romney

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As ever, reading Uri Avnery gives me hope that all is not lost in the quest for justice and peace in the Middle East – not quite.

One line from this essay that I will certainly quote again is Avnery’s analysis of Islamophobia (a statement he says he has made before but somehow I had missed it up till now):

“Islamophobia is nothing but the fashionable modern cousin of good old anti-Semitism, seeping from the same sewers of the collective unconscious, exploiting the same old prejudices, transferring to the Muslims all the hatred once directed towards the Jews.”

As to the debate between Obama and Romney, Avnery sees it as a façade, but what else could it be? How can anyone be expected to have a serious discussion on Foreign Policy when the whole debate is designed as a vote-winning exercise? Having said that, even if the statements of the two wanna-be’s does not reflect their true understanding of international politics, it does reflect their understanding of how their voters see the rest of the world. That in itself should be enough to make us all worried.

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

October 27, 2012

Drought in Texas

EVERYBODY IN Israel knows this story. When Levy Eshkol was Prime Minister, his assistants rushed up to him in panic: “Levy, there is a drought!”

“In Texas?” Eshkol asked anxiously.

“No, in Israel!” they said.

“Then it doesn’t matter,” Eshkol assured them. “We can always get all the wheat we need from the Americans.”

That was some 50 years ago. Since than, nothing much has changed. The elections in the US in 11 days are more important to us than our own elections in three months.

I HAD to stay awake till 3 am again to watch the final presidential debate live. I was afraid that I would doze off, but I did not. On the contrary.

When two chess players are engaged in a game, there is often a person – we call him a “kibitzer” – standing behind one of them, trying to give him unsolicited advice. During the debates, I do the same. In my imagination, I stand behind Barack Obama and think about the right answer to Romney, before Obama himself opens his mouth.

I must admit that on some occasions during this debate, his answers were much better than mine. For example, I did not think up a stinging reply to Romney’s contention that the US now has less warships then it had a hundred years ago. Obama’s dry reply – that the US army now has fewer horses, too – was sheer genius. The more so since he could not have prepared it. Who could have foreseen such a dumb remark?

Also, when Romney slammed Obama for skipping Israel on his first Middle East tour as president. How to counter such a factual challenge – especially with thousands of Jewish pensioners in Florida listening to every word?

Obama hit the right note. Remarking that Romney had visited with an entourage of donors and fund-raisers (without naming Sheldon Adelson and the other Jewish donors), he reminded us that as a candidate he went instead to Yad Vashem, to see for himself the evil done to the Jews. Touche.

On a few occasions, I thought I had a better answer. For example, when Romney tried to explain away his comment that Russia was the most important “geo-political foe” of the US, I would have reacted with “Excuse my ignorance, governor, but what does ‘geo-political’ mean?” In his context, it was a highfalutin but meaningless phrase.

(“Geo-politics” is not just a juxtaposition of geography and politics. It is a world-view propagated by the German professor Hans Haushofer and others and adopted by Adolf Hitler as a rationale for his plan to create Lebensraum for Germans by annihilating or driving out the population of Eastern Europe.)

I would have talked much more about the wars, Nixon’s Vietnam, the two Bushes’ Iraq, the second Bush’s Afghanistan. I noticed that Obama did not mention that he had been against the Iraq war right from the beginning. He must have been advised not to. 

ONE DID not have to be an expert to notice that Romney did not present original ideas of his own. He parroted Obama’s positions, changing a few words here and there.

Earlier in the campaign, during the primaries, it did not look like that. Clamoring for the votes of the right-wing base, he was about to bomb Iran, provoke China, battle Islamists of all shades, perhaps resurrect Osama Bin Laden in order to kill him again. Nothing of the sort this time. Only a meek “I agree with the President”.

Why? Because he was told that the American people had had enough of the Bush Wars. They don’t want any more. Not in Afghanistan, and certainly not in Iran. Wars cost a lot of money. And people even get killed.

Perhaps Romney decided in advance that it was enough for him to avoid looking like an ignoramus on foreign affairs, since the main battleground was in the economic sphere, where he can hope to look more convincing than Obama. So he played it safe. “I agree with the President…”

THE WHOLE concept of a presidential debate on foreign affairs is, of course, nonsensical.  World affairs are far too complicated, the nuances far too subtle, to be dealt with in this rough way. It would be like performing a kidney operation with an ax.

One could easily get the impression that the world is an American golf course, in which the US can knock the peoples around like balls, and the only question is which player has the more skill and selects the best club. The will of the peoples themselves is quite irrelevant. What are the feelings of the Chinese, the Pakistanis, the Egyptians? Who cares?!

I am not sure that most of the American viewers could find Tunis on the map. So it makes no sense to argue about the forces at work there, make distinctions between Salafists and Muslim Brothers, preferring these or those. All in four minutes.

For Romney, obviously, all Muslims are the same. Islamophobia is the order of the day, and Romney openly pandered to it. As I have pointed out before, Islamophobia is nothing but the fashionable modern cousin of good old anti-Semitism, seeping from the same sewers of the collective unconscious, exploiting the same old prejudices, transferring to the Muslims all the hatred once directed towards the Jews.

Many Jews, of course, especially the elderly in the nursing homes in warm Florida, are relieved to see the Goyim turn on other victims. And since the new victims happen also to be the foes of beloved Israel, all the better. Romney clearly believed that pouring his bile on “Islamists” was the easiest way to garner Jewish votes.

Trying hard to look tougher than Obama, Romney did, after all, come up with an original idea: provide the Syrian insurgents with “heavy arms”. What does that mean? Artillery? Drones? Missiles? And if so, to whom? To the Good Guys, of course. And take care that they do not fall into the hands of the Bad Guys.

What a brilliant idea. But please, who are the Good Guys and who the Baddies? Nobody else seems to know. Least of all the CIA or the Mossad. Dozens of Syrian factions are at work – regional, confessional, ideological. All want to kill Assad. So who will get the cannons?

All this made any serious discussion about the Middle East, now a region of infinite variations and nuances, quite impossible. Obama, who knows a lot more about our problems than his adversary, found it wise to play the simpleton and utter nothing but the most fatuous platitudes. Anything else – for example a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, God forbid, could have offended the dear inhabitants of the one old people’s home which may change the outcome in Florida.

ANY SERIOUS Arab or Israeli should have been insulted by the way our region was treated in this debate by the two men, one of whom will soon be our lord and master.

Israel was mentioned in the debate 34 times – 33 times more than Europe, 30 times more than Latin America, five times more than Afghanistan, four times more than China. Only Iran was mentioned more often – 45 times – but in the context of the danger it poses to Israel.

Israel is our most important ally in the region (or in the world?) We shall defend it to the hilt. We shall provide it with all the arms it needs (plus those it doesn’t need).

Wonderful. Just wonderful. But which Israel, exactly? The Israel of the endless occupation? Of the unlimited expansion of settlements? Of the total denial of Palestinian rights? Of the rain of new anti-democratic laws?

Or a different, liberal and democratic Israel, an Israel of equality for all its citizens, an Israel that pursues peace and recognizes Palestinian statehood?

But not only what was parroted was interesting, but also what was left unsaid. No automatic backing of an Israeli attack on Iran. No war on Iran at all, until hell freezes over. No repetition of Romney’s earlier declaration that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No pardon for the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

And, most importantly: no effort at all to use the immense potential power of the US and its European allies to bring about Israel-Palestine peace, by imposing the Two-State solution that everybody agrees is the only viable settlement. No mention of the Arab peace initiative still offered by 23 Arab countries, Islamists and all.

China, the new emerging world power, was treated with something close to disdain. They must be told how to behave. They must do this or that, stop manipulating their currency, send the jobs back to America.

But why should the Chinese take any notice when China controls the US national debt? No matter, they’ll have to do what America wants. Washington locuta, causa finita. (“Rome has spoken, the case is closed,” as Catholics used to say, way back before the sex scandals.)

UNSERIOUS AS the debate was, it showed up a very serious problem.

The French used to say that war is too serious to leave to the generals. World politics are certainly too serious to leave to the politicians. Politicians are elected by the people – and the people have no idea.

It was obvious that both contenders avoided any specifics that would have demanded even the slightest knowledge from the listeners. 1.5 billion plus Muslims were considered to fall into just two categories – “moderates” and “Islamists”. Israel is one bloc, no differentiation. What do viewers know about 3000 years of Persian civilization? True, Romney knew – rather surprisingly – what or where Mali is. Most viewers surely didn’t. 

Yet these very same viewers must now finally decide who will be the leader of the world’s greatest military power, with a huge impact on everyone else.

Winston Churchill memorably described democracy as “the worst form of government, except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

This debate could serve as evidence.

Read more from the great Uri Avnery on his website: gush-shalom.org…

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Once again, a powerful and succinct analysis from Uri Avnery – founder of the Israeli Peace Bloc , Gush Shalom

His estimate of Romney’s Foreign Affairs knowledge is undoubtedly correct. Romney offers a no-state and no-hope solution.

I always appreciate Avnery’s optimism with regards to the ongoing possibility of a ‘two-state solution’. What I am less convinced by is his pessimism regarding the so-called ‘one-state solution’.

Avnery says, “The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully in one state, serving in the same army and police, paying the same taxes and abiding by the same laws enacted by the same common parliament, is nil.” I would have thought that both South Africa and Northern Ireland, while being far from perfect situations, suggest that such a state of peace might be achievable?

Either way, one thing seems clear – that peace in any such form become even less likely should Romney be elected President in the USA!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

September 22, 2012

A Message from Romnyahu

ONCE UPON a time, President Richard Nixon wanted to appoint a certain lawyer to the US Supreme Court.

“But the man is a complete moron!” one senator exclaimed.

“So what,” answered another, “There are a great many morons in the US, and they have a right to be represented in the court as much as any other sector of society.”

Perhaps the United Morons of America have a right to elect Mitt Romney president. But for the sake of the US and Israel, I hope that this will not happen.

Some people say that Israel is the 51st state of the Union. Some say that it is the first among the 51. Whatever, our lives – and perhaps our deaths – depend to a great extent on the man in the White House.

So, with all my misgivings (and I have a lot) about Barack Obama, I very much hope that he will be re-elected.

IN HIS latest seizure of wisdom, Romney did not only disclose that 47% of Americans are parasites, but also that “the Palestinians” want to destroy Israel. According to him, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has no solution, it will go on forever.

I wonder where he got this last piece from.

In Nazi Germany there was a certain Herr Doktor Otto Dietrich, a functionary of the Ministry for Propaganda.  Every day, he would gather the editors of the important newspapers in Berlin and tell them what their headline and editorial were going to be the next day.

That was before the Internet and fax. Nowadays, the Prime Minister’s office faxes a daily ‘page of messages” to Netanyahu’s ministers and other stooges, telling them what messages they are to spread.

I strongly suspect that Romney read this page of messages just before he met his audience, composed of billionaires (or mere millionaires). After all, he couldn’t have invented these astounding pieces of insight all by himself, could he?

“THE PALESTINIANS” means “all Palestinians”. All  nine million of them in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Israel, not to forget the refugees around the world.

Well, I suppose that if by divine intervention Israel were to disappear from the globe, very few Palestinians would shed a tear. Neither would many Israelis shed a tear if, again by divine intervention, all the Palestinians disappeared. Quite a few Israelis would even volunteer to help God Almighty in this task. Who knows, if Romney’s evangelical friends pray enough, their God may dematerialize all those Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians and assorted other miscreants.

Alas, such fantasies belong to the realms of dreams and nightmares. In the real world, peoples do not disappear even after gruesome genocides, nor can states which possess nuclear bombs be eradicated by foreign enemies.

I know quite a number of Palestinians, and not one of them believes that Israel can be annihilated. Since Yasser Arafat decided in late 1973 that he must come to terms with Israel, the great majority of Palestinians want a deal that will enable them to set up a state of their own in a part of historical Palestine. This is called the “two-state solution”.

The present government of Israel does not want this, because they are not ready to give up the 22% of historical Palestine which would become the State of Palestine. Since they have no viable alternative, the government’s spokespeople assert that “this conflict has no solution”.

