Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Arendt: an Israel dependent on ‘great powers’ will always be ‘precarious’

shamelessly lifted from

Dec 25, 2011 11:57 am | Philip Weiss
Hannah Arendt

In 1944-45, Hannah Arendt, who had fled the Nazis to come to the U.S., wrote columns for the German-Jewish New York publication, Aufbau. Some of them are collected in the 2007 collection, The Jewish Writings.

The column excerpted below, "New Proposals for a Jewish-Arab Understanding" of August 1944, treats a recurrent theme in Arendt's analysis of "Zionist failure": Jewish immigrants to Palestine needed to forge a political future with the Arabs who lived there, rather than relying on power politics to guarantee the Jewish future. Dependence on foreign powers-- from Turkey to Britain to the U.S.-- would leave any Jewish commonwealth "precarious," she wrote.

Opportunistic politics, which tries somehow to muddle through from day to day, usually leaves behind it a chaos of contradictory interests and apparently hopeless conflicts. Zionist politics of the last twenty-five years vis-a-vis the Arabs could go down in history as a model of opportunism. One of the Arab leaders from before the First World War rightly recognized the true core of Zionist failure when he called out to his Jewish partners in negotiation... 'Be very careful, Zionist gentlemen, governments come and go, but a people remains.'

In the meantime, the Turkish government vanished and was replaced by the British. This reinforced the Zionist leadership in its stance of negotiation with governments instead of with peoples....

Palestine is surrounded by Arab countries, and even a Jewish state in Palestine with an overwhelming Jewish majority, yes, even a purely Jewish Palestine, would be a very precarious structure without a prior agreement with all the Arab peoples on all its borders....

[Arendt then addresses new efforts to bring Jewish and Palestinian people together at a grassroots level]

The political core of this new intra-Zionist opposition is both the realization of the fatal, utopian hyperbole of the demand for a Jewish commonwealth and a rejection of the idea of making all Jewish politics in Palestine dependent on the protection of great powers.... Over the long term, economic interests, whether those of workers or capitalists, are no substitute for politics, although one can use them politically. That is why it is right that an indigenous understanding between Jews and Arabs must first begin at the base, for it would be fatal to forget how often such efforts have been thwarted and rendered useless by political decisions made at the top.

A couple additional comments. Arendt, a leftwinger, absolutely reflects the view of State Department officials in 1948 that an Israel established by force could only be preserved by force. Also, notice the populism in these paragraphs. Arendt trusted the ability of empowered people to determine their futures. She would have hated the Israel lobby. She would have hated the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which granted so much political power to corporations.

I believe she would have looked at the current scene in Israel and Palestine-- in which a rightwing extreme grows in Israeli society, and Palestine has some extremists of its own--and seen that opposition as a fulfillment of her own worst predictions, and then recommended a political solution. I.e., if the two societies were combined politically, with voting rights at last granted to the occupied population, a reasonable consensus might emerge in the middle. This seems to me the most powerful practical argument for democracy in Israel/Palestine.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and KIm Jong Il both died recently, who was the biggest asshole?

Hitchens was 62, Kim was 69. Hitchens was born to a middle class family in a rich country. Kim was born to an exiled Korean communist family in Siberia (although it has been questioned just exactly where he was born). Hitchens got an upper class British education and burst forth as a dashing revolutionary (or played at being one). KIm's father became the "Great Leader" of North Korea. Hitchens gave up the revolution game and found some success as a leftish writer (just left enough to be cool and not so left as to limit his personal advancement) pub crawler and intellectual. Kim hit the big time when his father the great leader croaked; he became the "Dear Leader."

Kim was the "Dear Leader" for 17 years. He presided over an isolated, underfed, terrorized population. The military ate up all the resources; he developed a nuclear bomb and, along with Iraq and Iran, got to be part of the "Axis of Evil" that prez George W and his minder Dick Cheney thought up as the new bogeymen in order to stoke up the destruction of democracy at home and endless wars abroad known as the"war on terror."

Hitchens joined in with W and Dick (and Wolfowitz and Rush Limburger and Elliot Abrams, et al) and became a cheerleader for endless US led carnage in defense of the West against Islamofascism and basic human rights, like the right to smoke and drink yourself to death and the right to make a fool of yourself in public and to lie and slander anyone who doesn't think you are a wonderful person and really smart.

So, there you are. You can make your own call.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tribute medly to Amy Winehouse: 50s kitsch meets todays kitsch= a great blast from the past

Amy Winehouse, a great voice and great material ... another sad story, but this video is priceless American Bandstand moves on a 2011 stage

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Father Will Not Be Forgotten

From Counterpunch

DECEMBER 12, 2011

The Holy Land Five Appeal

My Father Will Not be Forgotten

Exactly three days following the tenth anniversary of the Bush administration shutting down the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case, affirming the conviction of my father, the co-founder of the HLF who`s serving a 65-year sentence for his humanitarian work.

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the three-judge panel, based in New Orleans, filed their opinion, concluding that ``the district court did not clearly err.``
Upon hearing this news, it initially all rushed back to me at once, nostalgia on overdrive. I saw the relentless accusations by pro-Israeli lobby groups, the pressure by pro-Israeli politicians and the defamatory news reports in the 1990`s. I saw the raid on the HLF in 2001, the pre-sunrise arrests and ``material support`` charges in 2004, the first trial and hung jury in 2007, the second trial and guilty verdicts in 2008, the sentencing in 2009. I saw the plethora of prison phone calls and visitations. And finally, I saw my father being transferred in 2010 to the Southern Illinois city of Marion`s Communications Management Unit - what The Nation has called ``Gitmo in the Heartland`` - and where my father`s significantly diminished phone calls and visitations are scheduled in advance and live-monitored from Washington D.C.

The case of the Holy Land Five comes down to this: American foreign policy has long been openly favorable towards Israel, and therefore, an American charity established primarily for easing the plight of the Palestinians became an ultimate target. As my father said during our 15-minute phone call on Thursday, ``The politics of this country are not on our side. If we had been anywhere else, we would`ve been honored for our work.``
This month could have marked a milestone. The leaders of our country could have learned from our past. The day the towers fell could have been a time to stop fear from dominating reason instead of a basis to prosecute. The HLF would have continued to triumph, providing relief to Palestinians and other populations worldwide in the form of food, clothing, wheelchairs, ambulances, furniture for destroyed homes, back-to-school projects and orphan sponsorship programs. And more notably, my father would not have been incarcerated. My family and I would have been able to call him freely and embrace him without a Plexiglas wall.

Yet my father was charged under the ambiguous Material Support Statute with sending humanitarian aid to Palestinian distribution centers known as zakat committees that prosecutors claimed were fronts for Hamas. He was prosecuted despite the fact that USAID-an American government agency-and many other NGOs were providing charity to the very same zakat committees. Instead of the Fifth Circuit Court taking this fact into account and transcending the politics of our time, the language used in the opinion, drafted by Judge Carolyn King, echoed that of the prosecutors:

``The social wing is crucial to Hamas`s success because, through its operation of schools, hospitals, and sporting facilities, it helps Hamas win the ``hearts and minds` of Palestinians while promoting its anti-Israel agenda and indoctrinating the populace in its ideology.``
Even more disappointing is the Fifth Circuit Court`s opinion regarding one of the main issues in the appeal: The testimony of the prosecution`s expert witness, an Israeli intelligence officer who, for the first time in U.S. history, was permitted to testify under a pseudonym. The opinion states:

``When the national security and safety concerns are balanced against the defendants` ability to conduct meaningful cross-examination, the scale tips in favor of maintaining the secrecy of the witnesses` names.``
I refuse to let this language bring me down, especially knowing that the battle for justice continues. In the next few weeks, defense attorneys plan to ask the entire panel of appellate judges to re-hear the case, and if that petition is denied, they will take it to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, my father waits in prison. This Thursday, when I spoke to him, it had been the first time in several weeks since he received a phone call ban for writing his name on a yoga mat, which prison officials saw as ``destruction of government property.`` I told him that during the tenth anniversary of the HLF shutting down, the name of the charity is still alive and that he will not be forgotten. My father is my pillar, whose high spirits transcend all barbed-wire-topped fences, whose time in prison did not stifle his passion for human rights. In fact, when I asked him about the first thing he`ll do when he`s released, my father said, ``I would walk all the way to Richardson, Texas carrying a sign that says, `End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.` ``
Noor Elashi is a writer based in New York City. She holds a Creative Writing MFA from The New School.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Subtext IS the Text

In remarks made on Friday Dec. 2, United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: "There is no greater threat to our continued domination of the resources of the Middle East than the ability of Iran to effectively defend itself and prevent us from attacking and subduing it."

