013, but it does a good job of outlining the problem for Israel and none of it has gone away. This is from Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for Ha'aretz. He's as well-connected as anyone in Israel. Notice his interview with an unnamed Israeli official reporting on an interview with an unnamed European diplomat:

      “The marking of produce from the [Palestinian] territories is on hold at this stage," the European diplomat said to his Israeli interlocutor. “However, should the negotiations with the Palestinians run aground you should expect a deluge of sanctions.” The Israeli official was taken aback by the sharp words. “Aren’t the circumstances of a breakdown in negotiations relevant,” he asked. The European replied laconically, “the way things look now, you will be the losers in the blame game.”

      You say, "It seems that diplomats from Germany and France have been falling over themselves to assure the Israelis that they will not back BDS."
      (sorry I'm not computer-savvy enough to give this a better presentation)
      ... and yes, you are right. None of these European diplomats are going to head-on head-butt Israel -- they are after all, diplomats. And at the end of the day, Europe does still want to have a relationship with Israel. It takes a lot of reading to figure out what's going on, there's a lot of give and take, it's a matter of learning a new language, diplomatese.

      I'll give you an example -- EU president Martin Schultz causes huge uproar in Knesset speech referring to water shortage of Palestinians vs. water use by Israelis. He later backs down:

      "On Tuesday Schulz made clear that the EU had not boycotted and would not boycott Israel over its settlements in the occupied territories. "In the European parliament there is not a majority for a potential boycott," he said.
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/12/israel-walkout-knesset-german-mep-speech

      Schultz backed down, but his speech still had the intended effect. Around the same time, mid-February, factions of the right wing government meet to strategize against the European boycott threat. Catherine Philp reports for the Times of Israel: "Israeli spies have been ordered to dig up intelligence showing that supporters of an economic boycott are linked to terrorists and enemy states."
      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/israel-starts-new-propaganda-war-to-beat-boycott/story-fnb64oi6-1226823640289#

      One of my all-time favorite diplomatic interviews was with the Romanian foreign minister, Titus Corlatean. He was forthcoming about WHY the European nations were working to thwart Israeli aspirations. Unlike we lesser mortals, nation states are basically immoral. They do what they do not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is in their perceived national interests. Europe is not going to diplomatic war on behalf of suffering Palestinians, they will do it because it serves their own interests. Sometimes these can converge (harmonic convergence, anyone?)

      "Corlatean explained that Europe cannot afford to display indifference toward the Middle East, since the implications of events in the region affect every corner of the continent. “We are witnessing the growing infiltration of jihadists into Europe and the exploitation of the economic crisis to spread xenophobia, populism, racism and anti-Semitism."

      Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/12/romania-foreign-minister-building-workers-settlements.html#ixzz2y7LZ5YD8

      This Akiva Eldar piece is rambling, like most of his writing. He touches on how Romania was friend to Israel against other EU countries, and why, and
      then how Israel pushed the issue and Romania sanctioned its workers from Occupied Territories construction:

      "In the November 2012 UN vote on upgrading the status of the Palestinian representation, Romania chose to abstain. Corlatean also did not affix his signature to the letter of 13 EU ministers announcing their countries’ decision to label products made in the settlements. In the interview with Al-Monitor he declared proudly that over the years Romania has managed to maintain open channels with the Israelis and the Palestinians.

      "But this state of affairs couldn’t last forever. And in fact, at the beginning of December, the lengthy talks between Israel’s Foreign Ministry and its Romanian equivalent over the employment of Romanian construction workers broke down. It happened after Israel rejected Romania’s demand that the workers not be employed in the construction of settlements across the Green Line."

      I've probably given you more than what you really want to read, Shingo. This diplomatic stuff is tedious until you develop a taste for it, and it is like watching sumo wrestlers -- not exactly duking it out, more like heavy-weights slowly circling the ring, looking for that small advantage which could lead to a win. Also, I realize I have not made a "case"; the outcome is still unknown. But there is plenty of reason to believe things will go the way we want them to.

    • Annie, can you pronounce Machiavelliobama? The Americans cannot bring Israel to heel by themselves. The US is too compromised politically. It will only happen if the Europeans get involved. And between the two, Israel is being squeezed in a vice of carrot & stick.

      I think a lot of the perceived 'weakness' coming from the Kerry mission is playing to the Europeans. Not for domestic consumption, for the Europeans. Kerry and Obama are taking a lot of sh*t, especially poor old Kerry. I'm surprised he's standing up to it so well. But I think they are both playing a very good game and may be successful in driving this to a peace treaty. If not, international sanctions await -- and Obama signaled in a Bloomberg News interview that he will not give the automatic UN veto if the peace talks go down. You can see why I am following this story on the edge of my seat :>)

    • No question in my mind that serious EU action against Israel is not only in the cards but already begun. I'm a regular reader of al-Monitor. Some of their Israeli journalists, especially Akiva Eldar former diplomatic editor of Ha'aretz, interview every European diplomat passing through Tel Aviv . I'm also regular reader of the Israeli press.

      It's already happening. The Europeans have already brought in major economic and development sanctions, divestments, labeling of goods and services coming from Occupied Palestine. This is rattling the Israeli government and has inspired a major peace initiative from Israeli big businessmen. And this is just an appetizer. If the Kerry mission goes down the Europeans are waiting in the wings with much worse.

