Tuesday, October 31, 2006

 

When Dialogue is NOT our Hope

Below is a summary by Mariya Yevsyukova of "When Dialogue is NOT our Hope" by Joseph Phelps in the Mennonite Conciliation Service's Conciliation Quarterly (Spring 1996. p. 8).
Dialogue is not appropriate when:

1) Either side refuses to talk.

Continuation of the dialogue can only further damage the situation. However, there might be people on the other side who do not hold extreme views. Then there is an option of talking to them in the hope that they will convey your views to those who stand on extreme positions.

2) When the conversation is co-opted by persons in power.

When there is a dialogue between oppressor and oppressed, it might be just an attempt to create an illusion of caring about the needs of the powerless by those in power, without practical attempt to reverse the injustice.

3) When dialogue is being substituted for the work of counseling.

4) When the issue of justice is involved.

There cannot be dialogue with forces promoting injustice. Sometimes there is a need for nonviolent action. A good example is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Resistance gave more power to the oppressed. Creating a power balance allows for honest and constructive dialogue. Thus, conflict can be an indication for the necessity of change.
See also On Propriety, Power, and Social Protest

Monday, October 30, 2006

 

More on Bayard Rustin

Concerning "Bayard Rustin--Giant with Feet of Clay," a reader asks, "It seems to me, pretty obvious in fact, that the likelihood exists that Rustin worked with the support of the US government. Have you come across any documents that highlighted or suggested this?"

The short answer is no. The long answer is there seems little room for doubt that, in his later life, through his direct and indirect connections with Freedom House, the AFL-CIO, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Committee on the Present Danger, League for Industrial Democracy, Coalition for a Democratic Majority, etc. that Rustin was definitely a beneficiary of CIA and other gov't. support and funding. I haven't come across any particularly relevant documents on this topic but then again I haven't really looked for any. In any case, have a look at rightweb.irc-online.org. Rustin's name pops up there a lot of times in association with prominent neocons and known CIA front groups. The statement below makes a lot of sense when considered in this light.

Ronald Reagan's Statement on the Death of Bayard Rustin
August 25, 1987

We mourn the loss of Bayard Rustin, a great leader in the struggle for civil rights in the United States and for human rights throughout the world. He will be sorely missed by all those who shared his commitment to the twin causes of peace and freedom.

As few men have, Mr. Rustin understood that the struggle for the two is inseparable; either we achieve them both or neither. Mr. Rustin held to this belief all his adult life. This took great physical, intellectual, and, most of all, moral courage. He was denounced by former friends, because he never gave up his conviction that minorities in America could and would succeed based on their individual merit. But Mr. Rustin never gave an inch. Though a pacifist, he was a fighter to the finish. That is why over the course of his life he won the undying love of all who cherish freedom.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

 

Israel pushes U.S. on Iran nuke solution

While doing some research for another post I ran across a February 21, 2005, article in the Washington Times that illustrated a point in my earlier Israeli Psyops Against EU and US post. In the lead paragraph of "Israel pushes U.S. on Iran nuke solution," Rowan Scarborough writes:
Israel has been privately pressing Washington to solve the Iran nuclear problem in a hint that Tel Aviv may be left with no choice but to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities, defense officials say.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

 

What Really Happened at Forward Operating Base Falcon?

Right: Aerial photo of Forward Operating Base Falcon showing damage from fire and explosions. Source: Rense.com

On October 10, Iraqi resistance fighters hit ammunition stored at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad with mortar rounds. The semi-independent daily Star & Stripes reports:
Insurgent mortar fire hit an American military ammunition dump late Tuesday night, setting off huge explosions and rattling windows and nerves throughout the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, military and civilian officials said Wednesday.

Tank rounds, artillery shells and small-arms ammunition at the Forward Operating Base Falcon site were ignited by the explosion and subsequent fire, casting an orange glow overnight and into Wednesday morning. No injuries were reported by late Wednesday.

According to military spokesmen, the first explosion happened around 10:40 p.m. Soldiers and base workers were evacuated from the area, and emergency workers raced to control the blaze.

FOB Falcon is in the central Rasheed district of Baghdad. A mortar round fired from southern Baghdad caused the blast, officials said.

"Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organization were responsible for last night's mortar attack," 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division-Baghdad spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathon Withington was quoted by news agencies as saying.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire was still smoldering and more rounds were occasionally cooking off and exploding.

Three battalions, including tank and infantry units, are stationed at the base, but the loss of the ammunition "will not degrade the operational capability of [the division]," a U.S. military news release read. The troops at Falcon have been participating in Operation Together Forward, a massive U.S.-Iraqi effort to clamp down on sectarian violence in Baghdad.
Now, the Web and Blogosphere are sporting claims of a Bush administration election-driven coverup of 300 US soldiers killed in the attack and resulting fires and explosions. One site even provides a purported list of casualties. In my own military experience, it seems very unlikely that US commanders would billet large numbers of troops close enough to risk such high casualties. According to a BBC video on the incident the base is quite large.

Is a coverup of large numbers of US deaths possible? Yes, but unless other information emerges it seems highly improbable. Still, a successful attack of this type and so close to the Green Zone shows how miserably the US military is failing in Iraq.

Links

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Six Weeks with the 101st Division in Iraq

This 8-minute video is by Sean Smith of the Guardian (UK).

