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Sunday, 26 April 2009

hand in hand

Uri Avnery's latest column after a few jumps. Here is Ahmadinejad's speech, and here, here, here and here is some commentary on it, and also some commentary on some of his prior comments, (some commentary here on some of Hamas' previous statements, too). Considering Iran has just jailed some bloggers and sentenced them to lashes, and has also jailed an Iranian-American reporter on dubious charges, and these are some of the milder punishments it can and has meted out, he obviously is not the best person to be accusing others.

But, if at Davos, Peres can say None of the crossings between Gaza and Israel, vital crossings, were ever closed, if he can say There was never a day of starvation in Gaza, if he can puzzle over why rockets might be fired, and can deny that Palestinians live in an open air prison, and much more, just 10 days after the all-out carnage that the Israeli war on Gaza wrought, all to rapturous applause, and all to the members of nation states (apart from the Turkish Prime Minister) remaining firmly in their seats, then why was Ahmadinejad's speech so offensive? Particularly as he had, perhaps as a result of an appeal by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon...[cut "The most poisonous phrases"]...of his speech - [read the article] at the last minute.

I don't think we should sit there if Idi Amin were telling us about the wonderful things his government had done for his people and the world either, all the while lecturing us on our wrongdoing, but if we sit there straight-faced listening to, and even applauding Peres' lies, then what the hell is the difference? Deny one group's suffering, such as the international community did at Davos, we may as well deny them all.

I think one has to keep in mind, too, at least according to Baer (I really need to read more), that Iran has rebuilt areas that Israel has destroyed, such as in Lebanon. To many people in the region, Israel has not done much to improve their quality of life, in fact, quite the opposite. I can't say that Iran promises to either, in the long run, nor that their actions are purely philanthropic, but they don't seem to be holding pre-emptive wars or wars of deterrence on the surrounding countries, ripping up infrastructure and building great walls, though I have no doubt that they have plenty of influence in those countries in many ways.

In addition if Israeli forces do the following:

AIC [alternative information center - and Israeli-Palestinian organistation] staff member Mohammad Abu Humus was taken from his home at 3am today by masked members of the Israeli security forces, who stormed and searched his home with drawn weapons. Abu Humus was subsequently brought before a judge, who acquiesced to the police request and extended his detention for 11 days. All of the material and evidence concerning Abu Humus is classified. Abu Humus is accused of involvement in unruly protests against Israeli military actions in Gaza, which he categorically denies, and the classified nature of the evidence for such a minor accusation calls into question the true motives of the Israeli authorities in the detention and interrogation of Abu Humus.

Abu Humus, 43 years old and a resident of the East Jerusalem village of Issawiya, is a long-time political and social activist in East Jerusalem. He is married to Wafa and has four small children, two daughters: Irfat (11) and Shahd (10) and two sons: Anas (8) and Majd (3). He has worked with the AIC since 2006

Attending the court hearing today were Abu Humus’ wife Wafa, members of the Alternative Information Center and additional residents of Issawiya, who came in support and solidarity with Abu Humus.

Wafa noted that “our children were terrified by the masked men with drawn weapons. I asked them how they expect us to live with them in love and respect, when they act like this? They don’t leave us any room for love,” added Wafa sadly.

The detention of Abu Humus is part of Israel’s wider campaign to repress the legitimate right of Palestinian residents and citizens of Israel to protest Israeli actions in Gaza and exercise their right to freedom of expression. Since the beginning of Israel’s military attacks on Gaza, more than 300 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem have been detained, arrested and taken for interrogation by the Israeli security services. For the past several days, Israeli forces have entered Issawiya every night, detaining prominent political activists.
how is it any different from any other police state?

Not to say that Hamas forces and Fatah forces do not do the same or worse to their own people or each other's organisations - but one needs to look at cause and effect, and the west does not regard them as representatives of a democracy, yet, it claims that Israel is one.

Additionally, Avnery states that [n]ow [Ahmadinejad] wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. Baer (ex CIA and fluent in Arabic) does not deny these intentions, but seems to think that people should actually be looking at who wields more power, and claims that people should be looking more towards the words and actions of the Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i than Ahmadinejad. Incidentally, Baer sees Israel and Iran working together quite well in the region, and sees them as natural allies, particularly as Iran seems to be as pragmatic as it is brutal. Israel still seems to be feeling its way on that score (at least on the pragmatism scale). Anyway, I do not really know that much about Iran, so I am just reporting Baer's sentiments as a prelude to Averny's column. It is as always pretty good. Have a read:

Can Two Walk Together?


I AM not saying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an agent of the Mossad.

Absolutely not. I don’t want to be sued for libel.

I am only saying that were he an agent of the Mossad, he would not behave any differently.

And also: If he did not exist, the Mossad would have had to invent him.

Either way, the assistance he is giving to the government of Israel is invaluable.

LET’S LOOK at last week’s scandal.

Years ago, a conference against racism was convened by the UN in Durban, South Africa. It was natural that such a forum would denounce, among others, the Israeli government for its policy towards the Palestinians – the occupation, the settlements, the wall.

But the conference was not content with this. It turned into a platform for wild incitement against the State of Israel – and only against it. No other state in the world was denounced for violating human rights – and among the denouncers were some of the most obnoxious tyrants in the world.

When preparations were made for a second “Durban Conference”, this time in Geneva, the Israeli government did everything in its power to convince at least the countries of North America and Europe to boycott it. That was not so easy. Well before the start of the conference, the US succeeded in eliminating the reference to Israel in the draft of its final document (leaving only a reference to the resolutions of the first conference), and in the end it decided to boycott the conference anyway. But the European countries agreed to attend.

The Israeli government was anticipating the conference with great apprehension. The atrocities of the Gaza War have turned public opinion in many countries against Israel. The conference could become an outlet for these emotions. The brightest minds in Jerusalem were trying to find ways to prevent this.

And then along came Ahmadinejad. Since he was the only head of state to attend, the organizers could not prevent him from speaking first. He delivered a provocative speech – not being satisfied with criticizing Israel, his words dripped with unbridled hatred. That was a welcome pretext for the European representatives to get up and walk out in an impressive pro-Israeli demonstration. The conference became ridiculous.

If the “Elders of Zion” had planned the conference, it could not have ended better as far as the Israeli government is concerned.

ALL THIS happened on Holocaust Day, when Jews in Israel and all over the world commemorate the millions of victims of the genocide.

The memory of the Holocaust unites all the Jews in the world. Every Jew knows that if the Nazis had reached him, he, too, would have gone to the death camps. We, who were then living in Palestine, knew that if the German general Erwin Rommel had broken through the British lines at El Alamein, our fate would have been that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

All Jews feel that it is their moral duty to keep the memory of the victims alive. To this profound feeling there is added a political consideration: the memory of the Holocaust causes most Jews everywhere to support the State of Israel, which defines itself as the “State of the Shoa Survivors”.

But time passes and memories fade. There is a recurrent need for a present, actual enemy, a “Second Hitler”, who arouses all the latent fears lurking in the Jewish soul. Once it was Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, the “Egyptian Tyrant”. Then Yasser Arafat played this role. Nowadays there is Hamas, but that is hardly sufficient. No way to convince anyone that Hamas could possibly annihilate Israel.

Ahmadinejad is the ideal candidate. He is a consistent Holocaust denier. He declares that the “Zionist entity” must disappear from the map. He is working on the production of a nuclear bomb. This is serious – a few nuclear bombs on Israeli population centers can indeed wipe out Israel.

So we have a “Second Hitler”, who is planning a ”Second Holocaust”. Against him, all the Jews of the world can unite. What would we do without him?

THE PUTATIVE Iranian nuclear bomb fulfills another very important role. It is serving now as an instrument for the obliteration of the Palestinian problem.

Next month Netanyahu will present himself at the White House. That might turn out to be a fateful meeting. President Barack Obama may demand a clear commitment to start a peace process that will lead towards the creation of the Palestinian state. Netanyahu will make a desperate effort to avoid this, since peace would mean the evacuation of the settlements. If he agreed to this, his coalition would fall apart.

What to do? Thank God for the Iranian bomb! It constitutes an existential threat against Israel. It is self-evident that the Israeli Prime Minister should not be bothered with bagatelles like peace with the Palestinians when the Iranian nuclear sword is dangling above his head!

Netanyahu’s predecessors also used this ploy. Whenever somebody raises the matter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and demands that our government start real negotiations, freeze the settlements, dismantle the outposts, release prisoners, end the blockade on the population of the Gaza Strip, remove the roadblocks – the Iranian bomb appears ex machina. No time to think about anything else. The bomb heads our agenda. The bomb is our agenda.

There is a lot of irony in this. Iran has never been the least bit interested in the plight of the Palestinians. Ahmadinejad, too, doesn’t give a damn. Like all other Middle East governments he uses the Palestinian cause to further his own interests. Now he wants to penetrate the Sunni Arab world in order to turn Iran into the dominant regional power. For this purpose, he raises the banner of the Palestinian resistance. But for the time being, he has only succeeded in pushing the Sunni Arab regimes into the arms of Israel.

AHMADINEJAD’S MOST enthusiastic fans sit in the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv. What would they do without him?

Every year, the struggle over the defense budget breaks out anew. This year, with the economic crisis, the debate will be even more acrimonious. Little Israel maintains one of the largest and most expensive military establishments in the world. Relative to the GNP (gross national product), we easily trump the United States, not to mention Europe.

Must one ask why? Israel is surrounded by enemies who are plotting to destroy us! True, Egypt is now the most loyal collaborator of Israel, Iraq has quit the game for the time being, Syria has long since ceased to be a threat. Jordan is humble, the Palestinian Authority dances to our tune. It is hard to justify a giant defense budget for fighting little Hizbullah and tiny Hamas.

But there is Iran, thank God. And there is the fearsome Iranian bomb. Here you have an honest to God existential danger. Our Air Force declares that it is ready to take off any day – no, any minute - and eradicate all the many Iranian nuclear installations.

For that they need money, lots of money. They need the most advanced airplanes in the world, each of which costs many, many millions. They need suitable equipment for reaching the targets and fulfilling the task. That is more important than education, health or welfare. After all, the Iranian bomb will kill all of us – including the children, the sick and the underprivileged. (The tycoons may perhaps succeed in getting out in time.)

The budget will be approved, but the flyers will not fly. It is not clear whether such an attack is at all feasible. Neither is it clear if it would significantly postpone the production of the bomb. But it is clear that such an attack is not possible politically: it cannot be executed without the express confirmation of the US, and there is no chance that this will be forthcoming. The attack would almost automatically cause the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, through which all the Gulf oil is shipped. That would be catastrophic, especially during a world-wide economic crisis, when a huge rise in the price of oil can cripple the already weakened economies. No, our valiant pilots will have to content themselves with bombing residential neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip.

IT COULD be argued: if Ahmadinejad behaves like a Mossad agent, Avigdor Lieberman behaves like an agent of Iranian intelligence.

I don’t say so, God forbid. I really don’t want to be sued for libel.

But Lieberman’s behavior is indeed – how to put it – slightly bizarre.

True, for a moment he looked like a winner. After he sent Hosny Mubarak to hell, the Israeli media reported that the most important Egyptian minister had met with him, shaken his hand and invited him to Egypt. Perhaps he wanted to show him around the Aswan dam, which Lieberman once wanted to bomb. But the next day a furious Mubarak reacted by denying the story and declaring that Lieberman will not be allowed to set foot on Egyptian soil.

In the meantime, an important newspaper in Russia published an interview with Lieberman, in which he asserted that “the US will accept all our decisions.” Meaning: we rule America, Obama will do as we tell him.

Such talk will not increase Israel’s popularity in the White House, to say the least. Especially just now, after it was disclosed that the Israeli Lobby, AIPAC, has asked a congresswoman to intervene in favor of two American Jews indicted for spying for Israel. In return, AIPAC promised to get the Congresswoman appointed as chairwoman of a very important committee. How? Simple: AIPAC will tell the majority leader of the House that if she does not comply. a Jewish billionaire will stop contributing to her election fund. Not a very savory disclosure.

In brief, the Iranian Ahmadinejad and the Israeli Lieberman are Siamese twins. The one needs the other. Lieberman rides on the Iranian bomb, Ahmadinejad rides on Israeli threats.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” asked the prophet Amos (3:3). The answer is: Yes, indeed. These two can very well walk hand in hand without agreeing on anything.


TheOldSchool said...

OK, now I'm starting to get a bit pissed off. If I was at PAN since January, and you were there the whole time, why wasn't I gently nudged toward your mind-blowingly fantastic blog before?

You're one person? This blog is just so stunningly well-written, comprehensive, and in synchro-sympatico with my political worldview that I'm just dumb-founded that I found out I was so dumb at finding about it.

You even pay tribute to my NUMBER ONE favorite political columnist, Glenn Greenwald. (Robert Fisk of the Independent is probably second, particularly on anything to do with the mid-east.)

You are PR on PAN, right?

If so, I see why you're so brief when you're there. Because you're so busy here. I gave mamason a run-down of my impressions of PAN people a couple of weeks ago. About you, I said I could tell by the way you pick up on the subtleties of how words are used, that you were really smart, but that I didn't know much about you because you're posts are so brief.

I'm truly in awe of your blog. I'd say more, but I swore an oath in my last comment, to be brief in the next. The next?



lizardrinking said...

Now I will join Mama in blushing prowess. Because it is such a controversial topic, and the hasbara trolls out there are mighty in their numbers, ... not that they visit here, thank God, I don't really mention it on PAN. The regulars know of it, because I used to just blog about regular stuff before Gaza.

People are kept ignorant, too. It is sometimes difficult to write without seeming like a conspiracy theorist looney, and all the baggage that comes with that.

Also, I only started writing on this bent from about December 31, though I was watching it prior, a few days after Olmert and Livni decided to first bomb Gaza, and then send in ground troops. Though I did have a previous post on Gitmo and one on when the Gazans broke through the Rafah border to get stocks, but I might have deleted it.

I started to write because people do not have the knowledge on this (it was something that glo and fantasy said - Cb was on the money, however). I keep meaning to stop. I don't actually thoroughly go through all the news stops. I cheat. I visit Antony Loewenstein and Mondoweiss, Tikun Olam, all progressive Jewish blogs, and pick up on what they put down. Sometimes the Angry Arab, and others too. I just follow their leads. And I do not know how long I will keep writing on it. The posts do take a long time.

I don't feel I have a deep enough knowledge, though I have enough knowledge to see when injustice is being done. If you read my posts prior to the attack on Gaza, they are mostly travel posts.

I am PR on PAN, and my blog is not linked to PAN (you can do that, you know, it ups your readership)mainly because I didn't want park rose and lizardrinking linked on google searches (my masses of PAN comments were appearing there under lizardrinking).  Cos I live in Japan, I'm on a different time to most PANites, and I don't get down and dirty, either ;-D, so that means I only comment on a few posts. I don't like when PAN turns into the schoolyard, either, but it can keep it interesting.

Anyway, one long post countered with another, and I am truly flattered and heartened by your comments.

TheOldSchool said...

Shall I call you Sheila?

What are you doing in Japan? What part?

I've been to Tokyo twice, for one week only both times. The city just feels to me like I'm stepping into the future. Surreal.

Sorry, if I sound like the nosey, blabbermouth American asking you who what where questions.

I like to keep anything about my personal life private, especially at sites like PAN.

Then a month ago, I opened up a bit to mamason...quite a bit, actually, but anyway, what I'm saying is that don't feel bad if you don't feel like answering my dumb questions.

In this country, I've actually heard someone ask some one else, who she'd just met (at a dinner party), "So, how much [money] do you make?"

Not too it?

I know exactly what you mean about how careful one has to be discussing anything controversial or at variance from the commonly accepted notions, but, I don't think you could ever come across to anyone as a loon. Not with your sophisticated sensibility.

In fact, you're the person I'd want on my side when I'm being called a loon. (I can't be a loon. Here's PR. She'll tell you why.)

Well, I look forward to reading everything you post.



lizardrinking said...

Please don't call me Sheila (just remembered the reference)! ;-)I'll send you a MBL. And again, thanks for the compliments. You can call me rose, though, PR sounds kinda corporate.

TheOldSchool said...

Even more corporate than HR.

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr