Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 1034 (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 1034 - 1001

  • NY's Center for Jewish History to host Ayelet 'Little Snakes' Shaked in conversation with Bret 'Hiroshima' Stephens
    • If the best that Israel can do to put a better face on its increasingly right-wing government is to put forward attractive, young spokespeople, it might grab some new eyeballs, but not necessarily the brains that are attached.

  • BDS call for boycott should not ignore states' responsibility to uphold international law
    • As long as politicians fail to apply International Law, individuals and civic organizations will have no other nonviolent recourse than Boycott and Divestment. As the people lead, more and more leaders will follow -- then we will begin to see increasing Sanctions applied to Israel (including the ban of settlement products).

  • Just as Dermer turned the White House into a diplomatic battlefield, Danon will do the same at the UN
    • Now would be an opportune moment for the UN General Assembly to review Israel's terms of membership. Since Israel has been given over 60 years to fulfill a condition for membership, the return of Palestinian refugees, and has made no sincere effort to implement that obligation, its membership in the UN and its committees should be suspended, if not terminated. Danon is the perfect face for Israel for that vote.

  • For the high holidays, Bernie should bring his presidential campaign to Tzedek Chicago
    • I wouldn't be surprised if West missed out on quite a few high-paying gigs by spending so much time helping to campaign for Obama. A lot of people who sacrificed their time and credibility to get Obama elected have been disappointed by his record thusfar. West has been more outspoken than others.

    • If Sanders doesn't happen to be in Chicago for Yom Kippur, supporters like West could fill him in on details about Israel and Palestine that he did not pick up at the kibbutz.

  • Pittsburgh Jews say Obama will allow 'Second Holocaust' while Israel's ambassador openly lobbies Capitol Hill
    • Or thinking of say, the Syrian Ambassador slinking around the halls of Congress. Oh wait -- there is no Syrian Ambassador and the Syrian UN representative is banned from traveling as far as DC.* Why? Because neocons and Israel Firsters, like Elliott Engel**, pushed through the AIPAC-drafted Syrian Accountability Act in 2003, steadily poisoning America's relationship with and limiting the Executive's options for diplomacy with that country ever since.

      *Syria's Jaafari is the only UN representative restricted to travel to within 25 miles of NYC.
      **Elliott Engel was one of the first Democrats to oppose the Iran Deal.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg's melodramatic apology for Chuck Schumer
    • Maybe Goldberg's actually noticed readers questioning why pundits who were so wrong in their promotion of the Iraq War still have such prominent jobs.

    • He should be toast. MoveOn is mobilizing its base to withhold contributions from any Democrat who opposes this deal. The savings should be diverted to support challengers in their state primaries. Schumer deserves the Lieberman treatment.

  • Roundtable on the Palestinian solidarity movement and Alison Weir
    • I have to say that I am disturbed by the extremely unprofessional way that Josh Ruebner has handled this affair. In late July, less than a week before an important briefing for Congress, he made a series of three public posts on his personal facebook page related to ETO's decision on Alison Weir. While he said that ETO's statements were not accusing Weir of being an anti-Semite, his subsequent posts slurred her as such. He proceded to block several people who disagreed with him from commenting on the discussion, calling them haters. He got snippy with others who disagreed, by claiming he really didn't have time to engage with them because he had an important briefing to prepare. I am also disgusted by the comments by some activists whose work I had respected calling loudly for purges of the movement. Fortunately, Ruebner has managed to avoid the topic on his personal page since then. I keep getting messages from ETO about their upcoming conference (which look increasingly desperate, offering discounts). I wonder how registration is going.

    • We do not need to speculate about "zionist infiltrators" in JVP's leadership to assume that they are as susceptible to "concerned" friends, family and former classmates as Phil Weiss was to Richard Witty. Certainly there have been dossiers circulated, in whole or in snippets, about every major critic of Israel. No doubt every appearance by Weir and every post at IAK has been subjected to a fine tooth comb to find quotes by her or others to scrape out of context to add to the dossier. One expects that whisper campaigns based on email and links to such a dossier has followed Weir to every appearance, if not been handed out as a Stand With Us flyer to protest her lectures.

      Further, anyone who has been active as a critic of Israel for half as long as Weir would know that no matter how available an informative speaker is to lecture to an audience, write op-eds or give interviews to media, the offers have been sparse -- especially from the mainstream media. It's not as though the MSM STOPPED calling Weir after she gave her first interview to a rightwing source. The MSM doesn't even have the guts to call Jimmy Carter until he admits that he has cancer. Indeed, Weir feels so strongly about Americans NOT getting this information from other sources, that she has a policy about giving interviews to ANYONE who asks her.

      Alison is an educator. She believes that, when given accurate information, minds can be changed -- even anyone within hearing range of the broadcast of a rightwing talkshow host. She's not trying to recruit groups to join a coalition, she's not trying to convince the Klan to march in your parade. She's trying to educate individual Americans, many of whom vote, some of whom even tell their legislators what they think about issues.

      The belief that people can change is a very liberal idea. The belief that hatred and bias is not a state of being to which a person is irredeemably doomed (one is "a racist"), is a liberal idea. The belief that ignorance can be fought with facts is a liberal idea.

