Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 965 (since 2009-09-16 20:15:12)

Rusty Pipes

"I am a Progressive Christian who wants to see our government act evenhandedly in resolving the conflict in Israel/Palestine, bringing about a just peace." I have been an active participant in I/P diaries at Daily Kos and related blogs (Booman Tribune, Talk to Action, Street Prophets) since 2005.


Showing comments 965 - 901

  • As clock ticks in Switzerland, the Adelson primary heats up in the U.S.
    • Except that Baker and Poppy Bush are still aligned. Both Bush political sons have distanced themselves from their father and his Israel policies in order to woo current GOP voters and donors.

    • No doubt, as a former aide to Speaker Tip O'Neill, Chris Matthews has an excellent understanding of the way the Israel Lobby works -- which may be part of the reason that he keeps his mouth shut.

  • White House will go after AIPAC next -- Newsweek
    • Regarding your segment on IRMEP and the 1987 DoD document, the Mattson quote may have led you to make an assumption about US/Israel (state level) cooperation on Israel's nuclear program. Even though there is a great deal of enmeshment between the American and Israeli Military Industrial/Intelligence Complex at this point, it was not the case in 1987. If Israel's facilities imitated American facilities it was more likely as a result of Zionist (Israeli or Sayanim) spying. Israel is second only to China in its spying on the US.

      During the Reagan Administration and the Cold War, the US Government may have been unwilling to confront its ally. Further, large enough majorities from both political parties in Congress would have protested -- and been rewarded with donations. Indeed, the main reason that the DoD undertook an investigation of a program that the USG had suspected for 25 years was because Mordechai Vanunu's photos of Israel's nukes were all over the English press the previous year.

      This information from the Courthouse site raises some questions for me:

      The government handed over the document in the midst of political controversy involving Israel, after months of fighting its release. The government, represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Jennings and DOD counsel Mark Herrington, had taken the position that confidentiality agreements necessitated a "line by line" review of the report.

      Government lawyers then argued that the document's release is optional rather than mandatory, adding that "Diplomatic relations dictate that DoD seeks Israel's review."
      In a statement Thursday, Smith said: "Informal and Freedom of Information Act release of such information is rare. Under two known gag orders -- punishable by imprisonment -- U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors may not disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program."

      Apparently, in January, Chuck Hagel performed the task that "Diplomatic relations dictate[, seeking] Israel's review." Shortly after the State of the Union address, violating diplomatic protocol, Boehner invited Bibi to give a rebuttal before a joint session of congress (the same Bibi who, in his younger days, had helped steal an American nuclear trigger). Just a few days before leaving office in February, Hagel released the 1987 report.

      It would be interesting to know the history and people behind the imposition of the two gag orders on US government employees for discussing information available to the world for almost 30 years.

  • Israel spying scandal comes to light one week before Iran negotiation deadline
    • Hardly: "The Obama administration’s insistence that arms and money will continue to flow as usual, even as diplomatic policy shifts, underscores the basis of the special relationship: Israel’s role as Middle East gendarme. This is especially unlikely to change as the rest of the region disintegrates. "

      Rather, it underscores the threadbare support Obama has gotten for standing up to Netanyahu from congresscritters, who have the power to work around economic or military sanctions that a president might impose on Israel -- which is a big part of the reason that America's and Israel's military and intelligence are so enmeshed. Israel's meddling in its neighbors' affairs contributes significantly to the region's disintegration and does not align with America's best interests (even if it serves the interest of some of America's 1%).

  • Washington 'sits shiva' for the 2-state solution
    • Taken together, Obama's and McDonough's statement do not indicate a distinct shift to support for a 1SS. Rather, they indicate an abandonment of a 2SS through negotiations, because Netanyahu has stated clearly that he is not a serious negotiating partner for peace (and was rewarded for that clarification by a strong mandate from Israeli voters). Negotiations with Netanyahu regarding Palestine are no longer a productive use of our State Department resources. The Administration has not clarified which of the tools in the Executive branch it plans to employ to facilitate Palestinians' right for their children "to be free in their own land as Israeli children in their land. "

      I'll be interested to see what resolutions come before the UNSC and how the IRS treats donations to Zionist organizations in occupied Palestine.

  • The liberal Zionist lament: Joe Klein and Jodi Rudoren try to explain away Israeli racism
    • What are the odds that Klein knew enough Hebrew to understand even half of the words of HaTikvah when he was still young enough to be sung to sleep with a lullaby? Perhaps if he could separate his love for his Zionist grandmother from the Israel of his imagination, he could deal with the realities in Israel today.

  • I want my country back
    • This section is just too precious:

      Israeli analysts are now suggesting that Mr. Obama and his aides might be overplaying their hand, inviting a backlash of sympathy for Mr. Netanyahu, and that they may not have clearly defined what they expected to gain diplomatically by continuing to pressure the Israeli leader.

      The president’s harsh words have been deemed by some to be patronizing and disrespectful not only to Mr. Netanyahu but also to the voters who rewarded his uncompromising stances with a resounding mandate for a fourth term.

      Several Israeli analysts said the administration’s criticism of Mr. Netanyahu seemed like a pretext for a longstanding plan to change the United States’ policy of protecting Israel in international forums, which the administration has said it will reassess. Others suspect a ploy to undermine Israel’s lobbying efforts against the American negotiations for a nuclear accord with Iran.

