Archive for April 3rd, 2010

Israel & Aid

Israel & Aid

By Ralph Nader

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25062.htm

March 23, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”

Since 1996, the American taxpayers are still sending Israel $3 billion a year and providing assorted loan guarantees, waivers, rich technology transfers and other indirect assistance. Before George W. Bush left office a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Israel stipulated an assistance package of $30 billion over the next ten years to be transferred in a lump sum at the beginning of every fiscal year. Israel’s wars and colonies still receive U.S. taxpayer monies.

What happened to Mr. Netanyahu’s solemn pledge to the Congress? The short answer is that Congress never called in the pledge.

In the intervening years, Israel has become an economic, technological and military juggernaut. Its GDP is larger than Egypt’s even though Israel’s population is less than one tenth that of the Arab world’s most populous nation. The second largest number of listings on America’s NASDAQ Exchange after U.S. companies are from Israel, exceeding listings of Japan, Korea, China and India combined. Its venture capital investments exceed those in the U.S., Europe and China on a per capita basis.

Israel is arguably the fifth most powerful military force in the world, and Israel’s claims on the U.S.’s latest weapon systems and research/development breakthroughs are unsurpassed. This combination has helped to make Israel a major arms exporter.

The Israeli “economic miracle” and technological innovations have spawned articles and a best-selling book in recent months. The country’s average GDP growth rate has exceeded the average rate of most western countries over the past five years. Israel provides universal health insurance, unlike the situation in the U.S., which raises the question of who should be aiding whom?

Keep in mind, the U.S. economy is mired in a recession, with large rates of growing poverty, unemployment, consumer debt and state and federal deficits. In some states, public schools are shutting, public health services are being slashed, and universities are increasing tuition while also cutting programs. Even state government buildings are being sold off.

Under U.S. law, military sales to Israel cannot be used for offensive purposes, only for “legitimate self-defense.” Nonetheless, there have been numerous violations of the Arms Export Control Act by Israel. Even the indifferent State Department has found, from time to time, that munitions such as cluster bombs were “likely violations.”

Violations would lead to a cut-off in aid but with the completely pro-Israel climate in Washington, the White House has never allowed such findings to be definitive.

The same indifference applies to violations of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act that prohibits aid to countries engaging in consistent international human rights violations. These include the occupation, colonization, blockades and military assaults on civilians in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, regularly documented by the highly regarded Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu visits President Barack Obama after the recent Israeli announcement of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem made while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting that country.

The affront infuriated New York Times columnist, Tom Friedman, who wrote that Mr. Biden should have packed his bags and flown away leaving behind a scribbled note saying “You think you can embarrass your only true ally in the world, to satisfy some domestic political need, with no consequences? You have lost total contact with reality.”

Friedman, a former Times Middle East correspondent, concluded his rebuke by writing: “Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad are as genuine and serious about working toward a solution as any Israel can hope to find.”

But until a few days ago, the U.S. government had no levers over the Israeli government. Cutting off aid isn’t even whispered in the halls of Congress. Raising the issue would further galvanize Israel’s allies, including AIPAC.

The only lever left for the U.S. suddenly erupted into the public media a few days ago. General David Petraeus told the Senate that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has foreign policy and national security ramifications for the United States.

He said that “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the Area of Responsibility…Meanwhile, Al-Qaeda and other military groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

A few days earlier, Vice President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel that “what you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

What Obama’s people are publically starting to say is that regional peace is about U.S. vital interests in that large part of the Middle East and, ultimately, the safety of American soldiers and personnel.

As one retired diplomat commented “This could be a game-changer.”

Is Israel About to Trigger a New Middle East War?

Is Israel About to Trigger a New Middle East War?
By Conn Hallinan, AlterNet
Posted on April 3, 2010, Printed on April 3, 2010
http://www.alternet.org/story/146289/
When Israeli Minister without Portfolio Yossi Peled said recently that a war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah was “just a matter of time” and that such a conflict would include Syria, most observers dismissed the comment as little more than posturing by a right-wing former general. But Peled’s threat has been backed by Israeli military maneuvers near the Lebanese border, violations of Lebanese airspace, and the deployment of an anti- missile system on Israel’s northern border.
The Lebanese are certainly not treating it as Likud bombast.

