Personal accounts of current events in Palestine and Israel; commentary and analysis from the Middle East, the USA and Europe
wallwritings, from James Wall

Uri Avnery's Column

Gideon Levy articles & opinion

Avraham Burg - Opinion

Commentary by
James Wall

The Two-State Illusion
by Ian S. Lustnick

A Palestinian Pastor's Advice for President Obama
by Rev. Alex Awad

Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's path to Palestinian Solidarity  by Rabbi Brant Rosen

"Change without Progess in the Middle East"
by Ambassador Chas Freeman

"Justice Requires Action to Stop Subjugation of Palestinians"
by Desmond Tutu

"Why I Refuse"
by Moriel Rothman

Messages from Janet Lahr Lewis, UM Liaison to Israel-Palestine

Personal Accounts: Testimonies of Methodist Ecumenical Accompaniers


"Goldstone's Legacy for Israel" by Naomi Klein

"Mourning the Jewish New Year" by Prof. Marc Ellis

"Palestine Papers Expose US as Dishonest Broker"
  by Alison Weir

"Top 10 Reasons for  
Skepticism on Talks"

  by Josh Ruebner

"Boycotting the boycotters"
by Gideon Levy

"Apartheid in Holy Land"
  by Desmond Tutu

"Nakba Day is a Reminder"
    by Yousef Manayyer

"Israel's racism spreads"
   by Zvi Bar'el

Holy Land Christians' Decline
  Al-Jazeera video report

Two articles on Israel's
Independence Day 2010
  by Burston; Avnery

Presbyterian General Assembly 2010 - News and Commentary

"End US Tax Exemption 
for Settlements"

  by Sama Adnan

"A Call for Livable Futures"
  by Rela Mazali

"Israel 2007: Worse Than

Ronnie Kasrils, SoAfrican

"Israel's Greatest Loss:
Its Moral Imagination"

by Henry Siegman

Can Muslim & Jewish  
Narratives Co-exist?

Jewish Respect for Islam

Muslims & Jews Closer  

Tragedy of Monotheism

Using Qur'anic narratives

James M. Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois.  From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of The Christian Century.  Jim launched this new personal blog April 24, 2008, at

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Kerry Stumbles Into a Peace “Bully” Role


by James M. Wall Nicola Nasser, a blogger from Bir Zeit, Palestine, has delivered a stinging rebuke to John Kerry on the eve of the meetings with the U.S., Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. Nasser’s blog,  allarabi. exposed a “new tactic” in Kerry’s preparation for the peace conference, scheduled to begin Monday. When preparations for the talks began, […]

Indyk Returns as Kerry’s Chief Negotiator


by James M. Wall Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to name Martin Indyk as the U.S. Representative to the Israel-Palestinian peace negotiation. Indyk has been around this peace talk track before. He belongs to a small group of Jewish diplomats who have specialized in Middle East negotiations. The same names come up with every […]

Livni Warns Israel It Faces A Worldwide Boycott


by James M. Wall Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is the Israeli cabinet minister with the task of finding a way back to peace talks. At the moment, she is one more frustrated negotiator. Livni was so frustrated that she kicked off the month of July with a speech in which she said that if negotiations […]

“One Day Ramallah Will Rise Up”


by James M. Wall “One Day Ramallah Will Rise Up” is the title of a current column by the provocative Ha’aretz writer, Gideon Levy. During this same week, Uri Avnery, another Israeli provocateur, entitled his Gush Shalom column, “The Human Spring”. He sees, and clearly feels, the presence of a “hidden mechanism” pushing the world forward […]

Kerry Undertakes One Last Anti-War Mission


by James M. Wall John Kerry is back in Washington after his fifth official trip to the Middle East. He is already planning his return to the region. Despite the lack of any visible signs of success, the U.S. Secretary of State remains determined to resolve what is generally seen in official Washington as an […]

“Poor George, he can’t help it . . .”


by James M. Wall “Poor George, he can’t help it — he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” This memorable line from future Texas Governor Ann Richards was aimed at soon-to-be President George H. W. Bush. It was included in Richards’ keynote address to the 1988 Democratic National Convention, which nominated Michael […]

Clinton and Netanyahu Not Good for Obama


Kerry Delays Orwellian Trip to Middle East


by James M. Wall Secretary of State John Kerry has delayed his fifth “peace process” trip to Israel/Palestine. The Secretary will remain in Washington to attend strategy sessions on Syria. The delay in starting his fifth trip should give Kerry time to add the writings of George Orwell and Rashid Khalidi to his Tel Aviv flight […]

Have Church/State Leaders Endorsed Injustice?


by James M. Wall The two political leaders pictured here are U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Middle East Quartet Representative and former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair. The two men are walking next to a wall at the Villa Taverna, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Rome, Italy, on May 9, 2013. Less than […]

Why Gitmo Was Not Closed from the Get-Go


by James M. Wall On the morning of May 23, 2013, our still young, but now greying, President Obama delivered what he hoped would be “a change speech”. The speech was delivered to National Defense University, at Fort McNair in Washington DC. Reuters began its report on the speech: President Barack Obama on Thursday (May 23) shifted the United […]

Ten Years After US Invades Iraq, Israel Eager to Take the US Into Round Two


Spelling of invasion>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>The ostensible reason for that invasiion was to eradicate Iraq’s non-existent WMDs. The American public was primed for the war. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld leadership team had whipped the American public into such a post-911 war fever that all normal reason and logic had been drained away.

The only problem is that the further Toby is admitted into these inner councils, the greater his abhorrence of the war about to happen. He rates it illegal, immoral and doomed. His discomfort is compounded by the knowledge that even the most supine of his schoolfriends are out on <<<<<<>>>And With the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he boils over. Truthless not a word make it truth less ( or its British???
In Moral Man and Immoral Society theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was aware of the ambiguity of nations forced to employ coercion to preserve “the course of justice”. However, Niebuhr was quick to warn, “moral reason must learn how to make coercion its ally without running the risk of a Pyrrhic victory in which the ally exploits and negates the triumph.”<<<<<<<<end quotes go inside the period.

Hawking Stuns Israel With Conference Boycott


Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott the Israeli president’s conference has gone viral. Over 100,000 Facebook shares of the Guardian report at last count. Whatever the subsequent fuss, Hawking’s letter is unequivocal. His refusal was made because of requests from Palestinian academics.
Witness the speed with which the pro-Israel lobby seized on Cambridge University’s initial false claim that he had withdrawn on health grounds to denounce the boycott movement, and their embarrassment when within a few hours the university shamefacedly corrected itself. Hawking also made it clear that if he had gone he would have used the occasion to criticise Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.
While journalists named him “the poster boy of the academic boycott” and supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movementcelebrated, Ha’aretz, the most progressive of the Israeli press, drew attention to the inflammatory language used by the conference organisers, who described themselves as “outraged” rather than that they “regretted” Hawking’s decision.
That the world’s most famous scientist had recognised the justice of the Palestinian cause is potentially a turning point for the BDS campaign. And that his stand was approved by a majority of two to one in the Guardian poll that followed his announcement shows just how far public opinion has turned against Israel’s relentless land-grabbing and oppression.

