Yemen signs military cooperation agreement with US

Yemen signs military cooperation agreement with US

[24 January 2009]

SANA’A, Jan. 24 (Saba) -

Yemen and the US signed on Saturday the
cooperation agreement between both sides in the areas of training,
technical information and the military defense.

The agreement was signed during a meeting between the general staff
Ali Ahmed al Ashwal and the US ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche.

The meeting also discussed the ways of reinforcing cooperation
between the two armies of the two countries.

Russian official: Nabucco not a rival to other gas pipeline projects

Russian official: Nabucco not a rival to other gas pipeline projects

Interfax-Ukraine

Budapest – Russia does not see the Nabucco pipeline project, a plan to supply Europe with natural gas from Central Asia and Iran via Turkey, as a rival to South Stream or Nord Stream projects, both of which involve exports of Russian gas to Europe, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said on Saturday.

Russia supports the idea of diversifying routes of gas delivery to Europe, Zubkov said in Budapest, after a meeting of a Russian-Hungarian commission for economic cooperation.

“The monopoly position of Ukraine as a transit route for Russian gas worries us … gas supplies to Europe should be diversified. There may be various kinds of risks, terrorism and technical difficulties among others. Construction of the South Stream, Nord Stream and Nabucco pipelines should go ahead,” he said.

“Russia has no objections to alternative projects,” Zubkov said.

He also advocated building large gas reserve depots. “It is important that all three pipelines should be supplied with [gas] on a guaranteed basis. Russia has large, necessary sources of gas for South Stream and Nord Stream. The Shtokman and Yamal fields can be sources of trillions of cubic meters of gas for Europe,” he said.

Russia does not see Nabucco as a rival project, the first deputy prime minister said. “Our project has all it needs for its implementation – we have a resource base, a market in Europe and experience of putting into practice complicated technical projects of this kind,” he said.

The development of the Nabucco pipeline may prove to be a positive result of the recent gas crisis, Zubkov said. Nabucco “may be a good monument to pride and ill-thought-out decisions,” he said.

Hungarian Finance Minister Janos Veres said South Stream would contribute to Hungary’s energy security and confirmed his country’s belief in the proposed diversification of its sources of energy and routes of its delivery.

A secure partnership in energy trade had taken shape between Hungary in Russia in recent decades, he said. “We want to sustain it, and there is interest in it on both sides,” Veres said.

Gazprom: South Stream gas pipeline project to go ahead despite world crisis

Gazprom: South Stream gas pipeline project to go ahead despite world crisis

Budapest – The global financial crisis will not lead to either the scrapping or the delay of the South Stream pipeline project, a plan to transport Russian natural gas along the Black Sea to the Balkans and further to Italy, said Alexander Medvedev deputy chief executive of Gazprom.
This year “is dedicated to preparing a feasibility study for all routes of the pipeline, [and] as soon as the feasibility study is finished it will lead to an investment decision,” Medvedev told reports in Budapest on Saturday.

“We have no major reason to put back the deadline for the implementation of the project,” he said.

South Stream is one of several pipeline projects designed to bypass Ukraine. Nord Stream, another Russian back project, envisions building a pipeline along the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and further to the United Kingdom.

Russia’s devastating financial crisis of 1998 did not stop another Gazprom project, Blue Stream, from coming into being, Medvedev said. “Blue Stream was put into practice at the peak of the crisis of 1998. Nothing can make a good project be canceled or put off,” he said.

Medvedev was speaking after he attended a meeting in Budapest of a Russian-Hungarian economic cooperation commission.

Serbian President opposes formation of KSF

B. Tadic, Visoki Decani, April 26 ’08

Serbian President opposes formation of KSF

24. January 2009. | 09:29

Source: EMportal

Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concerning the formation of the Kosovo security forces.

Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concerning the formation of the Kosovo security forces.

“Your Excellencies,

I would like to inform you about Serbia’s stance concerning the recent activities performed by the provisional authorities in the southern Serbian province, Kosovo-Metohija, being under the provisional jurisdiction of the UN according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Serbia opposes the formation of the so-called Kosovo security forces in Pristina and considers it an illegal paramilitary formation, which is a serious threat to the security of my country. Their current and future activities will jeopardise peace and stability in the Western Balkans, which all countries in the region strive to achieve.

I would like to point to the fact that the Kosovo security forces are not in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, but in line with the so-called Ahtisaari plan, which has never been adopted by the UN Security Council.

The formation of the Kosovo security forces is a violation of the Serbian Constitution and entirely unacceptable to Serbia. Serbia therefore considers that they must be disbanded immediately.

I would like to affirm once again that Serbia will continue its cooperation with the status-neutral international civilian missions, which operate in the province according to Resolution 1244. Serbia will monitor the situation in security terms, especially now that the so-called Kosovo security forces have been formed.

I expect further cooperation regarding this issue, which is of vital importance for Serbia”, concludes the letter.

French Naval Forces Joining International Force

Sarkozy Orders French Frigate to Patrol Gaza Coast

Readers Number : 234

24/01/2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday ordered a frigate deployed immediately to the waters off Gaza in an effort to “fight arms smuggling and consolidate a fragile cease-fire.”

A statement by Sarkozy’s office said he is asking that a helicopter-carrier be sent to international waters off Gaza in full cooperation with Egypt and Israel.

He ordered Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to immediately coordinate closely with the United States and Europe to propose other ways to fight arms smuggling on land and at sea.

“With a fragile cease-fire in place and Israeli forces now out of Gaza, the urgency now is to consolidate the cease-fire through humanitarian action, a total end of arms trafficking to Gaza, the reopening of passages, reconstruction and inter-Palestinian reconciliation”, the statement said.

It added that France’s actions “must be matched by a total and permanent reopening of the border crossings to Gaza. That is why the president reiterated his call for a rapid re-activation of the Rafah checkpoint, under European control in which France will take part fully.”

Sarkozy traveled twice to the region to help put together a cease-fire in an initiative with Egypt between Israel and the Hamas resistance movement.

Israel launched an offensive Dec. 27 on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 1,300 people were killed before the cease-fire took effect Sunday.

International Law and Israel’s War on Gaza

International Law and Israel’s War on Gaza

When the Oslo Document was originally presented by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in the Fall of 1992, it was rejected by the Delegation because it obviously constituted a bantustan. This document carried out Menachem Begin’s disingenuous misinterpretation of the Camp David Accords–expressly rejected by U.S. President Jimmy Carter–that all they called for was autonomy for the people and not for the land too.

Soon thereafter, unbeknownst to the Delegation and to almost everyone else, the Israeli government opened up a secret channel of negotiations in Norway. There the Israeli government re-presented the document that had already been rejected by the Palestinian Delegation in Washington, D.C. It was this document, with very minor modifications, that was later signed at the White House on 13 September 1993.

Before the signing ceremony, I commented to a high-level official of the Palestine Liberation Organization: “This document is like a straight-jacket. It will be very difficult to negotiate your way out of it.” This PLO official agreed with my assessment and responded: “Yes, you are right. It will depend upon our negotiating skill.”

Of course I have great respect for Palestinian negotiators. They have done the best they can negotiating in good faith with the Israeli government that has been invariably backed up by the United States. But there has never been any good faith on the part of the Israeli government either before, during or after Oslo. Ditto for the United States.

Even if Oslo had succeeded, it would have resulted in the imposition of a bantustan upon the Palestinian People. But Oslo has run its course! Therefore, it is my purpose here today to chart a NEW DIRECTION for the Palestinian People to consider.

An agenda for an international legal response:

First, we must immediately move for the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United Nations System, including the General Assembly and all U.N. subsidiary organs and bodies. We must do to Israel what the U.N. General Assembly has done to the genocidal rump Yugoslavia and to the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa! Here the legal basis for the de facto suspension of Israel at the U.N. is quite simple:

As a condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization, Israel formally agreed to accept General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) (1947) (partition/Jerusalem trusteeship) and General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) (1948) (Palestinian right of return), inter alia. Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated both Resolution 181 (II) and Resolution 194 (III). Therefore, Israel has violated its conditions for admission to U.N. membership and thus must be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout the entire United Nations System.

Second, any further negotiations with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181 (II) and its borders; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other relevant principles of public international law.

Third, we must abandon the fiction and the fraud that the United States government is an “honest broker.” The United States government has never been an honest broker from well before the very outset of these negotiations in 1991. Rather, the United States has invariably sided with Israel against the Palestinians. We need to establish some type of international framework to sponsor these negotiations where the Palestinian negotiators will not be subjected to the continual bullying, threats, harassment, intimidation and outright lies perpetrated by the United States government.

Fourth, we must move to have the U.N. General Assembly impose economic, diplomatic, and travel sanctions upon Israel pursuant to the terms of the Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950), whose Emergency Special Session on Palestine is now in recess.

Fifth, the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must sue Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian People in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention!

Sixth, An International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) can be established by the UN General Assembly as a “subsidiary organ” under article 22 of the UN Charter. Article 22 of the UN Charter states the UN General Assembly may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions. The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and Prosecute suspected Israeli war criminals for offences against the Palestinian people.

On January 4, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire wrote to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and Father Miguel D’Escoto President of United Nations General assembly adding her voice to the many calls from International Jurists, Human rights Organizations, and individuals, for the UN General Assembly to seriously consider establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel in view of the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Francis A. Boyle is Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois. He was Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (1991-93)

Breaking Gaza ’s Will: Israel ’s Enduring Fantasy

Breaking Gaza ’s Will: Israel ’s Enduring Fantasy

My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza .

I was looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no avail.

All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is Gaza today – homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.

I paused as I reached a horrifying photo in the slideshow of a young boy and his sister huddled on a single hospital trolley waiting to be identified and buried. Their faces were darkened as if they were charcoal and their lifeless eyes were still widened with the horror that they experienced as they were burned slowly by a white phosphorus shell.

It was just then that Sammy walked into my room snooping around for a missing toy. “What is this, daddy?” he inquired.

I rushed to click past the horrific image, only to find myself introducing a no less shocking one. Fretfully, I turned the monitor off, then turned to my son as he stood puzzled. His eyes sparkled inquisitively as he tried to make sense of what he had just seen.

He needed to know about these kids whose little bodies had been burned beyond recognition.

“Where are their mummies and daddies? Why are they all so smoky all the time?”

I explained to him that they are Palestinians, that they were hurting “just a little” and that their “mummies and daddies will be right back.”

The reality is that these children and thousands like them in Gaza have experienced the most profound pain, a pain that we may never in our lives comprehend.

“I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons,” Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who had recently returned from Gaza told reporters in Oslo .

“This is a new generation of very powerful small explosives that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 metres

“We have not seen the casualties affected directly by the bomb, because they are normally torn to pieces and do not survive, but we have seen a number of very brutal amputations.”

The dreadful weapons are known as dense inert metal explosives (DIME), “an experimental kind of explosive” but only one of several new weapons that Israel has been using in Gaza , the world’s most densely populated regions.

