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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

How the War on Terror Created the World’s Most Powerful Terror Group.

From the hours immediately after 9/11 to the present, Washington’s policies in the Middle East have created the conditions for more—not less—jihadist terror.

The Nation, August 21, 2014  

[This essay, which originally appeared on TomDispatch, is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, with special thanks to his publisher, OR Books.  The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.]

 

There are extraordinary elements in the present US  policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the US  is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL – better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The US  would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

But US , Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate” Syrian opposition being helped by the US , Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis.  It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of US  policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the US  has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

 

Using the al-Qa’ida Label.

The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qa‘ida central or “core” al-Qa‘ida. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

In fact, the idea that the only jihadis to be worried about are those with the official blessing of al-Qa‘ida is naïve and self-deceiving. It ignores the fact, for instance, that ISIS has been criticized by the al-Qa‘ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for its excessive violence and sectarianism. After talking to a range of Syrian jihadi rebels not directly affiliated with al-Qa‘ida in southeast Turkey earlier this year, a source told me that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the US.”

Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of US  policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.

 

The name al-Qa‘ida has always been applied flexibly when identifying an enemy. In 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, as armed Iraqi opposition to the American and British-led occupation mounted, US  officials attributed most attacks to al-Qa‘ida, though many were carried out by nationalist and Baathist groups. Propaganda like this helped to persuade nearly 60% of US  voters prior to the Iraq invasion that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and those responsible for 9/11, despite the absence of any evidence for this. In Iraq itself, indeed throughout the entire Muslim world, these accusations have benefited al-Qa‘ida by exaggerating its role in the resistance to the US  and British occupation.

Precisely the opposite PR tactics were employed by Western governments in 2011 in Libya, where any similarity between al-Qa‘ida and the NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was played down. Only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qa‘ida “core” of Osama bin Laden were deemed to be dangerous. The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with al-Qa‘ida was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when US  ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

 

Imagining al-Qa’ida as the Mafia.

Al-Qa‘ida is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qa‘ida’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. At the center of this doctrine for making war is an emphasis on self-sacrifice and martyrdom as a symbol of religious faith and commitment. This has resulted in using untrained but fanatical believers as suicide bombers, to devastating effect.

It has always been in the interest of the US  and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

 

Osama bin Laden’s gathering of militants, which he did not call al-Qa‘ida until after 9/11, was just one of many jihadi groups 12 years ago. But today its ideas and methods are predominant among jihadis because of the prestige and publicity it gained through the destruction of the Twin Towers, the war in Iraq, and its demonization by Washington as the source of all anti-American evil. These days, there is a narrowing of differences in the beliefs of jihadis, regardless of whether or not they are formally linked to al-Qa‘ida central.

 

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa‘ida because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa‘ida’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qa‘ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently.

 

Ignoring the Roles of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan  !!!

The key decisions that enabled al-Qa‘ida to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite, and his father had been a close associate of the Saudi monarch. Citing a CIA report from 2002, the official 9/11 report says that al-Qa‘ida relied for its financing on “a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

The report’s investigators repeatedly found their access limited or denied when seeking information in Saudi Arabia. Yet President George W. Bush apparently never even considered holding the Saudis responsible for what happened. An exit of senior Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, from the US  was facilitated by the US  government in the days after 9/11. Most significant, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report about the relationship between the attackers and Saudi Arabia were cut and never published, despite a promise by President Obama to do so, on the grounds of national security.

In 2009, eight years after 9/11, a cable from the US  secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, revealed by WikiLeaks, complained that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. But despite this private admission, the US  and Western Europeans continued to remain indifferent to Saudi preachers whose message, spread to millions by satellite TV, YouTube, and Twitter, called for the killing of the Shia as heretics. These calls came as al-Qa‘ida bombs were slaughtering people in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. A sub-headline in another State Department cable in the same year reads: “Saudi Arabia: Anti-Shi’ism as Foreign Policy?” Now, five years later, Saudi-supported groups have a record of extreme sectarianism against non-Sunni Muslims.

Pakistan, or rather Pakistani military intelligence in the shape of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the other parent of al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and jihadi movements in general. When the Taliban was disintegrating under the weight of US  bombing in 2001, its forces in northern Afghanistan were trapped by anti-Taliban forces. Before they surrendered, hundreds of ISI members, military trainers, and advisers were hastily evacuated by air. Despite the clearest evidence of ISI’s sponsorship of the Taliban and jihadis in general, Washington refused to confront Pakistan, and thereby opened the way for the resurgence of the Taliban after 2003, which neither the US  nor NATO has been able to reverse.

The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The US  did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.

 

The spectacular resurgence of al-Qa‘ida and its offshoots has happened despite the huge expansion of American and British intelligence services and their budgets after 9/11. Since then, the US, closely followed by Britain, has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and adopted procedures normally associated with police states, such as imprisonment without trial, rendition, torture, and domestic espionage. Governments wage the “war on terror” claiming that the rights of individual citizens must be sacrificed to secure the safety of all.

In the face of these controversial security measures, the movements against which they are aimed have not been defeated but rather have grown stronger. At the time of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida was a small, generally ineffectual organization; by 2014 al-Qa‘ida-type groups were numerous and powerful.

In other words, the “war on terror,” the waging of which has shaped the political landscape for so much of the world since 2001, has demonstrably failed. Until the fall of Mosul, nobody paid much attention.

———————

August 21, 2014  
———————-
What Cockburn did not say is that US Intelligence was happy to work with the officials in Pakistan and with the Sunni preachers and moneyed Saudis in Cold War days in order to pep up the Muslim opposition to the Soviet Infidels in Afghanistan. That was the start of scourge-building instigated by the US & Pakistani Intelligence services. The Ginny that was unleashed never went back into the Foggy-Bottom bottle. His success in Afghanistan those days encouraged the Saudi Wahhabi preachers  to want ever more. They wanted a more Islamic strict Saudi Monarchy and were ready to settle for Saudi money support to move their attacks against non-Saudi targets – why not the US infidel?It was the alliance between the House of Bush and the House of Saud that eventually wove together the two Oil-States.

It was the cover the Bush family gave to the Bin-Ladin Family after 9/11 that bared the liaison for all to see.

Then – still with glimpses of oil as blinders on their eyes – the CIA  after 9/11 ventured into Afghanistan and Iraq establishing dubious local alliances that we see crumbling these days when a new US President tried to decide he had enough of it. He has a very tough time, and seemingly an impossible task, if he were to try to stop the Middle East from sliding back into a new pre-civilization era.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Islamic State Fighter: Hezbollah and the Jews Are Next.

The Algemeiner as per Globes which is the Israeli business journal – August 18, 2014

“From Syria, we’ll expand the caliphate, Allah willing, and Hizbullah and the Jews will meet their fate, and soon,” vowed an American-born 26-year-old Islamic State (IS) fighter in Aleppo, Syria to a disguised Israeli reporter, Israel’s Globes reported Monday.

Posing as “Abed al-Islam Afifi,” 26, from Paris, the reporter contacted Abu Turab via a cellphone app.

“Of course, it’s great to be here [in Syria],” Abu Turab said. “Jihad in our generation is a personal duty. While I can’t directly recommend it to you, Allah, praised be His name, told all Muslims to follow in his path.”

When the reporter asked for more information on how to join IS and the group’s goals, he was told, “First, go to Turkey, and there, I’ll give you a number of someone to call, and they’ll do the rest. It’s that simple,” he was told.

IS boasts that dozens of American youths, and hundreds from various countries in Europe have joined its ranks and have already entered Syria and Iraq to fight alongside various factions, in part, thanks to easy access to information on the internet.

The reporter said he found Abu-Turab on a European social network dedicated to offering questions and answers on joining the worldwide terrorist scourge. Abu-Turab is a star on this particular network, according to the report, with hundreds of answers posted to questions about the group’s aims and goals.

“What happens of Bashar [Assad's] dogs reach you?” one person asked.

“They haven’t got to me yet, but I pray to Allah that it doesn’t happen,” Abu Turab replied.

According to the report, Prof. Meir Litvak of the Department of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, said,”These young people are highly alienated from their environment.”

“They’re attracted to whatever is the most ‘anti’ to whatever is in front of them,” he said. “And radical Islamic fundamentalism represents it – [opposition] to the ‘totally rotten and corrupt America,’ in their view.”

The easiest explanation for the attraction of young people to jihad is an economic rationale, but Professor Litvak argues that “most of them are not poor; no economic crisis pushed them into despair. Not at all. These youngsters are middle class.”

“For example the British of Pakistani origin who perpetrated the attacks in London – it’s same thing. While there are the typical ‘marginal’ Americans or Europeans youth, the majority are young Muslims from families who feel alienated from bourgeois society.”

Dr. Muhammad Al Atawneh, a senior faculty member in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, suggested that these young people understand Islam and organizations like IS via non-religious sources.

“For these young people, this is a protest. They see radical Islam as an alternative to the failure of nation-states. They go to the edge of the edge, talking about the caliphate, but no one there knows what ‘caliphate’ really means,” he said.

“There is tremendous ignorance on the subject,” Al Atawneh said. “They’re very confused in matters of religion. The distortions and gaps are so abysmal, it is impossible to understand what texts people who chop off heads are following.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A CHOREOGRAPHY THAT EXPLORES THE IDEA OF RECONCILIATION.

Fishman Space in BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, near Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn; 718-636-4100, www.bam.org.

The main purpose of DanceMotion USA, a cultural diplomacy program run by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the State Department, is to send American artistic troupes abroad. Yet the program also benefits New Yorkers directly by having  American companies bring back a foreign one for a free, collaborative stay and performance here of several weeks – sometimes at dance camps out-of-town i.e. in Maine.  Eventually a new program is born and it is shown at the Brooklyn BAM which is now blessed o have also the  Fisher Building (Fishman Space) next door. These visits have proven to say the least – interesting. The New York Times prefers to say illuminating.

At the BAM Fishman Space on Thursday, David Dorfman Dance which is based at the BAM, back from a four-week tour of Turkey, Armenia and Tajikistan, teamed up with the Korhan Basaran Company from Istanbul, augmented by two Armenian dancers – Karen Khatchatryan and Davit Grigoryan. 

The program was not one with pieces from each of the performing triangle’s previous repertory.  Mr. Dorfman and Mr. Basaran went all the way,  joining forces for an hour-long  joint program titled – “Unsettled” with a  chosen theme of  “reconciliation.”   It was remarkable how well the two companies, both packed with powerful dancers did merge.

The work teemed with groups pushing and shoving, but it did not set one troupe against the other. The sharpest contrast — in the opening moments and in two later face-off duets — was between the choreographers: Mr. Basaran, tall, with a tendency to collapse inward, and Mr. Dorfman, squat, always hurling his energy out. Yet the aesthetic kinship between them was also apparent in eruptive rhythms and labile emotions.

The music, composed and played live by Sam Crawford, Liz de Lise, Jesse Manno and Timothy Quigley, beguilingly blended Western and Middle Eastern styles and instrumentation. It borrowed the folk song “Sari Gyalin” (or “Sari Gelin”), which in Turkish, Armenian and English versions laments the failure of love across ethnic divides.


A few scenes — for example, a forced march — could be read as specific allusions to the bloody history between Turks and Armenians, but much of the work’s tension was cannily translated into the power dynamics of the choreographic process. In its strongest segment, Evrim Akyay, a slinky Turkish dancer with a menacing presence, directed the motions of an ingenuous American, Kendra Portier, as if in rehearsal for this show. The more he yelled at her in Turkish and slapped her around, the brighter her smile. Though, the power of that scene was squandered as Ms. Portier turned to audience members and implored them to move closer together, vocalizing her needs in dancerly double entendres (“I need to be moved”).  Similarly, another scene swerved from infantile humor to a sharp evocation of the coercion in making people say they’re sorry, only to end with weeping on the ground. A shrewd point about forced reconciliations got belabored in a manner that was itself coercive.

Still, it is to the credit of all involved that “Unsettled,” after a celebratory group dance, had the honesty to remain unsettled. What resonated was a moment before the end, when Mr. Dorfman, having failed to force his friendship on Mr. Basaran, took a line from the folk song and allowed it to expand into a humble question for everyone: “Oh tell me please, what can I do?”

 

This reporting of mine follows a review in the New York Times and a feeling that many in the audience, including myself, had that though seeing a piece that historically dealt with the Armenian – Turkish relations that included an attempt at genocide, actually today the topic is the Israeli Palestinian conflict and it was obvious that to untrained ears Turkish, Armenian, or Arab music – seem all the same – and thus a presence in the air – reference was being made to the Middle East as if there were some generic to it.

The performances at the BAM went on Thursday – Friday – Saturday evenings, but then there was also a performance Saturday afternoon that I attended because it had also a follow up discussion with TV link to Istanbul and questions via the internet from London, Ankara, Germany and some other places.

On a question about the collaboration we heard an answer that said – in a month we become one but in some things where there were differences we become States.

Before the TV land internet links the conversation was according to the natural language of the speaker with a sometime translation into English – then from Ankara came the notion that something that was said in Armenian needed also Turkish translation. Fair enough.

On the I AM SORRY piece: “Children can easily apologize to each other – forget and forgive.”  As he got older, the comment went on, he felt he needed more – the words alone mean less.

Then he saw The Planet of the Apes – they have the capacity of forgive & forget – but we do not have that capacity anymore.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Kein Grund zur Euphorie

Kommentar | Gudrun Harrer15. August 2014, 14:35

Maliki ist nicht die einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak.

Am Ende hat er noch US-Lob für seine “ehrenvolle” Entscheidung bekommen: Nuri al-Maliki hat seine – von seinem Wahlsieg bei den Parlamentswahlen abgeleiteten – Ansprüche auf das Amt des Premiers aufgegeben und damit die Gefahr gebannt, dass sich zur Sicherheitskrise im Irak auch noch eine Verfassungskrise gesellt. Haidar al-Abadi kann nun seine Regierung bilden, ohne dass einer der eigenen Leute mit der Axt hinter ihm steht.

Allerdings ist jede Euphorie, in der die Person Malikis als einzige Barriere zur politischen Gesundung und Einheit des Irak gesehen wurde, völlig fehl am Platz: Abadi wird den arabischen Sunniten und den Kurden weit reichende Angebote machen müssen, um sie wieder einzubinden. Und er wird seine Zusagen – anders als es Maliki nach den Wahlen 2010 getan hat – auch halten müssen.

Alle, auch seine eigene Dawa-Partei, hatten Maliki fallen gelassen. Mit seinem Schritt hat er sich erspart, einmal mehr in der Freitagspredigt des Vertreters der wichtigsten schiitischen Autorität im Irak, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, wenig subtil zum Abtreten aufgefordert zu werden. Aber dass erfolglose Politiker sich besser zurückziehen, hatte Sistani schon vor den Wahlen dekretiert, seinerseits erfolglos, weder Maliki noch seine Wähler hatten auf Sistani gehört. Erst als das Trommelfeuer auch aus dem Iran, von höchsten Stellen, kam, hatte Maliki ein Einsehen.

US-Präsident Barack Obama wiederum knüpfte seine Zusage für ein verstärktes militärisches Engagement an eine inklusive Regierung in Bagdad, unter Kooperation aller Gruppen. Dem stand der polarisierende Maliki im Wege. Es ist traurig, dass es der Gefahr des „Islamischen Staats“ (IS) und einer humanitären Krise katastrophalen Ausmaßes bedurfte, um ihn zum Gehen zu bewegen. Umgekehrt könnte man sein (vorläufiges) Ende auch als Erfolg des sunnitischen Aufstands gegen Bagdad verbuchen – wäre nicht dieser Aufstand längst vom jihadistischen Wahnsinn aufgesogen und delegitimiert worden.

Wenn man die Berichte von Militäranalysten über die von der IS infizierten Gebiete liest, könnte man den Schluss ziehen, dass die IS zwar momentan punktuell noch gewinnt, aber ihre große Offensive etwas stockt. Die schlechte Nachricht ist, dass gegen die IS oft nicht die irakische Armee, sondern schiitische Milizen erfolgreich sind: Sie muss Bagdad schnell in den Griff kriegen, denn ihr Wüten ruft wieder eine sunnitische Gegenbewegung hervor.

