Netanyahu

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Father Roy writes:  

AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington is scheduled for 3-5 March.  The conference schedule will emphasize "the Iranian threat":  Netanyahu : Only military sanctions will stop Iran.  Let’s bear in mind that Iran has never threatened to attack anybody, only to defend itself if attacked.  The highlights in the following article are mine.  

Peace, Roy

source: www.haaretz.com……

No Obama or Netanyahu, but AIPAC conference still looking to make noise

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda. 

WASHINGTON – Next week’s annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington may be as notable for what — and who — is missing as what is planned.

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda.

Instead, the agenda will focus on the Congress enacting legislation that would designate Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States — a relationship not enjoyed by any other nation — and on facilitating a U.S. green light should Israel decide to strike Iran. Should the measures being considered by the Senate and the House of Representatives pass, it would constitute the most explicit congressional sanction for military action against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

An official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the thinking behind this year’s theme is the twin urgencies of what appears to be an accelerated Iranian nuclear program and turbulence in Syria and Egypt, both Israel’s neighbors. The official also said AIPAC remains as committed as ever to advancing the two-state solution and noted that the peace process did not feature on the legislative agenda of last year’s conference, either.

Both emphases dovetail with recent signals from the Israeli government that talks with the Palestinians are not going anywhere soon, and that Iran is the largest looming threat in the region.

The absence of both President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be due to external circumstances more than anything else.

Obama will be visiting Israel just two weeks after the conference — his first visit to the Jewish state as president — obviating the need for the president to deliver another Israel policy speech at AIPAC. In his stead, the administration is sending Vice President Joe Biden, who will address the conference on Monday morning. Obama has been at four of the last six AIPAC conferences.

For his part, Netanyahu is still trying to cobble together a coalition government following Israel’s Jan. 22 elections, in which the prime minister’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu faction was weakened. Netanyahu will deliver a video message to AIPAC; Ehud Barak, Israel’s outgoing defense minister, will address the conference in person.

Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses of Congress also will address AIPAC.

Despite the absences, AIPAC expects 13,000 activists, including 2,000 students, to attend the conference — a number commensurate with last year’s record-breaker. AIPAC officials say the number is more remarkable in 2013 because it’s not an election year.

The AIPAC official interviewed by JTA said that part of what motivates the push to name Israel a major strategic ally is an appeal to maintain defense assistance funding, averaging more than $3 billion annually, at a time when both parties are seeking ways to drastically cut spending.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote congressional appropriators last week to warn that across-the-board “sequestration” cuts due to kick in Friday — unless the White House and Congress achieve a compromise — will hit Israel funding, among other things.

“This is no time to cut aid to an ally,” the AIPAC official said. Conferring major strategic ally upon Israel “would mean that the United States and Israel would work together on a cooperative basis on missile defense, homeland security, energy independence, medical research and innovation and military technology,” the official said.

The push to name Israel a major strategic ally comports with a longstanding preference among some leading Republicans to tweak apart assistance for Israel from other foreign aid, which the conservative wing of the party advocates slashing.

The overriding consideration in such a designation, however, was Israel’s increasingly close security ties with the United States, in the Middle East and across the globe, where the two nations have collaborated on cyber-security issues, the AIPAC official said. The major strategic ally legislation will be introduced in the House and Senate in the coming days.

Separately, a nonbinding resolution that would call on the president to support Israel “if it is compelled to act against the Iranian nuclear threat” will be introduced in the Senate. The House will consider legislation that would authorize the president to sanction any entity that trades with Iran.

The conference schedule heavily emphasizes the Iranian threat, Middle East turmoil and the perceived need to intensify further the U.S.-Israel security alliance. There are a few sessions dealing with the Palestinian issue — some with a pronounced skeptical tone when it comes to the peace process.

“Why, despite persistent efforts and an acknowledgment of the general outline for such an agreement, have the parties failed to attain a negotiated peace?” reads the promotional material for one session.

This year’s “AIPAC action principles,” to be considered by the array of American Jewish groups that makes up AIPAC’s executive committee, mention the Palestinians only in the context of keeping them from advancing toward statehood outside the confines of negotiations but do not explicitly endorse the two-state solution. Most of the principles address the security relationship, as they did last year.

Missing also, however, from the AIPAC legislative agenda is any effort to limit U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority. AIPAC had pushed such efforts in December, after the U.N. General Assembly vote in which the Palestinians gained boosted recognition as a non-member state, but they fell by the wayside in part because of mixed signals from the Israeli government.