Israel could not possibly have found a better place to experiment with DIME or the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas than Gaza .

The hapless inhabitants of the strip have been disowned. The power of the media, political coercion, intimidation and manipulation have demonised this imprisoned nation fighting for its life in the tiny spaces left of its land.

No wonder Israel refused to allow foreign journalists into the tiny enclave and brazenly bombed the remaining international presence in Gaza .

As long as there are no witnesses to the war crimes committed in Gaza , Israel is confident that it can sell a fabricated story to the world that it is, as always, the victim, one that has been terrorised and, strangely enough, demonised as well.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on January 15.

“Livni said that these were hard times for Israel , but that the government was forced to act in Gaza in order to protect Israeli citizens.

“She stated that Gaza was ruled by a terrorist regime and that Israel must carry on a dialogue with moderate sources while simultaneously fighting terror.”

The same peculiar message was conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he declared his one-sided ceasefire on January 17.

Never mind that the “terrorist regime” was democratically elected and had honoured a ceasefire agreement with Israel for six months, receiving nothing in return but a lethal siege interrupted by an occasional round of death and destruction.

Livni is not as perceptive and shrewd as the US media fantasises. Blunt-speaking Ehud Barak and stiff-faced Mark Regev are not convincing men of wisdom. Their logic is bizarre and wouldn’t stand the test of reason.

But they have unfettered access to the media, where they are hardly challenged by journalists who know well that protecting one’s citizens doesn’t require the violation of international and humanitarian laws, targeting medical workers, sniper fire at children and demolishing homes with entire families holed up inside. Securing your borders doesn’t require imprisoning and starving your neighbours and turning their homes to smoking heaps of rubble.

Olmert wants to “break the will” of Hamas, i.e. the Palestinians, since the Hamas government was elected and backed by the majority of the Palestinian people.

Isn’t 60 years of suffering and survival enough to convince Olmert that the will of the Palestinians cannot be broken? How many heaps of wreckage and mutilated bodies will be enough to convince the prime minister that those who fight for their freedom will either be free or will die trying?

Far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman, a rising star in Israel , is not yet convinced. He thinks that more can be done to “secure” his country, which was established in 1948 on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian towns and villages. He has a plan.

“We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II,” said the head of ultra-nationalist opposition party Yisrael Beitenu.

A selective reader of history, Lieberman could only think of the 1945 atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima . But something else happened during those years that Lieberman carefully omitted. It’s called the Holocaust, a term that many are increasingly using to describe the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip.

It is strange that conventional Israeli wisdom still dictates that “the Arabs understand only the language of force.” If that were true, then they would have conceded their rights after the first massacre in 1948. But, following more than 60 years filled with massacres new and old, they continue to resist.

“Freedom or death,” is the popular Palestinian mantra. These are not simply words, but a rule by which Palestinians live and die. Gaza is the proof and Israeli leaders are yet to understand.

My son persisted. “Why are Palestinians so smoky all the time, Daddy?”

“When you grow up, you’ll understand.”

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” (Pluto Press, London ).

NATO: the Imperial Pitbull

NATO: the Imperial Pitbull

One of the deceptive clichés of Western accounts of post World War II history is that NATO was constructed  as a defensive arrangement to block the threat of  a Soviet attack on Western Europe.  This is false. It is true that Western propaganda played up the Soviet menace, but many key U.S. and Western European statesmen recognized that a Soviet invasion was not a real threat.  The Soviet Union had been devastated, and while in possession of a large army it was exhausted and needed time for recuperation. The United States was riding high, the war had revitalized its economy, it suffered no war damage, and it had the atomic bomb in its arsenal, which it had displayed to  the Soviet Union by killing a quarter of  a million Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hitting the Soviet Union before it recovered or had atomic weapons was discussed in Washington, even if rejected in favor of “containment,”  economic warfare, and other forms of  destabilization. NSC 68, dated April 1950, while decrying the great Soviet menace, explicitly called for a program of destabilization aimed at regime change in that country, finally achieved in 1991.

Thus,  even hardliner John Foster Dulles stated back in 1949  that “ I do not know of any responsible high official, military or civilian…in this government or any other government, who believes that the Soviet now plans conquest by open military aggression.”   But note Dulles’ language—“open military aggression.”   The “threat” was more a matter of  possible Soviet support to left political groups and parties in Western Europe. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, a prime mover of NATO, openly stated that the function of  a NATO military buildup would be “chiefly for the practical purpose of assuring adequate defense against internal subversion.”  The much greater support of  rightwing forces by the United States was, of course, not  a help to internal subversion,  and a threat to democracy; only possible Soviet  help to the left fit that category. (Recall Adlai Stevenson’s claim in the late 1960s that the resistance within South Vietnam by indigenous forces hostile to the U.S.-imposed minority regime was “internal aggression.”)

The non-German Western European elites were more worried about German revival and a German threat, and, like U.S. officials, were more concerned about keeping down the power of the left in Europe than any Soviet military threat—and the United States was pressing the Europeans to build  up their armed forces, and buy arms from U.S. suppliers! Although knowingly inflated or even concocted, the Soviet military threat was still very useful in discrediting the left by tying it to Stalin and bolshevism and an alleged Soviet invasion and  mythical world conquest program.

In fact, the Warsaw Pact was far more  a “defensive” arrangement than NATO; its organization followed that of  NATO and was clearly a response, and it was a structure of the weaker party  and with less reliable members.  And in the end, it collapsed, whereas
NATO was important in the long-term process of  destabilizing and dismantling the Soviet regime. For one thing,  NATO’s armament and strength were part of the U.S. strategy of forcing the Soviets to spend resources on arms rather than provide for the welfare, happiness and loyalty of their population. It also encouraged repression by creating a genuine security threat, which, again, would damage popular loyalty and the reputation of the state abroad.  Throughout this early period the Soviet leaders tried hard to negotiate some kind of peace settlement with the West, including giving up East Germany, but the United States and hence its European allies-clients would have none of it.

As noted, in the U.S. official–hence mainstream media– view, only Soviet intervention in Western Europe after World War II was bad and threatened “internal subversion.” But in a non-Orwellian world it would be recognized that the United States far outdid the Soviet Union in supporting not only “internal subversion” but also real terrorism in the years after 1945. The left had gained strength during World War II by actually fighting against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The United States fought against the left’s subsequent bids for political participation and  power by any means, including direct warfare in Greece and by massive funding of anti-left parties and politicians throughout Europe. In Greece it supported the far right, including many former collaborators with fascism, and succeeded in putting in place a nasty rightwing authoritarian regime.  It continued to support fascist Spain and accepted fascist Portugal as a founding member  of NATO, with NATO arms helping Portugal pursue its colonial wars. And the United States, the dominant NATO power,  supported rightwing politicians and former Nazis and fascists elsewhere, while of course claiming to be pro-democratic and fighting against totalitarianism.

Perhaps most interesting was the U.S. and NATO support of  paramilitary groups and  terrorism. In Italy they were aligned with state and rightwing political factions, secret societies (Propaganda Due [P-2]), and paramilitary groups that, with police cooperation,  pursued what was called a  “Strategy of Tension,” in which a series of terrorist actions were carried out that were blamed on the left. The most famous was the August 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station, killing 86. The training and integration into police-CIA-NATO operations of former fascists and fascist collaborators was extraordinary in Italy, but common elsewhere in Europe (for the Italian story, see Herman and Brodhead, “The Italian Context: The Fascist Tradition and the Postwar Rehabilitation of the Right,” in Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection [New York: Sheridan Square, 1986]. For Germany, see William Blum, on “Germany 1950s,” in Killing Hope [Common Courage: 1995]).

NATO was also linked to “Operation Gladio,” a program organized by the CIA, with collaboration from NATO governments and security establishments, that  in a number of European states set up secret cadres and stashed weapons, supposedly preparing for the threatened Soviet invasion, but actually ready for “internal subversion” and available to support rightwing coups. They were used on a number of occasions by rightwing paramilitary groups to carry out terrorist operations (including the Bologna bombing, and many terrorist incidents carried out in Belgium and Germany).

Gladio and NATO plans were also used to combat an “internal threat”  in Greece in 1967: namely, the democratic election of  a liberal government. In response, the Greek military put into effect a NATO “Plan Prometheus,”  replacing  a democratic order with a torture-prone military dictatorship. Neither NATO nor the Johnson administration objected. Other Gladio forces, from Italy and elsewhere, came to train in Greece during its fascist interlude, to learn how to deal with “internal subversion.”

In short, from its inception NATO showed itself to be offensively, not defensively, oriented, antagonistic to diplomacy and peace,  and intertwined with widespread terrorist operations and other forms of political intervention that were undemocratic and actual threats to democracy (and if traceable to the Soviets would have been denounced as brazen subversion). .

The Post-Soviet NATO

With the ending of the Soviet Union, and that menacing Warsaw Pact, NATO’s theoretical rationale disappeared.  But although that rationale was a fraud, for public consumption NATO still needed to redefine its reason for existence, and it also soon took on a larger and more aggressive role. With no need to support Yugoslavia after the Soviet demise, NATO soon collaborated with its U.S. and German members to war on and dismantle that former Western ally, in the process violating the UN Charter’s prohibition of  cross-border warfare (i.e., aggression).

Amusingly, in the midst of  the NATO bombing war against Yugoslavia, in April 1999, NATO held its 50th anniversary in Washington, D.C.,  celebrating its successes and with characteristic Orwellian rhetoric stated its devotion to international law while in the midst of its ongoing blatant violation of the UN Charter. In fact, the original  1949 NATO founding document had begun by reaffirming its members “faith in the UN Charter,” and in Article 1, undertaking, “as set forth in the UN Charter, to settle any international disputes  by peaceful means.”
The April 1999 session produced a   “Strategic Concept” document that laid out a supposedly new program for NATO now that its “mutual defensive” role in preventing a Soviet invasion had ceased to be plausible. (“The Alliance’s Strategic Concept,” Washington, D.C., April 23, 1999 (http://www.nato.int/docu/pr/1999/p99-065e.htm )). The Alliance still stresses “security,” though it has “committed itself to essential new activities in the interest of a wider stability.” It welcomes new members and new “partnership” arrangements, though why these are necessary in a post-Cold War world with the United States and its closest allies so powerful is never made clear. It admits that “large-scale conventional aggression against the Alliance is highly unlikely,” but of course it never mentions the possibility of  “large-scale conventional aggression” BY members of the Alliance, and it  brags about the NATO role in the Balkans as illustrative of  its “commitment of a wider stability.”  But not only  was this Alliance effort a case of  legal aggression—“illegal but legitimate” in the Orwellian phrase of  key apologists–contrary to this paper, NATO played a major destabilization role in the Balkans, helping start the ethnic warfare and refusing to pursue a diplomatic option in Kosovo in order to be able to attack Yugoslavia in a bombing war that was in process while this document was being handed out. (For a discussion of the NATO role, see Herman and Peterson, “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” Monthly Review, Oct. 2007: http://monthlyreview.org/1007herman-peterson1.php )

“Strategic Concept” also claims to favor arms control,  but in fact from its very beginning NATO promoted more armaments, and all the new members like Poland and Bulgaria have been obligated to build up their “inter-operable” arms, meaning  getting more arms and buying them from U.S. and other Western suppliers. Since this document was produced in 1999, NATO’s leading member, the United States, has more than doubled its military budget and greatly increased arms sales abroad;  it has pushed further into space-based military operations; it has  withdrawn from the 1972 ABM treaty, refused to ratify the Comprehensive (Nuclear) Test Ban Treaty, and rejected both the Land Mine treaty and UN Agreement to Curb the International Flow of Illicit Small Arms. With NATO’s aid it has produced a new arms race, which  many  U.S. allies and clients, as well as rivals and targets, have joined.