Die Jesiden sind zwar nicht alle in Sicherheit, aber die US-Hilfe greift. Der Vorwurf, dass es den USA einmal mehr um die Ölfelder und den Schutz der dort präsenten internationalen Ölfirmen ankommt, konnte nicht ausbleiben. Aber erstens ist das in diesem Moment ohnehin sekundär. Und zweitens ist die US-Einstellung zu den nahöstlichen Ölvorkommen in einem grundlegenden Wandel begriffen. Das eigene Interesse am Öl mag ein Motiv sein, aber vor allem gilt es zu verhindern, dass noch mehr Ressourcen der IS in die Hände fallen. Und das ist ja wohl vernünftig. (Gudrun Harrer, DER STANDARD, 16.8.2014)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

America Should Get Out of the Peacekeeping Business in Israel.

—By

| Tue Jul. 29, 2014

From the Washington Post:

Anyone who has made even a passing glance at the Israeli media in the past few days will have noticed the incredible chorus of criticism being directed at John Kerry right now. The secretary of state has been lambasted by all sides for his apparent failure in attempts to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

[Examples follow]

And it’s not just Israelis. Elsewhere in the Post, David Ignatius takes Kerry to task too:

Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he’s pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it’s not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.

Kerry’s error has been to….

I think we should stop right there. Kerry has made only one mistake, and that was trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the first place. He didn’t fail because of any personal shortcomings; he failed because there were no terms under which either side would ever have agreed to a ceasefire. The fighting will stop when both sides decide to stop, and not a minute before. It’s long past time for everyone to acknowledge this.

The United States has been trying to broker peace in the Middle East for the past 20 years. Maybe longer, depending on how you count. But 20 years at least, and every attempt has failed. Various Americans have tried, all with different approaches, and the result has been the same every time: not just failure, but a steady and inexorable deterioration of the situation. It’s no longer credible to pretend that maybe a different person with a different approach and different sympathies might have made a difference in any particular situation. Blaming Kerry for this latest failure is just delusional.

Quite famously, we all “know” what a deal between Israel and the Palestinians needs to look like. It’s obvious. Everyone says so. The only wee obstacle is that neither side is willing to accept this obvious deal. They just aren’t. The problem isn’t agreeing on a line on a map, or a particular circumlocution in a particular document. The problem is much simpler than that, so simple that sophisticated people are embarrassed to say it outright: Two groups of people want the same piece of land. Both of them feel they have a right to it. Both of them are, for the time being, willing to fight for it. Neither is inclined to give up anything for a peace that neither side believes in.

That’s it. That’s all there is. All the myriad details don’t matter. Someday that may change, and when it does the United States may have a constructive role to play in brokering a peace deal. But that day is nowhere in the near future. For now, it’s time for America to get out of the peacekeeping business. Our presence there does no good, and might very well be doing active harm. This doesn’t mean withdrawing from the region, it just means getting out of the shuttle diplomacy business. Neither side is ready for it, and probably won’t be for years. Let’s end the charade.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

An Israel Without Illusions

David Grossman: Stop the Grindstone of Israeli-Palestinian Violence.

By DAVID GROSSMAN – JULY 27, 2014

First published in Hebrew by HAARETZ, then picked up in translation by the New York Times.

David Grossman is an Israeli intellectual who is a bereaved father having lost a son in the Lebanon War. He does not mention this in the article as probably his intention is to speak to our minds with clear logic – not the softness of feelings. His article ought to be available to all, and not turned by media owners into hot property as both – Haaretz and The New York Times – try to do when pushing on the interested reader the notion that if they want to read this they have to become members of the exclusive club of subscribers to that paper. The NYT is now down to peddle a subscription limited to their Opinion pages.   I wonder, if asked, David Grossman would say that he wants no money for this article?

====================

 

JERUSALEM —  Israelis and Palestinians are imprisoned in what seems increasingly like a hermetically sealed bubble. Over the years, inside this bubble, each side has evolved sophisticated justifications for every act it commits.

Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas, conversely, justifies its attacks on Israel by arguing that the Palestinians are still under occupation and that residents of Gaza are withering away under the blockade enforced by Israel.

Inside the bubble, who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground? And what is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right. They both obey the law of the bubble — the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.

But the big question, as war rages on, is not about the horrors occurring every day inside the bubble, but rather it is this: How on earth can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century? This question, for me, is the crux of the latest bloody cycle.

Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas? In other words: Why is it that Israeli governments have been incapable, for decades, of thinking outside the bubble?

And yet the current round between Israel and Gaza is somehow different. Beyond the pugnacity of a few politicians fanning the flames of war, behind the great show of “unity” — in part authentic, mostly manipulative — something about this war is managing, I think, to direct many Israelis’ attention toward the mechanism that lies at the foundation of the vain and deadly repetitive “situation.” Many Israelis who have refused to acknowledge the state of affairs are now looking into the futile cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge, and they are seeing our reflection: a clear, unadorned image of Israel as a brilliantly creative, inventive, audacious state that for over a century has been circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago.

If we put aside for a moment the rationales we use to buttress ourselves against simple human compassion toward the multitude of Palestinians whose lives have been shattered in this war, perhaps we will be able to see them, too, as they trudge around the grindstone right beside us, in tandem, in endless blind circles, in numbing despair.

I do not know what the Palestinians, including Gazans, really think at this moment. But I do have a sense that Israel is growing up. Sadly, painfully, gnashing its teeth, but nonetheless maturing — or, rather, being forced to. Despite the belligerent declarations of hotheaded politicians and pundits, beyond the violent onslaught of right-wing thugs against anyone whose opinion differs from theirs, the main artery of the Israeli public is gaining sobriety.

The left is increasingly aware of the potent hatred against Israel — a hatred that arises not just from the occupation — and of the Islamic fundamentalist volcano that threatens the country. It also recognizes the fragility of any agreement that might be reached here. More people on the left understand now that the right wing’s fears are not mere paranoia, that they address a real and crucial threat.

I would hope that on the right, too, there is now greater recognition — even if it is accompanied by anger and frustration — of the limits of force; of the fact that even a powerful country like ours cannot simply act as it wishes; and that in the age we live in there are no unequivocal victories, only an illusory “image of victory” through which we can easily see the truth: that in war there are only losers.

There is no military solution to the real anguish of the Palestinian people, and as long as the suffocation felt in Gaza is not alleviated, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely either.

Israelis have known this for decades, and for decades we have refused to truly comprehend it. But perhaps this time we understand a little better; perhaps we have caught a glimpse of the reality of our lives from a slightly different angle. It is a painful understanding, and a threatening one, certainly, but it is an understanding that could be the start of a shift. It might bring home for Israelis how critical and urgent peace with the Palestinians is, and how it can also be a basis for peace with the other Arab states. It may portray peace — such a disparaged concept here these days — as the best option, and the most secure one, available to Israel.

Will a similar comprehension emerge on the other side, in Hamas?

I have no way of knowing. But the Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism. Will the government of Israel, after this bloody war, after losing so many young and beloved people, continue to avoid at least trying this option? Will it continue to ignore Mr. Abbas as an essential component to any resolution? Will it keep dismissing the possibility that an agreement with West Bank Palestinians might gradually lead to an improved relationship with the 1.8 million residents of Gaza?

Here in Israel, as soon as the war is over, we must begin the process of creating a new partnership, an internal alliance that will alter the array of narrow interest groups that controls us. An alliance of those who comprehend the fatal risk of continuing to circle the grindstone; those who understand that our borderlines no longer separate Jews from Arabs, but people who long to live in peace from those who feed, ideologically and emotionally, on continued violence.

I believe that Israel still contains a critical mass of people, both left-wing and right-wing, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, who are capable of uniting — with sobriety, with no illusions — around a few points of agreement to resolve the conflict with our neighbors.

There are many who still “remember the future” (an odd phrase, but an accurate one in this context) — the future they want for Israel, and for Palestine. There are still — but who knows for how much longer — people in Israel who understand that if we sink into apathy again we will be leaving the arena to those who would drag us fervently into the next war, igniting every possible locus of conflict in Israeli society as they go.

If we do not do this, we will all — Israelis and Palestinians, blindfolded, our heads bowed in stupor, collaborating with hopelessness — continue to turn the grindstone of this conflict, which crushes and erodes our lives, our hopes and our humanity.

———————-

David Grossman is the author, most recently, of “Falling Out of Time.” His other books include “To the End of the Land,” “Death as a Way of Life” and “The Yellow Wind.” This essay was translated by Jessica Cohen from the Hebrew.
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Some Comments:

Maura

Yesterday    Thank you, for a sane analysis of this horrible situation.

 

Occupy Government

Yesterday   Israel came into being with great moral authority and has been defending itself ever since, with support from the West. A considerable part…

 

Bill Levy

Yesterday   David Grossman there is no Israeli-Arab conflict only an Arab conflict. It wasn’t the Jews who wanted to destroy the Arabs not 100 years…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today, Saturday, July 26th, the news are that Prime Minster Netanyahu agreed to offer a 12 hours pause in the assault on Hamas in honor of the Muslim Eid al Fitr celebration and Hamas agreed to obey as well. The general hope is that the time will be used to start negotiations that could justify an extension of this truce. So far these news rated page 8 of the New York Times.

We follow very closely these events as SUSTAINABILITY in the Middle East requires a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the creation of an agreed upon and legitimized two or three States solution in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

After the release of the Genie of War from his temporary tunnel.  Israel cannot allow another temporary non-solution that will clearly lead only to renewed fighting down the road. Kick the Can time is over they say. The destruction of the military capability of Hamas and making safe the frontiers around the Gaza Strip – so no tunneling under those frontiers will continue in the aftermass of the 2914 conflict.

In these conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet have no interest in a 7 days cease-fire suggested by US  Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, neither does Israel consider pulling back the military equipment and the military from the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip without having achieved first the destruction of those tunnels – some as three mile long. Nor will Israel allow bringing in cement to the Gaza Strip before there is an authority to monitor that this cement is used for housing and roads and not for repairing  those tunnels and build new ones.

Those issues are fully known to Mr. Kerry and he also mentions them in his argument for cease-fire and negotiations, but here comes his meeting in Cairo where besides the President and Foreign Minister of Egypt acting as hosts, he also faced the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was pulled in as International Boss by the Amir of Qatar.to whom Mr. Kerry had to give homage in order to get the UN into this as representing the World at large – knowing that he came here on money from the main backer of the Hamas, while he himself, Mr. Ban, is in effect leaning on help from the Arab League at large that was represented in Cairo thus by the boss of the boss – Mr. Nabil AlArabi, Secretary -General of the Arab League that Mr, Ban Ki-moon recognizes as representing the Middle East region without Israel at the UN.  So far as the UN goes, Israel is not in Western Asia, but in Europe and “Others” – somewhat closer to the moon.

The real power the four elements that met in Cairo on July 24th is shown in the reporting from the US Department of State that we post here in full. The last speaker being obviously the one who thinks he represents the power of Sunni Islam – Arab and Turkish

———————-

Nabil AlAraby  (born 15 March 1935 in Egypt) is an experienced Egyptian diplomat who has been Secretary-General of the Arab League since July 2011. Previously, he was Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf’s post revolution government from March to June 2011.   Elaraby was Legal Adviser and Director in the Legal and Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978 and then Ambassador to India from 1981 to 1983; he then returned to his previous post at the Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1987.

He was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East peace conference in 1978, Head of the Egyptian delegation to the Taba negotiations from 1985 to 1989, and Agent of the Egyptian Government to the Egyptian-Israeli arbitration tribunal (Taba dispute) from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Egyptian Minister of Justice on the list of arbitrations in civil and commercial affairs in Egypt in 1995.

He holds a J.S.D. (1971) and an LL.M. (1969) from New York University School of Law and a law degree from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Law (1955). AlAraby is a partner at Zaki Hashem & Partners in Cairo, specializing in negotiations and arbitration.

at the United Nations:

In 1968 Elaraby was an Adlai Stevenson Fellow in International Law at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). He was appointed a Special Fellow in International Law at UNITAR in 1973, and was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations Geneva Middle East peace conference from 1973-1975.

AlArby was Egypt’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1978 to 1981, the Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva from 1987 to 1991, the Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 1991 to 1999, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1994 to 2004, President of the Security Council in 1996, and Vice-President of the General Assembly in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was a commissioner at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and a member of the International Court of Justice from 2001 until February 2006.

AlAraby has served as Chairman for the First (Disarmament and international security questions) Committee of the General Assembly, the Informal Working Group on an Agenda for Peace, the Working Group on Legal Instruments for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the UN Special Committee on Enhancing the Principle of the Prohibition of the Use of Force in International Relations.

Other international work:

AlAraby was an Arbitrator at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration in Paris in a dispute concerning the Suez Canal from 1989 to 1992. He was a judge in the Judicial Tribunal of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1990.

AlAraby was a member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from 2000 to 2010.[1] Since December 2008 he has been serving as the Director of the Regional Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration[2] and as a counsel of the Sudanese government in the “Abyei Boundary” Arbitration between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Revolutionary Movement.[3]

AlAraby has also served as a Member of the Board for the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, a Member of the Board for the Egyptian Society of International Law, and a Member of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Centre List of Neutrals.

2011 Egyptian revolution and transitional government:

Nabil AlAraby was one of the group of about 30 high-profile Egyptians acting as liaison between the protesters and the government, and pressing for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.[4]

At a democracy forum on 25 February 2011, he said the Egyptian government suffered from a lack of separation of powers, a lack of transparency and a lack of judicial independence.
He said foreign policy should be based on Egypt’s interests, including “holding Israel accountable when it does not respect its obligations.
[5]

On 6 March 2011, he was appointed Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf‘s post-revolution cabinet.[6]  Since then he has opened the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza and brokered the reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah.[7]

Clearly – a very versed man with large horizon and it is not clear where he stands with the present government of Egypt. Clearly not in the US corner.

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From the US Department of State – Remarks from

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Cairo, Egypt
July 25, 2014 o9:59 PM EDT

Remarks With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.


 As available:

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. You know that Egypt is – the serious military escalation in Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been exposed to in terms of destruction – broad destruction and killing of civilians that claimed up until now over 800 civilians and thousands of injured. We are working incessantly to end this crisis and to spare the Palestinian people of the dangers it has been exposed to, and to prevent further military escalation. And this has led to the proposal – to us proposing our plan, and we should know that Egypt has not spared any effort to stop – or to reach a cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people and to allow for negotiations to start between the two parties in order to discuss all the issues, in order to restore stability in the Gaza strip, and to meet the needs of the brotherly Palestinian people, and to also prevent further violence which the Palestinian civilians have been exposed to.

We have continued our efforts since the beginning of the military escalation to achieve this goal in cooperation with the U.S. and the secretary-general of the UN and the secretary-general of the Arab League and other parties – other regional and international parties in order to achieve this goal. We once again call for the immediate cease-fire, a cease of all actions in order to protect the Palestinian people. And given that the parties have not shown any – sufficient willingness to stop this, we are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire to observe the holy days that we are on the verge of observing at the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid for a period of seven days, in the hope that this will lead – will prompt the parties to heed the calls of conscience and humanitarian needs in order to reach a comprehensive cease-fire, and also begin negotiations in order to prevent the reoccurrence of this crisis.

And also, to propose a good framework for this objective, we have consulted over the last few days in order to formulate a formula that would be agreed to by all the sides, and also to stop the bloodshed. But unfortunately, we have to exert further effort in order to realize our common goals in this regard. The proposed ideas were focused or fell within the same framework that the Egyptian plan proposed. And once again, we will call on all parties to benefit from it and to accept it definitively. I would like on this occasion also to allow the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right. Well, let me start again. I want to thank Sameh Shoukry and President al-Sisi and Egypt for their very warm welcome here, but most importantly for their continued efforts to try to find a way to achieve a cease-fire agreement in Gaza and then beyond that, to be able to resolve the critical issues that are underlying this conflict. I thank Sameh for his help today and the work we’ve been doing together. We’ve made some movement and progress, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

I also want to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has traveled and worked tirelessly in these past days throughout the international community to try to bring people together, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby for his close partnership in this effort. They’ve been sources of good advice and also of tireless effort. So this is a broad effort with a broad based sense that something needs to be done.

I also want to acknowledge President Abbas who has traveled to any number of countries in recent days, and whom I met with just the other day, who expressed his desire – strong desire to achieve a cease-fire as rapidly as possible, and he has been passionately advocating for the Palestinian people and the future of the Palestinian state.

Let me just say that the agony of the events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated. The daily reality for too many people of grief and blood and loss and tears, it all joins together to pull at the fabric of daily life in each of their communities.

In Israel, millions of people are living under constant threat of Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks, and they’re ready to take cover at any moment’s notice. And I’ve had telephone conversations with the prime minister interrupted by that fact. Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with the family of a young man by the name of Max Steinberg, an American – one of two Americans killed in this devastating conflict – and his mother Naftali Fraenkel[1], who was murdered at the outset – whose son was murdered at the very outset of this crisis.

So any parent in the world, regardless of somebody’s background, can understand the horror of losing a child or of seeing these children who are caught in the crossfire. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have died over the past few weeks, including a tragic number of civilians. And we’ve all read the headlines and seen the images of the devastation: 16 people killed and more than 200 injured in just a single attack yesterday; women and children being wheeled away on stretchers; medics pulling shrapnel out of an infant’s back; a father nursing his three-year-old son. The whole world is watching a – tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering: When is everybody going to come to their senses?

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve and need to lead normal lives, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that violence breeds violence and that the short-term tactical gains that may be made through a violent means simply will not inspire the long-term change that is necessary and that both parties really want.

I have been in the region since Monday at the request of President Obama, and I’ve spent five days on the ground here and also in Israel in the West Bank engaging in countless discussions with leaders throughout the region and even around the world, conversations lasting, obviously, late into the night and through the day. We have gathered here, my colleagues and I have gathered here together because we believe that it is impossible for anybody to simply be inactive and not try to make government work to deal with this bloodshed. We need to join together and push back.

Specifically, here is what we’ve been working to try to bring about. At this moment, we are working toward a brief seven days of peace – seven days of a humanitarian cease-fire in honor of Eid, in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire for the long run, and to work to create the plans for that long haul.

The fact is that the basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative, but the humanitarian concept is one that Egypt has agreed to embrace in an effort to try to honor Eid and bring people together at this moment. Seven days, during which the fundamental issues of concern for Israel – security, the security of Israel and its people – and for the Palestinians – the ability to know that their social and economic future can be defined by possibilities, and that those issues will be addressed. We believe that Egypt has made a significant offer to bring people to Cairo – the factions, the Palestinian factions and representatives of interested states and the state of Israel – in order to begin to try to negotiate the way forward.

Now, why are we not announcing that that has been found yet tonight? For a simple reason: That we still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through. But we are confident we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work. And what we need to do is continue to work for that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes, perhaps take some steps that could build some confidence, and begin to change the choices for all.

We don’t yet have that final framework, but I will tell you this: None of us here are stopping. We are going to continue the conversations. And right now, before I came in here tonight, I had conversations with people on both sides of this conflict. Just spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who made it clear that he wants to try to find this way forward. I think the Secretary-General, who has graciously called for a 12-hour cease-fire, will speak in a moment about that possibility and where it will go. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indicated his willingness to do that as a good-faith down payment and to move forward. And I’m grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership in that regard.

But in the end, the only way that this issue is going to be resolved, this conflict, is for the parties to be able to come together and work through it as people have in conflicts throughout history. And it’s our hope, and we intend to do everything possible. Tomorrow, I will be in Paris, where I will meet with some of our counterparts, my counterparts, and where I will also meet with other players who are important to this discussion in an effort to be able to try to see if we can narrow the gap. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to try to help do that over the course of the next day.

So we begin with at least the hope of a down payment on a cease-fire, with the possibility of extension, a real possibility in the course of tomorrow. And hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can find at least one step towards that elusive goal. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Secretary-General.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, League of Arab States Secretary-General al-Araby. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Assalamu alaikum, Ramadan Kareem.

Let me begin by commending all the leaders here today. I’d like to particularly thank President Sisi of Egypt and Foreign Minister Shoukry as the host of this initiative to have made ceaseless efforts to bring all the parties together. And I also commend highly the leadership and commitment and tirelessly – tireless diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, and it has been a source of inspiration to work with all these distinguished colleagues. And I have been obviously closely working with League of Arab States Secretary General al-Araby.

This is my sixth day in the region visiting eight countries, 11 stops, meeting kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, over meeting, over telephones. I have been working very closely with the leaders here as well as all the leaders in the region. I really appreciate their kind cooperation and leadership. Our joint effort is a clear signal of a global commitment to end the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of hope and the hopes of so many innocent civilians. People of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land. Every bit of it is a civilian area. The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further. We are seeing growing unrest in the West Bank. Surely now, the parties must realize that it is time for them to act, and solutions must be based on three important issues.

First, stop the fighting. We called for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire extending over the Eid period, beginning with a extendable 12-hour pause. Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances, and all parties must find a way to dialogue. Third, tackle the root causes of the crisis. This effort – peace effort – cannot be the same as it was the last two Gaza conflicts, where we reset the clock and waited for the next one. The ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation, end the chokehold on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition and achieve a viable two-state solution, by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.

Along with world and regional leaders, we continue to make every effort to forge a durable cease-fire for the people of Gaza and Israel based on those three pillars. Progress is being made, but there is much more work to do. We may not be satisfied with what we are now proposing, but we have to build upon what we are now proposing. In the meantime, more children are dying every hour of every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last Friday of Ramadan. The world is just away from marking Eid-al-Fitr. Let us all take inspiration from this season of peace and reflection. The United Nations is fully committed to ensuring the success of this proposal and securing hope and dignity for all the people of Palestine and Israel. And I thank you again for all leaders in the region and in the world who have been working together with the United Nations and the leaders here to bring peace and security to this region. I thank you very much. Shukran Jazilan.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Via interpreter.) Secretary-general of the United – of the Arab League.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to thank also the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a very serious and grave situation. There are martyrs in Palestine have been – have died as a result of the Israeli aggression and the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law. People have been fired at, children are falling, and all civilians are being killed. This is the holiest month in the Islamic world, as those before me have mentioned. And on the eve of the Eid, we would like to support and uphold the idea of a cease-fire, as Mr. John Kerry has said and also the UN Secretary-General has said.

But before I conclude my very brief remarks, I would like to say that the occupation and the siege on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – these are occupied territories. We cannot imagine that the siege and the occupation, that there would be no resistance to them. For that reason, everyone should work to end this conflict. I would allow myself to say, in English and in very simple and brief language: (In English) In a very simple and concise way, that as much as I support the humanitarian (inaudible), but we have to look at it. I think everyone has to do that. We have to look ahead. Then it’s diplomacy, and then (inaudible) results. We have to dedicate ourselves, all of us, to reach a final solution. That means the end of the occupation. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will be taking four questions, from Arshad (inaudible) first of all.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Mr. United Nations Secretary-General has to leave.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. My question is for Mr. John Kerry and Minister Sameh Shoukry. You’ve launched this proposal or plan. Has there been – have there been contacts between the two sides, and how far have you reached in these contexts, especially that the Eid is approaching fast?

With respect to the rules of engagement that Israel uses in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank, and what we’ve seen in terms of destruction of and demolishing of hospitals, have you received any guarantees from Israel that these actions would not be repeated? And thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the negotiating process, it’s inappropriate to sort of lay out all the details, but of course we’re talking to everybody that we can talk to who has an ability to have an impact, and obviously I’m talking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and directly to other foreign ministers in the region, some of whom have different ways of talking with different factions of Palestinians, as well as talking to President Abbas. In the course of that, it’s very clear to me that under very difficult circumstances some are ready to move and others are reluctant and need assurances of one kind or another. And clearly, given the history, some of those assurances are sometimes difficult to be able to make and formulate appropriately so that somebody else doesn’t wind up being – struggling with them. That’s why the simplicity of this is really the best, which is come to the table and negotiate.

But to the degree that either side needs assurances of one thing or another being talked about, without outcomes, no preconditions, but something being negotiated and talked about, then you get in a contest of priorities and other kinds of things.

I believe we can work through those things. We have. The basic outline is approved by everybody. People believe that if the circumstances are right, the structure is right, a cease-fire makes sense, a cease-fire is important, and people would like to see the violence end. But it has to obviously be in ways that neither side feels prejudiced or their interests compromised.

So that’s what we’re working on. I think we’ve made serious progress. We sat today, worked some things out to deal with some of those sensitivities, but basically we still have some more things to do over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours, and we’re going to do that. My hope is that the 12 hours will be extended, perhaps to 24, and that people will draw from that the goodwill and effort to try to find a solution. But it takes – the parties have to come together and reach an understanding, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on because it’s urgent for innocent people who get caught in the crossfire, and obviously the – as I said in my opening remarks, people in Israel deserve to live free from fear that their home or their school will be rocketed, but people in Palestine, the Palestinian territories and people in Gaza have a right to feel free from restraints on their life where they can barely get the food or the medicine or the building materials and the things that they need.

So there’s a lot on the table. It’s been complicated for a long time; it didn’t get easy last night. But we’re going to continue to work at this, and I’m confident that with goodwill, with good effort, I think progress can hopefully be made.

FOREIGN SECRETARY SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, since the outbreak of the crisis in Gaza, we have been in contact with all parties, with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. We have expended serious efforts based on our own Egyptian initiative, and also in cooperation with the American side. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you, to thank Mr. Kerry for his efforts and – that he has spent and continues to expend, and his cooperation in order to achieve a complete cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people.

Military action and the serious escalation and the serious strikes taking place against the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, prove the importance of immediate action to end this crisis so that it would not result or lead to more serious ramifications, not just in the occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. The framework we talk about is a framework that is – that the U.S. Secretary of State has talked about – is based on the Egyptian initiative, and also based on the idea of encouraging the parties to interact with it, so that we can reach a complete cease-fire and seizure of all military action, and to also save civilians from being targeted, and to end the bloodshed, just like the strike against the school yesterday. Such actions should not be repeated and should completely end, and so should military action.

And a temporary humanitarian cease-fire should be accepted to give a chance, an opportunity for interaction between the various parties, and perhaps expand it beyond there, so that all parties would come to recognize that a comprehensive solution to all this crisis and to the Palestinian conflict should be reached, and also to establish a Palestinian state in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such a grave situation.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as I imagine you are aware, there are multiple reports that the Israeli cabinet today rejected the cease-fire proposal that you had on the table and said they wanted modifications. Do you regard that as just a negotiating ploy or do you regard it as likely to be a more definitive rejection?

And secondly, have you made any direct progress on getting the Egyptians to commit to opening Rafah, on getting the Israelis to commit to increasing traffic at the Erez crossing, and on getting Hamas to agree to let Israeli troops stay in the Gaza Strip during a truce? If you haven’t made any headway on those issues, how is it possible – after five days of diplomacy, how is it possible to describe these days as having produced serious progress?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with the first issue, which is the fiction of diplomacy and of politics at the same time. There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear. And Prime Minister Netanyahu called me a few minutes before this to make it clear that that is an error, inaccurate, and he’s putting out a statement to that effect. They may have rejected some language or proposal within the framework of some kind of suggestion at some point in time, but there was no formal proposal submitted from me on which there should have been a vote or on which a vote was ripe. We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things, and I consider that one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances of what we’ve been doing and are engaged in.

With respect to the individual issues that you raised, I’m not going to make any announcements and I’m certainly not going to reveal issues that are of a bilateral nature between Egypt and the United States or the United States and another country, but I will simply tell you in a candid way that those issues were talked about, and I am satisfied with the responses that I received with respect to how they might affect the road ahead. And each and every one of them I believe there are ways of moving forward.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible)

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Kerry and the Egyptian foreign minister. First of all, it seems that all of those efforts, the phone calls, visits have led only to a cease-fire for seven hours. Why is the reasons for not having more achievements? Who is blockading having more achievements in this? Is it Israel, or is it Hamas? Is it the Palestinians? Who is going to – we are going to blame on this? Because we have heard that Israel refused. As you have said, it’s not correct, but it was published that Israel refused, actually, some ideas of having more cease-fire, more than seven hours.

Also, it seems that all of this is because the peace process has stopped, actually, because of the settlements of Israel. This is the main cause – the blockade of course, and other things on the Gaza, the boycotts on Gaza. People can’t have food or water or other things, but also the peace process have stopped. You have – Secretary Kerry have done a lot in this, and yet you didn’t say why, who is the reasons behind it stopping.

And my question is for our foreign minister, please. (Via interpreter.) There is a lot of talk about the Rafah Crossing, and that Egypt is – closes this crossing. And there’s also an attempt to blame the siege, the Israeli siege on Gaza, on Egypt, even though it has – Israel has closed six crossings and is responsible for the siege. Can there be some clarification with respect to the Rafah Crossing, and will it continue to be closed in the coming days?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you. With respect to Rafah Crossing, I have repeatedly responded to this, but it seems no one is listening. Rafah Crossing is open continuously and at all times, but it has to be under regulation related to Egyptian policy, and it’s also related to the situation in Sinai. But it is open, and it receives constantly and permanently, around the clock, people from the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, and more than 600 or 700 tons of food and medical material have crossed. And the crossing has never been tied or linked to any kind of siege on the Gaza Strip.

The six Israeli crossings that you referred to, they have to be operational. And the responsibility of Israel as an occupation authority is what – it is the responsibility of Israel, and we have called for this in our initiative, that the Israeli crossings need to be open so that the needs and the humanitarian needs of the Gazans should be met, and so that also normal life would be restored to the Gaza Strip. I hope that this response will be widely shared and it’s clear without any attempt to internationalize or to misinterpret the situation.

SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, I think a great deal has been moved in the course of the last days. Though it doesn’t meet your eye yet, those of us who are working this have a feeling that gaps have been significantly narrowed on certain things, but obviously not everything yet.

And in fairness, it’s important to say that, yes, Israel had some questions or even opposition to one concept or another concept – that doesn’t mean to a proposal by any means – at an early stage of discussion. But most importantly, I think it’s important to note that in Ramadan, when everything is on a different schedule, it’s more complicated to be able to have some meetings, particularly when I am mediating between different people who talk to different people. And it’s secondhand, thirdhand, it takes longer. So there’s a certain time consumption in all of that.

But I’m not a – I’m not somebody who I think is going to stand here and misinterpret the difficulties. At the same time, I can recognize progress when I see it and a concept that has taken shape. And I think my colleagues would agree there’s a fundamental concept here that can be achieved if we work through some of the issues of importance to the parties. That’s the art, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen overnight or as quickly as you’d like. But it doesn’t mean it can’t.

And so – by the way, it’s not seven hours; it’s 12 hours with a very likely extension of another 12, hopefully for 24, but we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding on that. And on the peace process, I’ve purposely tried not to start pointing fingers and getting involved, because to us, the process is not over. It hasn’t stopped, and it doesn’t help to be starting to point fingers. What you have to do is figure out, okay, where do you go from here and how. In the course of this conflict right now, I would respectfully suggest to you there are some very serious warnings about what happens when you don’t have that process, and what happens if you’re not working effectively to try to achieve a resolution of the underlying issues.

This is about the underlying issues. And what we need to do is get through this first. It’s a little surrealistic in the middle of this to be talking about the other process, but those people who have been at this for a long time, my colleagues here and others, absolutely know that that is at the bedrock of much of the conflict and the trouble that we all witness here and that is going to have to be resolved if there is a chance of peace, and we believe there is.

Egypt has been a leader on that. Years ago, Egypt took extraordinary risk, and we all know what the consequences were. Egypt made peace, and it has made a difference. And the truth is that today there’s a great commitment here and elsewhere in the region to be able to get back to the process and try to address those underlying issues.

So it’s not gone. It’s dormant for the moment. It’s in hiatus because of the events that are taking place. But the leaders I’ve talked to tell me that what they’re witnessing now and what they’re seeing now has reinforced in them the notion that they needed to get back to that table as soon as possible and begin to address those concerns.

I don’t know if you want to say anything on that.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, with respect to the peace process, we call for the resumption of negotiations under U.S. sponsorship. Based from the point we have – it has stopped at, we do not want to go back to the beginning, but several accomplishments have been made on several issues. And we have to build on this progress in order to reach our ultimate goal, which the entire international community has agreed to: the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on Palestinian land with East Jerusalem, and this is the final solution to this conflict. And this will give the Palestinian people a chance to have a normal life away from killing and destruction, and to also fulfill its aspirations – the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the region, and will also ultimately lead to a final end to the conflict.

MODERATOR: (Speaking in Arabic, not interpreted) at CBS, Margaret Brennan.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, given the protests that we’ve seen in the West Bank over the past 24 hours, which resulted in at least one fatality, do you believe – do you fear that a third intifada is about to happen? And could you clarify – when you said that there’s a difference of terminology in regard to these negotiations, that sounds technical rather conceptual. Can you clarify what you meant there?

SECRETARY KERRY: I can, but I won’t. (Laughter.) I think it’s important to let us work quietly on those things and not put them out in the public domain, but I applaud you for a worthy try.

With respect to the incidents and events on the West Bank, I have learned not to characterize something ahead of time or predict it, and I’m not going to now. But I do know that the leaders I’ve talked to in Israel, in the West Bank, in Jordan are deeply concerned about what they are seeing right now. And it is very, very necessary for all of us to take it into account as we think about the options that we have in front of us. It’s just enormously disturbing to see this kind of passion find its way into violent protests, and in some cases not violent.

But we need to address – it’s a statement to all of us in positions of responsibility, get the job done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.


[1] Max Steinberg’s mother’s name is Evie Steinberg, and Naftali Fraenkel is the name if the murdered American and Israeli teen.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Presided upon by Mr. Richard N. Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, a panel of six of the Council’s experts in front of two rooms full in audience – one in New York the other in Washington DC, a whole gamut of Middle East problems was put on display and dissected.

The six experts were – Elliott Abrams who started out as staff member of Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel P. Moynihan and then moved on to the White House under Presidents Reagan and G.W. Bush;  Steven A. Cook who started out at the Brookings Institution, developed an expertise on Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, and is running a blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates;    Robert M. Danin who started out as a journalist reporting from Jerusalem then worked at the State Department on Middle East Affairs and with Tony Blair as his Jerusalem based representative of the Quartet;   and Ray Takeyh, a widely published professorial expert on Iran – in Washington D C and Isobel Coleman who at CFR covers Civil Society, Markets and Democracy, comes from the business world, has written extensively on policy, was track leader at the Clinton Global Initiative, was named by Newsweek as one of 150 Women Who Shake the World and her blog is Democracy in Development; and Richard N. Haass who served in the White House at ambassadorial level but argued in a book that Foreign Policy starts at Home – the last two were with us in New York.

This discussion takes place at the beginning of the third week since this latest flare-up of Israel’s war against the Hamas of Gaza. A very fast consensus was reached among the four members of the Washington DC panel that to cool the situation without giving Hamas some credit is really difficult. Israel wants really to destroy the infrastructure of tunnels into Israel. Hamas points out that they managed to-date to beat Israel at that as just a day earlier they demonstrated they are capable to infiltrate Israel through such tunnels. Richard Haass evoked Henry Kissinger who said that what is needed to create a lasting equilibrium is (a) a degree of balance, and (b) a degree of legitimacy that comes from mutual recognition between the forces. The latter point does not exist here. Israel is united and out to eliminate Hamas – but if the fighting continues it is expected that the demand for change in the status quo will get louder in Israel – or just a return to a system that allows only breaks in the fighting will be unacceptable.

Asked about how to bring the Palestinian Authority back into Gaza – the prediction expressed was that Hamas demonstrating that only resistance keeps you in authority will allow Hamas to emerge as winner.  Today’s news that Israel bombed a UN managed school filled with displaced Palestinians, and probably also arms bearing Palestinians, will nevertheless put some more outside pressure on Israel.

Further, the news I get today from Vienna is that Saturday there will be large pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Europe on the occasion of the yearly celebration of the Al-Quds Day. This is a PR success for the Hamas – the show of harm done to the Palestinians that are being used as shield to those missiles, and then their misery exploited in order to achieve PR gains based in part also on the unleashing of an existing undertow of Antisemitism-comes-naturally to some layers of Christian Europe. These are aspects that were not looked at by the panel but which play now very seriously a role within Israel. My bet is that Israel will demand that the PA is reintroduced to Gaza at least at its borders – with a minimum role of making sure there are no tunnels. If this becomes part of the US and Egypt brokered solution, the other part will have to be a transparent start to the dissolution of some West Bank settlements. The military defeat of the Hamas can then be viewed as a success of the political leadership of the Hamas in ways acceptable to Israel.
Again – these ideas were not expressed at the Town-Hall meeting.

Steven Cook said that the present ruler of Egypt – President Abdel Fattah Saed Hussein Khalil al-Sisi, former Chief of the Army and Minister of Defense – is much more decisive then Mubarak was, and can be counted on to be more decisive in matters of Hamas. Now we have a situation that Egypt and the Saudis hate in full view the Muslim Brotherhood and their off-shoot – the Hamas,  while the Amir of Qatar is backing them.  So, now we have beside the Sunni – Shia Divide also a Sunni – Sunni Divide which is going and deepening and creates a further Divide between the Brotherhood & Hamas on the one hand and more extremist ISIS & Al Qaeda on the other hand. These latter without an official sponsor from any State.  Here again real life went beyond what was said at the CFR panel.

I made it my business to tell the organizer about the day’s news at the UN, the finding by investigative journalist Matthew R. Lee that the UN Secretary General’s charter flight to the Middle East was bankrolled by the Amir of Qatar, a sponsor of Hamas, does in effect put a notch in the UNSG effort in posing as an honest broker on Gaza. I thought this ought to be brought up at the Town Hall meeting and said I can volunteer to raise this as a question – but I could not – this because I was there as Press, and only Members of the CFR are allowed to ask questions. Members come from Think-Tanks but mainly from business. The reality is that the business sectors represented at the CFR are mainly those that belong to old establishments – Members of the International Chamber of Commerce, but no businesses that could profit from an economy less reliant on fossil fuels. The whole concept of energy seems here to still mean those conventional fuels – and it shows. It came up here as well when a question about Energy Independence was answered that though an Energy Revolution did happen lately in the US, we will never be Independent of “Energy” because the World Economy runs on “Energy.”

Many other points came up – and I will now highlight some of them:

  -  Iran was mentioned in the context that July 20th Vienna meeting was the rage at that time – but then came the Ukraine and Gaza wars. Now Iran was delayed to November 25th and is barely noticed. It was noted that it is only a 4 months delay while it was technically possible to delay it for 6 months. The Iranians believe that they already agreed to the red lines. Can these Red lines be adjusted?

  -  The Kurds will make now moves to go their own ways. The Turks now play more favorably to the Kurds – but the Kurds continue to be split and fight among themselves.

  -   Winner Takes All has been disproved for the Middle East. Maliki in Iraq learned it does not work, so did Morsi in Egypt who saw his Brotherhod and himself ousted merciless.  I found this an extremely valuable observation for all combatants of the region.

  -   New forms of COLD WAR. there is one between the Saudis and the Gulf States (Intra Sunni – Sunni) – and there is one between the Saudis and the Iranians. Like in the US-Soviet case this is not a fight between States. mainly it goes on now on Syrian Territory between parts of Syria a country that will be dismembered like Iraq was.  In the past governments were oppressive and economically weak, but had power internally – now this did collapse.

  -  Now we reached a favorite question about the UN. Are there any useful capacities remaining for the UN? Elliot Abrams said that if appointed to the UN he would try to get another job. UNRWA has become more and more controversial – specifically when there is a cease-fire.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

But above statement does not sit well with the Secretary’s benefactor on this trip – His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, who is funding the UN Secretary-General’s current trip to the Middle East, or the Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s Middle East Policy guide, Dr. Nabil ElArabi, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the linchpin between the opposing two Arab Sunni factions headed by Qatar – the Godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood and of its off-Shoot the Hamas, and Saudi Arabia, that detests those two last named political Islamic fundamentalist organizations.
Following this we can say that except in the UN released report of that OFF-THE-CUFF Press conference in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which can be read at    www.un.org/offthecuff/index.asp?c… no other document, press release, or other UN paper has anything as clearly expressed as this. It is always about the suffering of the Gaza Palestinians – the poor poor innocent people that are being bombed continuously by the Israelis because they are being used as human shields to the rocket launchers that hide among them.

Not only that, it is the UN paid for and UN maintained facilities that are used as storage place for the rockets. when such a use of a facility became public the UN paid folks just turned them over to the Hamas. It is just not enough to acknowledge as the UNSG did when in Ramallah on July 22nd that UNRWA’s regular operations were “acutely affected” by the fact that they were used to store weapons. and then say that he strongly condemns “the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and corresponding high civilian death toll. This is the “proportionality argument” that forgets that in the World there are more then a billion Muslims and less then 10 million Jews – which would indeed mean a proportionality of 1:1,000 – or in mathematical terms each Jew killed weighs as much as 1,000 Muslims killed – this when the killing is started by people that dream of cleansing their region of the Infidel Jews.

In that video-conference from Ramallah Mr. Ban complains that in the last 5 years, the time he is UN Secretary-General this is his third time to come on an emergency mission tp the region to help in a crisis.

That means the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the last five years of their lives, he said.

Obviously, the UNSG just said the truth which is that just achieving a cease-fire without demilitarization of  Gaza achieves nothing else then a short break in a continuing warfare and there is no reasn why Israel should accept this. The ridiculous fact is that Israel nevertheless did accept Egypt’s proposal to allow for just such a break and it was Hamas grand-standing that rejected it. Hamas hates Egypt perhaps even more then their hate for Israel. The ruler of Qatar sees this self destructing attitude of Hamas and has sponsored the UNSG mission in an attempt to save Hamas from Israel and from itself.

The UNSG in his trip was in Egypt as well – just to make sure Egypt does not give up its efforts in the face of this Hamas intransigence and to ask Egypt to figure out a face saving approach for Hamas so they do not look like losers. Will a united Israel cave in to such pressure that leaves the Hamas enemy look like a winner? Specially now when Hamas managed to close Israel’s link to the World by in the post downing of Malaysia 17 in the Ukraine that forces civil airlines to avoid flying over war zones.

To top this all we just received the following e-mail from UN Watch that nixes a UN were Arab States and some sworn anti-Western states are shredding the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Human rights.

But before we post that e-mail, let us remind the UNSG that his predecessor was able to pass on the very important and here relevant PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT which here translates into the responsibility of a ruling government to protect its citizens. This is something the Israeli Government is trying to do, but the Hamas that took over the governing of Gaza from the National Palestinian Authority uses its citizens as human shield to their missiles something that has to be undone by outside intervention that removes them from the business of government. Only the Palestinian Authority, with outside help, could do this. Qatar does not back the PA but Hamas. As such the Qatar money carpet used to fly te UNSG to the Middle East may have been a very bad idea. It seems that this is being realized at high levels at the UN and texts are being altered as reported today by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press Office at the UN who speaks also for FUNCA – the Free UN Coalition For Access.

—————–

THE UN WATCH PRESENTATION TODAY IN GENEVA BEFORE THE UNHRC:

GENEVA, July 23, 2014 - The Palestinian ambassador to the UNHRC, together with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela tried but failed to silence UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer during today’s UN Emergency Session on Gaza, as he defended Israel’s right to resist Hamas aggression, and called out the hypocrisy of those who initiated the biased proceeding.

As expected, the council voted 29 to 1 (USA), with 17 abstaining (EU & others), to condemn Israel for “gross violations of international human rights,” and it created a new commission of inquiry to produce a second Goldstone Report. Click here to see the grossly one-sided resolution—and a list of the nations who ignominiously voted for it.

Testimony delivered today, 23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session on Gaza
Mr. President, I have just returned here from visiting Israel to tell this assembly, and the world, about the grave situation that I witnessed and experienced.

An entire nation—towns, villages and cities, from the Negev Desert up to the Galilee, from the Judean hills of Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv seashore—has been under brutal and relentless attack, from more than two thousand mortars, rockets and long-range missiles, fired from Gaza toward civilians in every part of the Holy Land.

Never before, in the history of Israel’s seven decades of existence, has its men, women and children come under such a massive aerial assault, forcing them, at the sound of air raid sirens day and night, to run for shelter.

And never before, in the modern history of nations, has a free and democratic society come under such sustained bombardment from a terrorist organization, one that openly strives for and celebrates the murder of civilians, and that, as its general worldview, glorifies death.

Did the world ever imagine that the ancient city of Jerusalem—sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and replete with holy places that are recognized by the United Nations as protected world heritage sites—would be deliberately targeted by indiscriminate rockets?

And yet it is.

During one air raid in Jerusalem, I ran down to the basement of a building with little children crying and traumatized. During an air raid in Tel Aviv, the neighbors of an apartment building showed great strength of spirit in defiance of terrorism, by reaching out to strangers in the shelters, as we heard the booms of the rockets above.

And as  I was seated in my airplane, about to depart and return back here to Geneva, the air raid siren went off around the airport. We all had to rush off the plane and seek shelter. You’ve heard the news today: that international airlines are now ceasing to fly to Israel because of this danger.

I believe that the world should salute this terrorized, besieged and embattled nation, which has refused to surrender to demoralization, instead showing such courage, resolve and strength of spirit in surviving—and resisting—this massive aggression.

And people should consider: Is there any precedent in world history for a nation passively to suffer a three-week bombardment of its civilian population, by more than 2,000 deadly rockets?

The attempt by Hamas to shut down Israel’s sole international airport, in a country already besieged by land from hostile forces from north to south, would constitute the strangulation of an artery vital to the life of Israel’s people and economy.

These acts of aggression also target the sovereign rights of the nations under whose flags these airplanes fly.

I ask each ambassador in this chamber to take a moment and imagine terrorists deliberately firing deadly rockets at the airports of Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or Frankfurt; Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, or Tokyo.

How would your government react?

How long would your nation wait before doing everything in its power to exercise its right, under international law and morality, to resist such aggression?

Mr. President,

I turn now to the resolution upon which this Council will soon vote. The text before us denounces Israel, denies its right to self-defence, and disregards Hamas war crimes.

We ask: why does this Council refuse to say that which was said only two weeks ago by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

In an extraordinary moment of candor, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi admitted, on Palestinian TV, that “each and every” Palestinian missile launched against Israeli civilians constitutes “a crime against humanity.”

And that, by contrast, Israel’s own response actions in Gaza “followed the legal procedures” because, as Hamas spokespersons admitted on TV, “the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment; but, “as for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out.”

Can any UN entity, or any individual, be truly for human rights when they refuse to say that which was said by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

Is it possible that the true purpose of this session is to silence the true victims and voices of human rights around the world by deflecting attention from the world’s worst abuses?
We ask all those who embrace hypocrisy and double standards: if in the past year you didn’t cry out whe thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya; when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran; women and children in Afghanistan were bombed; whole communities were massacred in South Sudan; hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks; 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists—
[Egypt interrupts with an objection.]
President of UNHRC Session: We have a point of order. Egypt, you have the floor.
Egypt: Mr. President, I think we are meeting today for the special session to discuss the current crisis in Gaza and the violations committed within this crisis. So I don’t see why we have a reason to discuss other issues relating to human rights situations on other countries.
United States of America: We think it is relevant to the subject under debate, and therefore you should allow the NGO to continue to speak.
Iran: We fully support the point of order made by Egypt.
Canada: We urge you to allow the NGO to complete their intervention, which is relevant to the discussions at hand.
Israel: It is important that civil society participate in this debate, and we request that you allow this NGO to continue.
Venezuela: We support the point of order made by Egypt.
Palestine: This is not a point of order, but more a clarification. The speaker will continue along the same lines if the speaker is not stopped. I would ask you not to waste any time on this so we can conclude this meeting in good time.
Cuba: It is inconceivable that a NGO should be able to come to this Council to distract us with the little time we have to debate an issue which is of such crucial importance as the genocide being committed currently against the Palestinian people.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch, with the request that he adhere to the subject matter under discussion today.

