Category Archives: Israel

Colin Powell in Leaked Email Says Israel Has 200 Nukes

Jack Moore reports for Newsweek:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin PowellFormer U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell alleged that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of 200 warheads, a thorny subject that Israel never comments on, according to an email that Russian hackers leaked earlier this week.

Israel is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, refusing to speak about its rumored nuclear arsenal and never even going as far as to admit that it has possession of nuclear weapons.

But Powell may have given away the size of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Speaking to Democratic party donor Jeffrey Leeds about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the U.S. Congress focusing on the Iranian nuclear deal, he wrote that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon if it was able to develop one. He then stated that Israel has hundreds of nukes and Washington thousands, suggesting that such firepower would deter any Iranian action.

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Why Celtic Fans Flew the Flag for Palestine

Kevin McKenna writes for The Guardian:

[…] During the fascist regime of General Franco in Spain, to display the Catalan flag was to risk death or imprisonment. The only place where the Catalans could safely fly these fags was Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium. Barcelona FC now embodies Catalan identity and pride. Wherever there is oppression in the world, football, by its very nature, can provide a vehicle for expressing pride in a national cause. It was never only ever about football.

Celtic supporters know this too. Their club was founded in 1887 and played its first game in 1888 to raise funds for the relief of the poor Irish who had gathered in the East End of Glasgow. When they arrived in the city they initially faced resentment, discrimination and squalor. Every time Celtic won a game their suffering was eased a little.

In Scotland, those days are long departed. In Palestine, though, another oppressed people is suffering. Perhaps now because of a simple act of solidarity and generosity, they will know that they don’t suffer alone.

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63% of casualties in 2014 Gaza War were civilians, says B’Tselem report

Eliyahu Kamisher reports for the Jerusalem Post:

Two years after Operations Protective Edge, a B’Tselem report said 1,394, or 63 percent, of the 2,202 Palestinians killed by the IDF did not take part in the conflict.

This is lower than the figure cited by the United Nations and other NGOs of 70% but is still higher than Israeli intelligence estimates of 50%. Sixty-six soldiers and seven civilians were killed on the Israeli side.

The data gathered by B’Tselem, and released on Wednesday, was collected from field researchers in Gaza, cross-referenced with publicly available data.

This report is the first time B’Tselem has collected data on the war. Prior to this all casualty numbers were based on outside figures.

According to B’Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli the purpose of the report is to inform the Israeli public of the war’s high death toll.

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Israeli Parliament Passes Law Enabling Ouster of Legislators

Isabel Kershner reports for The New York Times:

The Israeli Parliament passed contentious legislation early Wednesday that enables the suspension or ouster of members accused of racial incitement or of supporting armed struggle against Israel. Critics said it was intended to target Arab legislators and harmed democratic principles like freedom of expression.

The legislation, which was approved by a vote of 62 to 47, with several members absent, after a stormy debate, requires the support of 90 out of the Parliament’s 120 lawmakers to oust someone. Setting such a process in motion requires the votes of 70 lawmakers, including 10 from the opposition, which makes the process difficult to carry out. Lawmakers voted out of Parliament would be able to appeal to the Supreme Court.

But the law has added to the sense that Israel’s conservative government is pushing populist and questionable measures that some opposition politicians have called discriminatory and even indicative of “budding fascism.”

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EU eyes Israeli technologies for spotting militants online

Dan Williams reports for Reuters:

European powers are trying to develop better means for pre-emptively spotting “lone-wolf” militants from their online activities and are looking to Israeli-developed technologies, a senior EU security official said on Tuesday.

Last week’s truck rampage in France and Monday’s axe attack aboard a train in Germany have raised European concern about self-radicalized assailants who have little or no communications with militant groups that could be intercepted by spy agencies.

“How do you capture some signs of someone who has no contact with any organization, is just inspired and started expressing some kind of allegiance? I don’t know. It’s a challenge,” EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told Reuters on the sidelines of a intelligence conference in Tel Aviv.

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Israel Targeting Palestinian Protesters on Facebook

Alex Kane reports for The Intercept:

[…] Facebook has not changed the fundamental contours of the conflict, but it has accelerated it. A demonstration against the Israeli occupation can be organized in a matter of hours, while the monitoring of Palestinians is made easier by the large digital footprint they leave on their laptops and mobile phones.

