Sunday, January 6, 2008

Israel's false friends,1,7071372.story?coll=la-headlines-suncomment&ctrack=1&cset=true

Moderator: If Israeli population can press hard with their government to adopt a justness posture in dealing with the Palestinians, Americans or any one in the world, their security will become sustainable. Right now, they are constantly on the mercy of the men and women of no-conscience in the US Senate and the house.

Israel's false friends
U.S. presidential candidates aren't doing the Jewish state any favors by offering unconditional support.
By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

January 6, 2008

Once again, as the presidential campaign season gets underway, the leading candidates are going to enormous lengths to demonstrate their devotion to the state of Israel and their steadfast commitment to its "special relationship" with the United States.

Each of the main contenders emphatically favors giving Israel extraordinary material and diplomatic support -- continuing the more than $3 billion in foreign aid each year to a country whose per capita income is now 29th in the world. They also believe that this aid should be given unconditionally. None of them criticizes Israel's conduct, even when its actions threaten U.S. interests, are at odds with American values or even when they are harmful to Israel itself. In short, the candidates believe that the U.S. should support Israel no matter what it does.

Such pandering is hardly surprising, because contenders for high office routinely court special interest groups, and Israel's staunchest supporters -- the Israel lobby, as we have termed it -- expect it. Politicians do not want to offend Jewish Americans or "Christian Zionists," two groups that are deeply engaged in the political process. Candidates fear, with some justification, that even well-intentioned criticism of Israel's policies may lead these groups to turn against them and back their opponents instead.

If this happened, trouble would arise on many fronts. Israel's friends in the media would take aim at the candidate, and campaign contributions from pro-Israel individuals and political action committees would go elsewhere. Moreover, most Jewish voters live in states with many electoral votes, which increases their weight in close elections (remember Florida in 2000?), and a candidate seen as insufficiently committed to Israel would lose some of their support. And no Republican would want to alienate the pro-Israel subset of the Christian evangelical movement, which is a significant part of the GOP base.

Indeed, even suggesting that the U.S. adopt a more impartial stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can get a candidate into serious trouble. When Howard Dean proposed during the 2004 campaign that the United States take a more "evenhanded" role in the peace process, he was severely criticized by prominent Democrats, and a rival for the nomination, Sen. Joe Lieberman, accused him of "selling Israel down the river" and said Dean's comments were "irresponsible."

Word quickly spread in the American Jewish community that Dean was hostile to Israel, even though his campaign co-chair was a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Dean had been strongly pro-Israel throughout his career. The candidates in the 2008 election surely want to avoid Dean's fate, so they are all trying to prove that they are Israel's best friend.

These candidates, however, are no friends of Israel. They are facilitating its pursuit of self-destructive policies that no true friend would favor.

The key issue here is the future of Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel conquered in 1967 and still controls. Israel faces a stark choice regarding these territories, which are home to roughly 3.8 million Palestinians. It can opt for a two-state solution, turning over almost all of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestinians and allowing them to create a viable state on those lands in return for a comprehensive peace agreement designed to allow Israel to live securely within its pre-1967 borders (with some minor modifications). Or it can retain control of the territories it occupies or surrounds, building more settlements and bypass roads and confining the Palestinians to a handful of impoverished enclaves in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel would control the borders around those enclaves and the air above them, thus severely restricting the Palestinians' freedom of movement.

But if Israel chooses this second option, it will lead to an apartheid state. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said as much when he recently proclaimed that if "the two-state solution collapses," Israel will "face a South African-style struggle." He went so far as to argue that "as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished." Similarly, Israel's deputy prime minister, Haim Ramon, said earlier this month that "the occupation is a threat to the existence of the state of Israel." Other Israelis, as well as Jimmy Carter and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have warned that continuing the occupation will turn Israel into an apartheid state. Nevertheless, Israel continues to expand its settlements on the West Bank while the plight of the Palestinians worsens.

Given this grim situation, one would expect the presidential candidates, who claim to care deeply about Israel, to be sounding the alarm and energetically championing a two-state solution. One would expect them to have encouraged President Bush to put significant pressure on both the Israelis and the Palestinians at the recent Annapolis conference and to keep the pressure on when he visits the region this week. As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently observed, settling this conflict is also in America's interest, not to mention the Palestinians'.

One would certainly expect Hillary Clinton to be leading the charge here. After all, she wisely and bravely called for establishing a Palestinian state "that is on the same footing as other states" in 1998, when it was still politically incorrect to use the words "Palestinian state" openly. Moreover, her husband not only championed a two-state solution as president but he laid out the famous "Clinton parameters" in December 2000, which outline the only realistic deal for ending the conflict.