The 1999 document also claims NATO’s support for  the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but at the same time it  stresses how important nuclear arms are for NATO’s power—it therefore rejects a central feature of the NNPT, which involved a promise by the nuclear powers to work to eliminate nuclear weapons. What this means is that NATO is keen only on non-proliferation by its targets, like Iran. Nuclear weapons “make a unique contribution in rendering the risks of aggression against the Alliance incalculable and unacceptable.”  But if Iran had such weapons it could make “Alliance”  “risks of aggression”—which Alliance member the United States and its partner Israel have threatened—unacceptable. Obviously that would not do.

In its Security segment, Strategic Concept says that  it struggles for a security environment “based on the growth of democratic institutions and commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in which no country would be able to intimidate or coerce any other through the threat or use of force.”  The hypocrisy here is mind-boggling. The very essence of NATO policy and practice is to threaten the use of force, and U.S. national security policy is now explicit that it plans to maintain a military superiority and prevent any rival power from challenging that superiority in order to hold sway globally—that is, it plans  to rule by intimidation.

NATO now claims to threaten nobody, and even talks in Strategic Concept  about possible joint “operations” with Russia. Again, the hypocrisy level is great.  As we know, there was a U.S. promise made to Gorbachev when he agreed to allow East Germany to join with the West, that NATO would not  move “one inch” further East. Clinton and NATO quickly violated this promise, absorbing into NATO all the former  Eastern European Soviet satellites as well as the Baltic states. Only self-deceiving fools and/or propagandists  would not recognize this as a security threat to Russia, the only power in the area that could even theoretically threaten the NATO members. But Strategic Concept plays dumb, and only threats to its members are recognized.

Although “oppression, ethnic conflict” and the “proliferation of weapons of mass destruction” are alleged great concerns of  the new NATO, its relations with Israel are close, and no impediment whatsoever has been (or will be) placed on Israeli oppression, ethnic cleansing, or its semi-acknowledged substantial nuclear arsenal, and of course neither its war on Lebanon in 2006 nor its current murderous attacks on Gaza have impeded warm relations, any more than the US-UK unprovoked attack on Iraq reduced NATO-member solidarity. If Israel is a highly favored U.S. client, it is then by definition free to violate all the high principles mentioned by Strategic Concept. In 2008 NATO and Israel have signed a military pact, so perhaps NATO will soon be helping Israel’s “security” operations in Gaza. (In fact, Obama’s choice as National Security Adviser, James Jones, has over the past year or so been clamoring for NATO troops to occupy the Gaza Strip and even the West Bank. He is not a lone voice in the U.S. establishment).

The new NATO is a U.S. and imperial pitbull. It is currently helping rearm the world, encouraging the military buildup of  the  former Baltic and Eastern European Soviet satellites–now U.S. and NATO satellites–working closely with Israel as that NATO partner ethnically cleanses and dispossesses its untermeschen–helping its master establish client states on the Russian southern borders, officially endorsing the U.S. placement of  anti-ballistic missiles in Poland, the Czech Republic, Israel, and threateningly elsewhere, at a great distance from the United States,  and urging the integration of  the U.S. plans with a broader NATO “shield.” This virtually forces Russia into more aggressive moves and  accelerated rearmament (just as NATO did in earlier years).

And of course NATO supports the U.S. occupation of  Iraq. NATO secretary-general Scheffer regularly boasts that all 26 NATO states are involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, inside Iraq or Kuwait.  Every single  Balkan nation except for Serbia has had troops in Iraq, and now has them in Afghanistan. Half of  the former Soviet Commonwealth of  Independent States have also provided troops for Iraq, with some of these also in Afghanistan. These are training grounds for breaking in and “inter-operationalizing” the new “partners,” and developing a new mercenary base for the growing “out of area” operations of NATO, as NATO participates more actively in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As noted, NATO brags about its role in the Balkans wars, and both this war and the wars in Iraq,  Afghanistan and Pakistan have violated the UN Charter. Lawlessness is built-in to the new “strategic concept.”  Superceding the earlier (fraudulent) “collective self defense,”  the ever-expanding NATO powers give themselves the authority to conduct military campaigns “out-of-area” or so-called “non-Article V” missions beyond NATO territory.  As the legal scholar Bruno Simma noted back in 1999, “the message which these voices carry in our context is clear: if it turns out that a Security Council mandate or authorization for future NATO ‘non-Article 5′ missions involving armed force cannot be obtained, NATO must still be able to go ahead with such enforcement. That the Alliance is capable of doing so is being demonstrated in the Kosovo crisis.” (“NATO, the UN and the Use of Force: Legal Aspects,” European Journal of International Law, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1999, reproduced at http://www.ejil.org/journal/Vol10/No1/ab1.html).

The new NATO is pleased to be helping its master project power across the globe. In addition to helping encircle and threaten Russia,  it pursues “partnership arrangements” and carries out joint military maneuvers with the so-called Mediterranean Dialogue countries (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and Algeria). And NATO has also established new partnerships with the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates), thereby expanding NATO’s military  ambit from the Atlantic coast of Africa to and throughout the Persian Gulf. In the same time frame there has been a unbroken series of NATO visits to and naval exercises with most of these new partners as well as (this past  year) the first formal NATO-Israeli bilateral military treaty.

The pitbull is well positioned to help Israel continue its massive law violations,  to help the United States and Israel threaten and perhaps attack Iran, and to enlarge its own cooperative program of  pacification of distant peoples in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and no doubt elsewhere—all in the alleged interest of peace and that “wider stability” mentioned in Strategic Concept.  NATO, like the UN itself, provides a  cover of seeming multilateralism for what is a lawless and virtually uncontrolled imperial expansionism.  In reality, NATO, as an aggressive global arm of  U.S. and other local affiliated imperialisms, poses a serious threat to global peace and security. It is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary, and while it should have been liquidated back in 1991, it has instead expanded,  taking on a new and threatening role traced out in  its 1999 Strategic Concept and enjoying  a frighteningly malignant growth.

CIA TERMINATOR-DRONES KILL 19 IN CONTINUING WAR ON PAKISTAN

Drones fire on Pakistan tribal area

More than 15 attacks from pilotless drones have hit North Waziristan since September [File: EPA]

At least 19 people have been killed in two missile attacks by suspected US drones flying over northwest Pakistan.

In the first assault, three missiles were launched on a house in North Waziristan close to Afghanistan, intelligence officials and witnesses said on Friday.

“According to initial information, five militants including foreigners were killed,” one official said.

Ismail Wazir, a resident, said: “Nine bodies have been pulled out the rubble.”

The house was in the village of Zharki, near Mir Ali, and was hit shortly after 5pm local time.

The second attack, just a few hours later, hit near Wana in South Waziristan. Ten people are said to have died.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Pakistan, Kamal Hyder, said: “The attacks are the first since President Barack Obama took office and announced his special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and, more importantly, on the eve of tribal chieftains meeting the president of Pakistan.”

Tribal chiefs are expected to raise the issue of US drone attacks, which have killed civilians as well as armed fighters, and provoked considerable anger in the region.

Frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan’s failure to stem the flow of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from its tribal regions into Afghanistan, the US stepped up cross-border attacks last year.

It carried out about 30 attacks using pilotless drones in 2008, according to a Reuters tally, more than half after the beginning of September.

The attacks have killed more than 220 people, according to Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials and residents.

Pakistan objects to the attacks, saying they are a violation of its territory and undermine its efforts to tackle increasing fighter activity.

No change

The strikes come one day after Obama, the new US president, appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tribesmen gather to pray a day before they raise the drones issue with the president [AFP]

Pakistan had hoped the new US administration would review its policy although during his election campaign had Obama spoken about the possibility of further missions in the area.Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, and General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of Pakistan’s military, met David Petraeus, the US Central Command chief, in Islamabad on Tuesday to discuss ways that the US could assist the country in combating extremism.

US and Afghan officials have said Pakistan is not doing enough to combat fighters in the region, who have crossed over from Afghanistan to attack US and Nato troops.

Pakistan rejects those accusations.

UN fears ‘systematic war crimes’ by Israel



Falk: ‘against an essentially defenceless population’

UN fears ‘systematic war crimes’ by Israel

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights says ‘unlawful targets have been selected’ by Israel.
GENEVA – A UN human rights expert on Thursday said Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip during its recent offensive there raised “the spectre of systematic war crimes” and needed to be investigated.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, said he had little doubt about the “unavoidably inhuman character of a large scale military operation of the sort that Israel has initiated… against an essentially defenceless population.”

Falk told journalists that Israeli military operations in the densely populated territory among a population weakened by an 18 month blockade “raises the spectre of systematic war crimes.”

“Unlawful targets have been selected” during the fighting, he said.

“The evidence of breaking of fundamental rules of international humanitarian law is so compelling,” he added, backing calls for an independent, international investigation.

Falk, a legal expert, said that the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip was effectively trapped in a war zone and prevented from fleeing, even if they were ill, wounded, or children.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted by a large majority on January 12 to set up a probe into “grave” human rights violations by Israeli forces against Palestinians.

More than 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians and nearly a third of them children, were killed and 5,300 wounded by the 22-day Israeli offensive.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed in Israel during the same period.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated Wednesday his demand for a full explanation of “outrageous” Israeli attacks on UN facilities in the Gaza Strip including a school used as a refuge for civilians.

Palestinian justice minister meets ICC prosecutor

Palestinian Justice Minister Ali Kashan met International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo Thursday to discuss the situation in Gaza, a court official said.

“The Palestinian justice minister came to The Hague today,” said Beatrice le Fraper, a special advisor to the prosecutor,.

They had “a long discussion … which included allegations of crimes committed in Gaza”.

The court started work in 2002 as the world’s first permanent tribunal on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

It can put an individual on trial if the alleged crime was committed on the territory of, or by a national of, a signatory to the Rome Statute which created the court, or if requested by a state party, which Israel is not.

The prosecutor could start an investigation into the Gaza situation at the request of the United Nations Security Council, or if Israel were to voluntarily accept the court’s jurisdiction.

