“Pelosi and Democratic Leaders Condemn Omar Statements as Anti-Semitic”: How Criticism is Quashed

nyti.ms/2E4hBlN

Any time someone expresses any criticism of Israel’s criminal actions towards the Palestinians, they are labeled as anti-Semite.

This is how AIPAC wants to keep it, too.

Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Said ‘Death to America’. So, What?

As the peaceful negotiations over a nuclear deal with Iran happily make their way to a resolution, many opponents of the current deal (or any deal with Iran) raise irrelevant alarm bells over some of the rhetoric that emanates from the Iranian leadership.  A recent example was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s agreement with a crowd chanting “Death to America” during one of his public appearances and the ensuing backlash from Western opponents over the situation.  While it may not be the most pleasing thing to hear, it should be taken for what it is in the grand scheme of things: empty rhetoric to please his people and nothing more.

“Ali Khamenei” by User:Seyedkhan. Wikimedia Commons

In fact, if we were to step back from the situation and look at it objectively, it’s a perfectly rational thing for him to say.  It’s what leaders and politicians do.  They talk tough and make promises they have no intention or capability of keeping in order to keep their people behind them.  What would it look like if he did anything else?  What would he be saying?  I’m guessing it would go something like:

“People of Iran.  This is your Supreme Leader announcing to you that we will be letting the U.S. and Israel run our country however they please.  I know.  I know.  They were directly involved in the military overthrow of our democratically elected leader in 1953 and installed a ruthless dictatorship that we had to overthrow.  They were also responsible for the Stuxnet cyber attack, an action one of these countries has officially and hypocritically declared is an act of war.  But we can totally trust them now and I’m sure we will be the best run Western colony in the history of the world!”

Yeah, it would be completely ridiculous.

But hey, let’s remember that all spoken rhetoric eventually comes true.  Just look at all the things Iranian leaders have said in the past and then carried out that have been 100% prophetic, such as “Death to Russia”, “Death to England”, “Death to France”, “Death to Israel”, and “Death to Saddam” (not Iraq).   Oh, the overwhelming nostalgia!  Remember France before Iran destroyed it?  So much culture and fancy paintings.  It was almost like being in modern day Paris!

The point is, rhetoric is just talk and it should be expected to be tough and reflect a self-interest for whoever is speaking.  The actions Iran is taking by negotiating with the P5+1 and seeking a peaceful resolution is what truly matters.  And just to drive the point home that Khamenei’s rhetoric should not be taken too literally, here are some more examples from history of rhetoric that either never came true or did not match the actions taken by the speaker.


 

“Fidel Castro8” by Antônio Milena/ABr – Agência Brasil [1]. Wikimedia
Fidel Castro, former Cuban President

I propose the immediate launching of a nuclear strike on the United States. (1992)

Yes, remember the Cuban nuclear missile strike on Florida in the ’90s?  The radiation hit some counties so hard they lost the ability to properly count votes in presidential elections.

Nikita Khrushchev, former Soviet Premier

Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in. (We will bury you.) (Remark to Western ambassadors, 1956)

It’s really unfortunate Western society was buried by Communist Russia in the 1950s.  But look at the bright side, comrades.  At least we all got really cool furry hats!

John McCain, former Maverick and current regretter of vice-presidential choices

That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran’.  Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah… (2007)

Really a missed opportunity here, folks.  Think of all the money the military industrial complex has missed out on with him losing in ’08.  There’s always 2016!

Hugo Chavez, former president of Venezuela

Let’s save the human race, let’s finish off the U.S. empire. (2006)

Coincidentally, he said this while in Iran.  Now we know where they got it from.  Peer pressure!

Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president

Wikimedia

President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment…I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. (1982)

Uncle Ronny was clearly a great judge of character.  Montt was, at the time, in the process of committing genocide in his own country, a crime he would eventually be found guilty for conducting (he is currently awaiting a new trial after the conviction was overturned in what appears to be a scheme to keep him out of prison until he dies).  Nicely done, Mr. Reagan!