“We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out, and not only threats,” Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told the BBC. “We see what is happening on the ground and in our airspace.during the past two months-every day we have Israeli airplanes entering Lebanese airspace.” Hariri added that he considered the situation “really dangerous.”

The increasing tension was behind the recent visit to Beirut by Senator Philippe Marini, French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon. After Marini met with Hariri, Christian Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, and Hezbollah leaders, the envoy said that he feared a Hezbollah-Israel rematch could easily become a regional war.

Rhetoric all over the region is heating up.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first said that Israel would never return the Golan Heights to Syria, prompting Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al- Muallem to comment that Israel “should not test Syria’s determination.” Lieberman responded by taking direct aim at Syrian President Bashar Assad: “In the next war, not only will you lose, but you and your family will lose the regime.”

Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 following a Hezbollah raid that captured two Israeli soldiers. The 34-day war cost Lebanon more than 1,000 dead, and tens of billions of dollars in damage to bridges, roads, airports, and towns. But the war also saw the once-invincible Israeli Self-Defense Forces (IDF) fought to a bloody standstill, and a barrage of some 4,000 Hezbollah rockets into Israel.

Many in the Israeli military would love to re-establish the IDF’s reputation by beating up on Hezbollah, but the Shiite-based militia has broad support throughout Lebanon, as the last elections demonstrated. While the “pro-western” March 14 Movement won the most seats-largely as a result of ethnic gerrymandering-the Hezbollah bloc won the most votes. In any case, the March 14 Movement has begun to unravel with the defection of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

Lebanon is a deeply fractious place, but an Israeli attack would unite the country as it did in 2006. “I think they’re [Israelis] betting that there might be some division in Lebanon if there is war against us,” said Hariri, “Well, there won’t be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people.”

Lebanon’s military is no match for Israel. It has a small army and its air force consists of two grounded 1950s vintage Hawker Hunter fighter-bombers, plus a motley collection of helicopters, most of which are not operational. In the 2007 fight with Islamic extremists in Tripoli, Lebanese Army soldiers pitched bombs out of French Gazelle helicopters by hand.

As the IDF found out in 2006, however, Hezbollah is a different matter. Of course, a massive Israeli ground invasion would overwhelm the group’s militia, but any occupation of South Lebanon will conjure up old nightmares for Tel Aviv. It was Hezbollah’s roadside bombs and ambushes that drove the IDF out of the same area in 2000.

The Israelis are threatening to flatten the entire country if it comes to war-“taking off the gloves” as Israel military analyst Yisrael Katzover puts it-and they certainly have the capabilities to inflict a stunning amount of damage. But Hezbollah claims it has some thunder of its own. Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, vows to bring Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport under fire if Israel bombs Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport as it did in 2006. “If you hit our ports, we will hit your ports,” Nasrallah said Feb. 21.

According to Israeli intelligence, Hezbollah has 42,000 rockets, some with the range to hit Tel Aviv and targets further south. Whether the group actually has that many rockets is unclear. Israel tends to pump up the threat its antagonists pose. In any case, Hezbollah certainly has rockets and demonstrated its ability to strike northern Israel in 2006. If Nasrallah is to be believed, it may be able to bring central Israel under fire as well.

Does the war have the potential to become regional?

Only if Israel decides to make it so. While the Netanyahu government talks about Hezbollah being little more than a cat’s paw for Iran and Syria, the group has deep roots in the country’s long-repressed Shiite majority. It does receive arms from both Damascus and Iran, and Teheran also gives the group about $200 million a year in aid. That is, however, a tiny portion of Hezbollah’s annual budget.

Lebanon’s Shiites are also quite different than their Iranian counterparts. While Iran’s mullahs dominate civil and economic matters, Lebanon’s Shiites are suspicious of direct involvement in government, because they believe that it will ultimately corrupt Islam. A number of Iraq’s Shiites, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, come from a similar current in the Shiite sect.