      If NYT commenters are any indication, Obama does not appear to be reaping a backlash of sympathy for Bibi in the US public, which is what matters for him. As far as bolstering Bibi's standing in Israel -- he just won an election, how is Obama risking bolstering Bibi even more? As for the "the voters who rewarded [Bibi's] uncompromising stances," considering that the stances Obama criticized were a rejection of negotiating 2SS and a warning about "Arab voters", if Bibi's voters are offended, perhaps they don't like to see the reflection in the mirror Obama held up -- this in a country where racist depictions of Obama are common at its right-wing rallies. Americans certainly don't miss the undertones of "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!"

    • What an interesting strategy by the NYT: put a fawning article about Israel on the cover of the paper to thrill the local (older) Zionists who buy the hard copy or pay for the ads and then let the comments section rip on-line. This is the best selection of Times pick comments that I have noticed in an article on Israel. I hope that Jodi has groveled sufficiently to get her interview with Bibi. If not, well who knows whether her subsequent work will pass the military censor?

    • Rep. Israel is just panicking that Jewish Republicans are accusing him of greater loyalty to the Democratic party than to Israel. That sort of accusation may not be a problem in most districts, but perhaps Rep. Israel's constituents feel differently.

    • Carter has said that he occasionally handwrites letters on foreign affairs to Obama and sends them to the White House -- very low tech, very confidential. He gave no indication whether he has gotten word back from Obama.

  • 'NYT' and 'J Street' address power of Jewish donors behind Hillary and Hillel
    • While Uri Avneri's article depicts Vegas casino magnate Adelson as a true believer, partly through the influence of his wife, there is no reason to assume that every super-wealthy Zionist donor does so from ideological reasons. No matter how profitable Israel itself is, there are plenty of carrots and sticks to motivate leaders of American enterprises to make tax-deductible donations to Israel.

  • Netanyahu's victory ‐ what is the cost?
    • Netanyahu made a commitment to Israeli right-wing voters when he told them that a vote for him was a vote against two states. If he really were to walk back on that, under Israel's system, his coalition would fall apart and he'd be calling for new elections shortly.

      Rather, Netanyahu's post-election statements to American politicians and media reflect his long-standing policy that Americans are easily managed. So, as soon as pigs can fly, he can support a Palestinian state -- but the conditions don't look very promising in the near future. Because freiers would let him stall out the occupation for another 50 years -- and give him funding and applause for his efforts.

  • New York Times published piece about Netanyahu’s racism, then rewrote all of it
  • Netanyahu won. Now what?
    • At today's State Presser:

      QUESTION: Beyond congratulations, Jen, now that Mr. Netanyahu won, presumably on – by a decisive mandate, on the premise of not ever allowing a Palestinian state, what – one, what is your plan on this track and on the peace process? And second, when the Palestinians go before the United Nations, as they will, will you cast a veto or will you not cast a veto?

      MS. PSAKI: Well --

      QUESTION: Seeking recognition from the international community.

      MS. PSAKI: -- we are not going to get ahead of any decisions about what the United States would do with regard to potential action at the United – UN Security Council. I will reiterate that it has long been the position of the United States under Republican and Democratic presidents, and it has been the position of successive Israeli governments, that only a two-state solution that results in a secure Israel alongside a sovereign and independent Palestine can bring lasting peace and stability to both peoples. A two-state solution is the only way for the next Israeli Government to secure Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. We believe that it’s in the best interests of the United States, Israel, and the region.

      The prime minister, as we all know, in his comments earlier this week indicated that he is no longer committed to pursuing this approach. Based on the prime minister’s comments, the United States is in a position going forward where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution. Obviously, I’m not going to prejudge at this point what that means.

      QUESTION: I understand. But will you be a part of, let’s say, an international effort in this case to realize a Palestinian state?

      MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to prejudge what that means, Said.

      QUESTION: Okay. Let me --

      QUESTION: Can I --

      MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

      QUESTION: -- just follow up very quickly on a couple more issues --

      MS. PSAKI: Okay.

      QUESTION: -- on this thing. Now, the Palestinians are really considering dissolving the PA simply because it is bankrupt and it’s unable to pay any salaries or anything or even to perform its function. So in this case, what do you advise the Palestinians to do?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, we remain very concerned about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if they do not receive funds soon, either in terms of the resumption of monthly Israeli transfers of Palestinian tax revenues or additional donor assistance. The election just happened yesterday, as all of you know, so obviously we have not yet had the chance to discuss these issues with them.


      QUESTION: That was going to be my question. The lead Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told anyone who would listen yesterday that it’s basically – the Palestinians basically have no choice now except to try to pursue recognition for an independent country outside of this framework, this negotiating framework. Have there been any discussions in the last 24 hours with President Abbas, with Mr. Erekat --

      MS. PSAKI: No.

      QUESTION: -- with anyone else? Are there plans to have discussions about how to proceed, given that any such conversations realistically can’t be held with anyone in the Israeli Government until a new government has actually been seated?

      MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to make predictions. Obviously, Roz, we have regular discussions with representatives of the Palestinian Authority just like we have regular discussions with the Israelis. I’m also not going to prejudge what we would or wouldn’t do depending on what actions are taken. So it just – the elections just happened yesterday. I’m sure we’ll continue to discuss where we go from here.

      QUESTION: Is there an opportunity to reestablish some level of trust among the Palestinians that the U.S. is concerned about their aspirations to have an independent homeland?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we’ve consistently stated that that is our position and that is our view, so there really should be no confusion about that.