The conference runs March 3-5, ending with the annual AIPAC lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill next Tuesday.

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This is a startling article that just appeared in the New York Times!

I have nothing but respect for Sam Bahour (one of the authors) and so I take what he says seriously. It seemed to me that Mr Netanyahu’s plans for more settlements in the crucial ‘E1’ area between Gaza and the West Bank were the final nail in the coffin for the ‘two-state solution’, but if Sam and his co-author still hold out hope, who am I to question their wisdom? Further, they still believe that America has a role to play in re-starting negotiations!

The authors suggest that the sort of disillusionment people like myself feel is based on four assumptions:

In my words, these are:

  1. That the ideological differences between the two sides are irreconcilable.
  2. That demographic realities will force negotiations anyway, without need for foreign interference.
  3. That Abbas’ government is penniless and useless.
  4. That Obama’s hands are tied by the powerful US Zionist lobby.

The article responds to each of these assumptions but I confess that I remain unconvinced. Bahour and Avishai argue that the fervent ideology of Hamas is fueled by the frustration experienced by years of failed peace negotiations but this obviously doesn’t apply to the ideology of the settlers. And do either of the two sides trust America any more as a broker? I get the feeling that, for the Palestinians, they are looking more to their Arab neighbours now as potential intermediaries.

Father Dave

source: www.nytimes.com…

U.S. Inaction, Mideast Cataclysm? 

By BERNARD AVISHAI and SAM BAHOUR 

ISRAELIS go to the polls today in an election that will likely give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term; like the current one, Israel’s next governing coaltion will probably be heavily reliant on right-wingers and religious parties.

Even so, Mr. Obama’s second term could offer a pivotal opportunity to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In his first term, he backed away from the process, figuring that America could mediate only if the parties themselves wanted to make peace — and that new talks were unlikely to be productive.

This is a mistake. The greatest enemy to a two-state solution is the sheer pessimism on both sides. Unless President Obama uses his new mandate to show leadership, the region will have no place for moderates — or for America either.

The rationale for inaction rests on four related assumptions: that strident forces dominate because their ideologies do; that the status quo — demographic trends that would lead to the enfranchisement of occupied Palestinians, a “one-state solution” and the end of Israel as a Jewish democracy — will eventually force Israel to its senses; that the observer-state status secured by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations is empty because his West Bank government is broke, dysfunctional and lacking in broad support; and that given the strength of the Israeli lobby, Mr. Obama’s hands are tied.

These assumptions seem daunting, but they are misguided. First, while Hamas, the militant Islamists who control Gaza, and Israel’s ultra-rightists, who drive the settlement enterprise, are rising in popularity, the reason is not their ideologies, but young people’s despair over the occupation’s grinding violence.

Last month, a poll by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, based in Washington, found that two-thirds of Israelis would support a two-state deal, but that more than half of even left-of-center Israelis said Mr. Abbas could not reach binding decisions to end the conflict. The same month, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, in Ramallah, found that 52 percent of Palestinians favored a two-state resolution (a drop from three-quarters in 2006, before two Israeli clashes over Gaza). But two-thirds judged the chance of a fully functional Palestinian state in the next five years to be low or nonexistent. In short, moderates on both sides still want peace, but first they need hope.

Second, the status quo is not a path to a one-state solution, but to Bosnian-style ethnic cleansing, which could erupt as quickly as the Gaza fighting did last year and spread to Israeli Arab cities. Right-wing Israelis and Hamas leaders alike are pushing for a cataclysmic fight. Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah party controls the West Bank, has renounced violence, but without signs of a viable diplomatic path he cannot unify his people to support new talks. If his government falls apart, or if the more Palestinian territory is annexed (as right-wing Israeli want), or if the standoff in Gaza leads to an Israeli ground invasion, bloodshed and protests across the Arab world will be inevitable. Such chaos might also provoke missiles from Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group based in Lebanon.

Third, the Palestinian state is not a Fatah-imposed fiction, but a path toward economic development, backed by international diplomacy and donations, that most Palestinians want to succeed. It has a $4 billion economy; an expanding network of entrepreneurs and professionals; and a banking system with about $8 billion in deposits. A robust private sector can develop if given a chance.

