US: The dishonest broker

 

Despite high expectation for Barack Obama, the US president has not convinced Israel to cease settlement construction.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been both a major concern of American diplomacy since 1967 and the arena of persistent failure.

There are many reasons for America’s failure to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians but the most fundamental one is that it is a dishonest broker. As a result of its palpable partiality towards Israel, America has lost all credibility in the eyes not only of the Palestinians but of the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.

The so-called peace process has been all process and no peace. Peace talks that go nowhere slowly provide Israel with just the cover it needs to pursue its expansionist agenda on the West Bank.

The asymmetry of power between Israel and the Palestinians is so great that only a third party can bridge the gap. In plain language, this means leaning on Israel to end the occupation and to permit the emergence of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In theory America is committed to a two-state solution to the conflict but in practise it has done very little to push Israel into such a settlement. It is not that America lacks the means to bring pressure to bear on Israel. On the contrary, Israel is crucially, and almost exclusively, dependent on America for military, diplomatic, and financial support.

America’s financial support amounts to three billion dollars a year. So the leverage is there. The real problem is that American leaders are either unable or unwilling to exercise this leverage in order to promote a just settlement of this tragic conflict.

The most depressing aspect of the situation is that despite its proven inability to make progress on the Palestinian track, America continues to cling to its monopoly over the peace process. In the aftermath of the June 1967 War, America arrogated to itself a near-monopoly over the diplomacy surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

During the Cold War, the main purpose of American diplomacy was to exclude the Soviet Union, the ally of radical Arab states, from the quest for peace in the Middle East. After the end of the Cold war, America continued to marginalise Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The UN has the authority as well as a duty to regulate this conflict because it is a threat to international peace and security. But the Americans undermined its efforts and routinely used their veto on the Security Council to defeat resolutions that were critical of Israel.

American contempt towards the UN reached a new height during the two Republican administrations of George W. Bush. The attitude of the neoconservatives is illustrated by the following conversation between a senior UN official and a venerable Republican Senator. The official asked “Why are you Americans so hostile to the UN? Is it ignorance or is it indifference?” And the Senator allegedly replied: “I don’t know and I don’t care!”

Barack Obama’s election was widely expected to usher in a more even-handed policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the Cairo speech of June 4 2009, Obama stated that the bond with Israel is unbreakable but he also expressed deep empathy for the Palestinians and wanted there to be no doubt that: “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own”.

Obama is an inspiring orator. However, to use an American phrase, he has talked the talk but he has not walked the walk. The rhetoric has changed but in practical terms there has been more continuity than change. Partiality towards Israel remains the order of the day and it vitiates the possibility of a genuinely even-handed policy.

To be fair to Obama, he recognised at the outset that Jewish settlements on the West Bank are the main obstacle to progress. He admitted, in effect, that there can be a peace process but no peace if Israel continues the colonisation of the West Bank. At his first meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on May 18 2008, Obama insisted on a complete settlement freeze.

A week later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained: “The President wants to see a stop to settlements. Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions… That is our position…And we intend to press that point”. The position was admirably clear but she and the president failed to press the point. They backed down.

The direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks launched by Secretary Clinton in Washington on September 2 are the best that could be expected after this and subsequent climb-downs. But these talks are an exercise in futility.

There is an Arabic saying that something that starts crooked, remains crooked. These peace talks started in a crooked way because they did not meet the most fundamental Palestinian requirement: a complete freeze on settlement activity.

All that Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to was a partial settlement freeze for a period of ten months. The ban did not apply to the 3,000 housing units that had already been approved or to East Jerusalem, which Israel had illegally annexed following the June 1967 Six-Day War.

When the ban expired on September 27, Netanyahu refused to extend it. Shirking his responsibility as prime minister, he simply called on the settlers to exercise restraint. A more vacuous statement is difficult to imagine. Predictably, as the Israeli media has reported, the bulldozers are back at work in the Jewish settlements near Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron.

The conclusion is inescapable: Netanyahu is not a genuine partner for the Palestinians on the road to peace. Land-grabbing and peace-making simply do not go together and Netanyahu has opted for the former.

Netanyahu is like a man who, while negotiating the division of a pizza, continues to eat it.

