December 2012 Archives

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The UN seems to be on a roll – first voting for Palestinian statehood and now pushing for Israel to come clean about its nuclear weapons program.

The fact that the US can oppose this motion speaks volumes! What possible justification can there be for voting for Israel’s right to keep her weapons of mass destruction a secret?

Even more exasperating in this scenario is Canada! Why is Canada so keen to keep Israel’s nukes a secret? What is her end-game? There has to be more to that than meets the eye!

Even so, this latest UN development will warm the heart of my dear friend, Mordechai Vanunu. It seems that his efforts to alert the world to the Israeli nuclear threat are finally generating some international action!

Father Dave

Morde Vanunu and me after his 'release' in 2004

Morde Vanunu and me after his ‘release’ in 2004

source: www.com…

UN Resolution Calls for Israel to Disclose Nuclear Arsenal

Regional outlier asked to join NPT and back vision of a ‘Nuclear-Free Middle East’

– Common Dreams staff

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday to approve a resolution calling on Israel to open up its nuclear weapons program to international inspectors and to end its refusal to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treary, or NPT.

A vote by the United Nations general assembly has called on Israel to open its nuclear programme to weapons inspectors. (Photograph: Chip East/Reuters)

The resolution passed with a 174-6 vote, and included 6 abstentions.  Israel, the U.S., Canada, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau were the “no” votes.  Also included in the UN measure was a call to reschedule a recently cancelled conference that would push for a ‘nuclear-free Middle East,’ something that all countries across the region, including Iran, have supported. A meeting on the issue was planned for this month in Helsinki, FInland, but was  cancelled, or at least postponed, by the U.S. at the end of November.

Though the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal is widely known to exist, neither the nation’s government or its key ally, the U.S., will publicly acknowledge the program.

This refusal has long helped Israel avoid acknowledging the hypocrisy of its repeated threats against Iran for its nascent nuclear technology program.

As the Associated Press reports:

Resolutions adopted by the 193-member General Assembly are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.

Israel refuses to confirm or deny it has nuclear bombs though it is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal. It has refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, along with three nuclear weapon states — India, Pakistan and North Korea.

And John Glaser, writing at Antiwar.com…, adds:

If Israel agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbors have repeatedly proposed – the supposed threats Israel faces in the region would virtually disappear.

But Israel refuses to give up its nuclear monopoly, insistent on maintaining its excuse to build up its military and distract from the Palestinian issue.

As former CIA Middle East analyst Paul Pillar has written, “the Iran issue” provides a “distraction” from international “attention to the Palestinians’ lack of popular sovereignty.”

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This is an important essay. Philip Weiss’ aim is not only to debate the merits of Zionism but moreso to raise the question of why the merits of Zionism are never publicly debated!

Weiss believes that the lack of discourse if a vital part of the strategy for keeping Zionist policies in place. These policies need to be challenged, but they can’t be properly challenged if their belief-framework is beyond the bounds of acceptable discussion.

Father Dave

source: mondoweiss.net…

It’s time for the media to talk about Zionism

by Philip Weiss on December 4, 2012

Last week, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan characterized me as “the anti-Zionist Jewish-American journalist who writes about the Middle East.” That’s my reputation; I can’t take exception to her words. But when Sullivan quoted Jeffrey Goldberg, she did not say he was Jewish or a Zionist–or that he had once emigrated to Israel because he believed that America was unsafe for Jews, and served as an officer in Israel’s army before coming back here and recommending Israel’s militant policy toward Arabs to America.

Sullivan’s double standard is indefensible, but it is typical of a standard of censorship in our journalism. American media are not talking to their readers about Zionism. They are not even attempting to describe the ideology that is at the heart of the problem in Israel and Palestine. The media are honest with their audiences about other movements of a religious character, from evangelism to opposition to stem-cell research to radical Islam. So they should be honest with them about Zionism.

Zionism is a 115-year-old movement inside Jewish life that says there is a need for a Jewish state in Palestine because Jews are unsafe in the west and Jews have a biblical connection to Palestine. Some people say that this is too complicated a concept to explain to Americans. (Norman Finkelstein joked that Zionism might as well be a hairspray and it’s irrelevant to the discussion at the New School in October). I don’t think so. Beliefs are very important; and Americans have a right to know why so many American Jews believe in the need for Israel at a time when this concept is warping our foreign policy.

It’s not enough for a reporter to say that someone is pro-Israel. Zionism draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life. It is often a core understanding that drives that person’s positions in other areas (see Neoconservatism). And it is deeply enmeshed in the official Jewish community.

I believe the media have refused to explore the Zionist issue because it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews. Imagine Ted Koppel having a panel where Wolf Blitzer, Robert Siegel, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Richard Engel and Ed Rendell would have to explain what Zionism means to them. The acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable, so the conversation is verboten.

But so long as these beliefs are not examined, and Israel and its supporters continue to play such a large role in our policymaking, the silence is bad for Jews. It allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel, or suspect that we disguise our dual loyalty with misleading prescriptions about American security. It allows Zionists to seek cover for our country’s blind support for Israel by stating that there is no difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism– when there is absolutely a difference. See Jewish Voice for Peace. See Hannah Arendt. See Judith Butler.