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Bayard Rustin--Giant with Feet of Clay

Recently, I was doing some research for a friend on Bayard Rustin. Rustin was a multi-talented man and one of the greatest grassroots organizers and advocates of nonviolent direct action in this country's history but he was a giant with feet of clay.

It seems to me that too often people are disheartened when they learn about the flaws of a personal hero but I think such knowledge should be reassuring. We don't have to be perfect to work in important struggles or try to do great things. Imperfect people can work for justice, too; indeed, we're the only ones who can.

So, I'm going to dish some dirt on Bayard Rustin because I think we can learn from both the powerful positive example of Rustin's life and from his negative example, too. Rustin was in the thick of many important social movement in the US in the last century and what he did or did not do tells us a lot not just about Rustin but about those movements. A final lesson is that we must be on guard for our own blind spots.

This isn't going to be an exhaustive list and it won't include some of the faults others find with him. To me, the three most outstanding flaws in Rustin were his sexism, his support for Zionism, and his internalized homophobia, which I can hardly fault him for, except that it lasted so long--after Stonewall, even--and in at least one instance it was directed at someone else.

Rustin was the main organizer for the August 28, 1963, March on Washington but he sidelined women. The meeting mentioned below was the first major planning meeting after all the mainline civil rights organization had signed on. Daniel Levine writes:
[O]n July 2, at a luncheon at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, the "Big Six"--Randolph, King, John Lewis from SNCC, Whitney Young from the National Urban League, James Farmer, and Roy Wilkins--met. Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women was not at that meeting. The NCNW was listed in the New York Times article as one of the original sponsoring organizations. The stationery of the march, however, did not list it. The addition of the National Council of Negro Women, as an afterthought, was typical of the whole march effort. It was as though the organizers came to the thought "Oh, we mustn't neglect the women." But they were not included as fellow planners or, as it turned out, as speakers at the march itself. ...[1]

A dozen days before the march, Randolph received letters from Anna Arnold Hedgeman, on the board of the SCLC and a member of the administrative committee of the March on Washington, pointing out that women were not being recognized. In response, Randolph, or maybe Bayard, suggested to the ten speakers that since they "were all men and since it is imperative that the role of women in the struggle be made clear, " important women should be invited to participate. Randolph suggested Rosa Parks, Mrs. Medgar Evers, Mrs. Daisy Bates, Mrs. Gloria Richardson, Mrs. Diane Nash Bevel. "The difficulty of finding a single woman to speak without causing serious problems vis-a-vis other women and woman's groups suggests ... that the chairman should introduce these women and tell of their role in the struggle and tracing their spiritual ancestry back to Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman," that they should be applauded, not speak, and then sit down. The male speakers and Rustin all agreed, and that is in fact what happened. Not one woman spoke from the platform.[emphasis added][2]
At that same meeting the men agreed "to add four white cochairmen to the march leadership" but black women were sent to the back of the bus.[3] Jervis Anderson writes:
The program at the Lincoln Memorial was not as smooth in conception and execution as it seemed to the tens of thousands who applauded it. There had been, and probably still was, a brooding feminist rebellion behind the scenes. ... Only Daisy Bates (who had led the struggle to desegregate Little Rock's Central High School in 1957) was allowed a brief ceremonial turn on the platform, to introduce five "Negro Women Fighters for Freedom."

Imperatively, those five included Rosa Parks, heroine of the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. It was that event which not only produced the celebrated leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., but also inaugurated the modern phase of black protest activism--a phase that had now reached its moral and popular zenith in the March on Washington. In fact, Anna Arnold Hedgeman, one of the newly disgruntled black women--she had been a passionate supporter of every mass initiative A. Philip Randolph had launched since 1941--now declared that the March on Washington would have been rightly called "Rosa Park's Day."

Perhaps, the strongest voice of feminist complaint was Pauli Murray's. Then studying at the Yale School of Divinity, she was among the black civil rights activists who had admired Randolph since the early 1940s. Seethingly displeased with particular arrangements for March on Washington, Pauli Murray wrote to Randolph a week before the event:
I have been increasingly perturbed over the blatant disparity between the major role which Negro women have played and are playing in the crucial grass-roots levels of our struggle and the minor role of leadership they have been assigned in the national policy-making decisions. ... It is indefensible to call a national March on Washington and send out a Call which contains the name of not a single woman leader. Nor can this glaring omission be glossed over by inviting several Negro women to appear on the August 28 program.

The time has come to say to you quite candidly, Mr. Randolph, that "tokenism" is as offensive when applied to women as when applied to Negroes, and that I have not devoted the greater part of my adult life to the implementation of human rights to [now] condone any policy which is not inclusive.

Perhaps such a letter would have been more appropriately addressed to Bayard Rustin; for it was he who organized the program and procedures of the March on Washington. [Murray's decision to write to Randolph is understandable since women were excluded from the March leadership and, thus, not privy to the behind-the-scenes decision to make Randolph the titular director while Rustin did the real organizing--VFPD] ... [Pauli Murray's] letter to Randolph echoed the earlier view of the feminist Ella Baker that black men did not want women to share the highest level of civil rights leadership.[4]
Obviously, Rustin was not the only black male civil rights leader with a sexism problem but is it too much to ask a man who had repeatedly been pushed out of the limelight because of his sexual orientation to be more sensitive to issues of sexism? In the case of Rustin the answer may be yes.