The American position is pusillanimous and feeble. Instead of taking a firm position on the side of the Palestinians and pressing the point of principle, they press the weaker party to make more and more concessions. Under these conditions, the prospects of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are close to zero.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel, only more illegal settlements, and consequently more strife, more violence, more bloodshed, and ultimately another war.

Ref: Al Jazeera

Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Verso). This article first appeared on the University of Oxford, Department of Politics and International Relations Blog.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Zionists: terrorist pioneers

Here’s the roll-call [from delphiforums] on who introduced terrorism (along with biological, chemical and nuclear weapons) to the Middle East:

  • Bombs in cafés: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 17 March 1937 in Jaffa (they were grenades)
  • Bombs on buses: first used by Zionists in Palestine on 20 August- 26 September 1937
  • Drive-by shootings with automatic weapons: IZL and LHI in 1937-38 and 1947-48 (Morris, Righteous Victims, p681.)
  • Bombs in market places: first used by Zionists on 6 July 1938 in Haifa. (delayed-action, electrically detonated)
  • Bombing of a passenger ship: first used by the Zionists in Haifa on 25 November 1940, killing over 200 of their own fellows.
  • Bombing of hotels: first used by Zionists on 22 July 1946 in Jerusalem (Menachem Begin went on to become prime minister of Israel).
  • Suitcase bombing: first used by Zionists on 1 October 1946 against British embassy in Rome.
  • Mining of ambulances: first used by Zionists on 31 October 1946 in Petah Tikvah
  • Car-bomb: first used by Zionists against the British near Jaffa on 5 December 1946.
  • Letter bombs: first used by Zionists in June 1947 against members of the British government, 20 of them.
  • Parcel bomb: first used by Zionists against the British in London on 3 September 1947.
  • Reprisal murder of hostages: first used by Zionists against the British in Netanya area on 29 July 1947.
  • Truck-bombs: first used by Zionists on January 1948 in the centre of Jaffa, killing 26.
  • Aircraft hijacking: world-first by Israeli jets December 1954 on a Syrian civilian airliner (random seizure of hostages to recover five spies) – 14 years before any Palestinian hijacking.

The only form of violent terrorism not introduced into Palestine by the Zionists was suicide bombing, a tactic used almost entirely by people fighting occupation of their “homeland” – think 1000s of Japanese in 1945, 100s of Tamils and 38 Lebanese in the 1980s – most of the latter being motivated by socialism/communism, not Islam – see http://amconmag.com/article/2005/jul/18/00017.

  • Biological warfare – pathogens used by Zionists in 1948, prior to the seizure of Acre, putting typhus into the water supply.
  • Chemical warfare – nerve gas very likely used by Zionists in February/March 2001 in at least eight attacks in Khan Younis and Gharbi refugee camps (Gaza) and the town of Al-Bireh (West Bank).
  • Nuclear threats – made by Zionists e.g. 2003: “We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen, before Israel goes under.” – Remarks of Martin Van Creveld, a professor of military history at Israel’s Hebrew University, 1 February 2003.

And, if you think only Muslims need worry, then see http://www.masada2000.org/sharepain.html – “Israel has nuclear weapons and MUST use them and all those arming the Arabs must share the pain!” Comes with cute music.

To these we could add “sofa slaughter” with armed drones. The Israelis use this armchair technique extensively in Gaza, unleashing death and destruction on civilians by remote control at no personal risk to themselves. There are interesting variations too. For example, during the 40-day siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002 the Israeli occupation force set up cranes on which were mounted robotic machine guns under video control. According to eye-witnesses, eight defenders, including the bell-ringer, were murdered, some by armchair button-pushers and some by regular snipers.

Ref: Pulsemedia.org

GAZA FREEDOM FLOTILLA: Brave Israeli Commandos Slaughter Aid Activists at Sea

Even America’s major media can’t duck a crime this grave – attacking and slaughtering up to 20 Gaza Freedom Flotilla activists and injuring dozens more.

New York Times writer Isabel Kershner headlined “At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla, saying:

“The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying thousands of tons of supplies for Gaza in international waters on Monday morning….The incident drew widespread international condemnation, with Israeli envoys summoned to explain their country’s actions in several European countries….The killings also coincided with preparations for a planned visit to Washington on Tuesday (June 1) by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Late word is it’s postponed.