UN Watch: Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll just note that there had been some questions whether the videotape interview of the Palestinian ambassador on Palestinian TV was genuine or not, but we see that the Palestinian ambassador has just intervened—and has failed to deny those remarks. Let the record show that.

Finally, we ask: If those who refuse to speak out for Palestinians—1800 Palestinians, if not more—who were starved to death, murdered, by Assad in Syria, but you only cry out when Israel can be blamed, then you are not pro human rights, you are only anti-Israel.

Syria: We’re used to hearing this NGO creating divisions among the speakers, and speaking out of turn. It is strange to hear an NGO defending the killing of women and children, and the destruction of infrastructure in Palestine. I would hope that the speaker is no longer allowed to continue his statement.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch.

Hillel: Thank you, Mr. President. Let the world note: that in a session purportedly on Palestinian human rights, the government of Syria objected to us mentioning the 1800 Palestinians that they starved and murdered.

tel: (41-22) 734-1472 • fax: (41-22) 734-1613
www.unwatch.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Washington Post: Shifa Hospital in Gaza City ‘Has Become a De Facto Headquarters for Hamas Leaders, Who Can Be Seen in Hallways and Offices.’

July 21, 2014 11:00 am

Author:  Joshua Levitt

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009's Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

A screenshot of a Hamas diagram, filmed as part of an IDF video from 2009′s Operation Cast Lead, showing how weapons are hidden by mosques. Photo: IDF / Screenshot.

Contrary to international rules of warfare, Hamas has commandeered a large hospital in Gaza City as its “de facto headquarters,” the Washington Post reported.

Buried eight paragraphs in, The Post‘s correspondent, William Booth, wrote on July 15:

“At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, who represents the crumbling ‘unity government’ in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.”

Last week, The Post also reported, and also included near the end of an article, how Hamas was hiding rockets inside of a mosque, also against international rules of war. On Friday, buried toward’s the end of The Post’s dispatch from the front, one of its correspondents reported actually seeing rockets being moved into the mosque during Thursday’s five-hour humanitarian ceasefire:

“During the lull, a group of men at a mosque in northern Gaza said they had returned to clean up the green glass from windows shattered in the previous day’s bombardment. But they could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque.”

According to international rules of military engagement,  civilian public and religious buildings cannot to be used to shield weapons, but that has been a long-held Hamas tactic in Gaza.

On Thursday, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, said it discovered 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school it operated in Gaza.

UNRWA said the rockets were discovered during a “regular inspection” and that it immediately “informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school.”

The UNRWA came under criticism on social media for handing the rockets back to the “relevant parties,” who readers interpreted as being the Hamas militants who hid the arms in the school.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Evening Edition: ‘Very high possibility’ of Gaza invasion, Israeli official says and other headlines for this evening, Wed, Jul 16, 2014.

By Sudarsan Raghavan,, William Booth and Ruth Eglash July 16 at 6:56 PM – for The Washington Post.

JERUSALEM — On a day rattled by a fury of air attacks, Israel and Hamas found themselves Wednesday searching for a way forward, with a senior Israeli military official declaring that a ground invasion of Gaza was a “very high possibility.”

Israel announced that it will observe a unilateral “humanitarian truce” for five hours Thursday to allow Gaza residents to stock up on food and other supplies and let aid reach civilians. The pause in fighting was requested by the United Nations, said another military official, army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

It was unclear whether Hamas would also hold its fire. The militant group rejected an earlier cease-fire proposed by Egypt, and a top Hamas leader declared that the Islamist militant group is alone in the world as it battles Israel.

Hamas continued to shower rockets Wednesday into southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv, underscoring the extent to which the militants believe they still have the military capability to persuade Israel to accept their terms, analysts said.

“From their rationale, they are holding strong, as if they have nothing to lose,” said Miri Eisen, a former Israeli army intelligence official. She added, “If they feel they have nothing to lose, they can continue this for a long time.”

That attitude is increasing pressure on Israel. Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes have killed hundreds of Palestinians but have done little to stop Hamas rockets from striking Israeli towns. Human rights activists are accusing Israel of killing innocent civilians and possibly committing war crimes. Egypt, once a reliable ally, no longer seems to have the negotiating clout it once had.

All this is generating discussions — within Israeli political and military circles and on television, radio and editorial pages — of a possible ground invasion of Gaza in the coming days. In Tel Aviv, a high-ranking Israeli military official told reporters Wednesday that there was “a very high possibility” of such an operation, adding, “If you want to efficiently fight terrorism, you need to have boots on the ground.”

More than 113 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, according to the Israeli military.

By Wednesday night, 222 people had been killed in Gaza during the nine-day operation, including 49 minors and 24 women, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,600 people have been wounded in Gaza, the officials said.

Among the latest casualties were four Palestinian children, all younger than 12, who were killed by an Israeli missile or shell while playing on a beach in Gaza near a hotel used by foreign journalists, according to witnesses and Palestinian officials. The four boys were cousins. Seven others — adults and children — were reported wounded in the strike.

The Israeli army, calling the incident tragic, said the target had been a Hamas operative.

President Obama addressed the situation in brief White House remarks. Although he did not specifically mention the beach deaths, he said, “We are all heartbroken by the violence .?.?. especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza.” Obama said the United States would continue to “use all our diplomatic resources and relationships” to bring about a lasting cease-fire. “In the meantime,” he said, “we are going to support efforts to protect civilians in Israel and Gaza.”

 

Message to the Congregation: Israel

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

July 16, 2014

Dear Congregants:

 

I hope that you have been able to slow down a bit during the summer, and are finding some time for rest and relaxation.

 

As you know, it has been a tense and trying summer for Israelis. Many of us have family and friends in Israel, as well as children who are on summer programs. We continue to pray for their safety and well being.

 

I would like to emphasize the following basic values:

 

 

  1. Israel is on the front lines of the Western war against Islamic extremism that considers Israel to be an illegitimate presence in the Middle East. Israel deserves the political and moral support of all Western nations and freedom-loving people.
  1. Israeli military operations are defensive in nature. No country would – or should – allow missiles to be fired on its cities and towns. The indiscriminate firing on Israeli civilians is a war crime. Every single missile fired from Gaza constitutes a war crime. The Hamas use of Palestinian civilian human shields is a war crime.
  1. We have noted the extraordinary care employed by the Israel Defense Forces in avoiding civilian casualties. There is no other military in the world that takes such extensive precautions. At the same time we lament the suffering of innocent Palestinians caught in the crossfire, and grieve for the loss of innocent Palestinian lives. They deserve better than Hamas. Hamas bears the primary political and moral responsibility for their senseless suffering.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
  1. We condemn the savage kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager in revenge. We are appalled that Jews could carry out such acts of terror.
  1. The discussion on the disproportionate numbers of Palestinian casualties relative to Israeli casualties is a moral outrage. Israel has invested billions of dollars in defensive capabilities – shelters, warning systems, civilian preparation and anti-missile technology (partially funded by US citizens). Israel does everything it can to prevent Palestinian civilian harm, including calling off bombing missions in mid flight if pilots perceive excessive risk to civilians nearby. The moral question is not whether casualties on one side are greater than the other. Rather, the question is whether the military action is proportional to the threat. Hamas rockets threaten most of Israel; they have reached as far as Haifa in the north. Millions of Israelis live under constant threat of missile attacks. In fact, many in Israel and its supporters worldwide consider the current Israeli measures not strong enough proportional to the threat.

Action

 

Traditionally, American Jews have helped Israel in times of crisis by donating funds and joining a solidarity mission to Israel. We encourage you to do both.

 

Accordingly, we have established an Israel Emergency Fund at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue. If you would like to make a contribution, please send your check made out to Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, clearly marked for Israel Emergency Fund. You can also donate online with a credit card here www.swfs.org/donate/.  

 

Representatives of the synagogue board of trustees and Israel committee will decide upon the distribution of the funds. All of the money will be forwarded to worthy causes; none of the funds will be retained by the synagogue.

 

Also: SWFS has arranged a mission to Israel from October 17-22, 2014. Journalist Ari Shavit, author of My Promised Land, a New York Times bestseller, will accompany us throughout our five days in Israel for a unique opportunity to engage Israeli and Palestinian leaders who shape events in the Middle East I urge you to consider joining. For mission information, contact Donna Levine or call 212-877-4050 x223.

 

If you would like additional talking points and links to media outlets, please email our Israel committee, chaired by Alan Scheiner, at SWFS Israel and ask to be added to the mailing list so that you will receive regular updates.

 

With continuing prayers for the peace of Jerusalem,

 

Ammi's signature

Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

New York City

===========—————————————————————————===========

Nothing Makes Hamas Happier Than Dead Palestinians.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Youth training at the Al-Futuwa program, where Hamas trains children to hate Israel. Photo: Paldf.net.

Nothing plays better in the mainstream media these days than wailing Gazans, mourning their dead from Israeli missile strikes  responding to the unprovoked deluge of Hamas rockets on the Jewish state. As Ben Wedeman (CNN) recently reported from Jabalia, “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” But Gaza civilians most need protection from Hamas. Its leaders intentionally jeopardize their lives  by embedding rocket-launching and ammunition storage sites in schools, mosques and hospitals located in civilian neighborhoods.

In Gaza, recruits for martyrdom in the holy war against Israel are urged to gather on rooftops. They are instructed by their demented leaders to serve as a human shield against Israeli retribution for thousands of rockets that have been fired into the Jewish state during the past week. The designated locations for martyrdom are not random. Beneath the rooftops are Hamas command centers and tunnels, where leaders take refuge and weapons are stored.

According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood.” He proudly cited the exemplary “martyr” Nizar Riyan, the senior Hamas leader during the 2009 Gaza war. Receiving a warning phone call from the IDF to evacuate his house, he chose to remain in place, thereby consigning his four wives, ten children and himself to martyrdom from the Israeli air strike that he knew was imminent.

Last Sunday, following rocket attacks on the Tel Aviv area, the IDF dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to evacuate their homes in advance of a retaliatory military strike to destroy embedded rocket launchers. After 4000 residents heeded the Israeli warning the Hamas Interior Ministry urged them to disregard “random messages to instill panic” and return “immediately” to their homes, the better to become human shields and gain world attention.

As Jeffrey Goldberg observed (Bloomberg, July 11), “Hamas is trying to get Israel to kill as many Palestinians as possible.” Why not? Dead Palestinians “represent a crucial propaganda victory” for an inhumane regime that has abjectly failed to provide its own people with even the most minimal amenities of civilized life: safety, food, employment, education, medical care. (It is an irony seldom noted that Gazans are still admitted for treatment in Israeli hospitals.)  But Hamas leaders do not hesitate to protect themselves. They take refuge in a vast web of underground tunnels and shelters reserved for their exclusive use. Gaza civilians are expendable. Urged to become targets, their dead bodies are garishly paraded in public to stoke the Hamas cause.

As rockets fall on Israel the world grants Hamas immunity for its war crimes. Blaming the Jewish targets of Palestinian terrorism has long been a popular international trope. As the commissioner general of UNRWA, which invents Palestinian “refugees” by the millions to stay in business, recently declared: “I urgently call on the Israeli Security Forces to put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians . . . which are contrary to international humanitarian law.” About Hamas rockets targeting Israeli civilians he had nothing to say.

Palestinian suffering inflicted by cruel Israelis is the preferred worldwide narrative. Where better than Frankfurt, as a recent protest demonstrated, for Israel to be equated with Nazi Germany? With the cease-fire proposed by Egypt evidently crumbling, and Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks resuming, the number of Palestinian martyrs is likely to increase. Nothing could make Hamas happier. Indeed, today’s death of four soccer-playing Palestinian boys in Gaza, struck by an Israeli missile, is certain to ratchet up rampage against Israeli retaliation for the unrelenting Hamas rocket attack.

Nobody summed up the situation more succinctly, and accurately, than Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who told Fox News: “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using civilians to protect their missiles.”

Jerold S. Auerbach is the author, most recently, of Jewish State Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy (Quid Pro Books).

 

———————————===================—————————————

 

Israel’s UN Ambassador Calls for ‘Immediate’ Suspension of UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness.

July 16, 2014 4:10 pm 12 comments

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Multimedia.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor called for the “immediate” suspension of a UN spokesperson on Tuesday.

The move came as Israel is in the midst of a full-flung campaign against terror group Hamas to end rocket fire from nearby Gaza.

Prosor asked for action to be taken against Chris Gunness of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, after the spokesman encouraged reporters to interview a professor with a history of supporting terror attacks against civilians.

In a letter to Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Prosor said, “Gunness, yet again abused his position by calling on reporters to interview Dr. Mads Gilbert, an outspoken proponent of terrorist attacks against civilians. In September 2001, Dr. Gilbert explicitly supported the ‘moral right’ of Al-Qaeda to perpetrate the 9/11 terrorist attacks against thousands of American civilians.”

In the letter, seen by The Algemeiner, Prosor included the text of a recent Twitter post from Gunness encouraging reporters to speak to Gilbert: “Great interviewee @ Shifa Hosp Gaza right now Prof Mads Gilbert +4790878740 call him 4 fatality & cas figs and atoms RT.” The message has since been deleted.

“Rather than denouncing Hamas’s targeting of innocent civilians, Mr. Gunness is shamelessly promoting an individual who shares Hamas’s morally reprehensible convictions,” Prosor said in his letter. “Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, deliberately embeds its military operations in residential areas and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions constitute war crimes and should be condemned in no uncertain terms. In failing to do so, Mr. Gunness is ignoring Hamas’s abuse of the civilian population in Gaza and acting in opposition to UNRWA’s mandate.”

Prosor also accused Gunness of displaying “an ongoing pattern of anti-Israel bias,” adding, “he has abused his position to promote incitement against Israel and present a one-sided view of reality.”

Prosor said that on Monday, after Hamas fired a rocket at an electrical plant in Ashkelon cutting off power to 70,000 Gazans, “Mr. Gunness tweeted that the lights had gone out, conveniently omitting Hamas’s responsibility.”

“Israel supports UNRWA’s important humanitarian work; however, actions that encourage incitement undermine this work. UNRWA staff members have repeatedly failed to abide by the UN’s principles of neutrality and impartiality,” Prosor said.

“I ask that you immediately suspend Mr. Gunness while you investigate the matter. The integrity and impartiality of the UN demands that this matter be addressed expediently.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

However you cut it ISIS or ISIL (the second S for Syria, the L for the Levant) – this is a Sunni anti-Western and anti-Shiia organization that was sprung originally on the World by the Saudi Wahhabism.  Call it Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda alikes – these are Sunni anti-colonial fanatics who believe that all of Western Asia Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, that were formed after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, are basically one State or Arab Nation of Sunni Islam. To them the Shiia reform movement was actually another foreign intrusion. They understand the fact that the area was divided by colonial western powers for reasons of oil. To them all Western Asian  oil is Arab and they claim it now.

The US never acknowledged this self determination will of the Sunni Muslims as we in the West believe in human rights as an ethic that is beyond religion, but supported by Nationalism based on Democracy that can accept diversity of religions as long as they adhere in common to a Wahhabi style  of a capitalist economy. The Arabs say – all this is rubbish. ISIS or ISIL want just one Muslim-Sunni State based on religion and the Sharia Laws Wahhabi-style. For now the aspirations of ISIS/ISIL end at the borders of Jordan and Saudi Arabia – perhaps also leaving out all of the Gulf States.
By destroying Iraq that never was a true Nation State, the US allowed for an eventual unleashing of these Sunni forces that are being directed now against Iran and enclaves of non-Sunni communities in Lebanon and Syria. The US is now pushed to change sides from originally backing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that was business friendly to the US, to the practicality of working with Iran in order to disrupt the regional Sunni movement that does not want the US as part of the power structure in the region. The US still fights for the post-Ottoman division into so called States, which to them felt as manageable Administrative units. Syria like Iraq can exist only when headed by a dictator – so the US will back now the one running Syria because they saw what happened when they tried to change the government of Iraq.  Switching bedfellows makes life interesting in Washington – but seems very fishy to these Middle Easterners. The following article is a good description of the present “is.”

 

 

Syria Bombs Iraq, US Doesn’t (It Says).

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

25 June 2014

 

US lines up to ally with Iran and Syria in support of Iraq.

