barack obama

0

There I was saying yesterday that the US had run its course as a potential peace-broker in Israel/Palestine. It seems that some of our Christian brethren in the US are more optimistic!

Certainly President Obama has an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to play a positive role in bringing lasting justice and peace to the region but there have been no indications thus far that he is remotely interested, unless we interpret the appointment of Chuck Hagel as signalling the winds of change?

Regardless of whether it makes any difference, all power to these church leaders for taking a stand for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine!

Father Dave

source: al-bushra-updates.blogspot.com…….

US called on to lead in Israel-Palestine peace efforts

By Michelle Bauman

Religious leaders from across the United States asked the Obama administration to make peace efforts between Israel and Palestine a priority over the next four years.

“American political leadership is needed now more than ever to support both Israelis and Palestinians in creating a resilient and just peace,” said representatives of 35 Christian denominations.

In a Jan. 7 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, they warned that allowing the status quo to continue could prolong the conflict and bring greater violence to the region.

“As you embark upon your second term, there is an unprecedented opportunity for your Administration to play a catalytic role in the resolution of this conflict,” they told the president.

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, was one of the signatories of the letter. Other signers included representatives of Episcopalian, Baptist, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran and other religious communities in the United States.

“As faith leaders deeply committed to peace and reconciliation in this land held sacred by so many, we write to ask that you now bring the full energies of your Administration to bear toward facilitating a just, durable, and final negotiated agreement to end the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” they said.

The signatories acknowledged the challenges and cost associated with peace efforts, as well as the opposition faced from those on both sides.

An environment of fear and lack of trust make negotiations difficult, they said, “but another generation cannot wait as prospects for peace grow dimmer.”

Offering prayers that the president may be guided with courage and wisdom, the religious leaders urged the U.S. to place “the full weight of its support behind the long-term well-being of Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Proposals put forward must be feasible and convincingly address their separate national aspirations for security and justice,” they stressed.

Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have also spoken out on the importance of American leadership in the region.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the bishops’ conference, joined Bishop Pates in calling for “a high profile envoy” to work for peace and justice in the area.

In a Jan.. 9 letter to President Obama, the two bishops observed that “our nation has a special obligation to exercise vigorous leadership for Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Echoing the Holy Father’s calls for peace in the region, they encouraged efforts towards a two-state solution, comprised of “a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.”

The bishops acknowledged that actions by both Palestinians and Israelis “perpetuate an unsustainable status quo” that endangers the entire region.

Recent rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel are “morally unjustifiable uses of indiscriminate force against civilians” that undermine the trust needed for negotiations, they said, while Israeli occupation and expansion in the West Bank “compromise the territorial viability of a future Palestinian state.”

At the same time, they emphasized that the lack of peace is taking “a heavy toll on both Israelis and Palestinians, and especially on the indigenous ancient Christian community of the Holy Land that is emigrating at alarming rates.”

“What is urgently needed is indefatigable and insistent leadership,” the bishops said. “The United States, as a consequence of its relationships and potentially significant influence, is poised, in our estimation, to be the most effective arbiter in this tangled situation that portends enormous risk for the world.”

Pledging their support to the U.S. government’s efforts for peace, Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Pates urged leadership that gives both Israelis and Palestinians “hope for a different future free of the shadows of violence and open to the light of peace.”

1

More wisdom from the indomitable Uri Avnery. It does seem bizarre that Avnery would hope for American interference in the upcoming Israeli election, akin to Netanyahu’s recent meddling in the Obama v Romney showdown, but his logic is flawless.

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

November 10, 2012

Goodbye to a War

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU and his patron, Sheldon Adelson, betted on Mitt Romney, with the State of Israel as their chip.

They lost.

For Adelson, the betting tycoon, that doesn’t amount to much. Some you win, some you lose.

For Netanyahu, it’s a different matter altogether. He grew up in the US (where he got to know Romney in 1976) and prides himself as a great expert on America. It was one of his strongest cards, since relations with the US are vital for Israel. Now he stands exposed as a know-nothing, together with his ambassador in Washington DC, who was recommended by Adelson.

Does this hurt Netanyahu’s chances in the upcoming Israeli elections? Perhaps. But only if a credible counter-candidate is found, who could repair relations with Barack Obama.

Ehud Olmert is presenting himself as such, and may now join the fray. Some dream of Shimon Peres giving up the presidency to run as a candidate. Peres, who is two weeks older than I, has never won an election in his fifty years in politics. But there’s always a first time, isn’t there?

ISRAELIS ARE, of course, interested mainly in the Jewish vote. It is indeed revealing.

Netanyahu made no secret of supporting Romney to the hilt. US Jews were told that voting for the Republican candidate was voting for Israel. So did they? They did not.