      I say "if", not "when" because the European threat, both economic and diplomatic, is an important player driving Israel to settle. Most analysts have pronounced the Kerry mission dead in the water but I'm still seeing a lot of drama in the situation. I notice that the European pressure on Israel is never, ever mentioned in the US press. Never. It's like it doesn't exist here.

  • 'A Painful Price': The escalating war on Palestine solidarity at U of Michigan and beyond
    • great writing, Max. It seems like an overwhelmingly grim, threatening, oppressive scene on campus. The resonant image that floated up for me was the early anti-war protests in the 1960's, and the early civil rights demonstrations. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against that.

  • Both Sides: Anti-BDS concerns on campus vs. life in the occupied territories
    • JeffB, I am independently wealthy myself -- ie. retired on Social Security and 'green' investments -- so I have plenty of time to indulge my hobbies. US foreign policy and baiting hasbara. You are not the typical Israeli paid commenter, so I had to ask. It's unusual and also a relief to run across an American debating the other side.

      next question: what is your opinion of paid hasbara, Israeli citizens posing as Americans, commenting on US political threads? Do you think this is an unfair intrusion into an important American political discussion?

    • I thought it was a political cartoon depicting the oppressive reality for occupied Palestine, and the neurotic reaction of comfortable American Jewish students -- well, mostly comfortable, except for those pesky conscience-pricking picket signs...

      have you been engaged in hasbara for long? and if you don't mind an even more personal question, do you receive any stipend, grant or salary for your activities? I realize it takes up a lot of your time, so how do you maintain yourself economically?

    • you thought it was funny?

  • Poll: If two-states collapse, Americans overwhelmingly favor 'democracy'
    • Phil, you are right. This IS huge. I picked up the piece from Ha'aretz the day after it appeared in Foreign Policy -- G-d forbid it should ever be published here in a mainstream newspaper, but no matter. It's already being used to fight back against the hasbara in US mainstream newspaper threads. For a really deft hasbara fighter, look at the commentary at the end of the FP piece, Shingo lights up the board. He brings tears to your eyes if you are into that kind of thing....

      Annie's comment "we've been lied to" is pretty much on the money, but also more complicated than that. "We've been successfully propagandized" would be more precise. A few weeks ago I began wondering about the opinion polls regularly cited by hasbara online, the polls showing how overwhelmingly the American public loves and supports Israel -- "so where are they? How come the Israel-loving American public isn't on this thread, supporting Israel against those few outlier Americans who are criticizing Israel?"

      All I can see on these mainstream newspaper threads are Americans critical of Israel who are then answered by Israelis. If the news is particularly bad (progress in the Kerry mission) the thread will be overwhelmed by defensive Israelis. There is the very, very occasional comment from the American Christian fundamentalist community threatening damnation to those who oppose Israel but that's about it.

      Yeah, Annie, yer right. We've been had. The general American public may overwhelmingly support Israel, but that support is exceedingly thin.

      The firm which did the survey has an interesting provenance. Europe-based business marketing, not particularly "political" or "American". Gives the results more cred for me. Wikipedia has a good write-up.

  • Netanyahu and ministers lash out at 'insufferable' Kerry for mentioning 'boycotts'
    • With respect, puppies, US interests are an important part of the picture. The Palestinians are not going to get everything they deserve, the Israelis are going to get more than they deserve. The US will be firmly on the path to getting out from under Israel lobby blackmail and will be able to own its own foreign policy -- that's what's in it for us.

    • I love to see the Izzies getting all hot and bothered. Kudos to Kerry. He's playing a very good game. It will end with a peace treaty, and then we can go on from there.

  • Israel's UN ambassador catches flak in Upper West Side synagogue
    • thanks for the link, Krauss. It was fun seeing Netanyahu get so closely challenged at such a high level. Eide is foreign minister of Norway and managing director of this WEF. He asked some pretty embarrassing questions and Netanyahu exhibited his usual tin ear for diplomacy -- he actually attacked the speech of the Iranian PM given that morning.

  • Update: 'Blood bubbles' -- mainstream media turn on SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson
    • poor Mike Konrad. Sounds like he is going into suffering paranoia mode.

      Fortunately Mike doesn't speak for "Israel". The boycott is certainly rattling the country, but Israel isn't a mad dog frothing at the mouth and looking for targets to nuke. That's the beauty of the boycott. It puts pressure on the government to change its policies, and fortunately, Israel has a parliamentary system; it is do-able, even if it requires a change in the governing coalition it is totally and non-violently do-able.

      The Netanyahu coalition controls 68 of 120 seats, but N. has already been approached by dovish parties offering to form a new government with him, a new coalition that would settle with the Palestinians. I was reading just today the wikipedia page on the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza -- lots of huge scary settler protest and general population protest over that but it got done quite expeditiously. If the IDF gets their marching orders, they will move out the West Bank settlers. No nukes.

  • Obama says likelihood of Iran deal and Israeli-Palestinian agreement are both under 50%
    • No one as smart as Obama is going to predict a slam dunk on any of these issues. That's ok by me. Eisenhower famously (and nobly) wrote a letter before the assault on Normandy, personally accepting the responsibility for failure. Under 50% chance of success? That still leaves a chance, maybe even a good chance.