Israel Claims Its Attack On Syria Was “To Stop Iranian Missiles Reaching Hezbollah”


President Assad’s chances of retaining power in Syria are getting “smaller and smaller by the day,” said Russia’s Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, today.

The statement is the most explicit admission from the regime’s chief ally that its days may be numbered, but Mr Medvedev also reiterated that the regime must not be toppled by external forces.

As the political pressure on Damascus grows, so the scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria could also be significantly greater than official figures show, according to analysis by The Independent. The latest UN figures say that 678,540 refugees have been registered or are awaiting registration although the true numbers are likely to be closer to one million.

Conquerors from The Congo to The Jordan


by James M. Wall In the late 19th century, Henry Morton Stanley (of Stanley and Livingston fame), (right) was the “king’s man”—more accurately, a hired colonist conqueror—working for Belgium’s King Leopold II. Stanley’s assignment: Seize and conquer for Belgium, the vast and unexplored territory surrounding Africa’s Congo River, a territory that stretched from Stanley Falls […]

Kerry Forgot Rule Number One: Never Question the Sacred Israeli Narrative


by James M. Wall If you believe the Israeli and US pro-Israel media, the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry (right) is “confused” in his new job. What led to the confusion? To those who embrace his negative media coverage, the Secretary forgot the rules. He forgot what US Diplomats must never forget. What is […]

At Boston Interfaith Service, Obama Calls for Justice and Compassion


by James M. Wall (UPDATE BELOW) A Boston Marathon Interfaith memorial service, “Healing Our City”, was held at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross Thursday, April 18. It was a service that concluded with remarks delivered by President Barack Obama. The National Journal’s Matthew Cooper called Obama’s remarks “an emotional rallying point for the city”. It was also, Cooper […]

Cardoza Law School Ignores Dershowitz To Honor Jimmy Carter


by James M. Wall Despite vicious opposition from the Alan Dershowitz conservative wing of the American Jewish community, Cardoza Law School honored former President Jimmy Carter April 10, for his career of work on peace and conflict resolution. The International Advocate for Peace award was given to Carter by the student-run Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. […]

Confronting the “Moral Bankruptcy” of Iraq War’s Liberal Supporters


by James M. Wall Prior to the start of the Iraq War on March 19, 2003, New York Times journalist Chris Hedges (right) occupied a lonely perch among major media journalists. He opposed the war. Today, Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner and now a columnist for the website Truthdig, continues to write with the passion of a […]

Obama: “Look at the world through [Palestinian] eyes”


by James M. Wall Many political progressives have harshly criticized President Obama’s recent trip to Israel and Palestine. They claim he was too warm toward Israel and too lukewarm toward Palestine. Did these critics pay close attention to what the President actually said and saw on this trip? I don’t think so. The president declined to […]

“We Have No 3G in Palestine”


by James M. Wall Unless security forces have torn it down, the poster (shown here) was one of the sights President Obama would see if his motorcade made its way to Ramallah, Palestine on a West Bank highway. The poster was posted on a corner after the road passes through the Qalandia checkpoint separating the West Bank […]

Khalidi to Obama: Time For a New Course


by James M. Wall The New York Times performed a valuable service for its readers on Wednesday, March 13, exactly one week before President Obama is scheduled to arrive on his first-ever presidential visit to Palestine and Israel. The Times contrasted the major media voice of  the liberal Zionism of the American ruling classes, with that […]

Will Congress Fund Iron Dome Over Head Start?



Hagel Confirmed Despite Petulant Senators


The Family Research Council, formerly part of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family organization, warned supporters that Hagel’s confirmation shows America is forgetting about “God’s covenant with Abraham: to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse her.”

Right Wing Media Pushes “Friends of Hamas” Rumor


UPDATE Tuesday, February 26: The Hill reported Tuesday afternoon: The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm former Sen. Chuck Hagel as Pentagon chief in a 58-41 vote, ending the most contentious confirmation fight for a Defense secretary in U.S. history. Only four Republicans backed Hagel, a former GOP senator from Nebraska whose controversial statements on Israel, […]

Republicans Block Hagel for Ten More Days


by James M. Wall The agreement Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid (NV) thought he had reached with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (KY), died a slow, angry and ugly death Thursday. When this new Senate held its first session in January, younger and more progressive Democratic members of the Senate wanted Harry Reid to take advantage […]

GOP Descends Into Its Winter of Discontent


“Why, I in this weak piping time of peace Have no delight to pass away the time, Unless to spy my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity.” William Shakespeare: Richard III by James M. Wall A major archaeological discovery was announced in Leicester, England this week. Experts have confirmed that skeletal remains […]

CUFI and the Ugly Face of Hagel’s Opposition


by James M. Wall This nation’s foreign policy is, for this weekend at least, in the pious hands of John Hagee, a  Christian fundamentalist preacher from Texas. To be sure, Hagee is not the only policy-shaker whose minions are roaming the hallowed halls of the nation’s capitol. But he is certainly the most conspicuous and […]

Are Liberal American Zionists “Delusional”?


by James M. Wall Shortly after the polls closed in Israel’s Knesset election this past Tuesday, two American Liberal Zionist groups, J Street and Americans for Peace Now (APN), were out with triumphant emails to their peace-oriented members: Israel voters have chosen a new government that will “revive the peace process with the Palestinians and […]

Election Could Push Israel Further To The Right


by James M. Wall Israel’s 19th general election, Tuesday, January 22, is almost certain to be won by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. There is no serious Liberal election opposition to Likud. What is serious, however, is the very real possibility that after this election, the Israeli government could turn even harder to the […]

Take It to the Bank, Hagel Will Win


By James M. Wall The war against Chuck Hagel followed a predictable pattern. It will end soon when the U.S. Senate votes to confirm Hagel as President Barack Obama’s next defense secretary. This is one of those rare occasions in American politics when you may ”take it to the bank“, that in a struggle between a […]

The Hagel Narrative the Neocons Want


by James M.Wall UPDATE Friday, 6 p.m. CST: The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that President Obama will name Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary. Sources in Washington say that the nomination will be announced Monday or possibly Tuesday, of next week.  Al Jazeera has purchased the struggling U.S. network, Current, which […]