      QUESTION: But is it not correct to say that given the prime minister’s stance that he unveiled in the last few days before the vote, that would seem to make it much more difficult now for your two-state solution to come into being?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, I think that’s why I just stated that given the prime minister’s comments, we’re in a position going forward where we will be evaluating our approach with regard to how best to achieve a two-state solution. Now our position remains that we continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly. But certainly, while that’s been our position, obviously the prime minister’s position has changed.

      QUESTION: So how are you going to do that without Israel on board?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to prejudge what we’ll do. The election was yesterday. Those comments were made two days ago. So I’m sure we’ll continue to discuss.

      QUESTION: When you say you’re going to reevaluate the approach to how best to bring about a two-state solution, implicit in that, I think, but I just want to make sure, is that you are still going to push for a two-state solution.

      MS. PSAKI: Yes, absolutely.

      QUESTION: How exactly are you going to do that if one of the parties to the two-state solution is pushing back?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we’ll remain in touch with key stakeholders to find a way forward. We’re not quite there yet.

      QUESTION: Well, no kidding you’re not there yet. You’re further away from it now than you have been probably ever before, because now you have a prime minister who’s been reelected or is about, looks like he’s about to form a government, who says that a two-state solution is not what is in the best interest of Israel. So how --

      MS. PSAKI: I understand that. That’s why I said we’re going to be evaluating.

      QUESTION: But I mean, trying over and over and over again the same approach which doesn’t work and is not going to lead to your – it was often said during the last iteration of peace talks that the U.S. can’t want a solution more than the two parties do. And now --

      MS. PSAKI: That remains true.

      QUESTION: Well, right, but it doesn’t look like – one of the parties now says it’s absolutely opposed to that.

      MS. PSAKI: Yes, we’re aware. That’s why I addressed those comments.

      QUESTION: But I don’t understand. What’s the point of reevaluating it then if you’re – if there’s no way you’re going to achieve it? Or are you hoping that the prime minister maybe changes his mind, that this was just some kind of campaign rhetoric that he used to drum up support?

      MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to outline the options, Matt, but obviously, we’re aware of the comments. Certainly, the fact that he’s changed his position is – has an impact and we’re certainly aware of that.

      QUESTION: All right. And then more broadly, we’re now in a situation where the Government of the United States and the Government of Israel are diametrically opposed on two extremely significant security – national, international security issues: the Iran negotiations and the Middle East peace process, such as is, was, or will be. Are you concerned at all that this is – that we find ourselves in a situation where the President and the prime minister of Israel are at such loggerheads on two of the most – two issues that the U.S. has traditionally regarded as being extremely important?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think no matter what government is formed – that’s obviously the process that they’re in now – we will continue our close military, intelligence, and security cooperation with Israel. This close security cooperation is essential to the security of the Israeli people and it certainly is in the interests of the United States. We’ve been long familiar with the views of the prime minister on Iran. We don’t think that his win has impacted the Iran negotiations or will. Certainly, his recent comments on opposition to the Palestinians having a state have caused us to evaluate our approach moving forward. But beyond that, there are issues we work together on that we will continue to.

      QUESTION: So the security relationship will stay the same regardless of this? That’s what you’re saying?

      MS. PSAKI: Yes.

      QUESTION: Did you answer – in response to the question earlier if the United States would continue to – given these two huge disagreements now, will the United States continue to be Israel’s protector at the UN and other fora? You may have answered that, or in response to the earlier question.

      MS. PSAKI: Well, what I said was we’re not going to prejudge what steps – any decision about what the United States may do at the UN. Obviously, Said has asked in the past about the ICC. We’ve said previously, we’ve made clear our opposition to Palestinian efforts to join the ICC – to join the statute of the ICC. This does nothing to further the aspiration of the Palestinian people. We still believe, obviously, that a negotiation between the two parties is the preferred outcome.

      QUESTION: Okay.

      MS. PSAKI: But we’ll continue to discuss these issues moving forward.

      QUESTION: All right. Well, that’s on the ICC. What about on a Security Council resolution that would call for a two-state solution?

      MS. PSAKI: As I said, we’re currently evaluating our approach. We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a UN action.

      QUESTION: So you’re leaving open the possibility that the United States – this Administration – would not use its veto to protect Israel from a Security Council resolution that the Israeli Government thinks is harmful to its country?

      MS. PSAKI: Well, the prime minister’s recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution. I think we all agree on that point. But that doesn’t mean that we’ve made a decision about changing our position with respect to the UN. I have nothing to outline for you on that today.

  • Sheldon Adelson is not the problem
    • Mead's article in the the CFR-related Foreign Affairs was written in the summer of 2008, a year after the publication of M&W's book, The Israel Lobby (and even though it did not get much coverage in the press, aside from being panned by Zionists, it was being read among the Left and academics). As the Democratic primaries wound down and Hillary was reticent to concede to Barack, and her donors seemed even more cautious about switching their financial support to Obama, the press was trying to talk about the challenge in Democratic fundraising and strategy without naming Zionism as an issue.

      Mead's article conveniently claimed that Zionism is an important issue not just to crazy rightwing Christian Zionists, but broadly to American Christians and has been for centuries. Certianly, soft Christian Zionism exists among mainline Protestants and Catholics, but more as background music to their major voting concerns. Such soft Christian Zionist sentiments are easily fostered by hasbara like "Exodus." Confrontation with the realities in Israel/Palestine is an effective antidote to Sunday School images of the Holy Land and soft Christian Zionism for many mainliners.