In the current round of fighting, it seems the first international aerial bombing of Iraq was carried out June 23 by the Syrian Air Force, acting at the behest of the Iranian government in support of the Iraqi government, which the U.S. government has sort of pledged to support, just as soon as the Iraqi government purges itself to U.S. satisfaction, which may or may not please the governments of Iran and Syria to which the U.S. government has pledged clear opposition.

The Syrian attack apparently went unreported in almost all media. All the same, this escalation marked a widening of the ongoing war in Iraq and Syria, which already involves, at a minimum, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States (as well as Israel and Lebanon), either overtly or covertly.

The Pentagon has denied reports of U.S. drone strikes along the Iraq-Syria border, according to The Jerusalem Post, which noted that:

BBC Arabic reported earlier on Tuesday [June 24] that unmanned American aircraft had bombed the area of al-Qaim, which was overrun over the weekend by Sunni fighters led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Syrian bombing of Iraq continued on June 24, this time reported by The Wall Street Journal (alone at first), which referred to the earlier attacks:

It was the second consecutive day of airstrikes by Syria, which has joined Iran in coming to the aid of the embattled Baghdad government. Tehran has deployed special forces to help protect the capital and the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Karbala, which Shiites revere. [Najaf and Karbala are each a hundred miles or more from the bombing targets.]

The Syrian Air Force comprises mostly Russian and French planes

Syrian bombs reportedly killed at least 50 people and wounded at least 132 others when they hit targets including the municipal building, a market, and a bank in Al Rutba, a town of about 55,000 in western Iraq, captured by ISIS forces June 21. Al Rutba (also Ar Rutba or Al Rutbah) is strategically located on the prime east-west highway across vast and mostly desert Anbar Province. It is about 90 miles from both the Syrian and Jordanian borders, and more than 120 miles from Baghdad.

U.S. forces occupied Al Rutba during most of 2003-2009.

In December 2013, a complex ISIS suicide attack on Iraqi military forces in Al Rutba killed at least 18 officers, including two commanders. Even though the current ISIS offensive has apparently surprised many – including the U.S. government – it’s part of a long campaign, as documented in The Long War Journal in December 2013:

The ISIS continues to display its capacity to plan and execute coordinated operations against Iraq’s security facilities. These attacks are part of multiple ‘waves’ of al Qaeda’s “Destroying the Walls” campaign, which was announced by emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who is also known as Abu Du’a, on July 21, 2012.

Another purported bombing target, Al Qaim, is located about 100 miles to the northeast, on the Euphrates River and the Syrian border. The city of about 250,000 was reportedly the site of Iraq’s Uranium refining complex during the 1980s. Americans bombed the city and destroyed the complex during the 1991 Gulf War.

For most of 2003-2006, Al Qaim was occupied by American forces, who used it as a base for raids into Syria (tactics reminiscent of Viet Nam, where U.S. forces covertly raided Cambodia). When an Iraqi general there turned himself in to Americans in 2003, in an effort to free his two sons, Americans eventually tortured the general to death, without releasing his sons.

Al Qaim was scene of fierce fighting during last Iraq War

In 2005, insurgents took Al Qaim from the Iraqi forces left in charge by the Americans. American Marines were unable to fully re-take the city in the face of fierce resistance. American bombing of Al Qaim in August killed at least 47 people. Late in the year, a sign outside the city reportedly said, “Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Qaim.”

Forces of ISIS took control of Al Qaim on June 21.

The American denial of drone strikes on Al Qaim is explained by RT (Russian Television) this way:

Unidentified bombers have reportedly launched an air strike on ISIS positions in the northern Iraqi city of al-Qaim. Iraqi television has claimed they are US planes, but the Pentagon has denied responsibility.

US planes were identified by Iraqi television, but the Saudi Al-Arabiya network claims that the raid was carried out by Syria, citing local tribal chiefs.

The Iraqi Air Force has bombed the Iraqi city of Baiji, about 130 miles north of Baghdad, on the Tigris River. Americans bombed the city in 1991, destroying most of its oil refinery, which was quickly rebuilt. Americans occupied Baiji for most of 2003-2009, putting down significant resistance in 2003.

ISIS and Iraqi forces have been fighting for control of the Baiji oil refinery since June 11. With ISIS in control by June 20, the Baghdad government over 100 miles away decided to start bombing. The United Nations has reported that the Iraq death toll for June is already the highest in years, with more than 1,000 killed, most of them civilians.

Meanwhile, Israel has bombed Syria, killing civilians, in retaliation for an attack from Syria that killed Israeli civilians in the Golan Heights.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paul Waldman: Dick Cheney has some nerve slamming Obama on Iraq — did he mean Bush?
  • He says Cheney was Iraq war’s chief propagandist, insisted Hussein had WMDs
  • Waldman: Cheney fails to mention the loss of life, trillions spent in Iraq on his watch
  • Waldman: Where are his recommendations to solve Iraq? He blames Obama for his mess

Editor’s note: Paul Waldman is a contributing editor at The American Prospect and the author of “Being Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.” Follow him on his blog and on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

 

Dick Cheney’s amazing chutzpah on Iraq.

By Paul Waldman
 Thursday,  June 19, 2014

(CNN) — You have to hand it to Dick Cheney. How many people, knowing what has happened in Iraq over the last 12 years, would dare to write an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal containing this line: “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many” — and not be talking about George W. Bush? The man has chutzpah.

The op-ed in question was co-written with Cheney’s daughter Liz, former State Department worker and failed Senate candidate. The two are forming a new organization, the Alliance for a Strong America.

Of all the former Bush administration officials who have emerged in the last few days to blame the deteriorating situation in Iraq on Barack Obama, one might think Cheney would be among the last.

It’s one thing to turn on your TV and hear that Obama is a dangerous weakling from people like Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol, the ones who told us that war with Iraq would be cheap and easy, then bring a wave of peace and democracy across the Middle East.

But Cheney?

Cheney was the war’s chief propagandist, who told the American public more spectacular falsehoods than anyone, including Bush himself. Cheney was the one who told us in 2002 that “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

He’s the one who tried to convince us that Saddam Hussein might have helped engineer the September 11 attacks, and who said in 2005 that the insurgency in Iraq was “in its last throes.” (The war went on for 6½ more years.)

        Mukasey on mishandling of Iraq

      Dick Cheney slams Obama on Iraq

Cheney had a central role in bringing on a war in which 4,500 Americans gave their lives, tens of thousands more were gravely injured, we spent a couple of trillion dollars, and somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 Iraqis died.

Cheney’s opinion appears to be that all that death and expense never really happened (he doesn’t mention them), and that everything bad in Iraq can only be Obama’s fault — because the Bush administration did such a bang-up job there. “Mr. Obama had only to negotiate an agreement to leave behind some residual American forces, training and intelligence capabilities to help secure the peace,” he writes. “Instead, he abandoned Iraq and we are watching American defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.”

Would “some residual American forces” have been able to keep a lid on the unending Iraqi civil war that Bush and Cheney so effectively unleashed? We’ll never really know, but here’s what we do know: The agreement mandating that all American troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011 was signed by one George W. Bush, before Obama took office.

As negotiations over our departure proceeded in Obama’s first term, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki — eager to have the Americans gone so he could consolidate what would turn out to be a corrupt sectarian rule — refused to grant American troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. Without that immunity, there was simply no way American forces could remain there. We’ve heard many people say Obama “should have pushed harder,” but nobody says exactly what that’s supposed to mean, or why al-Maliki would have given in, especially considering how he’s acted since.

And what does Cheney think we should do now? He doesn’t seem to have any idea. The op-ed contains precisely zero recommendations about Iraq. Defeating al Qaeda, it says, “will require a strategy — not a fantasy.” But what is that strategy? “Sustained difficult military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts”? Oh, of course — if only we had known!

At least he’s not alone in his arrogance and befuddlement. None of Obama’s other critics seem to have much of an idea what we should do in Iraq, or Syria, or anywhere else. They’re happy to say that whatever Obama is doing isn’t enough, and it isn’t strong. But if you ask them to be specific about what different decisions they would make, you’ll be met with hemming and hawing.

That’s because there are only bad options for America in Iraq, as is often the case in the Middle East. If you delude yourself into thinking that wars are simple and easy, and all that matters is whether you’re “strong,” then sometimes things become quite clear. We’ll just invade, we’ll be “greeted as liberators” (that was Cheney, too), and everyone will live happily ever after.

And when what actually results is not that glorious and easy victory, but a tidal wave of violence and despair, then all you need to do is wait until after you leave office, when you can blame it all on someone else.

READ: Opinion–Ignore neo-cons, the last thing Iraq needs is more war

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

13 June 14

 

SEE ALSO: Obama ‘Urgently’ Considering Air Assault on Targets in Syria and Iraq

ran has decided to intervene directly in Iraq and has already sent fighters to the front, according to the Wall Street Journal, based on Iranian sources. It is alleged that Iranian special forces have helped the Iraqi army push back in Tikrit, the birth place of Saddam Hussein that was overrun earlier this week by ISIS, which captured the city’s police force. These reports come on the heels of President Hassan Rouhani’s pledge on Thursday that Iran would not stand by and allow terrorists to take over Iraq. The hyper-Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters are closing in on a major Shiite shrine in Samarra and have pledge to take Baghdad, the capital, itself.

Iran has allegedly supplied small numbers of advisers and even hired Afghan fighters to the Syrian regime, and encouraged Lebanon’s Hizbullah to intervene in Syria to prevent the fall of Homs to Sunni extremists. These Iranian interventions in Syria did shore up the al-Assad regime and reverse rebel momentum. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps may believe it can use the same tactics to roll back ISIS in Iraq. Iran is largely Shiite and has a Shiite religious ideology as the basis of the state. Iraq is 60% Shiite and the ruling government since 2005 has come from that community. Sunni Arabs in Iraq are probably only 17% or so, but had been the elite for most of Iraq’s medieval and modern history, until George W. Bush overthrew the predominantly Sunni Saddam Hussein regime and allowed the Shiites to come to power.

Iraqi Shiites predominate in Baghdad and parts south. Shiites are more like traditional Catholics in venerating members of the holy family and attending at their shrines. Contemporary Salafi Sunni Islam is more like the militant brand of Protestantism of the late 1500s that denounced intermediaries between God and the individual and actually attacked and destroyed shrines to saints and other holy figures, where pleas for intercession were made. The shrine in Samarra is associated with the 12th in the line of vicars of the Prophet Muhammad, called Imams in Shi’ism, Muhammad al-Mahdi, a direct descendant of the Prophet himself. Shiites have a special emphasis on a millenarian expectation that the Twelfth Imam will soon return to restore justice to the world (rather as Christians believe in the return of Christ). When the Samarra shrine was damaged by Sunni militants in 2006, it threw Iraq into civil war, in which 3000 civilians were being killed every month. Baghdad was ethnically cleansed by 2008 of most of its Sunnis, becoming a largely Shiite capital. ISIS wants to reverse that process. Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid caliphate, who claimed to be vicars of the Prophet, in 762 AD and is a symbol of the glories of early Islam. ISIS leaders are threatening also to destroy the shrine of Ali in Najaf and the shrine of Husain in Karbala (Najaf for Shiites is the equivalent of the Basilica of St. Peter for Catholics).

The specter of Iranian troops on Iraqi soil can only recall the first Iran-Iraq War.

From September of 1980, when Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army invaded Iran’s oil-rich Khuzistan Province, until summer 1988 when Ayatollah Khomeini finally accepted an armistice, Iran and Iraq fought one of the Middle East’s longest and bloodiest wars. Its trench warfare and hidden naval encounters recalled the horrors of World War I, as did the Iraqi Baath government’s deployment of mustard gas against Iranian soldiers at the front and sarin gas against Kurdish civilians suspected of pro-Iranian sentiments.

The Reagan administration in the United States largely backed Iraq from 1983, when Reagan dispatched then Searle CEO Donald Rumsfeld to shake Saddam’s hand. This, despite Iraq being the clear aggressor and despite Reagan’s full knowledge of Iraqi use of chemical weapons, about which George Schultz at the State Department loudly complained until he was shushed. Then, having his marching orders straight, Schultz had the US ambassador to the UN deep-six any UN Security Council resolution condemning Iraq for the chemical weapons deployment. The US navy fought an behind the scenes war against Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf, becoming a de facto appendage of the Baath military.

Just because the Reagan administration was so Machiavellian, it also gave some minor support Iran in the war. Reagan stole anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry from the Pentagon storehouses and illegally sold them to Khomeini despite Iran being on the US terrorism watch list. He then had Iran pressure the Shiite militiamen in Lebanon to release American hostages. Reagan sent the money received from Iran to death squads in Nicaragua fighting the people’s revolution there against a brutal American-installed dictatorship. This money was sent to Nicaragua in defiance of the Boland Amendment passed by Congress forbidding US monies to go there. Ollie North, whom you see prevaricating on Fox News these days, was a bag man for the operation.

They may as well have broken into the National Archives Nick Cage style, broken out the original copy of the constitution, and put it through a shredder several times in a row till small confetti pieces were all that were left.

It is unclear how many people Saddam’s bloody war killed off. A quarter of a million on each side seems plausible. So many young men were part of a “missing generation” that the Iranian regime had to let women into the workforce and universities in very large numbers despite its preference for them to remain home and secluded. In Iraq, there were many widows, and some were forced to become low-status second wives, or single heads of household, or, among Shiites, temporary wives. Iraq depleted its currency reserves in the war and went into debt with Kuwait among others, then in 1990 invaded and tried to annex Kuwait. Saddam dealt with his creditors the way organized crime might deal with its.

In the looming second Iran-Iraq War, the US will be de facto allied with Iran against the would-be al-Qaeda affiliate (ISIS was rejected by core al-Qaeda for viciously attacking other militant vigilante Sunni fundamentalists in turf wars in Syria). The position of the US is therefore 180 degrees away from what it was under Reagan.

In fact, since ISIS is allegedly bankrolled by private Salafi businessmen in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Oil Gulf, the US is on the opposite side of all its former allies of the 1980s. In some ways, some of the alleged stagnation of US policy in the Middle East may derive from a de facto US switch to the Iranian side on most issues, at the same time that US rhetoric supports Iran’s enemies in Syria and elsewhere in the region.

It is possible that a US-Iran alliance against al-Qaeda-like groups in Iraq and Syria could clarify their budding new relationship and lead to a tectonic shift in US policy in the Middle East. The Indeed, Reuters says Iranian officials are offering the possibility of security cooperation with the us. One things seems clear. Without Iran, the US is unlikely to be able to roll by al-Qaeda affiliates and would-be affiliates in the Fertile Crescent, who ultimately could pose a danger to US interests.

=================================

 

Oil strikes nine-month peak on Iraq violence.

MENAFN – AFP – 13/06/2014

 
 

(MENAFN – AFP) Global oil prices surged to fresh nine-month high points on Friday as traders eyed worsening violence in OPEC’s second biggest crude exporter Iraq.

Brent crude for July delivery soared to 114.69 per barrel in morning deals, touching the highest level since September 2013. It later stood at 113.57 in London afternoon deals, up 55 cents from Thursday, as traders booked profits.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July added 42 cents to 106.95 a barrel.

“Prices are still being driven up by the events in Iraq, where militants from the Sunni terrorist group ISIL have seized further territory and are now said to be just a few kilometres away from the capital, Baghdad,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch.

“The US is now considering air strikes by way of supporting the Iraqi armed forces in their fight against the ISIL. The Iraqi government increasingly appears to be losing control of the country.”

- Jihadists near Baghdad -

The Iraqi government bolstered Baghdad’s defences on Friday as jihadists pushed towards the capital and President Barack Obama said he was exploring all options to save Iraq’s security forces from collapse.

Predominantly Shiite Muslim Iran will combat the “violence and terrorism” of Sunni extremists who have launched an anti-government offensive in neighbouring Iraq, President Hassan Rouhani warned.

“This is an extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely,” Rouhani said, without elaborating on what steps Tehran would take to thwart a bid by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to push toward Baghdad after seizing several cities and towns to the north.

The International Energy Agency meanwhile cautioned that oil supplies from Iraq may not be at immediate risk.

Iraq is the second biggest oil exporter in the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after kingpin Saudi Arabia.