One of the fathers of this slogan is Ehud Barak. After the failed 2000 Camp David meeting, Barak, then Prime Minister, famously declared that “we have no partner for peace”. Since Barak was the main cause for the meeting’s failure, I dubbed him “peace criminal”.

Netanyahu gratefully picked up Barak’s cry, and now the great majority in Israel believes this message implicitly. (Recently I was interviewed by a Danish journalist. I told her: When we finish, stop the first taxi. Ask the driver about peace. He will tell you “Peace would be wonderful. I am ready to give back all the territories for peace. But unfortunately the Arabs will never make peace with us,” An hour later the journalist excitedly called me: “I did as you told me, and the driver repeated your words one by one.”)

“No solution” gives an impression of “everything will remain as it is”. That is a mistake. Nothing remains as it is. Things move all the time, settlements expand, Palestinians will rise up, the world is in flux, the Arab world changes, some day an American president will put the interests of the US ahead of those of Israel. Where will we be then?

THE GIST of Romney’s message is that the two-state solution is dead. This reminds me of Mark Twain’s famous: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

It is now in fashion to say so. Quite a trend. However, different people have different reasons for believing that the two-state solution is dead.

Parents, teachers, paedophiles and cannibals all say they love children. But their motives are not the same. This is also true for the would-be undertakers of the two-state solution. They include:

One: Idealists, who wish for people of different nations to live together in harmony and equality in one state. (I would like them to study the history of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Sudan, and the present situation of the French in Canada, Scots in Britain, Flemish in Belgium and Basques and Catalans in Spain.)

Two: Arabs, who really believe that this is a peaceful way to get rid of Israel.

Three: Settlers, who want to turn the whole of historical Palestine into their dominion and, if possible, “cleanse” the country of non-Jews.

Four: Israelis, who believe that the settlements have created a situation that is “irreversible”. (Meron Benvenisti, a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, coined this phrase already in the early 1980s, when there were less than 100 thousand settlers. I told him then that nothing was irreversible except death. Situations created by human beings can be changed by human beings.)

Five: Anti-Zionists, including Jewish anti-Zionists, who hate Zionism indiscriminately, with all its good and bad aspects, and for whom the very existence of a “Jewish” state is an abomination.

Six: Muslim fanatics, who believe that Palestine is a Muslim waqf (religious grant), so that allowing any part of it to non-Muslims is a deadly sin.

Seven: Jewish fanatics, who believe that all of Eretz-Israel, from the Nile to the Euphrates, has been promised to the Jews by God, so that conceding any part of it to non-Jews is a deadly sin.

Eight: Christian fanatics, who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be possible only after the ingathering of all the Jews in this country (with no place in it for anyone else.)

Sorry if I have forgotten someone.

SOME OF these people have invented something called the “one-state solution”. That is an oxymoron. There is a one-state problem, there is no one-state solution.

From time to time it is worthwhile to come back to the basic facts of our life:

There are two peoples living in this country.

Neither of the two will go away. They are here to stay.

While the Arab Palestinians living in the country are still a minority, they will constitute the majority quite soon.

Both peoples are intensely nationalistic.

The two peoples have different cultures, languages, religions, historic narratives, social structures, standards of living. At present, after some 130 years of continuous conflict, there is intense hatred between them.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully in one state, serving in the same army and police, paying the same taxes and abiding by the same laws enacted by the same common parliament, is nil.

The possibility that these two peoples could live peacefully side-by-side in two states, each with its own flag and its own elected government (and its own soccer team), does exist.

Such co-existence can take different forms: from a loose confederation with open borders and free movement to closer forms of evolving structures, like the European Union.

I hope that this is not too complicated for Mitt Romney to understand. But this may become irrelevant if – as I fervently hope – he is not elected.

I would hate for an ignoramus to be given the opportunity to learn world affairs on our backs.

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Father Roy writes:   Is it not curious?   Pat Buchanan … Mr. Conservative Republican … does not trust the most powerful people in his own party.  I refer, of course, to the NEOCONs.  My Allies and I don’t trust them either.  Read PNAC’s Statement of Principles and notice the signatories.  Listen to PNAC’s ideology on FOX News. 