      Pay no attention to the Israel Lobby behind the curtain.

    • Apparently, Uri Avneri's overstated case about Sheldon Adelson right before Bibi's congressional visit gave some liberal commentators, from Moyers to Friedman, a little courage to criticize the Israel Lobby obliquely by pointing out the influence of Adelson on Republicans. No specifics about the influence of major Zionist donors on Democrats, though.

  • 'NYT' reports 'surge of hostile sentiment against Jews' nationwide -- on what basis?
    • The article was penned by "stenographer," Adam Nagourney, not "reporter." The piece reads as a worked over press release from an Israel Lobby group -- like the ADL, Stand With Us or the Israel Project. The lede in the story is not just buried, the reporter apparently never bothered to dig into the background.

      The article expects us to take at face value that Ms. Roth and Mr. Block are entirely insensitive to the history of anti-Semitism. Rather, as tree and several others have noted, Roth's line of questioning was directly related to the candidate's background, motives and qualifications for serving on the Judicial Committee at UCLA, especially considering the recent campus political climate as well as particular controversial cases that have come before the Judicial Committee.

      If her leadership in campus Zionist organizations was not enough to raise general questions, the particular actions of Hillel in money-laundering donations from major Zionist donors into funds for "Student Government Leaders" some of whom just happened to be Hillel interns, as well as the identity of her sponsor for the committee post (one of the very same Bruins whose candidacy for the student council had been bankrolled by Hillel-money-laundered funds from Zionist donors, Avinoam Baral):

      The president of the student council, Avinoam Baral, who had nominated Ms. Beyda, appeared stunned at the turn the questioning took at the session and sought at first to rule Ms. Roth’s question out of order. “I don’t feel that’s an appropriate question,” he said.

      In an interview, Mr. Baral, who is Jewish, said he “related personally to what Rachel was going through.”

      “It’s very problematic to me that students would feel that it was appropriate to ask that kind of questions, especially given the long cultural history of Jews,” he said. “We’ve been questioned all of our history: Are Jews loyal citizens? Don’t they have divided loyalties? All of these anti-Semitic tropes.”

      He called Ms. Beyda a “stand-out applicant,” with strong grades, interest and experience in the law. The students who voted against her also praised her credentials, but kept returning to questions about whether she could set aside her religious affiliation when ruling on issues before the council.

  • Pelosi blasts Netanyahu speech as 'insult to intelligence of U.S.', Amanpour calls it 'dark, Strangelovian'
    • What we really need is a youtube video with the soundtrack of a child's jack-in the box playing "Pop Goes the Weasel." In between the applause lines, basic facts about American funding for Israel and Israel Lobby funding for congressional campaigns. That's the way the money goes ... pop goes the congresscritter.

  • Thanks to Netanyahu, Israel support turns into a political football
    • What news might Obama make? Following up on the (under-reported) declassification of the 1987 report about Israel's nukes, he might grant Mordechai Vanunu political assylum, support Iran's call for a nuclear-free Middle East and hold up Israel's loan guarantees and weapons deliveries until it signs the NPT. He also might call for investigation and prosecution of a former citizen who is implicated in stealing American technology (like a nuclear trigger) for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

  • Netanyahu speech is 'destructive' of 'bipartisan, immutable relationship' between US and Israel, Rice says
    • What an opportune time for a Washington impersonator to recite the speech somewhere on Capitol Hill (the Senate floor, the House gallery, ...), or various members of Code Pink could take turns reciting paragraphs of it from the gallery during Bibi's speech.

  • No matter who wins the Israeli elections, Palestinians lose
    • The Jerusalem Post and Ynet are not the most reliable sources.

      Indyk is one of many rotating Israel Lobby experts who have given the Obama administration advice and presume to speak for the administration, on and off the record. No doubt Israeli politicians, from sorta Left to far Right, would prefer that Palestinians spend their energy resisting their own leadership rather than the occupation. Although small in number, Palestinian non-violent resistance is alive and well -- even though its practitioners suffer injury and death (including those with PA affiliation).

  • Congress flooded with letters urging members to #SkipTheSpeech of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
    • Is there a link to the names of the Reps who have publicly committed to skipping the speech? How about a list of Reps who will be binge-watching a season of House of Cards that day?

  • The 15 billion dollar deal that will make or break Israel's regional hegemony
    • Jordan had been getting its natural gas from Egypt, but during the Arab Spring, that pipeline was damaged -- attributed to Salafist rebels in Sinai. Meanwhile, the natural gas field in the Mediterranean is not being developed by Lebanon because of political infighting and inability to form a government, in Gaza because of Israel's siege and in Egypt because it was outmaneuvered in international maritime legal wrangling during Mubarak's rule.

  • In Their Own Words: Four residents of Yarmouk speak
    • Interesting description of some opposition leftists in an Aleppo coffee shop who act as though they are living in a different era:

      Coffeehouse loyalties

      Coffeehouses are now divided in accordance with the character or loyalties of their patrons. Some coffeehouses are dominated by military uniforms, without this necessarily implying that the patrons are combatants.

