Archive for category Israel

Netanyahu Wants A Raise – No, Seriously!

Netanyahu wants a raise

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to the White House next week, looking for more of our money. Israel currently gets $3.1 billion per year in U.S. military aid, which has been used to finance war crimes. After Afghanistan, Israel is already the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.

Now Netanyahu wants a new 10-year deal for $4.5 billion a year, which would be close to a 50 percent raise. The answer ought to be a resounding NO. The current Israeli government is adamantly opposed to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, they are meddling in American politics, and they are a strategic liability, so why are we paying them anything?

More info:
Netanyahu Is Bringing a $4.5 Billion-a-Year Arms Wish List to Obama
US only country to oppose UN holding Israel accountable for war crimes, yet again
Israel is supposedly the only democracy in the Middle East, yet 4.5 million Palestinians under its control can’t vote

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The ’24-Day Delay’ And Other Lies About the Iran Deal

Via Media Matters (the entire article is worth reading).

Remember how the Tea-GOP took advantage of the complexity of the ACA to invent “death panels” and other fictional features they said were in the law? Political allies of Israel’s right-wing extremist government are trying to play the same game with the Iran deal.

Most people don’t understand the details, so liars such as Senator Chuck Schumer think they can get away with falsely claiming there is a “24-day delay” for nuclear site inspections, and other made-up reasons to be against peace and for an unprovoked attack on Iran. Senator Schumer vociferously supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, and apparently has learned nothing from that decade-long fiasco.

For the record, the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community and even the Israeli Mossad is that there is no Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Iranian government ruled out development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as inconsistent with Islam back in the 1980s.

Certain foreign governments would like the USA to start a war of aggression against Iran, a country of 77 million people that’s larger than Alaska and halfway around the world. And they want to sell us a bullshit story about nonexistent nuclear weapons. Americans would have to be breathtakingly stupid to go for that a second time.

More info:
Chuck Schumer is running from TV cameras for first time in his career after rejecting Iran deal

UPDATE:
Josh Marshall explains why the so-called “24-day delay” is a phony issue.

The people making the biggest stink about this are phrase-makers from RNC, AIPAC and the various other billionaire-backed, stood-up advocacy groups fighting the deal. Virtually every nuclear expert and weapons scientist does not see it as a problem.

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‘Mowing the Grass’ in Gaza

Mowing the grass

Several announcements by Israel’s Ministry of Defense spokespersons during the first stage of their latest attack on Gaza stated that they were “mowing the grass.” This is their term for the periodic ritual slaughter of the Palestinians, which is politically popular in Israel and America but nowhere else.

“Mowing the grass” isn’t a winning strategy. It’s what you do to maintain the status quo, which is permanent war. It’s the Israeli government’s admission that they don’t want peace, because that would entail unacceptable compromises – for example, lifting the blockade of Gaza. It’s also a clue to the mindset of Israeli decision makers, who seem to regard Palestinian civilians as nothing more than blades of grass to be cut down.

The notion that repeated attacks on Gaza are nothing more than “mowing the grass” raises serious moral and strategic questions. Cutting down civilians, like the children playing on that Gaza beach, is not like cutting blades of grass. To compare the two is dehumanizing. And to embrace a policy that entails the killing of hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians with each application violates the conscience, if not the basic rule of law. Use of force should always be a last resort, not a premeditated policy of first choice.

Efaim Inbar and Eitan Shamir of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) are the leading spokespersons for “mowing the grass.” They wrote in an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post:

Western thinking is solution-oriented.

This explains part of the lack of understanding in the West for what Israel is doing.

Against an implacable, well-entrenched, non-state enemy like the Hamas, Israel simply needs to “mow the grass” once in a while to degrade the enemy’s capabilities.

As anybody with a lawn can tell you, when you mow the grass the roots grow stronger. Hence the long-term stupidity of the Israeli plan. The use of force against civilians won’t ever bring them peace, but they keep on anyway because they have no imagination. Israel is perpetrating enormous war crimes, deliberately as a tactic of collective punishment of Palestinians. Why do we keep supplying weapons and ammo to Israel with our tax dollars?