I don’t yet have the detailed statistics, but from results in Florida and other states it seems that the great majority of Jews supported the Democratic candidate, as they have always done.

What does that mean? It means that one of the most basic contentions of Netanyahu and Co. has been shown to be fallacious.

Netanyahu declares almost hourly that Israel is the “nation-state of the Jewish people”. This means that Israel belongs to all the Jews in the world, and that all the Jews in the world belong to Israel. So he speaks not only for the six million Jewish citizens of Israel, but for all the 13 million or so Jews around the globe. (Assuming that no Jews are discovered on Mars.)

Again, this has been proven a fiction. American Jews (or, rather, Jewish Americans) voted as members of the American nation, not of the non-existent Jewish nation. Many of them are certainly sympathetic to Israel, but when it comes to voting, they vote as Americans. Israel plays a very minor role in their concerns. They may give a standing ovation to Netanyahu when he visits, as American Catholics would to the Pope, but they ignore his instruction to vote for a candidate.

This has great implications for the future. In any clash between vital American and Israeli interests, Jewish Americans are first of all Americans. In such a future situation, a similar miscalculation by Netanyahu or his successors may prove fatal.

FOR EXAMPLE, about the Iran war. Israeli hawks can kiss it goodbye.

I doubt that even Romney, had he been elected, would have allowed Netanyahu to attack. Campaign speeches would not have trumped the vital interests of the USA. He, too, would have taken one look at the map of the Strait of Hormuz and shuddered.

Be that as it may have been, there is no chance whatsoever that Obama will now tolerate an Israeli attack. It would have ignited a large scale war with incalculable consequences for the US and world economy.

Americans don’t want another war. They want to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, in practice ceding both countries to their adversaries. Starting another, and far bigger war in Iran is unthinkable.

This may be, for us, the most important result of these elections.

WHAT ABOUT Israeli-Palestinian peace?

No doubt, chances have picked up.

I don’t want to sound too optimistic. The usual cliché says that US presidents in their second term are free of political pressures and can at long last act according to their conscience. That is certainly true – up to a point.

The President is the leader of a party, and from the first day after an election the party starts to think about the next election. Powerful lobbies like AIPAC don’t cease to exist and will continue to exert a lot of pressure for the Israeli right. Big donors will still be needed. In two years, mid-term elections will come up.

But I hope that Obama will return to his starting position and try to compel both sides to commence serious negotiations. The forthcoming Palestinian application to the UN General Assembly to accept it as a state (with observer status) may be a test. Its acceptance is of great importance, since it would put the two-state solution squarely back on the international table. The US has no veto power there, and it is up to the president to decide whether to apply pressure or not.

The US is like a huge aircraft-[space instead of hyphen]carrier. To turn around it needs a lot of time and space. But even a slight change of course can have a major impact on our lives.

IN ISRAEL, the major question is: Will He Take Revenge?

No doubt, Obama hates Netanyahu, and with good reason. Netanyahu will not receive a warm welcome  in the Oval Office.

But Obama is a cold fish. He will keep his personal feelings in tight check.

But how tight? Will he change his attitude towards Netanyahu and his policies enough to give encouragement or even support to Israeli peace forces? Will he influence the Israeli elections as Netanyahu tried to influence the American ones?

Frankly, I hope so. For Israel’s sake.

Obama’s victory will reinforce the liberal, democratic, secular, social-minded, less-militant spirit throughout the world. If the Israeli government continues on its present course, its isolation in the world will increase dangerously.

Unless we do to Netanyahu what the Americans just did to Romney.

AS EVERYBODY knows, there are some basic similarities between the US and Israel.

Both are immigrant nations. Both were built by white settlers who carried out ethnic cleansing. Both glorify their huge achievements while keeping quiet about the darker sides of their past.

The elections in both countries illuminate another similarity: the ever-growing split between the various “sectors” of society. White male Americans rallied behind Romney, colored Americans and women behind Obama. Demographic factors played a major role. To some extent it was a rearguard action by the dominant white male elite against the new majority of blacks, Hispanics, women and the young.

The split was exacerbated by the Tea Party fanatics. It seems that every few generations the American nation is afflicted by a new wave of insanity – the anti-Anarchist hysteria after WWI, McCarthy after WWII, the Tea Party now. To its immense credit, America has a knack of overcoming these waves.  But the Tea Party killed Romney, in spite of all his desperate flip-flopping.

Israel has a similar split. Society is divided into sectors, which cast their votes on sectoral lines: Whites (Ashkenazim), Orientals, Ultra-Orthodox (Haredim), National-Religious, Russian immigrants, Arabs. The Likud is a party of Orientals dominated by white males. Lieberman’s is the party of the “Russians”. Together with the religious of various stripes they constitute a powerful coalition. Unlike Obama, the Israeli left has not been able up to now to build an effective counter-coalition.