Fourth, American support need not only mean direct talks. The administration could promote investments in Palestinian education and civil society that do not undermine Israeli security. Mr. Obama could demand that Israel allow Palestinian businesses freer access to talent, suppliers and customers. He could also demand a West Bank-Gaza transportation corridor, to which Israel committed in the 1993 Oslo accords.

America is as much a player as a facilitator. The signal it sends helps determine whether the parties move toward war or peace. The White House, despite its frosty relationship with Mr. Netanyahu, hasn’t set itself up as a worthy mediator by opposing Palestinian membership in the United Nations and vetoing condemnations of settlements.

In nominating Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon, Mr. Obama rightly ignored attacks by “pro-Israel” (really pro-Netanyahu) groups. He should appoint a Middle East negotiator trusted by all sides — say, Bill Clinton or Colin L. Powell. He should lead, not thwart, European attempts to make a deal. He has stated that the settlements will lead to Israel’s global isolation; he should make clear that they endanger American interests, too.

Washington has crucial leverage, though this won’t last forever. When it weighs in, it becomes a preoccupying political fact for both sides. If it continues to stand back, hopelessness will win.

Bernard Avishai is an Israeli-American writer in Jerusalem. Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, the West Bank

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It seems that Netanyahu runs the risk of winning the battle but losing the war!

While the Israeli PM’s violent attack on Gaza and his announcement of new settlement activity in the West Bank may be ensuring him victory at the upcoming Israeli election, the rest of the world seems to be increasingly isolating Israel and putting their weight (and their money) behind the Palestinians!

Meanwhile, according to some commentators in the US, Barack Obama’s disdain for Netanyahu is becoming increasingly obvious!

I get the feeling that Netanyahu’s upcoming electoral triumph may prove to be something of a Pyrrhic victory.

Father Dave

source: www.globalpost.com…

Saudi Arabia to give $100 million to Palestinian Authority

Saudi Arabia will give the Palestinian government $100 million to help with a budget crisis.

Saudi Arabia will give the Palestinian government in the West Bank $100 million, Reuters reported. The donation comes as President Mahmoud Abbas has asked Arab countries for a $100 monthly “safety net.” He promptly thanked Saudi Arabia, a longtime benefactor.

Abbas has been asking for the money since December, when the Israeli government decided to seize more than $120 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, the Guardian reported.

“The state’s budget is facing a large deficit as a result of the docking of Palestinian money by the Israeli government as a punitive step after the UN recognition of Palestine as an observer state,” Abbas  said in a statement.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters last week his government could not pay the salaries of most government employees, the Times of Israel reported. He warned that more than 1.5 million Palestinians could be pushed into poverty. Other Arab states had also pledged to give $100 million to Palestine recently but have failed to follow through.

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Could the crisis at Bab al-Shams be the turning-point in the Palestinian struggle for justice?

Despite international opposition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that he will push ahead with more colonialist expansion into the West Bank – the latest act of aggression being the planned ‘E1’ settlement.

This time though, instead of trying to protest through the courts or simply waiting for the inevitable to happen, Palestinian activists took the initiative and created their own ‘fact on the ground’ – a tent-city settlement of their own in one of the Palestinian areas slated for Israeli settlement construction!

The important thing to realise about the Palestinian ‘settlement’, in contrast with the coming Israelis-only settlement, is that the former is entirely legal. The Palestinians are building on privately-owned Palestinian land with the permission of the owner. Even so, the Israeli courts somehow ruled in favour of the Israeli settlers, and ordered the Palestinian protesters and their international partners to be removed from their land!

I have often said that there are three levels of racism that can infect a community.

  • The first is where racism happens but is not officially tolerated nor accepted by the broader culture.
  • The second level is where racism is culturally acceptable, even if officially frowned upon.
  • The third and most terrible level is where racism receives official sanctioning from the courts and government.

Nazi Germany is probably the most horrible example of this third and final form of a racist state, but if Israeli courts are now so blatantly backing the eviction of Palestinian people from their own land, they are surely on the same terrible path!

Israel mustered 500 armed troops to disperse the Palestinian protesters. As you’ll see from the video, the Palestinians kept to the classic protocols of non-violent resistance. Even so, many of them were brutalised.

It is possible that this valiant act of non-violent resistance could play the same role in the Palestinian struggle as did the ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident of 1965 for the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Can the world really watch this sort of injustice take place and simply say nothing?