      In one such coffeehouse, we received many suspicious and wary looks. The waiters kept hovering around the table using various excuses, trying to listen in on our conversation or peek at the laptop screen. A man we were meeting with laughs, “I told you, this is a coffeehouse for Shabiha, and they all know each other.” At the same time, he cautioned us to visit another coffeehouse which he said people called the “traitors’ coffeehouse.”Coffeehouses are now divided in accordance with the character or loyalties of their patrons.

      The coffeehouse in question is located in a different region. It is a magnet for what remains of the leftist opposition. Sitting with people who are still in that camp is like getting into a time machine and taking a trip into the past. The war and the crisis are not part of the conversation. Instead, the topics discussed are strange, as though the people there have not yet heard of what is happening in the country.

      One whispers a political joke and people around him erupt in laughter. Then they all exchange crude sexual jokes loudly, before tackling themes like the proletariat, cosmopolitanism, and populism. Only one seems to be aware of recent developments, as he asks, “Do we need a visa to go to Lebanon now?”

    • In addition to Bandolero's reasons, many American leftists formed their opinions about Syria in 2011 and have not shifted them signficantly. Some of the reasons for the support in 2011:

      1a) the opposition was described as initially non-violent. Many American leftists believe in non-violent social change and have been involved in such movements in America. Even as other information about the Arab Spring was available from the beginning in alternative media and has forced its way into MSM coverage, this remains a kernal of the narrative.

      1b) Some American leftists who loudly decry American imperialism and minimize the existence of an Israel Lobby have no problem with the State Department's Democracy-promoting NGOs (especially when they have the veneer of nonviolent social change) and color-revolutions that seem to bring about regime changes favoring American imperial and/or Israeli strategic ends.

      2a) The Israel Lobby has been so effective at sowing Islamophobia and demonizing Hamas in America that leftists have been reluctant to criticize the role that the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas, played in various countries caught up in the Arab Spring.

      2b) AlJazeera English has long been considered the most reliable broadcast source for information about Palestinians. Unlike other Arab media outlets which are known to be mouthpieces for Arab governments, AlJazeera was perceived to be independent. During the Arab Spring, Qatar clearly influenced the reporting and editorial policies of its network to favor the narrative of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region -- so much so that several AJ reporters resigned in protest at the changes. Many leftists still trust AlJazeera anyway.

      2c) Some Palestinian sources (including some that have been popularly included in the news roundup at this site) have supported the MB narrative about Syria throughout the conflict. The Arab Spring has exacerbated differences among various factions of Palestinians and their supporters in the diaspora.

    • These warmed over talking points are at least three years out of date. The Gay Girl in Damascus was a fraud back then and there are no "moderate" rebels now.

      After the insurgents infiltrated Yarmouk and started using it as a base to launch attacks on Damascus, 150,000 of Yarmouk's residents have fled and around 18,000 remain. We could rehash Khaled Meshal and Hamas' role early in the insurgency, but even they have washed their hands of any official connection to the direction it has taken. At one point, the PA was very close to brokering a truce among the various factions in the camp, but the salafist factions wouldn't cooperate.

      Some other Palestinian camps that managed to keep the insurgents out are still livable places. Areas around Damascus that are bases for insurgent attacks on Damascus, like Yarmouk and Eastern Ghouta, continue to be under fire from the Syrian Arab Army.

      While the majority of those who fled may not have supported the insurgency, several of these speakers claim that Yarmouk was at the forefront of the revolution. Now they feel betrayed not only by the PA and the Syrian government, but also by those they thought were their allies. If they believed the hype that State Department "democracy promoting" NGOs or Ambassador Ford promised them, they may justifiably feel betrayed. This "color revolution" did not go according to the neocon/neolib blueprint from the beginning.

  • Netanyahu claims to know 'details' of Iran deal -- and State Dep't mocks him
    • It certainly raises the question about those American 1%ers who have been laundering money through Israeli banks to avoid paying taxes here. If they are loud supporters of Israel right-or-wrong, do they speak from motives other than being true believers in Zionism?

  • One-state 'fantasy is very dangerous' because it cannot tell us what the military looks like -- Manekin
    • The bigger question is what would Isratine's economy look like if it no longer had the excuse for its society to revolve around militarization? The Arab Peace plan, which has been on the table for over a decade, has offered normalized relations with Israel if it reaches a peace settlement with Palestinians and honors the RoR. The hostility Israel encounters from Arab states is mainly from its treatment of Palestinians and its encroachment upon the lands and resources (like water and natural gas) of its neighbors. Among the benefits that Israel gains from being a highly militarized society is its ability to market military and intelligence systems that have been tested upon a captive Palestinian population, as well as the huge influx of goods and cash it receives from the US to maintain a qualitative military edge against its constantly threatening enemies.

      A further question for diehard Liberal Zionists: how do you feel about Israel's nuclear arsenal being under the control of increasingly right-wing, belligerent Zionist administrations?

  • Netanyahu calls on Jews to leave Europe en masse in wake of Copenhagen synagogue attack
    • What more does Netanyahu have to do to scare more white Jews to move to Israel to combat the biggest threats to diaspora Jews and Israel: Assimilation and the Demographic Time Bomb? How many more valentines do your children have to get from gentiles before you recognize the peril of living away from Israel?

