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Tag Archives: Israel
Israel just released Mahmoud Sarsak after holding him for three years with no charges, because Israel can do that.
1. Benighted wasteland Texas provides two stories, elected official Louie Gohmert, (R-Texas), reveals his understanding of a fiendish plot whereby terrorist pregnant ladies give birth in the US, then whisk their babies back to the Axis of Evil to rear them as Manchurian candidates…much like Barack Obama, himself.
…And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby,” said Gohmert. “They wouldn’t even have to pay anything for the baby. And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists. And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.
“Coddled”? And by the way, why wouldn’t they have to pay anything for the baby? I mean, babies are free, in the sense that they just come right out of your body, but usually there are at least hospital bills involved.
Rep Gohmert is apparently climbing aboard the “ignore the 14th amendment” bandwagon that is gaining ground among Constitution-loving Americans.
2. Which reminds me to post a link a to this cool campaign by United Farm Workers. You think Mexicans are stealing your jobs? Apply for those jobs here.
3. Also in Texas news, taking a page from shariah law, the state GOP includes recriminalization of oral sex in its party platform.
I assume somewhere it also says it wants less government interference in people’s private lives.
4. Israel has seized seven oxygen machines that were donated to the Palestinian authority.
Israel confiscated seven oxygen machines en route to hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza based on the claim that there was a chance the generators attached to the machines would not be used for medical purposes, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported Saturday.
5. Real Middle East expert Juan Cole is getting tired of dealing with fake Middle East experts. Also, this:
More recently I have provoked the ire of a burly former Israeli military prison guard at the notorious Ketziot detention camp during the first Intifada, who is among our foremost journalists of the Middle East and given a prominent perch at The Atlantic magazine–Jeffrey Goldberg.
Goldberg has not only not exactly been at the forefront of the peace movement, he has argued and agitated against doing anything practical to achieve this increasingly unlikely goal. He is the Rottweiler of ideologues when it comes to making sure that no Israeli policy is ever criticized by anyone without his branding the critics bigots and even genocidal. Since, as noted, Goldberg is possibly still an Israeli army reservist and actively served in the Israeli Army as a prison guard during the first Intifada or Palestinian uprising, I can’t understand why anyone takes him seriously when he lashes out at critics of Israeli policy. I mean, what would you expect? If an Arab-American had served in the Palestine Authority police, would anyone give him a perch at The Atlantic and routinely bring him on CNN to denounce critics of Mahmoud Abbas?
It’s hard to know what to believe these days, you can’t even trust your old, reliable eyes when it comes to footage and photos. So if you were skeptical about the footage Israel was posting on YouTube, your instincts were the right ones.
Here’s an article at The Arabist about Israel’s photos of purported weapons caches found aboard the Mavi Marmara. As you might have guessed, the pictures were actually taken several years earlier and, naturally, someplace else.
My friend Ibn Kafka has a wonderful post catching Israel in a propaganda f**k-up. The Israeli Ministry Foreign Affairs posted on its Flickr account pictures of the terrifying weapons they found on the IHH ship. You know, things like bulletproof vests for emergency services, pepper spray, kitchen knives, bits of wood and other weapons of mass destruction. Except that they did not realize that Flickr displays EXIF data, which is the information that cameras record when they take pictures: aperture, shutter speed, flash status… and the time the picture was taken.
Which, as Flickr commenters quickly pointed out, was sometime in 2006.
So the Israeli MFA quickly changed the EXIF date, but not before I was able to take snapshots of before and after:
In other news, an American citizen had her eye put out by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers. Story here at Salon.
A student at New York’s Cooper Union School of Art is recovering in an Israeli hospital after being shot in the face with a tear gas canister on Monday during a demonstration at a check point between Israel and the West Bank.
“They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face,” said Soren Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer who was standing with Henochowicz at the protest.