Say what!? He couldn't have said THAT! Sure, he did. The actual words uttered were the following:

"No greater threat exists to the the the Middle East than a nuclear-armed Iran."

But the first quote is what he said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Zionists say Palestinians don't Exist. The real story: Israelis don't Exist

One of the standard retorts from hard core supporters of Israel is “Palestinians don't really exist,” or that the term Palestine is a cover up for what is a group of fungible, generic Arabs who should stop causing trouble and go live in some Arab country where they belong.

This supposedly argument-clinching line is usually delivered with a triumphant smile (or grimace). “Ha! top that, Arab-lover!” is the sub-text and quite frequently the spoken aloud text.

I'm reading and hearing this more often from champions of a greater, ethnically pure Israel. This is most likely because they know that Israel and its sponsor, the United States, are becoming increasingly isolated and criticized. To their minds this is because the preponderance of the world’s population hate Jews and want to destroy them.

It doesn’t occur to them that the frenzied escalation of violent attacks upon Palestinian villages in the West Bank by armed settlers, the routine killing of civilians by the Israeli Army on the borders of Gaza and in the West Bank and other acts of ethnic cleansing (burning Mosques, evicting Palestinians from East Jerusalem, making some speech and actions by even Jewish citizens of Israel in support of Palestinian rights illegal etc.) has come to international attention and perhaps fair-minded people don’t approve.

So it’s time to deploy the heavy artillery of polemics: the existential issue -- States of being, non-being, real being vs. fake being (I guess the Zionist argumentative class isn’t interested in nothingness, just leave that to readers of Sartre and Heidegger).

Declaring any minute criticism of the Israel state as an existential threat which will lead to the destruction of world Jewry, Zionists now have what they think is the trump ontological gambit: we can’t be persecuting and pushing out some group of people who actually do not exits!

Denying the existence, or humanity of the inhabitants of Palestine has been a cornerstone of Zionist policy since the time of Theodore Hertzl and the founding Congress of the World Zionist movement in 1897. At first the convenient fiction was that the land was uninhabited, “a land without people for a people without a land,” was the watchword coined in the early days of the coalescing of the Zionist ideology in Europe. When Max Nordeau, a close associate of Hertzl, communicated to him about his visit to Palestine, then a part of the Ottoman Empire, he was shocked and despairingly reported, “the bride is already married!” There were people living there!

But wait! That’s no real problem. The European conquerors and colonizers flooded into the Americas killing and chasing off the indigenous inhabitants without any moral misgivings. Because these alleged people were not really people like the invading Spanish, French, English, et al. They were just tribes, or wandering stone age leftovers, without civilization. This racist colonialist attitude was part and parcel of the world view of the European Zionists as well. It was the normal way of thinking of the European upper and middle class, of which the Jews who led the Zionist project were a part.

Thus the predictable reaction of the Zionist leaders was to not accept the reality that for thousands of years people known as Palestinians have lived in a geographical area that has also been known as Palestine for thousands of years. It was Palestine for the 500 years it was part of the Ottoman Empire until it’s collapse at the end of WWI and the start of the British Mandate. It was Palestine when the Roman Emperor Hadrian abolished the Roman province of Judea and declared the land to be Palestina Syriana in the 2nd Century AD. And the region was also known as Palestine for thousands of years prior to that as the area in which the Philistines lived (Jews and other peoples also lived in that area ) But forget about that. The Zionists wanted the land to colonize and were looking for sponsors, wheeling and dealing with different World powers (Hertzl sounded out the Ottomans and the Germans until his successor, Chaim Weitzman, got the backing of England). To make the case that the whole area should belong to the Jews, a new historical narrative had to be thought up and marketed worldwide. Any people called Palestinians were not part of the sales pitch. God promised the land to Moses; it was the home of all the Jews of the world and now was the time to return (this is the secular argument for those who were not big on god or religion). Any other people were just passing through, nomads, or traders Cameling through the area from one place to another…they were or are just ephemera, we are the real people here.

However nomads or passersby don’t build and live in cities and villages, cultivate crops, build schools, engage in commerce, have a literature, music, culture…or develop profound attachment to the land, their land and their ancestors land. There is a place called Egypt, so the continuous inhabitants are known as Egyptians, the same with every other country in the world. Ah, but what about those Arabs of no particular nationality? Why don’t the Arabs mistakenly living in the land of Israel (whose borders are elastic) go live with other Arabs and let us Jews have our own land?

This is a corollary argument to the “Palestinians don’t exist” thesis. These so-called Palestinians can find their own home by living with some other group of Arabs. This idea makes as much sense as telling the Bolivians that they should go live in Uruguay or Costa Rica since all these people are the same: speaking Spanish and being of the same Latin American “group.”

Lebanese, Yeminis, Saudis, Egyptians, Libyans, etc. are all Arabs, but this language and cultural group is divided into nations and a Lebanese most likely would not want to be mistaken for a Yemini, or be forced to live there. These are separate nationalities with different histories and cultures and even languages (many dialects of Arabic are radically different from each other). The Palestinians happen to be a nationality in the Middle East whose national rights were thwarted by the combination of the British and the Jewish colony that the British countenanced in the Palestinians' own home. Where Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other peoples were able to gain national independence from European colonial powers, Palestine was not able withstand the onslaught of England and the Yeshuv, the Jewish proto-state under the British Mandate from 1917 to 1948.

Presently, the number of Jews and Palestinians in the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is approximately equal. The Demographics point towards a Palestinian majority. Within this area Israeli Jews have rights and the Palestinians don't. On the West Bank they live under martial law. In Gaza they are basically imprisoned by a comprehensive blockade. Inside the borders that most of the world recognizes as the state of Israel, there are 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (equaling about a quarter of the total population) who at best live under a Jim Crow system as existed in Alabama or other southern US states before the Civil Rights movement forced its abolition.

The disparity in rights, treatment and even conceptualization of the two populations living inside the state of Israel raises the question: “What does Israeli citizenship mean?”

Israel's leaders and the world wide Zionist leadership proclaims to the skies that Israel is the “Jewish State.” Not only that, it's the homeland of all the Jews of the world, all they have to do is just show up and they're in: citizens with all the rights and benefits.

But, of course, they add, it's a Jewish and a democratic state. But Israel is an ethnocracy. By definition it is not democratic. To maintain a Jewish state for the Jews, it's necessary to discriminate against the non-Jewish population and police their numbers so that the Jewish majority can be preserved. It has to be undemocratic to survive as a Jews only state. It cannot and does not have full equality under the law for every citizen. Jewish citizens are always more equal compared to “the Arabs” who are Israeli citizens.

In terms of land ownership rights, housing rights (the Israeli courts have recently sanctioned the right of town councils to exclude non-Jewish residents), voting rights and participation in elections there is no equality. Palestinian political parties are often declared illegal, Palestinians who are elected to the Kenesset have had their membership rights suspended or have been expelled for the crime of free speech – which is always covered up as an issue of “national security.”