  • The client state and the U.S. arms industry
    • Israel has a variety of carrots and sticks at its disposal to influence America's political, cultural and economic elites, both Jews and non-Jews. Some elites who support Israel right or wrong are true believers. Some elites who support Israel have benefitted from carrots, both legal (like career advancement) and illegal (has Israel ever denied refuge to any crook other than Meyer Lansky? Marc Rich is not the only fugitive to have his transgressions wiped clean by Zionist donations. Many Soviet and Eastern European oligarchs have strong connections to Israel.). But elites who are cowed by Israel's sticks include Jews and gentiles.

    • While Jews are well-represented among America's uber-wealthy, they are far from the only members of the ruling class, many of whom have competing and even conflicting interests. Some of the ruling class may support Israel right or wrong because they are true believers.

      But elites may have other motives for active or passive support. Israel is second only to China in spying on American industry. Israeli telecom companies with close ties to Israeli intelligence have access to over 90% of American phone transactions. And then, Epstein may not be the only American Zionist (whose girlfriend is the daughter of a mossad agent) who has used his access to elites to photograph them in compromising positions with teenage prostitutes. Israeli intelligence has had access to the business and personal secrets of untold number of American elites: Why should we assume that their support means that they "love" Israel?

    • Great -- warmed over Chomsky: the American empire's puppet, Israel, is only acting as America directs it. I prefer Mearsheimer and Walt (particularly pp.31-40).

      Just to be clear, America's MIC is a plague on the country and the planet and America's 1% operates with little regard for the health of our society as a whole. America's MIC has become enmeshed with Israeli actors -- partly because congresscritters who compete with each other to bring home a larger slice of MIC jobs to their home districts, have made exceptions to "Made in America" rules for Israel (which makes AIPAC happy).

  • No one's talking about peace in Israeli election, U.S. liberal Zionists are warned
  • Warren supporters can't talk about Palestine
    • It's past time to respect that when a woman says "no," she means, "no." Ever since she was elected to the Senate, progressives have been trying to draft Warren to run for President and she has been saying, "no." By continuing to spend time trying to draft Warren, many progressives are putting all of their eggs in one basket as the months tick away before the first primaries.

      I want a strong Progressive candidate out there challenging Hillary Clinton's neoliberal economic and military policies NOW. Bernie Sanders is the closest to what I am looking for, but I'd like more options (and more coverage from the MSM).

  • 'She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice and peace': American hostage killed in Syria remembered for work in Palestine
    • ISIL not only attacks Israeli enemies like Syria and Hezbollah, it kills off an ISM volunteer. Israel has been so helpful to Al Nusrah Front, by treating its wounded and attacking Syrian Arab Army troops in the demilitarized Golan, that Syria's UN ambassador has called the IDF, Al Nusra's Air Force.

  • Biden will skip Netanyahu's speech
  • Chair of Democratic National Committee opposes Jewish intermarriage and MSNBC showing Gaza carnage
    • While her district has a high percentage of Jews, most of her constituents are not Jewish. Even more relevant, as chair of the DNC, the vast majority of her constituents (or at least the people who receive her constant fundraising e-mails) are not Jewish or Christian Zionists. While her firmly pro-Israel statements may be an asset for raising money from major donors for the DNC, they are out of touch with a growing percentage of the Democratic base.

      Ten years ago, the Democratic netroots lobbied hard for a change at the DNC and got Howard Dean voted as chair. After all that Dean accomplished, Obama replaced him and the 50-state strategy with worn-out DNC tactics of appealing to major donors and supporting safe candidates. It's time to dump Debbie and get some leadership that is more in touch with the base if this party is going to be prepared to compete to take back the House and Senate in 2016 (not to mention, have a little excitement about the presidential race).

    • Sadly, I did hear it. To the uninitiated, there may have appeared to be some variety in ethnicities represented; but in opinion, there was little deviation from the neocon/neolib narrative.

  • Independent investigation details Israel's deliberate targeting of civilians in Gaza
  • Finkelstein on Joan Peters's legacy (and Dershowitz's legal troubles)
    • Annie, have you seen Finkelstein's latest excoriation of the BDS movement in this recent interview? That and some following sniping with the Angry Arab gives more context to what ToivoS is talking about. Finkelstein has been dismissive of the BDS movement (and he does stress "movement", not "BDS" per se) for several years. Some of those differences which the interview reflects:

      1) Personality differences: Abunimah and Finkelstein can't stand each other. It takes a strong character and a thick skin to stand up to the Israel Lobby for as long as both Finkelstein and Abunimah have. That doesn't mean that they will necessarily get along.

      2) Both Barghouti and Abunimah, the most prominent Palestinian spokespeople for BDS to an American audience, favor a 1SS. (Barghouti has clarified over and over that while he personally favors a 1SS, the BDS movement does not take a unified position on the issue).

      3) Neither Finkelstein, Abunimah nor Barghouti is an international lawyer. It would be much more relevant to consult George Bisharat, Diana Butto, Noura Erekat, or Richard Falk about 1SS vs. 2SS, whether Israel is a legitimate member of the UN or whether Abbas has standing to pursue legal remedies through the UN or the ICC, than either Finkelstein or Abunimah.

      4) However, the most irrelevant opinion of all is that of an international liar, a professional apologist for Israel.

  • Report accuses Israel of targeting Gaza's water facilities
    • Nothing is more critical for human life than water. Beyond all of Israel's other crimes against Palestinians, its history with Gaza's water supply alone should be enough to convict it of the crime of genocide.