In related news, the US strongly feels that only Israel can properly investigate this incident, as any other entity
might be impartial might not have Israel’s best interests at heart is unncessary when Israel already has the politicians ready and able to tell us what happened. Guardian story here.
This is so shameful that it’s almost as if
Cheney GWB were still president.
The Americans also blocked criticism of Israel for violating international law by assaulting a ship in international waters in the security council statement proposed by Turkey, the Palestinians and Arab nations.
Yeah! Why criticize Israel just because they violated international law in one more way, this time by assaulting a humanitarian ship in international waters, killing nine, whose names they haven’t even released yet? It’s not like they’re Somali pirates or anything.
And vice president Biden plays the absolute moron with these statements:
“They’ve said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza,’”, he said. “So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping… 3,000 rockets on my people.
“Look, you can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not — but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”
JERUSALEM – Israeli commandos on Monday stormed six ships carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid mission to the blockaded Gaza Strip, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens
Twice in this story there’s a claim by the Israelis that the civilians on the ship used weapons seized from Israeli commandos. I’m trying to figure out how the civilians seized weapons from soldiers who hadn’t attacked them yet. I’m really trying to figure out how the civilians seized weapons from Israeli commandos at all.
Does this make sense to anyone? A little help here?
An Al-Jazeera reporter on one of the Turkish ships said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it. The Israelis, who had declared they would not let the ships reach Gaza, said they only opened fire after being attacked by activists with sticks, knives and live fire from weapons seized from the Israeli commandos.
The Israeli military said troops only opened fire after encountering unexpected resistance from the activists. Activists attacked troops with knives and iron rods, and opened fire with two pistols seized from the forces.
Response so far:
The tough Israeli response drew condemnations from Turkey, France and the U.N.’s Mideast envoy, while Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel’s air force chief.
About 10,000 Turks also marched from Israel’s Consulate in Istanbul toward the city’s main square, shouting slogans denouncing Israel. The protesters earlier Monday tried storm the Consulate building but were blocked by police.
The Israeli ambassadors in Sweden, Spain, Denmark and Greece were summoned for meetings, and the French foreign minister called for an investigation.
In neighboring Jordan, hundreds demonstrated in the capital Amman to protest the Israeli action and demand that their government breaks diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
The United Nations expressed “shock” and condemned the killings. “We are in contact with the Israeli authorities to express our deep concern and to seek a full explanation,” said a statement from the highest-ranking U.N. official in the region, Robert Serry.
Presumably the US response will be, “Israel has a right to defend its territory.” What do you think?
UPDATE: the AP story at the link now is not the same story I linked to this morning. Additional information has been added and quotes have been removed. Sorry about that; I have no control over altering the news.
UPDATE: Swedish novelist Henning Mankell was on board one of the ships and is reported to be fine.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz is publishing some editorials highly critical of the raid. I wish we would publish such things here in the US. A couple of titles:
Here are a couple of stories to look into. The Arab News reports:
RAMALLAH: The chief Israeli pathologist and director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir, professor Yehuda Hiss, has admitted harvesting organs from the bodies of dead Palestinians without the consent of their families.
From the penultimate paragraph of the WSJ article:
What do Fadi Kabboul, Aref Richany Jimenez, Radwan Sabbagh and Tarek Zaidan El Aissami Maddah have in common? The answer is that they are, respectively, executive director for planning of Venezuelan oil company PdVSA; the president of Venezuela’s military-industrial complex; the president of a major state-owned mining concern; and, finally, the minister of interior. Latin Americans of Middle Eastern descent have long played prominent roles in national politics and business. But these are all fingertip positions in what gives the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship its worrying grip.
Wow, was your mind just blown? Iran is infiltrating the highest levels of the Venezuelan oil sector using…Christian immigrants from Lebanon! I don’t mean to add fuel to the fire or anything, but I think I saw a Sikh cab driver in Caracas once too.