      Alison also works with and gets information from many people and sources -- some of whom are or used to be part of The Establishment -- former ambassadors, congresspeople, intelligence officials. Working in The Establishment gives these people a lot of experience and expertise about government and foreign affairs. Even so, functioning in The Establishment requires a degree of compromise. For Weir's critics on the left, relying on these establishment figures and their varied analyses about Israel taints her as being blind to America's imperial sins when she argues for the interests of America rather than Israel.

      Frankly, there's been plenty of room on this site for debate between supporters of Chomsky, those of Mearsheimer and Walt and a host of opinions in between. Weir's positions on the Israel Lobby are not out of the range of acceptable debate here.

      The choice of JVP's leadership to try to exclude Weir from their events and ETO's membership may gain them some short-term advantage as they seek access to inter-Jewish spaces on campus and in local communities. Establishment Jewish organizations may have threatened to exclude them if they do not sever ties with "irredeemable anti-Semites" like Weir. But JVP's leadership has seriously underestimated the price that this choice has cost the organization's reputation with other groups involved in Palestinian rights -- including the American BDS movement (not to mention the many, many JVP members who disagree with the leadership's decision).

  • 'Bernie, what about justice 4 Palestine?'
  • President Obama wants us to argue about the special relationship
  • Shocker: 'NYT' runs front page press release for AIPAC warning Obama to cool his jets
    • Indeed, one might wonder whether the placement of today's article is a response from higher-ups to yesterday's opinion piece by Italian American editor, Carol Giacomo, that pointedly questioned Schumer's leadership credentials:

      Given Mr. Schumer’s wrong-headed and irresponsible decision, Democrats may want to reconsider whether he is the best candidate to be their next leader in the Senate, a job he desperately wants.

      In addition to being the third-ranking Democratic leader in the Senate and a major party fund-raiser, Mr. Schumer is Congress’ most influential Jewish member. His choice could affect the votes of other lawmakers who are wavering. Whether to support the nuclear deal is the most consequential foreign policy decision facing lawmakers since the Iraq war and opponents are waging a fierce multi-million dollar campaign to defeat it.

      Mr. Schumer is a smart man and a clever politician but his arguments for opposing the agreement are no more convincing than those put forward by other opponents. While supporters of the deal, including the major powers and most nuclear experts, acknowledge it has weaknesses, the fact is, it offers strong and unprecedented curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities.

      No doubt some major advertisers did not like her editorial.

  • Iran Deal Latest: AIPAC lies and, in a first, Schumer runs from the cameras
    • There's a reason a Friday News Dump is made on a Friday afternoon. Schumer's move has been all over the news today -- right alongside the Republican debate and Jon Stewart's last show.

  • Defying Obama on Iran deal, Schumer cites Hamas
    • Schumer and Engel need to be primaried for this. Even if opposition candidates do not win, diverting their time and resources to fight off a primary can tarnish politicians and drain them. New York is a big state with plenty of talent. No matter how much money Schumer can raise, maybe New York progressives are ready for a change.

  • 'I love Obama' 'You're infatuated' (The argument on the left)
  • Sanders risks losing left over unprogressive views of Palestine -- Washington Post
    • This might as well be Clintonites' talking points. Just as right after the BlackLivesMatter protest at Netroots (which Hillary didn't bother to attend, so she was not challenged to respond impromptu to the issue in that forum), the Clintonites put out the talking point that Sanders was insensitive to Black people.

      As is clear from articles on Counterpunch, much of the far Left is not planning to vote in the Democratic primary anyway. For the growing numbers of Democrats who are concerned about Palestinian human rights, Sanders is better on the subject than any other primary candidate running (although that is not stiff competition). The real question is whether Sanders can ATTRACT independents who do not usually vote for the Democratic Party's candidate.

  • Walker and Bush talk tough on Iran in bid for Adelson's millions
    • Bush can probably manage without neocon money in the primary. He needs to avoid attacks from neocon think tanks and pundits in the press and to avoid alienating Christian Zionists -- whose votes he will need in the general, even if they vote for someone else in the primary.

  • St. Louis Jews call on ADL to cancel honor to police
    • Sorry, that's GA, not AG. Here's the link to Alison's blogpost. Interestingly, the blogpost after Tucker's is "White House Correspondents Association refuses table to Helen Thomas at upcoming dinner – on 50th anniversary of allowing women journalists to attend, a breakthrough accomplished by Helen ."

      Back in the day when I was a regular at the Garish Orange Site, Zionist trolls used to try to entrap critics of Israel by links with questionable people or sites, no matter how many degrees of separation in order to get them banned (one of the people they tried that on was Anna Baltzer because she interviewed a member of Al Awda MB while living on the West Bank). Then other critics of Israel were threatened for associating with or defending the banned.

      The rituals of circular firing squads and throwing allies under the bus are based on fear. The longer I have been involved in this movement, the more weary I have become of these games.

    • For some of the reasons that ETO mentions in Annie's link. In JVP's initial letter to supporters, they also condemned her for her framing about the Israel Lobby and American National Interest: "Weir and IAK have a fundamental political framing that the U.S. is not implicated in the same racist and white supremacist structures as Israel. This "tail wags the dog" theory is a form of chauvinistic nationalism that absolves American interest in perpetuating injustice--not just in Israel but in other regions around the world. " Then again, as JVP has been increasing in name recognition and in challenging establishment groups, like Hillel, about definitions about who is authentically Jewish and why Jews who affiliate with BDS are excluded from Jewish spaces and institutional funding, perhaps they decided to throw Alison under the bus.