But what is Clinton saying now that she is a candidate? She said hardly anything about pushing the peace process forward at Annapolis, and remained silent when Rice criticized Israel's subsequent announcement that it planned to build more than 300 new housing units in East Jerusalem. More important, both she and GOP aspirant Rudy Giuliani recently proclaimed that Jerusalem must remain undivided, a position that is at odds with the Clinton parameters and virtually guarantees that there will be no Palestinian state.

Sen. Clinton's behavior is hardly unusual among the candidates for president. Barack Obama, who expressed some sympathy for the Palestinians before he set his sights on the White House, now has little to say about their plight, and he too said little about what should have been done at Annapolis to facilitate peace. The other major contenders are ardent in their declarations of support for Israel, and none of them apparently sees a two-state solution as so urgent that they should press both sides to reach an agreement. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. national security advisor and now a senior advisor to Obama, noted, "The presidential candidates don't see any payoff in addressing the Israel-Palestinian issue." But they do see a significant political payoff in backing Israel to the hilt, even when it is pursuing a policy -- colonizing the West Bank -- that is morally and strategically bankrupt.

In short, the presidential candidates are no friends of Israel. They are like most U.S. politicians, who reflexively mouth pro-Israel platitudes while continuing to endorse and subsidize policies that are in fact harmful to the Jewish state. A genuine friend would tell Israel that it was acting foolishly, and would do whatever he or she could to get Israel to change its misguided behavior. And that will require challenging the special interest groups whose hard-line views have been obstacles to peace for many years.

As former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami argued in 2006, the American presidents who have made the greatest contribution to peace -- Carter and George H.W. Bush -- succeeded because they were "ready to confront Israel head-on and overlook the sensibilities of her friends in America." If the Democratic and Republican contenders were true friends of Israel, they would be warning it about the danger of becoming an apartheid state, just as Carter did.

Moreover, they would be calling for an end to the occupation and the creation of a viable Palestinian state. And they would be calling for the United States to act as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians so that Washington could pressure both sides to accept a solution based on the Clinton parameters. Implementing a final-status agreement will be difficult and take a number of years, but it is imperative that the two sides formally agree on the solution and then implement it in ways that protect each side.

But Israel's false friends cannot say any of these things, or even discuss the issue honestly. Why? Because they fear that speaking the truth would incur the wrath of the hard-liners who dominate the main organizations in the Israel lobby. So Israel will end up controlling Gaza and the West Bank for the foreseeable future, turning itself into an apartheid state in the process. And all of this will be done with the backing of its so-called friends, including the current presidential candidates. With friends like them, who needs enemies?

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. They are the authors of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," published last year by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If Americans Knew Israel

If Americans Knew
Palestinians, Israeli’s, and Americans Would be Free
Mohamed Khodr

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has”. –-Margaret Mead

“Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander”. --Holocaust Museum, Washington D.C.

“Her name was Itemad Ismail Abu Mo'ammar. Israeli soldiers had been beating her husband because he wasn't answering their questions. Foolishly or valiantly, how is one to say, the 35-year-old woman had interfered. She tried to explain that her husband was deaf, screamed at the soldiers that her husband couldn't hear them and attempted to stop them from hitting him. So they shot her. Several times…she didn’t die …after five hours an ambulance took her. She was pronounced dead; a few days before Ramadan…She left 11 children... All together, five Palestinians were killed that day…None of this was reported in most of America's news media, and so the American public never learned about a mother bleeding to death in front of her children, or young shepherds being blown to pieces. Apparently, it just wasn't newsworthy…..There was nothing on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NPR, Fox News”. -Alison Weir; “Just Another Mother Murdered, Counterpunch, October 6, 2006

But one American woman, Alison Weir, the author of the above narrative, did not let this young innocent Palestinian woman’s death go unreported. This courageous, dedicated, and compassionate journalist abandoned a successful career to become a voice for the voiceless Palestinians, a people who lost their land, continue to lose their lives, limbs, and property; a people imprisoned as refugees in concentration camps, who’ve lost all their freedom to a western imposed artificially created state—ISRAEL---a nation founded and established through the deliberate forceful expulsion and ethnic cleansing of an indigenous population, Christian and Muslim Palestinians. This Zionist entity, a “Jewish” only land is the world’s last colonial Apartheid state, a term many Israelis and Diaspora Jews use to describe Israel’s prejudicial discriminatory policies toward Israeli Arabs and occupied Palestinians.

Out of political, economic, military expediency, pandering and fear, the world has turned a blind eye to Israel’s brutal, and yes, evil treatment of millions of Palestinians, the world’s largest refugee population, scattered as refugees within their own land and in exile for 60 years. The primary supporter of this Zionist, Apartheid “Jewish” is our government, a government beholden to the power, money, and media intimidation of the Israel Lobby.

It’s not a coincidence that Pro-Israel Jewish Americans, like Eliot Abrams, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk, are usually appointed in charge of Middle East policy, especially the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Our media’s reporting on the Israeli Palestinian issue is incredulously biased regularly accentuating Israel’s alleged positives and eliminating its negatives. To our media, Israeli lives and psychological stress are worthy of countless front page stories while the lives of Israel’s victims, the Palestinians, are faceless, nameless, and unworthy of media reporting.

Is it any wonder that Americans are uninformed as to our “democratic” ally’s daily brutality against the Palestinians? Many American politicians, diplomats, academicians, and military officers have repeatedly written and spoken about the power and influence the Israel Lobby has over Congress and the White House easily manipulating our foreign policy to serve Israel’s interests, not America’s.

Yet, such patriots are seldom, if ever, invited to appear on television to present their argument and ask for an honest national debate on Israel’s role in our foreign policy. In fact, the great majority of “experts” who appear on television to discuss the MidEast are Pro-Israel pundits.

BUT, there is one voice, among others, that tirelessly works to inform Americans of our complicity on Israel’s injustice and brutality against the Palestinians. That humanitarian voice is Alison Weir’s.

"The news and truth are not the same thing”. --Walter Lippmann

Based on historical research and extensive travel through the Palestinian occupied territories Ms. Weir decided to dedicate her life to justice and freedom from occupation for the Palestinians.

Thus, this special American woman founded an organization, “If Americans Knew”, with one purpose—to tell the American people the truth about Palestinian suffering and to oppose and correct our media’s Pro Israel bias with the noble belief that if Americans knew the truth about Israel, its Lobby’s power and influence upon our government that ensures Israel annually receives billions of our tax dollars despite its being one of the world’s richest nations, our latest military weaponry used to attack Palestinian civilians, villages, and infrastructure, while providing political cover against any international criticism or condemnation of Israel’s contemptible brutality against Palestinians, then they would demand that our government stop all support for Israel until it ends its occupation and accepts the generous peaceful offer made by the Arab League since 1982 that entails peace, recognition of Israel, and full political, economic, and diplomatic relations in exchange for total withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands. However, peace is anathema to Israel, a Zionist entity with a lust for military expansionism and land annexation.

Today the world watches in silence as 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza are besieged and blocked from receiving life’s basic sustenance of food, water, medicines, electricity, and any financial help from anywhere in the world. Only Israel can commit such war crimes and yet be supported by the west in its claim that it’s the besieged victim fearing for its very existence. If this is the civilization, freedom, and democracy the west claims to be exporting to the Muslim world, Muslims have the absolute right to reject such generosity by any means necessary.

Given that our own government and media are the supporters, facilitators, and appeasers of Israel, right or wrong, Ms. Weir felt it was her duty as an American and human being to bring to light the enormous suffering of the Palestinians who daily lose their lives, limbs, and freedom to work, speak, pray, get an education, or travel. Israel at will has bombed Palestinian infrastructure, schools (even a school for the blind), hospitals, farms, demolishing homes, stealing drinking water to fill illegal settler’s swimming pools, uproot olive trees, surround villages and cities with concrete walls, barbed wires, and an Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice that snakes through the West Bank annexing more Palestinian land and cutting through the heart of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

People’s lives and death in the Holy Land are simply acceptable “collateral damage” to the west given its historical guilt over the Holocaust, a guilt that has killed western consciousness and compassion to the suffering of the Palestinians, a people innocent of the Holocaust.

While Israel’s deathly siege of Gaza is slowly extinguishing its life and livelihood, America, Europe, the U.N., and Arab world are hypocritically feigning a peace process that leads nowhere except allowing Israel more time to solidify its theft of Palestinian land and further expulsion of its inhabitants, including the possibility of expelling Israel’s Arab citizens. The world’s conscience, humanity, and outrage lies dormant at the entrance of Auschwitz. In time, even the Christian and Muslim faiths themselves will be ethnically cleansed from their Holy Land.

How can such a “democratic” nation live with its conscience knowing that its very existence meant the expulsion, murder, persecution, oppression, and occupation of another people? How can our nation support such inhumanity? How can the world be ultra-sensitive to Jewish concerns while in silence damn the lives of the Palestinians, today’s “Unpeople”, a termed coined by the British historian Mark Curtis to describe the unknown millions of British colonial victims around the world, the same colonialism that dispossessed Palestinians to resolve Europe’s “Jewish Problem?”. How can Arab and Muslim leaders surrender their lands, resources, and freedom of fellow Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land? Not even the wise men of today can enter Bethlehem without Jewish permission, the Romans of today.

Israel, America’s only “democratic ally”, has made killing Palestinian children an acceptable policy for its soldiers, a crime for which they’re never found guilty despite irrefutable evidence.

Chris Hedges, a former New York Times MidEast Bureau reporter, wrote a tragically moving article for Harper’s Magazine titled: “A Gaza Diary”, (Harper's Magazine, October 2001) in which he recounts the cold blooded murder of Palestinian children, often for sport.

"Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight ..., six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve.... Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered -- death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo -- but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.”

If Americans only knew that the root of Muslim animosity, shared by the majority of the world, toward our foreign policy is primarily due to our unbridled support of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people in direct defiance of international law and world opinion.

Many prominent American Jews formed the “Jewish Committee on the Middle East” (JCOME) to oppose Israel’s occupation and oppression of millions of Palestinians as well as America’s pandering support of Israel’s policies, especially by Congress that Out-Israel’s Israel.

JCOME published an Ad in “The Nation” on February 3, 1988, a part of which is quoted below.

“How tragic that in our own time the very state established by Jews in the aftermath of this evil (Holocaust) has become a place where racialism, religious discrimination, militarism and injustice prevail; and that Israel itself has become a pariah state within the world community. Events taking place today are all too reminiscent of the pogroms from which our own forefathers fled two and three generations ago -- but this time those in authority are Jews and the victims are Moslems and Christian Palestinians”.

The famed British historian Arnold Toynbee captured such immoral bias when he said:

"Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims."

Ms. Weir’s devotion to truth and accurate media reporting on the Israeli Palestinian conflict has subjected her, like others around the globe, to death threats and intimidation. Pro-Israel groups and individuals have used intimidation, boycotts, and character assassinations to silence those who dare to speak out against Israel’s brutal policies, people such as President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Nelson Mandela, George Galloway, Clare Short, Uri Avnery, many U.N. officials, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Professors Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, and many others, simply for their opposition to Israel’s inhumanity toward the Palestinians. Many courageous Israeli journalists like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy, Ari Shavit, and others, also risk their lives to expose Israel’s brutal occupation.

Yet Alison Weir did not and will not surrender to fear and intimidation. In response to such tactics to silence her, she said: “We will not be silenced. I hope others will join us.”

For her tireless advocacy for truth and justice Ms. Weir was inducted into honorary membership of Phi Alpha Literary Society, founded in 1845 at Illinois College. The award cited her as a: “Courageous journalist-lecturer on behalf of human rights. The first woman to receive an honorary membership in Phi Alpha history.”

It’s the foreign media, especially in Israel, that has the integrity and courage to inform the world about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinians that has turned their lives into a hell whose fire is unseen by the majority of Israelis and westerners alike.

Here are some editorial and op-ed headlines from Israeli, British, and other newspapers that none of our mainstream media would dare print.

“The "summer rains" we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization”. --Gideon Levy, “A Black Flag”, Ha’aretz, July 3, 2006

“We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one - progressive, liberal - in Israel; and the other - cruel, injurious - in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an APARTHEID REGIME in the occupied territories immediately following their capture. That oppressive regime exists to this day” --Michael Ben Yair, “The War’s Seventh Days”, Haaretz March 3, 2002 (The author was Israel’s Attorney General from 1993-96)

“Livni (Israel’s Foreign Minister) Behind Closed Doors: Iran Nukes Pose Little Threat to Israel”;

“Jewish terrorist kills four on bus in Arab town” (Washington Post uses “settler”);”A Racist Jewish state”;; “Ethnic Cleansing Returns to Israel’s Agenda”; “Americans Tortured in Israeli Jails”; “Legitimization of Land Theft”; “Israeli Rabbi Calls on God to Annihilate Arabs”; “Hezbollah “did not use civilians as cover”; “Does Israel Want Peace”; “Christians In Jerusalem Want Jews to Stop Spitting on Them”; “ Pro-'surge' group is almost all Jewish”; “Apartheid in the Holy Land (Archbishop Desmund Tutu, Guardian, April 29, 2002); “Zionists Using Holocaust to Silence People, Chief Rabbi” (Moishe Arye of Austria);

“Poll: 50% in U.K. Think Jews More Loyal to Israel than Home Nation”;

“Civil Rights Group: Israel Has Reached New Heights of Racism”; “Colored Tags for Arabs’ Luggage at Ben Gurion Airport Discontinued”;”Defense Minister: Israel Now World’s Fourth Largest Weapons Exporter”

One of the most shocking examples of Pro-Israel bias in our government is the use of the official website of the State Department to advertise the movie “A Mighty Heart” that recounts the murder of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Never before has the federal government served as an ad agency for a private movie. Neither the White House, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress deemed this illegal or an abuse of precious tax dollars.

Compare this official endorsement and free advertisement of a movie on Daniel Pearl (along with enormous media exposure) to our government’s total silence and neglect of the murder of a young idealistic American woman, Rachel Corrie, by an Israeli bulldozer as she bravely tried to protect a Palestinian home from demolition. According to our government and media the murder of these two Americans is not “morally equivalent” since one was killed by Muslims and the other by Israel. The message is quite clear---Israel can get away with murder even if the victims are Americans, the very taxpayers who unknowingly support and protect it.

"Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you're stupid. Did you hear that? - stupid." --Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, 1965

From Alison Weir’s website: “”

“In a democracy, the ultimate responsibility for a nation’s actions rests with its citizens. The top rung of government – the entity with the ultimate power of governance – is the asserted will of the people. Therefore, in any democracy, it is essential that its citizens be fully and accurately informed.

It is our belief that when Americans know the facts on a subject, they will, in the final analysis, act in accordance with morality, justice, and the best interests of their nation, and of the world. With insufficient information, or distorted information, they may do the precise opposite”.

In today’s inflamed world where terror, death, and violence are the tools of diplomacy none of us can afford to remain silent. No greater regional conflict than the Israeli Palestinian issue has the capacity to engulf our nation in a worldwide conflict unless we all join the struggle for peace and justice for the Palestinians and Israelis. Our government out of ideology or fear has chosen to ignore this conflict and give Israel the means and protection to abuse the Palestinians at will in total defiance of international law.

Thank God for Alison Weir, a noble American woman, willing to risk her very life to bring to light the suffering and persecution of Palestinians, a suffering covered up our media. Israel, our ally, shamelessly glorified by our politicians for a few dollars and positive media exposure, has easy access to our treasury and weapons; even to our youth who die fighting its regional wars; offering America nothing in return but turmoil and hatred around the world.

“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing”. --Edmund Burke

Only when Palestinians are free can America be free from fear and terror, a fact our media and bought politicians will never admit.

I will let Alison Weir’s words; far more eloquent than mine, to spark our conscience and humanity to do what’s right.

“As Americans - and as human beings - we must oppose such dismissal of another's tragedy with every fiber of our being. We must speak out against the view that some people matter, and that others don't; that the "right" orphans are to be helped, the "wrong" ones ignored; that suffering within powerful populations is to be shared, while sufferers without power must weep alone and unseen”.

Alison and her organization, If Americans Knew, are most worthy of our financial support in her noble cause, a cause few of us are informed about or heretofore have been involved in. For whatever reason, if we can’t be personally involved in this cause for peace and justice, than at least let’s give those willing to speak on our behalf and on behalf of the oppressed the resources they sorely need to continue the good fight.

Please seize this opportunity and every opportunity to make a difference in our world. So far our foreign policy has been “Bombs R Us”, let it be “Peace R Us” this coming year.

God bless all who seek peace and justice for their fellow man and woman.

SOURCES: (Alison Weir’s website replete with articles, media studies, statistics, available DVD’s, books, brochures, and handouts: Alison is also available for speaking engagements) (A MUST READ account of Israeli soldiers deliberately killing innocent Palestinian children in cold blood, plus an excellent website) (State Department Website with Daniel Pearl Movie, an Interview meant to advertise the movie) (Please visit Rachel Corrie’s memorial website and read her emails from Palestine to her parents: an American woman killed by Israel, the very nation our taxes, weapons, and dozens of U.N. Vetoes support) (National Council of Churches) (Brief Overview of Israeli Palestinian Conflict written by U.S. Jews: a must read) (Jews for Justice in Palestine) (Israeli Peace Movement led by Uri Avnery) (History, Chronology, Photos of Israel’s Founding and Palestinian Refugees) (Israel Human Rights Organization in Occupied Palestine) (Americans for Peace Now) (Great Articles/Resources) (Not in My name: Jewish Voice)

Http:// (International Solidarity Movement) (Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel)