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April 2009

Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon – Beyond Comparison

You don’t have to be a brutal tyrant to want to commit crimes against humanity. Hatred is alive and well in Israel in nice young patriotic families. Israel is a country bad enough as it is, without making historical comparisons.

“Israel Military action is an unjustified aggression that is being carried out in a style of Hitler, in a fascist fashion.” (Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez)

“Clearly, President Chavez needs a reality check when it comes to the Middle East conflict.” (Anti-Defamation League National Director, Abraham H. Foxman)

There is a trend amongst us all, the critical voices of Israel and Zionism. Time after time we compare Israel to the Third Reich; we equate the IDF to the Wehrmacht, we find a resemblance between the Israeli Air Force’s tactics to the blitz technique of the Luftwafe, we occasionally associate Sharon’s and Olmert’s war crimes with those of Hitler. I myself have fallen into this very trap more than once. But I have now made up my mind. This fashion of speaking must be stopped once and for all.

To regard Hitler as the ultimate evil is nothing but surrendering to the Zio-centric discourse. To regard Hitler as the wickedest man and the Third Reich as the embodiment of evilness is to let Israel off the hook. To compare Olmert to Hitler is to provide Israel and Olmert with a metaphorical moral shield. It maintains Hitler at the lead and allows Olmert to stay in the tail.

My mother, indeed a very clever woman, challenged me a long time ago asking: “Tell me Gilad, why is it that you and your friends always compare Israel to the Nazis? Isn’t Israel bad enough?”


Obama’s seder


The White House said the Seder meal was traditional, including matzo, bitter herbs, a roasted egg and greens in the family dining room in the executive mansion. The evening also featured the reading of the Haggadah, the religious text of the holiday.

Passover began at sundown Wednesday. It celebrates the Jewish exodus from Egypt after 400 years of slavery.

Among those invited was Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisers, and family friend Eric Whitaker, who was visiting from Chicago and attended a Seder last year with the campaign. First lady Michelle Obama and the family’s two daughters also attended.

The staff guest list included aides from the campaign trail who marked last year’s Passover at the Sheraton hotel in Harrisburg, Pa. Obama’s personal aide, Reggie Love; Michelle Obama’s deputy chief of staff, Melissa Winter; personal aide Dana Lewis and associate social secretary Samantha Tubman all received invitations.

Also on the guest list were Eric Lesser, a personal aide to senior adviser David Axelrod, and his family. Lesser worked during the New Hampshire primary and later handled baggage for traveling reporters. White House videographer Arun Chaudhary _ a constant presence on the trail _ landed invitations for his family.

Others in the exclusive group included Michelle Obama’s counsel and friend Susan Sher; Herbie Ziskend, a staff assistant to Vice President Joe Biden’s policy and economic advisers; and White House deputy director of advance and special events Lisa Kohnke.

White House aides said they believe it was the first president-hosted Seder at the White House.


band annie : I am sure he will host an iftar come next Ramadan

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: One-State Supporters Make a Comeback

Analysis by Helena Cobban

WASHINGTON, Apr 10 (IPS) – President Barack Obama has spoken out forcefully – including this week, in Ankara, Turkey – in favour of building an independent Palestinian state alongside a still robust Israel. However, many Palestinians have noted that President George W. Bush also, in recent years, expressed a commitment to Palestinian statehood. But, they note, Bush never took the actions necessary to achieve such a state – and neither, until now, has Obama.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to give very generous support to Israel – where successive governments have built Jewish-only colonies in the occupied West Bank and taken other actions that make a viable Palestinian state increasingly hard to achieve.

Many Palestinians and some important voices in what remains of Israel’s now-battered peace camp have concluded that it is now impossible to win the ‘two-state solution’ envisaged by Bush and Obama. This has led to the re-emergence in both communities of an old idea: that of a single bi- national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, in which both Hebrew-speaking Jewish Israelis and Arabic-speaking Palestinians would have equal rights as citizens, and find themselves equally at home.

That goal was advocated most eloquently in the 1930s and early 1940s by Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, and other intellectuals at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. However, most Israelis moved away from it after Israel was established as a specifically Jewish state in 1948.

Later, in 1968, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) articulated a somewhat similar goal: that of building a ‘secular democratic state’, which comprises both pre-1967 Israel and the West Bank and Gaza – which Israel brought under military occupation in 1967.

However, the PLO leaders could never agree on which of the numerous Jewish immigrants brought into Israel before and after 1948 to include in their project. A few years later, in 1974, most PLO supporters – but not all – moved decisively away from the ‘one-state’ model. They started working instead for the two-state model: an independent Palestinian state in just the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, alongside the Israel state.

For 26 years after 1974, Israel’s governments remained deeply opposed to an independent Palestinian state. All those governments made lavish investments in the project – illegal under international law – of implanting their own citizens as settlers in the occupied West Bank. They annexed East Jerusalem. When pressed on the Palestinians’ future, they said they hoped Palestinians could exercise their rights in Egypt or Jordan – just not inside historic Palestine. This idea has been making a comeback recently – including among advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In 1993, Israel finally recognized the PLO, and concluded the Oslo Accord with it. Under Oslo, the two sides created a new body called the Palestinian Authority (PA), designed to administer some aspects of daily life in parts of the occupied territories – though not, crucially, in occupied East Jerusalem.

Even after Oslo, Israeli officials made clear that they had not promised the PLO a full Palestinian state. They also said, correctly, that their rights and responsibilities as a military occupying power would remain in place. The final disposition of the occupied areas would await conclusion of a final peace agreement.

Oslo specified that that agreement should be completed by 1999. Ten years later, that deadline has still not been met – a final peace treaty still seems fairly distant. Meanwhile, Israel has used the 16 years since Oslo to increase both the number of settlers it has in the West Bank and the degree of control it exercises over the economies of both Gaza and the West Bank.

Palestinian-American political scientist Leila Farsakh describes Israel’s policies toward the economies of both areas as “the engineering of pauperisation.” She notes that despite the large amounts of international aid poured into the West Bank, poverty rates there have risen. Most West Bank areas outside the territory’s glitzy ‘capital’, Ramallah, are poor and increasingly aid-dependent. Lavish new settlements housing 480,000 settlers crowd much of the West Bank’s best land, and guzzle its water, Farsakh explains.

In an Israeli population of just 7.2 million, those settlers now form a formidable voting bloc. Attempts to move them out look almost impossible. In the latest round of peace negotiations that Israel and the PA/PLO pursued from 2000 until recently, participants discussed ways to reduce the number of settlers required to move by annexing the big settlement areas to Israel in return for a land exchange. But those boundary modifications look complex, and quite possibly unworkable.

Meanwhile, the negotiation over a small Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza has sidelined the concerns and rights of three important Palestinian constituencies. The 1.2 million Palestinians who are citizens of Israel would remain as an embattled minority within an Israeli state still ideologically committed to the immigration of additional Jews. The 270,000 Palestinians of Jerusalem might also still be surrounded and vulnerable. And the five million Palestinians who still – 61 years after they and their forbearers fled homes in what became Israel in 1948 – would have their long-pursued right to return laid down forever.

From 1982 – the year the PLO’s leaders and guerrilla forces were expelled from Lebanon – until recently, the main dynamo of Palestinian nationalism has been located in the Palestinian communities of the occupied West Bank and Gaza. But in recent years, those communities have been severely weakened. They are administratively atomised, politically divided, and live under a palpable sense of physical threat.

Many ‘occupied’ Palestinians are returning to the key defensive ideas of steadfastness and “just hanging on” to their land. But new energy for leadership is now emerging between two other key groups of Palestinians: those in the diaspora, and those who are citizens of Israel. The contribution those groups can make to nationwide organising has been considerably strengthened by new technologies – and crucially, neither of them has much interest in a two-state outcome.

Not surprisingly, therefore, discussions about the nature of a one-state outcome – and how to achieve it – have become more frequent, and much richer in intellectual content, in recent years.

Palestinian-Israeli professor Nadim Rouhanna, now teaching at Tufts University in Massachusetts, is a leader in the new thinking. “The challenge is how to achieve the liberation of both societies from being oppressed and being oppressors,” he told a recent conference in Washington, DC. “Palestinians have to… reassure the Israeli Jews that their culture and vitality will remain. We need to go further than seeing them only as ‘Jews-by- religion’ in a future Palestinian society.”

Like many advocates of the one-state outcome, Rouhanna referred enthusiastically to the exuberant multiculturalism and full political equality that have been embraced by post-apartheid South Africa.

Progressive Jewish Israelis like Ben Gurion University geographer Oren Yiftachel are also part of the new movement. Yiftachel’s most recent work has examined at the Israeli authorities’ decades-long campaign to expropriate the lands of the ethnically Palestinian Bedouin who live in southern Israel – and are citizens of Israel. “The expropriation continues – there and inside the West Bank, and in East Jerusalem,” Yiftachel said, explaining that he did not see the existence of “the Green Line” that supposedly separates Israel from the occupied territory as an analytically or politically relevant concept.

Nuclear restraints

By Yousef Munayyer
April 9, 2009

It was nearly 25 years ago when Israeli nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu exposed his nation’s secret nuclear weapons program to the world through The Sunday Times of London. Now, days before he is due to be released from captivity in Israel, an American president dared to envision a world free of nuclear weapons. In the Middle East, however, things seem to be heading in the opposite direction.

While the Israelis have stuck to a strategy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming or denying possession of nuclear weapons, experts around the globe estimate the Israeli stockpile to be in the range of 70 to 300 nuclear warheads, reports the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The Israelis have also taken pre-emptive and provocative steps to ensure nuclear dominance in the region by carrying out attacks in Iraq and Syria.

Despite the fact that the Israeli nuclear capability has contributed to the end of conventional interstate war in the region, animosity remains steady as battlefields shift. Increased asymmetrical warfare is on the rise and although Israel remains conventionally superior to its non-state enemies in the region, it has failed in eliminating the threats they pose.

Iran also continues to test Western patience by perpetuating its nuclear program. While Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, policymakers here often suspect otherwise.

The Middle East has enough problems and certainly does not need another, deadlier, weapons race. But an Iran-centric non-proliferation policy is myopic and dangerous and will likely lead the region into further destabilizing conflict.

A better approach is reviving an effort for a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction. Recalled in UN Security Council Resolution 687, the creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East would go a great distance toward providing security for states in the region and re-establishing faith in the international legal system.

To do this, the international community, led by the United States, would have to put equal pressure on Iran and Israel to open their facilities for full inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and dismantle all nuclear weapons programs and eliminate all stockpiles.

This will not be easy for Israel to accept considering its history in the region and the solid track record of deterrence its weapons program has had with surrounding states.

However, these concerns can be allayed by strong security guarantees by the United States to retaliate against any state that launches a nuclear attack against Israel. A nuclear attack on Israel by a Muslim majority state is also deterred by the significant, and larger, number of Muslim kin who would be killed in such an attack.

This policy would have to go hand in hand with a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which has in recent years become a proxy battleground for the United States and Iran and has only resulted in the unnecessary deaths of countless innocents.

The alternatives to a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East are grim. It is unlikely that sanctions will halt a hurting but sustainable oil-exporting Iran, and military options cannot guarantee the desired outcome without the likelihood of ground operations or regional conflagration.

Eight years of disastrous U.S. foreign policy has contributed to the rise of a defensive Iran, the realignment of states in the Middle East, a perpetuated Israeli/Palestinian conflict and an increase in asymmetrical war throughout the region. The U.S. has a responsibility and a major national security and economic stake in setting the Middle East on a different course.

If President Barack Obama envisions a world free of nuclear weapons, he can begin by evenhandedly enforcing non-proliferation policy in the Middle East with Iran and Israel. Obama will get much further with this strategy than an Iran-only approach, which comes off to Middle Easterners as hypocritical, hegemonic and deceitful.

Yousef Munayyer is a policy analyst at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington.
via ePalestine Blog

Nuclear Threat is from Israel NOT Iran.

Ezer Weizman once said “The nuclear issue is gaining momentum [and the] next war will not be conventional.” From the 1950s the US trained Israeli nuclear scientists and providing nuclear technology, including a small ‘research’ reactor in 1955 under the ‘Atoms for Peace’ program. The French built a uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing plant in the Negev desert, called Dimona. The Israelis lied, stating it was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory”. In return for uranium, Israel supplied South Africa with the technology and expertise that allowed the white supremacist regime to build the “apartheid bomb”.

In 1979 US satellite photographs revealed the atmospheric test of a nuclear bomb in the Indian Ocean off South Africa, Israel’s involvement was quickly whitewashed by a carefully selected scientific panel, kept in the dark about important details. Israeli sources have since revealed “there were actually three tests of miniaturised Israeli nuclear artillery shells”.

Mordechai Vanunu worked as a nuclear technician at Dimona. A supporter of Palestinian rights, Vanunu believed it was his duty to warn the world about the danger Israel posed. In 1986, he smuggled out photographs showing that the plant was producing enough plutonium to make 10 to 12 bombs a year, and that at least 200 miniaturised bombs had been built.

Viva Palestina US: ‘We aim for $10 million in aid and 500 vehicles for Gaza’, say George Galloway and Ron Kovic


Fresh from the success of the Viva Palestina aid convoy which took over 100 vehicles to Gaza from Britain, George Galloway MP has linked up on his US tour with the Vietnam veteran and peace campaigner Ron Kovic to launch a similar, but bigger venture from the States.

Galloway announced the initiative at a 1000-strong meeting in Anaheim, South California, rounding off a packed-out, coast to coast speaking tour highlighting the Palestinian cause. (You can watch youtube video at )

“There’s a new atmosphere in the US over Palestine,” says Galloway, “the phenomenal response to this tour demonstrates that.”

Ron Kovic, whose story was immortalised in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, will be the co-leader of the convoy, which will form up in Egypt and make its way to the Rafah crossing and into Gaza.

Organisers are aiming for 500 vehicles and $10 million of aid.

“And what better day to head off,” says Galloway, “Than July 4 – Independence Day!”

For further information contact Kevin Ovenden: 07983 360 874

Email Alert from .

In Lebanon too

Activists picket outside ‘pro-Israel’ McDonalds
By Marc Abizeid

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BEIRUT: McDonalds became the latest target of the boycott campaign against pro-Israeli businesses Tuesday when a couple of dozen activists representing the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth (ULDY) picketed outside the fast-food chain’s Hamra location across from the American University of Beirut (AUB).

“People who sit there and don’t care – may they eat poison,” they shouted, addressing the few customers who ignored the protesters and munched on their food inside the restaurant. “You’re being fed Palestinian meat,” they continued.

ULDY regularly calls for protests outside large restaurants and businesses that the group accuses of contributing directly or indirectly to Israel. Last month the same activists held a similar protest outside a Starbucks cafe, also located in Hamra.

At McDonalds, they held up signs and handed out flyers to passers-by. One of the signs read: “300 job opportunities in Lebanon, is this worth one Palestinian life?” The phrase was in response to McDonalds’ defenders in the country who say that the local franchise is run by Lebanese, uses Lebanese products and provides incomes for 300 Lebanese families.

“We have come here today to spread knowledge of the importance of the boycott,” said ULDY member Tarek al-Ali. “Whats being done in Gaza [isn’t over yet]. People there are still sick, suffering, feeling hunger and are still under siege by Israel.”

Several police officers quietly observed as the store’s manager came out to confront the protesters but, outnumbered and facing a deeply passionate crowd, soon retreated.

“I always had this guilt like we should not go eat at McDonalds nor at Starbucks or any of these franchises that are supporting the Zionists,” Rasha Moghnieh, 21, replied when asked why she didn’t cross the picket line to join her friends inside the restaurant.

“It’s not about individuals,” she said. “Governments should be boycotting these chains.”


The Two Faces of Barack Obama

One for the masses, one for the power elite
by Justin Raimondo, April 06, 2009

The news from Europe, if you listen to our infatuated media, is that the Euros love President Obama: according to the American reportage, his recent trip there was a cavalcade of photo-ops, cheering crowds, and hugs from the queen of England. Even the French were in awe of him! However, if you look beneath the surface, not that far beneath the gloss and the glam there runs a current of irritation, and, dare I say it, resentment.

Take, for example, his stop in the Czech Republic, where he declared that he was seeking a nuclear-free world – that is, a world free of nuclear weapons. This is a goal the United States has a special moral responsibility to seek, he averred, because we are the only nation that has actually used these weapons. The crowd loved it. What they didn’t at all love, however, was his announcement that

“‘As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven. Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies.’”

“The governments of the Czech Republic and Poland, he added, are ‘courageous’ for ‘agreeing to host a defense against these missiles.’”


Hollywood Holocausts

Carlos Latuff
Carlos Latuff

Sunday, 5 April 2009

From Aunt Ziona

This is what I call Jewish Power! Look at this meshigine ferukter.

Why do you need Palestinians? Our Holocaust is much nicer!

United Against other people’s pain

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