- IEA plays down impact -

“Concerning as the latest events in Iraq may be, they might not for now, if the conflict does not spread further, put additional Iraqi oil supplies immediately at risk,” the Paris-based IEA said in its monthly oil market report on Friday.

It pointed out that Iraq’s relatively small output from the north of the country has been off the market since March due to violence while output from the south has been on the rise and production has hit a 30-year high.

However the IEA, the energy monitoring and policy arm of the OECD group of advanced nations, pointed to the long-term importance of Iraq for the global energy market.

It calculated that “roughly 60 percent of the growth in OPEC crude production capacity for the rest of this decade will come from Iraq”.

The 12-nation oil cartel, which pumps one third of the world’s crude, earlier this week decided to hold their collective production target at 30 million barrels per day (bpd), where it has stood since late 2011, as they said the oil market was stable.

Oil producing nations have expressed their satisfaction with prices above 100 a barrel — where they have been for most of this year — as it brings them in sufficient revenue while appearing not to crimp growth in consuming nations.

=======================================
FURTHER ON THE OIL MARKET:

NPR NEWS

Militants’ Advance In Iraq Agitates Oil Markets

by

When Sunni militants began seizing broad swathes of territory across northern Iraq last week, global oil markets shrugged it off. After all, instability in Iraq is nothing new.

But that all changed on Wednesday, when the insurgents swept into the oil refinery town of Baiji, says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group, an energy consulting firm. The price of oil climbed nearly 4 percent in just a few short days.

“This jaw-dropping blitz assault … and the threat it posed to the Baiji refinery, the Baiji electrical power plant, and really the stability of Iraq itself, just caused the market to panic,” McNally says.

Insurgents surrounded the refinery, but were not able to seize it. For now, it remains under government control, guarded by Iraqi special forces. The refinery is the largest in Iraq, but it’s used only for domestic purposes.

The real concern for the global markets — and the entire global economy — is about securing the flow of crude oil out of Iraq’s main oil fields. They are clustered around the city of Basra, in the far south of the country at the tip of the Persian Gulf. It’s a relatively long way from militant positions now.

But Amrita Sen, chief oil market analyst with Energy Aspects in London, says that distance doesn’t provide much relief, for two reasons.

“One, the militants are progressing towards the south very, very quickly,” Sen says. “And two, the Iraqi army’s complete inability to stop them … The fear factor is huge in the market at the moment.”

There’s also concern the Sunni militants’ all-out charge through Iraq could spark widespread sectarian violence, possibly pulling in regional players, says McNally.

“The specter now is one of a sort of broad fragmentation and disintegration in Iraq, which eventually could spill over to the south and to Iraq’s oil exports,” he says.

Jim Burkhard, head of global oil market research at IHS, says militants don’t have to occupy the oil fields; they can simply launch small attacks on the pipelines, much as they’ve done on export pipelines in the northern city of Kirkuk. But Burkhard says global oil markets would feel the pinch if anything happened to Iraqi exports.

“This summer we estimate the world will have about 2 to 2.5 million barrels per day of spare crude oil production capacity,” he says. “That’s the oil markets’ shock absorber. That’s how much we have to call on in case there’s a disruption. … Iraq exports about 2.5 million barrels per day, so that’s why the market is particularly sensitive to these fast-moving developments in Iraq right now.”

Iraq has the potential to double the amount of oil it exports each day, but the industry has been plagued with problems despite investment from western companies. Burkhard says the escalating violence not only adds to Iraq’s woes, it’s part of a broader geopolitical story that’s unfolding.

“The situation between Russia and Ukraine is not settled … Libya is in a very desperate situation right now; oil production is just a trickle,” Burkhard says. “There’s also concerns about Nigeria and Venezuala as well.”

President Obama said on Friday that if there are disruptions in Iraq’s oil supply, other producers in the Gulf are able to pick up the slack. But that will do little to calm market jitters that are driving up prices.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 Our original posting of June 9th was updated June 10th with further information about the Vatican meeting and the visit to Italy’s Rome.

 

Photo

From left, President Shimon Peres of Israel, Pope Francis and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in the Vatican gardens on Sunday for a “prayer summit.” Francis said he hoped it would begin “a  ew journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide.”      Credit Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

 

VATICAN CITY — In a richly symbolic ceremony, Pope Francis oversaw a carefully orchestrated  “prayer summit” with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents on Sunday as Jews, Christians and Muslims offered invocations for peace in the Vatican gardens.

“It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide,”  Francis said at the ceremony.

During his trip last month to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, Francis unexpectedly extended invitations for a summit at the Vatican to President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.

He said the meeting would be about prayer, not politics, and Vatican officials sought to dispel any expectation that a breakthrough would emerge.

Many Mideast analysts, while applauding the gesture, have been skeptical that the meeting would help revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but it did, at least, bring together the two presidents, who held a private meeting after the ceremony with Francis.

Photo

Mr. Abbas of Palestine, center, kissed Mr. Peres of Israel, left, following a joint peace prayer with Francis at the Vatican.   Credit Filippo Monteforte/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

During the ceremony, Mr. Peres and Mr. Abbas avoided the familiar political tropes. There was no mention of 1967 borders or security arrangements. Mr. Abbas did not use the word “occupation,” according to an English translation of his prepared text distributed by the Vatican. (Nor did he say the word “Israel,” though he did refer once to Israelis.)

Yet there were some subtle provocations. Mr. Abbas called Jerusalem, considered by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital, “our Holy City” and referred to “the Holy Land Palestine.” (Mr. Peres described Jerusalem both as “the vibrant heart of the Jewish people” and as “the cradle of the three monotheistic religions.”)

Mr. Abbas also prayed for a “sovereign and independent state” and said Palestinians were “craving for a just peace, dignified living and liberty,” implying that they were denied these things under Israel’s occupation.

Mr. Peres did not mention rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, but he evoked the attacks with the biblical quotation, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The ceremony was held in a garden behind St. Peter’s Basilica that is enclosed by a high hedge to provide a sense of intimacy, and that offers a spectacular view of the cupola of the basilica. It also was chosen as a place that seemed somewhat neutral in terms of religious iconography. The service was carefully organized into three successive “moments,” in which prayers and readings were offered by Jews, then Christians and then Muslims. Then the three leaders spoke.

In the moments before the ceremony, the three men rode together in a small bus to the garden, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Orthodox Christian leader. At times, they appeared to share a laugh.

The prayer summit came at a fraught political moment. Less than a week ago, a new Palestinian government was sworn in that is based on a pact with Hamas, the militant Islamic movement branded as terrorist by most of the West. Israel has officially shunned the new cabinet and has sought unsuccessfully to galvanize the world against it.  Israel’s cabinet did give Mr. Peres the pro forma approval to travel to the Vatican, but some in Israel worried about the timing of this new embrace of Mr. Abbas.

In contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Peres has long maintained that Mr. Abbas is a suitable partner for peacemaking.  In a recent television interview, Mr. Peres said that in 2011, Mr. Netanyahu cut off back-channel talks between the two presidents that had come close to a deal, something the prime minister’s office has denied.  But even as Mr. Peres was arriving for the Vatican event, Mr. Netanyahu continued his criticism of the new Palestinian government during a cabinet meeting on Sunday in Jerusalem.

“Whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken,” he said, calling for international pressure on Mr. Abbas to dissolve the new partnership.

In the hours before the prayer summit, the usual crowd of tourists milled about St. Peter’s Square, including some people who hoped the meeting could make a difference.

“His gesture can help solve the situation,” said Esteban Troncosa, 16, of Santa Fe, Argentina, who was in Rome for a one-month language study trip with his class. “His message has always been to stop wars, and avoid any form of violence. I am sure this can make a difference. The pope can’t sign political agreements, but he is a symbol and can make people and politicians think.”

——————————————

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Amnesty Researcher Admits That Palestinian ‘Eyewitnesses’ Often Lie.

 

Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty field investigator, wrote an interesting article about the challenges of fact finding in war situations.

One of her main points is that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. For example:

In Gaza, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and other places I interviewed civilians who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes – whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the frontlines.

 

Another factor she mentions:

Even if they disregard it, investigators must be alert to the fact that disinformation and misinformation can contribute to shaping the perception of events, the narrative surrounding the events, and the behaviour of people who take it in good faith and internalize it, including victims, witnesses, and others potential sources.

 

Here Rovera  is referring to lies that spread quickly and then become widely believed – including by “unbiased” NGOs – before anyone has a chance to investigate. How many times have we seen that?

 

She gives a specific example from Gaza:

Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents. In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned and of civilians killed by Israeli strikes on nearby Palestinian armed groups’ positions. When confronted with other evidence obtained separately, some said they feared reprisals by the armed groups.

 

Meaning that “eyewitnesses” will often claim that there was no terrorist activity in the area of an airstrike and Israel wantonly and indiscriminately killed people for no reason.

This gets wholly believed and parroted by the UN and other NGOs.  The Goldstone Report has many such examples.

Unfortunately, in many cases the NGOs themselves are part of the problem. Rovera  admits, a little elliptically:

Conflict situations create highly politicized and polarized environments, which may affect even individuals and organizations with a proven track record of credible and objective work. Players and interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.

 

It is a shame that Rovera didn’t include Amnesty International itself as being guilty of this, and she ascribes the lack of objectivity almost only to fake evidence that is created by one side rather than to the ideological desire to find war crimes when none exist.

 

They might strenuously deny it, but Amnesty and HRW have systemic biases against Israel. This article, while a step in the right direction, only scratches the surface of how NGOs themselves contribute to the culture of lies in order to issue their reports and maintain their funding without doing basic fact checks.

 

And while Rovera notes that some “eyewitnesses” act out of fear, she doesn’t go far enough. At least in the territories, the lies about Israel are repeated so often that the witnesses will often  tell Western reporters and researchers what they expect to hear rather than what happened. This isn’t necessarily out of fear; it is part of their culture to ensure that Israel is always blamed no matter what. It saturates their media. I cannot count how many times “eyewitness” accounts were found to be complete fiction, and fear didn’t enter into the equation. However, many of the “witnesses” happen to work for the largest employer in the West Bank – the PA – which lies constantly.

 

Not to mention that many anti-Israel activists that will knowingly repeat the most outrageous lies to further their own agenda.

Lets hope that this article can at least open up the discussion of how inaccurate much of the reporting and research is about Israel, even from NGOs that pretend to be objective.

=======================================

We post above because we found it obviously true, but in order not to create the wrong impression that we believe above to be anywhere a justification of the self-hurting positions taken by the Israeli government, we are compelled to include as well the latest material we got from our friend – the Israeli sage Uri Avnery.

The point of this added material is to bring forward that the injuries inflicted on Israel originate these days with the position that it is Israel itself that  undoes the Zionist dream by leading to a State where the Jews will become eventually a minority – like in all the States of the diaspora.

The bottom line is that Israel has a 4,000 years claim on the land and the Arab have a 1,500 years claim.

How do you do justice in year 2,000? You divide  the land with policy and let “the market” draw the lines.  By market I mean the follow up skirmishes and wars. So it was done in real life – but what was not done yet is the recognition of the reality on the ground by resolving the situation in mutual agreement – and both sides are at fault.

The sorry site is that both sides’ leaderships sort of believe that time is on their side – outside funds and internal corruption on the Palestinian side, outside funds and a booming economy on the Israeli side. The result being that happily they both tango towards a point of no return and a bleak future.

 

AND HERE IS THE SECOND ARTICLE:

Uri Avnery

 

May 24, 2014

 

 

 

                                                In Their Own Juice

 

                                   

 

ACCORDING TO press reports, President Barack Obama has decided to let Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas “stew in their own juice.”

 

 

 

That sounds fair.

 

 

The United States has tried very hard to make peace between Israel and Palestine. Poor John Kerry has devoted almost all of his considerable energies to getting both sides to meet, to talk, to reach compromises.

 

 

At the end of nine months, he found out that it was a false pregnancy. No baby, not even a fetus. Nothing at all.

 

 

 

So American leaders are justified in feeling angry. Angry at both sides. Neither of them has shown any willingness to sacrifice its interests in order to do a favor to Obama or Kerry. Ungrateful, these Middle Easterners.

 

 

So it seems that the reaction is justified. You don’t want to fulfill our wishes? Go to hell. Both of you.

 

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANT word in these sentences is “both”.

 

 

But “both” is based on a lie.

 

 

 

When one says that “both” did not behave as expected, that “both” did not make the “necessary hard decisions” that “both” should stew in their own juice, one consciously or unconsciously assumes that they are equal. Nothing is further from the truth.

 

 

Israel is immeasurably stronger than Palestine in every material respect. One resembles a sleek American skyscraper, the other a dilapidated wooden shack.

 

 

Palestine is under occupation by the other half of “both”. Palestinians are totally deprived of all elementary human and civil rights. Average income in Israel is 20 times higher than in Palestine. Not 20%, but a staggering 2000%. Militarily, Israel is a regional power, and in some respects a world power.

 

 

 

In this reality, speaking of “both” is at best ignorant, at worst cynical.

 

 The very presentation of this picture of “both” is tantamount to acceptance of the Israeli narrative.

 

 

 

 

WHAT DOES it mean for “both” to stew in their own juice?

 

 

For Israel, it means that it can continue to build new settlements on Arab land in the occupied West Bank without foreign interference. It can make life in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ever harsher, in the hope that more and more Palestinians will prefer to leave. Arbitrary killings of civilians by occupation troops occur every few days.

 

 

Some of us realize that this course is leading to disaster in the form of a bi-national state, in which an ever-growing disenfranchised Arab majority will be ruled by the Jewish minority. That is called apartheid. But most Israelis don’t see it.

 

 

Israelis are happy, and never happier than this week. In a modern repetition of the Biblical David-and-Goliath story, the Tel Aviv Maccabi basketball team beat the formidable Real Madrid team for the European championship. National pride has risen to Olympic heights. (In a childish race, President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu each tried to waylay the winning team on its way to the popular reception in Rabin Square, in order to bask in reflected glory.)

 

 

 

So Israel can stew happily, the more so since the US continues to pay us their annual three billion dollar tribute, provide us with arms and use their UN veto power to protect us from international censure.

 

 

 

 

FOR THE Palestinian side of “both”, stewing in their own juice means something very different.

 

 

The effort to achieve Fatah-Hamas reconciliation proceeds slowly and can break down at any moment. It depends on Abbas’ success in forming a Unity Government composed of impartial “technocrats” and Hamas’ willingness to give up its sole rule in the Gaza Strip.

 

 

Almost all Palestinians want unity, but ideological differences run deep (though in practice the differences are now much shallower). But even if some kind of unity is achieved and recognized by the international community against Israel’s wish, what can the Palestinians actually do without violence?  

 

 

They could, with the help of Saudi Arabia and the military junta in Egypt, establish some direct contact between the West Bank and Gaza and break the Israeli blockade on the Strip. 

 

 

They can apply for admittance to some more international agencies and for more positive resolutions of the UN General Assembly, where the US veto does not apply but whose decisions have very little concrete effect.

 

 

They can encourage European countries and the international BDS movement to reinforce the boycott of the settlements or of Israel itself.

 

 

 

Altogether, not very much. The stewing period will enlarge even more the imbalance of power between “both” parties.

 

 

If the stewing lasts long enough, the “moderate” leaderships of Fatah and Hamas will be swept away, and Palestinian violence will raise its head again.

 

 

 

Conclusion: “Bothness”, which looks so fair and impartial, is in effect a policy of 100% support for the Israeli Right.

 

 

 

 

WILL THIS strengthen anti-Israeli sentiment abroad?

 

 

Two weeks ago, a US Jewish organization dropped a bombshell: in every country around the world there exists anti-Semitism, from 91% in the West Bank to 2% in Laos. (One may wonder where Laotians find Jews to hate.)

 

 

Every fifth person on earth harbors anti-Semitic prejudices. More than a billion human beings!!!

 

 The organization which invested so much money to finance such a world-wide poll is the (Anti-)Defamation League. I put the “anti” in brackets, because its proper name should be the Defamation League. It is a kind of Thought Police in the service of the right-wing American Jewish establishment.