      I admire Obama and Kerry for the energy they are investing in I-P negotiations -- even though I know Palestine will get shafted if they are successful. Israel will get more than it deserves, Palestine less than it deserves. But if nothing else, Kerry will have been successful, has already been successful in exposing Israel's hand, fully. The Europeans will take over from where the Americans left off.

      And if nothing else, Obama will have been successful in exposing AIPAC's hand. I would give odds much better than fifty-fifty that the general American public does not like the idea of going to war with Iran on behalf of Israel. The dream of AIPAC being treated as and lawfully recognized as a foreign lobby -- gosh, odds of fifty-fifty on that look pretty good to me...

  • Undermining Kerry, Democratic Rep Engel says West Bank is Israel
    • thanks for copying the piece, American. I can't read Ha'aretz articles behind the firewall. Do I believe it will happen the way Mr. Abraham imagines? Yes, I'd like to. Especially this:

      " ...Israel will be mistaken to assume that America will automatically veto every decision brought to the UN Security Council."

      I react to that kind of talk like a dog presented with a big juicy bone, it literally makes me salivate.

      So I looked into Mr. Abraham a bit -- wikipedia has a good write-up -- and the writer definately has cred. He's a longtime major donor to the Democratic Party, top donor for the national parties in 2000. So that means he's got access. If Abraham says the Dems are considering with-holding the UN veto I can dine out on that.

    • " ..the unfolding of Obama’s Newman/Redford style sting on Netanyahu."

      oh, now I get it, Nick. I misunderstood your reference to "sting on Netanyahu" in your recent post. Yes, that is the way I saw this from the beginning -- Obama setting up Israel for the European sanctions, both economic and diplomatic. If Kerry's mission works, great. If not it's back to the ungentle hands of the Europeans.

      The Israelis would be smart to accept the Kerry proposals, but I'm beginning to think they're not all that smart. That's what too much religion and ideology does for you.

      Akiva Eldar and Barak Ravid, past and present diplomatic correspondents for Ha'aretz make a point of interviewing every European diplomat that passes through, and they're all saying the same thing: the Europeans are watching the US-sponsored I-P negotiations carefully. They're planning to come down hard on whichever side they see as complicit in the failure of the peace talks, and right now it is Israel they are fingering. One thing the Kerry mission has been successful in is making Israel expose it's hand, fully.

      Also, the Europeans are not acting from purely philanthropic motives, although there is that present. No one likes to see an underdog kicked around. But there is something for the Europeans in the settling of this conflict -- the Romanian Foreign Minister speaking to Akiva Eldar made clear that the European nations were being afflicted by jihadists and overt expressions of anti-semitism, which they put down to the ongoing occupation and oppression of Palestine. They want this cleared up.

  • Israel's '60 Minutes' attributes success of boycott movement to unending settlement of West Bank
    • "I wrote you many times that their is no apartheid in Israel but you insist to believe that we are apartheid state."

      Mahane, you are talking to the wrong people. We KNOW what apartheid is and what it looks like. We struggled with black apartheid in the United States for decades before the issue was resolved. To our credit, it was resolved from within the country, without pressure from outside. Israeli liberals have tried to address and resolve the issue -- Israeli liberals tried to organize a boycott of goods & services from the West Bank but were thwarted when the Knesset ruled against such boycott, making it illegal for Israelis to protest the occupation in this way. It says a lot for the US, don't it? We were not and are not so far gone in the fascist direction as to need outside pressure to make us do the right thing.

  • AIPAC fail: Goldberg leads, and Sen. Blumenthal climbs off the war bus
    • "Could Obama be running a sting on Netanyahu? I wouldn’t put it past him."

      I think Obama can be Machiavellian. He is a politician after all. Bibi has gone out of his way to humiliate Obama personally and work against Obama politically. Of course he's got Bibi in his sights. But Obama is smart enough and grown-up enough to get the job done first. For that he needs Netanyahu to bring in the peace treaty with Palestine. Unlikely Netanyahu will last long after that. That's my take.

  • Israeli settlement exports from the Jordan Valley down $29 million in 2013 due to international boycott
    • Annie, I resonate strongly to your observation and I think it does in fact carry a lot of significance. I noticed an excellent AP story on the I-P peace negotiations a couple of weeks ago, very widely distributed, and for the US market, unusually fairly balanced:

      http://www.salon.com/2014/01/01/analysis_israel_palestinians_face_hard_choices/

      The writer is the same as this piece on the boycott of the occupied territories, Karin Laub. I was so taken with that AP story on the peace negotiations and then I noticed a sentence at the end describing the writer:
      "Karin Laub is the chief correspondent for the Palestinian territories and has covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1987."

      yes, it's a big step forward for mainstream American media, to use a journalist based in Palestine, not Tel Aviv

  • Jewish Federations angry at Wasserman Schultz for backing Obama on Iran deal
  • At MLA, boycott opponents paper chairs
    • hi Annie

      Sorry I don't have the link for you. I know the AJC op-ed you referred to, I read that also. The Trib also did a straight news piece on the convention and it wasn't Samer Ali who was quoted, it was someone else. The Chronicle of Higher Ed also gave good coverage, they had a couple of pieces on the convention, the second one was better. I got into a huge fight with a hasbera in the commentary (does that count as activism :>)

      Annie, there is a need to give thanks to those who got out in front with BDS. It takes a lot of bravery to stand against such a strong societal push coming the other way. It reminds me of the early Vietnam war protests, early on were very divisive and bitter.

    • As Liz observed, they do not listen, and there is something frightening in that -- as well as frightened. A few days ahead of the convention the Chicago Tribune ran a piece and interview with one of the organizers of the panel. He answered the question very succinctly and clearly: why were pro-Israel observers not invited or welcome at the presentation? Answer: because the organizers have already made up their minds on the question of the Palestine occupation/Israel culpability, there was nothing to debate on the issue, the panel presentation was convened to explore whether or not a boycott would be the appropriate response to the problem. And yet, all these expensively produced brochures! It's like trying to raise the dead.

      Phil, Annie, I hope you are being sensible in your BDS activities. There's a lot of strong irrational emotion out there. Don't try to change anyone's mind, it can't be done. Don't feel it's all up to us because the Europeans are already doing the heavy lifting on sanctions. Look both ways before crossing the street, etc, etc, etc. And thanks for doing it.

  • 'Cruelest demolition' kills Palestinians' sheep and signals political tension with Europeans
    • Phil, for God's sake, what are you doing in Palestine! I am appalled you would go there to do interviews right on the heels of speaking at the BDS conference. I mean -- Phil, these people are crazy, armed and dangerous, and they have your number. Think Woody Allen with a Uzi.

      We already have enough American martyrs to the cause of Greater Israel, Phil. And it is so not necessary for you to expose yourself like this. This whole thing has turned a corner, finally. The US military high command is getting active on this issue, there won't be any US military support for an attack on Iran -- see news for Gen. Martin Demsey -- it's not 'political', it's not from Obama, it's the military looking after both itself and the country.

      It was the Army that finally brought down McCarthy, and there's a lot of resonance between the two issues -- both McCarthyism and Israelism is very, very bad for the nation. This is an American Problem. Not a Jewish Problem. So try to think of it like that -- Phil, sometimes I think that you do not really behave according to your own philosophy. These are not "Jews" you are dealing with. They are "Israelis". A foreign nation. And they do not love you and they will not be careful of your being. So get the f*ck out of Palestine, ok?

  • Both sides are wrong in the ‘Israel Firsters’ debate
  • Israeli officials say Iran's 'existential threat' is-- braindrain of 200,000 'best and brightest'
    • thanks, teta mother. this is an excellent piece of research. we need all the help we can get to keep our memory intact in the face of this huge propaganda barrage.

  • Penn's president condemns article likening BDS conference to Nazism as 'counter to her personal values and civility'
    • best of luck to everyone at work on this issue.

      I echo the Justice Please warning -- beware of agents provocateurs. That Gur piece was so over the top it almost qualifies.

      Also as a reminder -- I'm sure this was covered on MW back when it happened but doesn't hurt to be reminded -- in Israel this kind of boycott organizing is now illegal according to Israeli law. So things aren't as bad here in that regard. Although for sure Israel has a more open press...
      http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/why-israelis-must-fight-against-the-boycott-law-1.373135

    • "... Stalinist-minded... "

      you know, this seems so dated somehow

      going to wikipedia: Journalist Michelle Goldberg writes that "One of the curses of left-wing politics is the perennial presence of International ANSWER, a front group for the Stalinist Workers World Party... "

      you two wouldn't possibly be related would you?

  • The Iraq war coverup: What did AIPAC do and when did it do it?
    • well I could have figured that, right after I saw this:
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-iran-eia-idUSTRE80U24120120131

      for more oil market news, especially on the machinations of those wily Iranians and how they are outwitting Obama on his sanctions, see the Financial Times commodities report:
      http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b1aca49e-4bee-11e1-b1b5-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1lKeXLa7J

      Obama probably thought he would be able to satisfy the Israelis on the cheap, by applying sanctions instead of supporting the military attack Israel has been craving. And the US public is pretty well propagandized to view sanctions as somehow benign. So it looked like win/win.

      Then those blasted mullahs acted up to look after their own interests. Drat and damn.

      Of course, it would never in a thousand years occur to Obama to tell the Israelis to take a hike.

    • sanctions are one of the many war behaviors. sanctions are the equivalent of a seige. years of sanctions, applied by both Republican and Democrat US presidents, sufficiently weakened Iraq to the point where it could be easily picked off militarily.

    • "The best way to oppose war against Iran is not just to say, We're against it, but to identify who is pushing for it."

      of course you are right, Phil

      but

      easier said than done

      The Lobby is a fact of American life. It has a life of its own now. It is second generation now. As far back as 1967 the Israel Lobby was influential enough to paper over the USS Liberty attack. Admiral Thomas Moorer writing in 1997 -- well before Walt & Meerscheimer -- brought this out:

      "I must have gone to the White House 15 times or more to watch the President personally award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Americans of special valor. So it irked the hell out of me when McGonagle's ceremony was relegated to the obscurity of the Washington Navy Yard and the medal was presented by the Secretary of the Navy. This was a back-handed slap. Everyone else received their medal at the White House. President Johnson must have been concerned about the reaction of the Israeli lobby."

      http://www.ussliberty.org/moorer3.htm

      easier said than done, Phil. Why do you think the usual "progressive" antiwar groups are not doing anything about organizing against the Iran war and the Iran sanctions. They were all over this is 2003, but in 2003 it was not obvious that the Israeli cause figured in the attack on Iraq. Today it is commonly accepted that this would be a war for Israel, not for oil. And the progressives are not going to touch this one. I think it's against their religion or something.

  • Mossad chief held secret talks in DC with top U.S. officials
    • it's like the run-up to the Iraq war all over again and that was only 9 years ago, so you'd think ordinarily intelligent people might still have that in mind. it's not like it's rocket science, it's only a matter of memory. has our country succumbed to dementia or what?

      Below is one of the reader responses to a NYT op-ed:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/opinion/keller-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-iran.html?pagewanted=all#commentsContainer

      I love this little piece, I wish there was some way to get it into the water system --

      " 19 other nations--all signatories like Iran to the NPT--are enriching uranium exactly as Iran is doing. Some, like Japan, have already declared that they intend to make nuclear weapons in the future if they need to. So why aren't we going after these nations with threats, sanctions and plans for carpet bombing? The answer is clear: we are targeting Iran, and using this non-existent issue as an excuse. The reason: a nuclear threat is a plausible excuse for regime change--what the hawks and neocons are really after!

      "Americans need to wake up and understand that they are being flim-flammed in a huge way. We will wake up in the middle of a massive conflagration and realize that the ideologues did it again--got us into a gigantic foreign conflict that will tie us and the world up for decades over a non-existent threat. Fool me twice, shame on me. "

  • Is Israel a failed state? asks 'American Conservative'
    • "They just financed the undertaking."

      just? that was all? Theo, that was all it took for this tragedy to happen. It would not have happened without American financing and subversion of the American political system -- by Americans.

      I stand by my perceptions. I already know about the circumstances of the creation of the Israeli state. I already know that European and Russian zionism pre-dated the events of WW2. I already know how some zionist leaders collaborated with nazi Germany for its own ends -- I've read my Hannah Arendt. But who am I to weigh in on the morality of those times and places? The US has enough blood on its own plate, there is enough for Americans to contemplate about their own history, recent history and present blind spots. We of all people don't need to get all moralistic about how Israel was created or the vision of its founders.

      I often think about how our comedians like Woody Allen created the humorous/deadly serious caricature of the smothering Jewish mother. All I can say is -- those Jewish mothers has nothing, nothing, nothing on those deep-pocketed Jewish fathers. Looking out for poor widdle Israel and quite happy to put America on the backburner, thinking America was plenty strong enough to look out for itself. Well, they were wrong about that. That's what I think. It is a tragedy for both countries.

      I hope the US can survive this. I no longer care about Israel much.

    • thanks for posting the link, Phil, it is an excellent piece.

      Coming from someone like Gorenberg -- it really does bring home the tragedy of Israel. Of what Israel has become.

      It's a damned shame, really. And frankly, I put the ultimate responsibility for this on Americans, not on Israelis. Left to themselves, without the constant fussing and propping up of powerful American Jews, without the constant attempts to do end runs around US government policy Israel might have done very well for itself. Might now be living in peace and security. Even though Israel likely always would have remained "one of those unfortunate facts of life" for the neighboring Arab states -- it wouldn't have mattered. With legitimate, not coerced US government assistance Israel was strong enough to hold off disapproving neighboring states. Because of coerced US government assistance Israel never had to grow up and do the difficult task of making peace. It never became the respected and mature state, part of the world community of nations that it might have become. It's a crying shame, really. Both for Israel and for us.

  • AIPAC met quietly with Dem thinktank to deplore writings critical of Israel, and took its leaders to Israel
    • :>)

      thanks for the background on Col. Lang. I have a little bit of conversation with him from time to time and I wouldn't want to get that important piece wrong!

      btw, optimax, did you take a look at the National Journal debate Col. Lang was an invited participant to recently? He and Robert Baer (CIA) lined up together on one side, a neocon on the other side and an extremely interesting analysis by Prof. Michael Brenner (International Affairs, U. of Pittsburgh) -- "American foreign policy over the past 11 years has demonstrated a perverse genius for placing the United States in lose/lose situations."

      Lang mentioned that he and Baer usually help Brenner with his analysis, but Lang has such a cryptic way of saying or not saying things that it's hard to know exactly what that means...

    • "But it also caused the thinktank, the Center for American Progress, to pull in its horns. "

      Col. Pat Lang has a wonderfully evocative description for what happened to CAP:

      http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2012/01/the-gelding-of-cap.html

      I think Lang's background is US Marines. Not cavalry. But nevertheless he got the correct phrase for what happened here.

  • Chris Hayes stunning 'Story of the Week' featuring Sheldon Adelson
    • thanks John

      I thought I recognized that quote you linked me to! I read Seymour Hersh, The Sampson Option a few months ago. I only got it to check out a couple of details about JFK going up against Ben Gurion -- not being interested, I thought, in the Israeli nukes. Not understanding the significance of the Israeli nukes.

