On April 6, Grant F. Smith presented a comprehensive review of the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement to the Finance and Economics Council at the University of Rochester. Using a slide show of declassified documents and charts, Smith revealed how secret agreements and a joint Israeli embassy/AIPAC covert operation undermined US industries and the trade negotiating process.
New quantitative analysis and disclosures reveal the US-Israel trade agreement is actually a $10 billion/year foreign aid program. Smith also discusses how major omissions in Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s 2009 Council on Foreign Relations book Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle undermine their two major findings: that perpetual conflict gives Israel a comparative advantage and that the US should reinstate conscription in order to match Israel’s entrepreneurial output.
On the excellent ‘Promised Land’ blog, Noam Sheizaf draws attention to an IDF slideshow which lists “the principles of Israeli policy” towards the Gaza Strip, particularly with regards to restrictions on freedom of movement. One objective is listed as “separating/differentiating Judea and Samaria [West Bank] from Gaza”. Sheizaf notes that this “is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories”.
This is an example of how Zionist lobby spin can often be challenged using the words of Israeli officials. Last month, Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel Commission included the admission that, in the words of Gaza Gateway, “Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media”. So much for ‘security’.
Then just a week ago, the same Commission heard testimony from Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who said that “Israel declared economic warfare against the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of goods – including certain kinds of food and other civilian items – that posed no security threat, with the goal of disrupting civilian life in the Gaza Strip”.
Finally, remember that in a 2007 legal case, the Israeli government’s State Attorney’s Office argued [PDF] that “harming the economy itself is a legitimate means of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief consignments”.
I just came back from a two-week vacation. (I mention this almost completely irrelevant fact because in the field of activism we don’t seem to talk about the perfectly natural human need for rest.) In the throes of contemplating whether to flip over to my backside, or give my ass a bit more quality sun-time, I managed to complete a task I’ve been working at for months (yes, months! That’s how much I needed a vacation): Reading Robert O. Paxton’s ‘The Anatomy of Fascism.’
The Anatomy of Fascism – Mini Book Review
There’s a lot of historical data in The Anatomy of Fascism. Numbers, names- things I’ll never remember because they’re not much use to me, and frankly, they make for a very boring read (with respect to the author’s obvious hard work, dedication and love of his profession). Another thing that makes The Anatomy of Fascism a boring read is that pitfall of most history books: The empire point of view. I couldn’t care less about the Fuhrer and Duce’s political contortions into power, just like I don’t care about the in-house bickering of the Likud and Kadima. Telling me of the empire without any moral stance (except for some small, simplified statement near the end of the book that all this is something we should be repulsed about) is not only uninteresting, it’s also as unethical as the third monkey.
Yesterday, Israel’s ‘Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister’ Yuli Edelstein spoke at some length about his country’s ‘PR problem’, including possible plans to create a 24-hr news channel. But further down the article, Edelstein talked about the ways in which Israel’s propaganda effort is being increasingly delegated to volunteers:
“We’ve been working on creating an infrastructure of our friends and allies around the world, in the Jewish and Christian communities, which is not fully ready yet. It’s based on volunteers and professionals [who will coordinate the transmission of accurate information],” the minister said.
Edelstein conceded that the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry suffered from restrictive budget problems. Nevertheless, he was seeking to implement ambitious initiatives based on volunteers.
“This is the 21st century, and that means things that are not officially called hasbara are the best hasbara. The moment things come from the government, the state, or ministries, they are perceived as being less reliable and as propaganda,” Edelstein said.
”There are many things only volunteers can do. Writing on Facebook, Twitter blogs, and sending e-mails to friends is second to none. The best things people can do are not about money, but about doing things in the right way.”
Edelstein cited an operations center housed in his ministry and staffed by volunteers, as well as a ministry secretary, both aimed at maintaining continuous contact with Diaspora communities.
Today is the first year’s anniversary of Bassem Abu Rahmeh’s Death. I didn’t know Bassem, but I watched him die. It was only a few months after the Gaza massacre. Nobody cared for a dead Palestinian. Two weeks later I started going to Bil’in. I’ve been going every week ever since. I’ve met people I’ve come to care about. I’ve met Bassem’s friends, who welcome me in their home with a smile and embrace. His family, who have been shot and jailed. His fiance- a beautiful Israeli activist- whom I’ve come to love like a sister. I care about their life and I see them hurt.