The commenters at BoRev are pretty sure that all those guys are of Lebanese Christian descent, but I can’t verify it. After all, most people don’t have to declare their ethnic descent and religion to the world. A google search on their names mostly brings up dozens of blog posts about this WSJ article. Plus the dismaying realization that attempts to link Iran to Venezuela through Arab Christians has been going on for a while.
There are several sites out there linking Venezuelan Minister of the Interior Tarek El Aissami to Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime in the sense that his great uncle was a Baathist, and I can’t figure out if that’s true or not, but I can pretty much guarantee that a tie to the Iraqi Baathist party is pretty much the opposite of a tie to Iran.
Plus, why did the WSJ writer, Bret “They All Look Alike to Me” Stephens, include Tarek El Aissami’s middle name and maternal last name? He doesn’t go by them, and his name is plenty scary-Arab-sounding without them.
See more mocking of Bret here. I only regret that there isn’t a lot more mocking.
Mike Huckabee’s trip to Israel has led to some thoughtful blog posts at various blogs I read. Polls are showing Huckabee, Palin, and Romney as all leading contenders for the next Republican primary. I found this here:
Mike Huckabee just told CBN: “One of the things I find most interesting is that generally Evangelicals are so much more supportive of Israel than the American Jewish community.”
In case you were wondering, CBN is the Christian Broadcasting Network.
This is what I find heartening:
I don’t know that Huckabee’s assertion is true, and I think it would depend on how one defines being “supportive,” but I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong either. It’s clear from my own personal experience that during the last 25 or so years, the number of American Jews in my circle who think that Israel holds the moral high ground and is a vulnerable but righteous democratic state surrounded by a sea of bloodthirsty Arab barbarians has declined dramatically, even as the pro-Israeli right has actively courted the conservative Christian community with those very same claims.
Well thank goodness. I think it’s true, too. And I sure hope it is. To paraphrase a comment I saw on a blog somewhere a while ago,
They say Israel is America’s only friend in the middle east. Before the creation of Israel, America didn’t have an enemy in the middle east.
Uh-oh, just found this, and it’s not good:
HUCKABEE: Basically, there really is no such thing as — I have to be careful in saying this, because people will really — but there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.
As a former governor of Arkansas, does Mr Huckabee also think there is no such thing as a Cherokee, a Chickasaw, a Chocktaw, or an Osage, and if so, does he say it out loud?
Since formatting may prevent you from reading the whole thing, here’s the link to the comic.
This is footage shot at a rally outside the American consulate in Jerusalem. Interesting stuff, but it doesn’t include my favorite quote, “It’s the land of the Jews. Leave us alone.” That’s from Feeling the Hate in Tel Aviv, if I remember right.
But it does have the delightful, “If we are important enough to them, then they should give us money but not tell us what to do.”
On July 23, thousands of Jewish settlers and their right-wing allies in the Knesset gathered in front of the American consulate in Jerusalem for a torchlight rally against Obama’s proposals. My friends Joseph Dana and Mairav Zonszein were there with a video camera to document the demonstrators’ histrionics. According to Dana, no other journalists shot video of the event.
“Saddam Hussein Obama! Saddam Hussein Obama!” the settlers chanted. “Piss off, you little shit!” a young radical growled when asked if he had a message for the American president.
“I believe if Barack Obama manages to hurt Israel they will be punished,” said another twenty-something rightist. “At some point Israel will survive and America will fall.”
The most remarkable comment came from a demonstrator who claimed that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a former civilian volunteer for the Israeli army and the son of a former member of the Zionist terrorist group Irgun, is a self-hating Jew.
Emanuel “is an auto-anti-Semite,” the protester said. “He is a Jew that has something against his Jewishness.”
In another era, it might have been possible to dismiss such a remark as paranoia from the far-right fringe. Unfortunately, Netanyahu is reported to have said the very same thing in private discussions with his top advisers. According to Ha’aretz correspondent Barak Ravid, the Israeli Prime Minister has routinely referred to Emanuel and David Axelrod as “self-hating Jews.” Like the settlers whose rhetoric he apparently emulates, Netanyahu has become unhinged by Obama’s interference with Israel’s ongoing colonization of the West Bank.
Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, will hold several meetings this week with top members of Netanyahu’s government. Seeking to tamp down on the growing rancor between Tel Aviv and Washington, Mitchell called the meetings “discussions between friends.”
That’s weird: the date on the video is July 27th and the date in the story is July 23rd. Video found here.
Rahm Emanuel was mentioned, and therefore I shall post his photo.
Yesterday president Barack Obama said the US will remain a strong partner to the Iraqi people. Is that the best we can do? How come Iraq can’t get an Israel-style, we’ll-support-you-unthinkingly-no-matter-what kind of pledge from the US president?
After all, Obama said this about Israel just a couple months ago:
“The United States was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, minutes after its declaration of independence, and the deep bonds of friendship between the US and Israel remain as strong and unshakable as ever.”
And this a month ago:
“America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties.”
But when it comes to Iraq, we get nothing more than:
“Iraq’s future now rests in the hands of its own people,” he added. “This transition won’t be without problems. We know that there will be difficult days ahead. That is why we will remain a strong partner to the Iraqi people on behalf of their security and prosperity.”
What cultural and historical ties do we have with Israel that we don’t have with Iraq? We have a million Arab Americans in the United States, compared to five or six million Jews. And while Arabs haven’t achieved the high penetration of US government that Jews have, we do and have had Arab-American senators, governors, and presidential candidates, plus a former CENTCOM commander.
Of course I’m mixing apples and oranges. Israel is the homeland of all Jews, promised to them by The One God, or so I am assured by Yisrael Medad and an anonymous, ringleted young man, among others. Whereas Iraq is not the homeland of all Arabs.
However, Iraq is the cradle of civilization*. Talk about a cultural and historical tie! And some artifacts from that cradle of civilization still exist despite soldiers’ trampling historic sites and the widespread looting of unprotected museums. That 4,300-year-old bronze mask of an Akkadian king which graced an American school textbook, for example, may still exist.
But to get back to the present, let’s talk about our relationship with Iraq over the last six years. Our former president took us to war there to liberate Iraqis, right? Am I remembering right? Let’s see, from January 2003:
US President George W Bush rallied US troops on Friday, telling them that a war in Iraq would be “not to conquer but to liberate”.
Oh no, wait, no, he said this at the same time:
“We prefer voluntary compliance from Iraq. Force is our last choice but if force becomes necessary to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction… to secure our country and to keep the peace, America will act deliberately, America will act decisively, and America will prevail because we’ve got the finest military in the world.”
Then we moved in and started our partnership with the beleaguered people of Iraq, some of whom had asked us for help.
In the invasion phase of the war (March 19-April 30), 9,200 Iraqi combatants were killed along with 7,299 civilians, primarily by U.S. air and ground forces. Coalition forces reported the death in combat of 139 U.S. military personnel and 33 UK military personnel. This work out at almost 100 dead Iraqis for every dead coalition soldier.
Iraq’s health has deteriorated to a level not seen since the 1950s, said Joseph Chamie, former director of the U.N. Population Division and an Iraq specialist. “They were at the forefront”, he said, referring to health care just before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. “Now they’re looking more and more like a country in sub-Saharan Africa.” Malnutrition rates have risen from 19% before the US-led invasion to a national average of 28% four years later. Some 60-70% of Iraqi children are suffering from psychological problems. 68% of Iraqis have no access to safe drinking water. A cholera outbreak in northern Iraq is thought to be the result of poor water quality. As many as half of Iraqi doctors have left the country since 2003.
Wow, that was some high malnutrition in Iraq! Which reminds me that our partnership with Iraq started much earlier and included crippling sanctions.