The International Federation of Human Rights and Amnesty International have accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

Ritual Murder in Gaza

Ritual Murder in Gaza

Many people around the world, especially Arabs, have been looking to the Obama administration, hoping that his call for change will extend to fairness for Palestinians. They might as well hope for rain in the middle of the Arabian Desert in July, notes Paul J. Balles.
The United Nations says some 50,800 Palestinians are now homeless and 400,000 are without running water.

Israel, in a disgustingly conciliatory mood, says it will allow 143 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid into Gaza, plus 60,000 litres of fuel.

Disgustingly conciliatory because they kept aid from getting to the needy long before the latest conflict and all during it. Instead of starving Gaza into submission, Israel decided to slaughter as many as their US-supplied sophisticated armaments could manage.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports 1,314 Palestinians were killed during the conflict, including more than 400 children. More than 5,000 people were injured, nearly 2,000 of them children.

All of 13 Israelis were killed in what Israel consistently calls self-defence. Nine of those were military, four of whom were killed by friendly fire. When Israel called a ceasefire on Saturday [17 January], it brazenly announced it had met its war aims.

Hamas declared a “great victory” over Israel when it announced its own truce. Was that Israel’s aim? Or did it include the disappearance of entire neighbourhoods as reported by BBC’s Christian Fraser?

“Isn’t it Time for a War Crimes Tribunal?” headlines Robert Fisk, adding: It’s a wrap, a doddle, an Israeli ceasefire just in time for Barack Obama to have a squeaky-clean inauguration with all the world looking at the streets of Washington rather than the rubble of Gaza.”

Fisk also points out “history was quite forgotten. The Hamas rockets were the result of the food and fuel siege; Israel broke Hamas’s own truce on 4 and 17 November 2008. Forgotten is the fact Hamas won the 2006 elections, although Israel has killed a clutch of the victors.”

Since September 2005, Gaza has been nothing but a refugee camp. Israel simply transferred the Israeli settlers who had been in Gaza to the West Bank. This expanded the Israeli occupation and left the Palestinians isolated in Bantustans.

It’s obvious simply from their behaviour that the Israelis want to have Egypt annex and take over the responsibility for controlling Gaza. At the same time, they want to force an exodus of West Bank Palestinians to Jordan.

Noam Chomsky has noted: “… Gaza should be turned into a cage, a prison basically, with Israel attacking it at will, and meanwhile in the West Bank we’ll take what we want. There was nothing secret about it.”

Chomsky supported his conclusion by referring to a speech by Ehud Olmert in May 2006: “He simply announced to a joint session of Congress and to rousing applause, that the historic right of Jews to the entire land of Israel is beyond question.”

How will the Israelis accomplish the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? Chomsky, again, is quite clear: “… they have sufficient military control over the West Bank to terrorize the population into passivity.”

Meanwhile, the West and the corrupt minions among Palestinians, like Mahmoud Abbas, talk of ridiculous ideals of a two-state solution. Salah Bardaweel, spokesman for Hamas, reports that “Abbas, the acting Palestinian Authority chief, played a key role in the war and in assassinating Hamas’s senior political leaders, through his spies in the coastal strip”.

Despite its propaganda, Israel has never made a serious effort to negotiate toward a Palestinian state. When Israel speaks about Hamas using its ceasefires to rearm itself with its ineffective rockets through tunnels to Egypt, it is projecting. It is Israel which has been stalling serious negotiations in order to further terrorize the Palestinians.

“The only thing Israel has proved it can do militarily better than anyone else,” writes Yvonne Ridley, “is kill innocent women and children. And in its genocidal drive to wipe the Palestinian people from existence it has dealt itself a fatal blow.”

Chris Hedges reminds the US that the Palestinian reaction to Israeli occupation should be familiar to Israelis:

Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, says that the Israeli government will have no dealings with Hamas terrorists. But Tzipi Livni’s father was Eitan Livni, the chief operations officer of the terrorist Irgun Zvai Leumi, which fought against the British occupation of Palestine. The underground Jewish group set off a massive bomb in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, a blast in which 91 victims were killed, including four Jews. These Jewish terrorists hanged two British sergeants and booby-trapped their corpses. Irgun, together with the terrorist Stern gang, massacred 254 Palestinians in 1948 in the village of Deir Yassin. Tell me the moral difference between Irgun Zvai Leumi, the Stern gang and Hamas. I fail to see one.

It’s not enough that Israel has become the best-armed and largest gang of terrorist thugs in the world. Anyone aware of what happened in the UN with a ceasefire proposal to be voted on must have realized that Israel controls America when Olmert had Bush call off a vote by the US, which drafted the proposal.

Why? “I [Olmert] spoke with him [Bush]; I told him: You can’t vote for this proposal. He said: listen, I don’t know, I didn’t see, don’t know what it says. I told him: I know, and you can’t vote for it! He then instructed the secretary of state, and she did not vote for it.”

Writing in Counterpunch, Brian Cloughley says: “The worst of all the barbarians who are killing children and their mothers and fathers in Gaza are the Israeli pilots who mercilessly bomb houses occupied by terrified families. And they are staunchly supported by the House of Representatives of the United States of America.” The US Senate has also supported the savagery. Cloughley adds:

These pilots, these vile little war-gamers of the skies, these latter-day examples of what Tom Wolfe called “The Right Stuff”, can zoom over towns full of traumatized children and happily heave and hurl their bombs and rockets to kill yet more Palestinian kids without the remotest chance of being shot down. How heroic; how truly gladiatorial. How contemptible.

Amnesty International has accused Israel of war crimes, saying its use of white phosphorus in Gaza was indiscriminate and illegal. When a young burn victim in Vietnam was photographed running down a road in flame, Americans protested vigorously. When Israel burns Gaza’s children with phosphorous, the media ignores it.

Obama’s unbridled support for Israel doesn’t bode well. He’s been doing everything he can to play both sides of the political spectrum, and the political spectrum in the US is all one-sided when it comes to Israel. The secretary of state is as mesmerized by Israel as is the US Congress and the administration.

“During the July 2006 Lebanon war, Barack Obama stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hezbollah raids and rocket attacks,” reports the new White House website. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have consistently supported foreign assistance to Israel,” concludes the entry.

They defend and support the annual foreign aid package that involves both military and economic assistance to Israel and have advocated increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these funding priorities are met. They have called for continuing US cooperation with Israel in the development of missile defence systems.

It will be interesting to see how long it will take Americans suffering as a result of the financial crisis to object to the continuing Israeli bailout. Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will surely come under scrutiny as unnecessary financial diversions from needed benefits to Americans.

Many people around the world, especially Arabs, have been looking to the Obama administration, hoping that his call for change will extend to fairness for Palestinians. They might as well hope for rain in the middle of the Arabian Desert in July.

Alternatively, visit the White House website and respond to the new administration’s invitation to comment, claiming that “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history”. The address is http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. Let them know that you know that Israel is not the innocent victim that the propaganda makes it out to be.

Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see pballes.com. This article appeared in Redress Information & Analysis.

Lebanon may claim gas deposit found off Israel’s coast

Noble Energy Announces Significant Natural Gas Discovery at Tamar Well Offshore Israel

Ronny Shitzer
Tamar-1 drill site Photo: Ronny Shitzer

Lebanon may claim gas deposit found off Israel’s coast

Beirut’s Ministry for Energy and Water says part of natural gas field found near Haifa may be on Lebanese territorial water, plans to lobby for drill site’s registration with UN authorities

Gil Feiler, Doron Peskin

Published: 01.21.09, 08:12 / Israel Money
The Lebanese Ministry for Energy and Water has expressed an interest in reports of a natural gas deposit found off the Haifa coast.

Noble Energy said on Sunday that it discovered more than three trillion cubic feet of natural gas off Israel’s northern shores, at the Tamar-1 drill site located 56 miles west of the Haifa Port.

Drill Bits
Large quantities of natural gas found off Haifa coast / Reuters
More than 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered at well off of Israel’s Mediterranean coast. ‘This appears to be the largest discovery in the company’s history,’ says Noble Energy president
Full story

Tuesday’s meeting of the ministry’s water and energy committee, which was attended by Energy and Water Minister Alain Tabourian, saw committee head Mohammad Qabbani say Lebanon intends on lobbying for the drill site to be registered with the proper UN authorities, since there is a possibility that some of it is actually in Lebanese territorial water.

Qabbani urged the parliament to “take whatever legal measures needed to insure that Lebanon’s territorial water rights are preserved,” and recommended Tabourian send US-based Noble Energy an official warning informing it that “it is working for the Israeli enemy and must be wary not to infringe on Lebanon’s rights, should the gas deposit prove mutual.”

Qabbani explained his concerns by saying that Israel was the only country in the region “not bound by marine agreements.”

Lebanon’s energy market is depleted, forcing Beirut to import natural gas from Egypt.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF AMERICAN/ISRAELI USE OF RADICAL ISLAM AS A POLITICAL AND PARAMILITARY WEAPON

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Israel And The Logic of Being Untouchable

MARK GLENN PAINTS AN ACCURATE IMAGE OF THE BEAST.

Israel And The Logic of Being Untouchable

‘I, the LORD your God will send my terror ahead of you and throw every nation you encounter into confusion…I will drive out all these peoples before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you. Every place you set your foot will be yours…Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand against you and I, the LORD your God will put terror and dread of you on the whole land, wherever you go….”

–“Yahweh”, the god of Israel speaking to the Israelites through Moses, Books of Exodus and Deuteronomy

It is a scene (much like that infamous one involving the severed horse’s head in The Godfather) that has doubtlessly been burned into the memories now of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In the movie The Untouchables (dealing with the same theme of murderers and thugs) Robert DeNiro (playing real-life gangster Al Capone) dressed in the finest clothing money can buy is giving a speech in a fancy dining room full of his fawning criminal associates. The opulence and sophistication of the environment clash with the known fact that the room is peopled with individuals who–for all intents and purposes–are nothing but professional thugs and terrorists, despite their fancy threads, diamond pinky-rings, expensive cigars and $1,000-a-bottle champagne.

Having finished his “motivational” speech amidst the applause and appreciative laughter of all those listening, without warning he puts the “finishing touches” on his message by taking a baseball bat to the back of the head of one of his fellow travelers and beats him to death to the astonishment and horror of all.

Despite the fact that the first KA-BLAM to his victim’s skull no doubt sent him on to meet his maker in haste, DeNiro keeps wailing away, blow after blow after blow without mercy. When he finishes, he stands there, shifting his furious, menacing gaze from person to person, the unmistakable message on his face being–This is what happens when you get on my bad side fellas…

Such is the world of gangsters and terrorists. They know only one language and one way of life, which is to live by the sword. Thus they can only hold their organically-chaotic world together with fear and violence, and what this means more often than not is that the top dog of the pack has to make an example of one of the others (and even when nothing wrong has been done) just to remind the crew what the law of the jungle is all about and how not only is he to be feared, but indeed feared at all times.