Hagel Defenders Battle Neocon Opposition


By James M. Wall The Washington Post wrote in a lead editorial, December 18, that President Obama should not nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as his Defense Secretary because the President “has available other possible nominees who are considerably closer to the mainstream and to the president’s first-term policies.” Daily Beast columnist Andrew Sullivan responded to the Post editorial […]

Will Israel Block Hagel as Defense Secretary?


by James M. Wall Former Nebraska Senator Charles (Chuck) Hagel (above right) may be nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense. The President is known to like his old Senate colleague, a Republican who, like Obama, considered running for president in 2008. Unlike Obama, Hagel decided not to run. Hagel, a Vietnam […]

“The fate of human dignity is in our hands.”


by James M. Wall Writing for both Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart used a surprising phrase to describe how President Obama plans to deal with the Israel/Palestine issue during his second term. Beinart took his clue from the “pro forma and bland” response the White House made after Israel’s defiant announcement that it […]

Israel Plans a “Doomsday Settlement” for E1


by James M. Wall Israel’s response to the United Nations’ overwhelming vote to admit Palestine to the UN was easily predictable. Israel had been waiting for just this moment to announce it would build a settlement in Area E1 (East One). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was harshly rejected at the UN General Assembly, a stinging […]



Older Articles by James Wall

GOP Candidates Wear the Jewish Kippah

On the 38th anniversary of the death of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, the usual memorial event was held at Ben Gurion’s graveside on December 1, in Sdeh Boker, the Negev desert village where he lived during his retirement years.

Uri Avnery wrote in his Gush Shalom column, that Israeli newspapers published a picture of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current Prime Minister, speaking “under a big photo of the late leader gazing thoughtfully into the distance”.

Avnery noticed a small detail in the picture. Avowed atheist Netanyahu was wearing the traditional Orthodox head-covering of respect, a kippah, a head covering that reminds the wearer that he is always “under” Yahweh.

This surprised Avnery, the “grand old man” of Israel’s largely secular peace camp, who wonders, why was Netanyahu wearing a kippah? (To continue reading, click here.)

How Iran Could Be The Next Neocon Target

The 2012 US presidential election will reach its quadrennial crescendo November 6, 2012, less than a year from now.

Should a Republican nominee win the election, it is most probable that he will be either former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (shown here) or Mitt Romney.

No less a Republican conservative authority than Pat Buchanan ponders what such an outcome might produce:

Is a vote for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich a vote for yet another unfunded war of choice, this time with a nation, Iran, three times as large and populous as Iraq?

Buchanan finds an eagerness for war against Iran in Republican campaign rhetoric:

Mitt says that if elected he will move carriers into the Persian Gulf and “prepare for war.” Newt is even more hawkish. America should continue “taking out” Iran’s nuclear scientists — i.e., assassinating them — but military action will probably be needed.

Sound idiotic? Of course it does, but war fever corrupts the rational mind. We should remember that many Democratic liberals joined the last neoconservative military crusade launched by George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. (To continue reading, click here.)

What We Have Here Is A “Flagrantly Undemocratic Situation”

In the words of Ha’aretz publisher Amos Schochken, Gush Emunim has seized control of26nov11 power in Israel and driven the state into a “flagrantly undemocratic situation.”

How was it possible for this much power to be seized by ”a right-wing ultranationalist, religio-political revitalization movement”, as it is described in Israel: A Country Study?

Gush Emunim was formed in March 1974, a few months after the October 1973 War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War and in the Arab world as the Ramadan War.

The outcome of the 1973 conflict ended in Israel’s favor, thanks to “an estimated US $5 billion in equipment, of which more than US $1 billion was airlifted by the United States during the war when it became apparent that Israel’s ammunition stores were dangerously low.”

A few months after the war, Gush Emunim was created by the National Religious Party (NPR). When NPR joined the Israeli Labor coalition, Gush Emunim joined with other religious groups and began building illegal Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line.  (To continue reading, click here.)

Dennis Ross’ Iran Legacy Continues At WINEP

In a rare public statement about a US political figure, AIPAC had this to say about the legacy of Dennis Ross:

“In his tireless pursuit of Middle East peace, Ambassador Ross has maintained a deep understanding of the strategic value of the U.S.-Israel relationship and has worked vigorously to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

For True Believers in militant Zionism, AIPAC’s linkage is clear, the strategic bond of the US and Israel, very good; an Iran that even looks toward nuclear capability, very bad.

The Jewish US online Forward publication, which reported the Ross resignation, described him as “a veteran of four failed presidential pushes for Middle East peace”. (The picture of Ross, above, is from Forward.)

This is not a record of success, but an obvious absence of progress does not displease AIPAC, which, like the current right wing Israeli government, has a higher priority than peace; specifically, it desires a militarily powerful and expanding Israel. (To continue reading, click here.)

Dennis Ross Resigns As Middle East Advisor

After working for five US presidents, Dennis Ross has resigned his position as President Obama’s chief Middle East advisor.

Presidents Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama, all arrived at the White House determined to recast the nation’s role in finding a permanent peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Sometimes immediately, sometimes later, one man was involved in shaping how the US dealt with peace between Israel and the Palestinians. At first his role was small; but by the time he went to work for Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, he had became the key player in the process.

That man is Dennis Ross, a non-lawyer, who has been called “Israel’s lawyer”, by former State Department official, Aaron David Miller.

Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, and a former colleague of President Obama’s at the University of Chicago, was asked by the Institute of Middle East Understanding (IMEU) for his reaction to Ross’ departure. (To continue reading, click here.)

What Did The Children Learn in School Today?

In 1963, temporarily banned from American television for his “radical” views, Pete Seeger toured Australia.  On a stage in Melbourne, he introduced a new song by a then 23-year old Tom Paxton. The lyrics began:

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie
I learned that soldiers seldom die
I learned that everybody’s free
That’s what the teacher said to me
And that’s what I learned in school today

Those are sentiments that drive every nation state as it seeks to shape the thinking of its children. Some states have long histories from which to develop those sentiments.

The modern state of Israel has an extremely short history. It came into existence in 1948 under trying circumstances, a tribal band of immigrants from Europe who had survived the Holocaust.

I was reminded of Pete Seeger singing Tom Paxton’s lyrics when I read an account in the Guardian, about a forthcoming book by Israeli scholar Nurit Peled-Elhanan.

Peled-Elhanan is a mother, a political radical, and the daughter of the famous Israeli general, Matti Peled, who in retirement, has become a leading activist in the Israeli peace movement.