Hezbollah is quite aware of the damage that Israel can inflict, and, is consequently unlikely to do anything provocative. As Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian and former Israeli Knesset members writes in Al-Ahram, “Hezbollah has made it clear it intends to avoid giving Israel any excuse to go to war.”

As for Syria, the last thing Damascus wants is a war. Its economy is humming, its careful diplomacy has lifted it out of isolation, and over the past several months world leaders from France and Spain, and regional governments-including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey- have beaten a path to President Assad’s door. When U.S. Special Forces violated the Syrian border while looking for al-Qaeda terrorists last year, the Assad government’s response was a mild protest. When Israel bombed a site in northern Syria, the Damascus government did nothing. Syria has nothing to gain, and much to lose, from a war.

Israel has moved its new Iron Dome anti-missile system to its northern border, even though the original plan was to deploy it in the south to intercept rockets fired from Gaza. The system is supposed to be up and running by June. “Making Iron Dome operational will transform Israel’s diplomatic and security situation,” says Israeli Defense Ministry director general Pinhas Buchris.

Given that Hezbollah has not fired a rocket at Israel since the summer of 2006, why would Tel Aviv move Iron Dome to the northern border unless it was to assure the Israeli public that it will not come under fire in the advent of a new war? In any case, Iron Dome is unlikely to transform anything, since anti-missile systems tend to be more about hype and hope than performance.

There is, of course, the possibility that the Israelis will bet the house and hit Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran’s nuclear facilities. The rhetoric coming out of the Netanyahu government ties all three countries together, which is why Peled lumped Syria with Lebanon. The standard line coming out of Tel Aviv is that Iran is behind everything, including Hamas.

Any rational reading of the Middle East makes that charge difficult to credit. Iran commands neither Syria nor Hezbollah, and while Teheran might provide arms to Hamas, a radical Sunni organization is unlikely to go to war because a Shiite government told it to. The only one of those parties that might welcome a war with Israel is Iran, but only so that the Ahmadinejad regime can use it as an excuse to crack down on internal dissent.

Many in the Israeli establishment openly advocate attacking Iran. Danny Yaton, former head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, told the German Council on Foreign Relations “The entire world should take military action to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.”

The Sunday Times (London) reports, “According to well-placed sources, Israel is speeding up preparations for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.” The Israeli daily Haaretz says that the Netanyahu government is asking the Obama administration to supply Israel with GBU-28 “bunker buster” bombs and refueling tanker aircraft, both which would be essential for a strike at Iran.

But some in the Israeli military establishment seems reluctant to launch such an attack. Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, an Israel war hero and a man the Sunday Times calls a “pillar of the defense establishment,” says that Iran is a “very, very, very long way from building a nuclear capacity.” Eilam charges, “The intelligence community is spreading frightening voices about Iran,” and that such an attack would be “counter productive.”

Maybe this is all saber rattling aimed at getting the U.S. to step up the pressure on Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Maybe, as Eilam charges, it is all about the IDF getting “a bigger budget.” Maybe it is a diversion from the charges that Israel committed war crimes in its invasion of Gaza, its settlement building on the West Bank, and the diplomatic storm it has reaped from its assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai.

But ramping up the rhetoric of war in a volatile region can lead to a misstep-by accident or design-and once the dogs of war are off their leash, it will be hard to bring them to heel.

Late development: The U.S. is transporting 387 bunker-busters, including BLU-110 and massive BLU-117 bombs, to the British controlled Island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, suggesting that Washington is still contemplating an attack on Iran-or wants Teheran to think so.

Conn Hallinan is a Foreign Policy In Focus (www.fpif.org) columnist.

——————————————————————————–

Bombing Iran?

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2010/04/01/new-moral-politics-video-on-iran-war-game-scenario/

“Hold Me Back!” by Uri Avnery

http://www.planetarymovement.org/go/newsflash/%93hold-me-back%21%94-by-uri-avnery/

Former Def. Minister: Israel Will Attack Iran by Nov.
 
http://tinyurl.com/israelwillattackiranbyNovember
 
http://america-hijacked.com/2010/04/03/former-def-minister-israel-will-attack-iran-by-nov/

Bombing Iran?

Bombing Iran?

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2010/04/01/new-moral-politics-video-on-iran-war-game-scenario/

Nuking the Mullahs
http://america-hijacked.com/2010/04/08/nuking-the-mullahs/

“Hold Me Back!” by Uri Avnery

http://www.planetarymovement.org/go/newsflash/%93hold-me-back%21%94-by-uri-avnery/

War of Words Over Iran

http://www.newsdissector.com/blog/2010/04/04/earthquakes-on-the-west-coast-more-sabre-rattling-against-iran-is-the-devil-responsible/

A former Israeli Defense Minister has said that Israel will be COMPELLED to take military action against Iran by November. This is clearly a warning and a threat to Iran and America. A war just before the election will no doubt be used to undermine the Democrats and the Obama Administration and allow demagogues on the right to trot out their most hawkish rhetoric. Israel is seeking to shift media attention from peace with Palestinians to war with Iranians.

BEIJING — Tehran’s top nuclear envoy called for negotiations without threat of sanctions on Friday, following meetings in Beijing in the wake of U.S. reports saying China had dropped its opposition to possible new U.N. measures against Iran.

Saeed Jalili sidestepped questions on whether China had confirmed to him that it had changed its position on a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear program. He maintained that both Iran and China sought a return to the negotiating table.

“(Our) Chinese friends all say this problem can only be solved through negotiations and peaceful means. And some big countries should give up their incorrect actions. Pressuring through sanctions will be ineffective,” Jalili said.

What War with Iran Means:

http://america-hijacked.com/2010/04/02/what-war-with-iran-means/

Manufacturing consent for an attack on Iran?

Obama: Evidence Shows Iran is Developing Nukes
 
By Amir Oren
 
Evidence shows Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons, U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS on Friday, adding that he felt his administration should continue the pressure on Tehran to cooperate with the international community over its “contentious” nuclear program.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25128.htm
 
===
 
Former IAEA Chief: Iraq War Killed “A Million Innocent Civilians”
 
By Patrick Martin
 
Mohammed ElBaradei, said that those who launched the war in Iraq were responsible for killing a million innocent people and could be held accountable under international law. He was clearly referring to US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and their top military and security aides.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25132.htm

Former Def. Minister: Israel Will Attack Iran by Nov.

 Former Def. Minister: Israel Will Attack Iran by Nov.

http://newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/Timmerman-Israel-Iran-nuclear/2010/04/02/id/354614


Friday, April 2, 2010 12:36 PM
By: Ken Timmerman

Israel will be compelled to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities by this November unless the U.S. and its allies enact “crippling sanctions that will undermine the regime in Tehran,” former deputy defense minister Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday in Tel Aviv.

The sanctions currently being discussed with Russia, China, and other major powers at the United Nations are likely to be a slightly-enhanced version of the U.N. sanctions already in place, which have had no impact on the Iranian regime.

And despite unanimous passage of the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act in January, the Obama administration continues to resist efforts by Congress to impose mandatory sanctions on companies selling refined petroleum products to Iran.

In an Op-Ed in the Israeli left-wing daily, Haaretz, Sneh argues that Iran will probably have “a nuclear bomb or two” by 2011.

“An Israeli military campaign against Iran’s nuclear installations is likely to cripple that country’s nuclear project for a number of years. The retaliation against Israel would be painful, but bearable.”

Sneh believes that the “acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran during Obama’s term would do him a great deal of political damage,” but that the damage to Obama resulting from an Israeli strike on Iran “would be devastating.”

Nevertheless, he writes, “for practical reasons, in the absence of genuine sanctions, Israel will not be able to wait until the end of next winter, which means it would have to act around the congressional elections in November, thereby sealing Obama’s fate as president.”