And this is the unfortunate thing about terrorism–It works. It keeps people on their toes and at the same time off balance. For those living in close proximity to such circumstances, every moment is spent in dread and under the assumption that this day may be the last, that something might be said or done as seemingly insignificant as forgetting to cross a “t” or dot an “i” that results in someone getting whacked.

This is a theme worth consideration, and particularly when wading through the oceans of ‘expert’ analysis concerning Israel’s latest orgy of bloodletting in Gaza. Whether such cerebral commentary emanates from slightly-horrified people on the left or from orgasmic cheerleaders on the right, all seem to be micro-analyzing the event, theorizing what the “real” motivations were for bringing it about as well as projecting and predicting “this and that” with regards to future political machinations and circumstances involving the Jewish state and her neighbors.

Predictably, some of these “experts” think the bottom line is all financial in nature and see dollar signs as the reason, always safe waters in which to swim these days since you can’t be accused of being a bigot for pointing out the fact that the love of money is the root of all evil. The argument of course is that Israel is not the master but rather the unwitting slave (surprise, surprise) meaning a vassal state of mega-corporations, and– against her otherwise-humanitarian, peace-loving nature, of course–she is acting as the reluctant-yet-obedient hired gun in doing to Gaza what Halliburton and others did to Iraq in exploiting the various petroleum commodities deep underground. Others of the “Military-Industrial-Complex-is-the-root-of-all-evil-and-the-hidden-hand-in-all-things” crowd add even more smoke to an already-confusing battlefield-of-ideas by claiming that the 6,000 people in Gaza killed or maimed in Operation Cast Lead were in effect “lab rats” in testing out new weaponry America is hoping to sell to other countries, also a safe theory to stand behind, as it makes Uncle Sam the bad guy rather than poor, little Israel.

Of course, these ideas and many others may have some truth to them. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and if it is one thing all should have learned by now it’s that the ruling elite always find ways of squeezing every drop of blood they can out of the proverbial turnip and if there is to be violence somewhere then by all means it should be capitalized in maximizing every opportunity possible.

However, keeping the discussion in that over-intellectualized/ultra-technical realm, where complex themes are bantered about with even more complex language tends to distract otherwise concerned and interested persons from seeing that there are other motivating factors responsible for the bloodbath not as complicated as some might imagine. The problem however in this regard is that we’re not allowed to talk about these things, because they veer sharply into that uneasy realm of religion and how “matters of faith” can and do result in real-world actions on the part of true believers. Complicating this even further is the fact it is not just ANY religion under the microscope here, but rather the “gorilla in the room” tearing the place to pieces in one of its all-too-typical rampages. And if this weren’t bad enough, it is not just ANY gorilla of the ordinary, run-of-the-mill variety, but rather the “mother of them” all–King Kong Incarnate, and that gorilla’s name is Judaism.

Of course, over-propagandized people (and particularly those of the “Judeo-Christian” flavor) coming into contact with such an outlandish theory as this for the first time will no doubt ask how a “peace-loving/God-fearing religion” such as Judaism could find any moral justification for going in an slaughtering entire towns and cities of people, men women and children.

Well, the answer to that is as easy as the proverbial pouring water out of a boot with the directions on the heel. All one need do is spend 15 minutes strolling down memory lane and read that “Holy Book” known as the Old Testament and all its tales of Deity-inspired genocide against ‘the other’ for the prize to that million dollar question.

And at the risk of appearing like a broken record, what people must understand is that any kind of working comprehension concerning events in the Middle East must begin with the awareness that the Jews are creatures of their Old Testament, its various commandments, characters and covenants. The way they understand the big ol’ universe, as long as they do what their god Yahweh tells them with regards to slaughtering those who have fallen out of favor with him, then he will reward his chosen people with all sorts of perks, a few of which include ruling the world with a rod of iron and, relevant to this discussion–filling others with “terror and dread“.

Terror and dread. There isn’t a right-thinking human being in the world having witnessed what Israel did to the civilian population of Gaza recently who doesn’t understand this concept now. Every single Prime Minister, president, sultan, emir, and even the Pope himself, having watched this event and the complete lack of conscience on the part of–not just the Jewish state in the Middle East, but indeed the Jewish people worldwide, did a quick count of Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons, Jewish control of finance and economics in their respective countries and who then understood the very powerful yet subtle message being sent. Just as those seated around the table when that guy’s brains were beaten out all over the place, every person of measurable power in the world now understands how easily they could wind up in place of the Palestinians in Gaza if they don’t play their cards right. We can also be sure that this bloodshed–taking place as it is right before the “peaceful” transition of power in America where a dark-skinned man with a Muslim-sounding name took over was meant to convey a particular message as well lest he have any lingering questions about what kind of dog he is dealing with.

What it all boils down to, after all the fancy talk and theories, is that the reason this attack took place is because the great experiment in Jewish self-rule in the Middle East is failing. By virtue of the corruption, blackmail and bribery that must take place in lieu of Yahweh’s Old Testament miracles in keeping this sickly stillborn known as the Jewish state alive, the fact is that Yahweh is not living up to his promises. The stories in the Old Testament that revel in the Israelites’ defeat of the various peoples living there are over and done with in a few sentences. The Israelites invade, kill everyone and everything, collect the spoils, burn the cities and with no losses.

Now however, 60 years later, it is still dragging on with no signs of letting up. All those promises by their god to “drive out” the various peoples living there has not happened. The assurance that “Every place you set your foot will be yours“ has turned out to be one giant goose egg.…The plan to make their territory extend “from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea” is so much like that infamous “Special report” Geraldo Rivera did years ago when he opened Al Capone’s secret vault, only to find nothing. The “No one will be able to stand against you and I, the LORD your God will put terror and dread of you on the whole land, wherever you go” is not materializing…

On the contrary, the Palestinians and other “Ishmaelites” in the area are not giving up. The “terror” and “dread” Yahweh is supposed to be sowing in their hearts and minds is not there, save for a few corrupt leaders who fear losing their multi-million dollar paychecks courtesy of Uncle Sam. The people themselves–be they Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or whatever–do not fear the Jews as the Jews dream. The spell that the god of Israel is supposed to cast over Israel’s foes has no power. The harder the Arabs are hit… the more miserable their lives are made, the stronger their resolve to survive and as a result the Jews are getting batty. Every rock-throwing child or bottlerocket-launching member of Hamas is a living testimony to the fact that the god of the Jews is a fantasy, a mirage and a tin god with no real power outside of his ability to destroy their humanity. Whereas the “Christian” world cowers in fear merely at the prospect of being called names by the Jews, Palestinian Muslim children stare down Israeli tanks KNOWING they will be blown to bits and have no fear in their hearts, and again, in effect making a liar out of Yahweh and his promises of “putting terror” into the hearts of Israel’s enemies.

And indeed, if this is all mere fantasy, if there is no “Yahweh” and there is no “terror” being put in the hearts and minds of Israel’s enemies, what else is there? What other surprises are there in store? What other ideas upon which the Jewish state and Jewish identity have been founded are also rooted in fantasy? By extension, the moment Yahweh is revealed for the fraud he is, they cease being the “chosen” people “destined” to rule the world while “making footstools” of all their enemies…

…and it is the prospect of this, the possibility of falling from the grace and being forced to face the reality that they are not the most beautiful and cherished creatures in the garden, that they are not the god-men they envision themselves being but rather mere mortals is too much reality for them to face…

…which is why innocent men, women and children have to be bombed into oblivion, to keep the delusion alive and to stave off coming to grips with the truth that they–the Jews–are a mad people who have formed their identity around mad notions rooted in superiority and unadulterated narcissism. By virtue of this latest slaughter that figured (with the now-official blessings of worldwide Jewry) deliberate targeting of women and children, phosphorous bombs, using the bodies of dead children for target practice or loosing attack dogs on their remains, what the Jewish state and its supporters throughout the world are saying in effect is–

“We are barbarians…We hold no value in the lives of Gentiles who were created by the god of Israel to serve us…You will see things our way and you will participate in our delusion even if it means the consummation of all life on earth, and by our actions you now know we are willing to do it…”

None should be particularly surprised to learn of this. If it is one theme shoved down the throats of the Gentile world now for the last 4,000 years it’s that Israel, both as a people and now as a nation–is not like “other” nations. As she is fond of telling the rest of the world, her fabric and being cannot be compared to anything else. She is, as former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan called her, “a mad dog“, and as notable individuals from Menachem Begin to Elie Wiesel to Rabbi Mendel Schneerson have stated–“ontologically different”…that her people are “of a totally different quality from the other nations of the world“ since a non-Jewish soul comes from “three satanic spheres” while the Jewish soul “stems from holiness”.

In short, they make up this class of creation known as “the Untouchables,” and along with that comes a peculiar “logic” that escapes the understanding of the rest of us.

Yes, sometimes it really is as simple as that, something that does not need a whole hell of a lot of expert analysis and decoding. And remember, since 9/11, boiling it all down to whacked-out religious reasons is not just perfectly acceptable, but absolutely obligatory. We are not just permitted, but rather COMMANDED to put aside all “technical” explanations involving factors such as economics, history, colonialism or politics into the equation when trying to understand in a rational way this thing called “Islamic” terrorism. No, when it comes to understanding Ahab the Arab and why he wants to kill everyone, things such as “jihad”, “fatwa” and “72 virgins” will suffice, thank you very much.

Perhaps it was the remarks attributed to Mr. War Criminal Ariel Sharon himself who best encapsulated the Untouchable mindset as well as the idea that “Jews will be Jews” in an interview taking place in 1982-

“…You can call me anything you like. Call me a monster or a murderer. Call Israel by any name you like, call it a Judeo-Nazi state. Why not? Better a live Judeo-Nazi than a dead saint. I am not after the admiration of the gentiles. I don’t need their love. I don’t need to be loved by Jews either…”

“Even if you’ll prove to me that the present war in Lebanon is a dirty immoral war, I don’t care. Moreover, even if you will prove to me that we have not achieved and will not achieve any of our aims in Lebanon, that we will neither create a friendly regime in Lebanon nor destroy the Syrians or even the PLO, even then I don’t care. It was still worth it. And do you know why it is all worth it? Because it seems that this war has made us more unpopular among the so-called civilized world…”

“We’ll hear no more of that nonsense about that unique Jewish morality and all the bullshit talk about a unique people being a light upon nations. No more uniqueness and no more sweetness and light. Good riddance…I personally don’t want to be any better than Harry Truman who killed half a million Japanese with two fine bombs…”

“Tell me, do the baddies of this world have a bad time? They hunt and catch whatever they feel like eating. They don’t suffer from indigestion and are not punished by Heaven. I want Israel to join that club. Maybe the world will then at last begin to fear us instead of feeling sorry. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear our madness instead of admiring our nobility. Let them tremble, let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a wild country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go crazy, that we might go wild and burn all the oil fields in the Middle East, or that we might start World War Three just like that…”