      It is interesting that among the charges against IAK is the presence of a blog post at a time when another controversial activist, AG, was being thrown under the bus. IAK provided the opportunity for a variety of voices to weigh in, including the one with the objectionable cite. The blogpost immediately preceding that one reflects Alison's typical stance:

      While people are suffering in Israeli prisons and being killed in Gaza, it is sad to see time and energy expended in a campaign against [AG]. I respect and like people on both sides of this controversy and am troubled over this distracting and destructive (but, I hope, temporary) split.

      I, of course, come down on the side of open discussion, even when the subject matter is difficult or troubling – in fact, that's probably when it's most needed. I believe in such old fashioned but critical concepts as the free marketplace of ideas, and I oppose censorship and would-be "thought police" telling others what they may or may not do, even when those attempting to do this have created valuable work that I admire.

  • Nine reasons Obama is going to win on Iran. The first: Netanyahu
    • Hillary has name recognition, a war chest so huge it has scared off most of her well-known potential rivals and lots of political chips to call in (but politicians already offered endorsements in 2008, they may not feel as obliged to publicly back her in this race). She can still rely on the elderly female voters who want to see a woman president before they die. But with many months to go before the first primary, her negatives will weigh increasingly for other women voters as they will for men.

  • 'Suck Iranian ****' --- Netanyahu's Farsi twitter account earns negative reviews
    • Bibi's trolling for hatespeech from Iranians. Then he can use the ripest of those responses to further his narrative of how crude, dangerous and untrustworthy Iranians are.

  • Abe Foxman says goodbye to an America of secret Jew haters
  • The case for US government sanctions on Israel
    • For the most part, little to no response. And yet, they are the ones on whom the American people must rely to enact legal sanctions -- as they eventually did to South Africa. I wonder what response Chomsky has gotten from his congresscritters about Sanctions against Israel for its war crimes and occupation.

    • Great statement about sanctions by LAJP. Frankly, I wish you had stopped there without bringing Chomsky's arguments about BDS into the discussion. You note that End the Occupation and some church groups, like United Methodists, have been urging various types of sanctions for years.

      What you fail to mention is that most American groups involved in BDS are part of the coalition of groups that have been a part of End the Occupation. I have not heard the leadership of any of these groups telling people to ignore Sanctions, to not bother with contacting politicians about I/P policy and just focus on the B and D of BDS. (I have heard many lay people complain about being worn out trying to get any response from their representatives on ANY issue related to I/P -- so they are not only relieved, but energized by the potential of doing something with their consumer dollars to Boycott Apartheid or their individual or collective investments to Divest from the occupation.)

      It is worth noting that politicians, who are required actors for enacting sanctions, are not known for their courage. If the people lead, the leaders will follow. The B and D of BDS were used in the South long before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. The B and D of BDS were active long before Congress finally enacted sanctions against South Africa.

      It is a worthy task for the BDS movement to step up actions for Sanctions. The growing successes and public education from Boycott and Divestment initiatives may increase the calls from the general electorate for politicians to take a principled stand on I/P and support for those politicians who are willing to resist pressure from the Israel Lobby (and thank you for acknowledging that such a thing exists -- Chomsky hardly does). In the meantime, working on Boycott and Divestment makes dealing with recalcitrant politicians a less discouraging and draining task.

  • Hillary Clinton promises megadonor she will work with Republicans-- to oppose BDS
    • As the media acknowledges, "The Democratic frontrunner [who] has long touted her support of Israel as a senator and secretary of State, a key issue in the American political debate" uses that history of support in her jobs as American Senator and SOS to raise funds from major Zionist donors.

      The Israel Lobby has been trying to cloak the AJC-EUMC working definition as the "State Department Definition of Anti-Semitism" in its attempts to silence criticism of Israel and BDS activities on campuses. Since the State Department under Condi Rice resisted using the 2005 AJC-EUMC working definition and it was promptly adopted by State when Hillary became SOS, we may well re-brand it as the Hillary-Fundraising Definition of Anti-Semitism.

  • 'Jewish cow' is udderly superior to all other cows in the world, Netanyahu says
    • Interesting that, as a former Israeli is making his rounds of NPR talk shows promoting his documentary about the Beit Sahour nonviolent cow resistance, Netanyahu is talking up the Israeli dairy industry as though it is the envy of the world.

    • Not the first Hebrew speaker to talk about Jewish cows by far. One of the prophets called elite Israelites who were exploiting poor Israelites "cows of Bashan."

  • 'Six Jews sitting in the White House discussing the Palestinian state'
    • American Jews clearly have been forgetting their place: Their cousins and co-religionists who have made aliyah are clearly braver, stronger, worthier people than they. For this, all of their communications about and to Israelis should be framed in gratitude. Such gratitude can be best expressed through donating to Israeli causes and lobbying their congressmembers as AIPAC urges. And even though Israeli Jews think that diaspora Jews are soft and gullible, they will deign to accept their gratuities, if not their opinions.

      But for some reason, diaspora Jews are just losing touch with those feelings of gratitude. Perhaps they can be put in touch with their guilt by accusing them of being the wicked child.