  • Former Obama aide's thinktank calls for 1/4 of French Jews to move to Israel
    • (2b) The Jews Israel seeks out are white. Having targeted other large Ashkenazi populations in the past ("Save Russian Jewelry!"), Israel is tailoring its present appeals to one of the largest Jewish populations outside of Israel -- France. Israelis consider all sorts of demographics threatening.

  • End the silence -- Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk
    • "It is vital to not only expose the siege, but the culprits responsible for the ongoing monstrosities.": the Takfiri insurgents (and the Palestinian factions which enabled them) who took over Palestinian refugee camps which had been trying to remain neutral.

      "Prior to the conflict, Yarmouk had a population over 1,000,000 people of whom 148,500 were Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations. Today, only 18,000 remain in the camp struggling with the siege and the arduous task of remaining alive."

      Prior to the conflict, around 15% of Syrians strongly opposed the Syrian Government and around 30% supported it. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the violent insurgents, most of the other Syrians who had been dissatisfied with the Syrian Government for a variety of reasons now support its leadership and resent outside efforts to impose solutions on their country. In 2014, as Ukraine and Egypt were trying to drum up higher turnouts for their elections, Syria had to keep their polls open longer to accommodate the huge crowds wanting to vote -- with an overwhelming majority of those votes going to Assad. The Takfiris who took over Yarmouk have managed to drive out the majority of Palestinians who lived there. The small percentage of those remaining are either part of the Takfiri friends and family plan or they are Palestinian civilians with no other options outside the camp.

      War is hell.

  • 'NYT' and Matthews warn that Netanyahu speech to Congress could lead US to war
    • Just to keep perspective, these two former staffers are Israel Lobby hacks: "Here is a rightwing publication saying that former White House officials, including two who worked under Obama, say that the president is not tough enough on Iran." Unsurprisingly, one of them is Dennis Ross. The other, Ray Takeyh, has close connections to organizations like JINSA and WINEP and holds revisionist opinions about Iran, such as:

      'Takeyh has also argued that the 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossaddeq, widely attributed by historians and even former CIA operatives as having been a joint operation by American and British intelligence agencies, was largely the work of Iranian clergy.

      "The clergy itself played a major role in toppling Mosaddeq," Takeyh said in a Foreign Affairs article from 2014. "It would help greatly if the United States no longer felt the need to keep implicitly apologizing for its role in Mosaddeq's ouster."'

      If these are the kind of former staffers criticizing him, Obama has little to worry about from his main base.

  • Netanyahu speech could turn Israel lobby into a political football
    • And don't forget how incensed Israel got when Argentina announced that it would be reopening the decades old investigation. Even though Israel claims to represent all Jews around the world, the bombing had nothing to do with Israel -- it was at a Jewish center, not an Israeli embassy. The whole affair has been a convenient excuse for Israel to demonize Iran, just as Israel has used other bombings (like the Bulgarian bus) to demonize other countries or groups -- without presenting any definitive proof.

  • In Iraq and Syria the US sanctions its allies while its friends back its enemies (got that?)
    • Thanks for the recap. Even though the neocons have been out of office for years, Obama is still operating within the restraints of programs intitiated by State, Defense and the CIA under their staffing as well as under pressure from the Israel Lobby to stay the course. Even so, it is possible to resist neocon framing, like referring to the Syrian Government, President Assad and the Syrian Arab Army rather than "the Assad Regime," "the brutal dictator Bashar Assad" and "forces loyal to Assad".

  • 'No to martyrdom by hunger in Yarmouk camp': Palestinian refugees protest Assad’s siege
    • Thanks, Bandolero. Narwani, always worth a read, puts Yarmouk in context of all Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and the way that Palestinians have been exploited. As she notes, several outlets, including Electronic Intifada, have published pro-insurgent propaganda, using Palestinian refugees' plight: "More Yarmouk propaganda published by @intifada: link to … Placating western critics of #Syria over championing Palestinians..." At least this piece isn't as maudlin as the Shane Bauer piece in Mother Jones a few months ago, where he was still trying to frame the insurgents as variants of Gay Girl in Damascus.

  • ICC opens war crimes inquiry into Israel over Gaza war as Palestinians prepare another UN resolution
  • AIPAC celebrates Congress for laws that will 'dramatically strengthen bond between US and Israel'
  • Our top ten viewed posts in 2014 -- and five most prolific commenters, too!
  • Fireworks in Ramallah, as Abbas signs treaty to join International Criminal Court
    • Perhaps they could push for a review of Israel's membership status in the UN, given that it has been noncompliant with terms of its admittance as a State -- the return of Palestinian refugees -- for over 60 years.

    • During the summer assault on Gaza (operation lemmings over the cliff), Israel took weapons from an American supply depot which Chuck Hegel claimed he had not authorized. I never heard the media follow up about exactly who did authorize the transfer.

    • Any further information about the other agreements Abbas signed? According to Reuters:

      Other agreements approved by Abbas included several articles on the court's jurisdiction, commitments against banned weapons and cluster munitions along with less controversial pledges on the political rights of women, navigation and the environment.

      Navigation agreements would seem essential not only for breaking the ocean siege of Gaza, but for asserting Palestine's sovereignty over Gaza's coast and its resources (fishing, natural gas, etc.). Israel is trying to bring the offshore gas to market and block surrounding countries (Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine) from claiming the gas in adjacent fields. Jordan is being pressured to sign contracts to buy natural gas from Israel rather than Egypt.