More info:
Israel mows the lawn
‘Mowing The Grass’ In Gaza: A War In The Mideast Every Four Years?
Israeli code word for genocide: “Mowing the lawn”

UPDATES:
Israel Hits Gaza With Heaviest Bombardment In 3 Weeks
Heartbreak: Reporting on Gaza’s child victims
Gaza: This Is No Life
Why Don’t Palestinians Just Leave Gaza? They Can’t.
Gaza Death Toll Soars As Israel Presses Offensive
Strike On Gaza Market Kills At Least 15
Israel Kills 15 During Assault On UN School As Military Intensifies Attack On Refugee Camp
UN rights chief slams Israel’s ‘defiance’ of international law
FDL: Haunting the Conscience of the World

This is a turning point, Israel has crossed all the red lines and the world will hold them accountable for it. This long night for the people of Gaza will end, the light of justice will finally shine on them, and there will be no more darkness.

Gaza death toll surpasses that of Cast Lead as count hits 1,437

56 Comments

Kerry Caught On Hot Mic Mocking Precision Of Israeli Strikes As Gaza Operation Intensifies

Air strike on Gaza

Via FDL:

Secretary of State John Kerry, who was on every network political show over the weekend justifying Israel’s actions in Gaza, was caught on a hot mic giving a very different assessment. Kerry said “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” while talking to an aide on the phone, mocking the accuracy of Israel’s weapons strikes which Israel claims are limited and precise.

Precision is of course one thing, while accuracy is another thing. A bomb, missile, or tank round can precisely hit the wrong target. Which is what is happening, inevitably, in Gaza. Israeli air strikes and artillery fire have hit civilian homes, mosques, and hospitals. Ambulances have been destroyed.

More info:
In Gaza, whatever the target, children often the victims
Panicked residents flee Gaza City neighborhood hit by tank fire as Israel widens offensive
CNN: Israeli Airstrike Hits Cafe Packed With People Watching World Cup
Four dead at Gaza hospital hit by Israeli strike
Three More Children Killed in Latest Air Strike on Gaza
More than 30 members of two Palestinian families are killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza
Israeli Airstrikes Injure Three Journalists in Gaza

UPDATES:
Hamas Offers Reasonable Truce, Greeted by Deafening Silence

The 7-year Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza is a violation of international law, an act of war, and a crime against humanity.

Graphic Photos From The Gaza Strip Show Destruction And Death
“This is not war, this is annihilation”
US Only Country To Vote No On UN Resolution Against Killing Civilians In Gaza

The result of the resolution – which passed despite the US’ no vote – will be a UN probe into how Israel is using force in Gaza, particularly against civilians. Of the 732 Palestinians now reported killed from Operation Protective Edge an estimated 80% have been civilians.

Gaza Death Toll Over 1,000

More than 1,000 people, mainly civilians, have been killed and more than 6,000 have been wounded over the past 19 days, al-Kidra said. Israeli strikes have destroyed hundreds of homes, including close to 500 in targeted hits, and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, according to Palestinian rights groups.

35 Comments

the UN, NATO, and the trip-wire

I’m so sorry to write this missive as a lead article (for 15 minutes) but I don’t remember how to find the comments and respond to them. The lonely little side-bar response to my article I’ve not seen, except for half a sentence. It seemed to be saying that the old days are gone now, and so we need NATO and the JN. I agree. With NATO, it is the trip-wire provision that we go to war, automatically if any NATO nation is attacked, regardless of who the attacker is. This takes not only the United States Congress, but the president, as Commander in Chief, from the decision to go to war. I support both the UN and, if handled correctly, NATO. But President J. Reuben Clark and I oppose the automatic going to war. Just like the fools, the ancient general staffs of all sides in WW I. No one wanted that war. There was no Adolph Hitler in that war that destroyed the entire 20th century. Better to have shot the general staffs, who came to deserve exactly that. What President Clark called for, and I, are what the United States has always done, before NATO. That is, to have treaties of peace and friendship with our allies and then, should hostilities commence, such treaties would call for all parties to go to war, or not, as their constitutions provide. In this way, we don’t declare war against a nation, and surely all the people, have not yet been born. How, pray tell, do we justify going to war against, and for, people not, or no longer, live on earth. With a few caveats, ditto for the UN. No provision of law allows the UN to overreach Congress in the decision for war or peace. For anyone interested, read my book with the late Francis Wormuth, To Cain the Dog of War. It is by odds the best book ever written on the way we go to war. Every single war we’ve ever fought, including our wars against the Indian tribes, is there analyzed. Francis did not live to see this book in print. I worked two years after his death to finish it. And I updated it 4 or 5 times, alone. I still put my dear friend’s name first, because I am honored to be linked, now, forever. Something like Mormon marriage through time and eternity. ed firmage xoxo