“Let me tell you what is the most important thing, the sweetest fruit of the war in Lebanon: It is that now they don’t just hate Israel. Thanks to us, they now also hate all those Jews in Paris, London, New York, Frankfurt and Montreal, in all their holes, and I am telling you, it is a pleasure to watch. They are being identified with us and that’s a good thing…Their cemeteries are being desecrated, their synagogues are set on fire, all their old nicknames are being revived, they are being expelled from the best clubs, people shoot into their ethnic restaurants murdering small children, forcing them to remove any sign showing them to be Jews, forcing them to move and change their profession…”

“We are Judeo-Nazis, and why not? If your nice civilized parents had come here and had killed six million Arabs here or even one million, what would have happened? Sure, two or three nasty pages would have been written in the history books, we would have been called all sorts of names, but we could be here today as a people of 25 million…”

“Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don’t care. And I don’t mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. What you don’t understand is that the dirty work of Zionism is not finished yet, far from it…”

(c) 2009 Mark Glenn

Correspondent, American Free Press Newspaper

www.americanfreepress.net

Gaza, Israel and International Law

Gaza, Israel and International Law

Paul V. Rafferty:

We thought it best to advise our readers about some of the difficulties facing those who would charge Israel with War Crimes. While the cause is indeed just, the methodology must also be effective. (1)

First, attempts at filing charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) stand very little chance of success. The ICC is based upon the Rome Statute, a treaty which neither Israel nor the United States has signed. Therefore, since most International Law is based upon voluntary agreements, via treaties, the ICC has no clear jurisdiction over either Israel or the United States. (2)

Cogent legal arguments MAY be made, however, based upon the Geneva Conventions, since everyone is bound to observe International Humanitarian Law. The ICC MAY find a way to indict Israel, based upon the Geneva Conventions. (3)

In the meantime, based upon the Geneva Conventions, ANY National Government may institute proceedings, within its own legal system.

The best recourse, however, is through the International Court of Justice, ICJ or “The World Court”, an integral part of the United Nations system. Since Israel is a Member-State of the U.N. and therefore bound to observe the Charter of the United Nations, any ICJ Decision is binding.

Any and all U.N. Member-States (plus some U.N. agencies) may apply to the World Court for a Hearing on Gaza and Israel. (4)

Of course, ICJ Decisions must be implemented by the Security Council of the U.N. and since the U.S., as one of the five Permanent members of the Security Council, holds Veto Power over any proposed Security Council Resolution, there is little chance that Israel will be forced to do anything, whatever happens.

Nevertheless, all World Court Decisions carry a Moral Authority and should Israel be found Guilty of War Crimes, this in itself MIGHT help change the situation.

It didn’t after the non-binding ICJ Advisory Opinion on the “Separation Wall”, but who knows what may happen, in future ? (5)

Israel may welcome an opportunity to explain its actions, in an open impartial Courtroom.

Paul V. Rafferty

Footnotes

1. Israel must be judged at the International Criminal Court – Universal petition
http://www.tlaxcala.es/detail_campagne.asp?lg=en&ref_campagne=10

2. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Says Has No Jurisdiction In Gaza
By Reuters
Israel and the United States are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Rome Statute creating the court, but that would not prevent the ICC from launching an investigation.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21763.htm

3. The Geneva Conventions: the core of international humanitarian law http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/genevaconventions

4. Charter of the United Nations http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter

5. Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=4&code=mwp&case=131&k=5a

Please also see:

The BRussells Tribunal http://www.brusselstribunal.org

Charter of the United Nations http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter

International Court of Justice http://www.icj-cij.org

International Criminal Court http://www.icc-cpi.int

Israel Military Deploys Lawyers to Forestall War-Crimes Charges
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqhXg9VD8v6o&refer=home

First resumption of the seventh session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute : Final results of the election (Judges)
New York, 21 January 2009
http://www.icc-cpi.int/press/pressreleases/463.html

Does Israel fear its friends more than its enemies?

Does Israel fear its friends more than its enemies?

On December 18, 2008, Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies welcomed an honored American guest who participated in the 2nd Annual International Conference: Security Challenges of the 21st Century.

Former US Senator George Mitchell presented, “The American Perspective.” Note the definite article — Mitchell was not simply presenting an American perspective. Indeed, Haaretz reported yesterday that the institute’s director, Oded Eran, “found out on the eve of the conference that Mitchell had been chosen as the next Mideast envoy, though the envoy-designate did not discuss his new position.”

Did Mitchell’s anticipated imminent return to the region as President Obama’s Middle East envoy provide an added incentive for Israel to launch its assault of Gaza? After January 20 the strain on US-Israeli relations would have been severe.

But what could be so threatening about such a renowned American elder statesman? How could someone with Mitchell’s track record — a pivotal role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland — not provide an invaluable contribution to a moribund peace process?

Among Israel’s leaders and some of its most influential supporters it is Mitchell’s virtues that present the most ominous threat.

In The Jerusalem Post, under the headline, “Mitchell: Every conflict can be solved,” Herb Keinon candidly exposes Israel’s fear of an honest broker. Citing the findings of Mitchell’s 2001 report on the causes of the Second Intifada, Keinon writes:

    The Mitchell Report called for an immediate cessation of violence and a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Authority security cooperation, and a series of “confidence-building measures” to follow the cease-fire. The two key measures were that the PA had to “make clear through concrete action to Palestinians and Israelis alike that terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable and that the PA will make a 100-percent effort to prevent terrorist operations and to punish perpetrators”; and that Israel had to “freeze all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements.”
    One government official said Mitchell’s position on zero settlement construction, together with new National Security Adviser James Jones’s previous articulation of frustration at Israel’s inability to dismantle outposts, would likely put Israel and the new administration on a collision course.
    The official said that while Mitchell had been considered “a friend of Israel” when he was Senate majority leader from 1989-1995, his tenure as head of the Mitchell Committee left some in Jerusalem with the feeling that he was trying to be “too balanced.”
    The official said the apparent selection of Mitchell as special envoy, over more high-profile Jewish Middle East experts surrounding Obama – such as Dennis Ross, Daniel Kurtzer, Martin Indyk and Richard Holbrooke – might indicate that for the sake of balance, Obama did not want a Jew in that position.

Echoing the same fear that Mitchell’s appointment puts Israel at risk because he will be “too” fair, one of Israel’s most prominent American defenders was equally frank in revealing his doubts:

    “Sen. Mitchell is fair. He’s been meticulously even-handed,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “But the fact is, American policy in the Middle East hasn’t been ‘even handed’ — it has been supportive of Israel when it felt Israel needed critical U.S. support.
    “So I’m concerned,” Foxman continued. “I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

In as much as George Mitchell provokes fear among Israelis, he also crystallizes what should now be under debate.

The peace process has become a facade. Behind this facade, inside Israel, there has arisen a hardening conviction that peace is not possible. Mitchell poses a direct challenge to that conviction because he comes in with the opposite view:

    …from my experience in Northern Ireland I formed the conviction that there is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended. Conflicts are created and conducted by human beings. They can be ended by human beings. I saw it happen in Northern Ireland although admittedly it took a very long time. I believe deeply that with committed, persevering and active diplomacy it can happen in the Middle East.

The real question that confronts Israel is not, what can advance the peace process? The question is much starker: does Israel still believe in the possibility of peace or has it become resigned to existing in a perpetual state of war?

Yet to pose this question is to expose the fragility of the security bubble inside which Israel currently chooses to reside. For as much as Israel likes to assume the posture of an indomitable military power, the simple truth is that Israel’s military might is utterly dependent on America’s patronage — hence the threat posed by America as honest broker, as opposed to loyal defender. As honest broker, America cannot perpetually provide Israel with the option of choosing war instead of peace.

Belgian court petitioned to arrest Livni upon arrival in Brussels

Belgian court petitioned to arrest Livni upon arrival in Brussels

By Barak Ravid and Yoav Stern,

Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni. (Illustration added by Nawaat.org)European attorneys have reportedly petitioned a Belgian court to arrest Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni upon her arrival in Brussels later Wednesday, according to the Jawalan.com Web Site.

The complaints was apparently lodged on behalf of Belgian and French nationals with relatives who were either wounded or killed in Gaza, and calls for Livni to be arrested for war crimes.

The Foreign Ministry is looking into the report and the Israeli embassy in Brussels has not yet been involved in the matter, sources said.

Belgian law does not actually allow the arrest of a foreign official with high standing, but the matter could bring embarrassment to Israel and may represent the first in a string of lawsuits now being prepared by pro-Palestinian elements around the world.

Israeli human rights activists: Arrest Olmert, Livni, and Barak for war crimes

Meanwhile, anonymous self-described Israeli human rights activists have set up an Internet site detailing alleged war crimes committed by senior government officials and Israel Defense Forces officers.

No known human rights organization is behind the site, whose founders refuse to give their names.

The site, http://www.wanted.org.il, includes “arrest orders,” complete with pictures and personal details, for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,Livni, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and his two predecessors, Dan Halutz and Moshe Ya’alon, former air force commander Eliezer Shkedy and others.

It also explains how to inform the International Criminal Court in The Hague of when the “suspects” are outside Israel, and hence vulnerable to arrest.

The “arrest order” for Barak, for instance, states:

“On December 27, 2008, the suspect ordered an aerial assault on all of Gaza’s population centers.
The assault included hundreds of sorties by fighter jets that dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on residential areas of Gaza, which led to the deaths of 1,200 people – men, women and children.
Some 5,300 people were wounded and hundreds of thousands became refugees. On December 10, 2008, a formal complaint was filed against Ehud Barak to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Holland … on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity because of the siege of Gaza.”

Cutting aid to Israel, Egypt will give Palestinians a chance

Cutting aid to Israel, Egypt will give Palestinians a chance

James Abourezk

History did not begin three weeks ago, which is what Israel’s lobbyists and its apologists would like to have us believe.

The original sin began decades ago when the Zionist movement cast its eyes on Palestine to become the new state of Israel. It put into action Plan “D,” to ethnically cleanse as many Palestinians as it could and to take by force as much land in Palestine as possible.

Having succeeded in this plan in 1948, the Zionists created Israel, receiving recognition from the United States and the Soviet Union. Little thought was given to the several hundred thousand Palestinian refugees created by Plan D.

The defeated Palestinians remained relatively docile until 1964 when the Palestinian Liberation Organization tried to fight back. By then, Israel had received weapons from France and the United States, and the PLO had no chance to retrieve their land.

Since 1948, there have been four wars fought by the Arab countries against Israel, but each time they failed.The Palestinians were contained in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under an occupation conducted with extreme brutality.

But the West Bank Palestinians once again were in the way, resulting in Zionist calls to transfer them all to Jordan. The Israeli government has

resisted recent calls to ethnically cleanse the West Bank. But it has discouraged Palestinians by making life so difficult they leave voluntarily.

Because Zionists do not consider the Gaza Strip their native land, it became nothing more than a problem for Israel. Two years ago Israel decided to withdraw from the Gaza. They billed it as a complete pullout, but Gaza’s borders, its airspace and sea approaches remain tightly controlled by the Israeli military.

After President George W. Bush encouraged the Palestinians to hold democratic elections, Hamas, a group of conservative Muslims, overwhelmingly won over the PLO faction, now the Palestinian Authority. After the election, the Israelis, with U.S. agreement, promptly arrested a number of Hamas members of the Palestinian Parliament. They also tightened their control over the Gaza Strip by blockading the 1.5 million residents with the hope that they would turn on Hamas. Instead, Hamas became politically stronger. But because of the blockade, Gazans were deprived of the basic needs for daily life.

Hamas’ reaction was to fire homemade rockets into Israeli settlements and cities. Israel retaliated with air and ground raids.This conflict continued until June 2008 when a six-month cease-fire was reached. Hamas agreed to stop the rocket firings; Israel agreed to stop the raids into and over Gaza and agreed to end the blockade.

Israel defied its own agreement and continued the blockade. On Nov 4, Israel raided Gaza and killed six Hamas fighters. Hamas began firing rockets into Israeli cities, which prompted Israel to begin an all-out invasion of Gaza. It started with the devastating air war, then troops entered Gaza.

Israel’s propaganda machine handed out its talking points to the U.S. media and members of Congress.

The problem is that it is a lie. Israel broke the truce. Israeli propaganda also maintains that Hamas wants to eradicate the country. That, as well, is a lie. Hamas has said it is willing to accept Israel if it withdraws behind the 1967 borders. But Israel believes it can handle a low-level war against Palestinians who have no modern weapons. They are a political problem, however, so Israel’s objective now is to destroy Hamas, to leave the Palestinians without the power to negotiate anything favorable for themselves. Hamas has refused to surrender in exchange for a one-sided peace treaty.

In “Overcoming Zionism,” Joel Kovel writes that Israelis look upon non-Jews as being less than human. Reports last week show that the International Red Cross officials discovered a house. More than 100 Palestinian civilians were forced into it, then it was shelled. The building contained the bodies of dozens of men, women and children.

Stories from international agencies abound with similar events, evidencing a total lack of concern for human life, including the use of phosphorous bombs that burn the skin off their victims. What Israel does not say is that there is no way to separate Hamas from the people of Gaza. They are one and the same.

There is no excuse for using sophisticated weapons in an area as crowded with civilians as is Gaza. It violates every international law ever written. It is no secret that Israel is murdering people with American-made weapons. Israel is making more enemies for America on a daily basis.

In this time of economic hardship in America and of naked aggression by Israel, it is time to say: “Enough is enough.” We should keep the billions we send each year to Israel and Egypt. That will help us and help the people who suffer under the illegal Israeli occupation with the use of American support.

Where Is Al Qaeda’s Response to the War in Gaza?

THERE IS NO SPOON.

Where Is Al Qaeda’s Response to the War in Gaza?

Rebbeca Lunnon and Muh Taufiqurrohman

Osama bin Laden recently issued a fatwa to Muslims all over the world, a supplement to Ayman al-Zawahiri’s previous fatwa. Both Al Qaeda figures urged jihad against Israel and threatened to respond to Israel’s brutality with terrorist attacks. However, Al Qaeda has yet to realize this threat.

Were Al Qaeda to successfully attack Israel or Israeli interests it would gain support not only from radical and perhaps more moderate Islamic groups, but also from people of other religious backgrounds throughout the world.

Support is crucial for Al Qaeda’s longevity and improved ability to plan and implement terrorist attacks. A community of support — both passive and active — is seen by experts as fundamental to the ability of groups to not only undertake acts of terrorism, but to then survive the aftermath. History has shown that without such support, which provides terrorists with vital technical and material support, terrorist organizations disintegrate.

The question is, why has Al Qaeda done nothing in Israel? Where was Al Qaeda when the Israeli Army was slaughtering Palestinian children with phosphorous bombs, and almost the whole world was condemning Israel’s actions?

Al Qaeda’s inaction would suggest it is still weak and on the run from the intensive American-led hunt for Al Qaeda members. Al Qaeda has thus been more concerned with its own safety. The Al Qaeda core is perhaps the weakest it has been since the attack in 2001 on the World Trade Center, so weak that it is in no position at all to coordinate any attack. Ironically, and in testament to their vulnerability, in focusing on themselves and their own safety, Al Qaeda members are passing up perhaps the best opportunity to win support from people all over the world, support that in the future would only increase their strength, ability and the opportunities available to them to further their cause.

Perhaps another reason Al Qaeda has not taken action is due to the very nature that makes it so dangerous. Al Qaeda is an ideology, no longer the formally structured organization it was prior to Sept. 11. Al Qaeda “members” throughout the world are linked to Al Qaeda purely through ideological ties — “Al Qaedaism” to borrow Jason Burke’s term — not through any formal membership. While this was vital to Al Qaeda’s survival post-Sept. 11 and has made Al Qaeda more dangerous, it now means the Al Qaeda core has difficulty in organizing a coordinated attack against Israel and Israeli interests.

Al Qaeda members are passing up perhaps the best opportunity to win support all over the world

Should any Al Qaeda-affiliated attack occur, it is more likely to be an independent effort by those ideologically linked to Al Qaeda, but who study jihadism from the Internet, radical local Islamic study groups or experienced friends. Al Qaeda has largely lost the ability to command and organize such attacks, especially in its current weak state.

Additionally, Al Qaeda has always been, and still is, focused on the primary agenda of expelling America and her allies from Iraq and Afghanistan. All resources and energy go toward this aim. Should Al Qaeda become involved in Israel and Palestine, it risks sacrificing its primary agenda to some extent. The decrease in resources available for use in Iraq and Afghanistan would weaken Al Qaeda’s position there. However, acting in Israel may be strategically more important in the long term, as surely Al Qaeda is aware that the support gained from an attack against Israel given the current climate would only increase its resources, potentially strengthening its position in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Also, and related to the point above, we should be aware that Osama bin Laden’s personal agenda revolves largely around his hatred for the Saudi royal family. In fact, he sees them as more kafir , or infidel, than Israel or America. Thus, while his fatwa might give one the impression that he and Al Qaeda are fighting for the interests of all Muslims in the world, in reality both bin Laden and Al Qaeda choose to fight only the wars that benefit their own interests.

Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are by no means alone in this. Despite the discourse of a Muslim brotherhood, more often than not so-called Islamic states refuse to come to the aid of their “brothers” if it does not serve their interests. Both now and in the foreseeable future, for bin Laden and Al Qaeda, the war against America in Iraq and Afghanistan is more closely connected to bin Laden’s grievances concerning the Saudi royal family. Why? Because America backs the Saudi royal family.

Finally, Al Qaeda has surely considered the large risks associated with attacking Israel. Al Qaeda would be continually hunted by Mossad, perhaps the most vigilant intelligence agency in the world. It is already preoccupied with CIA, MI6 and various other security and intelligence apparatus.

Al Qaeda has passed up the best opportunity it has ever had to garner support throughout the world. This tells us that not only is Al Qaeda perhaps the weakest it has ever been ­— unable to command and organize large-scale attacks — but that its true colors are becoming more prominent.

Al Qaeda is, like all humans, like all bodies or organizations, motivated by specific interests and desires. It is becoming more apparent that Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden do not fight for all Muslims and all Muslim causes in the world. If they did, their recent inaction would be inexcusable. As time goes on and their true nature becomes more obvious, Al Qaeda supporters or ‘members’ will grow wise to this, and are likely to become disillusioned. While this may be good in that it deprives Al Qaeda of its community of support and portends Al Qaeda’s eventual disintegration, the ideology it has embodied will still exist within a small percentage of Muslims. Thus, there will always be opportunities for new, perhaps more dangerous, forces to emerge.

Rebbeca Lunnon and Muh Taufiqurrohman are postgraduate students at Monash University and UNPAR respectively.

How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas

How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas

Moshav Tekuma, Israel

Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor’s bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile’s trajectory back to an “enormous, stupid mistake” made 30 years ago.

“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with “Yassins,” primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric.

Abid Katib/Getty Images

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas.

Last Saturday, after 22 days of war, Israel announced a halt to the offensive. The assault was aimed at stopping Hamas rockets from falling on Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hailed a “determined and successful military operation.” More than 1,200 Palestinians had died. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

Hamas responded the next day by lobbing five rockets towards the Israeli town of Sderot, a few miles down the road from Moshav Tekuma, the farming village where Mr. Cohen lives. Hamas then announced its own cease-fire.

Since then, Hamas leaders have emerged from hiding and reasserted their control over Gaza. Egyptian-mediated talks aimed at a more durable truce are expected to start this weekend. President Barack Obama said this week that lasting calm “requires more than a long cease-fire” and depends on Israel and a future Palestinian state “living side by side in peace and security.”

A look at Israel’s decades-long dealings with Palestinian radicals — including some little-known attempts to cooperate with the Islamists — reveals a catalog of unintended and often perilous consequences. Time and again, Israel’s efforts to find a pliant Palestinian partner that is both credible with Palestinians and willing to eschew violence, have backfired. Would-be partners have turned into foes or lost the support of their people.

Israel’s experience echoes that of the U.S., which, during the Cold War, looked to Islamists as a useful ally against communism. Anti-Soviet forces backed by America after Moscow’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan later mutated into al Qaeda.

[Hamas supporters in Gaza City after the cease-fire.] APA /Landov

Hamas supporters in Gaza City after the cease-fire.

At stake is the future of what used to be the British Mandate of Palestine, the biblical lands now comprising Israel and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Since 1948, when the state of Israel was established, Israelis and Palestinians have each asserted claims over the same territory.

The Palestinian cause was for decades led by the PLO, which Israel regarded as a terrorist outfit and sought to crush until the 1990s, when the PLO dropped its vow to destroy the Jewish state. The PLO’s Palestinian rival, Hamas, led by Islamist militants, refused to recognize Israel and vowed to continue “resistance.” Hamas now controls Gaza, a crowded, impoverished sliver of land on the Mediterranean from which Israel pulled out troops and settlers in 2005.

When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.

“When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.”

Israeli officials who served in Gaza disagree on how much their own actions may have contributed to the rise of Hamas. They blame the group’s recent ascent on outsiders, primarily Iran. This view is shared by the Israeli government. “Hamas in Gaza was built by Iran as a foundation for power, and is backed through funding, through training and through the provision of advanced weapons,” Mr. Olmert said last Saturday. Hamas has denied receiving military assistance from Iran.

Arieh Spitzen, the former head of the Israeli military’s Department of Palestinian Affairs, says that even if Israel had tried to stop the Islamists sooner, he doubts it could have done much to curb political Islam, a movement that was spreading across the Muslim world. He says attempts to stop it are akin to trying to change the internal rhythms of nature: “It is like saying: ‘I will kill all the mosquitoes.’ But then you get even worse insects that will kill you…You break the balance. You kill Hamas you might get al Qaeda.”

