American Resistance To Empire

Russian Gas Cuts: US-Afghanistan Connection?


Russian Gas Cuts: US-Afghanistan Connection?

Russia has made a serious mistake on this occasion both in hasty action and in failing to perceive the probable hand of the US and a trap, notes Christopher King.
You will probably have heard of the present situation – you might well be suffering from it. Russian gas for Europe is being disrupted in transit through Ukrainian pipelines. Ostensibly it is about payment by Ukraine for its gas and renewal of the Ukraine-Russia contract for transit of the gas.

Russia says that Ukraine has not paid for its gas and in retaliation has reduced the amount pumped into the pipeline by the Ukraine proportion. Ukraine, it is said, nevertheless continued to “steal” gas from the pipelines, so reducing the amount available to European Union customers. As a further escalation, Ukraine restricted the quantity of transit gas to the EU and, Russia says, finally closed the pipelines.

The Ukrainians say that they are not stealing gas and there are “technical difficulties” that have caused problems with the onward flow of gas. Russia, they say, has now shut down the pipelines.

Ukraine does seem to have been using gas after Russia reduced supplies by its proportion but it is a legal question as to whether Ukraine is paying and complying with terms of its contract etc. It is not clear whether Russia believes that Ukraine is taking more than its contractual proportion, which would in fact be theft. As it is mid-winter, this is the best time for Ukraine to attempt to force more favourable gas prices and transit terms from Russia. There was a similar dispute in the winter of 2006. By reducing the supply of gas to the pipeline and expecting Ukraine to stop using gas, the Russians have been heavy-handed and unwise even if all they say is correct. What is more important is who has closed down the pipeline. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other. This is question of fact that will be determined on investigation. Pipeline issues rely entirely on the integrity of the participants. Gas, oil or whatever is put into the pipeline at one end and hopefully it arrives at the other end as expected.

We should note, however, that it is absolutely not in Russia’s interests to close off the pipelines to the EU since the reliability of Russian gas supplies was an important issue in the 2006 dispute. Russia has been at pains to reassure the EU on this. The Ukrainian position is not so clear. Apart from a cash shortage, Ukraine has other issues with Russia, for example, Russia’s use of Sevastopol for its Black Sea Fleet. If the EU were to find alternative gas supplies due to Russian unreliability, so reducing Russia’s European market, Ukraine would be in a stronger position as a buyer of Russian gas. Ukraine is also engaged in discussions for joining the EU and NATO so a dispute with Russia might have advantages. In these circumstances the Russian version of the pipeline closure is more credible. This might be the entire position.

I wish to examine, however, if other parties might benefit from this dispute. It would be a simple matter to plan this dispute and to predict Russia’s response. It is a re-run of the 2006 dispute but has been made more severe than 2006 by the closure of the pipelines. The extreme concern in the EU, I repeat, is far from Russia’s best interests. However, from an EU viewpoint it is irrelevant whether the unreliable party is Russia, Ukraine or both. If the supply is unreliable the EU will seek alternative supplies. Who could gain from this?

As it happens, the United States wants to build a gas/oil pipeline through Afghanistan and, as you read, is slaughtering its inhabitants to gain control of that country for this purpose. As it also happens, the US’s new president ,Barack Obama, has stated that he will increase US troop levels and will ask the EU and NATO to contribute more troops to Afghanistan. The EU countries are increasingly reluctant participants. By contrast, our unelected prime minister, Gordon Brown, has already rushed to send 300 additional UK soldiers to risk their lives and kill more Afghans in this occupation that, along with Iraq, has disgraced the UK.

A perfectly credible scenario, therefore, is that the US is behind this dispute, with the objective to renew wavering EU support for its war in Afghanistan.

Why should anyone believe this? As I have outlined previously, Russia and the EU have developed close economic links and have been on track to create greater economic integration. It is in the interests of the US to prevent what could become an EU-Russian economic and military superstate. The US seeks confrontation with Russia, as evidenced by bringing former Soviet satellites into NATO, contrary to agreements, abrogation of the ballistic missile defence treaty with Russia, installation of a missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic on Russia’s borders and support for the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. The US needs trouble in Europe to maintain its own military and failing economic position. NATO officers and ministers are happy to support the US’s trouble-making in Europe and elsewhere, since peace means loss of jobs, promotion prospects and careers. NATO ministers, of course, get lucrative directorships and consultancy contracts with the defence industry after their periods in office. This is why NATO is in Iraq and Afghanistan and is rearming Georgia, none of which is in EU interests. There can be no doubt that the US is following a “spoiling” strategy with regard to EU-Russian relations.

One can easily see that wherever in the world there is trouble, the US is there as well, with troops, advisors, weapons or money. The US needs enemies, not only to feed its military-industrial complex that efficiently transfers public funds to private pockets, but because wars give opportunities. Peaceful business competition has now become very difficult for the US now that Asia has taken over most of the world’s manufacturing and it has undermined its own and the rest of the world’s financial system with its debt and worthless securities. For the time being, the US has an unchallengeable military force. Well, unchallengable in nuclear terms anyway, as the Afghans with a military budget of almost zero are demonstrating. It is seeking means of turning this to economic advantage. This is, after all, the only justification for having such a force. It needs to be used and preferably show a return.

We have seen how the US has used military power to its advantage in Iraq, where it has been stealing oil since the invasion. There is Afghanistan and US ambitions for Iran, stalled for the moment due to the good work of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the US’s firmest foothold in the Middle East. All trouble. This is before we consider Pakistan, India, the rest of Asia, North Africa and South America. The US creates trouble everywhere.

The Russians have probably fallen into an American trap. They were predictable because of the way they dealt with the 2006 dispute and that was used against them to get EU support for the war in Afghanistan for America’s pipeline there. Merely a conspiracy theory? On the US’s record of lies and deceptions that gave rise to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, absurd charges against Iran and the ruthless killing of people in their own countries everywhere – the pattern fits.

The reality is that the US is no-one’s friend. It seeks only its own interests. Here’s a UK example. UK and US soldiers fought together from their bases in the UK against Germany and spilled blood as comrades during World War II. The UK entered into a lend-lease purchasing agreement for equipment and supplies from the US that exhausted the UK Treasury. After the war, the UK did not have the funds to rebuild. The UK government sent the eminent economist J.M. Keynes to the US to attempt to have these obligations converted to a grant. Keynes and the UK government believed that the Americans would be sympathetic to their plight due to their recent experience as comrades-in-arms. Keynes wanted either a grant to cover the balance of payments deficit or an interest-free loan. The US negotiators were entirely unsympathetic, gave Keynes a very difficult time (he was ill and died soon after) and would only agree to giving the UK interest-bearing loans, although at a low 2 per cent interest. These, equivalent to about GBP 50 billion, were repaid in 2006.

Germany, which had created the trouble, received about GBP 20 billion (2005 RPI basis) of which 60 per cent was grants, 30 per cent economic loans and 10 per cent military aid. The Germans had cleverly argued that it was in the US’s interests to give them grants. Japan received about GBP 10 billion (2005 RPI basis) of which 77 per cent was grants and 23 per cent loans. That the US gave no consideration to the relationship forged in war between the US and UK appears to have affected Keynes deeply. This is the key to understanding US strategic considerations. It does nothing unless to its own perceived benefit.

It is highly probable, therefore, perhaps 90 per cent probability, that the US has offered inducements for Ukraine to disrupt gas transit to the EU in order to create insecurity about Russian supplies and gain support for its Afghanistan war. This would be very easy. One million dollars each in the Swiss accounts of, say, 20-40 key politicians and officials and Ukraine’s performance is guaranteed. And cheap. Paul Craig Roberts, who was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, says that in post he learned that simply giving cash is the preferred means of getting other countries, including Europe, to do what the US wants.

Perhaps I am too harsh on Ukrainian politicians. If they are true patriots the US can offer them strong support in joining the EU and NATO, as it has given the other former Soviet Union (FSU) countries. These countries, still recovering from Soviet occupation, have not thought through their obligations in the EU. They all have a grudge against Russia so a US offer of cash or benefits to land a punch on Russia would be irresistible.

Here’s an example of how the FSU politicians think. Recently, the Czech parliament voted to bring the country’s troops home from Afghanistan and Kosovo. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek condemned the vote and declared that he was “ashamed of being Czech”. On 18 December I attended a lecture by Mr Topolanek at the London School of Economics (LSE). (This lecture has not been made available on the LSE website) Unhappily, it was very general and uniformative. In the course of responding to a question from the audience, however, Mr Topolanek said, through an interpreter, “It was in 1991 that the last Russian soldier left my country. I lived 30 (?) years under communism and repression. The missiles are now my security.” This is a reference to the US missile system to which Russia objects so strenuously. Now Mr Topolanek is a mechanical engineer. It is possible that he really believes that there is a simple, mechanistic system by which a Russian attack on his country will be met by an automatic NATO attack on Russia. That scenario is extremely unlikely. Whatever else might happen in that event, he can be certain that if NATO does respond militarily, there would be a devastating, possibly nuclear war on Czech territory. Russia and NATO will choose their battleground carefully. He is either gravely politically naïve or has been bought (bought = 20 per cent probability. Fairly low) Watching him, I concluded that he:

• Dislikes the Russians intensely

• Believes that the US stands for freedom and democracy

• Has received specific defence assurances from the US and believes them. He has made deals with the US on the missiles, on Afghanistan and will doubtless support the US in the United Nations and in other respects

• Thinks of the EU purely in terms of economic benefits without regard to the underlying rationale that the EU’s purpose is to make war in Europe impossible through economic integration

• Will pursue his own objectives irrespective of the wishes of other EU members

Mr Topolanek is not a good European and seems to be typical of FSU politicians, whether these are their natural inclinations or whether they have been bought by the US. Mr Topolanek is “ashamed of being a Czech” because he cannot deliver on his deal with the Americans.