      Hersh is a great writer, very engaging and makes complicated things, like how to build an atomic bomb, very accessible to the lay reader. I ended up reading the entire book and I'm glad I did. Now I know how Israel uses her nukes. They have come in handy a number of times already.

      Israel uses nukes to blackmail the US into doing what Israel wants, against the better judgement of the US government. Great, great story about Kissinger and the beginning of the Yom Kippur War in 1974. I came away with an appreciation for Kissinger -- which at one time I would have considered to be about as likely as sending early money to a Republican candidate. Which goes to show, ya' just never know, keeps up your interest in life...

      But yes, Kennedy apparently did send a number of bills to Congress for campaign finance reform, which didn't go anywhere of course. This increased my appreciation of Kennedy -- at least he had the wit to know he was being blackmailed and tried to do something about it, for the sake of the country. Also, Hersh told well documented stories, as they all were, book was great for documentation, about LBJ and suitcases of cash delivered by Feinberg. LBJ's presidency was so awash with unaccountable cash it sounded like something out of The Godfather.

    • "... can you believe they said this on national television:

      "Think about it for a second. If you were a multi billionaire…. how much would you spend to own the President of the United States?"

      Another of the reasons why I am stirred by the Ron Paul campaign is that he seems to actually practice -- not advocate but actually practice -- campaign finance reform. His campaign relies on small donations from individual voters, not on corporations and certainly not on foreign powers.

      I don't think we'll get democracy back on track in this country until we legislate and follow through on campaign finance reform. The case of Israel, a foreign country having so much influence on the US political system is the extreme edge of the wedge, the ultimate example of how campaign money is corrupting our politicians.

  • The antiwar movement must rise again. Now
    • American, this is a long game we are playing here, and often we don't get the kind of reaction we want, at least not right away. It turned out that Nixon was affected by the antiwar protests. It bothered him. A lot. And he didn't look too good when he left the WH for the last time. Neither did Johnson come to think on it. Politicians hate to be unpopular. It kills them a little bit. Sorry if I'm coming across as harsh...

    • I agree, the speechifying was not particularly inspiring. But the Iraq antiwar marches were inspiring and memorable in a positive way. One of the most popular contingents were the Viet Nam vets. This year I expect we'll see the Iraq & Afghanistan war veterans prominently represented.

    • I think you'll be surprised at what a good time you'll have, Bruce. A big blowout street march is something that you want to experience at least once in your lifetime. It's one thing to read a statistic -- 100,000 people, 200,000 people, half a million people marching in the street, traffic stopped, business-as-usual stopped for them -- and it's another thing entirely to actually experience that. It is both intense, and mellow at the same time. And there is lots of entertainment. Musicians, acrobats, dancers. The Bread & Puppet Theatre if you're lucky. The Rhythm Workers Union with their rickety Dr. Seuss-ey gypsy wagon, help yourself to one of their "percussion instruments" from the back of the wagon, return it when you get tired of helping to keep the beat... you'll have a nice time :>)

      Also, make sure you tweet this date out to your email list. There is almost no advertising of this event. If there is a huge blowout march it will only be through the Egyptian Revolutionary model, social media alone. I did a quick survey of the progressive blogsphere and found -- nada. The only website advertising the ANSWER march is antiwar.com -- a Libertarian site.

    • American:

      It's a handicap only if you are attached to having a particular outcome. Some things are worth doing in and of themselves. Yes, it would be nice to think antiwar street marches could actually stop the war. But even if it can't, it's still worth doing. In some sense, it would be disrespectful not to march, not to mark it, seeing as how there will be so much death, maiming, hunger, poverty and destruction of the earth as well as the ancient cities.

      One way to think of the antiwar marchers is like this: they are the concience of our nation. They save the beloved country from utter degradation. There is still hope the beloved country will recover. This is something we do for ourselves and for our country. This will be an A.N.S.W.E.R. march, so the police and the FBI will be out in full force. A.N.S.W.E.R. has been accused of being a "Stalinist front organization" (I kid you not) but in fact we will be the true patriots on that day.

      A.N.S.W.E.R. has also been accused by all of the usual suspects of being anti-semitic, having had the audacity to organize Palestinian Americans to come out in force for the big 2003 march in DC as well as in other actions. A.N.S.W.E.R.'s response to critics could have been lifted directly from the pages of MondoWeiss:

      "The Anti-Defamation League has accused ANSWER of supporting terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.[16] According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency "Several anti-war protests in San Francisco organized by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) featured imagery and slogans some considered anti-Semitic, including the burning of the Israeli flag, chants of support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Nazi-like arm salutes."[17] Similarly, the Stephen Roth Institute has noted "Anti-Israel and antisemitic content has marked some ANSWER events."[18]

      According to ANSWER, "We strongly abhor all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. At the same time, we don't believe that criticism of Israeli government policies should be labeled as anti-Semitism any more than criticism of U.S. government policy should be labeled as anti-American."[19]

      (quotation lifted from Wikipedia)

    • yes.

      you can support Ron Paul as part of your antiwar effort. Of course he's not going to win the Republican nomination. The reason you send him money is to keep him talking the way he does about American foreign policy (aka war policy).

      My husband and I have responded four times to the Ron Paul campaign "money bombs" -- amazing that we would send money to a Republican candidate, but these are very strange times we are living through. The antiwar candidate is from the right this time. You do what you can.