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The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox

3 Comments

Gaza: ‘Once You Fight Back, You Are Called A Terrorist’

Gaza

Another horrifying round of attacks on the besieged people of Gaza, just ahead of the Israeli elections. Pam Bailey on AlterNet:

The right to self-defense (most often through “retaliation”) is enshrined in international law and was America’s own first response after it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Why was it ethical for the U.S., but not for Palestinians?

As one young Gazan wrote on Facebook: “When you see your family killed by Israeli soldiers in front of your eyes and you see your house demolished in front of you, you feel so angry that you want to fight back. But once you fight back, you are called a terrorist and the aggressor becomes the victim who has the right of defense.”

Israel started it, again. And the blockade of Gaza continues.

More info: Top 10 Myths About Israel’s Attack on Gaza: These misconceptions are spread by the American media.

Israel does not accept Palestine’s right to exist, even though it is constantly demanding that everyone, including the displaced and occupied Palestinians, recognize Israel’s right to exist.

UPDATE: Israel-Hamas Ceasefire: Egypt Announces Peace Deal To Take Effect At 9 P.M.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: The ‘both-sides-are-awful’ dismissal of Gaza ignores the key role of the US government. “The temptation to wash one’s hands of the whole conflict is understandable, but US support of Israel is a central force driving it all.”

23 Comments

Hey CNN, The Smoking Gun Could Be Your Credibility Going Boom

A CNN poll two years ago found 71 percent of Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons. That’s not surprising, given the steady stream of misinformation coming from CNN and other so-called journalistic enterprises. HuffPo’s Michael Calderone describes the beating of the Iran war drums as a “media frenzy.” Apparently they have learned nothing from the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Glenn Greenwald: “[T]his commentary on The Iranian Threat by CNN’s Erin Burnett (‘frightening,’ she observed)… really just mocks itself.”

Meanwhile, in the real world, SecDef Leon Panetta just yesterday said about Iran that “the intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” Also in the real world, but never mentioned on cable news, Israel has had a nuclear arsenal since the late 1960s.

Glenn Greenwald: Erin Burnett: Worst of the worst

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald, Erin Burnett Argue Over Burnett’s Iran Coverage

Matt Taibbi: Another March to War?

Virtually all of the Iran stories of late have contained some version of this sort of rhetorical sophistry. The news “hook” in most all of these stories is that intelligence reports reveal Iran is “willing” to attack us or go to war – but then there’s usually an asterisk next to the headline, and when you follow the asterisk, it reads something like, “In the event that we attack Iran first.”

38 Comments

Learn Our History: How Bush Killed Osama bin Laden

Mike Huckabee’s “Learn Our History” series of cartoons continues to re-write American history according to right-wing mythology. The 9/11 edition contains nothing about the reason America got attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists, except that the bad guys were “anti-American.” (They speak English to eliminate the need for subtitles). The cartoon is silent on the warnings before the 9/11 attacks that the Bush administration ignored. It extols the virtues of the USA PATRIOT Act (which genuine conservatives can’t stand). Plus a lot of praise for the Department of Homeland Security, a lot of praise for Israel and the clear implication that President George W. Bush was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. The reason why we’re dropping bombs on children in Afghanistan? So they are allowed to fly kites, if they survive! All in all, a triumph of historical scholarship, winger-style.