Across the board, Jewish rights trump any so-called “rights of a citizen of Israel.” Before the law, and in daily life, being Jewish is the standard by which citizenship rights are judged. The term “Israeli citizen” is an empty category. It doesn't apply. It isn't meaningful. The “Jewish State for all the world's Jews” is not a democracy. It is not a state for all of it's citizens or for all of it's subject people (in Gaza and the West Bank).

Apologists for Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing like to claim that Israel is a democracy like Western countries and any injustices will be solved by a impartial justice system. Many Americans wrongly believe that Israel is like the USA, a multi-ethnic society in which peoples of different races and religions demand equal treatment as their natural right. This is false, There is no such thing as an Israeli citizen with full rights – only Jews who lord it over Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011


If you agree with this letter, please share it with your friends...

By Gilad Atzmon

There was a time when Jewish politics and culture were associated with liberalism, human rights, pluralism and freedom of expression. Those days are clearly over. Nowadays, it is pretty much the opposite.

Here in Britain, Jewish nationalist lobbies are engaged in several kinds of repressive behaviour. Their practices include: bullying and harassment, disinformation, smear campaigns.

This kind of activity does not serve the Jewish community or its interests. In fact, it gives the Jewish community, as a whole, a thoroughly bad name.

Last week, American academic Norman Finkelstein and I were on the front of the Jewish Chronicle (JC). We were presented as Public Jewish Enemies Number One. We were branded together with BNP leader and a racist Nick Griffin. This was obviously a clear outburst of Zionist hysteria.

This week, in an embarrassingly crude attempt to stop my new book The Wandering Who, the JC now appear to be launching an attack on music. Together with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other Jewish groups they attempted to pressure the British Arts Council to withdraw its funding from a music festival I am playing at.

What we see here is scarily similar to the experience of Jazz musiciansin Germany during the Nazzi era. Astonishingly enough, it is Jewish representative bodies such as the Board of Deputies that are actively engaging in trying to restrict artistic expression. Apparently, some people out there, really drew the wrong lesson from that disturbing era.

Needless to say, they didn’t get far. The Arts Council, stood by its principles of freedom of expression and in a statement responding to the JC's demands, they suggested that The Arts Council shouldn’t "restrict an artist from expressing their views." They stated that the council believes in funding events and artists that show "a diverse view of world society”. Once again, their campaign had backfired.

Of course, the JC wasn’t at all happy. It appears to want to transform the British music scene, cultural gatherings and festivals into Stalinist enterprises and demands the right to dictate its own political agenda to the British public. The JC even went as far as to openly call for its subservient lobby-funded politicians to impose an “immediate sanction”. Reading the JC today, I wonder how long it will take before Ava Nagila becomes a compulsory part of our national musical curriculum.

This is the reality: The most radical exponents of the most vile form of Jewish racist and supremacist ideology are accusing me, an anti-racist campaigner, of being an anti-Semite. Considering that I lead one of the most ethnically varied musical ensembles on this planet - this accusation is absurd, amusing or sad and probably all three. But here’s the good news. On every possible front they are failing. No matter how much these Zionist supremacists convince themselves that I am the ultimate Jew-hater, they have failed to convince anyone else.

By bullying British cultural institutions and assaulting artists in the name of the Jewish community, Jewish organizations are achieving nothing but the defamation of the whole of British Jewry.

So, to the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies of British Jews: You are acting against openness, pluralism, freedom of expression and artistic freedom – probably the most precious values this country has. Perhaps it is worth bearing this in mind.

All the best

Gilad Atzmon

The Wandering Who-A Study of Zionist Hysteria , available on or

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Bloom(berg) is off the Rose

The Bloom(berg) is Off the Rose

This may be belaboring the obvious, but can't everyone see that the Mayor is a piece of shit? People who have a background in leftist politics certainly know this by now. Hard core anti-capitalists saw it from the start of his first election campaign. But now his sneering dumb ass self-serving proclamations and the consequences of his police state actions make it easy to see him for what he is. But, you never know, many more “practical” sorts caught up in lesser-evilism still might not get it.

It's not just his latest crime, pushing Occupy Wall Street out of Zuchotti Park and setting his mad dog police thugs upon anyone who crosses their path, but from way back everything he's done was predictable-- allowing the cops to rampage through black and latin communities harassing, falsely arresting, and from time to time riddling innocent bystanders with bullets (and getting off), trampling on free speech and assembly rights, and of course the fundamental job of any NYC mayor, making sure Wall Street and real estate speculators get whatever they want.

The Bloombergers were relieved when Rudy Guliani was finally out as mayor. Rudy was (and remains) an embarrassing, low brow slob. Flagrantly racist, he rallied the Archie Bunkers of the outer boroughs to his side. But Bloomberg exudes class. Billionaire class. He addresses all the mundane issue of city government with an arrogant gesture of having sympathy for the peasants, or he used to.

Not so deep down, he's the same as Rudy, He just has a lot more money and better suits. How about a recall campaign?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Joseph Massad on Israel's Nukes

Nuclear Israel revisited

To have or not to have nuclear weapons is a question of human security and not European privilege.

November 10, 2011 | Joseph Massad | Al Jazeera

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - How many times must this story be retold? It is common knowledge in the United States, in Europe, in the Arab World, indeed in the entire world. The international press has been reporting on it since the late 1960s. The historical details of the story are also well known. In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower gave Israel its first small nuclear reactor at Nahal Sorek; in 1964, the French built for Israel its much larger and major Dimona nuclear reactor in the Naqab (Negev) Desert; in 1965, Israel stole 200 pounds of weapons-grade uranium from the United States through its spies at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation company in Pennsylvania; in 1968, Israel hijacked a Liberian ship in international waters and stole its 200-ton shipment of yellowcake. Israel has possessed nuclear bombs since the early 1970s. Despite official US denials, Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel, reportedly prepared to launch 13 nuclear bombs on Syria and Egypt in 1973 and was stopped short of committing this genocidal act when Henry Kissinger gave Israel the most massive weapons airlift in history at the time to reverse the course of the 1973 war (as Time Magazine reported the story). Israel has had an ongoing nuclear weapons collaboration with the South African Apartheid regime for decades, which only ended with the collapse of the regime in 1994.

Since then, experts have estimated that Israel has upwards of 400 nuclear devices, including thermonuclear weapons with megaton range, as well as neutron bombs, tactical nuclear weapons, and suitcase nukes. It also has the missile delivery systems to launch them with a reach of 11,500km (which can reach beyond Iran). Israel also has submarines that are capable of launching nuclear attacks as well as jet fighters that can deliver Israel’s nuclear cargo.

Israel has diligently prevented its neighbours from even acquiring nuclear reactors for peaceful purposes. It violated international law by bombing the Iraqi French-built Osirak nuclear reactor still under construction in 1981 in an unprovoked raid even though the reactor was going to be used, according to the French and Iraqi governments, for peaceful scientific purposes. Israel also bombed what intelligence reports allege was a North Korean nuclear reactor under construction in Syria in 2007. Israel’s Mossad has also been linked to the assassination of numerous Egyptian, Iraqi, and Iranian nuclear scientists over the decades. Israel continues to refuse to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to allow members of the International Atomic Energy Commission to inspect its Dimona reactor.

Israel, a predatory and aggressive country that has consistently launched wars on all its neighbours since its establishment, expelled hundreds of thousands of people, created millions of Palestinian, Lebanese, and Egyptian refugees, murdered tens of thousands of civilians and used internationally-banned weapons (from napalm to phosphorous bombs, to name the most notorious cases), continues to occupy the Palestinian territories and the Palestinian people in violation of international law, is governed by a foundational anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racist state ideology to which all its leaders, governing structures, and institutions adhere, as does its popular and political culture and a variety of its laws. Indeed, Israel not only consistently launches wars against its neighbours but also urges world powers to invade these neighbours as well, and in the meanwhile sponsors anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racist campaigns of hatred in the United States and across Europe in addition to integrating such racism in its school and university curricula and much of its cultural production.