  • State Dep't report on latest Gaza onslaught itemizes children's deaths for first time
    • Did Israel experience a slight impact on the face? That was a slap directed by the Facts. Uncle Sam has just reduced by a fraction its protection of Junior Israel from an encounter with Harsh Reality. Apparently, coddling Junior has not helped it learn how to play well with others. Perhaps this move by State is an indication of further reduction of the padding provided to the over-protected child. Separation anxiety can be rough.

  • Schumer says Jewish and American interests on Iran deal differ but he has 'to do what's right for U.S.'
    • In an interview on BBC today, the Kaspersky person was suggesting it was Israel because the spyware used was similar to the Stuxnet that was co-designed by Israel and the US.

    • Page: 10
    • No matter what his seniority, Schumer still is not demonstrating a commitment to representing the concerns of the spectrum of Democrats in New York, much less in the rest of the country. Surely there are other Democrats more able to fill the role of Senate minority (or majority) leader.

  • Obama says peace talks are pointless because Netanyahu won't see the 'best' in others
    • I have assumed that many of the (costly) bones that Obama has been throwing to Israel as it growls about the Iran deal has been in large part to give Democratic congresspeople enough cover with their donors to support the deal. I also have assumed that Obama has been deliberately vague about the possible repercussions from Netanyahu's electioneering (anti-Arab voter fearmongering and pledges of no 2SS on his watch) while the Iran deal was still up in the air.

      Obama's willingness to become more concrete about vacating a UNSC veto makes me believe that he is confident at this point that he has enough congressional Democratic support to push through an Iran deal and that he is getting ready to turn his attention next to Palestine. He is even calling out Netanyahu's fearmongering (although couched in the language of "over-caution"). He's not going to let Bibi drag this out forever or even to the end of his term.

  • Turning Lebanon into Gaza -- Israel's hole card against Iran deal?
    • The Israel Lobby's water carriers in congress are doing their best to undermine the Iran deal and to help Israel undermine Hezbollah's ability to defend southern Lebanon. Just two weeks ago, the House passed the Hezbollah Sanctions Bill. The main sponsor of the bill was Eliot Engel, the driving force behind the adoption of the Syria Accountability Act in 2003. Here's his rationale to his colleagues for the bill:

      “When we debated the Corker-Cardin just before, I mentioned my concerns about a potential nuclear deal with Iran. At the top of their list is how sanctions relief will be handled and what Iran will do with a new influx of resources.

      “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force sow instability throughout the region.

      “Perhaps the most destructive has been Iran’s support for Hezbollah. Hezbollah again has prevented the people of Lebanon from building a better future. Hezbollah’s support has allowed the Assad regime to cling to power. And Hezbollah has stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets on Israel’s front doorstep.

      “What concerns me most is that Iran has been able to funnel resources to Hezbollah despite the burden of the most crippling sanctions regime in history. What’s going to happen if that pressure is lifted?

      “Well, we shouldn’t wait to find out.

      “Congress must act now to impose stronger sanctions on Hezbollah. We should choke them off from their Iranian patrons.

      “This bill would give the Administration every tool it needs to confront this dangerous group.

      “It would sanction foreign banks for knowingly doing business with Hezbollah. We need to send a clear message to companies getting tangled up with this terrorist group: walk away—walk away, or face the consequences.

      “The bill would also shine a bright light on al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television station, itself a Specially Designated Terrorist Group. Hezbollah uses al-Manar for logistical, propaganda, and fundraising purposes. It defies reason that this station is still carried by the satellite providers all over the world. We need to expose this puppet organization and this dangerous organization for what it is.

      “We passed this bill in the last Congress by a vote of 404 to zero. Today, let’s take another stand against the violence, murder, and terrorism that Hezbollah sows in the region. It’s time for an independent and free Lebanon. It’s time for an end to terror, and for a transition in Syria. And it’s time for the threats against Israel to end.

      It's not enough that most Arabic-speaking stations mouth the propaganda of their Gulf Oil sponsors, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It's not enough that most American television promotes a Zionist and "moderate" (Saudi/Qatari) view of Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Congress needs to sanction cable providers from including Al Manar among their hundreds of listings. Congress also manages to find another way to impose sanctions against Iran just as Obama is trying to seal a nuclear deal with Iran.

  • The end of hasbara? 'NYT' readers question US support for apartheid
    • The breakthrough is on-line, which attracts younger and more curious consumers of media. The NYT can still satisfy its Zionist advertisers and older local readers by its print version of articles, op-eds and choice of letters to the editor. By differentiating between readers' picks and editors' picks on-line, it can continue to draw younger readers to its brand while satisfying its traditional base that their voices will get prominence in the editors' picks. The split between the perceptions of those varied audiences are becoming more and more prominent.

  • Hundreds of academics call on State Dept to revise its definition of anti-Semitism, respect criticism of Israel as protected speech
    • No relation to Richard Pipes nor to his offspring.

    • The EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism is based on one written and lobbied for by the AJC in 2005. Even though the committee did not have enough consensus on the wording to make it more than a Working definition, Zionist groups and pro-Israel bloggers promptly tried to get it imposed on progressive blogs, as one of many attempts over the years to shut down discussion of Israel's crimes.