As Randall Kennedy notes in his review, "From Protest to Patronage:"
Before the late 1970s, Rustin spent little if any energy advancing the cause of equal treatment for lesbians and gays. ... [Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin author John] D'Emilio notes, however, that even with Rustin's forays into gay politics, he was never quite of it. The year before Rustin died in 1987, gay activist Joseph Beam invited Rustin to contribute to an anthology of writings by black gay men. "After much thought," Rustin responded, "I have decided that I must decline. ... I did not 'come out of the closet' voluntarily--circumstances forced me out. While I have no problem with being publicly identified as homosexual, it would be dishonest of me to present myself as one who was in the forefront of the struggle for gay rights. The credit for that belongs to others. ... While I support full equality, under law, for homosexuals, I fundamentally consider sexual orientation to be a private matter."
This last remark by Rustin is an understatement. In fact, it seems that for most of his life Rustin accepted his own marginalization as a gay man as reasonable or even justified. Moreover, in 1971, when War Resisters League staffer David McReynolds " 'came out of the closet,' Bayard wanted him fired," according to McReynolds.[5] Levine writes that Rustin's "judgment was purely tactical" and Rustin wanted to protect the organization from the fallout over McReynold's admission. Ironically, after Rustin was sentenced to sixty days in jail in 1953 on a "morals charge"--he was arrested while having sex with two men in a car--McReynolds had been supportive and even visited him in jail. Rustin's internalization of homophobia may have led him to turn a blind eye to the marginalization of women, too.

In 1948, Jewish violence in Palestine killed thousands of Arabs. The creation of Israel also created 750,000 Palestinian refugees, driven from their homeland by Jewish terrorism and ethnic cleansing. Although Rustin was keenly sensitive, even self-conscious, about Jewish suffering in World War II he was callous about the suffering of Arabs at the hands of Jews just three years after the end of the WWII.[6] At one point, he even referred to Israel as "the opiate of the Arabs."[7]

In 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive war on neighboring countries, killing thousands more, seizing additional Arab land and creating tens of thousands of additional Palestinian refugees. Although Rustin visited refugee camps in Thailand, Somalia, Pakistan and Puerto Rico as a representative of the International Rescue Committee, he pointedly refused to visit Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.[8] Just three years later, in 1970, Bayard Rustin betrayed his pacifist values and history and publicly lobbied for the United States to provide Israel with all the jet fighters and bombers it had requested.[9] Many of Rustin's old friends and colleagues were appalled.

After the United Nations General Assembly declared "zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" in 1975, Rustin started the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee.[10] He recruited an impressive list of national Black leaders but also attracted a number of Black critics, including one who wrote to a Jewish publication to say: "It is an insult to the collective intelligence of thirty-five million blacks that one hundred 'leaders' use their good name to support Zionism."[11] Psychologist Kenneth B. Clark was among those who refused to join BASIC. " 'I felt,' he explained later, 'that the Palestinians were human beings too; and that we could not have peace in the Middle East until the Palestinian problem was solved.' "[12]

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon killing nearly 20,000 Arabs, mostly civilians. Rustin helped whitewash Israel's atrocity as "an act of legitimate self-defense" and "not terribly destructive."[13]

Notes:
  1. Daniel Levine. Bayard Rustin and the Civil Rights Movement. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Pr, 2000) pp. 134.
  2. Levine, pp. 140-1.
  3. Jervis Anderson. Bayard Rustin: Troubles I've Seen. (New York: HarperCollins, 1997) p. 248.
  4. Anderson, pp. 258-9.
  5. Levine, p. 72.
  6. Anderson, p. 339.
  7. John D'Emilio. Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin. (New York: Free Pr., 2003) p. 483.
  8. Levine, p. 230.
  9. Anderson, p. 339; Levine, pp. 224-6.
  10. Levine, p. 226.
  11. Anderson, pp. 339-40.
  12. Anderson, p. 340.
  13. Levine, p. 231.
Additional Links on Pauli Murray:
http://www.wvu.edu/~lawfac/jelkins/lp-2001/murray.html
http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/whm2001/p_murray.html

See also:
Revised: 10/30/2006, 2/6/2008

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

 

Israeli Psyops Against EU and US

It pays to read the Israeli and American Jewish press, which is usually far more informative about Zionist activities than the mainstream American press. For instance, at the end of a recent blog post by Ha'aretz's Chief U.S. Correspondent, Shmuel Rosner, we find this telling statement:
... Israel has ceased its efforts at psychological warfare aimed at arousing Western public opinion and governments to action via implied threats of an Israeli attack [against Iran].
As was obvious to many, scare-mongering and saber-rattling against Iran--"psychological warfare"--is orchestrated by Israel in cooperation with the Zionist fifth column here in the United States. These people don't have dual loyalties--they are loyal to Israel. Any appearance of loyalty to the US is just that--appearance--and merely a matter of expediency.

George Bush carried out the mission with gusto and actually had to be told to chill out lest the American masses should snap out of the stupor and figure out that US foreign policy has been hijacked by Zionists. A May 12, 2006, headline in the Forward read "Groups to Bush: Drop Iran-Israel Linkage." Ori Nir reported:
WASHINGTON — Jewish community leaders have urged the White House to refrain from publicly pledging to defend Israel against possible Iranian hostilities, senior Jewish activists told the Forward.

Messages were passed to the White House through several channels, Jewish activists said. And it seems to have worked: Speaking before the annual conference of the American Jewish Committee in Washington last week — his most recent address before a Jewish audience — President Bush talked about America's commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and about his administration's commitment to Israeli security, but he did not link the two, as he has several times in recent months.

"We are basically telling the president: We appreciate it, we welcome it. But, hey, because there is this debate on Iraq, where people are trying to put the blame on us, maybe you shouldn't say it that often or that loud," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "Within the Jewish community there is a real sense of 'thank you but no thank you.'"

Communal leaders say that although they deeply appreciate the president's repeated promises to come to Israel's defense, public declarations to that effect do more harm than good. Such statements, they say, create an impression that the United States is considering a military option against Iran for the sake of Israel — and could lead to American Jews being blamed for any negative consequences of an American strike against Iran.

Jewish activists are concerned that "there would be [a scenario] just like with Iraq: the idea that somehow the Jewish community and the neoconservatives have dragged the United States into a conflict with Iran," said Martin Raffel, associate executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a policy coordinating organization that brings together 13 national Jewish agencies and 123 local Jewish communities. "And if things go badly and our people are killed, then who is to blame?" ...
On June 9, 2006, in "Bush Overture To Iran Splits Israel, Neocons--Olmert Asks Groups To Keep Low Profile" Ori Nir reported:
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration's offer to open direct talks with Iran and reward Tehran if it stops enriching uranium is exposing a policy rift between neoconservatives on one hand, and the Israeli government and Jewish organizations on the other.

Neoconservative analysts are blasting the administration, saying that holding talks with the Islamic regime would serve only to embolden it and undermine the anti-fundamentalist opposition in Iran. They argue that America's ultimate goal should be to change Tehran's theocratic regime. ...

The split appears to fly in the face of recent high-profile efforts to paint the pro-Israel lobby as a seamless network dominated by Jewish organizations and neoconservatives coordinating their activities with the Israeli government. Most notably, such a view was advanced by two highly respected academics — John Mearsheimer, a top international relations theorist based at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, former academic dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government — in a research paper released in March. [Contra Nir, Mearsheimer and Walt write: "We use 'the Lobby' as a convenient shorthand term for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. Our use of this term is not meant to suggest that the Lobby is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals within it do not disagree on certain issues."--VFPD] The Walt-Mearsheimer paper has triggered an escalating debate on the influence of Israel and Jewish organizations that has spilled over onto the opinion pages of major publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Recently, with such scrutiny mounting, Israeli leaders asked American Jewish organizations to lower their profile on the Iran issue, the Forward has learned.

In one notable example, a delegation of leaders from the American Jewish Congress met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert shortly before returning to the United States. When asked how he thinks Jewish groups should pursue the Iran issue, Olmert reportedly implied that he would prefer a low profile, according to one source familiar with the proceedings. [emphasis added] ...

Israel's support for Rice and Olmert's request for Jewish groups to take a lower profile are being well received by many Jewish groups. Already, some Jewish groups had been asking the White House to stop suggesting that American efforts to block Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons are motivated primarily by a desire to protect Israel. ...
Nir misstates the case when he writes: "The split appears to fly in the face of recent high-profile efforts to paint the pro-Israel lobby as a seamless network dominated by Jewish organizations and neoconservatives coordinating their activities with the Israeli government." I know of no one who claims the Israel Lobby is a "seamless network"--it would be more vulnerable and easy to expose if it were. Nevertheless, it is not inconceivable that some small part of this "split" is actually a sham contrived in response to the unwelcome attention generated by Mearsheimer and Walt. In any case, it is clear that there is no real difference within Zionist ranks over hostility to Iran--that is a given--the differences arise over what type of attack to mount against Iran, when, and how.

See also: The Israel Lobby and the US War Against Iraq

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

 

Who is White?

Below is a list of US court cases from the "Who is White?" page on the web site of Michael Bowen. For a more complete listing with full citations and some background see The Racial Classification Cases on the Univ. of Dayton School of Law's "Race, Racism and the Law" site.
To read the opinions you'll need the full citation (see link above) and you'll probably need access to a law library or one of the online legal services such as LEXIS because most of these cases are relatively old and were not decided by the US Supreme Court. In any case, here are some links you can try:

FindLaw: Cases and Codes
Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute: Court opinions

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

Israeli Ambassador: We're White Europeans

In July, I posted an entry on European/Ashkenazi Jewish racism against Mizrahi Jews in Israel. Here are two excerpts from one of two articles quoted in that post:
Mizrahim provide the demographic majority on whose civic docility the Eurocentric Israeli regime rests. Mizrahim have been the Jewish labor turning the cogs of the European-Zionist colonial project ever since its inception, with the Yemeni-Jewish labor migration of 1882. ...

The Ashkenazi leadership has repeatedly evoked the image that Israel is a European villa, planted in the midst of the regional jungle, from Bible times to the present day.
One can find no better confirmation of the "European-Zionist colonial" nature of Israel than the recent remarks of the Israeli ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir. In an interview with Ha'aretz, Tamir, a veteran diplomat, told Charlotte Halle:
"Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia. We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not - we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side.

"Israel has a past and present in Europe, but no future. Israel is a part of Asia," he added. [emphasis added--VFPD]
In a followup article, Halle reports:
The key concern of the Jewish community, the source in Sydney explained, was that the broad coverage of the comments in the Australian press would fuel those who charge that Israel is a racist state and that the Australian government is erring in its overtly pro-Israel position. He added that while the comments were considered offensive and embarrassing, the community would "rally around [the ambassador]," while distancing itself from the sentiments.
Note that the "key concern" is not that the Ambassador's remarks reflect an underlying reality of real racism. No, the "key concern" is that the remarks will be used by Israel's critics. I am reminded of those American pundits and politicians who agonized over the Abu Ghraib scandal not because it was bad but because it made the US look bad.

Thanks to B.C. and A.S. for tipping me off to this story.

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The Israel Lobby and the US War Against Iraq

The excerpts below are taken from pages 30-35 of an 83-page working paper entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" and published by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in March 2006. Its authors are Professor John J. Mearsheimer, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago and Dean Stephen M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. The full text, including numerous endnotes omitted here, is available here. An edited and reworked version of the paper was published in the London Review of Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (March 23, 2006), and is available here
Israel and the Iraq War
Pressure from Israel and the [Israel—VFPD] Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S. decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element. Some Americans believe that this was a "war for oil," but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure. According to Philip Zelikow, a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (2001-2003), executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and now Counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the "real threat" from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The "unstated threat" was the "threat against Israel," Zelikow told a University of Virginia audience in September 2002, noting further that "the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell."

On August 16, 2002, eleven days before Vice President Cheney kicked off the campaign for war with a hardline speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Washington Post reported that "Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq's Saddam Hussein." By this point, according to Sharon, strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S. had reached "unprecedented dimensions," and Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq's WMD programs. As one retired Israeli general later put it, "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-conventional capabilities."

Israeli leaders were deeply distressed when President Bush decided to seek U.N. Security Council authorization for war in September, and even more worried when Saddam agreed to let U.N. inspectors back into Iraq, because these developments seemed to reduce the likelihood of war. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told reporters in September 2002 that "the campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must. Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors."

... Or as Ha’aretz reported in February 2003: "The [Israeli] military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq." But as [former Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu suggests, the desire for war was not confined to Israel's leaders. Apart from Kuwait, which Saddam conquered in 1990, Israel was the only country in the world where both the politicians and the public enthusiastically favored war. As journalist Gideon Levy observed at the time, "Israel is the only country in the West whose leaders support the war unreservedly and where no alternative opinion is voiced." In fact, Israelis were so gung-ho for war that their allies in America told them to damp down their hawkish rhetoric, lest it look like the war was for Israel.

The Lobby and the Iraq War
Within the United States, the main driving force behind the Iraq war was a small band of neoconservatives, many with close ties to Israel's Likud Party. In addition, key leaders of the Lobby's major organizations lent their voices to the campaign for war. According to the Forward, "As President Bush attempted to sell the ... war in Iraq, America's most important Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction." The editorial goes on to say that "concern for Israel's safety rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups."

Although neoconservatives and other Lobby leaders were eager to invade Iraq, the broader American Jewish community was not. In fact, Samuel Freedman reported just after the war started that "a compilation of nationwide opinion polls by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large, 52% to 62%." [The possibility that many respondents simply lied and that Jewish support for the war was much higher than the polls indicated should not be discounted. Above, the authors note, "Israelis were so gung-ho for war that their allies in America told them to damp down their hawkish rhetoric, lest it look like the war was for Israel." It is more than conceivable that American Jewish supporters of Israel consciously manipulated perception of their support, too.—VFPD] Thus, it would be wrong to blame the war in Iraq on "Jewish influence." Rather, the war was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially the neoconservatives within it.

The neoconservatives were already determined to topple Saddam before Bush became President. They caused a stir in early 1998 by publishing two open letters to President Clinton calling for Saddam's removal from power. The signatories, many of whom had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA or WINEP, and whose ranks included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, had little trouble convincing the Clinton Administration to adopt the general goal of ousting Saddam. ... As important as the neoconservatives were for making the Iraq war happen, they needed help to achieve their aim.

That help arrived with 9/11. Specifically, the events of that fateful day led Bush and Cheney to reverse course and become strong proponents of a preventive war to topple Saddam. Neoconservatives in the Lobby—most notably Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, and Princeton historian Bernard Lewis—played especially critical roles in persuading the President and Vice-President to favor war. ...

A key part of this campaign [to win support for invading Iraq—VFPD] was the manipulation of intelligence information, so as to make Saddam look like an imminent threat. For example, Libby visited the CIA several times to pressure analysts to find evidence that would make the case for war, and he helped prepare a detailed briefing on the Iraq threat in early 2003 that was pushed on Colin Powell, then preparing his infamous briefing to the U.N. Security Council on the Iraqi threat. According to Bob Woodward, Powell "was appalled at what he considered overreaching and hyperbole. Libby was drawing only the worst conclusions from fragments and silky threads." Although Powell discarded Libby’s most outrageous claims, his U.N. presentation was still riddled with errors, as Powell now acknowledges.

The campaign to manipulate intelligence also involved two organizations that were created after 9/11 and reported directly to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. The Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group was tasked to find links between al Qaeda and Iraq that the intelligence community supposedly missed. Its two key members were Wurmser, a hard core neoconservative, and Michael Maloof, a Lebanese-American who had close ties with Perle. The Office of Special Plans was tasked with finding evidence that could be used to sell war with Iraq. It was headed by Abram Shulsky, a neoconservative with longstanding ties to Wolfowitz, and its ranks included recruits from pro-Israel think tanks.

Like virtually all the neoconservatives, Feith is deeply committed to Israel. He also has long-standing ties to the Likud Party. ... Wolfowitz is equally committed to Israel. The Forward once described him as "the most hawkishly pro-Israel voice in the Administration," and selected him in 2002 as the first among fifty notables who "have consciously pursued Jewish activism." ...