Racist policies

Israel’s protector, the United States, is the only country on Earth that has ever deliberately used nuclear bombs against civilian populations and continues to defend this decision 66 years after this genocidal act, and inculcates its population, in its school curricula and in the media, to defend it. The United States has also made certain that Israel’s nuclear arsenal would not ever be discussed at the UN Security Council despite persistent proposals over the decades to discuss it. Indeed, the United States insistence on keeping Israel’s nuclear capability an open "secret" is engineered, among other things, to keep United States aid to Israel flowing, especially as a key legal condition of receiving such aid is for recipient countries to be signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel refuses to sign.

Yet the United States and Israel, which have been the major threats to world peace and indeed the major global warmongers since World War II, insist on telling the world that Iran, a country whose current regime never invaded any country (but was rather invaded by Saddam’s Iraq in 1981 at the behest of the dictatorial ruling Gulf oil-rich families and their US and French sponsors), is a threat to world peace were it to possess a nuclear device.

The racist policies of the United States as to who should get to possess nuclear weapons and who should not (according to racial criteria of whether they are European or of European stock or not) aside, it must be made clear that the extent to which there is a nuclear race in the Middle East, it is one fostered by Israel’s warmongering and its possession of such weapons of mass destruction. If the Middle East is to be a nuclear-free zone, then the international effort to rid it of such weapons must begin with Israel, which is the only country in the region that possesses these weapons, and not with Iran who may or may not be developing them.

The racism of the Obama administration against Arabs and Muslims clearly knows no limits, but for the people of the Middle East (Arabs, Turks, and Iranians), Obama’s racist criteria are not terribly persuasive. To have or not to have nuclear weapons is a question of human security, as far as the people of the region are concerned, and not one of European racial privilege. While the US may not fear Israeli nukes, Israel’s neighbouring countries and their civilian populations have for decades been (and continue to be) terrorised by them; and for good reason. Once Obama learns this lesson, the people of the region will reconsider US credibility about its alleged concern about nuclear proliferation.

Joseph Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University in New York.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Unholy alliance: Israel's right and Europe's anti-Semites

Published 03:06 06.11.11
Latest update 03:06 06.11.11
from Haaretz

Politicians like Le Pen have exchanged the Jewish demon-enemy for the criminal-immigrant Muslim, but they have not really discarded their ideological DNA.
By Adar Primor Tags: France Islam

Marine Le Pen hit the jackpot. She invited about 100 diplomats to a luncheon last week during a visit to UN Headquarters in New York. Four accepted: There were the envoys from Trinidad and Tobago, Armenia and Uruguay, who obviously are of no concern to her at all. But the entrance of the fourth guest, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor, made the event a sensation and worth her whole trip.

No official American representative agreed to meet with France's extreme-right leader. Neither did any leader of the Jewish community. She failed in her attempt to stage a photo op at the Holocaust Museum, and skipped the visit. The French ambassador to the UN sent a sharp message that she is persona non grata in the United Nations building. But the Israeli envoy? He shook her hand and spoke of the importance that must be accorded to a wide variety of opinions.

"We flourish on the diversity of ideas," Prosor said. "We talked about Europe, about other issues and I enjoyed the conversation very much," Prosor was quoted as saying. Even before he went into the hall where the luncheon was being held, he told shocked reporters that he was a "free man."

The Foreign Ministry now claims there was a misunderstanding; the ambassador "thought he was attending an event hosted by the French UN delegation. When he realized his error, he skipped the meal and left." User comments on leading French news websites over the weekend were derisive, including all the French equivalents of LOL and ROFL in response to the explanation.

No one believes it was a coincidence. Prosor is a proven professional. He would certainly want to forget the fact that he became the first representative of the Jewish state to meet with a leader of the National Front. He would probably be happy to smash the camera that documented the smiling encounter. But his mistake did not happen in a vacuum. It has the odor of a symptom. The odor of a very unholy alliance being formed between members of the Israeli right-wing and a number of the most nationalistic and anti-Semitic figures in Europe. Over the past year, among visitors to Israel were the populist Dutch leader Geert Wilders, the Belgian racist Filip Dewinter and the Austrian successor to Jorg Haider, Heinz-Christian Strache.

These politicians, like Le Pen, have exchanged the Jewish demon-enemy for the criminal-immigrant Muslim. But they have not really discarded their ideological DNA. The Israeli seal of approval they seek to get is intended to bring them closer to power. Le Pen herself has decided to leave behind the anti-Semitic scandals of her father, Jean-Marie. She wants to make the National Front a popular and legitimate party.

She is already popular (19 percent in the polls). Legitimate? In two interviews she gave to Haaretz in the past, she attacked President Jacques Chirac for his historic 1995 declaration in which he took, in the name of France, responsibility for Vichy war crimes. She adamantly refused to denounce French fascist crimes and showed that she cannot really disengage from her father, his heritage and her party's Vichy and anti-Semitic hard core.

It is easy to guess what would happen to an Israeli ambassador if he found himself at an event hosted by the "disgraced" Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - or, perish the thought, at a Hamas or Hezbollah event. The earth would tremble. Even tar and feathers would not be enough under such circumstances. But Le Pen is blonde and she has blue eyes. Oh, and she hates Muslims.

Let us hope the incident at the United Nations will not give her votes that will allow her to repeat her father's sensational results in the 2002 French presidential elections, and go on to a second round in the upcoming French elections.

We must see a complete and public disavowal by Israel to prevent an ostensibly minor incident from becoming an accident of history.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Angela Merkel: Wild-eyed Bolshevik

The latest fix that got the euro zone out of it's crisis over the Greek bailout was reported on in the US press and the effect it had on the NYSE was to move the Dow price index upward. But the news articles were not banner headlines, and the news shows didn't pay much attention to the details.

Germany has the most economic and political clout in the EU, with France holding second place. But what did Merkel actually do? She didn't impose some plan that required the Greek people to starve some more or the government to sell all its assets to McDonalds, or make the other countries of Europe pay an arm and a leg to satisfy the banks. She told the banks that they would have to take a 50% loss on their loans. When they complained she stared them down and said, OK, there will be a default and you'll get nothing. The banks caved.

Why didn't (and doesn't) Obama do the same? That's a comparison that Wall Street, the media they control, and their puppets in the White House and Congress don't want hear about. They definitely don't want the people in the U.S. to hear about it. The one per cent they serve wants it all and to hell with everyone else.

Why did Merkel do what she did? Maybe she knows that the smart way to keep everything from collapsing and to stop people from turning away from the whole system is to make the rich share the pain. In Europe the organized working class still has some political clout, and European politicians (some of them anyway) have a historic memory of the crucial role that trimming the sails of big capitalists and establishing social welfare programs has played in staving off revolution.

The Only Democracy on the Road to Theocracy

From Haaretz Published 02:40 30.10.11
Latest update 02:40 30.10.11

Settlers succeeding in hostile takeover of Israel
Do you really want to live in a country where the heads of the settlement enterprise allocate its lands, plan its nature sites, rule on its laws and are increasingly controlling its lifestyles?
By Gideon Levy

Phase I was long since declared an unqualified success: The settlers gained control of the occupied territories, using their power and their construction projects to thwart any just arrangement. But anyone who thought they would settle for controlling the West Bank should take a look at Phase II of the plan, which is at its height and already a success story.

Now, after the hostile takeover of the West Bank, comes the takeover of the state. Now that their lust for land has been slightly slaked they have turned their attention to much broader areas than their own considerable domain. From now on, Yesha is truly here. From now on, it's not enough for them to head the local government councils in the territories - now they're aiming for seats of power within Israel, so that they can shape its image. After taking the West Bank region of Gush Etzion, now they want the Tel Aviv region of Gush Dan.

They are using the tried-and-true method: acre by acre, outpost by (governmental ) outpost, office by (governmental ) office. A marginal minority, around 100,000 ideological settlers in all, is trying to gain control of a country with a population of seven million. Those turning a blind eye to what is happening now should not be surprised to wake up one day to a different country, just as we woke up one day to a different West Bank.