Kim Jong-Il, former Supreme Leader of North Korea

I’m an Internet expert too. (2007)

No…just, no.  Kim was a bit of a recluse, as most know, but the state-run news agency did release direct statements that threatened to “wipe out” the United States while he was in charge.  Just another successfully unsuccessful bit of rhetoric.

Mother Nature, current ruler of Pangea

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men… (continues)

The quote is kind of long and is still being spoken.  But she’s getting pretty close to the end and I’m assuming what happens when she is done speaking is going to be pretty ugly for her constituents…

Richard Nixon, former U.S. president

“Nixon 30-0316a” by Hartmann. Wikimedia

I did not wait for my inauguration to begin my quest for peace (in Vietnam). (1969)

An absolute lie.  We now know that Nixon actually sabotaged peace talks with Vietnam in 1968 while still a candidate for the presidency and did so to help his own political campaign at home.  Just a disgusting moment in history.


The point of all this is to simply note that rhetoric can frequently mean little while the actions of the speaker can be something very different.  This reality should be particularly considered in the case of Iran as they have been logically talking tough against the West at times but, according to  U.S. and Israeli intelligence, shut down their nuclear weapons program years ago.   We should always remember that the phrase “all politics is local” doesn’t just apply to the United States and it should be no surprise when we hear some foreign leaders score points with their people by taking shots at us.  In fact, if you don’t expect that to happen, you should really tone down the hubris a bit.

Bottom line, Iran has come to the negotiating table and is making a deal.  If the GOP warfare queens in Congress decide to kill the deal and the situation eventually disintegrates into military actions, the blood of every American and Iranian that dies will be on their hands and history should properly place the blame squarely on each and every politician that turned away from peace.

Finally! A US News Organization Analyzes Israeli Crimes

945545_492651977471625_495791703_nI love this Noam Chomsky quote:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

And what in the spectrum of acceptable opinion has been so strictly limited regarding American foreign policy? The opinions on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.

In America, within those limits the Israeli’s are just defending themselves from rabid savages, infected with Jihad, bent on slaughtering every non-Muslim around the globe. And the acceptable, lively debate is between with what and with how much force should the Israeli’s use.

But maybe something is changing.

The Associated Press (AP) on Friday reported on an investigation they conducted into the homes bombed by Israeli jet-fighters during the Summer’s “50-day” war. The AP investigated the vast majority of home-bombing sites, interviewed witnesses, collected death certificates, and worked with both Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups. And, amazingly, it is a damning report on  Israeli actions so well thought-out and thorough it is impossible not to be struck by the findings.  Here are some:

– Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.

– In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.

– Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants – or just over 11 percent of the total – though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.

– The remainder of the 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in connection with militant groups on searches of websites or on street posters honoring fighters.

Unlike other coverage found in the American mainstream media, the report gives hard numbers and anecdotes from survivors and witnesses explaining the disregard for Gazan life shown by the Israelis. The piece also discusses the nature of the war crimes committed by the Israelis and how they break international law, as did, it seems, Hamas with their rocket attacks.

But that’s beside the point.

The issue here, in this post,  is not the tragic and maddening findings but the fact that a major and extremely respectable American media outlet reported  outside of the spectrum.

Rise up over the study’s findings. Applaud and champion those who exposed them.

 

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Can Palestinians Start to Live on Their Feet?

mag-gaza-4-superJumboOn Dec. 30th, the UN Security Council voted down a proposal submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians that would have:

1) Set a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel;

2) Established targets for Palestinian sovereignty, including a capital in East Jerusalem;

3) Called for the “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the West Bank by the end of 2017.

Only 8 of the total of 15 nations voted for the resolution when at least 9 supporting members are needed for adoption. Oh, and that is irrelevant for the United States would have vetoed the resolution if it were to get the 9 votes anyways as the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power. Just saying… But the Palestinian Authority, led by Pres. Mahmoud Abbas, says it will apply again when members of the revolving Security Council are more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

Also, this past Wednesday Abbas moved to join the International Criminal Court in a symbolic step to put Israel on notice regarding prosecution for violations of international law, e.g., war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. In response the Israelis have frozen $127 million in tax revenue which supports the Palestinian Authority (PA). These funds are provided to the PA under the Oslo Accords agreement to maintain stability. Israel collects $1 billion annually in customs and taxes on behalf of the PA and the money goes to the organization. It would probably collapse without it.