And it allows Jews to avoid very important historical/existential questions that we really ought to be asking publicly, and urgently answering: Do I feel unsafe in America or Europe? If I feel unsafe in America what am I doing here? (A theme of Shlomo Sand’s new book.) If I feel safe do I need Israel? Do I believe in the need for a Jewish state? At what price? Who is Israel making unsafe in my name?

I think all Jews should be openly debating these matters; but they won’t till the belief question is raised by the mainstream media. There are signs that the ice is melting. Last week Andrew Sullivan, an influence leader if anyone is, published a mini-essay (attacking the liberal Zionist Spencer Ackerman’s dream of a laser war) in which he stated that Zionism is another hurtful 20th century “ism” that has run its course, and modern political reality is inconsistent with the goal of a Jewish-majority state. Ethan Bronner (a reputed liberal Zionist who seems to understand that Zionism has lost its way) boldly gave Rami Khouri space on the front page of the New York Times during the Gaza assault to attack Zionism. On NPR Jim Fallows said bravely that there has always been a tension between Israel’s creation as a Jewish state and a democracy; you really can’t be both, he was suggesting.

As Fallows and Sullivan seem to know (and Matt Yglesias and David Remnick will surely come to profess some day, and Jonathan Cook knew years ago, and the late Ibrahim Abu-Lughod knew when he was a teenager in Jaffa) the contradiction between democracy and Jewish nationalism has been inherent in the Zionist project from the start, but has always been described as a tension rather than a contradiction so as to make Zionists and their friends feel better about their undertaking. The Nakba of 1948 continues today with the ethnic cleansing of Area C on the West Bank and the pulverizing of Gaza. But liberal Zionists have given themselves permission to dither about the destruction of Palestinian rights by calling this longstanding contradiction a tension that will be resolved when there is a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish-majority state. As if tomorrow Palestinians will gain their rights in the context of an expansionist Jewish state. As if Oslo is a more meaningful political paradigm than the Likud Party, which draws deeply on Zionist ideology and grows more rightwing by the minute.

Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.

But I was born in America, in the 20th century. In my lifetime Zionism has been a dangerous ideology for Palestinians and for the wider Middle East. Zionism has endorsed the Iron Wall strategy of militancy on Israel’s ever-moving borders. Zionism has created a Sparta, just as Hannah Arendt predicted that it would in 1948 when she saw that Israel was born in war, and saw the purging of Palestinian refugees from the Jewish state to be.

I consider myself a liberal anti-Zionist, or a non-Zionist (because the label is less confrontational to the Zionists I am trying to wean from their mistaken belief). I like liberal traditions of personal freedom in the United States, including the tradition of tolerance of religious and ideological claims I find preposterous. These liberal principles have guaranteed my freedom as a minority in the U.S. and granted me a darn good life, including jobs in the First Amendment business and marriage to someone who is not Jewish-a marriage that could not take place in Israel where there is no civil marriage.

I am an anti-Zionist because I reject the entire religious nationalist program: I don’t see a need for a Jewish state, I don’t see Jerusalem as my home any more than Kenya, where my people came from before the temple period. I don’t subscribe to the racial theory of the Jewish people. I take America at its word. I don’t like political separation of people on an ethnic basis and first class citizenship granted to one over the other; and I see the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society as flowing from a belief system, Zionism, the way that Soviet oppressions grew out of the Politburo’s interpretation of Communism.

I oppose Zionism, too, because the Israel lobby plays such a hurtful role in our foreign policy, and the Israel lobby is inherent in Zionism as it has evolved. From the beginning Zionism depended on the support of imperial powers. Herzl turned to the Kaiser and the Sultan, Weizmann turned to the British Prime Minister, Ben Gurion turned to the American president. “We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy,” Alan Dershowitz said. Yes, and that lobby helped generate the conditions of 9/11, the Iraq War, the murders of Robert Kennedy and Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan, and the hysteria about Iran.

The sooner we have this conversation, the greater diversity we will see in the Jewish community and American foreign policy. We can transform the special relationship and isolate Israel for human rights violations and pressure it to transform itself.

When we have this conversation, liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism. Leading writers like Matthew Yglesias, Eric Alterman, Richard Wolffe, Peter Beinart and Spencer Ackerman, who have kept their liberal and Jewish nationalist dishes spinning forever in the air alongside one another without having to deal with the fait accompli of that ideology-the cruel joke that Oslo has been for the Palestinians, the prison that is Gaza– will have to come down on the democracy side or the Jewish state side. And I am sure many will come down on the democracy side. I am sure that many will answer as I have, and say that they prefer a society where minorities have equal rights to one in which one group is privileged over another.

But we should not give them cover. We must have a real and open conversation in the American Jewish community for all to see. Are you a Zionist, and why? Do you feel unsafe in America? And what sort of unsafety have your beliefs created in a foreign land?