If the “Old European” members of the EU do not address these problems, the EU will fail and until they are addressed it should take in no new members:

• NATO acting as an arm of US foreign policy

• The US making unilateral deals with EU members

• The failure of former FSU countries to understand the purpose and implications of EU economic integration

• Formulating a Russia policy independently of the US, both for NATO and in terms of further Russian integration.

Russia also has problems that need to be addressed. Unless it moves in the direction of political reform, further integration will become difficult. Russia also needs to consider the perceptions of the EU countries more carefully. After the South Ossetian debacle it should be clear that the US’s political supporters, for their various reasons, will always put the worst possible interpretation on Russia’s actions. These, particularly our UK politicians, are supportive of the US to a dangerous extent. Their accusations against Russia over Georgia’s invasion of South Ossetia were factually incorrect. This was a critical test case in which our politicians did not base their statements on facts. They rushed around for weeks shouting threats and blame without any knowledge of facts at all. Nor did they base their decisions on facts in their Iraq war vote. It is clear, therefore, that in the event of a real emergency these people will be worse than useless; they will be dangerous to the UK. We could find ourselves in a nuclear war because of their stupidity, as might have been the case if Georgia had been a member of NATO. This scenario, in which one of the FSU NATO members provokes a military response from Russia, conceivably influenced by the US, should be given urgent consideration by the EU.

Russia’s responses do lack subtlety and strategic thought. As its own responses were predictable, so were those of Ukraine. It should not have reduced gas supplies to Ukraine in the middle of winter, no matter what the provocation. It should have maintained supplies under loud protest and sorted the matter out in summer when it would have EU sympathy and appreciation. Clearly, Russia wants to be seen as independent and believes itself to be right in this dispute. It probably is. Nevertheless, its actions do not reassure the EU on energy security.

Here’s a strategy for Russia: This is really a marketing issue. Russia must create a strong brand or reputation that should be for predictability, reliability and factual correctness. It has an advantage here because the US and UK have squandered their trust and are believed by no-one. Russia should create a small informal consultancy group of trusted ministers or former ministers from Old Europe, perhaps Germany, Holland and Belgium – members of the former Iron and Coal Community. I would also include France if President Sarkozy were not a committed Zionist and US supporter, so France after Sarkozy has gone. It should be possible for ministers or Gazprom executives to call a video conference at short notice for the discussion of trade problems. This would be a kind of marketing focus group that would not only advise Russia, but also educate its executives and politicians about EU thinking, which is consultation before confrontation. Russia must learn to work more closely with the EU and with more trust if further economic integration is to occur. Former Russian Prime Minister, Yegor Gaidar’s account (Days of Victory and Defeat) of the reform of the Russian political system and economy gives an indication of the thinking that probably persists in Russia.

I am aware that Russians will consider that this suggestion is asking them to behave with weakness and indecision. They want to project confidence, strength and independence, etc. The position is that everyone knows that Russia is strong militarily and is in a powerful position with regard to energy supplies. It does not need to respond aggressively to every provocation. In this case, consideration for the people of Ukraine’s welfare rather than an attempt to punish their probably bribed politicians would have gained enormous goodwill both in that country and the EU. This is what the true spirit of the EU must be. Russia must develop a more measured, considered and consultative approach. What does if matter if Ukraine is creating problems? The EU should be involved in sorting them out and if there is duplicity, let everyone see it. Russia has made a serious mistake on this occasion both in hasty action and in failing to perceive the probable hand of the US and a trap. It should attempt recovery by immediately restoring gas supplies as far as it can and by adopting measures to avoid similar problems in future.

Christopher King is a retired consultant and lecturer. He lives in London, UK. This article appeared in Redress Information & Analysis.

Report: US military re-supplying Israel with ammunition through Greece

Report: US military re-supplying Israel with

ammunition through Greece

author Thursday January 08, 2009 22:04author by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC News Report this post to the editors

As the Israeli military continues to pound the crowded, impoverished and imprisoned population of the Gaza Strip with the full force of its military might, Israel’s strongest ally, the United States, announced plans to ship large amounts of ammunition to the Israeli forces – as it did during Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, when the Israelis ran out of (internationally-banned) cluster bombs, and the US shipped them tens of thousands more.

US-made ammunition en route to Israel
US-made ammunition en route to Israel

The US Military Sealift Command, on December 31st, published a solicitation for bids from shipping companies to ship two boats, each containing 168 TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent container units) of ammunition, from Greece to Israel.

The description of the vessels required was brief:

Required: Request US or foreign flag container vessel (coaster) to move approximately 168 TEU’s [standard twenty-foot containers] in each of two consecutive voyages both containing ammunition.”

Bids were requested by January 5th, but it is unclear whether bids were submitted or if a contract was awarded by January 8th.

According to the US Military’s solicitation, “Funds are not currently available for this procurement. In the event funds remain unavailable, this procurement will be cancelled without an award being made.”

During the Israeli assault on Lebanon in the summer of 2006, in which 1,200 Lebanese people were killed, 90 percent of whom were civilians (and 168 Israelis were killed, 10 percent of whom were civilians), the US Congress approved funding for an ’emergency’ shipment of cluster bombs to Israel, after Israel had dropped their entire store of the banned weapon on civilian population centers in southern Lebanon.

Over one million cluster bomblets were dropped in southern Lebanon, largely due to the US ’emergency’ shipment. Many of those bomblets remain on the ground in Lebanon, unexploded two years later. They continue to kill and maim Lebanese civilians, mainly children and farmers, who come across the unexploded bomblets and step on them or pick them up.

According to Wired magazine’s security correspondent Nathan Hodge, the current solicitation for a shipment bid is the first such solicitation in several months. He said that, according to his research, the most recent announcement of a potential arms delivery to Israel was posted by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Sept. 29 — for sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Earlier that month, the agency notified Congress of the pending upgrades to Israeli Patriot missile fire units as well as sales of the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb.

Israel has long used US weapons in its attacks on the civilian population of the two Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and Gaza. In addition to $3 billion in direct aid a year, the US government supplies around $3 billion in weapons transfers to Israel, and $6 billion in loan guarantees (none of which have ever been repaid by Israel).

category gaza strip | international politics | news report author email saed at imemc dot org
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The Old Testament and the genocide in Gaza

The Old Testament and the genocide in Gaza

An insight into Israeli identity

By Gilad Atzmon

9 January 2009

On 8 January, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) accused the Israeli armed forces of failing to fulfil their duty to help wounded civilians in an incident in Gaza City that it described as “shocking”.

The ICRC said that its staff had found four weak and scared children beside their mothers’ bodies in houses hit by Israeli shelling in Zeitoun, just a few metres from Israeli army positions.

“The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded,” it said.

On the same day, the United Nations aid agency in the Gaza Strip suspended its operations following a series of Israeli attacks on its personnel and buildings.

The move came after Israeli tanks shelled a UN convoy earlier in the day, killing a UN worker and injuring two others, as lorries were travelling to the Erez crossing to pick up humanitarian supplies meant to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.

Two days earlier, on 6 January, at least 40 Palestinian civilians, including a number of children, were killed and 55 others injured when an Israeli tank attacked a United Nations-run school in Gaza in which the civilians had been sheltering.

At least 763 Palestinians, including more than 200 children, had been killed and 3,121 others wounded since the start of Israel’s latest aggression against Gaza on 27 December 2008.

Below, Israeli-born musician and writer Gilad Atzmon, who has renounced his Jewishness and Israeli nationality, examines the deep religious and cultural foundations of genocide, violence and hatred in the Israeli identity.

You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
(Leviticus, Chapter 26, verses 7-9)

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations … then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.
(Deuteronomy 7:1-2)

…do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them … as the Lord your God has commanded you…
(Deuteronomy 20:16)

There is not much doubt among biblical scholars that the Hebrew Bible contains some highly charged, non-ethical suggestions, some of which are no less than a call for genocide. Biblical scholar Raymund Schwager has found in the Old Testament 600 passages of explicit violence, 1000 descriptive verses of God’s own violent actions of punishment and 100 passages where God expressly commands others to kill people. Apparently, violence is the most often mentioned activity in the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew Bible’s saturation with violence and extermination of others may throw some light on the horrifying genocide conducted momentarily in Gaza by the Jewish state. In broad daylight, the Israeli armed forces are using the most lethal methods against civilians, as if their main objective is to “destroy” the Gazans while showing “no mercy” whatsoever.

Interestingly enough, Israel regards itself as a secular state. Ehud Barak is not exactly a qualified rabbi and Tzipi Livni is not a rabbi’s wife. Accordingly, we are entitled to assume that it isn’t actually Judaism per se that directly transforms Israeli politicians and military leaders into war criminals. Moreover, early Zionists believed that, within a national home, Jews would become “a people like any other people”, i.e. civilized and ethical. In that very respect, Israeli reality is pretty peculiar. The Hebraic secular Jews may have managed to drop their God — most of them do not follow Judaic law and are largely secular — yet they collectively interpret their Jewish identity as a genocidal mission. They have successfully managed to transform the Bible from being a spiritual text into a blood-soaked land registry. They are there, in Zion, i.e., Palestine, to invade the land and to lock up, starve and destroy its indigenous habitants. Accordingly, it seems as if the artillery commanders and Israeli air force pilots that erased northern Gaza two nights ago were following Deuteronomy 20:16 — they indeed did “…not leave alive anything that breathes”. But one question is left open: why should a secular commander follow Deuteronomy verses or any other Biblical text?

