America, stop sucking up to Israel

America, stop sucking up to Israel

Now is the time to say to the United States: Enough flattery. If you don’t change the tone, nothing will change. As long as Israel feels the United States is in its pocket, and that America’s automatic veto will save it from condemnations and sanctions, that it will receive massive aid unconditionally, and that it can continue waging punitive, lethal campaigns without a word from Washington, killing, destroying and imprisoning without the world’s policeman making a sound, it will continue in its ways.

Illegal acts like the occupation and settlement expansion, and offensives that may have involved war crimes, as in Gaza, deserve a different approach. If America and the world had issued condemnations after Operation Summer Rains in 2006 – which left 400 Palestinians dead and severe infrastructure damage in the first major operation in Gaza since the disengagement – then Operation Cast Lead never would have been launched.

It is true that unlike all the world’s other troublemakers, Israel is viewed as a Western democracy, but Israel of 2009 is a country whose language is force. Anwar Sadat may have been the last leader to win our hearts with optimistic, hope-igniting speeches. If he were to visit Israel today, he would be jeered off the stage. The Syrian president pleads for peace and Israel callously dismisses him, the United States begs for a settlement freeze and Israel turns up its nose. This is what happens when there are no consequences for Israel’s inaction. [continued…]

Justice Goldstone and the Jews

We Jews should be very proud of Richard Goldstone. In an ancient tradition of Jewish self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling, the author of the recent report from the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict has braved personal vilification and institutional mendacity to describe the crimes committed by Israeli forces in the course of their invasion of Gaza in December 2008.

To be sure, the Goldstone Report also itemizes the crimes of Hamas, notably in its campaign of rocket-firing into Israel. But the scale of human rights abuses by Israel vastly outdoes anything Hamas could hope to have achieved: Israeli civilian victims of Hamas rocket attacks numbered less than ten. The attack on Gaza by the IDF resulted in at least 1,100 Palestinian civilian deaths. The major perpetrator of human rights abuses in this conflict is without question the State of Israel, and Justice Goldstone records as much.

That the Israel of Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen to conduct an international campaign against Justice Goldstone and his report need not surprise us. Israel refused to cooperate with the UN investigation; long before its conclusions were published, Netanyahu had set in motion a campaign to deny and denigrate them. More dispiriting, and of greater political consequence, is the pitiful and humiliating response of the Obama Administration. The “fierce urgency of now” apparently required that Washington join Tel Aviv in discrediting the Goldstone Report, and with it the UN inquiry. [continued…]

Israel wants to seek, not have, peace with Syria

It’s hard not to marvel at Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s rhetorical skills, how he constantly invents a new way – an original expression – to not say anything. Last week he described Syria as a “central brick in any stable peace agreement.” But there will be no peace with Syria because Israel, according to Barak, “has sought in the past and will continue to seek in the future ways to advance peace with Syria.”

Still, Syria will certainly earn a few more terms of endearment, maybe even move up from “central brick” to “cornerstone,” and if it behaves itself, “linchpin.” Who knows, Syria may even win the gold and become the “bedrock” of a stable peace agreement. But because Israel is so busy seeking ways to advance peace with Syria, there will be no peace. [continued…]

Gas from Gaza, mobile phones in Palestine and a $1m peace prize …Tony Blair and the Middle Eastern Eldorado

… a Mail on Sunday investigation reveals that [Tony Blair] has been mixing business with Middle East politics since the early years of his premiership and that, since becoming a part-time peace envoy on leaving office in 2007, he has exploited his superb contacts to pursue a multi-million-pound fortune.

Some of the most potentially lucrative of those relationships can be traced back to that BG Gaza gas deal – connections that helped pave the way to the opening up of the Arab world’s new Eldorado, the colossal and mostly untapped wealth of Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya.

‘In Arabic, there is a special word – “eghtina”,’ said Khadr Musleh, a political analyst in the Palestinian West Bank capital, Ramallah.

‘It means “self-enrichment through public office”. It doesn’t imply anything illegal and in the Middle East it’s considered totally normal. Yet it is a little surprising to see a former British Prime Minister and international peace envoy behaving in the same way.’

Blair’s Middle East-focused business career has been a triumph. The access to the region’s rulers conferred by his position as an ex-PM and peace envoy must have huge attraction for potential clients of Tony Blair Associates, the secretive ‘consultancy’ that does not publish accounts which he runs with Jonathan Powell, his former Downing Street chief of staff. Its first clients are two of the world’s richest families – the royals of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

Tony Blair Associates is modelled on Henry Kissinger Associates, an outfit led by President Nixon’s former Secretary of State. Fittingly, perhaps, Kissinger was on the jury that awarded Blair the $1million Dan David Prize earlier this year, the ‘Israeli Nobel Prize’. Like Blair, Kissinger is employed by American bank JP Morgan. The citation praised Blair’s ‘exceptional leadership’ and ‘moral courage’.

Blair has promised to give most of the prize to his Faith Foundation, a charity set up to promote religious understanding. Thanks to his lucrative contract to advise JP Morgan for a salary of £2million a year, he does not need the money. [continued…]

Prosecutor: top scientist Nozette admitted actual spying for Israel

Did a federal prosecutor just make the inflammatory accusation that top government scientist Stewart Nozette has admitted to giving classified information to the Israeli government?

By our reading of this AP story, that’s exactly what happened at a hearing in U.S. district court in Washington yesterday.

Nozette is accused of attempted espionage for allegedly selling classified information to an FBI employee posing as a Mossad agent. But the Feds have explicitly said that Israel is not accused of any wrongdoing. [continued…]

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