 

 

 

(Many years ago, when I was a Member of the Knesset, I was invited to give talks at 20 high-class American universities. The hosts were the Jewish chaplains who belong to the Bnei Brith (Beit Hillel) order. At the last moment, 19 talks were canceled. In a secret letter, the Defamation League had told the chaplains that “though MK Uri Avnery cannot be called a traitor…” etc. etc. In the end, all the talks took place under the auspices of Christian chaplains.)

 

 

 

The publication of the devastating results of the poll exposed a curious fact: news about the rise of anti-Semitism is received by many Jews with something strangely like joy.

 

 

I have often wondered about this phenomenon. For Zionists, the answer is simple: the terms anti-Semitism and Zionism, like Siamese twins, were born at the same time. Anti-Semitism has always driven Jews to Israel, and still does (lately from France).

 

For other Jews, the source of the joy is less obvious. Jews in Europe have been surrounded by anti-Semites for so long, that the sight of them seems normal.  Discovering them again and again gives Jews a comfortable feeling of familiarity.

 

 

And there are, of course, the innumerable employees of the League and the other Jewish organizations, whose livelihood depends on the exposure of anti-Semites.

 

 

 

The interpretation of the poll itself is, of course, complete bullshit (sorry). People who expressed misgivings about Israeli policy were listed as anti-Semites. So are all inhabitants of the occupied territories who do not like their occupiers. Muslims in general, who see Israel in a negative light, are of course racists.  A similar poll about anti-Russian racism may well achieve the same results in Ukraine.

 

 

 

 

A SIMILAR initiative is this week’s congress of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

 

 

 Jewish jurists may sound almost like a tautology. Every Jewish mother wants to boast of “my son, the doctor” or “my son, the lawyer”. In the US and many other countries, Jewish lawyers and judges seem to be in the majority.

 

 

This meeting has a specific aim: to convince the UN to abolish UNRWA, the UN agency concerned with Palestinian refugees. It was created after the 1948 war, during which some 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven out of the territory that became Israel. Their descendents, who are also recognized as refugees, amount now to some six to seven million. 

 

 

UNRWA feeds these refugees, protects them and educates them. It is true that it is a unique institution, expressing the bad conscience of the UN. It seems that the refugees from no other country have such a specific organization to care for them.

 

 

Now the Jew-Ju’s (if I may call them so) are mounting an attack, directly guided by Israel, to abolish this organization altogether. I suppose that the aim is to disband the Palestinian refugee camps which exist in several countries around Israel – Sabra and Shatila spring to mind – and disperse the refugees all over the planet, where they will be less of a pain in the neck for the Netanyahu government. 

 

All THIS in the name of fairness and equality. Israelis and Palestinians can “both” stew in their own juice.

 

 

VERY different juices, though.

 

  

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Eurovision and Euro elections: the final straw in Polish gender wars.

 

 

 How is the victory of Conchita Wurst being politicized in Poland? What is the connection between Eurovision and the upcoming European Parliamant elections?

 

The Polish political scene was electrified following the Austrian win in the Eurovision song contest. Right-wing parliamentarians and candidates in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament held numerous press conferences in order to complain about  this ‘new’ Europe, which allows the victory of a ‘woman with a beard’.  Also Polish social media exploded with homo- and transphobic comments and memes.

‘Europe takes away our shipyards and sugar factories and gives us bearded weirdoes instead!’ a
right wing political party spokesperson tweeted yesterday. Another tweet by a Polish candidate for the European Parliament epitomizes the general mood yesterday: ‘Europe has lost it! They promote
a bearded weirdo from Austria instead of beautiful and talented girls. This madness needs to be done away with!’

The victory of the Austrian singer Conchita Wurst (drag alias of performer Thomas Neuwirth) politicized Eurovision for Poland (to see how political Eurovision has always been in other parts of Europe, it is enough to follow voting patterns in the Balkans or the Caucasus). Politicians and commentators alike were going out of their way to deride the debauchery they saw. ‘Conchita Wurst is a symbol of the direction, in which Europe is heading (…) a symbol of Europe I don’t want. My Europe is based on Christian values’, said the spokesperson of the main Polish opposition party, Law and Justice (currently polling first for European elections).

‘Very disquieting things are going on in Europe, things that show decadence, downturn and we would like to reverse this trend’ Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Law and Justice, pointed out. ‘Any propaganda aiming to efface differences between men and women is the road to decay (…) we should definitely not celebrate such things, these events do not bode well’ he added.

The Polish Catholic Church lost no time in putting their two cents in as well: ‘This is another form of promoting groups that sneer at human dignity (…) another confirmation that backgrounds priding themselves on sexual licentiousness are protected by the dominant media and “politically correct” authorities’ said priest Marek Drzewiecki. ‘It seems that the victory of Conchita Wurst was a result of the propagation of genderism. And here we should have concerns, because in the long run this destroys the family’, commented the Polish media go-to priest Dariusz Oko.

It has to be said that Polish commentators were outdone only by the Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who stated that this was the end of Europe and that the Soviet army should have never left Austria 50 years ago…

 

Polish gender wars:

Trolling and hate speech are a common blight of internet memes and fora. But the Polish political and social media reaction to this year’s Eurovision winner is part of a larger war which has been waged against the term ‘gender’ in Poland. As outrageous as it sounds, for the past two years or so, mainstream conservative and right wing forces (which dominate the Polish political scene) have constructed and maintained a discursive fight over the meaning and application of the seemingly obscure academic concept of gender. The virulent attacks were mostly aimed at feminist and queer academia, gender equality programs and policies especially in school and kindergarten education.

The ‘war on gender’ discourse originated in the catholic church and quickly spilled over into parliamentary and local politics. By conflating and mixing terms and phenomena this discourse attempts to hammer the message home that ‘gender’ (or ‘gender ideology’ and ‘genderism’ as used by the proponents) destroys traditional Polish family values (through divorce and same-sex relationships), promotes and ‘spreads homosexuality’, causes child sexual abuse (gender equality education is supposed to ‘sexualise children’), and turns everyone into transvestites. There is no knowledge or education on the differences between sexual reassignment, cross-dressing or transgender and queer identities and essentially no awareness on issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Hence, the ‘war on gender’ in Poland is intensely trans- and homophobic and plays into the wider anti-feminist and anti-LGBT moods within Eastern Europe. According to the 2013 ‘EU LGBT Survey’ by the Fundamental Rights Agency, 57% of people self-identifying as LGBT felt discriminated against in Poland (EU average – 47%), with only Lithuania and Croatia ranking higher (61% and 60% respectively). The lack of improvement in the social position of sexual minorities paired with attempts to roll back women’s rights (restrictions on abortion law, lack of civil partnerships legislation, problems with the implementation of anti-discrimination clauses) are a wider feature in the region. After the fall of state socialism, Eastern Europe has seen waves of growing religious and nationalistic intolerance. The rhetoric of ‘return to tradition’ (where ‘tradition’ stands for normality and nature, meaning mono-ethnic patriarchy) has become an ever-present image and dominant component of the revived and mythologized national identities in Poland, Russia, the Baltic states, the Balkans, Slovakia and Hungary.

 

‘We are Slavs’ vs. Wurst

According to such narratives ‘women are women and men are men’, because there are undeniable biological differences which give the two sexes specific gender roles, since men and women must have inherently different emotional and psychological qualities. This gender essentialism emerges most strikingly if you compare the Polish Eurovision performance – the song ‘We are Slavic’ and Conchita Wurst’s ‘Rise Like a Phoenix’. Eurovision is a proud feat of kitsch, but the two performances give a perfect illustration of competing gender perspectives. Conchita Wurst embodies everything that conservative Eastern Europe fears from the EU – subversion and transgression in terms of gender roles, gender ambiguity and flexibility in gender expression (translated in Poland into moral decay, rampant trans- and homosexuality, as well as going against nature or god’s law). What about ‘us, Slavs’? The song depicts perfectly the Polish heteronormative natural and traditional vision of gender roles: ‘We Slavic girls know how our charms and beauty work/We like to shake what mom gave us in our genes/ This is Slavic blood!/(…) What’s ours is best, because it’s ours!’ Whether you think the performance was pastiche, soft porn or just good fun, the not-so-subtle message was that Slavic women know ‘how to use what mother nature gave them’ and half-dressed do the laundry and churn butter by hand in sexually inviting ways for their men.

 

War on gender and European Parliament elections

The Polish ‘war on gender’, which had somewhat died down in the past couple of months, reached another apogee this week thanks to the Eurovision song contest. The amount of bile, hate speech and trans- and homophobia that spilled from Polish political elites and social media in response to the event shows how dominant the ‘gender war’ thinking has become as a comfortable rhetoric tool in debates. It also gave conservative Eurosceptics an image to point to before the European Parliament elections later this month. Given the already extremely low interest and weak voter turnout (never exceeding 25% so far) in European elections, the Polish right wing gained an emotive picture to scare people with and to rally against. An image that plays perfectly into the political game they have been playing since mid-2012, when they took on fighting ‘gender’ and trying to curb gender equality, women’s and sexual minority rights even further. Image of a woman with a beard.

 —————————————-

Barbara Gaw?da is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on gendered political discourses in Eastern Europe.

Related Articles of Open Democracy:
The lead-up to the European elections in Bulgaria: how not to do politicsNikolay Nikolov
We don’t talk about politics in PolandMarzena Sadowska
—————————————–
And from the ECONOMIST of  May 19, 2014 by T.J. in Eastern approaches – Ex-communist Europe:“The Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church and another senior churchman have used the floods to attack the country’s lesbian and gay community as well as Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian drag queen who won the Eurovison song contest on May 10th. They claim that the floods were a punishment from God for their vices.”
But this is not all – similar arguments come in Vienna also from Muslim sources. Personally  – I was lectured today by my good Macedonian Muslim tailor on how from above angels punish us for the ways women behave,  and he gave me full description of the way these angels, under Gabriel, act according to the Koran and tradition.He also reminded me of Lot’s daughters and the upheaval they caused and the hole in the earth that is now the Dead Sea! To show how series this is he gave me to take home some booklets that were given to him.
In short, a poor rational person like myself is pushed to take cover by these Eastern minds – be they from the Eastern Christian Churches or Muslims.    Europe is still far away from enlightenment.
And what about the Christian right or the extreme Jewish Orthodoxy in America? Are they any better?
Too bad that in the 21st Century we still have to hear such arguments while we try to analyze man-induced climate change.
==============================
On the other hand, according to the “Heute” paper of today, the husband of Conchita Wurst (Tom Neuwirth) is Jacques Patriaque – who is a “Boylesque” dancer – that is the men parallel to Burlesque that shows mostly women.

This information became available as Mr. Patriaque will be performing in an upcoming festival – www.boylesque festivalvienna.com – This new angle to Conchita’s story story is bound to be reason for new criticism.
Whatever – we will continue to hold to our idea that people’s preferences do not entitle them to prejudice that impacts human rights of others.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Here’s what’s going on at the White House today.
The White House, Washington

DAILY SNAPSHOT
Friday, May 16, 2014

Featured
“The Faces of Nearly 3,000 Innocent Souls”Yesterday, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened its doors to the families of those who lost their lives in the 2001 attacks, as well as the first responders and recovery workers that helped save the lives of others that day.

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together,” said President Obama. “We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world. … Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.”

Read more of the President’s remarks at yesterday’s dedication.

Read more about the 9/11 museum dedication ceremony.

 

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the National September 11 Memorial & Museum dedication ceremony in New York, N.Y., May 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 

President Obama said that the site is now a “sacred place of healing and of hope.”

“Here, at this memorial, this museum, we come together.  We stand in the footprints of two mighty towers, graced by the rush of eternal waters.  We look into the faces of nearly 3,000 innocent souls — men and women and children of every race, every creed, and every corner of the world.  We can touch their names and hear their voices and glimpse the small items that speak to the beauty of their lives.  A wedding ring.  A dusty helmet.  A shining badge.

Here we tell their story, so that generations yet unborn will never forget.  Of coworkers who led others to safety.  Passengers who stormed a cockpit.  Our men and women in uniform who rushed into an inferno.  Our first responders who charged up those stairs.  A generation of servicemembers — our 9/11 Generation — who have served with honor in more than a decade of war.  A nation that stands tall and united and unafraid — because no act of terror can match the strength or the character of our country.  Like the great wall and bedrock that embrace us today, nothing can ever break us; nothing can change who we are as Americans.”

In his remarks, the President also told the story of Welles Crowther, a young man who gave his own life in order to save others:

“On that September morning, Alison Crowther lost her son Welles.  Months later, she was reading the newspaper — an article about those final minutes in the towers.  Survivors recounted how a young man wearing a red handkerchief had led them to safety.  And in that moment, Alison knew.  Ever since he was a boy, her son had always carried a red handkerchief.  Her son Welles was the man in the red bandana.

Welles was just 24 years old, with a broad smile and a bright future.  He worked in the South Tower, on the 104th floor. He had a big laugh, a joy of life, and dreams of seeing the world.  He worked in finance, but he had also been a volunteer firefighter.  And after the planes hit, he put on that bandana and spent his final moments saving others.

Three years ago this month, after our SEALs made sure that justice was done, I came to Ground Zero.  And among the families here that day was Alison Crowther.  And she told me about Welles and his fearless spirit, and she showed me a handkerchief like the one he wore that morning.

And today, as we saw on our tour, one of his red handkerchiefs is on display in this museum.  And from this day forward, all those who come here will have a chance to know the sacrifice of a young man who — like so many — gave his life so others might live.”

“Those we lost live on in us,” said the President. “In the families who love them still. In the friends who remember them always. And in a nation that will honor them, now and forever.”

——————-

The President kept his words tight and dignified without mentioning the perpetrators, but we allow ourselves to be more outspoken and remind our readers that the Bin Ladens are products of our insistence on using their Saudi Arabia as a mere oil-source, and do not dare to talk of human rights or other such banalities as democracy. We also would never speak up against religious Islamic Arab racism as long as the Arab world just persists in harming their own. It is only when they step out of line and harm American or Israeli citizens that we wake up – but still continue to buy their oil and gas.

Now, while we mourn the civilized world’s victims “of all races and creeds” as per the 9/11 beast-made cataclysm – our papers talk of a “Black Bin Laden” by the name of Abubakar Shrkau, the boss of the Islamic Terror-group Boko Haram who has it out against the Christian Nigerians – killing them and abducting their daughters. This is no less then a “cleansing” operation in the Islamic World, and the results are clear in the Middle East and are now being extended to Africa – this along the “oil-road” – be it in Sudan or Nigeria.

When will the US and the EU finally realize that energy is not a synonym for oil?

If Climate Change, and now also the fate of the Ukraine are no eye openers – what will ever awaken a dormant US Congress or a dormant EU Parliament that can think only oil and gas?

On 9/11 2001, the day the UN General Assembly was to start their meetings, I was supposed to participate and being inducted at a ringing of the Peace Bell. Obviously, looking at the clouds of dust hovering over down-town, that were visible even at the 42 Street at the UN, the event was postponed by several days, and when held it was more like a wake not an inspiration. I, and everyone involved in this, will never forget or forgive. (PJ)

 

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And from today’s mail from The Council of Foreign Relations:

Crisis in Nigeria

Why One Nigerian Crisis Attracted Notoriety

John Campbell

Boko Haram’s kidnapping of schoolgirls in northern Nigeria has claimed more international attention than any other atrocity of the ongoing insurgency. A Boko Haram warlord’s video claiming responsibility for the kidnapping and threatening to, in effect, sell the girls into slavery appears to have fed the media storm, tying the tragedy to larger issues of human trafficking, child marriage, and girls’ education. Read more on Africa in Transition »

Beating Boko Haram

Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel

Boko Haram, whose name roughly translates to “secular education is a sin,” has been committing heinous attacks across Nigeria’s north for years, frequently targeting schools. To fight back, Abuja must double down on education even as it rethinks its counterterrorism strategy. Read more on ForeignAffairs.com »

Get Girls’ Education Out of the Crosshairs

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Education has long been in the crosshairs of extremists, but only recently came to light via Boko Haram’s kidnapping of nearly three hundred school girls. More than seventy million school-aged children do not attend elementary school. This statistic will need to change to ensure prosperity, stability, and security. Read the op-ed »

Will the “Civilized World” do anything if the present rage subsides? (PJ)

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