Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last week provided a fleeting glimpse of hidden corruption at the core of the US-Israel “special” relationship. The inner halls of the annual AIPAC conference were a safe harbor for hardcore lobbyists buffeted by the Obama administration’s unyielding opposition to illegal settlements and Gen. David Petraeus’s analysis that American favoritism for Israel was putting US troops at risk. Clinton, a politician who has received almost as much Israel lobby largess as her husband, publicly praised an AIPAC operative now known to have played a role in corrupting US-Israel Free Trade Area negotiations in 1984.
Irrepressible investigative reporter Jeff Stein noted that an inconvenient archive of a 1984-1987 FBI investigation into Israeli-AIPAC theft of US government property and economic espionage began circulating across the Internet on March 10, 2010. Former executive director Thomas Dine (who left AIPAC to work for the US government-run Al-Hurra Middle East satellite channel), chief lobbyist Douglas Bloomfield (now an omnipresent pundit for the Jerusalem Post and other media outlets) and Israeli Minister of Economics Dan Halpern (currently at the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce) all appear in the FBI’s investigation for their various roles in obtaining, duplicating, trafficking and covering up AIPAC’s possession of classified trade data stolen from 70 major US companies and workers groups opposed to the US-Israel Free Trade Area.
The purloined report is still classified, rendering it difficult to know precisely which trade secrets and confidential market data AIPAC and Israel used in their lobbying and export promotions to the US market. But the passage of time has quantified the sordid results of the theft. The US-Israel Free Trade Area is an anomaly among bilateral US trade deals, producing an $80 billion cumulative deficit to the US since signed. This contrasts with the year 2009 $80 billion total surplus the US harvested from its other bilateral trade deals with such countries as Singapore, Australia and Morocco. The institutionalized theft and routine misappropriations that tainted trade deal negotiations continue to this day.
Around 200 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals walk from the Nativity Square to the direction of Jerusalem, against the restrictions imposed by the Israelis especially restrictions on the right to worship and freedom of movement as many Christians will not be able to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem. The crowd managed to outnumber and surprise the Israeli soldiers and security forces at Bethlehem checkpoint and managed to walk through. After having walked 300 meters on the road to Jerusalem, they were stopped by Israeli soldiers. After having declared the march over and as they were walking back to Bethlehem, Israeli soldiers attacked the crowd and violently arrested around 15 persons, among them a Palestinian cameran, an Israeli photographers, members of the popular committee from Al Ma’sara, and staff from Holy Trust.
If the U.S. public looked long and hard into a mirror reflecting the civilian atrocities that have occurred in Afghanistan, over the past ten months, we would see ourselves as people who have collaborated with and paid for war crimes committed against innocent civilians who meant us no harm.
Two reporters, Jerome Starkey (the Times UK), and David Lindorff, (Counterpunch), have persistently drawn attention to U.S. war crimes committed in Afghanistan. Makers of the film “Rethinking Afghanistan” have steadily provided updates about the suffering endured by Afghan civilians. Here is a short list of atrocities that have occurred in the months since General McChrystal assumed his post in Afghanistan.
December 26th, 2009: US-led forces, (whether soldiers or “security contractors” (mercenaries) is still uncertain), raided a home in Kunar Province and pulled eight young men out of their beds, handcuffed them, and gunned them down execution-style. The Pentagon initially reported that the victims had been running a bomb factory, although distraught villagers were willing to swear that the victims, youngsters, aged 11 – 18, were just seven normal schoolboys and one shepherd boy. Following courageous reporting by Jerome Starkey, the U.S. military carried out its own investigation and on February 24th, 2010, issued an apology, attesting to the boys’ innocence.
Abdulrahman Zeitoun was born in Jebleh, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Decades later and thousand of miles away he awakes from dreaming of a fishing expedition out of his childhood home: “Beside him he could hear his wife Kathy breathing, her exhalations not unlike the shushing of water against the hull of a wooden boat.” As so often in Dave Eggers’s latest novel, the docudrama “Zeitoun”, a caught image opens a window on an ocean of memory and a state of mind.
Zeitoun now lives in New Orleans, where he runs a painting and building company and owns several buildings. He’s a dedicated businessman, father, husband, and Muslim. His painter’s van is emblazoned with a rainbow, which Zeitoun soon discovers has gay associations for Americans. But he doesn’t change it. “Anyone who had a problem with rainbows, he said, would surely have trouble with Islam.”
Kathy, practical and strong-willed, was brought up a Baptist in Baton Rouge. Attracted by “the doubt sown into the faith” and “the sense of dignity embodied by the Muslim women she knew,” she converted to Islam after her failed first marriage. Some years later she married the much older Zeitoun. Eggers describes their domestic bustle and warmth, and their personal irritations. For Zeitoun, these include his children’s wastefulness and obsession with pop music, and his alienation in a family of women. Kathy is bothered by Zeitoun’s stubbornness and her own family’s Islamophobic nagging.