Israeli officials have blamed social media for inciting a wave of violent attacks by Palestinians that began in October 2015. Since then, Israeli security forces have arrested about 400 Palestinians for social media activity, according to Palestinian rights groups Addameer and Adalah. Most of the arrests have been for postings on Facebook, a popular network among Palestinians.

In that year alone, the Israeli attorney general opened 155 investigations into alleged social media incitement, a marked increase from previous years, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (although the law on social media incitement applies to all citizens and residents, the vast majority of cases have been directed at Arabs in Israel).

The arrests of Palestinians for Facebook posts open a window into the practices of Israel’s surveillance state and reveal social media’s darker side. What was once seen as a weapon of the weak has turned into the perfect place to ferret out potential resistance.

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Why Elie Wiesel Never Caught on in Israel

Judy Maltz writes for Haaretz:

Elie Wiesel, who died this weekend at age 87, may have been the most famous Holocaust survivor in the world. But, ironically, that never gained him a huge following in Israel.

His best-known book “Night,” an account of his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald – required reading at high schools around the United States – has never been incorporated into the Israeli school curriculum.

“We have a few copies in our library,” says Zeev Degani, the principal of Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya, the oldest Hebrew high school in the country. “But I would assume that the number of students who’ve actually read it is close to zero.”

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Elie Wiesel is Dead

Marc H. Ellis writes for Mondoweiss:

Elie Wiesel (Photo: AP/Bebeto Matthews)Elie Wiesel is dead. The Holocaust world I cut my teeth on is coming to an end.

Is the world that cut its teeth on the Holocaust also coming to an end?

In their life and death, iconic figure like Elie Wiesel move us in different ways. The day after Wiesel’s death, it is time to take stock. In which direction are we heading?

I have been reading and writing about Wiesel for more than forty years. Though I have my arguments with Wiesel and other theologians and philosophers of the Holocaust, I never dismissed them as fakes or fools as some have. I will not do so today.

Those who explored the depths of the Holocaust were a great and deeply flawed generation. With reference to their hawkish stands on Israel, Wiesel and other Holocaust commentators simply did not understand what they had become involved in. If and when they understood, it was too late.

In the end, Wiesel was deeply corrupted by his use of the Holocaust he suffered so deeply from. Once an insurgent in Jewish life by insisting on the overriding importance of the Holocaust, in his later years, Wiesel became a cheerleader for an apartheid Israel and American military sanctions and intervention in the Middle East, all revolving around his support for Israel.

Wiesel became a caricature of himself. He trivialized the Holocaust he wrote so movingly about.

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Israel’s Army Goes to War With Its Politicians

Ronen Bergman reports for The New York Times:

In most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.

The prime minister sees the defense establishment as a competitor to his authority and an opponent of his goals. Putting Mr. Lieberman, an impulsive and reckless extremist, in charge of the military is a clear signal that the generals’ and the intelligence chiefs’ opposition will no longer be tolerated. Mr. Lieberman is known for ruthlessly quashing people who hold opposing views.

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Former Officials See ‘Seeds of Fascism’ in New Israeli Govt

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Every new government in Israel represents a rightward shift in recent years. After the dissolution of Ehud Olmert’s centrist government 2009, Israel saw a right-far-right coalition installed, replaced in 2013 by a simply far-right coalition. The new coalition is moving the bar even farther right.

Things have gotten so bad within Israel that one normally hawkish top military affairs commentator on Israel’s Channel 2 news urged his children to leave the country, saying he is genuinely afraid for their future, while former defense minister Ehud Barak warned the new government meant Israel is “infected by the seeds of fascism.”

Other former officials are lining up almost uniformly to warn that the ouster of the comparatively moderate Moshe Ya’alon in favor of ultra-hawk Avigdor Lieberman marks an historic shift in Israeli politics, and one that’s likely to have a particularly damaging impact.

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Outgoing Defense Minister Ya’alon: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel

Jonathan Lis reports for Haaretz:

Extremist elements have taken over the country, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Friday morning as he explained his resignation from political life.

“This morning I told the prime minister that I’m resigning from the government and the Knesset and taking a break from political life,” Ya’alon said at the IDF’s military quarters in Tel Aviv. “I have no intention of leaving the public and political life, and in the future will return to compete for the national leadership of Israel.”

“I saw before me the safety of Israel and its citizens in all of my acts and decisions, and the good of the country above all other considerations. This was so in security and professionals matters and in matters of values and rule of the law.”

Earlier on Friday, Ya’alon wrote on Facebook that “I notified the prime minister this morning that following his conduct in the latest developments and in view of the lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government and the Knesset and taking time out from political life.”

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Netanyahu Is Using Lieberman to Break Israel’s Oldest Elite: The Military

Anshel Pfeffer writes for Haaretz:

No one on the Israeli political scene knows Benjamin Netanyahu better than Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu knows that – and that’s exactly why he would have preferred Isaac Herzog as his new coalition partner.

Ultimately, however, Netanyahu opted to go with Lieberman after reaching the conclusion that Herzog can barely promise to deliver his own vote in the Knesset and no longer commands the loyalty or obedience of Zionist Union lawmakers. The chairman of the Labor Party has gone – in the space of 14 months – from the great hope, the man who could finally topple Netanyahu, to a leader without a party.

And that leaves Netanyahu with Lieberman – the only man who can offer him a broader, more secure coalition.

Not that Netanyahu trusts Lieberman, of course. Worse still, he fears him. But as far as their interests coincide, he knows that, unlike Herzog, Lieberman can deliver what he promises.

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Why a British Fight Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Matters to the Rest of Us

Robert Mackey writes for The Intercept:

At first glance, the heated argument two members of the British Labour Party conducted in front of reporters’ iPhones on Thursday, sparked by accusations that one of their colleagues posted anti-Semitic comments on Facebook, seems like a story of interest mainly to political junkies in London.

When the debate is unpacked, however, it becomes clear that what’s at stake is something much broader: whether critics of Israel, who question its government’s policies or its right to exist as a Jewish state, are engaged in a form of coded anti-Semitism. That matters because attempts to disqualify all critics of Israel as racists are widespread across the globe.

In the United States, for instance, supporters of a movement to boycott Israel until it grants Palestinians full civil rights have recently been condemned as anti-Semites by Hillary Clinton; last month, the University of California, adopted a policy on discrimination that implies anti-Semitism is behind opposition to Zionism, the political ideology asserting that the Jewish people have a right to a nation-state in historic Palestine.

But how did this issue come to dominate the political debate in Britain, a week before important local elections?

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US Ready to Offer Israel Largest Aid Package in History

Raoul Wootliff reports for The Times of Israel:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)A White House official indicated on Monday that the Obama administration was ready to offer Israel the largest military aid package offered to any country over the course of US history.

Amid a push by a large majority of senators to increase foreign aid to Israel, a White House official told Reuters: “We are prepared to sign an MOU [memorandum of understanding] with Israel that would constitute the largest single pledge of military assistance to any country in US history.”

The official said discussions with Israel were ongoing on a memorandum of understanding that would increase US military aid to Israel for the next 10 years, due to be renewed before 2018.

More than 80 of the 100 sitting US senators signed a letter Monday calling on President Barack Obama to increase aid to Israel and immediately sign an agreement on a new defense package. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is not one of the 83 signatories.

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Gideon Levy: Americans “Are Supporting the First Signs of Fascism in Israel”

Journalist and author Max Blumenthal talks to Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist and one-time spokesman for former Israeli President Shimon Peres, about how the Israeli occupation has poisoned not only the region but much of the world, and how BDS might be the last standing hope to dismantle it. (The Real News)

Hillary Clinton goes full Neocon at AIPAC, Demonizes Iran, Palestinians

Juan Cole writes for Informed Comment:

I once heard Hillary Clinton give her AIPAC speech at a university. It doesn’t change much, just as US policy toward the Mideast doesn’t change much. She was still a senator then. Much of the audience was Middle East experts, who could barely keep themselves from gagging.

Clinton used her speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, the gathering of some of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, to lambaste Donald Trump for saying he’d try to be neutral in heading up negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Donald Trump should be lambasted. He is wrong on everything most of every day. But, like a clock, he is right twice a day and this a point on which he is correct. The US cannot be an honest broker in the Mideast conflict if it is more Israeli than the Israelis, which it typically is. Palestinian negotiators over the years complained that they’d get an Israeli proposal, then go to the US to tweak it, and get back the same proposal from Dennis Ross or some other American partisan of Israel who had been put in a position to shape negotiations on the American side.

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At AIPAC, Hillary Vows to Uphold Israel’s Military Dominance: Interview with Larry Wilkerson

Sharmini Peries talks to Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, about Hilary Clinton’s speech on AIPAC which he sees as alarming. (The Real News)

The Contrived Iran Threat

Philip Giraldi writes for The Unz Review:

Rev GuardsThe Israeli Minister of Defense is now telling anyone who is willing to listen that the Iranian government is building an “international terror network that includes sleeper cells that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives to be ready to strike on command in places including Europe and the U.S.” Moshe Yaalon elaborated that Iran intends to destabilize the entire Middle East as well as other parts of the world and is “training, funding and arming ‘emissaries’ to spread a revolution,” all emanating from a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.

These preposterous claims come on top of spurious assertions that Iran was building a nuclear weapon, repeated assiduously by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his various administrations over the course of twenty years. As it turns out, Iran was not building a nuke and much of the information used to bolster the argument being made turned out to be fabricated by the Israelis themselves, which says something for their credibility.

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Prominent American Professor Proposes That Israel “Flatten Beirut”

Ben Norton reports for Salon:

(A screenshot of the Haaretz headline, which was later changed)A prominent American scholar who teaches international relations at George Washington University has publicly proposed that Israel “flatten Beirut” — a city with around 1 million people — in order to destroy the missiles of Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.

Professor Amitai Etzioni — who has taught at a variety of prestigious U.S. universities, including Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley, and who served as a senior advisor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration — made this proposal in an op-ed in Haaretz, the leading English-language Israeli newspaper, known as “The New York Times of Israel.” Haaretz represents the liberal wing of Israel’s increasingly far-right politics.

Etzioni’s op-ed was first published on Feb. 15 with the headline “Can Israel Obliterate Hezbollah’s Growing Missile Threat Without Massive Civilian Casualties?” (the answer he suggests in response to this question is “likely no”).

“Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah’s Missiles?” was the next, much more blunt title, chosen sometime on or before Feb. 16.

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New Film Reveals History and Consequences of Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land: Interview with Shimon Dotan

Amy Goodman talks to Shimon Dotan, an award winning filmmaker and director of a new film, The Settlers, which has just had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. (Democracy Now!)

Genocide Scholar Blasts Israel’s ‘Racist’ Teaching of the Holocaust

Ofer Aderet reports for Haaretz:

A memorial to the murdered European Sinti and Roma who were persecuted as 'Gypsies,' designed by Dani Karavan , in Berlin, 2012.The cover of the new book by historian and genocide scholar Prof. Yair Auron features a drawing of five different-colored patches: red for political prisoners; black for asocial and work-shy prisoners; pink for homosexuals; brown for Gypsies; and purple for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Only one color is missing – the yellow patch for Jews. The book’s title, “The Non-Jewish Victims of the Nazi Regime,” explains why.

Auron, 70, professor emeritus at the Open University, specializes in genocide studies and has devoted the past few decades to a politically charged and sensitive issue: the attempt to introduce into the Israeli education system a recognition of the suffering of other peoples who were decimated, both in the Holocaust and other historical circumstances.

His thesis is clear: Israel prefers to avoid, repress and minimize the suffering of other peoples in the Holocaust and other circumstances, to perpetuate victimization and isolationism.

“It must be asked if, in Israel in 2016, instead of also shaping Holocaust commemoration through humanist and democratic values, it is unknowingly – and, perhaps for many, knowingly – fostering racism and xenophobia,” Auron told Haaretz in an interview marking the book’s publication. “Ignoring the non-Jewish victims is perhaps the most concrete manifestation of this trend,” he added.

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Ex-Israeli PM Ehud Olmert Sentenced in Bribery Scandal But Remains Popular: Interview with Shir Hever

Jessica Desvarieux talks to Shir Hever, an economist from the Alternative Research Center. Hever explains why the majority of Israeli society remain in strong support of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert despite his being sentenced to 18 months in jail for bribery. (The Real News)

Israel Requesting Over $5 Billion in US Military Aid

IMEMC News reports:

The Israeli government has made an initial request for its annual U.S. defense package to increase by as much as $5 billion when its current aid package, worth an average $3 billion a year, expires in 2017, U.S. congressional sources said, this last Wednesday.

PNN reports that, according to Reuters, Israel wants $5 billion per year in military aid for 10 years, for a total of $50 billion. The US congress spokesman stated that Israel has been signalling that it wants more money to “counter threats it says will arise as a result of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel’s government has staunchly opposed”.

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Pentagon Chief: Gulf countries don’t need billions of dollars in weapons U.S. sells them each year

Jeffrey Goldberg reports for The Atlantic:

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter had reassuring words for Israel when I interviewed him last week in his office at the Pentagon, but he also had blunt criticism of other American allies in the Middle East: the Arab Gulf states, who, he argued, sometimes appear unwilling to effectively engage their enemies. Carter suggested that these states—the members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Egypt as well—would rather build show-horse air forces than commit to the dangerous work of countering ISIS and Iran, the main bogeymen of moderate Arab states.

“If you look at where the Iranians are able to wield influence, they are in the game, on the ground,” Carter said, referring to Iranian military activities in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen. “We don’t like it that they’re in the game on the ground, but they are in the game. There is a sense that some of the Gulf states are up there at 30,000 feet,” more interested in acquiring advanced fighter jets than in building—and deploying—special-operations forces.

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Israel’s Weapons of Influence: Interview with Jeff Halper

Afshin Rattansi talks to Jeff Halper, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the author of a new book: War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification. Halper gets into how Israel uses its military might to influence some of the most powerful countries in the world and how Britain helped lay the legal framework for the demolishment of homes in Palestine. (Going Underground)

Pilger on Palestine in 2014: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger wrote in September 2014:

C2u.jpg“There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.

When Nelson Mandela called the struggle of Palestine “the greatest moral issue of our time”, he spoke on behalf of true civilisation, not that which empires invent. In Latin America, the governments of Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru and Ecuador have made their stand on Gaza. Each of these countries has known its own dark silence when immunity for mass murder was sponsored by the same godfather in Washington that answered the cries of children in Gaza with more ammunition to kill them.

Unlike Netanyahu and his killers, Washington’s pet fascists in Latin America didn’t concern themselves with moral window dressing. They simply murdered, and left the bodies on rubbish dumps. For Zionism, the goal is the same: to dispossess and ultimately destroy an entire human society: a truth that 225 Holocaust survivors and their descendants have compared with the genesis of genocide.

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UN: Gaza could be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020 if trends continue

Cara Anna reports for the Associated Press:

A new United Nations report says Gaza could be “uninhabitable” in less than five years if current economic trends continue.

The report released Tuesday by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development points to the eight years of economic blockade of Gaza as well as the three wars between Israel and the Palestinians there over the past six years.

Last year’s war displaced half a million people and left parts of Gaza destroyed.

The war “has effectively eliminated what was left of the middle class, sending almost all of the population into destitution and dependence on international humanitarian aid,” the new report says.

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Iraq: “A War Crime, Pure and Simple”

Dahr Jamail writes for Truthout:

A dozen years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, that country, now effectively another Middle East failed state, remains a bloody, chaotic symbol of the failed US imperial project.

Margaret Griffis, a journalist who has been covering casualty numbers in Iraq since 2006 for Antiwar.com, has published these recent headlines that give one an idea of how life is in today’s Iraq:

“Mass Executions Terrorize Mosul; 141 Killed in Iraq”; “132 Killed across Iraq as Airstrikes Continue”; “At Least 4,693 Killed across Iraq in July”; “154 Killed in Iraq, including Dozens of Displaced Children” and “Mass Grave Unearthed in Mosul; 194 Killed across Iraq”.

Those are only the articles published by Griffis since July 30. The casualties are acute and ongoing, yet most people in the US, the very country that generated this hellish situation, are willfully ignorant of the situation caused by their government.

Truthout reached out to three expert analysts who provided their perspective on why the war was waged, what the goal of the occupation has been, and which proposed solutions are the most promising.

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Gareth Porter on the Iran Deal: ‘Media Have Been Applying a False Narrative to the Entire Issue’

Gareth Porter was interviewed recently about the Iran deal on FAIR’s CounterSpin:

Gareth Porter: Well, of course there is a great deal that the media are missing about the background of this, because of the fact that the media have been basically applying a false narrative to the entire issue of the Iran nuclear program for so long, and that means that they are missing essentially the entire true history of the program.

In my focus on one particular issue, I don’t mean to suggest that this is by any means the only problem with the news media interpretation or take on the Iran nuclear deal. But what I thought was particularly appropriate at this point is to look back and see, how did the US come to the point where it was ready to negotiate a deal on the nuclear program with Iran? And the answer to that is certainly not something that you will learn from reading the news media accounts.

I’ve been following this for some years now, and what struck me about the relevant history here is that, in fact, if you go back to the 1990s, the people within Iran who are part of this very strong, the most powerful political faction in the country, really, the Rafsanjani faction–named after the former President Rafsanjani, who wanted to integrate Iran into the global capitalist economy, and realized that their only hope for doing that was to reach some kind of an agreement with the United States–really began in the late 1980s and early 1990s to engage the United States diplomatically and politically. And what happened was that the United States was simply not interested, either under the George H.W. Bush administration or the Clinton administration, and certainly not the George W. Bush administration.

Why did the United States not take any interest in diplomatic engagement with Iran? Because, at that point, Iran was simply too weak, and the disparity in power with the United States was simply too great. The United States government did not see any compelling strategic reason to have a negotiating process with Iran.

In my book, I point out quite precisely in the very early 1990s, when the Bush administration at that time basically shifted a policy that had been planned to be carried out by the White House to reciprocate a gesture by Rafsanjani in helping to release US hostages in Lebanon, by essentially making some public concession or gesture to Iran, and instead of doing that, in the wake of the victory over Iraq, the administration decided that they didn’t really need Iran at all in their plans for the Middle East, and simply embarked on a new period of hostility toward Iran. So that was the beginning of this 25-year period, essentially, of the US being much less interested in reaching agreement with Iran than Iran was.

That’s been misunderstood, because Iran has not simply said, United States, we’ll do whatever you want to have an agreement with you. They wanted the United States to lift the sanctions. And that was the primary issue for many years, and the United States wasn’t willing to do that. So it was not really until the second Obama administration that the United States really deigned to enter into a fundamental negotiating process with Iran. Up until that time, the posture of the United States was: We will put pressure on Iran to force it to give up  its nuclear program. Or, we’re really not interested in doing that; we will just carry out regime change, as was the case with the Bush administration.

What I’m really talking about here is the impact of the vast disparity in power between the United States and Iran, and how that has shaped the history of the whole question of the diplomatic engagement between the two countries.’

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW…

Anti-Iran Deal AIPAC Spin-off Relies on Iranian Ex-Terrorist Group

Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib writes for LobeLog:

CFNFI NCRI c2 640When the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) declared war on the nuclear accord between Iran and world powers signed last week in Vienna, it put its money where its mouth is. AIPAC, Washington’s most influential pro-Israel lobby reportedly plans on spending $20 million over the next two months urging Congress to vote against the deal. But its efforts at a full frontal attack on the accord, inked by the P5+1 (the US, China, France, Russia, the UK, and Germany) and Iran is leading to some politically awkward alliances.

As part of its efforts to kill the deal with a congressional vote, AIPAC launched a 501c4 advocacy group called Citizens For A Nuclear Free Iran. The group, according to The New York Times, was “formed with the sole mission of educating the public ‘about the dangers of the proposed Iran deal,’” said spokesman Patrick Dorton. The Times reported that the $20 million budget would go to ad buys in as many as 40 states as well as other advocacy.

Now that the campaign is taking shape, the AIPAC spin-off appears to be relying on a typical, if troubling, ally of American groups and individuals opposed to diplomacy with Iran. Namely, two items on the website of Citizens for a Nuclear Iran, one of which was later removed, featured an exiled Iranian opposition group called the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

The MEK makes a cameo appearance in the television ad crafted by Citizens For a Nuclear Free Iran, the well-financed AIPAC spin-off, as well as on a now-removed news items on the group’s “Press Room” webpage—indicating that Nuclear Free Iran recognized a PR misstep by promoting the group.’

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