In light of the above actions by the Israeli government, a great analysis in the NYT yesterday explains the momentum is actually on the Palestinians’ side. And according to a couple of quotes from rank-and-file Palestinians in the article shows they may be able to live on their feet instead of their knees.

I hear it from my father for the first time: Even if we will not get our salaries and the economic situation will be worse, at least we can say we will get our rights,” Rula Salameh said of her father, who is 70 and relies on a Palestinian Authority pension.

Ms. Salameh said her sister, who is on the government payroll, “hears it also from her friends, her colleagues — they said even if we will not get our salaries, we need to feel like something is going on, tomorrow will be better than today.

 

 

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Egypt’s Lack of Democratic Values

02egypt-articleLargeOn Thursday, three journalists working for Al Jazeera’s English-language network were ordered a retrial ain Egypt after a sham proceeding in which they were given between 7-10 years in prison for “…conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports.” The reason for this is two-fold:

1) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, like all new strongmen, wants to possess as much control over the press as he can. He is afraid that a currently tumultuous political climate may sweep him out of power just as quickly as it brought him in. This is why the three were arrested in the first place.

2) Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, a state that has long shown favor towards the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But the Brotherhood was also former President Mohamed Morsi’s movement, who was brought in after democratic elections that resulted from the Arab Spring. Now since the ouster of Morsi, and the installation of el-SiSi, Al-Jazeera has been leading a critical viewpoint against el-SiSi for the last 18 months. But under pressure from Egypt, the Saudis, and the UAE, Qatar has put an end to its anti-el-SiSi campaign. Therefore these latest events may lead to the release of the three A-Jazeera reporters as a quid pro quo for the less critical look at el-SiSi.

So all in all, these three men were fulfilling their obligations to the essential ingredient of a functioning democracy, namely, the freedom of the press. We cannot make informed decisions without the information pertaining to the matter at hand.

The Mid-East region demanded more rights in the streets and squares just a few years ago and yet these events come right out of the old ways.

Also, for more on this cause, checkout the website for the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) where you can find a good graphic entitled “2014 prison census: 220 journalists jailed worldwide.” It is a worldwide map of states currently imprisoning journalists with the offending countries highlighted and the number of prisoners being held. The page also includes some good charts and even a listing, nation by nation, of each journalist known two be serving time their.

 

 

 

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Have to Admit, Sometimes Russia is Painfully Correct

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, had some comments for the United States government regarding Syria and the Islamic State that deserve acknowledgement.  While the future of this situation can be debated, the past cannot.  And the truth sometimes hurts.
“I think Western politicians are already realising the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism,” Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.
“And they will soon have to choose what is more important, a [Syrian] regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat.”

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov
In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the US had made the same mistake with Islamic State as it had with al-Qaeda, which emerged in the 1980s when US-backed Islamist insurgents were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. (Emphasis added)
“At the start the Americans and some Europeans rather welcomed [Islamic State] on the basis it was fighting against Bashar al-Assad. They welcomed it as they welcomed the mujahideen who later created al-Qaeda, and then al-Qaeda struck like a boomerang on September 11, 2001,” Lavrov said.
“The same thing is happening now.”
We have to accept, for the moment, there is no perfect solution from the U.S. government’s perspective where both the Syrian regime and the Islamic State can be ousted from the situation immediately.  At this point, the best case scenario is to only have to deal with one or the other while trying to push for the quelling of one.
And the lesser of two evils is without a doubt the Assad regime in Syria.  This, of course, means working as a partner with Russia in order to exert as much pressure as possible on Assad to hope for eventual regime change while making sure the Syrian government is stabilized enough to fight the Islamic State.
In fact, hindsight being 20/20, one has to wonder if working with Russia from the beginning on Syria would have been the better solution for the Syrian people.  While living under Assad has certainly been no picnic, it’s very likely the casualties from the fighting, now closing in on 200,000, would have been significantly less had a heavy UN peacekeeping presence been placed in the country when the violence broke out.  And in order to have done this, the U.S. would have had to accept not initially ousting Assad, with the hope change could have come later and more peacefully.
We’ll never know whether that solution would have turned out better.  One thing, however, is clear: not choosing that path has been an absolute disaster.