She comes to her research from a family with deep connections to Israel’s history. Her brother, Milo Peled, is the author of A General’s Son, scheduled for publication by Just World Books in the Spring of 2012.

In her book, Nurit Peled-Elhanan describes images of Palestinians that Israel has included in its text books for children. (To continue reading, and to access the Seeger video, click here.)

Palestine Enters UNESCO in 107 to 14 Vote

To mounting excitement and wild applause, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), voted 107-14 with 52 abstentions, to approve full Palestinian membership in the international body. The vote came on Monday.

Fully aware that the negotiations track pushed by the US and Israel does nothing but enhance Israel’s continued take over of Palestinian land, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has chosen to enlist the UN in Palestine’s request for justice.

The UNESCO vote is step one, and a hugely popular step it is, outside of the US.

In addition to leaving the US and Israel with a demonstratively shrinking number of friends in the international community, the UNESCO vote has far-reaching implications for the PLO’s earlier request to the UN Security Council, which requested full statehood membership in the UN General Assembly. (To continue reading, click here.)

Ahlam and Nezar, A Palestinian Couple Released in The Prisoner Exchange

by James M. Wall

Two young Palestinians, Ahlam (left) and Nezar (right) Tammimi, were among the 477 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli prisons, October 18.

They were in the first contingent of what is supposed to become more than one thousand Palestinians released in an exchange for Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit.

The Western media covered the exchange as a story about the lone Israeli soldier involved. Television captured the dramatic scenes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeting the young man who had spent five years in prison.

The Western public saw and read virtually nothing about the 477 Palestinians who were released from Israeli prisons, except for those stories that reminded the public that many of the prisoners, to use the term so popular among Israeli politicians, had “blood on their hands”.

This bias against Palestinians was so blatant that Jewish activist Noam Chomsky was moved to accuse the media of treating the released Palestinian prisoners as “unpeople”. It is time to tell their stories, and to do so without apology.

(To continue reading, click here.)

Palestinian Prisoners Are Not “Unpeople”; They Are Children of God

In a talk at New York City’s Barnard College the night the Hamas-Israeli prisoner exchange was announced, Noam Chomsky anticipated the one-sided media coverage of the exchange.

He charged the media with treating Israeli Jews as people, while dismissing Palestinians as “unpeople”.

Chomsky, who is Jewish, brings credentials to this issue as both an acclaimed linguistic scholar, and a strong advocate of Palestinian human rights.

To illustrate his point at Barnard, Chomsky described a front-page New York Times story, dated October 12, with the headline: “Deal with Hamas Will Free Israeli Held Since 2006.”

(To continue reading, click here.)

Obama and the “Terror Plot Thriller”

by James M. Wall

There are so many doubts and questions surrounding the alleged Iranian-sponsored assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador, that for Barack Obama to take a prominent role in announcing the case may prove to be a serious political and diplomatic mistake.

The American public loves intrigue and simplistic narratives, good versus bad. What they don’t like is to be lied to in the narrative. We were fooled once by the Iraq-WMDs ”mushroom cloud” campaign orchestrated by Bush-Cheney. As a result we are still fighting two seemingly endless wars in the Middle East.

By highlighting a “terror” plot that involved a Mexican drug cartel, the Saudi ambassador to the US, and a highly unstable potential assassin, Obama brought us Bush-Cheney, the Sequel.

As Obama announced the Justice Department action he promised “strong sanctions” against Iran. The Justice case alleges that an Iranian-American, Manssor Arbabsiar, was introduced to a man he thought had a connection to a Mexican drug cartel, very bad guys with assassination skills. Arbabsiar’s “contact” to the cartel was, in fact, an undercover US Drug Enforcement official, who was setting up a standard FBI “sting”.

The indictment also includes Arbabsiar’s cousin Ali Gholam Shakuri, an officer in the Iranian Qods Force. It is that elite army unit that allows the Department of Justice to claim that the plot has ties to the “highest” levels of the Iranian government. Obama said there was evidence that additional connections were made, but they have not been included in the indictment, and may never be, on security grounds.

A “sting” most often targets a major player believed to be a serious threat to American peace and security. Arbabsiar may yet emerge as a serious player, but that is no reason why Barack Obama should be in the White House as the nation’s lawyer, announcing the case . He has an Attorney General to perform those duties. Criminal case announcements should be made in the Justice Department, not in the White House. (To continue reading, click here.)

This Occupation is Brought to You by                                     A Pattern of Racial Bigotry

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress, is withholding basic heath care from children who live in the world’s largest outdoor prison, the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Specifically, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) (at left) “is keeping her House of Representatives committee from considering approval of $192 million in humanitarian program assistance”.

JTA, a Jewish news agency, reports:

The Americans for Peace Now website is reporting that other House Republicans also are holding the money, and that Republicans in the House and Senate are holding $150 million in security assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

Republicans and Democrats have warned that such money may be withheld if the Palestinians do not pull back from their attempt to gain statehood recognition through the United Nations and absent peace talks with Israel.

If this were happening in an American community, Child Welfare agencies would descend on the offices and homes of these American adults and demand that they release the children from an unsafe and unhealthy environment. They might even move to arrest some of the leaders, including Florida Congresswoman Ros Lethiene.

Unfortunately, for Palestinians in need of this assistance, there are no officials with authority to arrest members of the US House who are eager to punish Palestinians for their bold attempt to break the bonds of Occupation. (Click here to continue reading.)

Palestinians Are “Marching To Freedom Land”

A warning to the United States and Israel is embedded in a New York Times analysis entitled, “Arab Debate Pits Islamists Against Themselves”.

The warning lies in the reality that the Palestinian people are on the same march against the same obstacles that have stirred the quest for freedom throughout the region.

The warning is there, even as the Times editors chose to leave Palestine on the editing room floor. Anthony Shadid, who co-wrote the analysis with David D. Kirkpatrick, may have wanted to include Palestinians, but it is a strong possibility the Times editors had a different agenda.

What the analysis delivers, however, demonstrates a deep understanding of the rise of a younger Arab/Muslim generation which seeks to balance secularism with Islam.

The people of Palestine know they are a part of this uprising. They, with others in the region, will not be denied. This is the “moment” when the Palestinian people are joining in the march to freedom land. Here is part of Shadid’s analysis: (To continue reading, click here.)

“Obama’s performance was pathetic,” But How Does President Perry Sound To You?
September 24, 2011

Let us be perfectly clear about this. It is true, as Robert Fisk wrote, “Obama’ performance was pathetic”. It was that, and much more.

President Obama’s speech to the United Nations this week was also embarrassing, and grossly insensitive to the reality of the Palestinians who have since 1967, suffered the pain, death and humiliation of  Occupation.

President Obama focused his speech on Israeli security, which has served as the excuse for Israel to continue its ever-expanding control over what is now called the West Bank and Gaza.

One reason the Obama speech was pathetic was that he studiously avoided uttering the word “occupation”. Instead, the President carefully parroted the ultra right wing Israeli narrative with even more vigor than he has used in previous talks to those annual AIPAC Israel-worshipping conferences. 

Read the rest of the article >>

Erdogan: “Israel is the West’s Spoiled Child”
September 17, 2011

On Tuesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told an Arab League meeting in Cairo, Egypt, that a vote to accept a Palestinian state in the United Nations “is not a choice but an obligation.”

Later, on a Cairo television program, Erdogan declared: “Israel is the West’s spoiled child. To this day it has never executed a decision by the international community.”

The Turkish leader was on his second day of an “Arab Spring” tour which was obviously designed to gain Arab support for a Palestinian state application before the UN General Assembly, which meets in New York this week.

Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will state their positions in back to back addresses before the UN,  Friday, September 23, setting up a confrontation between “the West’s spoiled child” and a captive population fighting to escape from a military occupation.

Read the rest of the article >>

Israel Makes Mahmoud Abu Samra A Shaheed
August 27, 2011

Mahmoud Abu Samra was killed August 19 in an Israeli air raid near Gaza City. He was 13 years old. The Palestinian news service, Ma’an, tells the story of Mahmoud’s death:

Renewed air strikes across the Gaza Strip late Thursday killed a Palestinian teenager and injured more than a dozen others amid an escalation in violence that left some 20 people dead throughout the day.

Just after midnight Friday, Israeli warplanes launched a series of raids targeting Gaza City, the northern towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, and Khan Younis in the south.

Gaza medical official Adham Abu Salmiya said an air strike on a home near the former intelligence services headquarters in Gaza City killed 13-year-old Mahmoud Abu Samra and injured 18 others.”

Mahmoud (at left in the picture above) is number 150 in the list of 173 men, women and children who have been killed  this year by Israeli forces.

Each person who dies in the struggle against the Occupation, is identified by Palestinians as a Shaheed, the Arabic word for “martyr”.

Read the rest of the article >>

Avnery Reveals “The Return of the Generals”
August 20, 2011

Uri Avnery, intrepid columnist, ageless Israeli peace activist, and retired IDF soldier, has seen, up close, the actions of every government Israeli voters have put in office since the nation was created.

He is not fooled by the antics, decisions and deceptions of the current Israeli right-wing government. Avnery peers into the soul of the Netanyahu-Lieberman team and reports back to his readers the dark visions he finds there.

With a wisdom that was sadly missing from US media following 911, Avnery  writes that the recent deadly exchange of fire in the southern Sinai gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the excuse he needed to change Israel’s public conversation. Avnery calls his posting, “The Return of the Generals”.

At the beginning of the week, Binyamin Netanyahu was desperately looking for a way out of an escalating internal crisis. The social protest movement was gathering momentum and posing a growing danger to his government. The struggle was going on, but the protest had already made a huge difference. The whole content of the public discourse had changed beyond recognition.

The city square of Tel Aviv has been covered with protesters living in tents.  There was danger the Arab Spring spirit would soon engulf the region’s so-called “Only Democracy."

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81 House Members Enjoy Hiatus In Israel
August 13, 2011

Eighty-one members of the US House of Representatives—about 20 percent of the total membership—are enjoying a late summer week-long, all-expenses paid trip to Israel.

This hasbara (propaganda) trip happens every other summer (in non-election years), but this year’s excursion to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea comes at a time when voters back home are not thinking about Israel. They are worried about their under-water mortgages and disappearing 401Ks.

Instead of returning immediately to their home districts to answer questions about the US economy, 81 House members are flying to Tel Aviv to demonstrate their loyalty and devotion to a foreign power.  They are hoping, of course, as they bolster their standing with AIPAC, that financially-stressed voters will not be told that the 81 are enjoying an all expenses paid visit to Israel.

So far, the main stream media (MSM) has protected them. The only way to find out if your congress person is living in Israeli luxury for a week is to call his or her office and ask. The MSM has not bothered to identify the 81, except when a single member is mentioned in a fawning local feature story.

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It Is Time to Listen To King Hussein
August 6, 2011

From time to time, just as the Middle East political cauldron reaches one of its major boiling points, the New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman sits down to write an open letter to the leaders of a particular Middle Eastern state, offering sage advice on what action Friedman thinks the leader should take.

Thus far, I have resisted following the Friedman letter-writing format. But the time has come for me to do my own version of Friedman speaking truth to the powerful.

I do not expect my communiqué to have the impact of a Friedman letter (his readership is larger), but I do have a suggestion that I think would be helpful to the six-member Palestinian delegation that will soon request full membership in the United Nations General Assembly.

I propose that they each read, very carefully, a new book, by Jack O’Connell, King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East

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Israeli and West Bank Women and Girls Violate Israeli Laws In A Rosa Parks Moment
July 30, 2011

The New York Times‘ Ethan Bronner reports that West Bank Palestinian women and girls have again broken Israeli laws to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. This is Rosa Parks country, folks.

Bronner actually evoked Parks’ name in his report. Did his editors think we would not notice?

Blogger Philip Weiss noticed, and he made sure his Mondoweiss readers noticed. By including a brief reference to the iconic moment when Rosa Parks broke the law by sitting in the front of a segregated bus, the New York Times has connected the American civil rights movement to the Palestinian struggle for human rights.

Here is that connection: Rosa Parks deliberately violated an unjust Alabama segregation law. The Palestinian and Israeli women and girls who crossed the Israeli segregation border, broke Israeli laws.

Palestinians living a few miles from the coast reach adulthood without ever seeing or entering the Mediterranean Sea because they live behind a barrier of an occupation of their land that is illegal under international law.