    • right on, Kalithea

    • I'm happy to see your post, Bruce. I did google searches from time to time over the course of the last several months to see what the anti-war movement organizers had lined up for us, and... nada. Nothing. Not even the outlier A.N.S.W.E.R. -- the gentlemanly quakerish democratic party left felt uncomfortable marching under their banner even though they were superb at hosting big crowds in the streets, but today, for this war, nothing.

      So finally I realized, it's not gonna' happen. Not like it always did before, those big blowout street marches. What I'm doing for my antiwar effort these days is contributing to newspaper commentary threads, and reading what other commenters have to say. It's like carrying a virtual sign in a virtual street march, at least that's what I tell myself. It's better than nothing, and anyway, those big blowout antiwar street marches and local vigils in 2003 -- they didn't stop the war did they?

      There is a lot, really a lot of antiwar feeling out there. That's what I'm picking up from reading the commentaries in the mainstream press. Also, a difference from the earlier wars -- you touched on this strongly yourself -- it's not just the left. It's the military, especially the high command. For this war, the military leaders are against it, and I'm thinking this goes down the line to the common soldiers, this influences military culture. I'm thinking this is why Ron Paul got so much support from the military in fundraising and speaking out for his campaign, it probably comes from the top.

      You brought up one of my all-time favorite political fantasies in your post -- a rapprochment of the antiwar left and the antiwar right. It would be a powerfully resonant movement. Actually, the whole American political system could be rejuvenated by a 3rd party run from such a movement. Let the demorepublicans coalesce, finally, into their own party. Let them try to stand against a populist party with antiwar as one plank of its platform. Ralph Nader and Ron Paul have more in common than they have in difference. There's a wonderful YouTube with the two of them being interviewed by a television journalist, and it seemed like the big difference was universal health care.

  • New additions to the Mondoweiss comments policy
    • I'm happy with however Phil wants to edit his website. As far as I'm concerned, he's paid his dues. He goes way back. He doesn't need to justify his decisions. It's enough for him to say he needs to do this or that to maintain his mental health. He's Jewish and he's going up against Israel. That's enough. He's of the generation of American Jews who were taught to Love Israel as they imbibed their mothers' milk. That's some pretty powerful conditioning to overcome, and it is never done just once, it is done every day.

    • I agree with you, Scott. There is major intellectual talent on this board. Truly major. And it disturbs me to see it squandered in attacks on people who are on the same side. It is all very well to hone one's debate capacities, but after awhile, after a certain point of sharpness has been achieved -- go and apply that sharp sword to the Israeli apologists out in the world. In the mainstream US media. In the mainstream Israeli media. Not here. This is wounding to no good effect. Go after the real bad guys for heavens' sake! Believe me, some of those smooth hasbarites can give you a run for your money. (I'm talking about the ones who wrote the hasbara, not the ones who cut & paste :>)

  • 'Israel Firster' gets at an inconvenient truth
    • thanks for the WaPo link, Phil. The story was only published yesterday and already has 1427 comments on it. Actually, 1429 comments, I put up two myself.

      Jennifer Rubin already covered this story and she got royally trashed in the commentary, also didn't get nearly so much reaction. This latest piece is done by a proper reporter, not a columnist on the AIPAC payroll, so he writes a better and more balanced piece that is attracting more attention.

      Even so, our side is holding down the fort admirably! You would be proud, Phil, probably a lot of MondoWeiss graduates there :>) We're not getting bulldozed, I would say it's the other way around. I think the tide is finally turning.

  • 'NYT' and 'Haaretz' and world opinion are now greatest threat to Israel, Netanyahu reportedly said
    • I am seeing a bit of softening at the NYT, a bit of thinning of the propaganda veil. I think the Washington Post is more unyielding than the Times.

      Recently the Times ran a story on Iran/sabre rattling against Iran, sorry I don't have the link, but it was a biggish story contributed to by 3 or 4 named reporters, and it ended with a short paragraph which could have come directly from the Ron Paul playbook -- a direct quote from some US official saying something along the line of putting ourselves in Iran's shoes, reminding the reader that US threatening of Iran is only going to bring about defensive/negative result.

      That made my day! -- it doesn't take much anymore, which I guess shows how dire I view the situation -- but that quote placed where it was, the take-home message... yes, that was definately a good thing to read in the NYT.

      Also, here below is the NYT website highlighted reader comment on "Israel Says No Decision Yet to Attack Iran", this comment prominently displayed on the left sidebar under the headline:

      James St. Paul, MN: "We now see the results of two failed and completely unnecessary wars. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents should be sufficient reason to never repeat such a war, and the lost trillions (according to most estimates) are among the largest causes of our own country's current fiscal malaise. Nevertheless, many NeoCons and the Israeli leadership are pushing for yet another war. Iran is a strong and rich culture of many millennia (unlike Iraq, which was a forced combination of three tribal regions). Iran has pride and military strength. Iran will fight to the death to protect its history and culture. Any war in Iran will make the Iraq war look like a romp in the park. Only fools would ever wish for such a war."

      Remember, this was the comment selected by the Times, and prominently displayed.