Sneh does not foresee any U.S. military strikes on Iran, an analysis that is shared by most observers in Washington, who see the Obama administration moving toward containment as opposed to confrontation with Iran.

In a recent report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), military analyst Anthony Cordesman concluded that Israel will have to use low-yield earth-penetrating nuclear weapons if it wants to take out deeply-buried nuclear sites in Iran.

“Israel is reported to possess a 200 kilogram nuclear warhead containing 6 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium that could be mounted on the sea launched cruise missiles and producing a Yield of 20 kilo tons,” Cordesman writes in the CSIS study he co-authored by Abdullah Toukan.

Israel would be most likely to launch these missiles from its Dolphin-class submarines, he added.

While Sneh is no longer in the Israeli government, his revelation of a drop-dead date for an Israeli military strike on Iran must be taken seriously, Israel-watchers in the U.S. tell Newsmax.

“Ephraim Sneh is a serious guy,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “He was deputy minister of defense and has long been focused on the issue of Iran.”

Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director for Security Policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), said that what struck her most about Sneh’s comments was the shift of emphasis from resolving the Palestinian problem to Iran.

“For 30 years, he’s been saying that solving the Palestinian problem is Israel’s biggest priority. Now he’s saying, forget about the Palestinians. Iran is the problem.”

Sneh “is extremely well regarded on the left and the right,” she added. “People respect him enormously.”

In his Op-Ed, Sneh argues that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs to mend its bridges with the United States, and the only way to do so is by enacting an immediate and total ban on any settlement activity, including in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

“Without international legitimacy, and with its friend mad at it, Israel would find it very difficult to act on its own” against Iran, he argued.

——————————————————————————–

Ken Timmerman has been associated with JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) which Colin Powell had conveyed was in control of the Pentagon and has been associated with the Mossad as well according to what Phil Giraldi writes in the following article:

Neoconned Again?

http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2007/06/27/neoconned-again/

Even Colin Powell has conveyed (in Washington Post correspondent Karen DeYoung’s bio book about him) that the ‘JINSA crowd’ was/is control of the Pentagon (via JINSA associated Dick Cheney of course!):

A War for Israel? Colin Powell seems to think so:

http://www.warwithoutend.co.uk/wake-up-america-your-government-is-hijacked-by-zionism/2006/10/08/a-war-for-israel-colin-powell-seems-to-think-so.php 

Additional via http://tinyurl.com/mearsheimer

——————————————————————————

War of Words Over Iran

http://www.newsdissector.com/blog/2010/04/04/earthquakes-on-the-west-coast-more-sabre-rattling-against-iran-is-the-devil-responsible/

A former Israeli Defense Minister has said that Israel will be COMPELLED to take military action against Iran by November. This is clearly a warning and a threat to Iran and America. A war just before the election will no doubt be used to undermine the Democrats and the Obama Administration and allow demagogues on the right to trot out their most hawkish rhetoric. Israel is seeking to shift media attention from peace with Palestinians to war with Iranians.

BEIJING — Tehran’s top nuclear envoy called for negotiations without threat of sanctions on Friday, following meetings in Beijing in the wake of U.S. reports saying China had dropped its opposition to possible new U.N. measures against Iran.

Saeed Jalili sidestepped questions on whether China had confirmed to him that it had changed its position on a fourth round of U.N. sanctions against Tehran for its nuclear program. He maintained that both Iran and China sought a return to the negotiating table.

“(Our) Chinese friends all say this problem can only be solved through negotiations and peaceful means. And some big countries should give up their incorrect actions. Pressuring through sanctions will be ineffective,” Jalili said.

Bombing Iran?

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2010/04/01/new-moral-politics-video-on-iran-war-game-scenario/

“Hold Me Back!” by Uri Avnery

http://www.planetarymovement.org/go/newsflash/%93hold-me-back%21%94-by-uri-avnery/

Is Israel About to Trigger a New Middle East War?

http://america-hijacked.com/2010/04/03/is-israel-about-to-trigger-a-new-middle-east-war/