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Father Roy writes:   Jordan’s King Abdullah will be the first leader of an Arab country to visit Palestine after it was recognized as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly.  He has been referring to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the “core” problem for the Arab World for years.   Peace, Roy 

King Abdullah II of Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan

King of Jordan to visit Palestine Thursday 

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — King Abdullah II of Jordan will visit Palestine on Thursday, the ambassador of Palestine to Jordan Atallah Khairi said Wednesday.

Khairi confirmed that Abdullah’s helicopter would land at the Muqataa in Ramallah midday Thursday.
The Jordanian monarch will pay a short visit to Ramallah in the central West Bank where he is scheduled to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan’s premier Abdullah al-Nusoor will accompany Abdullah along with foreign minister Nasser Judah, Jordanian Royal Court chief Riyad Abu Karaki, director of the king’s bureau Imad Fakhouri and the king’s special secretary.

A delegation of journalists will arrive in Ramallah earlier Thursday morning.

King Abdullah of Jordan will be the first leader of Arab country to visit Palestine after it was recognized as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly.

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Father Dave

Father Dave

We have reached crisis point for Israel/Palestine.

Things have been moving rapidly over the last few weeks:

Operation Pillar of Cloud might have been designed to solidify Netanyahu’s electoral standing but it had some unexpected consequences. The visit of Mohamed Morsi to Gaza gave de facto international recognition to the Hamas government, and Hamas’ leader, Khaled Meshaal, has never looked stronger!

Meanwhile Mahmoud Abbas – Chairman of Hamas’ rival faction, Fatah, and President of the Palestinian National Authority – has won recognition for Palestine as a non-member state at the UN, and can now likewise work from a position of strength with regards to both negotiations with the Israeli government and in his efforts to bridge the Fatah-Hamas divide.

Netanyahu’s response was vitriolic – the withholding of revenue for government employees in the West Bank and then the announcement of thousands of new settlement blocks in the highly sensitive area known as E1!

We should not underestimate the significance of these new settlements. If they go ahead, they will lie between Gaza and the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state a complete impossibility.

The Fatah spokesperson responded to Netanyahu’s announcement by saying that this was a ‘red line’, and that these settlements would be the final nail in the coffin for the long-hoped-for two-state solution. Meshaal then responded with a defiant speech before thousands of Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip, promising to take back all of modern-day Israel “inch-by-inch”, which he said he would never recognize.

Netanyahu has now responded to Meshaal with equal aggression, stating that Israel will never withdraw unilaterally from the West Bank as it did from Gaza, meaning that the Palestinians have his promise that the Occupation will never end!

And so the battle-lines are drawn, but not in quite the same way as they were in the first and second intifada.  Israel is now enjoying less support internationally than at any time since 1948! And with Avigdor Lieberman ever on the rise in Israeli politics, it is likely that Netanyahu’s government will move even further to the right in the coming days and months, and further away from any language of peace, which can only result in even greater international isolation.

So what will happen next?

God only knows!

A full-blown third intifada, complete with rockets and every form of violence that the beleaguered Palestinians can muster is certainly a real possibility.

Alternatively, it may be that Abbas in unity with Meshaal are now in a position of strength from which they can leverage for a genuine contiguous Palestinian state set along the pre-1967 borders. Certainly the two Palestinian factions could count on broad international support for such a push. We can only pray!

What cannot happen now is that business continues as usual, with Netanyahu pretending that he’s working peacefully for the establishment of a Palestinian state while simultaneously expanding the settlements so as to ensure that it can never happen.

Father Dave
www.fatherdave.org…
www.how2changetheworld.com…

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Father Roy writes: The Palestinians are seeking a final status solution to the conflict. Israel’s Negotiating Strategies are well-known. Saeb Erekat has emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted six months for the initiative to succeed.   Peace, Roy 

Palestinians to launch 6-month initiative to restart talks with Israel

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says initiative, to be launched next month in cooperation with international officials, conditioned on demand to release prisoners, call to halt settlement construction.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority plans to launch a new initiative to renew negotiations with Israel, which would include the release of prisoners and a halt to settlement construction.

Speaking on Ramallah-based Voice of Palestine radio, Erekat said that he will be initiating the move in cooperation with international officials next month, in an effort to renew talks with Israel over a final status solution.

Erekat said the initiative includes the resumption of negotiations from where they were left off, with an insistence on ending the occupation. Erekat emphasized that the Palestinian leadership has allotted solely six months for the initiative.

After the UN General Assembly’s vote to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state last month, Israel immediately announced that in response for what it deemed the “unilateral” move, it will move ahead with the construction of 3,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as with plans to build in the contested E-1 corridor, which links Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the settlement construction plans, specifically those in E-1, a “red line.”

Israel and European states have been embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis since the plans were announced. Several European countries, including Britain, Germany and France, have been putting heavy diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision and are considering diplomatic steps against it.

The Obama Administration has also condemned the move. “We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and East Jerusalem construction,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters last week.

Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been at a stalemate since 2010.