      There were 210 comments generated by readers of this story, and probably 90% of the commentary was NOT pro-Israel, pro-Iran war attack, the little bit of Israeli apologist commentary that appeared on this thread was very weak indeed. I notice in WaPo they often do not select 'best reader comments' if the commentary is running against Israel, which is usually is these days.

      Small things, but a little bit of good news goes a long way. I think things are better than they were, the propaganda veil is thinning out. If we can avoid being drawn into a military attack on Iran, an attack the Israeli government dearly wants us to do, it could be something of a turning point in the US/Israeli relationship. Not to say that I don't deplore the sanctions on Iran. It seems pretty obvious the US is going for regime-change on Iran. But at least those horrific bunker buster bombs will not be deployed, hopefully. hopefully...

  • A regular commenter on this site seeks a more temperate comment board
    • I read some of the same stuff you do, opaleye, so I fully accept your take on the oil markets. I'm also reading the websites of the nuclear proliferation and arms control experts, and your analysis is right in line with what they have to say -- they are an international group, btw, not only Americans weighing in there.

      I just wish they'd say something publicly!! This whole IAEA "evidence" on Iran is a load of crap, just like it was in the run-up to the Iraq war. They know it. Obama has to know it, has to. It would be so easy to blow that whole line right out of the water. As you say, it is a matter of US intent. I'm not totally convinced that the tail is wagging the dog here.

      I think your specialized knowledge of naval weapons systems gives you an edge to understanding what is going on from a military strategy perspective, also probably gives rise to particular questions in your mind which you then find answers to (and share with us :>)

      thanks again for your post. I really enjoyed reading it.

    • many thanks for this post, opaleye. this is the most encouraging thing I have read in a long while. the most encouraging thing since the "postponement" of the joint US/Israeli military exercises scheduled for this spring, with 9,000 US soldiers deployed to Israel as we speak and now without anything to do ....

      maybe there is hope after all :>)

      would you mind saying a word, something about your background? military? arms control?

    • this has been a fascinating discussion. I've read almost the entire thread and I have to say -- there is some major talent on this board.

      for what it's worth, I found myself resonating to both points of view. I think there's something to Donald's original post, and I think there's something to the dissenting point of view. The whole thing puts me in mind of those impassioned political discussions in early 20th century European and Russian cultures. Revolutionaries. Smoke-filled salons. Heated discussions that went on into the night, accompanied by endless glasses of tea or schnapps or whatever. People who were basically on the same side falling out over some article of dogma...

      ... sorry, no intention to offend anyone :>)

      I posted somewhat regularly on Phil's blog when he was still located at The New York Observer, that must have been in 2004, 2005. At that time it was about the only venue in which to discuss the American/Israeli relationship, and to raise concerns about American interests. It's amazing to see how the discourse has moved out into mainstream newspapers since then. You can comment almost every day if you want to on NYT threads or WaPo threads, not to mention the big mainstream magazines and websites. Even the Reuters website, a small commentary there where you can get in an anti-war message whenever you feel so inclined. I don't remember any of this being available only a few short years ago, the mainstream press was marching so in lockstep with the Israel lobby that no reader would raise a peep for fear of being thought anti-semitic or worse. Crazy was more like it. Phil's blog at the New York Observer was really a vanguard for liberal dissenters to the stifling Israeli line.

      Going back to Donald's original post: even though I did agree with his appeal for civility and moderation, even though I myself react against some of the more stridently impassioned anti-Israel posts and think they do in fact devalue the blog -- even so, I also have to say this: it doesn't matter.

      I see Donald as starting from the premise that a reading of MondoWeiss has the potential to influence new readers to the liberal MondoWeiss message about the American/Israeli relationship, and I do not agree with that premise.

      New readers can find validation here for already formed opinions on Israel and the Israeli lobby in the US. Or they can find validation here for the idea that there are anti-semites under every bed so let's bomb Iran quick, let there be no light between the foreign policy of the two separate countries, it is anti-semitic to suggest that the US has her own interests separate from Israel.

      if it takes so little for an impression of anti-semitism to be formed by those already primed to see "haters" in Americans like myself -- I am careful to keep my commentary exclusively to standing up for American interests, not attacking Iran because it is antithecal to our interests, not allowing a foreign lobby to further degrade the US political system etc. -- if someone like me can be labeled anti-semitic, then the term really does start to lose value. What have the Israeli apologists got left to say to someone who advocates nuking Israel? They've already shot their wad on innocuous little antiwar peace & justice types like me ... and obviously I'm not going to shut up now, just when it's starting to get interesting!

      wonderful blog, thank you all for being here and being so eloquent.

  • Israel is trying to hook us into a war with Iran-- Matthews and Baer speculate
    • Annie, this is an excellent sorting out of the problem.

      I admired Phil's statement: "they ain't my people, they're Israelis". That sums it up beautifully, that really does cut cleanly through the propaganda which has this country tied up in knots.

      And your further clarification, beautifully and simply and cleanly done: "to the extent people start associating the actions of israel with all jews, this is a dangerous thing" --

      the two of you are terrific. I wish this could somehow be injected into the water system... ... sigh ... ... we need all the help we can get is how it's looking to me...

      many thanks for those posters who monitor the TV debates & interviews and report here, also much appreciated

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