Finally, a brief word is in order about the neoconservatives' prewar support of Ahmed Chalabi, the unscrupulous Iraqi exile who headed the Iraqi National Congress (INC). They embraced Chalabi because he had worked to establish close ties with Jewish-American groups and had pledged to foster good relations with Israel once he gained power. This was precisely what pro-Israel proponents of regime change wanted to hear, so they backed Chalabi in return. Journalist Matthew Berger laid out the essence of the bargain in the Jewish Journal: "The INC saw improved relations as a way to tap Jewish influence in Washington and Jerusalem and to drum up increased support for its cause. For their part, the Jewish groups saw an opportunity to pave the way for better relations between Israel and Iraq, if and when the INC is involved in replacing Saddam Hussein’s regime."

Given the neoconservatives' devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush Administration, it is not surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests. For example, Barry Jacobs of the American Jewish Committee acknowledged in March 2005 that the belief that Israel and the neoconservatives conspired to get the United States into a war in Iraq was "pervasive" in the U.S. intelligence community. Yet few people would say so publicly, and most that did—including Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Representative James Moran (D-VA)—were condemned for raising the issue. Michael Kinsley put the point well in late 2002, when he wrote that "the lack of public discussion about the role of Israel ... is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it." The reason for this reluctance, he observed, was fear of being labeled an anti-Semite. Even so, there is little doubt that Israel and the Lobby were key factors in shaping the decision for war. Without the Lobby's efforts, the United States would have been far less likely to have gone to war in March 2003.

Dreams of Regional Transformation
The Iraq war was not supposed to be a costly quagmire. Rather, it was intended as the first step in a larger plan to reorder the Middle East. This ambitious strategy was a dramatic departure from previous U.S. policy, and the Lobby and Israel were critical driving forces behind this shift. This point was made clearly after the Iraq war began in a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal. The headline says it all: "President's Dream: Changing Not Just Regime but a Region: A Pro-U.S., Democratic Area is a Goal that Has Israeli and Neo Conservative Roots."
See also:

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Monday, October 16, 2006

 

The "JINSA Crowd" and the Iraq War

According to two recent reviews of former Secretary of State Colin Powell's new biography, Powell points the finger at pro-Israel hawks in the Defense Department as responsible for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Below is an excerpt from an October 9, 2006, Los Angeles Times review by columnist Tim Rutten* of Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell by Karen DeYoung.
There is one bit of malice at work in the Powell-DeYoung version of these now familiar events that should not pass unremarked upon. According to the author, the then-secretary went out of his way to identify the pro-war neoconservatives as affiliates of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a think-tank with decidedly hard-line views on Israel's security. "Powell referred to Rumsfeld's team as the 'JINSA crowd.' " Later in "Soldier," readers are told that the neoconservatives in the Defense Department — nearly all of them Jews — supported war against Iraq as the first step to replacing Arab despots with democratic governments that would sever their ties to the Palestinians, thereby enhancing Israel's security. In explaining why he did not resign over his profound differences with the White House, Powell cited the example of Gen. George C. Marshall, who refused to quit as secretary of State even though he opposed President Truman's recognition of Israel as a quest for "Jewish votes."

Whatever his bitterness over his mistreatment, Powell knows that these old and wholly unmeritorious allegations of dual loyalty are a slander. He knows better and so does DeYoung. Their presence in this book is another blot on his record.
See also: "Bushies 'used' Colin, wife sez" in the New York Daily News; "Why won't anyone say they are Jewish?" (first appeared in Adbusters) and The Israel Lobby and the US War Against Iraq.

Note
* Consider the source. On February 4, 2006, in an LA Times article entitled "Drawn into a religious conflict," Tim Rutten wrote: "The West's current struggle with a murderous global Sunni Muslim insurgency and the threat of a nuclear-armed theocracy in Iran makes it clear that it's no longer possible to overlook the culture of intolerance, hatred and xenophobia that permeates the Islamic world."

In "Lebanon photos: Take a closer look," published August 12, 2006, Rutten wrote:
What the major news organizations ought to be doing is to make their own analysis of the images coming out of Lebanon and if, as seems more than likely, they find widespread malfeasance, some hard questions need to be asked about why it occurred. Some of it may stem from the urge every photographer feels to make a photo perfect. Some of it probably flows from a simple economic imperative — a freelancer who produces dramatic images gets picked up more and paid more. Moreover, the obscenely anti-Israeli tenor of most of the European and world press means there's an eager market for pictures of dead Lebanese babies.

It's worth noting in this context that there is no similar flow of propagandistic images coming from the Israeli side of the border. That's because one side — the democratically elected government of Israel — views death as a tragedy and the other — the Iranian financed terrorist organization Hezbollah — sees it as an opportunity. In this case, turning their own dead children into material creates an opportunity to cloud the fact that every Lebanese casualty, tragic as he or she is, was killed or injured as an unavoidable consequence of Israel's pursuit of terrorists who use their own people as human shields. Every Israeli civilian killed or injured was the victim of a terrorist attack intended to harm civilians. That alone ought to wash away any blood-stained suggestion of moral equivalency.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

 

Israeli Elections, Meretz, and Brit Tzedek

Political and cultural analyst Omar Barghouti has an interesting analysis of the most recent Israeli Knesset elections in the current issue of Synthesis/Regeneration. An excerpt from the article, entitled "Israeli Elections: A Vote for Apartheid," appears below.
"Israel votes for disengagement and final borders" and "Israelis abandon the dream of Greater Israel" were the main themes in the spin that characterized mainstream (and even some progressive) media coverage of the Israeli parliamentary elections which took place on March 28, 2006. In reality, the election results revealed that a consensus has emerged among Israeli Jews, not only against the basic requirements of justice and genuine peace, as that was always the case, but also in support of a more aggressive form of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and cementing Zionist apartheid.

In the 2006 Knesset elections, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for "disengagement"—not from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), but only from the Palestinians, whether in Israel, in the OPT or in exile. Palestinian lands are clearly precluded from this disengagement. An objective examination of the election results and the political platforms of the parties represented in the new Israeli parliament will show that the celebration of the "shift to peace and realism" is not only unwarranted but quite deceptive. If anything, an avid adoption of the right's agenda has taken place.

With the exception of the Palestinian-dominated political parties, all Israeli parties represented in the seventeenth Knesset converge on the three fundamental No's of Zionism:

* No to the return of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted by Israel during the Nakba (catastrophe of dispossession and expulsion around 1948);
* No to a complete end of the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967;
* No to full equality, in the law as well as in government policies, between Israel's Jewish citizens and its Palestinian citizens, the remaining indigenous population of the land.

Some may argue that the "ultra-dovish" Jewish-Israeli party, Meretz, has dissented from the consensus on the second clause, when it supported “ending the occupation.” In fact, Meretz has never accepted a complete return to the internationally recognized borders of 1967, which put East Jerusalem with its Old City on the Palestinian side. It has always argued for keeping parts of the OPT under Israeli control, not to mention that its consistent position against Palestinian refugee rights and full equality in Israel makes the xenophobic right parties in Europe sound quite liberal in comparison.

Just recently, Meretz's leader, Yossi Beilin, wrote to Avigdor Lieberman (seen by some analysts as the new leader of the "fascist" right in Israel) admiring him for being "very intelligent, a successful politician, an excellent man of action, and a smart Jew," and further praising him for "guiding us to a situation in which the Jewish people, too, will indeed finally have a Jewish state of its own."

Lieberman has called for ethnically cleansing Israel of half a million of its Palestinian citizens by "adjusting its borders" to leave them out, denying them citizenship and any pertinent rights. It is worth noting that most of the land belonging to this target group has already been confiscated by the state over decades. ...
Barghouti's commentary on the Meretz (also known as Meretz-Yachad) Party is especially helpful as Meretz is linked to the US-based "peace" organization, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (BTvS), which is in reality a Zionist Trojan horse. Yossi Beilin was one of the architects of ill-conceived and unjust Geneva Initiative, which is backed by his party and not coincidentally, Meretz USA and BTvS.

As revealed in an article by Nacha Cattan, which appeared in The Forward (5/31/2002), BTvS is tied to Meretz by its President and founder Marcia Freedman, who served in the Knesset as a "member of what is now called Meretz" and who "said Brit Tzedek will strive to work cooperatively with Meretz USA ... " Also on hand at the major fundraising event covered in the article was Lilly Rivlin, "a vice president of Meretz USA, which supports the leftist Israeli Meretz Party of the same name." Here's a telling excerpt from the article:
[BTvS] is debating whether to affiliate with other Jewish peace groups, which Freedman said is a "problematic" issue because it would entail turning down organizations that don't follow its principles.

Among these principles are an implicit rejection of a Palestinian "right of return" to property in Israel proper. Instead, the organization supports a "just" resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem that respects "the special relationship between the state of Israel and the Jewish people."

"A full 'right of return' [for Palestinian refugees] is an implication of a one-state solution," said Freedman.
In 2004, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and Meretz USA joined forces to co-sponsor a national tour by Naomi Chazan, a former Meretz Member of Knesset.

The links between BTvS and Meretz were also stressed in a 2005 article by Ralph Seliger, editor of Israel Horizons, a publication of Meretz USA:
Although Meretz USA and Brit Tzedek are different in organizational structure and to a degree in their sense of mission, we have a history of working together. As a constituent organization of the American Zionist Movement, Meretz USA is a natural place for members of Brit Tzedek to express their Zionist convictions by affiliating with us and voting for our slate in next year's election for delegates to the World Zionist Congress.
Elsewhere in the same article Seliger notes, "Brit Tzedek ... does not emphasize the 'Z' word" but Zionists they are. As Jonathan Tilove writes, "Hadar Susskind, Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents many of the nation's largest Jewish organizations, ... counts Brit Tzedek members as good Zionists" ("Some Liberal Jews Break Ranks on Israel." Newhouse News Service. Aug. 3, 2006).

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Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Of Nukes--North Korean and American

The North Korean government reportedly detonated a nuclear weapon on Monday. This undoubtedly makes the world more dangerous but no fair-minded person can blame North Koreans leaders for pursuing nuclear weapons given American bellicosity and the US track record of actually using nuclear weapons on civilian populations during war. Furthermore, having quit the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003, the North Koreans have as much, if not more, right as any other nation to develop a nuclear arsenal.

If American leaders and citizens really want a safer world then they must lead the way by abandoning war as an instrument of foreign policy and, more importantly, meeting US obligations under the NPT to rid itself of nuclear weapons. Ten years ago this summer, the International Court of Justice published its opinion that:
98. Given the eminently difficult issues that arise in applying the law on the use of force and above all the law applicable in armed conflict to nuclear weapons, the Court considers that it now needs to examine one further aspect of the question before it, seen in a broader context.

In the long run, international law, and with it the stability of the international order which it is intended to govern, are bound to suffer from the continuing difference of views with regard to the legal status of weapons as deadly as nuclear weapons. It is consequently important to put an end to this state of affairs: the long-promised complete nuclear disarmament appears to be the most appropriate means of achieving that result.

99. In these circumstances, the Court appreciates the full importance of the recognition by Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of an obligation to negotiate in good faith a nuclear disarmament. This provision is worded as follows:
"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
The legal import of that obligation goes beyond that of a mere obligation of conduct; the obligation involved here is an obligation to achieve a precise result--nuclear disarmament in all its aspects--by adopting a particular course of conduct, namely, the pursuit of negotiations on the matter in good faith.

100. This twofold obligation to pursue and to conclude negotiations formally concerns the 182 States parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or, in other words, the vast majority of the international community.

Virtually the whole of this community appears moreover to have been involved when resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly concerning nuclear disarmament have repeatedly been unanimously adopted. Indeed, any realistic search for general and complete disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, necessitates the co-operation of all States.

101. Even the very first General Assembly resolution, unanimously adopted on 24 January 1946 at the London session, set up a commission whose terms of reference included making specific proposals for, among other things, "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction". In a large number of subsequent resolutions, the General Assembly has reaffirmed the need for nuclear disarmament. Thus, in resolution 808 A (IX) of 4 November 1954, which was likewise unanimously adopted, it concluded
"that a further effort should be made to reach agreement on comprehensive and co-ordinated proposals to be embodied in a draft international disarmament convention providing for: . . . (b) The total prohibition of the use and manufacture of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction of every type, together with the conversion of existing stocks of nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes."
The same conviction has been expressed outside the United Nations context in various instruments.

102. The obligation expressed in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons includes its fulfilment in accordance with the basic principle of good faith. This basic principle is set forth in Article 2, paragraph 2, of the Charter. It was reflected in the Declaration on Friendly Relations between States (resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970) and in the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference of 1 August 1975. It is also embodied in Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969, according to which "[e]very treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith".

Nor has the Court omitted to draw attention to it, as follows:
"One of the basic principles governing the creation and performance of legal obligations, whatever their source, is the principle of good faith. Trust and confidence are inherent in international co-operation, in particular in an age when this co-operation in many fields is becoming increasingly essential." (Nuclear Tests (Australia v. France), Judgment of 20 December 1974, I.C.J. Reports 1974, p. 268, para. 46.)
103. In its resolution 984 (1995) dated 11 April 1995, the Security Council took care to reaffirm "the need for all States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to comply fully with all their obligations" and urged
"all States, as provided for in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control which remains a universal goal".
The importance of fulfilling the obligation expressed in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was also reaffirmed in the final document of the Review and Extension Conference of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, held from 17 April to 12 May 1995.

In the view of the Court, it remains without any doubt an objective of vital importance to the whole of the international community today.
More recently, on October 6, 2006, a UN press release noted:
The absence of an even-handed and coordinated approach seemed to be plunging nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation into an irredeemable abyss, the representative of Ghana, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said today, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) wrapped up the first week of its general debate.

Although there had been a considerable reduction in nuclear arsenals, he said that the existence of 27,000 nuclear weapons -- some on high alert -- made a mockery of disarmament progress and had failed to lessen the general fear that the world remained insecure and vulnerable to mass destruction. Disarmament and non-proliferation were complementary and mutually reinforcing. Thus, the "prevailing lopsided relationship should be reversed to stem a looming accretion of nuclearism, with its attendant adverse ramifications on international security. Without tangible progress in disarmament, the current emphasis on non-proliferation cannot be sustained," he stressed.
Only when the current nuclear powers--declared, such as the US, and undeclared, such as Israel--disarm themselves of nuclear weapons can they make any reasonable demands on other countries to reject nuclear weapons. Today, the nuclear-armed parties to the NPT are in breach of their obligations.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

 

Opposing Prostitution As a Form of Male Violence: the Swedish Model

Right: Artist Mona Mark created this poster for the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women for the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 1995. Image source: Prostitution Research & Education.

From the old news department comes an article in the June-July 2005 issue of the American Friends Service Committee's Peacework Magazine. Below is an opening excerpt from "Opposing Prostitution As a Form of Male Violence: the Swedish Model" by Marie De Santis, director of the Women's Justice Center/Centro de Justicia Para Mujeres.
In the fog of clichés despairing that "prostitution will always be with us," one country's success stands out as a beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm, the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of "johns" has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the infamous Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century, when prostitution in Sweden was legal.

In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex work is almost nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that's negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden's promising results.

By what complex formula has Sweden managed this feat? Amazingly, Sweden's strategy isn't complex at all. Its tenets, in fact, seem so simple and so firmly anchored in common sense as to immediately spark the question, "Why hasn't anyone tried this before?"

Sweden's Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation

In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law:

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem ... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell, and exploit women and children by prostituting them."

In addition to the two-pronged legal strategy, a third and essential element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public. As such, Sweden's unique strategy treats prostitution as a form of violence against women in which the men who exploit by buying sex are criminalized, the mostly female prostitutes are treated as victims who need help, and the public is educated in order to counteract the historical male bias that has long stultified thinking on prostitution. To securely anchor their view in firm legal ground, Sweden's prostitution legislation was passed as part and parcel of the country's 1999 omnibus violence against women legislation.
Read the rest of the article here.

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