      While under the leadership of Condi Rice (who is not a neocon), the State Department did not accept the EUMC Working Definition, shortly after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, it was adopted as US State policy. While such a move may have helped with her Zionist credentials and her relations with donors, now that she has been out of the State Department for over two years perhaps the department has more freedom to move away from this, and a few other, of her policies that were done more to burnish her credentials than to advance the best interests of average Americans.

  • Congress and state legislatures are on the warpath against BDS
    • Hostage: one in ten illegal settlers are American citizens. I would have thought the percentage was much higher.

      Imagine the havoc that could be created if RICO statutes were imposed! (I'm just having fun imagining what Republican candidates will do about his donations if Adelson is convicted).

  • Putting Israel's cynical humanitarian work in Nepal in the proper context
    • Unlike coverage of Israel's camera-ready disaster response team in other countries in recent years, the MSM actually has covered Israel's priority for rescuing surrogate mothers and Israeli babies in Nepal. Consequently, rather than seeming totally generous, Israel's medical response has appeared to involve some self-interest. While this is not necessarily a PR-fail, it is not the kind of PR-success that Israel could use at a time when it has just elected its most right-wing, most unabashedly racist, government in the country's history. While the MSM has not made linkage, stories about the Nepalese surrogate moms not being welcome in Israel have aired in the same weeks as vague descriptions about the ideology of Netanyahu's government partners.

  • Matthews says Bush is pandering on Israel to get 'huge money', but his guests won't help him out
    • Also, if they acknowledge the role of Zionist donors on policy for Republicans, will they have to talk about their role for Democrats at some point down the line? Hillary appears to have the big early money (a large part of it, Zionist donors) all nailed down. Will anyone in the MSM (including Tip O'Neill's staffer, Matthews) talk about the economic hurdles any other Democrat would face entering the field?

    • Good for Matthews for raising the topic about Republicans and major Zionist donors. For most Republican wanna-bes, the answer is #5:

      He wants the money, the huge money out there awaiting any Republican presidential candidate who will pledge his soul to right-wing Mideast policies, who will say “everything’s on the table” when asked about Iran and salute the all-encompassing greatness of Bibi Netanyahu with the same snap and gusto as he assaults the policies and abilities of President Obama.

      Even so, for Jeb, I think the answer is #3:

      He wants to line up with all the other Republican hawks now in the field – all except Rand Paul.

      Jeb is paying a courtesy call. He has plenty of potential corporate donors as well as name recognition (which is what the big, early money will buy the second-tier candidates). He does not want to alienate Jewish or Christian Zionist donors or voters by ignoring the event. He could use the money and the backing, but he's not desperate (at least not at this point). He also doesn't want to be lumped with Rand or Ron Paul.

  • Jeb Bush flipflops on brother George because he needs character reference for the Israel lobby
    • Second tier candidates, like Rubio, are desperate for big early money, which is part of the reason they have tripped over each other for access to an easy source -- a small number of Republican Zionist major donors. Unknown candidates need startup funds to generate name recognition or their campaign has no chance of getting off the ground. Jeb is not so desperate for name recognition or so limited in his potential pool of donors.

      Rather, he is doing a careful dance with the Christian Zionist segment of the base. He wants to chart his own course without alienating them or risking that they will galvanize behind another Republican challenger. Mike Huckabee, a darling of the Christian Right, just entered the GOP race. Having raised taxes as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee may have trouble raising big money from some other typical corporate funders for Republicans -- so he will need big Zionist donors as well as Christian Zionist voters.

      Dubya is still loved by the Republican base, even those who disagree with some of his actions. At the same time, having distanced himself from some neocons during his last two years in office, it's hard to know what kind of advice Dubya would give his brother about dealing with Israel.

  • 'NY Review of Books' says Tony Judt didn't really mean it when he called for the end of a Jewish state
    • Judt's observation in 2003 about the Israel Lobby's intentions about Syria have been omitted from the MSM's narrative about Syria since the Arab Spring:

      We are now making belligerent noises toward Syria because Israeli intelligence has assured us that Iraqi weapons have been moved there—a claim for which there is no corroborating evidence from any other source. Syria backs Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad: sworn foes of Israel, to be sure, but hardly a significant international threat.

      As Mearsheimer and Walt noted, the Syrian Accountability Act, which was being pushed by the Israel Lobby in congress when Judt wrote his article, set up the mechanisms for American aggression toward Syria:

      In the spring of 2002, when Iraq was becoming the main issue, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was also promoting legislation to formally place Syria on the "axis of evil" and Congressman Engel introduced the Syria Accountability Act in Congress. It threatened sanctions against Syria if it did not withdraw from Lebanon, give up its WMD, and stop supporting terrorism. The proposed act also called for Syria and Lebanon to take concrete steps to make peace with Israel. This legislation was strongly endorsed by a number of groups in the lobby -- especially AIPAC -- and "framed," according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "by some of Israel's best friends in Congress." JTA also reported that its "most avid proponent in the administration" was Elliott Abrams, who, as we have seen, [was] in frequent contact with Olmert's office.

      ... In mid-August, Engel and a group of politicians and Jewish leaders from New York traveled to Israel and met for ninety minutes with Ariel Sharon in his Jerusalem office. The Israeli leader complained to his visitors that the Unted States was not putting enough pressure on Syria, although he specifically thanked Engel for sponsoring the Syria Accountability Act and made it clear that he strongly favored continued efforts to push the legislation on Capitol Hill. The following month, Engel, who announced he was "fed up with the ... administration's maneuvering on Syria," began pushing the bill again. With AIPAC's full support, Engel began rounding up votes on Capitol Hill. Bush could no longer hold Congress back in the face of this full-court press from the lobby, and the anti-Syrian act passed by overwhelming margins (398-4 in the House; 89-4 in the Senate). Bush signed it into law on December 12, 2003.(pp.274-6)

      America's covert and overt hostilities toward Syria since 2003 have built upon that act. According to Wiki, Obama's early draft to authorize military force in response to the events in Ghouta referenced Congress' action:

      Whereas in the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Congress found that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States.

      But the MSM has tried to feed us a story about an indigenous, secular, feminist revolution long past the point when it was obvious that the Gay Girl in Damascus was a figment of Western imagination.

  • One month under ISIS: Starvation, typhoid and the burning of musical instruments in Yarmouk
    • According to SANA's coverage of Al-Jaafaari's remarks at the UN, He did not claim that there were zero civilians in Yarmouk, but that the numbers had declined in recent months from around 18,000 to only 1000. In the first few days after ISIS entered the camp, the UN was reporting that around 2000 civilians had already fled; since even more civilians have been attempting to temporarily evacuate from Yarmouk (even at the risk of ISIS sniper fire as they attempt to leave) there could easily be far fewer civilans than 16,000, if not as few as 1000:

      He added that the allegations of representatives of some countries that the Syrian government is besieging some areas and preventing the aid from entering them are naïve and misleading because those areas were secure and stable areas and there hadn’t been any humanitarian crisis in them until the entrance of the terrorist organizations to them which used the civilians as human shields and prevented the humanitarian aid from entering them.

      “How the Syrian government could besiege al-Yarmouk Camp while the ISIS was able to enter it assisted by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization which already exists in the Camp…Is there anyone who can explain how the terrorist organizations and the arms still enter and get out of the areas which are called “besieged by the government” including al-Yarmouk Camp? Al-Jaafari also wondered.

      He indicated that the Syrian government has helped the residents of the Camp to safely get out of it after being stormed by terrorists, and provided the shelters and basic needs of life to the displaced, adding that there are only 1000 people in the Camp not 18000 as some allege.

    • What exactly is "a Syrian-based NGO "? There are a wide variety of groups that call themselves NGOs, including some affiliated with the National Endowment for Democracy.

      Here's a different perspective about Yarmouk:

      ... Who are the remaining civilians and why are they refusing to evacuate to outside shelter like so many others?

      Local humanitarian relief supervisors report (personal communication) that some of them are not from Yarmouk and some are not Palestinian. They include the families of Syrian and foreign fighters that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government by force of arms, and some of them came from districts adjacent to Yarmouk, such as the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad. It is hard to know how many are being forcibly prevented from leaving by the armed groups in the camp and how many choose not to leave because they are afraid of the potential consequences.

      Some might be considered “human shields”, used by the fighters to deter attacks against them. But they might equally be concerned about becoming “human hostages” if they leave, i.e. of being used to pressure fighters to surrender. The motivations can be complex, but no evidence has been presented to show that the Syrian government is preventing civilians from leaving the camp. In fact, 90% of the population has already left.

      ...The Syrian government has a long-standing agreement with the Palestinian governing council of the camp that it will not enter without their request. However, the council has never made such a request and the Syrian authorities have never asked for permission. This agreement still holds, although Palestinian forces defending the camp against Daesh have recently formed a joint command and are coordinating their efforts with the Syrian military, which has been providing artillery and aerial support. In addition, the army has been attacking areas adjacent to Yarmouk that are Daesh strongholds, in order to impede their access to Yarmouk and prevent resupply to Daesh forces in the camp.

      There is no indication that the SAA is preventing humanitarian aid from being distributed in Yarmouk. Despite the siege, it has allowed the stockpiling of supplies on the edge of the camp and it has permitted civilians from inside to collect and distribute the aid. However, the government wants the civilians to leave, not to introduce additional persons into the camp, so it is reluctant to allow outsiders to enter, especially in consideration of the fact that they have no means of assuring their safety. Nevertheless, it has permitted humanitarian NGOs, including UNRWA, to distribute aid roughly half the time.

      The result has been a modest but insufficient flow of aid to camp residents until Daesh captured much of the area. In the fighting to defend the camp and retake the Daesh-occuped areas, it has been much too dangerous for anyone to undertake aid distribution, with horrific consequences on the remaining civilians. As a result, the number of civilian residents has probably dropped to less than half of the 18,000 initial estimate, despite their qualms about evacuating.

  • Sanders is leftwing on economic issues, but sees Israel as up against ISIS
    • As an young Jewish American man in the early 60's, Sanders spent some time in an Israeli Kibbutz. It's possible that his impression of his time in Israel was shaded by his youthful idealism as well as Labor Zionist Hasbara. It's possible that, while he has become more critical than most American politicians of neocon/neolib foreign policies, he hasn't spent much time evaluating his views about the realities of Zionism since his youth.

      If he has not yet been encouraged to take an alternative tour of the Holy Land, a few of his former colleagues, like Dennis Kucinich or Brian Baird, might advise him. Also, if Sanders is looking to represent not just the people of Vermont, but the US, he might get some input from a wider variety of constituents (especially younger people and people of color) who might support his stance on domestic issues but disagree about his stance on Israel.