Read more at SteveLendmanBlog

Gaza flotilla attack: UN report condemns Israeli ‘brutality’

UN Human Rights Council accuses Israel of a ‘disproportionate’ response to Gaza blockade-breakers, nine of whom died.

A UN-appointed panel said today that Israeli forces violated international law, “including international humanitarian and human rights law”, during and after their lethal attack on a flotilla of ships attempting to break the blockade of Gaza in May.

The UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission judged Israel‘s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory to be “unlawful” because there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza at the time.

The panel’s report, published today, described Israel’s military response to the flotilla as “disproportionate” and said it “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality”.

Eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed in the raid, which prompted international criticism of both the attack and Israel’s policy of blockading the Gaza Strip. Israel has since eased its embargo, although still refuses to allow full imports and exports and the free movement of people.

Israel says the soldiers acted in self-defence. But the mission criticised the Israeli government for failing to co-operate with its inquiry. “Regrettably to date, no information has been given to the mission by or on behalf of the government of Israel,” it said.

The panel was led by Karl Hudson-Phillips, a retired judge of the international criminal court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago.

The report said: “The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

The panel concluded that there was “clear evidence” of wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment and wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health – all crimes under the Geneva Convention.

The panel expressed the hope that there would be “swift action” by the Israeli government to help victims achieve effective remedies. “The mission sincerely hopes that no impediment will be put in the way of those who suffered loss as a result of the unlawful actions of the Israeli military to be compensated adequately and promptly,” it said. It described the blockade of Gaza as “totally intolerable and unacceptable in the 21st century”.

The Israeli government has fiercely resisted demands for an independent international inquiry into the flotilla attacks, establishing three internal investigations to avert pressure from the UN, Europe and Turkey.

LOWKEY – TERRORIST? (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

VIDEO: Israel vs Israhell

Documentary about Israeli peace activists. For more information – join on Facebook > http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=134111073300491

ISRAHELL: Pirates in the Mediterranean

“Why didn’t they greet us with muffins and orange juice?” was my friend’s facetious question after listening all morning to the Israeli media’s coverage of the assault on the relief flotilla heading for Gaza, the navy assault that left nine citizens dead and many more wounded. Like a group of pirates in the Mediterranean, the Israeli navy attacked humanitarian aid ships in international waters, and yet Israeli officials and commentators were totally surprised when the passengers did not receive them with open arms. Going through the talkbacks on news sites, it seems that most Jews in Israel were also taken aback.

Later in the day, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman held a press conference, in which he made two revealing declarations. First, he asserted that no country would allow a foreign entity to threaten its sovereign borders. This claim, however, reveals the basic lie regarding Israel’s Gaza policy.

Israel has to decide once and for all whether or not it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. If it did and Gaza is an autonomous entity as Israel claims, then the attempt on the part of these humanitarian ships to reach the Gaza sea port is not an infringement on Israeli sovereignty. If, on the other hand, Israel considers the flotilla’s entrance into Gaza’s territorial sea line as a violation of its own sovereign borders, then Israel needs to admit that it has never given up its sovereignty over Gaza. Lieberman’s statement discloses, in other words, that Israel has fashioned itself as a unique creature in the international arena: the non-sovereign sovereign. When it suits its interests, the government claims that it has relinquished sovereignty over Gaza, but when it does not, the government reasserts its sovereignty. Lieberman should keep in mind that with sovereignty comes responsibility. Thus, if Israel was indeed defending its borders yesterday morning then as sovereign, Israel is also responsible for the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip–for their livelihood as well as their security.

Lieberman’s second declaration was that the Israeli military is the most moral in the world. No other soldiers, he said, would have dealt in such a forgiving way with the people on board the ships.

Lieberman conveniently ignored the fact that according to international law the Israeli soldiers were acting like pirates, since hijacking an unarmed humanitarian aid ship in international waters is by definition piracy.

Moreover, his second observation is informed by the lesser evil argument; namely, the Israeli military could have been more brutal and chose not to. As the great Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt pointed out, “Politically, the weakness of the argument [for lesser evils] has always been that those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”

Neve Gordon

US ZIONIST BANALITY DOCTRINE: Supporting Israeli massmurder while the world turnes away

Charlie Rose, PBS. Vice President Joe Biden discusses flotilla incident. Aired on Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Paul C Roberts USA Traitors AIPAC, Zionist Loyal to ISRAEL – USA Hijacked

1967 USS Liberty survivor was onboard flotilla ship

In June 1967, the Israel military attacked the USS Liberty. A survivor of that attack was onboard the Gaza aid flotilla and has survived yet again to tell the story.

Joe Meadors is a pro-Palestinian activist and a survivor of the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. That attack by the Israeli Air Force killed 34 Americans. Meadors was onboard one of the Gaza aid flotilla ships.

“They [Israeli military] are very inept, to tell you the truth,” said Meadors.

Israeli forces were unable to sink an unarmed US Naval ship and were unable to adequately engage a the Turkish liner.

“It was an illegal attack. We were on the high seas conducting legal activities. They admitted that they closed the area for military purposes but they, we tried to find out the boundaries of that area and they wouldn’t tell us,” said Meadors.

Meadors said that they violated international waters both in the recent flotilla attack and in 1967 at the attack of the USS Liberty, stating that Israel also violated international law by using unmarked aircraft.

“They’re just a bunch of rag-tag people who think they can do no wrong. Every time they speak they say they don’t break any laws, they always abide by international laws. But, they break them with impunity and the US Government is not going to hold them accountable, nobody is,” said Meadors.

Meadors expects an investigation will show that Israel violated international law and should be held accountable for its actions. He holds the same hope for the USS Liberty case, which has yet to be settled.

“We filed a war crimes report with the Department of Defense in 2005. They claim they already investigated the allegation we made, but they can’t show us where they have,” said Meadors.

Meadors said that Israel was the aggressor in the flotilla attack and that the only story is being portrayed is Israel’s version, because the Israeli forces confiscated all video and recording equipment from the flotilla passengers

ISRAHELL GAZA HASBARA: spoof video mocking activists (WARNING RACIST!!!) This is another piece of handicrafted Israhell goods in the framing of the murders it committed on int waters!

“But the most recent video distributed on Friday by the Israeli government press office (which belongs to the Israeli prime minister’s office and is responsible for accrediting foreign journalists) is distasteful and insulting to those killed and injured on the Freedom Flotilla, and quite frankly disturbing – especially since it was made by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor, Caroline Glick, who also moonlights for the American Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC. (Read more about Caroline Glick and her dual role as a pro-Israeli advocate and “credible journalist” in mainstream American and Israeli media here.)

On Friday afternoon, the Israeli Government issued the following email:

Due to a misunderstanding on our part, earlier today we inadvertently issued a video link that had been sent for our perusal.  It was not intended for general release.  The contents of the video in no way represent the official policy of either the Government Press Office or of the State of Israel.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thank you for your patients and understanding.

Efraim Roseman

Ref: Al Jazeera

Israel forced to apologise for YouTube spoof of Gaza flotilla

Israeli government press office distributed video link featuring Arabs and activists singing

The Israeli government has been forced to apologise for circulating a spoof video mocking activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, nine of who were shot dead by Israeli forces last week.

The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: “We con the world, we con the people. We’ll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper.”

It continues: “There’s no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all.”

The Israeli government press office distributed the video link to foreign journalists at the weekend, but within hours emailed them an apology, saying it had been an error. Press office director Danny Seaman said the video did not reflect official state opinion, but in his personal capacity he thought it was “fantastic”.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said the video reflected how Israelis felt about the incident. “I called my kids in to watch it because I thought it was funny,” he said. “It is what Israelis feel. But the government has nothing to do with it.”

The clip features a group led by the Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, wearing keffiyehs and calling themselves the Flotilla Choir. The footage is interspersed with clips from the recent Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid ship, the Mavi Marmara.

The clip has been praised in Israel, where the mass-circulation daily Yediot Aharonot said the singers “defended Israel better than any of the experts”.

But Didi Remez, an Israeli who runs the liberal-left news analysis blog Coteret, said the clip was “repulsive” and reflected how out of touch Israeli opinion was with the rest of the world. “It shows a complete lack of understanding of how the incident is being perceived abroad,” she said. Award-winning Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport said the clip demonstrated prejudice against Muslims. “It’s roughly done, not very sophisticated, anti-Muslim – and childish for the government to be behind such a clip,” he said.

A similar press office email was sent to foreign journalists two weeks ago, recommending a gourmet restaurant and Olympic-sized swimming pool in Gaza to highlight Israel’s claim there is no humanitarian crisis there. Journalists who complained the email was in poor taste were told they had “no sense of humour”.

Last week, the Israel Defence Force had to issue a retraction over an audio clip it had claimed was a conversation between Israeli naval officials and people on the Mavi Marmara, in which an activist told soldiers to “go back to Auschwitz”. The clip was carried by Israeli and international press, but today the army released a “clarification/correction”, explaining that it had edited the footage and that it was not clear who had made the comment.

The Israeli army also backed down last week from an earlier claim that soldiers were attacked by al-Qaida “mercenaries” aboard the Gaza flotilla. An article appearing on the IDF spokesperson’s website with the headline: “Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be al-Qaida mercenaries”, was later changed to “Attackers of the IDF Soldiers found without identification papers,” with the information about al-Qaida removed from the main article. An army spokesperson told the Guardian there was no evidence proving such a link to the terror organisation.

While the debate over accounts of the flotilla raid continues, Israel is facing more boycotting. In the past week, three international acts, including the US rock band the Pixies, have cancelled concerts in Tel Aviv.

Best-settling authors Alice Walker and Iain Banks have backed the boycott campaign, with Banks announcing his books won’t be translated into Hebrew. Dockworker unions in Sweden and South Africa have refused to handle Israeli ships, while the UK’s Unite union just passed a motion to boycott Israeli companies.

Ref: Guardian

ISRAHELL: Israeli butchery at sea

As I write this piece the scale of the Israeli lethal slaughter at sea is yet to be clear. However we already know that at around 4am Gaza time, hundreds of IDF commandos stormed the Free Gaza international humanitarian fleet. We learn from the Arab press that at least 16 peace activists have been murdered and more than 50 were injured. Once again it is devastatingly obvious that Israel is not trying to hide its true nature: an inhuman murderous collective fuelled by a psychosis and driven by paranoia.

For days the Israeli government prepared the Israeli society for the massacre at sea. It said that the Flotilla carried weapons, it had ‘terrorists’ on board. Only yesterday evening it occurred to me that this Israeli malicious media spin was there to prepare the Israeli public for a full scale Israeli deadly military operation in international waters.

Make no mistake. If I knew exactly where Israel was heading and the possible consequences, the Israeli cabinet and military elite were fully aware of it all the way along. What happened yesterday wasn’t just a pirate terrorist attack. It was actually murder in broad day light even though it happened in the dark.

Yesterday at 10 pm I contacted Free Gaza and shared with them everything I knew. I obviously grasped that hundreds of peace activists most of them elders, had very little chance against the Israeli killing machine. I was praying all night for our brothers and sisters. At 5am GMT the news broke to the world. In international waters Israel raided an innocent international convoy of boats carrying cement, paper and medical aid to the besieged Gazans. The Israelis were using live ammunition murdering and injuring everything around them.

Today we will see demonstrations around the world; we will see many events mourning our dead. We may even see some of Israel’s friends ‘posturing’ against the slaughter. Clearly this is not enough.

The massacre that took place was a premeditated Israeli operation. Israel wanted blood because it believes that its ‘power of deterrence’ expands with the more dead it leaves behind.

The Israeli decision to use hundreds of commando soldiers against civilians was taken by the Israeli cabinet together with the Israeli top military commanders. What we saw yesterday wasn’t just a failure on the ground. It was actually an institutional failure of a morbid society.

It is no secret that Palestinians are living in a siege for years. But it is now down to the nations to move on and mount the ultimate pressure on Israel and its citizens. The massacre was committed by a popular army that followed instructions given by a ‘democratically elected’ government.

Considering the fact that Israel stormed naval vessels sailing under Irish, Turkish and Greek flags, both NATO members and EU countries must immediately cease their relationships with Israel and close their airspace to Israeli airplanes.

Considering yesterday’s news about Israeli nuclear submarines being stationed in the Gulf, the world must react quickly and severely. Israel is now officially mad and deadly. The Jewish State is not just careless about human life, as we have been following the Israeli press campaign leading to the slaughter; Israel actually seeks pleasure in inflicting pain and devastation on others.

REf: Al jazeera

— Gilad Atzmon (gilad.co.uk) is an Israeli-born writer and jazz musician living in London. He had previously served in the Israeli military but he is currently an anti-racism campaigner. His latest CD is In Loving Memory of America.