The number of Iraqis killed through 2007 ranges from “a conservative cautious minimum” of more than 85,000 civilians to a survey estimate of more than 1,000,000 citizens. UNHCR estimates the war uprooted 4.7 million Iraqis through April 2008 (about 16% of the population of Iraq), two million of whom had fled to neighbouring countries fleeing a humanitarian situation that the Red Cross described in March 2008 as “among the most critical in the world”.
Iraq’s silent figurehead president, Jalal Talabani, said this in 2005:
“We owe to those American heroes who came to liberate us from the worst kind of dictatorship,” Jalal Talabani said at the Pentagon after meeting with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and other officials.
“Thanks to your brave Army, now Iraqi people (are free),” he said, adding that for the first time Iraqis have freedom of expression, political parties, media — “of everything.”
He said “the glorious American people” have paid the price for others’ freedom throughout history. “You in the United States have paid hundreds of thousands of your sons and your boys in fighting against fascism and in liberating Asian people,” Talabani said. “Thanks to you, you liberated Afghanistan from the worst kind of reactionary regime; you liberated Iraq from the worst kind of dictatorship.”
After a tongue bath like that, you’d think we could come through with an Israel-style carte blanche statement of undying love, but no.
So we’ve invested six years, about three trillion dollars, sacrificed four thousand US soldiers’ lives, left behind 500 US soldiers’ limbs, displaced four million Iraqis, gotten 100,000 Iraqis (or maybe over a million, nobody has an accurate count) killed dead, turned 50,000 Iraqi women into prostitutes, and installed a government more or less like what the architects of the war originally dreamed of, all to liberate the Iraqis.
So why can’t we get an “unbreakable bond” with the people of Iraq?
*one of five such cradles of civilization: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus, Shang (or Yellow River valley), Mesoamerica and Andean South America.[
I was surprised to see the mainstream press reporting on this. Here’s a Yahoo News/Time Magazine report on the mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers and the Israeli system.
Under Israeli military law, which prevails in the Palestinian territories, the crime of throwing a stone at an Israeli solider or even at the monolithic 20-ft.-high “security barrier” enclosing much of the West Bank can carry a maximum 20-year-prison sentence. Since 2000, according to the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoner Affairs, more than 6,500 children have been arrested, mostly for hurling rocks.
Human-rights groups in Israel and elsewhere have also condemned the punishment meted out to Palestinian children by Israeli military justice. Most onerous, says Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human-rights group B’Tselem, is that inside the territories, the Israeli military deems any Palestinian who is 16 years and older as an adult, while inside Israel, the U.S. and most other countries, adulthood is reached at age 18.
The report states that “the ill-treatment and torture” of Palestinian child prisoners “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political and military chain of command.” The group’s director, Rifaat Kassis, says the number of child arrests rose sharply in the past six months, possibly because of a crackdown on Palestinian protests in the West Bank in the aftermath of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.
The Geneva organization’s report alleges that under Israeli military justice, it is the norm for children to be interrogated by the Israeli police and army without either a lawyer or a family member present and that most of their convictions are due to confessions extracted during interrogation sessions or from “secret evidence,” usually tip-offs from unnamed Palestinian informers. If so, the practice may violate the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which Israel ratified in 1991. In response to TIME’s queries, a lawyer for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that under “security legislation” and Israel’s interpretation of international law, no lawyer or relative need be present during a child’s interrogation.
According to the Israeli human-rights group Breaking the Silence, a few Israeli soldiers are alarmed by their own troops’ behavior. The group cites the testimony of two officers who complained before a military court that during an operation last March in Hares village, soldiers herded 150 male villagers, some as young as 14, into a schoolyard in the middle of the night, where they were kept bound, blindfolded and beaten over the course of more than 12 hours.
But Khalid Quzman, a defense lawyer at the Israeli military courts, says, “We don’t complain anymore because it’s a waste of time.” More than 600 complaints of torture and ill treatment were filed between 2001 and 2008, he says, “and not a single criminal investigation was ever carried out.”