Some Fair Questions About Breaking of Aug. 1 Israel-Palestine Ceasefire

As the Palestinian death toll quickly closes in on 2,000, it would seem the responsibility for which side broke the August 1st ceasefire is still a bit murky.  07ISRAEL1-videoSixteenByNine540-v2

It was initially reported by Israel that Palestinian militants had emerged and opened fire and captured an Israeli soldier when IDF was destroying a tunnel around Rafah.  Two points should be noted here.

First, the Israeli military’s version of events is always taken as gospel by American media while the Palestinian version is typically brushed off by being given a sentence or two most of the time.  Any perusing of articles about the breaking of the ceasefire on Friday would certainly prove that.  But hey, Israel has no interest in giving a biased version of events, do they?

Second, one might ask why it is okay for the Israeli military to continue operations, possibly inside Gaza (most stories took the IDF’s word that the event occurred “around Rafah” but did not further specify), during the ceasefire and destroying the tunnels.  It should be noted the tunnels were largely created because of the illegal blockade of Gaza by Israel (an act of war, of course) and were used to transport “building materials, foods, medicines, drugs, and people, accounting for an estimated $700 million per year“.  If Palestinian militants were on Israeli territory blowing up important roads used for transporting weapons and ammunition being resupplied by the U.S., what would the reaction be?

Then there are the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and killing of the IDF soldier.  It would seem exactly how the young man died should be heavily questioned and examined.  Israel claims they recovered evidence to suggest he had died but not a body.  Very little detail is given.  While on the other hand, Hamas claims it lost contact with the militants in the area possibly involved in the battle and suggest they were killed by the Israeli attack on the area after the ceasefire was declared off.

This would beg a couple of important questions: was the Israeli soldier killed by friendly-fire and is this the reason Israel knows he is dead and can’t recover the body?  Was the soldier buried under the rubble of a building Israel destroyed that day?

There doesn’t seem to be much interest in investigating this possibility.  If it were true he was killed by his own military, it would put even more pressure on Israel to explain why it is using such ferocious attacks on a civilian population it has illegally oppressed for so many years.

Palestine Borders and Demographics Prove to be A Ghetto

Thanks to a good idea given to me by my partner here at STL, I started to research and analyze some geographic information regarding the Jewish land-grab in Palestine. I then followed by studying some demographic info on the Gaza Strip and drew some interesting conclusions. Here’s what I found:

First, some great maps over at Wikipedia with adjoining historical context info and links portraying the boundaries of Palestine/Israel since the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement (The linked information could have you reading for days it’s so interesting).

Evolution of Mandate Palestine and modern Palestinian Territories

150px-Proposals_for_the_Mandate_of_Palestine_1916-19.svg

1916-22 Proposals: Three proposals for the post World War I administration of Palestine. The red line is the “International Administration” proposed in the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement, the dashed blue line is the 1919 Zionist Organization proposal at the Paris Peace Conference, and the thin blue line refers to the final borders of the 1923-48 Mandatory Palestine.
Jewish_Land_Ownership_in_Mandatory_Palestine,_1947.svg1947 (Actual): Mandatory Palestine, showing Jewish-owned regions in Palestine as of 1947 in blue, constituting 6% of the total land area, of which more than half was held by the JNF and PICA. The Jewish population had increased from 83,790 in 1922 to 608,000 in 1946.

 

United_Nations_Partition_Plan_for_Palestine_map.svg1947 (Proposal): Proposal per the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine (UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II), 1947), prior to the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The proposal included a Corpus Separatum for Jerusalem, extraterritorial crossroads between the non-contiguous areas, and Jaffa as an Arab exclave.