We need an Israeli Obama, who will work with the US Obama for peace.

Before it is too late, please.

For more Avnery articles online, go to zope.gush-shalom.org…

0

Father Roy writes:  At one time Russia and the USA were charged by the United Nations to monitor the critical negotiations between Israel and Palestine.  Russia was subsequently marginalized, however, because Israel wanted the US to be the only monitor.  Russia is still a member of the Quartet.  The article pasted below will bring us up-to-date on Russia’s current role in the Middle East.  I’ve highlighted the paragraphs which refer to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.  Russia supports the Goldstone Report.    Peace, Roy

From the Palestinian Chronicle: Russia in the Middle East Return of a Superpower?

(nb. highlights courtesy of Father Roy)

By Eric Walberg

The US ‘withdrawal’ from Iraq last year and the planned ‘withdrawal’ from Afghanistan in 2014 cannot help but change the face of Central Asia and the Middle East. But how does Russia fit in?

The world is living through a veritable slow-motion earthquake. If things go according to plan, the US obsession with Afghanistan and Iraq will soon be one of those ugly historical disfigurements that — at least for most Americans — will disappear into the memory hole.

Like Nixon and Vietnam, US President Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who “brought the troops home”. But one cannot help but notice the careful calibration of these moves to fit the US domestic political machine — the Iraqi move to show Americans that things on the international front are improving (just don’t mention Guantanamo), the Afghan move put off conveniently till President Barack Obama’s second term, when he doesn’t need to worry about the fallout electorally if things unravel (which they surely will).

Of course, Russia lost big time geopolitically when the US invaded Afghanistan, and thus gains as regional geopolitical hegemon by the withdrawal of US troops from Central Asia. Just look at any map. But American tentacles will remain: Central Asia has no real alternative economically or politically anymore to the neoliberal global economy, as Russia no longer claims to represent a socialist alternative to imperialism. The departure of US troops and planes from remote Kyrgyzstan will not be missed — except for the hole it leaves in the already penurious Kyrgyz government’s budget and foreign currency reserves. Russia is a far weaker entity than the Soviet Union, both economically and politically. Thus, Russia’s gain from US weakness is not great.

Besides, both Russia and the US support the current Afghan government against the Taliban — as does Iran. In fact, in case US state department and pentagon officials haven’t noticed the obvious, the main beneficiary of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq has been Iran, again by definition. The invasion brought to power the ethnic Persian Tajiks in Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq set up a Shia-dominated government there.

Similarly, when the US invaded Iraq, Russia lost politically and economically. The US cancelled Sadam Hussein’s state debts, which hurt the Russians and Europeans but not the US. The US just happened to be boycotting Iraq for the previous decade and took pleasure from shafting its sometime allies for ignoring US wishes. However, once Iraqi politicians begin to reassert some control over their foreign policy, Russia will be seen as a much more sympathetic partner internationally.

Ironically, on many fronts, Iran now holds the key to readjusting the political playing field and establishing rules that can lead away from the deadly game being played by the US, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, with broader implications for broader nuclear disarmament, EU-US relations, but above all, for the continued role of the dollar as world reserve currency. This encourages Russia to maintain its alliance with Iran over vague (and empty) promises of US-Russian world hegemony as envisioned by the now-discredited Medvedev Atlantists in Moscow.

Russia’s relations with both Central Asia and the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet Union have been low key. In the Middle East, it maintains relations with Palestine’s Hamas, and, as a member of the so-called quartet of Middle East negotiators (along with the EU, the US and the UN), insists that Israel freeze expansion of settlements in the Occupied Territories as a condition of further talks. It appears to be trying to regain some of the goodwill that existed between the Soviet Union and Arab states, supporting the UN Goldstone Report which accused Israel of war crimes in its 2008 invasion of Gaza.

It embarked on a diplomatic offensive with Arab states in 2008, offering Syria and Egypt nuclear power stations, and is re-establishing a military presence in the Mediterranean at the Syrian port, Tartus, though Syria’s current civil war, with Russia and Iran lined up against the West and the Arab states could leave Russia on the losing side. Western attempts to portray Russia as the power-hungry bad guy in Syria do not hold water. Russia is concerned about heightened civil war in an evenly divided population, with rebel groups openly armed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Arab and Western foes. The hypocrisy in the Arab world is appalling: Gulf monarchies and Saudi Arabia loudly demand that Egypt’s new government swear off any attempt to “interfere” in their internal politics, but brazenly arm Syrian rebels.

Russia is still struggling to leave its own tragic civil war in Chechnya behind, and to make sure there’s a place at the table for its Muslims. With its 16 million Muslims (about 12 per cent of the population), it has expressed interest in joining the Organization of Islamic Conference. Its unwillingness to let Syria slide into civil war does not gain it any brownie points among its own separatist Muslims in the Caucasus and elsewhere, but it is not willing to carve up either Syria or the Russian federation in the interests of some fleeting peace.