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March 26, 2011
Free Congressional Trips to Israel: Learning to Embrace Your Narrative
On March 23, the Chicago Tribune presented one of its periodic reports on  overseas travel by Chicago area members of the US Congress. The country most often visited? Israel.
The Tribune's interest was primarily on what motivated the trips. Were they junkets to resorts or would something really be learned by actually visiting other nations?
Trips to Israel are not junkets. They are described as "educational seminars".
The report revealed that US Senator Dick Durbin made 14 overseas trips in 2009-2010.  He did not, however, visit Israel. No need, Durbin has been one of Israel's strongest allies in Congress since he first won the House seat previously held by Paul Findley.
Illinois' junior senator, former House member Mark Kirk, did go to Israel in 2009-2010, as did one other Republican, House member Peter Roskam, now occupying the seat formerly held by Henry Hyde. All other Chicago area members who traveled to Israel in 2009-2010, were Democrats, members who were either new or in need of some additional education on the Israeli narrative. These members were Debbie Halvorson, Daniel Lipinski, Jesse Jackson, Jr, Mike Quigley. Melissa Bean, and Bill Foster.
Jackson is the son of Jesse Sr. and Quigley now holds the seat once occupied by former Obama chief of staff, and Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who needs no introduction to travel to Israel. Three of those six Democrats lost their seats in 2010: Halverson, Bean and Foster. Mark Kirk has left the House for the Senate where he occupies Barack Obama's old seat.
The organization that funded, planned, organized and directed the trips to Israel in 2009-2010 was the American Israel Education Foundation, a tax-exempt affiliate of AIPAC.
We will hear more from AIPAC May 20-21, when AIPAC conducts its annual Policy Conference in Washington. Since presidential primaries are less than a year away, this year's conference should attract every living Republican presidential candidate and a large majority of the members of Congress, including some members who have recently traveled to Israel.
One recent traveler was former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Governor Palin was escorted on her visit to the Old City of Jerusalem  by Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitz (left in photo here) and Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon (right) as she emerged from the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem's Old City, March 20. The closest Palin got to the West Bank was to the checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Also expected to be on hand for the May AIPAC confrence will be Israeli officials, beginning with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, pictured above addressing the 2010 Policy Conference.
In John J. Mearsheimer's latest book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics, he examines the importance of national narratives.
Mearsheimer is the other half of the team (with Steve Walt) that wrote the book, The Israel Lobby, which made such an impact on the formerly impenetrable Iron Wall that protects the "Israel narrative as the only truth" in American culture.
Mearsheimer writes that elites create and dominate "a nation's discourse", a version of the state's founding and ongoing purpose that is a mixture of deliberate lies and patriotic enthusiasm.  They do so for two reasons: False stories about the past "help create a powerful sense of nationhood, which is essential for building and maintaining a viable nation-state,"
In particular, these fictions help give members of a national group the sense that they are part of a noble enterprise which they should not only be proud of, but for which they should be willing to endure significant hardships, including fighting and dying if necessary.
These dominating elites first develop the myths, and then control each succeeding generation through internal education that constantly reinforces the myth of the nation's founding. In the US, think the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Presidents' Day.
The internet-inspired uprisings in the Arab world is a concern to the Israeli authorities, as an increasing number of younger Jews in Israel have joined hands with Palestinians in protests and demonstrations against Israel's current right wing government with its tight control and denigration of Palestinians.
Ilan Pappe, the Jewish scholar who literally wrote the book on Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine, wrote in the March 22 issue of the political newsletter Counterpunch, that the current Israeli government has been rapidly expanding its "apartheid laws" against Palestinians, inside Israel and in the Occupied Territories.
The most recent apartheid law passed by Israel's Knesset "allows Jewish settlements built on state land inside Israel not to admit Israeli Palestinian citizens as residents and  legalizes the wish of these new settlers not to sell land to  the Palestinians citizens of the state."
This is one of many such laws passed recently (the loyalty oath law that turns the Palestinians in Israel to second class citizens by law and one which does not allow them to live with their Palestinians spouses from the occupied territories are two of the more famous apartheid laws passed recently).
The new law, like the previous others,  institutionalize the Apartheid State of Israel,  or for short, ASOI.
ASOI is now one of worst apartheid regimes in the world. It controls almost all of Palestine (apart from Gaza which it imprisoned hermetically since 2005). .  .  .
Its policies against the discriminated native population, now composing nearly half of the overall population in ASOI,  include atrocities such as  barring people from using water sources, from cultivating their fields, building more houses, from getting to work, schools or universities and it bans them from commemorating their history and in particular the 1948 Nakba.
This treatment of a sizable minority of Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the OPT, is an affront to the national myth of Israel as a righteous democracy. The national myth is being exposed as a fraud by the actions of its leaders.
This, in turn, makes it even more imperative that the national Israeli myth be reinforced in other nations.
John Mearsheimer points out any new state must look for support and alliances with those nations who have within their borders "an influential diaspora" to which the new state (in this case, Israel) can export and reinforce its national founding myth. The best example of this phenomenon involves Israel and the American Jewish community.
There was no way that the Zionists could create a Jewish state in Palestine without doing large-scale ethnic cleansing of the Arab population that had been living there for centuries. This point was widely recognized by the Zionist leadership well before Israel was created.
The opportunity to expel the Palestinian came in early 1948 when fighting broke out between the Palestinians and the Zionists in wake of the UN decision to partition Palestine into two states. The Zionists cleansed roughly 700,000 Palestinians from the land that became Israel, and adamantly refused to let them return to their homes once the fighting stopped.  . . .
Not surprisingly, Israel and its American friends went to great lengths after the events of 1948 to blame the expulsion of the Palestinians on the victims themselves. According to the myth that was invented, the Palestinians were not cleansed by the Zionists; instead, they were said to have fled their homes because the surrounding Arab counties told them to move out so that their armies could move in and drive the Jews into the sea.
The movie industry has been a reliable diaspora ally. Movies shape a culture, reinforcing the control that AIPAC, which is the American diaspora command center, has over US media, politicians and churches.
At the slightest sign that any narrative contrary to the Israel narrative might emerge in a film, AIPAC and its media allies go into their first line of attack: This Film is Not Yet Balanced.  That usually frightens away film makers and distributors, until now.
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March 19, 2011

"Miral" Asks Questions The Israel Lobby Does Not Want You to Hear

In an early scene from the new motion picture Miral, the school principal Hind Husseini, tells a group of teenage Palestinian girls that "an uprising some people call an intifada has started".

Miral whispers to a student next to her: "It means 'stand up straight'"

Which is precisely what Miral does in this film now under attack from leading organizations in the Israel Lobby.

Miral's mother is dead. Her father enrolls her in Jerusalem's Dar El Tifel, a school and an orphanage begun and run by Hind Husseini, a cousin of Feisal Husseini, and a member of a prominent Palestinian family.

The story is true.  It is based on a novel written by Rula Jebreal.

Miral had its official US opening at the United Nations auditorium March 14. (It had earlier been shown in film festivals around the world).

Prior to the UN screening, the AJC hit the film with the tactics all too familiar to anyone or any group which schedules an event, film, or discussion that does not meet the AJC seal of approval.