Whether this particular act of violence will be the turning point or not, the testimony of Mustafa Barghouthi (recorded below) – that this will be the first of many such non-violent actions – is telling indeed! The Palestinians are tired of waiting for the rest of the world to take action. They have taken the future into their own hands!

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here.

To see some excellent pictures of the protest and response, see this article on the Al Jazeera website

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“The first casualty in war is the truth.”

Boake Carter

Peers,

Here’s today’s news:  Israel News – Haaretz.  Demonstrations protesting Israel’s latest assault on Gaza are being organized thruout the civilized world.  Demonstrations have been scheduled in Israel, as well:  Gush Shalom joins call for anti-war protests.

The US State Department was quick to issue a statement: US says Israel has right to defend itself, must spare civilians: (AFP).  How inadequate.  How lame.  How very, very lame.  There is speculation that President Obama is forever beholden to wealthy Jewish donors who contribute generously to both parties whenever there’s an election in the USA.  There’s also speculation that President Obama is disgusted with the whole situation and is organizing a pushback in the near future, perhaps at the Helsinki Conference.  Whatever the case, Human Beings are being slaughtered in Gaza.  It’s “like shooting fish in a barrel”. 

The eyes of the International Community are on Israel.  Elections in Israel are scheduled for January 22.  Netanyahu’s party is leading in the polls.  Avigdor Lieberman and Ehud Barak are standing by his side, reminding Israelis of the Holocaust, promising them “security”, etc.  “God’s Chosen” will make a momentous decision in January.  The article pasted below is making the rounds on the Internet.  It’s a repeatable.  The highlights are mine.  Please read on.

Peace,Roy    

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: othersite.org…
(highlights courtesy of Father Roy)

John Glaser: Israel´s Latest Assault on Gaza – The Lie of Who Started It

Israel has again attacked Gaza. In its aerial and ground assault that began on Saturday, November 10th, at least 7 Palestinians have been killed, 5 of them civilians, 3 of whom were children. Up to 52 others, including 6 women and 12 children, have been wounded.

As in every vicious military offensive Israel carries out in Gaza, the dominant narrative is that it is a response to rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. This is how it’s being reported in the US, and this is how virtually every American understands it.

And it’s a lie.

It’s true that on Saturday, prior to the expanded Israeli bombardment, the military wing of the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine shot an anti-tank missile at an Israeli Defense Forces vehicle near the Gaza border, wounding four Israeli soldiers. But what prompted the firing of the anti-tank missile?

First, on Monday, November 5th, Israeli forces shot and killed 23 year old Ahmad Nabhani when he “approached the border fence with Israel.” According to at least one account, Nabhani was mentally challenged.

Then, on Thursday, November 8th, the Israeli Occupation Forces – eight tanks and four bulldozers, to be exact – invaded southern Gaza, shooting and killing a 13-year old boy. Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (via):

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 16:30 on Thursday, as a result of the indiscriminate shooting by IOF military vehicles that had moved into the ‘Abassan village, 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa was seriously wounded by a bullet to the abdomen. At the time he was shot, Ahmed had been playing football with his friends in front of his family’s house, located nearly 1,200 meters away from the area where the IOF were present.

So, even if honest observers brush to the side the cruel and inhumane Israeli blockade on Gaza and refuse to let it influence the equation of exactly which side started this flare up of violence, it is clear Israel started this latest clash. And in response to the response, Israel has waged a harsh, disproportionate military assault.

This would be a simple thing to understand if, for example, Western media bothered to ask the other side what happened. Palestinian news media immediately reported that the anti-tank missile Israel was supposedly responding to was admitted to by the Popular Resistance Committees, who described it as “revenge” for preceding Israeli violence on Gaza. But that basic task of honest journalism is apparently out of the question.

Every single Israeli incursion or attack on Gaza is accompanied by the same narrative: Israel fairly responded to unprovoked Palestinian rocket fire. The last major war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead in December ’08-January ’09, also carried this narrative. Israel committed war crimes in that one-sided conflict, targeting and killing hundreds of civilians, using indiscriminate weapons, and intentionally destroying civilian infrastructure. It has become an accepted fact – even among critics of Israel – that the offensive was a response to Hamas rocket fire. The rocket fire did indeed occur immediately before the assault, but it was in response to Israel’s breaking of the six-month cease-fire, which even Israeli officials in WikiLeaks cables admitted Hamas had kept to.