As usual, the name of their game is occupation, of positions of power rather than territory. Their first target is the Israel Defense Forces: Their soldiers and officers are already nearly everywhere. Now they have turned their sights toward the civilian society. Count on them to rack up resounding victories in this sphere, too, in large measure due to the impotence and complacency of the silent majority. Some recent examples: a settler as head of the Israel Lands Administration, a settler as director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the first settler is on his way to the Supreme Court. These are sensitive and important positions of power, but they are only the harbingers of autumn that might usher in a winter during which a dangerous and powerful religious, messianic, nationalistic and patently antidemocratic minority will come to run our lives.

Don't kid yourselves: The settlers are assuming these powerful positions for the express purpose of imposing their ideology. Of course they have the right to apply for them, but anyone with a conscience and anyone who is worried about the character of the state has a duty to try to stop this hostile takeover. There is no need to explain the significance of a settler leader being in charge of the state's lands or its nature sites and national parks. Bentzi Lieberman and Shaul Goldstein were not appointed on the strength of their skills alone. They were appointed on account of their ideology. But the admission of a settler into the Supreme Court may be the most infuriating of all.

Noam Sohlberg is making his way into the Supreme Court on the wings of his religious beliefs, which have already found expression in his outrageous rulings as a District Court judge - acquitting someone who killed an Arab, releasing rioting settlers and restricting press freedoms. His patrons, chief among then Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, want such a person sitting in the tower of justice. That is exactly why the majority, which opposes the settlers' modes of action, must object to his appointment. A resident of Alon Shvut, nearly a third of which is on private Palestinian land gained through bald trickery and, later, force or deception, cannot be a judge in a law-abiding country. Not because of the kippa on his head, but rather because he is a criminal in the eyes of international law and universal justice.

Sohlberg the settler comes to the Supreme Court with unclean hands. He will not change the essence of the Supreme Court, which in any case never stood in the way of the occupation: View Ra'anan Alexandrowicz' incisive, impressive film "Shilton Ha Chok" ("The Law in These Parts" ), and understand the worldview of former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, one of the figures who gave legitimacy to the occupation - but Sohlberg's nomination has a deep symbolic meaning.

In case anyone has forgotten: The settlements are a despicable enterprise based on violence, ultra-nationalism and breaking the law. Every settler has this mark of Cain on their brow. Now ask yourselves: Do you really want to live in a country where the heads of this enterprise allocate its lands, plan its nature sites, rule on its laws and are increasingly controlling its lifestyles?

Friday, October 28, 2011

the news

Wall Street Isn't Winning, It'sCheating

From Mat Taibbi's Rolling Stone blog Oct. 25, 2011

I was at an event on the Upper East Side last Friday night when I got to talking with a salesman in the media business. The subject turned to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, and he was chuckling about something he'd heard on the news.

"I hear [Occupy Wall Street] has a CFO," he said. "I think that's funny."

"Okay, I'll bite," I said. "Why is that funny?"

"Well, I heard they're trying to decide what bank to put their money in," he said, munching on hors d'oeuvres. "It's just kind of ironic."

Oh, Christ, I thought. He’s saying the protesters are hypocrites because they’re using banks. I sighed.

"Listen," I said, "where else are you going to put three hundred thousand dollars? A shopping bag?"

"Well," he said, "it's just, their protests are all about... You know..."

"Dude," I said. "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street."

"Whatever," he said, shrugging.

These nutty criticisms of the protests are spreading like cancer. Earlier that same day, I'd taped a TV segment on CNN with Will Cain from the National Review, and we got into an argument on the air. Cain and I agreed about a lot of the problems on Wall Street, but when it came to the protesters, we disagreed on one big thing.

Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.

"I find the one thing [the protesters] have in common revolves around the human emotions of envy and entitlement," he said. "What you have is more than what I have, and I'm not happy with my situation."

Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.

Think about it: there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now? The idea that masses of people suddenly discovered a deep-seated animus/envy toward the rich – after keeping it strategically hidden for decades – is crazy.

Where was all that class hatred in the Reagan years, when openly dumping on the poor became fashionable? Where was it in the last two decades, when unions disappeared and CEO pay relative to median incomes started to triple and quadruple?

The answer is, it was never there. If anything, just the opposite has been true. Americans for the most part love the rich, even the obnoxious rich. And in recent years, the harder things got, the more we've obsessed over the wealth dream. As unemployment skyrocketed, people tuned in in droves to gawk at Evrémonde-heiresses like Paris Hilton, or watch bullies like Donald Trump fire people on TV.

Moreover, the worse the economy got, the more being a millionaire or a billionaire somehow became a qualification for high office, as people flocked to voting booths to support politicians with names like Bloomberg and Rockefeller and Corzine, names that to voters symbolized success and expertise at a time when few people seemed to have answers. At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate.

And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs – not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.

That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned.

All weekend I was thinking about this “jealousy” question, and I just kept coming back to all the different ways the game is rigged. People aren't jealous and they don’t want privileges. They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes, things like:

FREE MONEY. Ordinary people have to borrow their money at market rates. Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon get billions of dollars for free, from the Federal Reserve. They borrow at zero and lend the same money back to the government at two or three percent, a valuable public service otherwise known as "standing in the middle and taking a gigantic cut when the government decides to lend money to itself."

Or the banks borrow billions at zero and lend mortgages to us at four percent, or credit cards at twenty or twenty-five percent. This is essentially an official government license to be rich, handed out at the expense of prudent ordinary citizens, who now no longer receive much interest on their CDs or other saved income. It is virtually impossible to not make money in banking when you have unlimited access to free money, especially when the government keeps buying its own cash back from you at market rates.

Your average chimpanzee couldn't fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water. Where do the protesters go to sign up for their interest-free billion-dollar loans?

CREDIT AMNESTY. If you or I miss a $7 payment on a Gap card or, heaven forbid, a mortgage payment, you can forget about the great computer in the sky ever overlooking your mistake. But serial financial fuckups like Citigroup and Bank of America overextended themselves by the hundreds of billions and pumped trillions of dollars of deadly leverage into the system -- and got rewarded with things like the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, an FDIC plan that allowed irresponsible banks to borrow against the government's credit rating.

This is equivalent to a trust fund teenager who trashes six consecutive off-campus apartments and gets rewarded by having Daddy co-sign his next lease. The banks needed programs like TLGP because without them, the market rightly would have started charging more to lend to these idiots. Apparently, though, we can’t trust the free market when it comes to Bank of America, Goldman, Sachs, Citigroup, etc.

In a larger sense, the TBTF banks all have the implicit guarantee of the federal government, so investors know it's relatively safe to lend to them -- which means it's now cheaper for them to borrow money than it is for, say, a responsible regional bank that didn't jack its debt-to-equity levels above 35-1 before the crash and didn't dabble in toxic mortgages. In other words, the TBTF banks got better credit for being less responsible. Click on to see if you got the same deal.

STUPIDITY INSURANCE. Defenders of the banks like to talk a lot about how we shouldn't feel sorry for people who've been foreclosed upon, because it's they're own fault for borrowing more than they can pay back, buying more house than they can afford, etc. And critics of OWS have assailed protesters for complaining about things like foreclosure by claiming these folks want “something for nothing.”

This is ironic because, as one of the Rolling Stone editors put it last week, “something for nothing is Wall Street’s official policy." In fact, getting bailed out for bad investment decisions has been de rigeur on Wall Street not just since 2008, but for decades.

Time after time, when big banks screw up and make irresponsible bets that blow up in their faces, they've scored bailouts. It doesn't matter whether it was the Mexican currency bailout of 1994 (when the state bailed out speculators who gambled on the peso) or the IMF/World Bank bailout of Russia in 1998 (a bailout of speculators in the "emerging markets") or the Long-Term Capital Management Bailout of the same year (in which the rescue of investors in a harebrained hedge-fund trading scheme was deemed a matter of international urgency by the Federal Reserve), Wall Street has long grown accustomed to getting bailed out for its mistakes.

The 2008 crash, of course, birthed a whole generation of new bailout schemes. Banks placed billions in bets with AIG and should have lost their shirts when the firm went under -- AIG went under, after all, in large part because of all the huge mortgage bets the banks laid with the firm -- but instead got the state to pony up $180 billion or so to rescue the banks from their own bad decisions.

This sort of thing seems to happen every time the banks do something dumb with their money. Just recently, the French and Belgian authorities cooked up a massive bailout of the French bank Dexia, whose biggest trading partners included, surprise, surprise, Goldman, Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Here's how the New York Times explained the bailout:

To limit damage from Dexia’s collapse, the bailout fashioned by the French and Belgian governments may make these banks and other creditors whole — that is, paid in full for potentially tens of billions of euros they are owed. This would enable Dexia’s creditors and trading partners to avoid losses they might otherwise suffer...

When was the last time the government stepped into help you "avoid losses you might otherwise suffer?" But that's the reality we live in. When Joe Homeowner bought too much house, essentially betting that home prices would go up, and losing his bet when they dropped, he was an irresponsible putz who shouldn’t whine about being put on the street.

But when banks bet billions on a firm like AIG that was heavily invested in mortgages, they were making the same bet that Joe Homeowner made, leaving themselves hugely exposed to a sudden drop in home prices. But instead of being asked to "suck it in and cope" when that bet failed, the banks instead went straight to Washington for a bailout -- and got it.

UNGRADUATED TAXES. I've already gone off on this more than once, but it bears repeating. Bankers on Wall Street pay lower tax rates than most car mechanics. When Warren Buffet released his tax information, we learned that with taxable income of $39 million, he paid $6.9 million in taxes last year, a tax rate of about 17.4%.

Most of Buffet’s income, it seems, was taxed as either "carried interest" (i.e. hedge-fund income) or long-term capital gains, both of which carry 15% tax rates, half of what many of the Zucotti park protesters will pay.

As for the banks, as companies, we've all heard the stories. Goldman, Sachs in 2008 – this was the same year the bank reported $2.9 billion in profits, and paid out over $10 billion in compensation -- paid just $14 million in taxes, a 1% tax rate.

Bank of America last year paid not a single dollar in taxes -- in fact, it received a "tax credit" of $1 billion. There are a slew of troubled companies that will not be paying taxes for years, including Citigroup and CIT.

When GM bought the finance company AmeriCredit, it was able to marry its long-term losses to AmeriCredit's revenue stream, creating a tax windfall worth as much as $5 billion. So even though AmeriCredit is expected to post earnings of $8-$12 billion in the next decade or so, it likely won't pay any taxes during that time, because its revenue will be offset by GM's losses.

Thank God our government decided to pledge $50 billion of your tax dollars to a rescue of General Motors! You just paid for one of the world's biggest tax breaks.

And last but not least, there is:

GET OUT OF JAIL FREE. One thing we can still be proud of is that America hasn't yet managed to achieve the highest incarceration rate in history -- that honor still goes to the Soviets in the Stalin/Gulag era. But we do still have about 2.3 million people in jail in America.

Virtually all 2.3 million of those prisoners come from "the 99%." Here is the number of bankers who have gone to jail for crimes related to the financial crisis: 0.

Millions of people have been foreclosed upon in the last three years. In most all of those foreclosures, a regional law enforcement office -- typically a sheriff's office -- was awarded fees by the court as part of the foreclosure settlement, settlements which of course were often rubber-stamped by a judge despite mountains of perjurious robosigned evidence.

That means that every single time a bank kicked someone out of his home, a local police department got a cut. Local sheriff's offices also get cuts of almost all credit card judgments, and other bank settlements. If you're wondering how it is that so many regional police departments have the money for fancy new vehicles and SWAT teams and other accoutrements, this is one of your answers.

What this amounts to is the banks having, as allies, a massive armed police force who are always on call, ready to help them evict homeowners and safeguard the repossession of property. But just see what happens when you try to call the police to prevent an improper foreclosure. Then, suddenly, the police will not get involved. It will be a "civil matter" and they won't intervene.

The point being: if you miss a few home payments, you have a very high likelihood of colliding with a police officer in the near future. But if you defraud a pair of European banks out of a billion dollars -- that's a billion, with a b -- you will never be arrested, never see a policeman, never see the inside of a jail cell.

Your settlement will be worked out not with armed police, but with regulators in suits who used to work for your company or one like it. And you'll have, defending you, a former head of that regulator's agency. In the end, a fine will be paid to the government, but it won't come out of your pocket personally; it will be paid by your company's shareholders. And there will be no admission of criminal wrongdoing.

The Abacus case, in which Goldman helped a hedge fund guy named John Paulson beat a pair of European banks for a billion dollars, tells you everything you need to know about the difference between our two criminal justice systems. The settlement was $550 million -- just over half of the damage.

Can anyone imagine a common thief being caught by police and sentenced to pay back half of what he took? Just one low-ranking individual in that case was charged (case pending), and no individual had to reach into his pocket to help cover the fine. The settlement Goldman paid to to the government was about 1/24th of what Goldman received from the government just in the AIG bailout. And that was the toughest "punishment" the government dished out to a bank in the wake of 2008.

The point being: we have a massive police force in America that outside of lower Manhattan prosecutes crime and imprisons citizens with record-setting, factory-level efficiency, eclipsing the incarceration rates of most of history's more notorious police states and communist countries.

But the bankers on Wall Street don't live in that heavily-policed country. There are maybe 1000 SEC agents policing that sector of the economy, plus a handful of FBI agents. There are nearly that many police officers stationed around the polite crowd at Zucotti park.

These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don't want handouts. It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war -- they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It's amazing that some people think that that's asking a lot.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Important Questions

Voters in the sovereign state of Mississippi are set to vote on an amendment to the state constitution which would give "personhood" to a human embryo.

This raises serious issues. Would an embryo be able to incorporate? Will it's right to carry a concealed firearm be respected by the intrusive federal government? Will the ACLU interfere with the person-embryo's religious freedom?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NYC OCT 15 OCW actions

Brother Can You Spare a Dime, via Tom Waits

As the Wheel Turns: Lech Walesa to join Occupy Wall Street in NYC

Activist Who Reagan Called ‘One Of The World’s Greatest Labor Leaders’ Coming To Support Occupy Wall Street

from OpEd News
By Zaid Jilani on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

He helped defeat Soviet Communism, now Reagan's friends is taking aim at Wall Street.
As ThinkProgress reported earlier this week, former Polish anti-Soviet activist, union leader, and president Lech Wałęsa announced that he supports the occupation of Wall Street by demonstrators upset about economic injustice.

Now, Wałęsa has announced that he will be joining the protests in New York city in person:

Solidarity hero Lech Walesa [sic] is flying to New York to show his support for the Occupy Wall Street protesters. “How could I not respond,” Walesa told a Polish newspaper Wednesday. “The thousands of people gathered near Wall Street are worried about the fate of their future, the fate of their country. This is something I understand.”

Wałęsa was instrumental in organizing the Solidarity union that helped mobilize to overthrow the Soviet Union’s control over Poland. In 1983 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. None other than President Ronald Reagan — no left-wing, anti-capitalist activist — responded by praising Wałęsa’s leadership, saying he was “one of the world’s greatest labor leaders”:

Wałęsa says he’s coming to help protest economic “unfairness.” “Union leaders and capitalists need to figure out what to do, because otherwise they will have to contend with a worldwide revolt against capitalism,” he warned.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A god investment


Bluesman Howard Glazer's They Bailout Wall Street. Great song with video montage. Be sure and check out his new CD "Wired For Sound" with Honeyboy Edwards. Also, don't forget his previous two cds recorded on my Random Chance Records label.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The “very scary” Iranian Terror plot By Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday, Oct 12, 2011 7:18 AM Eastern Daylight Time

The most difficult challenge in writing about the Iranian Terror Plot unveiled yesterday is to take it seriously enough to analyze it. Iranian Muslims in the Quds Force sending marauding bands of Mexican drug cartel assassins onto sacred American soil to commit Terrorism — against Saudi Arabia and possibly Israel — is what Bill Kristol and John Bolton would feverishly dream up while dropping acid and madly cackling at the possibility that they could get someone to believe it. But since the U.S. Government rolled out its Most Serious Officials with Very Serious Faces to make these accusations, many people (therefore) do believe it; after all, U.S. government accusations = Truth. All Serious people know that. And in the ensuing reaction one finds virtually every dynamic typically shaping discussions of Terrorism and U.S. foreign policy.

To begin with, this episode continues the FBI’s record-setting undefeated streak of heroically saving us from the plots they enable. From all appearances, this is, at best, yet another spectacular “plot” hatched by some hapless loser with delusions of grandeur but without any means to put it into action except with the able assistance of the FBI, which yet again provided it through its own (paid, criminal) sources posing as Terrorist enablers. The Terrorist Mastermind at the center of the plot is a failed used car salesman in Texas with a history of pedestrian money problems. Dive under your bed. “For the entire operation, the government’s confidential sources were monitored and guided by federal law enforcement agents,” explained U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, and “no explosives were actually ever placed anywhere and no one was actually ever in any danger.’”

But no matter. The U.S. Government and its mindless followers in the pundit and think-tank “expert” class have seized on this ludicrous plot with astonishing speed to all but turn it into a hysterical declaration of war against Evil, Hitlerian Iran. “The US attorney-general Eric Holder said Iran would be ‘held to account’ over what he described as a flagrant abuse of international law,” and “the US says military action remains on the table,” though “it is at present seeking instead to work through diplomatic and financial means to further isolate Iran.” Hillary Clinton thundered that this “crosses a line that Iran needs to be held to account for.” The CIA’s spokesman at The Washington Post, David Ignatius, quoted an anonymous White House official as saying the plot “appeared to have been authorized by senior levels of the Quds Force.” Meanwhile, the State Department has issued a Travel Alert which warns American citizens that this plot “may indicate a more aggressive focus by the Iranian Government on terrorist activity against diplomats from certain countries, to include possible attacks in the United States.”

In case that’s not enough to frighten you — and, really, how could it not be? — some Very Serious Experts are very, very afraid and want you to know how Serious this all is. Within moments of Holder’s news conference, National Security Expert Robert Chesney – without a molecule of critical thought in his brain — announced that this “remarkable development” was “very scary.” Very, very scary. Chesney then printed large blocks of the DOJ’s Press Release to prove it. Self-proclaimed “counter-terrorism expert” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross tapped into his vast expertise to explain: ”Holder weighing in on the plot’s connection to Iran means the administration is deadly serious about it.” Progressive think-tank expert and Atlantic writer Steve Clemons decreed that if the DOJ’s accusations are true, then ”the US has reached a point where it must take action” and “this is time for a significant strategic response to the Iran challenge in the Middle East and globally,” which “could involve military.”

The ironies here are so self-evident it’s hard to work up the energy to point them out. Outside of Pentagon reporters, Washington Post Editorial Page Editors, and Brookings “scholars,” is there a person on the planet anywhere who can listen with a straight face as drone-addicted U.S. Government officials righteously condemn the evil, illegal act of entering another country to commit an assassination? Does anyone, for instance, have any interest in finding out who is responsible for the spate of serial murders aimed at Iran’s nuclear scientists? Wouldn’t people professing to be so outraged by the idea of entering another country to engage in assassination be eager to get to the bottom of that?

Then there’s the War on Terror irony: our Hated Enemy here (Iran) is a country which had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. Meanwhile, our close ally, the victim on whose behalf we are so outraged (Saudi Arabia), is not only one of the most tyrannical and aggressive regimes on the planet, but produced 15 of the 19 hijackers and had extensive and still-unknown involvement in that attack. If the U.S. is so deeply offended by the involvement of a foreign government in an attack on U.S. soil, it would be looking first to its close friend Saudi Arabia, where “elements of the government” were likely involved in an actual plot rather than a joke of a plot.

To make sure you understand just how dastardly and evil the Iranian plotters here are, the DOJ in its complaint highlighted that the used-car-salesman-Terrorist-Mastermind said that he preferred that nobody else be killed when the Saudi Ambassador was assassinated, but if it were absolutely necessary, he could accept some unintended deaths! Here’s how the NYT summarizes that:

The complaint quotes Mr. Arbabsiar as making conflicting statements about the possibility of bystander deaths; at one point he is said to say that killing the ambassador alone would be preferable, but on another occasion he said it would be “no big deal” if many others at the restaurant — possibly including United States senators — died in any bombing.

What kind of monster thinks that way, we are supposed to ponder. Behold the warped mind of the Terrorist! He’s actually willing to accept that others die besides his intended targeted! Is that not the mentality that drives U.S. behavior in multiple countries around the world every day? The U.S. flattened an entire civilian apartment building in Baghdad with a 2,000-pound bomb when it thought Saddam Hussein was there (he wasn’t — oops — but lots of innocent people were). NATO repeatedly bombed structures in Tripoli where it thought (mistakenly) Moammar Gadaffi was located, in the process almost certainly killing large numbers of unintended targets. The U.S. just killed one of its own citizens that it insists (not very credibly) it did not intend to kill in order to eradicate the life of Anwar Awlaki, and killed dozens of innocent people when it previously tried to kill Awlaki with cluster bombs.

The U.S. is the living, breathing symbol of this “collateral damage” rationale. It’s what drives all the multi-nation American wars and occupations and drone campaigns and assassinations that continuously pile up the corpses of innocent people. But we’re all going to gather in righteous disgust at the idea that this monstrous International Terrorist would be willing to incur some unintended civilian deaths in order to assassinate an official of the peaceful, freedom-loving Saudi regime. Really, for brazen irony, how can this be beat?

Tom Kean, former chairman of the 9/11 Commission said the alleged plot “surprises me.” Speaking to CNN’s Erin Burnett, Kean said the plot is “pretty close to an act of war. You don’t go in somebody’s capital to blow somebody up.”

Meanwhile, President Obama decried this plot as “a flagrant violation of US and international law.” But maybe some Persian Marty Lederman in Tehran wrote a secret legal memo concluding that this was all in accordance with domestic and international law, which — as we know — is conclusive and provides a full shield of immunity.

So facially absurd are the claims here — why would Iran possibly wake up one day and decide that it wanted to engage in a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil when it could much more easily kill Saudi officials elsewhere? and if Iran and its Quds Force are really behind this inept, hapless, laughable plot, then nothing negates the claim that Iran is some Grave Threat like this does — that there is more skepticism expressed even in establishment media accounts than one normally finds about such things. Even the NYT noted — with great understatement — that the allegations “provoked puzzlement from specialists on Iran, who said it seemed unlikely that the government would back a brazen murder and bombing plan on American soil.” The Post noted that “the very rashness of the alleged assassination plot raised doubts about whether Iran’s normally cautious ruling clerics supported or even know about it.” The Atlantic‘s Max Fisher has more on why this would be so out of character for Iran.

But while some attention has been devoted to asking what motive Iran would have for doing this, little attention has been paid to asking what motive the U.S. would have for exaggerating or concocting the connection of Iran’s government to this plot. Aside from the benefits the FBI and DOJ receive when breaking up a “very scary” plot — the bigger, the better — it has been one of Obama’s highest foreign policy priorities to isolate Iran and sanction it further: as a means of placating Israel and punishing Iran for thwarting America’s natural right to rule that region (so monstrous is Iran that, as the U.S. has repeatedly complained, they actually continue to “interfere” in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan!). As Ignatius explains, the U.S. Government instantly converted this plot into a vehicle for furthering those policy ambitions:

With its alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Iran has handed the United States an opportunity to undermine Tehran at a moment when U.S. officials believe the Iranian regime is especially vulnerable. . . . “We see this as a chance to go out to capitals around the world and talk to allies and partners about what the Iranians tried to do,” the [White House] official said. “We’re not going to tolerate targeting a diplomat in Washington. We’re going to try to use this to isolate them to the maximum extent possible.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden announced today that the U.S. is “working to unite the world” behind a response to Iran’s “outrageous” actions and that ”nothing has been taken off the table.” So Iran’s supposed involvement in this plot is the ideal weapon for the U.S. to advance its long-standing goals with regard to that country. Maybe that warrants some serious skepticism about whether the U.S. Government’s claims are true? But we all know that only Bad Muslim countries exploit foreign policy exaggerations or fabrications for political gain, and not the United States of America (especially not with Barack Obama, rather than a Republican, in the White House).

What’s most significant is that not even 24 hours have elapsed since these allegations were unveiled. No evidence has been presented of Iran’s involvement. And yet there is no shortage of people — especially in the media — breathlessly talking about all of this as though it’s all clearly true. If the Obama administration decided tomorrow that military action against Iran were warranted in response, is there any doubt that large majorities of Americans — and large majorities of Democrats — would support that? As I said when discussing the Awlaki killing, the truly “scary” aspect of all of this is that the U.S. Government need only point and utter the word “Terrorist” and hordes of citizens will rise up and demand not evidence, but blood.

UPDATE: Perpetual war-cheerleader Ken Pollack of Brookings says that, if true, this plot “shows that Tehran is meaner and nastier than ever before” and “would represent a major escalation of Iranian terrorist operations against the United States.” Also, he announces, this “should remind us that Iran also is not a normal country by any stretch of the imagination.” That — self-anointed arbiter of who is and is not a “normal country” — from a person as responsible as any pundit or think-tank expert for the attack on Iraq that killed at least 100,000 human beings, denouncing as Terrorists and abnormal a country that has invaded nobody.

UPDATE II: On NPR this morning, Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations — and Ken Pollack’s co-author on Iran — said this when asked if he has any doubts about the accuracy of U.S. government statements: “The only unusual aspect of this is actually having a terrorist operation on American territory. I don’t know what the evidence about this is, but I’m not in a position to doubt it.” That perfectly summarizes the political, media and “expert” class’ attitude toward U.S. Government claims: they’re keeping everything secret about their accusations, so there’s no reason to doubt what they’re claiming. The National Security Priesthood that uncritically amplified every U.S. Government claim and fanned the flames of war against Iraq is alive, well, and more mindless and dutiful than ever.

UPDATE III: The Christian Science Monitor details the many reasons why “Iran specialists who have followed the Islamic Republic for years say that many details in the alleged plot just don’t add up.”

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.More Glenn Greenwald

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Millions of Jews have been worshiping the God of War at the Wailing Wall.....literally

In The August, 2011 issue of Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs an article by George Wesley Buchanan (“Misunderstanding About Jerusalem's Temple Mount”) reports that scholars and archeologists have known for decades that the “45 acre well-fortified place that has mistakenly called the 'Temple Mount' was really the Roman fortress – the Antonia – that King Herod built.” As a Roman military facility, it had a statue of Mars, the god of war. The Wailing Wall is, in reality, part of the Roman military base.

This area is known as the Haram Al-Sharif in Arabic.

According to Buchanan's article an “English archeologist, Kathleen Kenyon discovered in 1962 that the entire city of David in the past had been only that little rock ridge on the western bank of the Kidron. Less than 10 years later the historian Benjamin Mazar learned that the Haram had undoubtedly been the Roman fortress.”

The article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has features not found in the standard commentary on the ancient kingdom of Judea, later Palestine, offered up by officially sanctioned Israeli “historians” – these features are called “facts,” “evidence,” and “historical accuracy.”

Building up a fictional, glorious history of the kingdoms of David and Solomon have been a key part of the Zionist narrative that justifies the British sponsored invasion of European Jews which robbed the indigenous people of their land and expelled them en mass in 1948.

Recently, Israel has been driving Palestinians in East Jerusalem out of their homes under the guise of great new discoveries of the remains of King David's palace. They are constructing a gaudy Disneyland "archeological park," no doubt complete with rides for the kids and dancing cartoon characters. Maybe the will sell Mars Bars at the concession stand along with cold six-packs of King David beer.

From Tunisia to “Occupy Wall Street”: Who is the AFL-CIO’s Stuart Appelbaum?

From Tunisia to “Occupy Wall Street”: Who is the AFL-CIO’s Stuart Appelbaum?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Los Angeles Noir


An excerpt from musician Ry Cooder’s first published collection of stories, set in L.A. after World War II, “a sunny place for shady people.”

Why is a rabbi like a writing desk?


What do a Jewish state and a Catholic table have in common?
Oct 06, 2011 09:46 pm | Adam Horowitz

From Ynet:

"It is silly to talk about a Jewish state," Sarkozy said while referring to the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state. "It would be like saying that this table is Catholic. There are two million Arabs in Israel."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Chris Hedges' Columns
The Best Among Us
Posted on Sep 29, 2011

By Chris Hedges

There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

To be declared innocent in a country where the rule of law means nothing, where we have undergone a corporate coup, where the poor and working men and women are reduced to joblessness and hunger, where war, financial speculation and internal surveillance are the only real business of the state, where even habeas corpus no longer exists, where you, as a citizen, are nothing more than a commodity to corporate systems of power, one to be used and discarded, is to be complicit in this radical evil. To stand on the sidelines and say “I am innocent” is to bear the mark of Cain; it is to do nothing to reach out and help the weak, the oppressed and the suffering, to save the planet. To be innocent in times like these is to be a criminal. Ask Tim DeChristopher.

Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. Today they run the state and the financial markets. They disseminate the lies that pollute our airwaves. They know, even better than you, how pervasive the corruption and theft have become, how gamed the system is against you, how corporations have cemented into place a thin oligarchic class and an obsequious cadre of politicians, judges and journalists who live in their little gated Versailles while 6 million Americans are thrown out of their homes, a number soon to rise to 10 million, where a million people a year go bankrupt because they cannot pay their medical bills and 45,000 die from lack of proper care, where real joblessness is spiraling to over 20 percent, where the citizens, including students, spend lives toiling in debt peonage, working dead-end jobs, when they have jobs, a world devoid of hope, a world of masters and serfs.

The only word these corporations know is more. They are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospects of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, the polluted air increase until the species dies.

Who the hell cares? If the stocks of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. That is what they chant behind those metal barricades. They have their fangs deep into your necks. If you do not shake them off very, very soon they will kill you. And they will kill the ecosystem, dooming your children and your children’s children. They are too stupid and too blind to see that they will perish with the rest of us. So either you rise up and supplant them, either you dismantle the corporate state, for a world of sanity, a world where we no longer kneel before the absurd idea that the demands of financial markets should govern human behavior, or we are frog-marched toward self-annihilation.

Those on the streets around Wall Street are the physical embodiment of hope. They know that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. They sleep on concrete every night. Their clothes are soiled. They have eaten more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They have tasted fear, been beaten, gone to jail, been blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, laughed, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, seen their chants drift upward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cares, if they will win. But as long as they remain steadfast they point the way out of the corporate labyrinth. This is what it means to be alive. They are the best among us.

Another reason to read the works of Malcolm X

Anwar al Awkaki: Official US Government murder. If someone's a suspect, just kill 'em and have a trial later

Glen Greenwald from 9/30/11

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him). Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even had any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner. When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.). It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its. The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world. The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government. Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists: criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture. It not only finds ways to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.