An American Jewish Committee press release issued before the screening quoted AJC Director David Harris, who complained that "the Israeli Mission to the UN was not even given the minimal courtesy of being consulted in advance about the wisdom of showing such a film".

Adam Horowitz, reporting for Mondoweiss, concluded:

As per usual, the AJC is only echoing the Israeli government, which has called the premiere “scandalous” and is protesting it within in the UN. .  .

A member of the Israeli delegation to the UN who had seen the film told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the film is “scandalous.”

“There’s no historic context, not at all, nothing,” the diplomat said, noting that the film was laden with instances of Israeli cruelty to Palestinians. “You can see us bombing a house in the film, but you don’t see why – maybe this was the house of a suicide bomber that killed 30 Israelis. We don’t know.”

Miral is scheduled to open in US theaters later this month, the Lobby permitting. And even if the film gets by the Lobby, will you find it on your local mall screens?

You should.  A movie about a teenage girl falling in love with a revolutionary fighter, facing torture and rebelling against both her father and her school principal?  Sounds like just the sort of picture your average American teenager might want to see. It also  has the advantage of being a true story a younger generation needs to see.                                                   
The director and the author of "Miral"

Will you be able to see it for yourself, and perhaps share the experience with your teenagers?  (The film is now rated PG-13, after an appeal reduced it from an R rating).

Read the rest of this article and see a preview of "Miral" >>


March 5, 2011

Bibi Is On “The Wrong Side of History” When He Opposes Arab Uprisings

Professor Fawaz A. Gerges explained why Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu tried to use his considerable political muscle in a failed effort to keep Hosni Mubarak in power.

Gerges, who teaches Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, described the Arab uprising for BBC New Middle East :

Regionally, Israel is the biggest loser. It has put all its eggs into the basket of Arab dictators and autocrats, like Egypt’s deposed Hosni Mubarak. Israel fought tooth and nail to support Mr Mubarak, who played a key role in tightening the siege of Gaza and the noose around Hamas’s neck.

Few members of the US Congress would agree with Professor Gerges. A large majority of the Congress sees nothing wrong with automatically approving an annual $3 billion contribution to the government of Israel, the responsible party to that “siege of Gaza”.

A recent debate in New York City’s New School featured two Democratic Party antagonists on the Israel/Palestine issue: Brian Baird, the former Washington state congressman, and Brooklyn congressman Anthony Weiner.

Philip Weiss described the debate for Mondoweiss:

The conversation was deftly moderated by Roger Cohen of the New York Times, who was not afraid to call Weiner out when the congressman said there are no Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, or when he said that all the settlements are in Israel.

The chief response to the debate so far (besides the predictable at the National Review) has been shock at Anthony Weiner’s contempt for international law and Palestinian humanity.

A politician who has distinguished himself on healthcare reform and economic justice issues in the US, resorts to “It’s war, and war is hell” arguments when Baird, a clinical psychologist by training, describes the destruction of schools and innocent families and U.N. compounds by Israeli bombing, and the collective punishment of millions of people denied lentils, toothpaste, building materials, and the freedom to move beyond a territory less than the size of New York City.

Weiner’s obvious lack of information about the West Bank and Gaza was in sharp contrast to Baird’s informed passion over the issue. This wide gap between Weiner and Baird  illustrates why there is such a desperate need in this country for Egyptian American journalist Mona Eltahawy.

Eltahawy is a columnist based in New York who writes for Canada’s Toronto Star, Israel’s The Jerusalem Report and Denmark’s Politiken. Her opinion pieces have been published in The Washington Post and the International Herald Tribune.

Before moving to the U.S. in 2000, Eltahawy was a news reporter in the Middle East for many years, and worked in Cairo and Jerusalem as a Reuters correspondent. She has also reported for various media from Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and China.

Eltahawy was all over the media during the Egyptian uprising, on one occasion confronting Alan Dershowitz on CNN.

In an appearance with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Feb 1, Eltahawy talked about her conversation with Dershowitz, and about her effort to convince American media to stop calling the uprising in Egypt a “crisis”.  It was not a crisis, she pointed out. For Egyptians, it was an opportunity.

Watch the video of Mona Eltahawy and read the rest of the article>>

February 19, 2011   
US Vetoes Anti-Settlement Resolution 

The US has cast its first Obama UN veto, rejecting a Security Council resolution which would have condemned Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories "as an obstacle to peace",

The BBC reported that "all 14 other members of the Security Council backed the resolution, which had been endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation."

Palestinian teens sitting looking at Israeli settlement in West Bank

A top Fatah leader and former Palestinian intelligence official, Tawfik Tirawi, told the Palestinian newspaper Ma’an that the veto "amounted to 'blackmail". He said it exposed the true face of America as well as the extent to which its role in the Middle East peace process harmed Palestinian interests.

In Jerusalem, Ha'aretz provided the official Israeli response:

Israel said it was deeply grateful to the United States after it vetoed a United Nations resolution put forward by the Palestinian leadership condemning Israeli settlement activity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement,"Israel deeply appreciates the decision by President Obama to veto the Security Council Resolution".

Ambassador Susan Rice tried to explain the veto in her statement to the Security Council. She said that even though the US vetoed the resolution,

“[the US still rejects] in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region.

Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….While we agree with our fellow Council members—and indeed, with the wider world—about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.”

Phyllis Bennis reacted in AlterNet

Ambassador Susan Rice’s statement was astonishingly defensive – she went to great lengths to claim that the U.S. actually agrees with the resolution, that no one has done more than the U.S. to support a two-state solution, that the U.S. thinks settlement activity (not, we should note, the continuing existence of longstanding settlements now home to 500,000 illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem) violates Israel’s international commitments and more.

She tried to convince the world that “opposition to the resolution should not be misunderstood” to mean the U.S. supports settlement activity – only that the Obama administration “thinks it unwise” for the United Nations to try to stop that settlement activity.

She defined settlements as one of the “core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” not as a violation of international law and a host of specific UN resolutions. Therefore, she claimed, the issue was just one of the wrong venue for this debate.

We’re really against settlements, she pleaded, we just want to end them OUR way. On OUR terms. In OUR peace talks. And we all know how well that’s gone so far.

In a recent Huffington Post essay written before the veto, Ussama Makdisi, whose latest book is Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promises of US-Arab Relations: 1820-2001, asks: "Why is the US afraid of Arab democracy?"

It is a good question from the Rice University, Palestinian American scholar, who is a member of a distinguished family that includes Makdisi's uncle, Edward Said.

Makdisi was responding to the "outrage of the people" of the Middle East over what is "more than a revolution in Arab affairs".