Here’s another essay on the subject: Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.  Notice the date it was written.  I’ve pasted that essay’s first two paragraphs below Pat’s essay for everybody’s convenience.  I suggest that everybody scroll down and read the two paragraphs first.  Please notice how frugal I was with the highlights while you read.  Try not to be alarmed if all this information is new to you.   Peace, Roy 

Click here: Is Romney Being Neoconned Into War?:Information Clearing House: ICH

Is Romney Being Neoconned Into War?

By Patrick J. Buchanan

July 31, 2012 “Information Clearing House” — –

Has Mitt Romney given Israel a blank check for war?

So it seemed from the declaration in Jerusalem by his adviser Dan Senor, who all but flashed Israel a green light for war,signaling the Israelis that, if you go, Mitt’s got your back:

“If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respectthat decision.”

“No option would be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with it.”

What does “stand with” Israel, if she launches a surprise attack on Iran, mean? Does it mean the United States will guide Israeli planes to their targets and provide bases on their return? Does it mean U.S. air cover while Israeli planes strike Iran?

This would make America complicit in a preemptive strike and a co-belligerent in the war to follow.

What Senor said comes close to being a U.S. war guarantee for Israel, while leaving the decision as to when the war begins to them.

This country has never done that before.

And what does Senor mean by Israel’s need to act “to stop Iran from developing [the] capability” to acquire nuclear weapons?

The collective decision of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies in 2007 that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon — reportedly reaffirmed in 2011 — has never been rescinded. Nor has the White House produced any hard evidence Iran is building a bomb.

Moreover, Iran’s known nuclear facilities are under inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Does the government know something the American people are not being told?

Undeniably, Iran, by enriching uranium to 3.5%, then up to 20%, has a greater “capability” than five years ago of building a nuclear weapon. But Japan, South Korea, and Brazil also have that capability — and none has decided to build a nuclear weapon.

Gov. Romney did not go as far as Senor, but he, too, seems to be saying that not only is Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon a casus belli for the United States, even an Iran that is capable of building such a weapon is intolerable.

“The regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability,” said Romney. “Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority.”

Preventing what outcome is “our highest national security priority”?

Stopping Iran from building a bomb? Or stopping Iran from being able to build a bomb years from now?

The governor seems to be aligning himself with Israel’s hawks who are demanding that not only must Iran swear off nuclear weapons forever, Iran must cease all enrichment of uranium and dismantle the facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

Romney’s policy is zero enrichment, said Senor. Tehran must understand that “the alternative to zero enrichment is severe, and that’s why the threat of military force has to be critical.”

This is tantamount to an ultimatum to Tehran: Either give up all enrichment of uranium and any right to enrich, or face war.
Here we come to the heart of the issue, which may be impossible to resolve short of war.

Unlike its neighbors Israel and Pakistan, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has no nuclear weapons. The ayatollah has said they are immoral and Iran will not acquire them.

But under the NPT, Iran claims the right to enrich uranium and seek the benefits of nuclear technology. And in that decision, the people of Iran stand behind their government.

Is denying Iran the right to enrich uranium a reason for America to plunge into its fifth war in that region in a generation?

That appears where we are headed. Reportedly, Obama’s national security adviser recently briefed Bibi Netanyahu on the specifics of U.S. contingency plans to attack Iran.

Has Congress been briefed? Have the American people been consulted? Or are we simply irrelevant?

A decade ago, this country sent an army up to Baghdad to overthrow Saddam and strip Iraq of a vast arsenal of chemical and biological weapons we were told it had and was preparing to use.

We were misled; we were deceived; we were lied to.

Before we outsource to Bibi and Ehud Barak the decision to take us to war with a country three times the size of Iraq, we need to know:

Was the U.S. intelligence community wrong in 2007 and 2011? Is Iran hell-bent on building nuclear weapons? If so, where are they constructing and testing these weapons?

Finally, if Iran is willing to permit intrusive inspections of its actual and suspected nuclear sites but insists on its right to enrich uranium, should we go to war to deny them that right?

But if we are going to go to war again, this time with Iran, the decision should be made in America, according to our Constitution, not by any other country.