When it became clear in the early 1990s that Gaza’s Islamists had mutated from a religious group into a fighting force aimed at Israel — particularly after they turned to suicide bombings in 1994 — Israel cracked down with ferocious force. But each military assault only increased Hamas’s appeal to ordinary Palestinians. The group ultimately trounced secular rivals, notably Fatah, in a 2006 election supported by Israel’s main ally, the U.S.

Now, one big fear in Israel and elsewhere is that while Hamas has been hammered hard, the war might have boosted the group’s popular appeal. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas administration in Gaza, came out of hiding last Sunday to declare that “God has granted us a great victory.”

Most damaged from the war, say many Palestinians, is Fatah, now Israel’s principal negotiating partner. “Everyone is praising the resistance and thinks that Fatah is not part of it,” says Baker Abu-Baker, a longtime Fatah supporter and author of a book on Hamas.

A Lack of Devotion

Hamas traces its roots back to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group set up in Egypt in 1928. The Brotherhood believed that the woes of the Arab world spring from a lack of Islamic devotion. Its slogan: “Islam is the solution. The Quran is our constitution.” Its philosophy today underpins modern, and often militantly intolerant, political Islam from Algeria to Indonesia.

After the 1948 establishment of Israel, the Brotherhood recruited a few followers in Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza and elsewhere, but secular activists came to dominate the Palestinian nationalist movement.

At the time, Gaza was ruled by Egypt. The country’s then-president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was a secular nationalist who brutally repressed the Brotherhood. In 1967, Nasser suffered a crushing defeat when Israel triumphed in the six-day war. Israel took control of Gaza and also the West Bank.

“We were all stunned,” says Palestinian writer and Hamas supporter Azzam Tamimi. He was at school at the time in Kuwait and says he became close to a classmate named Khaled Mashaal, now Hamas’s Damascus-based political chief. “The Arab defeat provided the Brotherhood with a big opportunity,” says Mr. Tamimi.

In Gaza, Israel hunted down members of Fatah and other secular PLO factions, but it dropped harsh restrictions imposed on Islamic activists by the territory’s previous Egyptian rulers. Fatah, set up in 1964, was the backbone of the PLO, which was responsible for hijackings, bombings and other violence against Israel. Arab states in 1974 declared the PLO the “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people world-wide.

Heidi Levine/Sipa Press for The Wall Street Journal

A poster of the late Sheikh Yassin hangs near a building destroyed by the Israeli assault on Gaza.

The Muslim Brotherhood, led in Gaza by Sheikh Yassin, was free to spread its message openly. In addition to launching various charity projects, Sheikh Yassin collected money to reprint the writings of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian member of the Brotherhood who, before his execution by President Nasser, advocated global jihad. He is now seen as one of the founding ideologues of militant political Islam.

Mr. Cohen, who worked at the time for the Israeli government’s religious affairs department in Gaza, says he began to hear disturbing reports in the mid-1970s about Sheikh Yassin from traditional Islamic clerics. He says they warned that the sheikh had no formal Islamic training and was ultimately more interested in politics than faith. “They said, ‘Keep away from Yassin. He is a big danger,’” recalls Mr. Cohen.

Instead, Israel’s military-led administration in Gaza looked favorably on the paraplegic cleric, who set up a wide network of schools, clinics, a library and kindergartens. Sheikh Yassin formed the Islamist group Mujama al-Islamiya, which was officially recognized by Israel as a charity and then, in 1979, as an association. Israel also endorsed the establishment of the Islamic University of Gaza, which it now regards as a hotbed of militancy. The university was one of the first targets hit by Israeli warplanes in the recent war.

Brig. General Yosef Kastel, Gaza’s Israeli governor at the time, is too ill to comment, says his wife. But Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, who took over as governor in Gaza in late 1979, says he had no illusions about Sheikh Yassin’s long-term intentions or the perils of political Islam. As Israel’s former military attache in Iran, he’d watched Islamic fervor topple the Shah. However, in Gaza, says Mr. Segev, “our main enemy was Fatah,” and the cleric “was still 100% peaceful” towards Israel. Former officials say Israel was also at the time wary of being viewed as an enemy of Islam.

Mr. Segev says he had regular contact with Sheikh Yassin, in part to keep an eye on him. He visited his mosque and met the cleric around a dozen times. It was illegal at the time for Israelis to meet anyone from the PLO. Mr. Segev later arranged for the cleric to be taken to Israel for hospital treatment. “We had no problems with him,” he says.

In fact, the cleric and Israel had a shared enemy: secular Palestinian activists. After a failed attempt in Gaza to oust secularists from leadership of the Palestinian Red Crescent, the Muslim version of the Red Cross, Mujama staged a violent demonstration, storming the Red Crescent building. Islamists also attacked shops selling liquor and cinemas. The Israeli military mostly stood on the sidelines.

Mr. Segev says the army didn’t want to get involved in Palestinian quarrels but did send soldiers to prevent Islamists from burning down the house of the Red Crescent’s secular chief, a socialist who supported the PLO.

‘An Alternative to the PLO’

Clashes between Islamists and secular nationalists spread to the West Bank and escalated during the early 1980s, convulsing college campuses, particularly Birzeit University, a center of political activism.

As the fighting between rival student factions at Birzeit grew more violent, Brig. Gen. Shalom Harari, then a military intelligence officer in Gaza, says he received a call from Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint on the road out of Gaza. They had stopped a bus carrying Islamic activists who wanted to join the battle against Fatah at Birzeit. “I said: ‘If they want to burn each other let them go,’” recalls Mr. Harari.

A leader of Birzeit’s Islamist faction at the time was Mahmoud Musleh, now a pro-Hamas member of a Palestinian legislature elected in 2006. He recalls how usually aggressive Israeli security forces stood back and let conflagration develop. He denies any collusion between his own camp and the Israelis, but says “they hoped we would become an alternative to the PLO.”

A year later, in 1984, the Israeli military received a tip-off from Fatah supporters that Sheikh Yassin’s Gaza Islamists were collecting arms, according to Israeli officials in Gaza at the time. Israeli troops raided a mosque and found a cache of weapons. Sheikh Yassin was jailed. He told Israeli interrogators the weapons were for use against rival Palestinians, not Israel, according to Mr. Hacham, the military affairs expert who says he spoke frequently with jailed Islamists. The cleric was released after a year and continued to expand Mujama’s reach across Gaza.

Around the time of Sheikh Yassin’s arrest, Mr. Cohen, the religious affairs official, sent a report to senior Israeli military and civilian officials in Gaza. Describing the cleric as a “diabolical” figure, he warned that Israel’s policy towards the Islamists was allowing Mujama to develop into a dangerous force.

“I believe that by continuing to turn away our eyes, our lenient approach to Mujama will in the future harm us. I therefore suggest focusing our efforts on finding ways to break up this monster before this reality jumps in our face,” Mr. Cohen wrote.

Mr. Harari, the military intelligence officer, says this and other warnings were ignored. But, he says, the reason for this was neglect, not a desire to fortify the Islamists: “Israel never financed Hamas. Israel never armed Hamas.”

Roni Shaked, a former officer of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, and author of a book on Hamas, says Sheikh Yassin and his followers had a long-term perspective whose dangers were not understood at the time. “They worked slowly, slowly, step by step according to the Muslim Brotherhood plan.”

Declaring Jihad

In 1987, several Palestinians were killed in a traffic accident involving an Israeli driver, triggering a wave of protests that became known as the first Intifada, Mr. Yassin and six other Mujama Islamists launched Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas’s charter, released a year later, is studded with anti-Semitism and declares “jihad its path and death for the cause of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Israeli officials, still focused on Fatah and initially unaware of the Hamas charter, continued to maintain contacts with the Gaza Islamists. Mr. Hacham, the military Arab affairs expert, remembers taking one of Hamas’s founders, Mahmoud Zahar, to meet Israel’s then defense minister, Yitzhak Rabin, as part of regular consultations between Israeli officials and Palestinians not linked to the PLO. Mr. Zahar, the only Hamas founder known to be alive today, is now the group’s senior political leader in Gaza.

In 1989, Hamas carried out its first attack on Israel, abducting and killing two soldiers. Israel arrested Sheikh Yassin and sentenced him to life. It later rounded up more than 400 suspected Hamas activists, including Mr. Zahar, and deported them to southern Lebanon. There, they hooked up with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed A-Team of anti-Israeli militancy.

Many of the deportees later returned to Gaza. Hamas built up its arsenal and escalated its attacks, while all along maintaining the social network that underpinned its support in Gaza.

Meanwhile, its enemy, the PLO, dropped its commitment to Israel’s destruction and started negotiating a two-state settlement. Hamas accused it of treachery. This accusation found increasing resonance as Israel kept developing settlements on occupied Palestinian land, particularly the West Bank. Though the West Bank had passed to the nominal control of a new Palestinian Authority, it was still dotted with Israeli military checkpoints and a growing number of Israeli settlers.

Unable to uproot a now entrenched Islamist network that had suddenly replaced the PLO as its main foe, Israel tried to decapitate it. It started targeting Hamas leaders. This, too, made no dent in Hamas’s support, and sometimes even helped the group. In 1997, for example, Israel’s Mossad spy agency tried to poison Hamas’s exiled political leader Mr. Mashaal, who was then living in Jordan.

The agents got caught and, to get them out of a Jordanian jail, Israel agreed to release Sheikh Yassin. The cleric set off on a tour of the Islamic world to raise support and money. He returned to Gaza to a hero’s welcome.

Efraim Halevy, a veteran Mossad officer who negotiated the deal that released Sheikh Yassin, says the cleric’s freedom was hard to swallow, but Israel had no choice. After the fiasco in Jordan, Mr. Halevy was named director of Mossad, a position he held until 2002. Two years later, Sheikh Yassin was killed by an Israeli air strike.

Mr. Halevy has in recent years urged Israel to negotiate with Hamas. He says that “Hamas can be crushed,” but he believes that “the price of crushing Hamas is a price that Israel would prefer not to pay.” When Israel’s authoritarian secular neighbor, Syria, launched a campaign to wipe out Muslim Brotherhood militants in the early 1980s it killed more than 20,000 people, many of them civilians.

In its recent war in Gaza, Israel didn’t set the destruction of Hamas as its goal. It limited its stated objectives to halting the Islamists’ rocket fire and battering their overall military capacity. At the start of the Israeli operation in December, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told parliament that the goal was “to deal Hamas a severe blow, a blow that will cause it to stop its hostile actions from Gaza at Israeli citizens and soldiers.”

Walking back to his house from the rubble of his neighbor’s home, Mr. Cohen, the former religious affairs official in Gaza, curses Hamas and also what he sees as missteps that allowed Islamists to put down deep roots in Gaza.

He recalls a 1970s meeting with a traditional Islamic cleric who wanted Israel to stop cooperating with the Muslim Brotherhood followers of Sheikh Yassin: “He told me: ‘You are going to have big regrets in 20 or 30 years.’ He was right.”