Palestinian_Territories,_1948-67.svg1948-67 (Actual): The Jordanian occupied West Bank and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip (note the dotted lines between the territories and Jordan / Egypt), after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, showing 1949 armistice lines.

Palestinian_National_Authority_within_Israel,_2013.svg1993-Current: Extant region administered by the Palestinian National Authority (under Oslo 2).

 

Second, I found some telling demographic information from the CIA World Factbook regarding the Gaza Strip that I found profoundly important:

  1. The area of the Gaza Strip is only 360 sq. km., which is only twice the size of Washington D.C., yet, the population of the nation’s capital is only 632,323, while Gaza’s population is 1,816,379.
  2. Gaza has a 22.5% unemployment rate with 38% of its people living below the poverty line.
  3. Gaza is under siege by air, land, and sea. The World Factbook even includes in the information regarding Gaza’s maritime activities, that, “[E]ffective 3 January 2009 the Gaza maritime area is closed to all maritime traffic and is under blockade imposed by Israeli Navy until further notice.”

So what should we say is going on here is that the Israelis are trapping the prisoners of the Gaza Strip into, and I use this term in light of how controversial it is, a Ghetto. I am not contending that the Jews are consciously doing what the Nazis did to them. Far from it. I just believe that they need to look into their own tragic past and hopefully derive some empathy for the people they have been bombing now for two weeks now.

 

 

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Double Standard For Murderers in Israel

07ISRAEL1-videoSixteenByNine540-v2According to the NYT and the AP, six young men have been arrested as suspects in last weeks beating and burning death of a 16 year old Palestinian boy named Mohammed Abu Khdeir. The autopsy revealed that the victim was still alive when the burning took place.

The AP reports that, “Israeli authorities said the killers [of Khdeir] had acted out of ‘”nationalistic”‘ motives.” The “grisly” murder happened shortly after the burial of three kidnapped and murdered Israeli youths whose bodies were found in the West Bank near Hebron a few days before

Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel stated that, “We do not differentiate between terrorists,” referring to rather they are Israeli or Arab. “We will respond to all of them.”

But according to a quote in the AP piece, Khdeir’s mother argued that, in reference to the six arrested Israeli suspects, that,  “They need to treat them the way they treat us. They need to demolish their homes and round them up, the way they do it to our children.”

The Israelis rounded up 800 prisoners in the West Bank, killed six in their operations, and destroyed two homes and countless “Hamas targets” during the search for the youths over a three week period. There is a double standard.

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The History of Maliki and Iraq’s Current Troubles

iraq1403715010Stop whatever your doing, right now. I mean, RIGHT NOW!!!

There is a great, must-read piece in The Post by a former U.S. official who worked in Iraq that relates how the Premiere Nouri al-Maliki came to power, and how his past and current actions, along with many of U.S. officials involved, has led to the dire situation Iraq finds itself in today.

The author is who was the longest continuously serving American official in Iraq, serving from 2003 to 2009, who acted as a special assistant to five U.S. ambassadors and as a senior adviser to three heads of U.S. Central Command. He was also a close associate to Premiere Maliki and explained his relationship with him in the following paragraph:

I have known Maliki, or Abu Isra, as he is known to people close to him, for more than a decade. I have traveled across three continents with him. I know his family and his inner circle. When Maliki was an obscure member of parliament, I was among the very few Americans in Baghdad who took his phone calls. In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister. In 2008, I organized his medevac when he fell ill, and I accompanied him for treatment in London, spending 18 hours a day with him at Wellington Hospital. In 2009, I lobbied skeptical regional royals to support Maliki’s government.

By 2010, however, I was urging the vice president of the United States and the White House senior staff to withdraw their support for Maliki. I had come to realize that if he remained in office, he would create a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.

 America stuck by Maliki. As a result, we now face strategic defeat in Iraq and perhaps in the broader Middle East.
Hopefully, after reading that excerpt, you are hurriedly clicking on our link to get to this op-ed immediately. It is even more compelling than the excerpt leads on. So go read it! NOW!

 

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