UPDATE: Huckabee compares his 9/11 cartoon to ‘Schindler’s List’

More info:
Huckabee cartoon attempts woeful retelling of 9/11 attacks
How Bush Killed Bin Laden: What’s Really In Huckabee’s 9/11 Cartoon

Related One Utah post:
New Republican Strategy: Insult the Intelligence of 10 Year Olds

33 Comments

Hey, Wait A Minute…

Netanyahu and Cantor
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Rep. Eric Cantor

Item: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday during an extraordinary meeting in New York that the new GOP majority in the House will “serve as a check” on the Obama administration, a statement unusual for its blunt disagreement with U.S. policy delivered directly to a foreign leader.

Via TPM: As Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraph Agency put it, he couldn’t “remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president.”

Yes, that’s the same Eric Cantor who castigated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just three years ago for allegedly violating the Logan Act on a trip to Syria– even though she was careful not to criticize the Bush administration.

The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, “without authority of the United States,” to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government’s behavior on any “disputes or controversies with the United States.”

Fortunately for politicians like Eric Cantor, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act since it became law in 1799.

Also, as Glenn Greenwald points out, it is hard to imagine “that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration.”

UPDATE: Cantor spokesman walks it back, a little.

More info:
Eric Cantor’s Pledge of Allegiance
Eric Cantor (R-VA) Should Be Impeached

4 Comments

Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us?

Times Square
Times Square

As I mentioned almost a year ago, in the last decade the U.S has been directly involved in military attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen (including two full-scale invasions and occupations). Our closest ally Israel has attacked Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, plus Turkish civilian vessels on international waters.

What national security consequences can we expect from these attacks on Muslim countries? Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani immigrant who pled guilty to an attempt to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square, tells us:

“Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”


Glenn Greenwald:

The very idea that we’re going to spend an entire decade dropping a constant stream of bombs and other munitions on and in multiple Muslim countries and otherwise interfere in their governments — and then expect that nobody will try to attack us back — evinces such a child-like sense of imperial entitlement that it’s hard to put into words. And yet this is exactly the mindset that pervades our discussions of Terrorism: why would anyone possibly want to do something as heinous and senseless as placing a bomb in the United States? I just don’t understand it. What kind of an irrational fanatic and monster would even think of something like that? Of course, the people who say such things rarely apply the same language to our own political leaders…

Our foreign and national security policy is irrational. We are provoking a threat that the Pentagon cannot defend us against, even with a budget that exceeds military spending in all other countries put together.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald: They hate us for our occupations

Related One Utah post:
Why Do ‘They’ Hate Us? (October 20, 2009)

106 Comments

U.N. Report on Flotilla Attack: ‘Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions’

Flotilla attack
An Israeli naval vessel patrols nears the MV Mavi Marmara one of six ships bound for Gaza last May. A banner on the side said “This is a humanitarian aid ship” in Turkish, English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Photograph: Reuters

Shortly after 4.30 am on May 30, 2010, in international waters, the elite Flotilla 13 unit of the Israeli navy stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of a flotilla crewed by an alliance of pro-Palestinian activists who had combined to deliver humanitarian aid to people living in Gaza. Nine people were shot and killed by the Israelis, including a U.S.-born 19-year-old, Furkan Dogan.

From Gareth Porter:

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.
(See Report [.pdf] Page 38, Section 170)

The killings “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions,” the investigation found. Porter notes that the Obama administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report, and has not been asked to do so by any news organization.

The U.N. report concluded there is “clear evidence to support prosecutions” against Israel for “willful killing” and torture.

UPDATE:
On Wednesday, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to endorse the High Commissioner for Human Rights report.

UPDATE:
Glenn Greenwald:

Virtually the entire world — literally — vehemently condemned Israel for what it did here, yet the U.S. refused and continues to refuse to do so, notwithstanding these findings that one of its own citizens was essentially murdered.

More info from Wikipedia:
Gaza flotilla raid
Furkan Dogan
MV Mavi Marmara

Related One Utah posts:
Dennis Kucinich: Gaza Blockade and Flotilla Attack ‘Not Acceptable’ (June 6, 2010)
Facts About the Gaza Blockade (June 4, 2010)
Did Israel Commit An Act of Piracy? (May 31, 2010)

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