  • Obama hired Clinton as sec'y of state by reaching out to Israel supporter Hoenlein -- NYT
    • You're right here, Phil:

      That’s the best thing about the piece, the acknowledgment of the lobby’s power to make or break presidential ambitions. More honesty:

      Clinton has shown little inclination to risk political damage by reprising her old role as a friend and a critic of Israel.

      The rest of the piece (including his recounting of Hillary's getting tapped as SOS) are so shaded by the author's bias and poetic license that one shouldn't rely on it for specific facts.

  • Palestinian UN effort seeks to set 'terms of reference' for negotiations and promote shift away from US leadership
    • If the US is willing to support this resolution and just voice possible Israeli objections, the final draft of the resolution may not have many teeth. Transferring leadership over to the French may not help the Palestinians very much because they also have a powerful Zionist lobby. Palestinians need more than a modified French proposal that the negotiations will end in two years.

    • With Hamas off of the EU's terrorist list, perhaps this move will strengthen a unity Fatah-Hamas government, making it easier to facilitate the payment of Gazan government salaries.

  • Israel will lose all American Jews but the crazies
    • Maybe it's an apt reflection of the difference in emphasis for the celebration of Hanukkah in America vs. Israel. In America, a celebration of hope and freedom, in Israel, a celebration of the ultra-religious driving out the invaders.

  • PA to seek UN Security Council resolution giving Israel two years to end the occupation
    • It is not necessarily the case that both elements of both the Jordanian and French versions will be included in the resolution. The Guardian states clearly that the Palestinian team were offended by the French proposal:

      The push to hold a vote on Wednesday comes during a period of intense diplomatic negotiations over two rival draft texts for a resolution. The first, sponsored by Jordan at the behest of the Palestinians – envisages setting a November 2016 deadline for ending the occupation. The rival proposal, drawn up by France, would only set a deadline for an end to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

      Kerry’s sudden involvement in talks around the resolution is being seen as an attempt to manage a process the US fears could raise already high tensions and in which according to one quoted official it sees only “bad scenarios”.

      The French draft – which has been drawn up with input from the UK and Germany – speaks of the 1967 borders as the basis for dividing the land, which President Barack Obama has publicly backed, but it does not include key Israeli and US conditions such as Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

      A senior western diplomat said the Europeans – led by France – were aiming for a consensus resolution devising a binding, unspecified, timeframe and felt the Americans were open to the possibility.

      “There is a window of opportunity now, there is a willingness from them to consider … options at the security council,” the diplomat said.

      However, the French proposal is seen by Palestinians as falling far short of their demands. “It has killed substance of our resolution,” one senior official with intimate knowledge of the negotiations told the Guardian.

      “The French are talking about a timeframe for a conclusion of peace talks. We are talking about ending occupation. And so far the Americans have committed a serious mistake. They have failed to engage with the resolution despite being invited to.”

      The Jordanian proposal leaves open the potential for negotiation within the time frame of the two years simply because it accepts the framework of previous international works as binding on Palestinians (and thereby uses them to call the UN and international law to bolster Palestine's legal claims).

      The Palestinians state that there is not a specific timeline for implementation within the two years. They should call upon the Security Council to develop a timeline for an outside body, like NATO or UN peacekeepers, to provide security in successive areas of Palestine as the IDF evacuates those areas. If the areas that have been under negotiation in the Geneva accords are left for the last few months of evacuation, that should give Israel plenty of time to offer Palestine swaps for any or all of them. If Israel's leadership is not able to make an acceptable offer before that time, then the window closes and Palestine's border doesn't deviate at all from the green line.

  • Palestinian minister dies after Israeli army assault during olive tree planting ceremony in West Bank village
    • This hardly a matter of just a 50+ man having a heart attack. The combination of inhaling tear gas (which killed a healthy 35-year old woman in Bi'lin) and being choked (which killed an African American in NYC on videotape) may have been enough to kill Ziad. If the border guard also hit him in the chest with a rifle butt (which they have been seen doing to protesters in the Jordan Valley), that may have contributed as well. The autopsy should be able to determine whether he sustained trauma in his chest.

    • NPR's coverage on Morning Edition yesterday was appalling. Limited basically to the newscast headlines at the top of the hour: Palestinian minister killed in "clashes" with the IDF. You'd never know that it was a peaceful march to Palestinian owned land to plant olive trees that was met with tear gas or that not so much as a single rock was thrown. At this rate, NPR would describe Southern Civil Rights marchers as "clashing" with firehoses and dogs' teeth.

  • A point by point response to Alan Dershowitz’s 'Ten Reasons Why The BDS Movement Is Immoral'
  • AIPAC seeks to blow up negotiations between Iran and US
  • Middle East Studies Association affirms members' right to boycott Israeli academic institutions (Updated)
    • It looks like a commitment to take a vote at next year's meeting by inviting fora to discuss and debate the issue in the intervening time. To the vocal minority of MESA scholars who not only want to prevent action on BDS, but to shut down discussion of it (by accusing its proponents of anti-Semitism), the motion challenges the opponents of BDS to come to the table with real arguments rather than smears. Let's hope that MESA carries through on this commitment.

  • Efforts to suppress Palestinian activism on US campuses won't work
    • A strategy maintained by fundamentalist Christian parents for generations -- protect the delicate minds of your children from critical thought by sending them to a private college that promotes your ideology. So what, if there's a problem that its science classes can't be accredited for pre-med students? Zionist parents can protect their children's delicate sensibilities with a similar academic strategy!

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