The importance of Jewish financial and economic interests in post-Soviet Russia — both the banking and industrial oligarchs and the Kosher Nostra mafia ensures that Israel gets a sympathetic hearing from Russian leaders. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is a Russian Jew who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1978.

Israel is also able to take advantage of the persistence of Muslim unrest and dreams of independence in the Caucasus within Russia to prevent Moscow from taking any strong position to pressure Israel. Russia’s prickly neighbor Georgia harbors Chechen rebels and Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, uses Israeli and US military advisers. Of course, the US benefits from Israeli pressures on Russia. This is a key feature of the current Great Game, where the US and Israel act as the new imperial “centre”.

It is popular to call this era a new Cold War. However, history never repeats itself. There certainly is a new tension in world politics following 9/11, and the failure of the newly aggressive US to successfully assert its hegemony around the world, including Russia, keeps the fires of chauvinism hot in the US. On the US right, Russia is seen merely as the Soviet Union reborn, a ruse to hide the KGB’s agenda of world communist control. For the saner Obamites, it is a more diffused Cold War, dominated by a new US-Israeli imperial centre, the “empire-and-a-half”, with shifting alliances of convenience, though with a strong, new opposition player on the horizon — a savvier, more articulate Islamic world, with Iran, Turkey and Egypt in the first rank.

The desire by both the US and Israel to overthrow the Iranian government is now the only common goal left in this “empire-and-a-half”, but it is a common goal only because Israel is in the driver’s seat. Israel resents Iran as an existential threat not to Israel itself, but to Greater Israel and regional domination. Iran serves as a powerful example, a third way for Muslim countries, and is most definitely a rival to Israel as Middle East hegemon.

Among the new Arab Spring governments, it is only Egypt’s that worries Israel. Just imagine if Egypt and Iran start to cooperate. Add in Shia-dominated Iraq, Turkey and Russia, as Russia has good relations with all four, and common objects on the international scene. Suddenly the Middle East playing field takes on a totally different appearance.

A rational US policy to join with Russia and China to accommodate Iran could save the teetering dollar, or at least give the US a chance to prepare for an orderly transition to a new international currency. If Russia, China and Iran defuse the current nuclear crisis between the US and Iran peacefully, with a nod to Turkey and a resolve to make Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this could pave the way for a new Eurasian playing field. If and when the US withdraws from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will be drawn in as well.

This would set off a chain of events that could change the whole nature of the current Great Game leading to a Russia-India-Iran-China axis (Russia-India-China summits have already been held yearly since 2001), leaving Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Israel to sort out their regional conflicts outside of a new, very different great game. US interests would be considered but without US diktat, forcing, or rather allowing the US to put its own house in order. Iran would finally be accepted as the legitimate regional player that it is. If the US cannot bring itself to make a graceful exit from its self-imposed crisis in the region, this will only accelerate its decline.

Russia inherits fond memories across the Middle East region as the anti-Zionist Soviet Union’s successor. It now has the chance to gain long term credibility as a principled partner not only in the Middle East but to non-aligned countries everywhere, and should hold the fort, the anti-imperial one, against what’s left of empire.

– Eric Walberg writes for weekly.ahram.org… and is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games – claritypress.com…. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com…. Contact him at: ericwalberg.com….

0

If 16 separate intelligence agencies are actually able to AGREE on this (NIE)…what purpose do SANCTIONS serve? Why impose more deprivation on the Iranian people? Is this more of the west’s concept of “humanitarian support”? If Americans ever wake up to the Truth of what/who is behind perpetual war in the region…everything will CHANGE!

by NEWS SOURCES on AUGUST 9, 2012

Reuters reports: 

“The United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one, U.S. officials said on Thursday.”

“Their comments came after Israeli media reports claimed U.S. President Barack Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate saying Iran had made significant and surprising progress toward military nuclear capability.

Later, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak suggested that the new U.S. report, which he acknowledged might be something other than a National Intelligence Estimate, “transforms the Iranian situation into an even more urgent one.”

But a White House National Security Council spokesman disputed the Israeli reports, saying the U.S. intelligence assessment of Iran’s nuclear activities had not changed since intelligence officials delivered testimony to Congress on the issue earlier this year.

We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government,” the spokesman said. “We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon.”

U.S. officials would not directly comment on whether there was a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, which is a compilation of views of the various U.S. intelligence agencies.

The last formal NIE on Iran in 2007, partially made public by the administration of President George W. Bush, became highly controversial because it said Tehran had halted nuclear weaponization work in 2003, although other aspects of the overall program continued. A later update to that report retained that central assessment, sources have previously said.

If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs.Carl Sagan