Although [this outrage is] unquestionably first and foremost a revolt against unpopular and
illegitimate governments and the economic and political despair these governments have engendered, the mass protests are also a revolt against American foreign policy itself.

For decades, successive U.S. Republican and Democratic administrations have supported repressive Arab regimes in the name of the "stability" of a strategic, oil-rich region. This discourse of stability rationalized repression of Arab citizens.


October 23, 2010

I Must Write As Long As Israeli Settlers
Set Fire to Schools

A regular reader wrote recently and asked why I write so often about Palestine and Israel.

It was a good question and after some time for reflection I have an answer for him, inspired by a 1971 Johnny Cash song, "The Man in Black".

Cash had been asked why he always wore black. He explains that he did so because he identifies with the poor and the hungry, the prisoners, the lonely and the old, and those who are dying in a war in a distant land, at that time, the Vietnam War.

A few years later, after "The Man In Black" became a best-selling album, Cash said:

"With the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans', I wore it 'in mournin' for the lives that could have been.' ... Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don't see much reason to change my position ... The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we're not making many moves to make things right. There's still plenty of darkness to carry off."

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and our American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, are today providing "plenty of darkness". Together, these wars are today's Vietnam.

I am aware that I cannot sing, or write simple, powerful poetry as Cash has done. But I must write about the darkness that covers our nation as it continues its pursuit of empirical conquest at a tremendous cost at home, under the guise of "fighting terror". Indeed, "terrorism" is today's version of the Communism that Nixon and Kissinger used as their excuse for "defending" South Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.

Johnny Cash originally recorded "The Man in Black"  before a college audience in May, 1971, one year after the Kent State Massacre when, during a student protest against the invasion of Cambodia, Ohio national guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

In May, 1971, Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were still conducting a secret war, the details of which were only fully revealed on June 30, 1971, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could not prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times.

The story of how those Papers were finally published in the Times is vividly presented in the 2010 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America. The title refers to Daniel Ellsberg, the Harvard professor who courageously risked his freedom to deliver the Pentagon Papers to the Times.

Henry Kissinger, who once taught with Ellsburg at Harvard, bitterly described his former academic colleague as "the most dangerous man in America."

Ellsberg writes of his experiences in his 2002 book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

Along with the vast majority of the American public, Johnny Cash was unaware of the Vietnam war narrative which Nixon and Kissinger tried to keep secret, when he wrote the lyrics for  "The Man in Black". What he did know was that young Americans and many Vietnamese were dying needlessly.

As you watch and listen to the video you will hear the students explode in enthusiastic applause when Cash reaches the verse about "our young men" dying along with the hundreds of thousands of others who are dying because of this war.

Today, with wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West Bank Bank and Gaza our military forces, and our surrogate Israeli military forces, are involved in an overall war against what a previous American president misnamed as "the global war on terror".

This 2010 midterm election have essentially ignored the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are dying in distant lands because of our wars. Instead,  public attention is riveted on the craziness of the Tea Party candidates, some of whom may very well end up in the Congress.

The American public does not know about the Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian girls' school building near Nablus this past week. Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is a flashing light of warning to the American public, tells the story of the attack on the school:

Read the rest of the article at:

October 25, 2010

Israeli Propaganda Blames UNRWA for the Refugee Problem

The headline on a Miami Herald column began, "Time to Start Planning....".

A Florida newspaper with that headline? Surely, this story will be about finding a place to retire.

Not so fast. "Time to Start Planning . . ." had something else in mind. It was time to plan for RESETTLEMENT.

That sounded rather ominous. Had Sarah Palin's Death Panels become Resettlement Camps for Florida Old Folks living with the alligators deep in an Everglades swamp?

Turns out this column by Kenneth Bandler, Communications Director for the American Jewish Committee, is not about Florida retirement homes.

Bandler's column gives UNRWA--the United Nations Relief and Works Agency--instructions on what it must do next: Start planning for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees. He writes:

With Israeli-Palestinian talks aiming for a permanent peace agreement in a year, shouldn't UNRWA -- the United Nations Relief and Works Agency -- start planning to evolve from a refugee support agency to one devoted to resettlement? After all, the final status talks will need to resolve refugees along with borders, security, water and other issues to end the conflict.

Blander is not alone in attacking UNRWA in the pages of a major American newspaper. Two writers for the Philadelphia Daily News have been reading from the same script as Bandler.

Rex Brynen comments on the Daily News column on his personal blog, PRRN:

In an opinion piece today in the Philadelphia Daily News, Nicole Brackman and Asaf Romirowsky assert that illegal Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories (or, as they prefer to term it, “construction in Israeli towns in the West Bank”) isn’t the real obstacle to peace in the Middle East. No, the real obstacle is the refugee issue, which in turn is kept artificially alive by UNRWA.

The Daily News column begins:

UNRWA is the primary bureaucratic culprit responsible for prolonging and exacerbating the Palestinian refugee issue.

The Canadian government has announced that Canada would defund UNRWA following a report commissioned by the European Parliament documenting that Hamas terrorists have been chosen by the UNRWA labor union to actually administer its facilities, thereby becoming the first Western nation to begin withdrawing support for the agency.

The US would do well to follow that example and use our tax dollars to promote independent Palestinian organizations and private-sector growth.

If the current Palestinian leadership is truly concerned about changing the status of Palestinian society, it should work to remove all the obstacles that are preventing change and democratization. UNRWA - while on its face a progressive nongovernmental organization that provides needed services - is in fact itself obstructing progress in the peace negotiations.

UNRWA benefits as long as the refugee crisis can't be solved.

The picture above appeared on the web site, on February 4, 2010, The Palestinian schoolchildren in the picture are shown outside their Beit Lahia UNRWA school in in the northern Gaza Strip before the UNRWA center and several schools were destroyed by Israeli bombing during Israel's three-week invasion of Gaza in 2008-2009.

Geisweiller writes about the Canadian government and UNRWA, from a different perspective than the pro-Israeli version of the same story in the Daily News. Here is Geisweiller:

When the Conservative Canadian government announced it would no longer fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in January, the caretaker agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendents, many deplored how far we've strayed from the Canada of Lester B. Pearson, prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner—Canada the peacekeeping nation, the globally respected middle power.

Organizations critical of Israel, or supportive of Palestinian rights, such as the Canadian Arab Federation, the Christian group Kairos, the Parliament's Rights and Democracy, and UNRWA, have all felt the sting of an unabashedly pro-Israel Canadian government.

Kenneth Blander's Miami Herald column on UNRWA includes some harsh criticism of the agency's "exclusivity" and, of course, the usual distortion of Israel's "innocence" in the creation of the refugee "problem". Here is Blander:

read the rest of the article: