March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment
Edward S. Herman’s article published in Zmag on Israel-Palestine, the ‘right to self-defense’ and the double standards to which the crimes of official allies and enemies are held.
The U.S. political class and those of the EU and the new “hope” and “change” leader of the United States, Barack Obama, justify Israel’s attack on Gaza as based on its “right of self-defense.” There is, of course, the question of whether it is acceptable to defend yourself by a massive attack on a civilian population when this is not the only route to self defense—the Israelis could withdraw from an illegal occupation, they could stop starving the Gaza population, and they could abide by negotiated ceasefires (in this case, effectively and almost surely deliberately ended by their November 6 killing of six Gaza Palestinians). There is also the problem that the Israeli action violated the UN Charter. Article 51, the self-defense exception, requires immediate notification of the Security Council and, after any immediate attack is contained, giving over remedial action to the Security Council. There is also the problem that this “self-defense” operation was planned six months in advance and is widely believed in Israel to be linked to Israeli politics, with the two ruling parties seeking an improved standing—which they achieved—by military action.
March 31, 2009 § 2 Comments
March 31, 2009 § Leave a comment
Despite being the PA’s largest donor and Israel’s biggest trading partner, the EU’s policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are rarely subjected to the kind of critical analysis that the US attracts. Scant attention has been paid to attempts by the EU Council of Ministers to push through an upgrade of the current relationship with the Israeli state since mid-2008 – an upgrade which would grant Israel access to the Single Market and deepen ‘cooperation’ on key strategic issues. Though a planned EU-Israel summit has been put on hold as a result of Israel’s most recent war on Gaza, it is likely the talks will be resumed once the outrage over Israel’s actions subsides, all the more so given that the presidency over the EU presently rests in the hands of the Czech Republic – one of Israel’s staunchest European supporters. Pepijn van Houwelingen’s excellent article exposes the EU’s supposedly ‘impartial’ approach for what it is: “Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive.”
The carnage of Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza spurred great numbers of dismayed Europeans to participate in demonstrations against the war. In major cities such as Madrid, Brussels, Rome, Berlin and London, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations to make clear to their governments that what was happening was unacceptable. Yet, their objections to Israel’s massive use of deadly force were not reflected in the declarations and actions of their countries, as represented by Europe’s most significant political body, the European Union, which did not alter its policy of status quo relations with Israel.
March 30, 2009 § 3 Comments
The Obama Administration’s chance to engage in a Middle East peace. Seymour Hersh’s articles are always an event. In his latest he reveals among other things that Obama put pressure on Israel to stop its assault on Gaza for which Dick Cheney disparaged him as…well, ‘pro-Palestinian’. As usual, there is very little actual analysis in the report. Most of it is quotes from different high placed individuals, and Hersh very rarely alerts readers to the Israel lobby connections of most of his American interviewees. Over at MondoWeiss Jeff Blankfort observes that he is ‘no less sure than [he] was before that Israel does not want to negotiate a deal with , only give the appearance of wanting to do so for global PR reasons. One of the reasons Erdogan was so furious at Peres is that two or three days before the attack on , Olmert had been meeting with Erdogan and that a deal between Syria and Israel had, according to him, been agreed upon and Olmert never said a word to Erdogan about the forthcoming attack even though he obviously knew about it and knew that it would be a deal breaker which was Israel’s intent and I believe one of the reasons for the attack on Gaza at that time. Assad knows all this and that is why he is so publicly willing to re-open the negotiations and to put the onus on Israel when it starts backing off. Assad is not about to turn its back on either or Hamas whatever happens because his support for both groups is the source of his prestige in the Arab world beyond the palaces of the Sheikhs. As far as Obama’s pressure on Israel to pull back before the inauguration, I’m not buying that as anything but an effort by the Repubs to damage him in the eyes of the lobby. Israel obviously intended to get the job over with quickly and before he took office and that he has still not pressured Israel to open its borders or hold back arms shipments tells me he is still in thrall to the lobby in keeping with the Democratic Party tradition.’
When the Israelis’ controversial twenty-two-day military campaign in Gaza ended, on January 18th, it also seemed to end the promising peace talks between Israel and Syria. The two countries had been engaged for almost a year in negotiations through intermediaries in Istanbul. Many complicated technical matters had been resolved, and there were agreements in principle on the normalization of diplomatic relations. The consensus, as an ambassador now serving in Tel Aviv put it, was that the two sides had been “a lot closer than you might think.”
March 30, 2009 § 1 Comment
‘Patriotic, pious, peaceful and patient. Labour’s anti-terror strategy depends on mythical figures as elusive as WMD’, writes Gary Younge.
Somewhere out there is the Muslim that the British government seeks. Like all religious people he (the government is more likely to talk about Muslim women than to them) supports gay rights, racial equality, women’s rights, tolerance and parliamentary democracy. He abhors the murder of innocent civilians without qualification – unless they are in Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq. He wants to be treated as a regular British citizen – but not by the police, immigration or airport security. He wants the best for his children and if that means unemployment, racism and bad schools, then so be it.
He raises his daughters to be assertive: they can wear whatever they want so long as it’s not a headscarf. He believes in free speech and the right to cause offence but understands that he has neither the right to be offended nor to speak out. Whatever an extremist is, on any given day, he is not it.
March 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
The National: With nationalist demagogues rising to power in both India and Israel, Pankaj Mishra examines the parallel histories of violent partition, ethnic cleansing and militant patriotism that have led both countries into a moral wilderness.
Growing up in the 1970s in small town India, where nothing much happened, I was an avid reader of the foreign pages in the Indian newspapers. This is how I discovered one of my earliest heroes, the Israeli general Moshe Dayan. I remember being introduced to his legend by my grandfather, an upper-caste Hindu nationalist who was an admirer of militant patriots, especially those he supposed to be ranged against Muslims. He recounted keenly how Dayan had outmaneuvered numerically superior Arab armies in 1967, and how he had snatched the Golan Heights from Syria at the last minute.
When news of Dayan’s secret visit to India in 1978 as Israel’s foreign minister leaked and pictures of him appeared in the Indian newspapers, I was transfixed by his black eye-patch and mischievous grin. This image of vitality, courage and resourcefulness was confirmed by one of the first books that I read in English: Ninety Minutes at Entebbe, the account of a daring Israeli raid in Uganda to free hostages captured by Palestinian terrorists.
The Israelphilia that I shared with my grandfather was sharply at variance with India’s official foreign policy. Though the Hindu nationalists (then known as the Jana Sangh) clamored for close friendship between India and Israel – which they said were natural allies, apparently due to their implacable Muslim enemies – the government did not have diplomatic relations with Israel and supported the PLO, a fellow member of the Non-Aligned Movement.
March 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
The Canadian government has basically latched on its foreign policy to the United States and Israel. Around the world Canada is closing down consulates and offices (the latest one is a commercial/consulate in Milan, Italy) — there is no need for these if Canada merely aims to ape the US. At the United Nations, Canada’s votes are the same as those of the United States. It used to be only the Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, and Israel that voted with the US, but now Canada joins this august gang. The US tells Canada to “jump!”, the Canadian lackeys merely ask how high. The latest sordid demonstration of the Israelization of Canada is the recent declaration that Canada would bar the entry of George Galloway, the British MP who just returned from Gaza. Prof. Cook explains the significance of this.
Banning Galloway Mocks Canada’s Criminal Code
by William A. Cook
Canada’s border security officials and Jason Kenny, the immigration minister, banned George Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, from Canada where he was scheduled to speak in Toronto on the 30th. “A spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada said the decision … was based on a ‘number of factors’ in accordance with section 34 (1) of the country’s immigration act” (Guardian.co.uk 20 March 09). This action denies Galloway entrance as a foreign national on security grounds for one or more of six reasons including “engaging in terrorism,” and “engaging in acts of violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada.” The CJC, the Canadian Jewish Congress, supporting the decision, noted that it should be seen as an “issue of security law, not a dispute over free speech” (27 Mar. 2009, Montreal Gazette). Indeed, other Jewish organizations like the League of Human Rights of B’nai B’rith, not only supported the action but took some credit for the banning of Galloway.
March 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
Palestine and the South African precedent. Ronnie Kasrils spoke at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow on March 20, 2009 — an Eden Springs-free venue — at a lecture organized by Pulsemedia.org and Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
March 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
A new turn in US foreign policy? Justin Raimondo parses the signals.
America’s coming confrontation with Israel has been foreshadowed for quite some time by several under-the-radar signals, but the media has been too invested in the “special relationship” narrative to notice, at least until the Obama administration took the reins. In spite of the Bush team’s reputation for being the most pro-Israel White House ever, in the last year or so of the second term they had been moving steadily away from being Israel’s yes-man – for example, by tightening visa restrictions on the entry of Israelis into the US – and this trend culminated in the White House vetoing an Israeli strike on Iran. With the victory of the Israeli far-right in the recent Israeli elections, and the likelihood that the ultra-nationalist whack-job Avigdor Lieberman will serve in the new government as foreign minister, US-Israeli relations are headed for a crisis that will test the power of the Israeli lobby as it has never been tested before, and also provide an interesting lesson in the how and why of our foreign policy.
The recently reported Israeli air strike on Sudan, ostensibly conducted to intercept arms bound for the Palestinian territories, was carried out in January – just as pressure on the Bush administration to attack Iran was reaching a well-orchestrated crescendo. Analysts interpret the raid as a signal to Iran that the Jewish state is ready, willing and able to lash out at its enemies, with or without US approval, and yet one cannot help thinking that it was just as much a signal to the Americans that Israel will no longer be constrained by the requirements of the “special relationship.”
March 28, 2009 § Leave a comment
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Christiana Voniati.
Voniati: The international public opinion and especially the Muslim world seem to have great expectations from the historic election of Obama. Can we, in your opinion, expect any real change regarding the US approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?