  • Obama's role model to journalists -- Dorothy Thompson -- turned against Zionism and was silenced
    • I thought it was one of his cleverest jibes of the evening about what real journalistic courage is(the joke about the SNL comedian giving the best impersonation of a CNN host impersonating a journalist was a runner up). Can you imagine one of the stenographers in the White House press corps raising a question about Thompson -- and if so, being allowed by their editors to print the response?

  • Accusations of anti-Semitism roil Stanford campus as student coalition denies discrimination charges
    • Degree from prominent University: check!
      Experience in Student Leadership/Government: check!
      Ability to scrub compromising personal communications: sorta check!
      Willingness to forward the Israel Lobby's agenda (with creative flair): check!

      Start writing your checks. That woman has a future in politics (or at least the State Department)!

  • Will Graham's gaffe about 'all-Jewish cabinet' get the MSM to talk about pro-Israel money?
    • The question is not just how large donors influence political campaigns, but when in the political process their largess can make the most impact. M&W have made the point that traditionally, Republicans did not need major Zionist donors; because Republicans represent the interests of big business, they can draw donations from a variety of wealthy donors and corporations. Consequently, the Republican party had a history of "moderate" politicians resisting pressure from the Israel Lobby.

      With the shift in the Republican base to incorporate Christian Zionists, the demise of moderate Republican politicians and changes in campaign finance laws, Republicans have joined Democrats in courting Major Zionist donors. Early major donations can help raise the profile of a lesser-known candidate to the general public. The biggest money can be raised before an exploratory committee has been formed and an exploratory committee can still take larger donations than a declared candidate. So any politician who is thinking of thinking to run for president and willing to promise the moon could raise huge sums of money from any willing zillionaires -- including zionists.

  • Leaked Sony emails reveal Hollywood execs efforts to support Israel
    • Looks like there are a few dynamics here at play in the leaked e-mails. Some hard line Zionists are pushing the agenda of Israel's right-wing government. Some hollywood talent are going along to get along, whether it is going on all expenses paid junkets, signing up for email updates, being willing to be "educated," signing on to joint hollywood Zionist statements or showing up for zionist fundraisers. Some, like Portman, who try to chart a slightly different course with JStreet or minimize the rightwing Zionist spam, get harassed (smart enough to know what's good for her). A few resist and get demonized or destroyed. And then there are a lot of people who just keep their mouths shut.

  • No Palestinians need apply to program on 'Palestinian issue' at Center for American 'Progress'
    • Is there a college or church nearby where Palestinian experts, like Munayyer or Erekat, could be invited to join in a panel discussion on a related topic on the same day? Protesters could flyer CAP participants with info about an alternative event -- thinking outside the Israel Lobby box.

  • Baptism of Kardashian/West daughter moves celebrity press to place Jerusalem to Israel
    • WaPo's coverage states that the baby was baptized in the Holy Land, but speaks only of Israelis and Orthodox Jews otherwise, giving the impression that the whole leg of the journey was within Israel. There may be some hope that this slight exposure to Palestine could raise awareness among Kardashian's followers, many of whom heard first about the Armenian genocide through Kim's tweets. It appears the Kardashian family is taking a Middle East tour on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide:

      The Kardashians, famous for their reality TV show, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," are on a family roots trip. They arrived in Israel after spending eight days in the family's ancestral home, Armenia. After leaving Israel Tuesday morning, they flew to Jordan.

  • Before prayers finished Friday, Israeli military began firing teargas canisters and rubber-coated bullets
  • Future of Yarmouk unclear as PLO abandons aid convoy to besieged refugee camp
    • And now for a little perspective from Sharmine Narwani this past November, who actually has spent time in several Palestinian Refugee camps in Syria over the past few years:

      My trip to Yarmouk coincides with the arrival of an UNRWA food van at the camp. In the past year, the UN agency has relentlessly publicized the Palestinian starvation story, but left out key details.

      For example, food scarcity hasn’t been the issue as much as accessibility and cost. There are vulnerable populations inside the camp who cannot fend for themselves, including children, the elderly, and single parents like the woman I met whose husband vanished at the start of the crisis and who has to tend to all the needs of her two young daughters alone.

      In Yarmouk, food has always been smuggled in from neighboring rebel-held areas, but sellers have milked the opportunity to profit from the instability by charging staggering prices for food staples.

      And then there are other problems. A PRCS aid worker inside Yarmouk tells me, “At the beginning of the aid distribution, rebels took the majority of boxes from people. But civilians inside formed committees against this and have minimized it.”

      While I was interviewing aid recipients, two separate women, one with a child, complained to the UNRWA rep that rebels had confiscated their food boxes in the past week, and asked for a replacement. The UNRWA initially refused, citing an obligation to provide its limited boxes to all residents equally, but then relented, perhaps because of media on the scene.

      The UNRWA told me it hands out approximately 400 boxes each day they are present in Yarmouk. Armed clashes prevent it from being able to access delivery points inside the camp on most days though. On the day of my visit, its food van did not have more than 100 boxes, and during the time I spent there, I did not see more than several dozen civilians line up for these boxes.

      Yet UNRWA spokespeople have hit social media channels with a vengeance, loudly suggesting that 18,000 civilians inside Yarmouk are somehow dependent on their food aid. This is simply false. UNRWA has not had the financial or material capability to expand and extend its operations to meet Palestinian needs during this conflict. They continue to assist with schooling, provide food supplies and medical kits, but everywhere you turn in Yarmouk, Jeramana or Homs, there is also now an adhoc Palestinian committee doing the fieldwork and cobbling together assistance.

  • Who cares what Jeffrey Goldberg and Netanyahu don't like about the Iran deal?
  • Rand Paul greeted by neocon opposition, in $1 million ad calling him 'dangerous'
    • Maybe I'm on a different DNC e-mail list. Apparently, they don't think that I am concerned about the Middle East, so they don't bother my pretty little head with such details. This is what my e-mail from DNC factivists emphasized about Paul:

      Presidential Hopeful
      Rand Paul
      Claims to be a
      "Different Kind of Republican"
      Judge for Yourself:
      Opposing Immigration Reform
      Denying Marriage Rights for LGBT Americans
      Cutting Taxes for the Wealthy

  • Hurt by the Israel lobby, Obama kisses it goodbye
    • This is all about giving Democratic Senators cover to support their party's president in the face of heavy pressure from the Israel Lobby. Currently, it looks like the Republicans do not have a veto-proof majority for their proposed sanctions measures, like the Corker Bill, which threaten to scuttle the Iran deal. But some Democrats are more vulnerable than others to AIPAC pressure, so Obama is willing to make nice if it helps keep enough of them on board.

  • Yarmouk camp reaches out to the international community for help against IS invasion
    • According to Press TV, a truce had just been negotiated in Yarmouk among the various factions before ISIS invaded:

      The ISIL militants stormed the camp on April 1, apparently in tandem with rivals from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, even though the two groups have fought bloody battles against each other in other parts of Syria.

      The terrorists attacked Yarmouk, home to Palestinian refugees since 1957 and located on the edge of the Syrian capital, in an attempt to kill a reconciliation deal between Palestinian armed factions inside the camp and more moderate groups seeking to keep the site away from the crisis in Syria.

      “In Yarmouk, there are many different armed groups. They do not want solutions. Nusra Front implements a foreign agenda just like ISIL. Nusra Front along with other extremists are the ones who facilitated the entry of ISIL from Hajar al-Aswad (district), into the camp,” said Abu Kefah Ghazi, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), in an interview with Press TV inside the camp on Saturday.

      Members of a Palestinian faction called Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis are the main fighters engaged in ferocious skirmishes with ISIL in Yarmouk. They had signed a peace deal with rival Damascus-backed Palestinian groups before ISIL’s attack on the camp.

      Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis fighters are now battling alongside members of those pro-Syrian government Palestinian factions against ISIL terrorists.

    • Phil, please stop publishing these reactionaries. Since you admire Mearsheimer and Walt so much, re-read Part II: The Lobby in Action; Ch. 9: Taking Aim at Syria (pp.263-79). This was what the neocons and Israel Lobby had set up for Syria as of 2007. Eight years later, the disaster in Syria is the result of "soft power" Middle East politics of neolibs in State, CIA and Military as set in motion by the likes of Clinton, Petraeus and Panetta. Most MSM reporters (even those who managed to search beyond their interpreters' friends in Beirut) have complied with the narrative pushed by Israel, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    • Any idea about what percentage of the remaining civilians are not part of the insurgents' families? Of the 18,000 remaining residents, SANA reported that 2000 have left in the past few days.

    • Unsurprisingly, a review in the anti-Abbas, anti-Assad, Electronic Intifada gives us the biased director's depiction of the opening of conflict in Yarmouk:

      "This movie is about the Palestinian refugee camp “Yarmouk,” when it was attacked by the Syrian regime’s MiGs, on 16 December [2012], as punishment for sheltering displaced Syrians and Palestinians who had lost their neighborhoods due to previous attacks.
 It may seem that the MiGs aimed to destroy the place, but the real target was the spirit of the people. ..."

      Nothing about Khaled Mishaal and Hamas' role in aiding the insurgency, which was attacking Damascus from the shelter of Yarmouk. Nothing about how the insurgents' takeover of the camp caused the vast majority of the residents to flee. This is a variant on the many propaganda pieces about the secular, non-violent, artistic activists who were forced to take up arms (conveniently pre-purchased from gun dealers in Lebanon) in response to the regime's brutality.

  • How Obama won on Iran
    • Bibi's speech was the straw that broke the camel's back -- Israelis just won't admit it yet (nor will their stenographers at the NYT). Netanyahu lost his veto-proof majority with that stunt, forcing Democratic congresscritters to choose between him, with the Republican leadership's backing, and the President. The White House is describing an Iran deal as the major legacy of Obama's second term ,just as ACA was for his first. Democrats who buck the president on this will have a hard time turning out the base, especially people of color, in 2016.

    • It was also the day after April Fool's day. Because it's worth waiting for a deal the world can take seriously.

  • Approaching Easter and Passover
  • The Jewish establishment has banned these four valiant Jews. Why?
  • Open Hillel's big month: Swarthmore 'Kehilah' is born and a student resigns over Hillel restrictions
  • As clock ticks in Switzerland, the Adelson primary heats up in the U.S.
  • 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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