Some very few Jewish voices within the left are insisting upon telling us that Jewishness is not necessarily inherently murderous. I tend to believe that they themselves consider their words as genuine and truthful. But then one may wonder: what is it that makes the Jewish state’s brutality without parallel? The truth of the matter is actually pretty sad. As far as we can see, Zionism is the only secular ideological and political Jewish collective around and, as it happens, it has proved once again this week that it is genocidal to the bone.

As far as genocide is concerned, the difference between Judaism and Zionism can be illustrated as follows: while the Judaic Biblical context is soaked with genocidal references, usually in the name of God, within the Zionist context Jews are killing Palestinians in the name of themselves i.e. the “Jewish people”. This is indeed the ultimate success of the Zionist revolution. It taught the Jews to believe in themselves. To believe in the Jewish state. “The Israeli” is Israel’s God. Accordingly, the Israeli kills in the name of “his or her security”, in the name of “his or her democracy”. The Israelis destroy in the name of “their war against terror” and in the name the of “their” America. Seemingly, in the Jewish state, the Hebraic subject reverts to mass killing as soon as he finds a “name” to associate with.

This doesn’t really leave us with too much room for speculation. The Jewish state is the ultimate threat to humanity and our notion of humanism. Christianity, Islam and humanism came along with an attempt to amend Jewish tribal fundamentalism and to replace it with universal ethics. Enlightenment, liberalism and emancipation allowed Jews to redeem themselves from their ancient tribal supremacist traits. Since the mid-19th century, many Jews had been breaking out of their cultural and tribal chain. Tragically enough, Zionism managed to pull many Jews back in. Currently, Israel and Zionism are the only collective voice available for Jews.

The past 12 days of merciless offensive against the Palestinian civilian population does not leave any room for doubt. Israel is the gravest danger to world peace. Clearly, the United Nations made a tragic mistake in 1947 by giving a volatile, racially-orientated identity an opportunity to transform itself into a national state.However, the United Nation’s duty now is to peacefully dismantle that state before it is too late. We must do it before the Jewish state and its forceful lobbies around the world manage to pull us all into a global war in the “name” of one banal populist ideology or another (democracy, war against terror, cultural clash and so on). We have to wake up now before our one and only planet is transformed into a bursting boil of hatred.

Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born musician, writer and anti-racism campaigner. A version of this article appeared in Palestine Think Tank.

In light of current events…

In light of current events…


In light of current events, I would like to re-post an older article on Israeli racism: The early years.

* * *

Deuteronomy 20:10-20

10. When you approach a city to wage war against it, you shall propose peace to it.

11. And it will be, if it responds to you with peace, and it opens up to you, then it will be, [that] all the people found therein shall become tributary to you, and they shall serve you.

12. But if it does not make peace with you, and it wages war against you, you shall besiege it,

13. and the Lord, your God, will deliver it into your hands, and you shall strike all its males with the edge of the sword.

14. However, the women, the children, and the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoils you shall take for yourself, and you shall eat the spoils of your enemies, which the Lord, your God, has given you.

15. Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations.

16. However, of these peoples’ cities, which the Lord, your God, gives you as an inheritance, you shall not allow any soul to live.

17. Rather, you shall utterly destroy them: The Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivvites, and the Jebusites, as the Lord, your God, has commanded you.

Joshua 11: 10-14

10 And Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.

11 And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was none left that breathed; and he burnt Hazor with fire.

12 And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and he smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.

13 But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only–that did Joshua burn.

14 And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any that breathed.

* * *

As you read, keep in mind that this story is about land theft, pure and simple. The Lord is here the ultimate fall guy, the original Nuremburg excuse: “Hey, we didn’t want to commit genocide; we were only following orders.”

Yes, yes, this all happened a very long time ago. I understand that. I understand that no person alive today can be held responsible for things said and done then. I also understand that serious questions of historicity surround this text.

Even so, this narrative remains relevant to current debates over the Israeli/Palestinian question, because — when the proverbial push comes to the proverbial shove — Israel’s apologists point to the Old Testament when they insist that a Jewish state must exist there and nowhere else. Few would contemplate any suggestion to purchase an equal-sized chunk of real estate in a fertile region of Africa, South America, Canada, or wherever. As several wags have noted, David Ben Gurion did not believe in God — yet he believed that God gave Israel to the Jews.

One of my critics cast aspersions on the Koran as a “racist” book. In my youth, I tried to read (or at least sample) all the scriptures considered sacred — the Analects of Confucius, the Upanishads, the Gita, various Mahayana texts, the Old and New Testaments. I must confess that I did not get very far into the Koran — which is reportedly much more impressive in the original. Is that book racist? I don’t know. All I can honestly say is that I found it dull.

(For some reason, I never even tried to read the Tao. My bad.)

In my explorations, I have never found any other “sacred” text dripping with the inexcusable bloodlust and hate one can find in the Old Testament. My sympathies now lie with the Gnostics, who considered much of that book evil. (Incidentally, Gnosticism originated within the Jewish community in Alexandria, a group no-one can call anti-Semitic.) Any Jews who want to insult the Islamic holy book should feel free to do so — but they would make a more persuasive case if their own “sacred” work were not so indefensible.

No Jew ever had a right to the land now called Israel. Not Solomon, not David, not Jesus, not Ariel Sharon. None of them. Of course, as I always quickly admit, I have no particular right to park my capacious hindquarters on land that belongs to the Chumash.

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza’s Offshore Gas Fields

The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon’s Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21,  2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine’s gas reserves could be much larger.

Map 1

Map 2

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza’s gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza’s offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine’s sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that “Israel would never buy gas from Palestine” intimating that Gaza’s offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza’s offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas “was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt.” (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert  “to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority.” The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza’s offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

“Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror”. (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on “The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas,” March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel’s intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under “Operation Cast Lead” was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

“Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza’s natural gas:

“Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel’s wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel’s request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials.” (Globes online- Israel’s Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new “post war” political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG’s offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

“Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government’s decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender.” (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine’s Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or “peacekeeping” troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza’s maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel’s offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel’s energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport – pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. “What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel’s Tipline.” (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)

Map 3

In the US, Gaza is A Different War

In the US, Gaza is A Different War

05/01/2009 In the US, Gaza is A Different War
By Habib Battah
Posted by Al-Jazeera

The mainstream US media has been careful to balance images of Gazan suffering with those of Israelis, leading to accusations it is not reflecting the unequal death toll.

The images of two women on the front page of an edition of The Washington Post last week illustrates how mainstream US media has been reporting Israel’s war on Gaza.

On the left was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children. On the right was a nearly equally sized picture of an Israeli woman who was distressed by the fighting, according to the caption.

As the Palestinian woman cradled the dead body of one child, another infant son, his face blackened and disfigured with bruises, cried beside her.

The Israeli woman did not appear to be wounded in any way but also wept.

Arab frustration
To understand the frustration often felt in the Arab world over US media coverage, one only needs to imagine the same front page had the situation been reversed.

If an Israeli woman had lost five daughters in a Palestinian attack, would The Washington Post run an equally sized photograph of a relatively unharmed Palestinian woman, who was merely distraught over Israeli missile fire?

When the front page photographs of the two women were published on December 30, over 350 Palestinians had reportedly been killed compared to just four Israelis.

What if 350 Israelis had been killed and only four Palestinians – would the newspaper have run the stories side by side as if equal in news value?

Like many major news organizations in the US, The Washington Post has chosen to cover the conflict from a perspective that reflects the US government’s relationship with Israel. This means prioritizing Israel’s version of events while underplaying the views of Palestinian groups.

For example, the newspaper’s lead article on Tuesday, which was published above the mothers’ photographs, quotes Israeli military and civilian sources nine times before quoting a single Palestinian. The first seven paragraphs explain Israel’s military strategy. The ninth paragraph describes the anxiety among Israelis, spending evenings in bomb shelters. Ordinary Palestinians, who generally have no access to bomb shelters, do not make an appearance until the 23rd paragraph.

To balance this top story, The Washington Post published another article on the bottom half of the front page about the Palestinian mother and her children. But would the paper have ever considered balancing a story about a massive attack on Israelis with an in-depth lead piece on the strategy of Palestinian militants?

Context stripped
Major US television channels also adopted the equal time approach, despite the reality that Palestinian casualties exceeded Israeli ones by a hundred fold. However, such comparisons were rare because the scripts read by American correspondents often excluded the overall Palestinian death count.

By stripping the context, American viewers may have easily assumed a level playing field, rather than a case of disproportionate force.

Take the opening lines of a report filed by NBC’s Martin Fletcher on December 30: “In Gaza two little girls were taking out the rubbish and killed by an Israeli rocket – while in Israel, a woman had been driving home and was killed by a Hamas rocket. No let up today on either side on the fourth day of this battle.”

Omitted from the report was the overall Palestinian death toll, dropped continuously in subsequent reports filed by NBC correspondents over the next several days.

When number of deaths did appear – sometimes as a graphic at the bottom of the screen – it was identified as the number of “people killed” rather than being attributed specifically to Palestinians.

No wonder the overwhelmingly asymmetrical bombardment of Gaza has been framed vaguely as “rising tensions in the Middle East” by news anchors.

With the lack of context, the power dynamic on the ground becomes unclear.

ABC news, for example, regularly introduced events in Gaza as “Mideast Violence”. And Like NBC, reporters excluded the Palestinian death toll.

On December 31, when Palestinian deaths stood at almost 400, ABC correspondent Simon McGergor-Wood began a video package by describing damage to an Israeli school by Hamas rockets.

The reporter’s script can be paraphrased as follows: Israel wanted a sustainable ceasefire; Israel needed to prevent Hamas from rearming; Hamas targets were hit; Israel was sending in aid and letting the injured out; Israel was doing “everything they can to alleviate the humanitarian crisis”. And with that McGregor-Wood signed off.

Palestinian perspective missing
There was no parallel telling of the Palestinian perspective, and no mention of any damages to Palestinian lives, although news agencies that day had reported five Palestinians dead.

For the ABC correspondent, it seemed the Palestinian deaths contained less news value than damage to Israeli buildings. His narration of events, meanwhile, amounted to no less than a parroting of the official Israeli line.

In fact, the Israeli government view typically went unchallenged on major US networks.

Interviews with Israeli spokesmen and ambassadors were not juxtaposed with the voices of Palestinian leaders. Prominent American news anchors frequently adopted the Israeli viewpoint. In talk show discussions, instead of debating events on the ground, the pundits often reinforced each other’s views.

Such an episode occurred on a December 30 broadcast of the MSNBC show, Morning Joe, during which host Joe Scarborough repeatedly insisted that Israel should not be judged.

Israel was defending itself just as the US had done throughout history. “How many people did we kill in Germany?” Scarborough posed.

The blame rested on the Palestinians, he concluded, connecting the Gaza attacks to the Camp David negotiations of 2000. “They gave the Palestinians everything they could ask for, and they walked away from the table,” he said repeatedly.

Although this view was challenged once by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US official, who appeared briefly on the show, subsequent guests agreed incessantly with Scarborough’s characterisation of the Palestinians as negligent, if not criminal in nature.

According to guest Dan Bartlett, a former White House counsel, the Palestinian leadership had made it “very clear” that they were uninterested in peace talks.

Another guest, NBC anchor David Gregory, began by noting that Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian president, “could not be trusted”, according to Bill Clinton, the former US president.

Gregory then added that Hamas had “undercut the peace process” and actually welcomed the attacks.

“The reality is that Hamas wanted this, they didn’t want the ceasefire,” he said.

Columnist Margaret Carlson also joined the show, agreeing in principal that Hamas should be “crushed” but voicing concern over the cost of such action.

Thus the debate was not whether Israel was justified, but rather what Israel should do next. The Palestinian human tragedy received little to no attention.

Victim’s perspective
Arab audiences saw a different picture altogether. Rather than mulling Israel’s dilemma, the Arab news networks captured the air assault in chilling detail from the perspective of its victims. The divide in coverage was staggering.

For US networks, the bombing of Gaza has largely been limited to two-minute video packages or five minute talk show segments. This has usually meant a few snippets of jumbled video: explosions from a distance and a momentary glance at victims; barely enough time to remember a face, let alone a personality. Victims were rarely interviewed.

The availability of time and space, American broadcast executives might argue, were mitigating factors.

On MSNBC for example, Gaza competed for air time last week with stories about the economy, such as a hike in liquor sales, or celebrity news, such as speculation over the publishing of photographs of Sarah Palin’s new grandchild.

Most US networks have reported exclusively from Israel.
On Arab TV, however, Gaza has been the only story.

For hours on end, live images from the streets of Gaza are beamed into Arab households.

Unlike the correspondents from ABC and NBC, who have filed their reports exclusively from Israeli cities, Arab crews are inside Gaza, with many correspondents native Gazans themselves.

The images they capture are often broadcast unedited, and over the last week, a grizzly news gathering routine has been established.

The cycle begins with rooftop-mounted cameras, capturing the air raids live. After moments of quiet, thunderous bombing commences and plumes of smoke rise over the skyline. Then, anguish on the streets. Panicked civilians run for cover as ambulances careen through narrow alleys. Rescue workers hurriedly pick through the rubble, often pulling out mangled bodies. Fathers with tears of rage hold dead children up to the cameras, vowing revenge. The wounded are carried out in stretchers, gushing with blood.

Later, local journalists visit the hospitals and more gruesome images, more dead children are broadcast. Doctors wrap up the tiny bodies and carry them into overflowing morgues. The survivors speak to reporters. Their distraught voices are heard around the region; the outflow of misery and destruction is constant.

Palestinian voices
The coverage extends beyond Gaza. Unlike the US networks, which are often limited to one or two correspondents in Israel, major Arab television channels maintain correspondents and bureaus throughout the region. As angry protests take place on a near daily basis, the crews are there to capture the action live.

Even in Israel, Arab reporters are employed, and Israeli politicians are regularly interviewed. But so are members of Hamas and the other Palestinian factions.

The inclusion of Palestinian voices is not unique to Arab media. On a number of international broadcasters, including  BBC World and CNN International, Palestinian leaders and Gazans in particular are regularly heard. And the Palestinian death toll has been provided every day, in most broadcasts and by most correspondents on the ground. Reports are also filed from Arab capitals.

On some level, the relatively small American broadcasting output can be attributed to a general trend in downsizing foreign reporting. But had a bloodbath on this scale happened in Israel, would the networks not have sent in reinforcements?

For now, the Israeli viewpoint seems slated to continue to dominate Gaza coverage. The latest narrative comes from the White House, which has called for a “durable” ceasefire, preventing Hamas terrorists from launching more rockets.

Naturally the soundbites are parroted by US broadcasters throughout the day and then reinforced by pundits, fearing the dangerous Hamas.

Arab channels, however, see a different outcome. Many have begun referring to Hamas, once controversial, as simply “the Palestinian resistance”.

While American analysts map out Israel’s strategy, Arab broadcasters are drawing their own maps, plotting the expanding range of Hamas rockets, and predicting a strengthened hand for opposition to Israel, rather than a weakened one.

Habib Battah is a freelance journalist and media analyst based in Beirut and New York.

Durrani Firing Exposes US Hand In Pakistan/India Affair


As Zardari-Gilani rift widens, US says restore Durrani

Islamabad (IANS): The US has asked Pakistan to withdraw the sacking orders of Mahmood Durrani as national security advisor, a move that laid bare the widening gulf between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the lack of coherence in tackling crucial issues like the Mumbai attack probe.

The issue has snowballed with officials disclosing that US Ambassador Anne Peterson Thursday night met Zardari and Gilani at the presidency and “insisted on withdrawing dismissal orders of Durrani”.

“Where’s the government and who’s running it? What type of government do we have? Where are the decisions being taken?” asked Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Hanif Abbasi, two days after Gilani sacked Durrani for not consulting him before announcing that the sole Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab was a Pakistani citizen.

Gilani has been quoted as saying that Durrani did not take him into confidence before making the announcement in a media interview. Further muddying the waters, sources close to Durrani told IANS he had discussed the matter with Zardari, who allowed him to go ahead with the announcement.

As Abbasi sees it, the differences between the two top offices are obvious and there was no coherence in governance with everyone wanting to run the government in his own style.

The leader, however, added it was unfortunate that the NSA had given the news through the international media.

Discussing the many manifestations of the escalating controversy, defense analyst Lt-Gen Talat Masood said the government needed to be very careful in such a situation. “We really should conduct transparent investigations into the (Mumbai) incident.”

He was of the view that there was nothing to worry about if Ajmal Kasab belonged to Pakistan and the government should respond to it positively but after “putting its own house in order”.

Citing the India example, Masood said Indian leaders Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were killed by their own citizens. “If there are unruly people in Pakistan we should expose them,” Masood told IANS.

Lt-Gen Salahuddin Tirmizi added that security advisors are not supposed to give public statements as it’s a very sensitive position.

Referring to the meeting of the US ambassador with the president and prime minister, he told a TV channel: “This shows that he (Durrani) was their man and who knows how many others have been planted by them.”

Jamat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed echoed the view. “It is nothing short of a shameful act that the PM and the president have met with the US envoy to note dictation from US,” Ahmed told IANS.

He said that the meeting undermined national respect as the US envoy should have met his counterpart to inform of the US stance over any issue. “Instead, he gave virtual dictation to our president and prime minister.”

US Senate unanimously votes to support Israel’s invasion of Gaza; House to vote tomorrow

US Senate unanimously votes to support Israel’s

invasion of Gaza; House to vote tomorrow

by Saed Bannoura

Despite protests in every major city in the United States, and thousands of phone calls, faxes, letters and emails sent by US citizens to their Senators in Washington, the US Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to support Israel’s aggression against the population of the Gaza Strip.

(AFP/Getty) Tom Lantos, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign relations Committee, with Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, during 2006 trip to Israel
(AFP/Getty) Tom Lantos, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign relations Committee, with Israeli Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni, during 2006 trip to Israel

A rollcall has not yet been released by the US Senate, so it is unclear whether there were any abstentions. The US Senate has historically overwhelmingly given its support to all of Israel’s attacks, even when those attacks are in direct violation of international humanitarian law, governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention, and even when the attacks have been condemned repeatedly by the United Nations.

Most US Senators and Congress have taken all-expense-paid trips to Israel, sponsored by the Israeli government and US-based Zionist groups. During these trips, members of Congress report being subjected to tours and propaganda that promote a Zionist version of the history of Israel, with no presentation of the continuous disenfranchisement of the indigenous Palestinian population, or the continuous expansion of the Israeli state further into Palestinian land. Although trips are usually considered gifts and are banned under corruption and graft laws, the trips to Israel have always been exempted from these laws.  This is just another symptom of the deep rooted political and economic integration of key power bases in Washington and Tel Aviv

The US House of Representatives is set to vote on an equivalent bill on Friday, introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner. The House bill “expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, an oxymoron by any realistic democratic standards, with secure borders and a recognition to its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against Hamas’ unceasing aggression.”

Critics have challenged the wording of the bill for its misrepresentation of the conflict, given that the democratically-elected Hamas party had abided by an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire for nearly six months, even through numerous Israeli violations, including the Israeli-imposed siege warfare that resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinian patients, due to a lack in medical care and food.

The US Campaign to End the Occupation also challenged the notion of Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’, saying that the Jewish nature of the state of Israel has resulted in an inherent apartheid system that privileges those of Jewish origin above non-Jewish residents. They say that this makes the state of Israel inherently undemocratic, in that its entire legal system discriminates against non-Jews.  Israel cannot be a Jewish state while claiming to be a true democracy, by the very definition of what democracy entails

The Senate voted on the bill, S.6, with a voice vote. No abstentions were noted.

Democratic Senator Harry Reid, a co-sponsor of the bill, told the Reuters news service, “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a country react?”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, and also a co-sponsor of the bill, stated, “The Israelis … are responding exactly the same way we would.”

No Senator chose to address the reports detailing the Israeli targeting of Palestinian civilians (human rights groups have estimated that 90% of casualties over the last three days have been civilians), the censorship of the media by Israel, the Israeli military’s use of unconventional weapons against civilians, indcluding depleted uranium cluster bombs – supplied by the United Sates – and the targeting of schools, hospitals, mosques, ambulances, journalists and humanitarian aid convoys by the Israeli military during the current aggression against Gaza.

But, critics have pointed out that McConnell may be right about a hypothetical US response, given the US military’s widescale attacks against civilian populations in Afghanistan and Iraq, after going to war on intelligence that has not only since been poed to be false, but specifically manipulated to serve as a pretext to wage pre emptive military campaigns on these particular sovereign nations.

Senate unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas

Senate Approves Resolution Backing Israel in Hamas Conflict

By Nicholas Johnston

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas, while the House of Representatives prepared to act on a similar measure tomorrow.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said the measure “expresses vigorous support” for Israel.

“The Israelis have every right to defend themselves against these acts of terrorism,” said Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Israel is in its 13th day of military operations against the Islamic militant Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip in an effort to stop rocket attacks against southern Israeli towns.

Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they had personally spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express their support.

“We support the state of Israel, very strongly as a national policy, because it is in our national interest to do so,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “We also defend any country’s right to defend itself.”

Reid said the resolution recognizes Israel’s right to self- defense, calls on Hamas to end rocket attacks on Israel and says any cease-fire must be “durable, enforceable and sustainable.” He said it also calls for the protection of civilians as well as an end to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a strong and secure Israeli living in peace with an independent Palestinian state.”

“We all want a cease-fire, a real cease-fire on both sides,” Pelosi said.

Zionists are the new Nazis

Zionists are the new Nazis

By Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa, Special to Gulf News
Published: January 08, 2009, 18:34

The barbaric bombing and the killing of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza is evidence of the fascist and inhuman traits of the Israelis

“The Nazi Holocaust, which had always been used by Zionists as an excuse to blackmail the world, was nothing but a criminal scheme weaved by Zionism and Nazism with a great deal of maliciousness and care. As a result, German authorities burnt thousands of Jews in compliance with Hitler’s orders.”

It is evident that the holocaust was a conspiracy hatched by the Zionists and Nazis, and many innocent people gave their lives as a result of this inhuman plot.

Historians, researchers and conscientious people are aware of the role played by the Zionist movement and the prevailing forces of the first half of the 20th century in carrying out the bloody plot.

The holocaust was a major crime in history, and the Israeli culprit is at it again today. After more than half a century, another holocaust is taking place against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In the past few days, hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed or injured, as the Israeli criminal war machine set out to annihilate them.

People in Gaza are drowning in a sea of blood and destruction, in a manner that surpasses all past crimes and massacres that were carried out by the Zionist entity in Palestine over the past 60 years.

The first day of the Israeli annihilation of Gaza started on the Hijri new year. It was a message in the form of a gift to the Arab and Islamic world; reminding us of the Ramadan 1973 war, which coincided with the first day of the Hebrew new year.

After three decades, the Zionist movement is repeating the tragedy for Arabs and Muslims. All this is an unmistaken proof that the Zionists are not peace seekers.

And whosoever has the illusion that coexisting in peace with them is possible is living outside the boundaries of history. The barbaric bombing and the killing of hundreds of civilians in Gaza is evidence of the fascist and inhuman traits of the Zionists.

The charred and bloodied bodies of innocent children, women, and civilians in houses and streets, are testimonies to the Nazi character of the Zionists, whom they claim to have fought in the past.

The Zionist entity is using the same weapons that were used in the past, but in an increasingly savage and modern manner. The US, on the other hand, points its accusing finger to the innocent victims of the Israeli aggression.

The whole world stands in shock as they watch the new holocaust in their homes with the help of advanced technology, satellites and other means of mass media.

A people that are helpless, unarmed and have nothing to defend themselves with, save their belief in the righteousness of their cause, are being murdered in cold blood. Hence, the world stands today in solidarity with the victims of Zionist terrorism.

The support generated for the Palestinians in many countries shows that humanity still exists. Thousands of people rallied in the streets around the world to protest and demand an end to the Israeli crime.

Even Jews in some countries have protested against the new Zionist holocaust. The false pretext and cover Israel tried to utilise to mislead people and international public opinion has failed to do the trick now.

The mask has fallen off the true ugly face of Zionism, and the fascist monster has been exposed for all to see.

The Israeli massacre in Gaza will boost all efforts for the liberation of the Palestinian people, and regaining their right in their occupied land.

In the UAE, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ordered the cancellation of all New Year’s celebrations to express the emirate’s solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The decision also highlights the stature and humane qualities of Shaikh Mohammad’s leadership and vision, as he fully understands the pain of the suffering Palestinians.

A question remains: What will the US do about the current Israeli atrocities and crimes? Will the US government intervene to put an end to the bloodbath, or will it be a silent spectator and ask why the entire world hates it so?

Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Mutawa is a professor of sociology at UAE University, Al Ain.




Mystery surrounds Toronto whistleblower in Turkish coup trial

Tuncay Guney, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. on Jan. 8, 2009, is believed to harbour key evidence in a trial involving a plot to overthrow the Turkish government.

Tuncay Guney lives in Willowdale and tells wild tales of international intrigue. Two things are certain: The Turks want answers, and a lot of people are furious

Standing at the entrance to a north Toronto office tower, Tuncay Guney extends a delicate hand and introduces himself: “You are now talking to the most famous agent in the world.”

Speaking through a translator, his tone is sardonic. But he lays out a pretty fair case.

The 36-year-old Turkish refugee claimant and former journalist goes on to describe meetings with Hezbollah chieftains and U.S. senators, a near escape from Turkish intelligence in the company of an Iranian general, close friendships with Kurdish rebel leaders and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani.

“James Bond has nothing on me,” Guney said. He’s joking again. Sort of.

It’s a fantastical tale from the slight, bespectacled man, a former Muslim who now wears the garb of an Orthodox Jew.

But Guney is not taken lightly in his home country. He is the lynchpin in a sprawling trial accusing dozens of prominent Turks of plotting to overthrow their government. Many in Turkey see the trial as the result of a power struggle between the secular military and the pro-Islamist government of the ruling AK Party.

According to Turkish prosecutors, the labyrinthine ultranationalist cabal, code-named `Ergenekon’, backed political assassinations and deadly terrorist attacks.

All the threads lead back to information provided eight years ago by Guney. He continues to launch verbal bombs from Toronto, appearing regularly via satellite on Turkish television .

This week, Turkish court officials released a list of 37 questions they want Guney to answer about Ergenekon. Did they conspire with separatist Kurdish rebels? Who did they kill? What is their relationship to international drug gangs?

“I am the `black box’ of Ergenekon,” Guney said, referencing one of his nicknames in the Turkish press. “They cannot solve anything until they reach me.”

His standing among fellow expatriates is less lofty.

“Speaking as a member of the community, we are embarrassed that he lives in Canada among us,” said Lale Eskicioglu, executive director of the Ottawa-based Council of Turkish Canadians. “Because of him, many innocent people have been interrogated. He has caused a lot of hell in Turkey.”

Guney’s rise from obscure journalist to renowned whistleblower began in 2001. That year, he was arrested for attempting to sell a stolen car. Over nine days of interrogation, Guney told police he had uncovered a wide-ranging plot to unbalance the Turkish state.

Guney claims he was tortured during questioning. “I told myself, I would get my revenge some day.”

Police searched Guney’s apartment, uncovering six batches of documents, some marked `Top Secret’. The papers laid out a portion of the conspiracy, naming as members some of Turkey’s most prominent citizens.

“He got so much information that he cannot have gotten it by himself,” said Ergun Babahan, a former editor of the Turkish newspaper, Sabah. “Someone gave it to him.”

Despite a travel ban, Guney was mysteriously able to flee Turkey for the United States. “He went from Turkey to New York and then Toronto. That is not so easy to do,” said Babahan. “I believe he has some sort of protection.”

Different factions in Turkey have variously accused Guney of working for American and Iranian intelligence; Islamist interests and Ergenekon-linked secret police units. He denies all of it. He took off his black, broad-brimmed hat and skullcap before being photographed for this article because he feared it would bolster accusations that he works for Israel’s Mossad.

Guney’s files lay dormant until 2007, by which time the AK Party had won power. Then a raid on the house of a former military official turned up explosives that were later linked to an attack at a Turkish newspaper.

The arms seizure pulled the first thread that unravelled the alleged Ergenekon plot. As police investigated, they found Guney had already provided a road map of Ergenekon. Involving high-ranking military officials, businesspeople, gangsters and journalists, the conspiracy appeared to unmask what the Turks call the “deep state” – the real power hidden behind governments.

The Ergenekon plotters stand accused of a dizzying variety of crimes, all aimed at unhinging the government and prompting a military-backed coup.

Housed in a prison complex on Istanbul’s fringes, the trial against 86 Ergenekon defendants began in October. In one of many ironic twists of the case, one of the accused is the police official Guney said is responsible for his torture.

The trial is expected to stretch beyond 2009. Yesterday, the country’s army chief expressed his anger at the recent detention of a dozen top military officials, part of a new round-up of suspects that took place on Wednesday.

“There’s a lot of political fantasizing that goes on here at the best of times,” said Andrew Finkel, an Istanbul-based American journalist. “(Ergenekon) is stirring that pot. Now it’s as if everything that’s ever happened in Turkey is part of that conspiracy.”

Guney arrived in Toronto in 2004, forced to flee New York, he said, by a visit from an Ergenekon-linked Turkish general.

Today, he lives with a roommate in a small house on a busy Willowdale street. He presented a photocopy of a document that he says proves he was granted refugee status last August. As is usual in these cases, the Immigration and Refugee Board would not comment.

He is unemployed. Right now, he supports himself with credit cards and “my gold and diamonds.”

In conversation, Guney slips seamlessly from caution to bombast. At one moment, he said he is afraid to walk Toronto’s streets. At another, he dares the Turkish government to cross him.

“Believe me, they just play games. Sometimes we play together,” Guney said. “They don’t have anything. They just want to scare me.”

Guney is famous in Turkey for his about-faces and provocative statements. There is also his `conversion’ to Judaism since leaving Turkey. Guney claims that his family are Jews by way of Egypt who presented themselves as Muslims in order to survive in Turkey.

Guney returned several times to the subject of his torture eight years ago, speaking with bitterness.

“I have the advantage, not the government,” Guney said. “I will continue this game until my life is over.”

Slaughter of Palestine’s “Little Lambs” By Bloodthirsty State

UN: 257 Palestinian children killed in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Tiny bodies lying side by side wrapped in white burial shrouds. The cherubic face of a dead preschooler sticking up from the rubble of her home. A man cradling a wounded boy in a chaotic emergency room after Israel shelled a U.N. school.

Children, who make up more than half of crowded Gaza’s 1.4 million people, are the most defenseless victims of the war between Israel and Hamas. The Israeli army has unleashed unprecedented force in its campaign against Hamas militants, who have been taking cover among civilians.

A photo of 4-year-old Kaukab Al Dayah, just her bloodied head sticking out from the rubble of her home, covered many front pages in the Arab world Wednesday. “This is Israel,” read the headline in the Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. The preschooler was killed early Tuesday when an F-16 attacked her family’s four-story home in Gaza City. Four adults also died.

As many as 257 children have been killed and 1,080 wounded — about a third of the total casualties since Dec. 27, according to U.N. figures released Thursday.

Hardest on the children is the sense that nowhere is safe and adults can’t protect them, said Iyad Sarraj, a psychologist hunkering down in his Gaza City apartment with his four stepchildren, ages 3-17. His 10-year-old, Adam, is terrified during bombing raids and has developed asthma attacks, Sarraj said.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas in response to its repeated rocket attacks on southern Israel, and is doing its utmost to avoid civilian deaths. However, foreign aid officials note that civilians can’t escape blockaded Gaza and that bombing crowded areas inevitably leads to civilian casualties. The Israeli military has used tank and artillery shells, as well as large aerial bombs.

In the Shati refugee camp on the Mediterranean, 10 boys were playing football in an alley Thursday when a shell from an Israeli gunboat hit a nearby Hamas prison.

At the sound of the explosion, one of the older boys whistled, a signal to interrupt the game. Several players took cover with their backs pressed against a wall. After a minute or two, the game resumed.

Samih Hilal, 14, said he sneaked out of his grandfather’s house against the orders of his worried father. The house was crowded with relatives who fled more dangerous areas, he said, and he couldn’t stand being cooped up for so many hours.

“Do you think we are not afraid? Yes, we are. But we have nothing to do but play,” Samih said.

Another boy, 13-year-old Yasser, waved toward the unmanned Israeli drones in a defiant gesture, instead of seeking cover during the shelling. “There is nothing we can do. Even if we run away here or there, their shells are faster than us,” he said.

Indeed, all of Gaza has become dangerous ground.

Children have been killed in strikes on their houses, while riding in cars with their parents, while playing in the streets, walking to a grocery and even at U.N. shelters.

Sayed, Mohammed and Raida Abu Aisheh — ages 12, 8 and 7 — were at home with their parents when they were all killed in an Israeli airstrike before dawn Monday. The family had remained in the ground floor apartment of their three-story building, while the rest of the extended clan sought refuge in the basement from heavy bombardment of nearby Hamas installations.

Those in the basement survived. The children’s uncle, Saber Abu Aisheh, 49, searched Thursday through the rubble, a heap of cement blocks, mattresses, scorched furniture and smashed TVs.

He said Israel gave no warning, unlike two years earlier when he received repeated calls from the Israeli military, including on his cell phone, that a nearby house was going to get hit and that he should evacuate.

“What’s going on is not a war, it’s a mass killing,” said Abu Aisheh, still wearing the blood-splattered olive-colored sweater he wore the night of the airstrike.

The Israeli military did not comment when asked why the Abu Aisheh house was targeted.

In the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, medics found four young children next to their dead mothers in a house, according to the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross. “They were too weak to stand up on their own,” the statement said.

The Red Cross did not say what happened to the children, but noted that the Israeli army refused rescuers permission to reach the neighborhood for four days. Israel said the delay was caused by fighting.

Medic Mohammed Azayzeh said he retrieved the bodies of a man and his two young sons from central Gaza on Wednesday. One of the boys, a 1-year-old, was cradled in his father’s arms.

In the Jebaliya refugee camp, five sisters from the Balousha family, ages 4, 8, 11, 14 and 17, were buried together in white shrouds on Dec. 29. An Israeli airstrike on a mosque, presumably a Hamas target, had destroyed their adjacent house. Only their parents and a baby girl survived.

Israel accuses Hamas of cynically exploiting Gaza’s civilians and using them as human shields. The military has released video footage showing militants firing mortars from the rooftops of homes and mosques.

“Israel wants to see no harm to the children of Gaza,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. “On the contrary, we would like to see their children and our children grow up without the fear of violence. Until now, Hamas has deliberately prevented that from becoming reality.”

Rocket fire from Gaza has disrupted life in Israeli border communities, and with the latest intensified militant attacks, hundreds of thousands of Israelis are in rocket range. Schools are closed and fearful Israeli children rush into bomb shelters at the sound of air raid sirens.

In the ongoing chaos of Gaza, it’s difficult to get exact casualty figures. Since Dec. 27, at least 750 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moawiya Hassanain.

Of those, 257 were children, according to the U.N.’s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, citing Health Ministry figures that he called credible and deeply disturbing.

“We are talking about urban war,” said Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, the Jordan-based spokesman for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa. “The density of the population is so high, it’s bound to hurt children … This is a unique conflict, where there is nowhere to go.”

Successive generations of Gaza children have grown up with violence, part of the accelerating conflict with Israel. In the late 1980s, many threw stones at Israeli soldiers in a revolt against occupation. In the second uprising, starting in 2000, some were recruited by Hamas as suicide bombers.

Sarraj, the psychologist, said he fears for this generation: Having experienced trauma and their parents’ helplessness, they may be more vulnerable to recruitment by militants.

In his Gaza City apartment, Sarraj tries to reassure his own children.

His 14-year-old stepdaughter lost her school, the American International School, to a recent airstrike, and a girlfriend was killed in another attack. The family lives in the middle-class Rimal neighborhood and still has enough fuel to run a generator in the evenings, enabling the children to read.

Yet when the bombings start, he can’t distract them. “They are scared,” he said. “They run to find the safest place, in the hallway, away from the window.”

Associated Press writer Karin Laub reported from Ramallah, West Bank, and AP writer John Heilprin contributed from the United Nations.

Israel fires on UN Gaza convoy

Israel fires on UN Gaza convoy

Homes, mosques and government buildings have
been hit in the Israeli bombardment [AFP]

At least one Palestinian has been killed after a UN relief agency convoy came under fire from Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, officials say.

The attack took place on Thursday as the lorries travelled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.

Thursday’s pause in the 13-day Israeli offensive to allow humanitarian aid into the strip was scheduled to last from 1pm (11:00 GMT) to 4pm (14:00 GMT).

The Israeli military said that it was checking reports of the incident.

John Ging, the head of the UN relief agency in Gaza, said that the casualties were Palestinian civilian contractors contracted to bring supplies from the crossing points.

“They were co-ordinating their movements with the Israelis, as they always do, only to find themselves being fired at from the ground troops,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It has resulted tragically in the death of one and the injury of two others.”

Wednesday’s three-hour ceasefire allowed beleaguered Gazans and aid workers to recover dead bodies, treat the wounded, and gather much-needed supplies in and around Gaza City.

Rafah bombarded

Earlier on Thursday, thousands of Palestinians fled their homes in the southern Gaza Strip as Israeli forces bombarded Rafah after dropping leaflets to warn local residents about an impending blitz.

Witnesses said that homes, suspected smuggling tunnels and a mosque were hit in the area along the Egyptian border early on Thursday.

The leaflets warned that that the Israeli military “will bomb the area due to its use by terrorists to [dig] tunnels and to stock up” on weapons.

Hundreds of tunnels are believed to cross under the Egyptian border around Rafah allowing Palestinians to smuggle in basic supplies, in short supply due to the Israeli blockade, and weapons.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military dropped the flyers “as in the past to avoid civilian casualties”.

At least 700 Palestinians, including 219 children, have died in Gaza since Israel began its assault on December 27. More than 3,080 people have also been wounded.

Eight Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the same period.

Besieged Gazans

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Gaza City, said the flyers would have frightened the civilian population of southern Gaza.

“Israel has cut the northern part of Gaza from the southern part. Those in the southern part wouldn’t be able to go to the north seeking refuge and vice versa,” he said.

Mohyeldin said there was also another night of  heavy bombardment in the north around Gaza City.

“Most of the targets hit throughout the northern part of the territory included mosques and homes that have been previously struck on the previous days of this conflict. Some of the government buildings and police stations that were nearly destroyed are now completely levelled,” he said.

The AFP news agency quoted witnesses as saying that dozens of Israeli tanks had entered southern Gaza and were heading towards Rafah.

Fierce fighting was also reported between Palestinian fighters and Israeli soldiers around Khan Yunis.

It was unclear if the latest offensive was the “third stage” of the offensive approved by the Israeli security cabinet on Wednesday.

A senior Israeli defence official said a meeting chaired by Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, had “approved continuing the ground offensive, including a third stage that would broaden it by pushing deeper into populated areas”.

‘Shocking’ incident

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday accused the Israeli military of not helping wounded Palestinians in an incident in Gaza City that it described as “shocking”.

ICRC and Palestinian Red Crescent workers said in a statement that several wounded Palestinians and four weakened children were found alongside 12 dead bodies in houses hit by shelling in Zaytun, less than 100 metres from Israeli positions.

“The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded,” it said.

The Red Cross team, including four ambulances, had only gained safe passage from Israeli army to access the neighbourhood on January 7 after trying for four days, the ICRC said.

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces in the occupied West Bank shot dead a Palestinian in a confrontation at a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem, Israeli radio reported.

The Sources of Arabs’ Shame: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

The Sources of Arabs’ Shame: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

By Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” (Arthur Miller)

It is now over two weeks since Israel started its vicious assault on Gaza resulting, so far, in close to 600 dead and thousands of injuries mostly civilians. Israel true to its nature is once again ignoring all international laws and conventions. With its usual thirst for blood of the civilians, Israel is continuing its bombing of workshops, administrative buildings, roads, bridges, fuel depots, prisons, schools and mosques; killing and injuring large number of civilians in one of the world’s most impoverished and densely populated areas of the world. The Israelis are following their old method of destroying everything that makes a society a society, the infrastructure. The collective punishment of the Palestinians for what Hamas or Islamic Jihad is supposed to be doing or has done, reminds one of the collective punishments that Nazis meted out in the occupied areas in Eastern Europe during the WWII.

International Red Cross just issued a statement [ 1] condemning Israel for its brutality against civilians. There are several things that seem to have shocked the Red Cross. In one episode after several days of heavy pressure from the Red Cross, several ambulances were allowed to enter a neighbourhood to evacuate the injured civilians. In one house they found 12 bodies all civilians and mostly women and children. They also found four very young children still alive next to their dead mothers, too weak to stand. They have been holed-up in the same house for close to 4 days.

Apparently the whole neighbourhood was full of dead and injured civilians with Israeli forces only 80 meters away. According to the Red Cross the Israeli forces knew of the situation and not only didn’t do anything to help the civilians, but also were stopping Red Cross from providing assistance. Representative of the Norwegian Red Cross’ People’s Action calls this a war crime.

But this is only the tip of the ice berg. The Israeli forces have begun to use civilians as human shields. According to Amnesty International Israeli forces occupy civilian houses and keep the civilians as hostages on the first floor, while they position their soldiers on the second floor; ensuring that any fire on the house (especially with anti-tank or RPG missiles) kills the civilians as well.

In yet another report, the United Nations condemned Israel for targeting civilians. The head of the UN agency in Gaza running the school that was attacked by Israel forces categorically rejected the claim by Israel that Hamas fighters were in or even near the school. Israel bombed the UN run school, killing 43 children and injuring 100. [ 2]

Israel also targets ambulances and humanitarian relief convoys in Gaza. According to UN, at least one Palestinian was killed when UN relief convoy came under fire from Israeli forces. “The attack took place on Thursday as the lorries travelled to the Erez crossing to pick up supplies that were to have been allowed in during a three-hour ceasefire.” [ 3]

The atrocities committed by Israel is a genocide of a conquered people. Gaza is a concentration camp and no amount of PR can reduce the magnitude of this horrible crime against humanity and decency.

But Israel is Israel. She has shown that cruelty is in her nature. Here I am talking about the successive Israeli governments and not Israeli people in general. I am sure there are many in Israel that if became aware of what really is happening would not approve of it. This of course excludes the settlers and the Zionist movement. These groups like the South African white supremacists consider others to be inferior to them; or that they have the god given right to do as they please.

But states seldom are representative of their people. It is the elite and / or the governing class that makes the decisions. The state of Israel is determined to never allow the Palestinians to have a viable state. The maximum that they are willing to allow is some form of Bantustan (South African) or North American reservation (for Native Americans). With carte blanche from US and most of the European powers, Israel has been implementing this policy. Setting-up such a system takes many years. People’s spirit has to be crushed through collective punishment, economic strangulation and above all excessive and continuing violence. This has to continue for many years so the people lose hope of ever achieving anything more than what is on offer.

This of course cannot be done without the approval of other countries. Israel has the approval of the world’s most powerful nation, the United States. In addition, because of her US connections, she has managed to get a nod and a wink from the Europeans as well. So with this carte blanche in hand she has set forth to change the “reality” on the ground in her favour. By systematically settling extremists in the middle of populated Palestinian areas, she has made the creation of a viable Palestinian state almost impossible. A simple look at the map of the Palestinian territories resembles a Swiss cheese, with pockets of densely populated Palestinian areas surrounded by settlements and their protective military garrisons.

The violence both official (state sponsored) and unofficial (settlers) has been incessant. Couple this violence with economic strangulation and you will see the reasons behind the Palestinians’ anger and frustration. Any resistance is automatically branded as an act of terrorism and punished with even more violence, with US and Europeans cheering the Israelis on the side lines.

If you recall when Georgia invaded the Russian protected enclave of Abkhazia, and met Russian counter attack, the whole Western world with US at its head condemned Russia. Pushing for UN action and even sending warships with “humanitarian” supplies. Russians did not commit one thousandth of the Israeli atrocities and we had the Georgian president and other politician talking day and night about the horrible things the Russians were doing. Yet today we have US and European governments sitting silently watching this genocide taking place without doing anything. US even vetoes resolutions condemning Israeli actions, forgetting that no peace is ever made possible by killing so many innocent women and children.

But whenever a power tries to relocate a group of people by force, the Newton’s Third Law of Motion comes into effect. Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that if you try to imprison a person that person will try to break out. If you try to subjugate a people they will resist. This is the underlying causes of most liberation movements. The same applies to the Palestinians. They are resisting. We can agree or disagree with their methods, but theirs is a reaction to actions taken against them; we call this self-defence.

Israel is trying to push Palestinians into submission and in the process forcing many to leave the occupied territories. They are trying to show the Palestinians that they are alone and resistance in the face of an overwhelming force is suicide. Israel has tried this tactics before and has failed. The children that had to stay with their dead mothers for four days will not forget. The starved people of Gaza are not going to forget this barbarity; and neither shall the people of honour and conscious, regardless of their nationality, Israelis included.

But as for one of those who have followed the Israel’s actions for the past 30 years, I can say that I didn’t expect anything different from Israel. The lies and deceits are all too familiar to fall for again. The current Israeli action in Gaza was not a reaction to the recent event, but planned a year ago. Just read the New York Times article in which among others they interview a senior Israeli military officer [ 4].

Israel is now trying to portray herself as a nation that is defending itself, while the truth is that Israel is a cruel occupying power trying to force a people out of their land. And this is being done with the help of some Arab nations; the very same nations that constantly talk about Arab and Muslim solidarity. These nations are: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The Arab Collaborators

The often asked question, when it comes to the Palestinians, is about the role of Arab countries in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The people not familiar with the political landscape of the area often see the Middle East as two camps, Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. The reality is totally different. Israel has seldom been alone. Beside its usual American , French, British and other staunch allies, she has had the hidden backing of several Arab countries.

For close to 30 years now, many Arab countries have been collaborating with Israel; some like Egypt (gained independence: 1922) and Jordan (gained independence: 1946) openly while others like Saudi Arabia (founded: 1932), UAE (founded: 1972) and Kuwait (founded: 1961) from behind the scenes. The reasons for this collaboration vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common: the rulers of these countries are all dictators and need foreign protection from their own people. Some such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and UAE were put in power by the British. The founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (the kingdom is name after him) was put in power by the British. The same goes for the others, except Egypt which experienced a coup by the army officers in 1952 resulting in the ousting of the monarchy and the accompanying British influence. But the Western influence returned with Anwar Sadat. All these countries are dictatorships and all are under pressure from their people. What they cannot accept is any democratically elected form of government in their mist. They fear that if an Arab government becomes democratic they may have to become one themselves, hence losing power. One of the things that they love about Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is that he won the election not by popular vote but by popular method of rigging the election; something that these Arab leaders understand and respect.

In contrast Hamas really represented the aspiration of the people. Soon, Mahmood Abbas term as president is over and he had to stand for re-election something that he would surely lose. In contrast Hamas really won the municipal elections in 2005 and the Parliamentary election in 2006. The elections were supervised by international observers, many from Europe, and US.

Palestinians were fed-up with the corrupt regime of Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah. They wanted to clean house. But as soon as Hamas took over, the US and the Europeans put an embargo on Hamas, calling it a terrorist organisation and not a peace partner. Israel closed the borders and refused to let anything into Gaza. Egypt also did the same.

What is not mentioned much in the media is that this was done with the complete approval of the Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. After all, Egypt could have opened its border for transfer of food and fuel. The reasons behind this hostility were and are that Hamas is a truly elected government and worst of all, Hamas is a branch or an off-shoot of Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.

Muslim Brotherhood has a branch or related organisation in Jordan as well. Egypt and Jordan are worried that should Hamas survive and show its resistance, their people may get the idea that they can also resist the tyrannical rule of these despots. One must not forget that Muslim Brotherhood represents the only serious challenge to the Mubarak’s rule in Egypt.


The 81 year old Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been “president” since 1981 (28 years). He has won every election with a comfortable majority. He is much loved by his secret services. Prior to every election he arrests and imprisons all the opposition, ensuring a “clean” election. Torture is so widely used and accepted in Egypt that US outsources torturing of some its prisoners to Egypt. This alone should tell you volumes about the nature of Mubarak’s rule. He is now trying hard to crown his playboy son as his successor. But the Americans are not so sure if the son is capable of keeping the 80 million Egyptians in line and is therefore looking for alternative candidates. The head of the feared main secret service is one of the prime candidates along with some of the top generals. Challenging him is the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, enjoying grass root support from all sections of the Egyptian society including Lawyers, doctors, judges and student associations. Not surprisingly, US and Israel call Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

By all accounts, the Muslim Brotherhood be it in Jordan, Egypt or the occupied territories such as Gaza runs a clean operation, running many charity organisations and providing services to the poor and the needy. As such wherever they are, they pose a threat to the corrupt regimes, since they provide an alternative to the people of that area.


King Abdullah II of Jordan, born of a British mother, educated in the West, including the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, was brought to power by the CIA. His Uncle was a long time crown price, yet after his father died in a US hospital, Madeline Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of Estate flew to Jordan to inform the Jordanians that the King on his death bed had changed his will and named his son Abdullah as his successor. The new king Abdullah II married the Princeton graduate Lisa Halaby, the daughter of the former head of Pan American Airlines. She is now called Queen Noor; Noor meaning Light in Arabic.

The majority of this Kingdom of 5 million people are Palestinians who are not very friendly to this King. In 1967 there was a Palestinian uprising (led by PLO) against King Hussein (ruled: 1952-1999, the father of the current king), which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians. In addition, the Kingdom is currently full of Iraqi refugees who resent the King’s help to the Americans in invasion of their country. On top of all this, we have the Muslim Brotherhood which tries hard to abolish the monarchy. King Abdullah relies heavily on the US support and backing for staying in power. King Abdullah also sees a natural ally in Israel, a country that can come to its aid in case of another uprising.

Saudi Arabia (House of Saud)

I don’t have to tell you much about Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is run by the 84 year old, ailing Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. His personal wealth is estimated at $21 billion USD. He rules a clan of 8000 princes who in turn rule the country. Saudi Arabia is the centre of corruption in the Arab world. The Saudi rulers corrupt everything with their money. Lacking the necessary mental power or physical courage, they try to stay in power by subterfuge, lies, and deception. They fund the real extremists on the one hand while portraying themselves as the protectors of the Western interest on the other. They preach intolerance and xenophobia to their people decrying the Western decadence, while spending a lot of time enjoying the life in the West. They pay the West for protection against their own people and they pay the extremists to do their fighting elsewhere. Saudi rulers are indeed the worst of them all.

House of Saud is also the financier of the so called “Arab Moderates” and extremism that they cause. House of Saud financed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. They later financed the Taliban. They also paid the Saddam Hussein to fight Iran. Then they paid the Americans and Egyptians to fight Saddam Hussein. They are the financiers of death and misery. They finance anything, anywhere, as long as this reduces the threat to their illegitimate rule. They are currently financing the civil war in Somalia, bandits in Baluchistan (Pakistan and Iran) and god knows what else. They are detested by their own people and neighbours yet loved by Bush, Cheney and the oil companies. As long as they provide the money and oil the US is willing to tolerate them. And guess what? Muslim Brotherhood hates the House of Saud too. This makes them a threat and hence has to be dealt with.

The Collaboration

As can be seen each country has a good reason to eliminate Hamas, but each is restrained by its population. Israel has no such a restrain imposed on it. She not only can wage a terrible war, but also get assistance from Arab countries. Indeed it is the second time (the first was the Lebanon invasion of 2006) that Israel is getting open and solid support from these Arab countries. The invasion of Gaza was discussed in Egypt before its implementation. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are Israel’s active partners.

Egypt is actively involved in stopping all aids from getting to Palestinians in Gaza save a token few trucks. These few trucks are allowed to go through so they can be filmed and shown to Egyptian people. All demonstrations are banned and all Egyptian volunteers for Gaza are either arrested or sent back.

There are hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the Muslim world that are willing to go to the aid of the Palestinians, but the Egyptian authorities don’t allow them passage. Egyptians even stop medical aid from passing through their territories. This is part of a report from Associated Press:

“RAFAH, Egypt: Frustration is mounting at Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip, where many local and foreign doctors are stuck after Egyptian authorities denied them entry into the coastal area now under an Israeli ground invasion.

Anesthesiologist Dimitrios Mognie from Greece idles his time at a cafe near the border, drinking tea and chatting with other doctors, aid workers and curious Egyptians.

“This is a shame,” said Mognie, who decided to use his vacation time to try help Gazans. He thought entering through Egypt, which has a narrow border with the Hamas-ruled strip, was his best bet.

“That in 2009 they have people in need of help from a doctor and we can go to help and they won’t let us. This is crazy,” he added.” [ 5].

In addition there are many Iranian cargo planes full of food and medicine which have been sitting on the tarmacs in Egypt for days waiting for permission to deliver their cargo. Egyptians even denied the medical aid sent by the son of the Libyan President Qaddafi to land in Egypt [ 6].

One thing is clear: these three countries do not want the Israelis to fail in their mission of totally destroying Gaza. Hosni Mubarak said so himself. The daily Haaretz reported that Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza.

As Egypt physically aids the Israeli military by denying food, fuel and medicine to the civilians, The House of Saud helps Israel by giving her time and diplomatic cover. When Israel started its invasion there was an immediate call for an Arab summit. Saudi Arabia and Jordan (along with Egypt of course) delayed the summit. The Saudis along with the UAE said that they had another meeting to attend to and therefore Palestinian issue had to wait. After a few days when the summit was eventually held, they issued the same old statements. Yet this time same as the Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, they blamed the victims. In a statement Saudi Arabia blamed Hamas for Israel’s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia, after blaming Hamas, declared that it will not even consider an oil embargo on Israel’s supporters. She then again blamed Hamas.

By this time, the three Arab countries along with Kuwait and UAE began singing the old song: international community is not doing anything about the catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza. It seems that these Arab tyrants have no shame at all. This reminds me of a quote from Marquis De Sade (1740-1814): “One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”

These Arab leaders (many are indeed too old to blush) are complicit in the murder of so many civilians, especially young children. According to Agence France-Presse, quoting the medics on the ground, fully one third of all people killed have been children [ ]. How can these Arab leaders justify this to their people?

The answer is that they cannot. Israel knows this and for the second time can show the Arab street that their leaders are nothing but a bunch of old hypocrites. These Arab leaders are now exposed and can do nothing but to cooperate fully with Israel and US. What stand between them and their people’s rage is their army and secret services; which in turn are supported by US.

Israel has cleverly exposed these leaders for what they are: collaborators of the worst kind. These Arab leaders have brought an unimaginable shame to their people. To quote Lucien Bouchard: I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit. Our hope is now with the people of these countries to clean this stain from their honour.

[1] ABC News Norway. “Røde Kors sjokkert over Israel”(Red Cross Shocked by Israel), 8 January 2009.

[2] ” UN: No fighters in targeted school”, 8 January 2009

[3] ” Israel fires on UN Gaza convoy”, 8 January 2009

[4] “For Israel, 2006 Lessons but Old Pitfalls”, 7 January 2009

[5] The Associated Press. “Doctors stuck at bottleneck on Egypt-Gaza border”. 6 January 2009

[6] hosted news. ” Egypt denies Kadhafi’s son permission to land at airport”. 6 January 2009

[7] Agence France-Presse. “Children make up third of Gaza dead”, 7 January 2009

************* Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He can be contacted at :

Israel’s Dress Rehearsal for Lebanon by

Israel’s Dress Rehearsal for Lebanon

by Mike Whitney

The reason the rationale for invading Gaza keeps changing, (from rocket-fire to Hamas infrastructure to strengthening deterrents to weapons smuggling to ceasefire violations etc) is because the real purpose of the operation is to conduct a dress rehearsal for the impending invasion of Lebanon.
Israel has never recovered from its defeat at the hands of Hezbollah during the 33 Day war in 2006, so it is preparing for a reprisal. The attack on Gaza is just a “dry run”; a confidence-building exercise to strengthen morale and put the finishing touches on the battle plan. That’s why there’s such a disparity between the implicit risks of the current operation and its minuscule strategic gains. It’s not really Hamas that is in the cross-hairs, but Hezbollah; and this time, Israel hopes to crush them with overwhelming force. The massive week-long aerial bombardment, the pounding by heavy artillery units, and the deployment of elite troops and armored divisions all presage a massive Normandy-type invasion of Lebanon with the probability of high casualties.
The raw logic of Israel’s distorted self-image and racist doctrines is exposed beyond confusion by the now-stark reality: the moonscape rubble of once-lovely Lebanese villages; a million desperate people trying to survive Israeli aerial attacks as they carry children and wheel disabled grandparents down cratered roads; limp bodies of children pulled from the dusty basements of crushed buildings. This is the reality of Israel’s national doctrine, the direct outcome of its racist worldview.
– Virginia Tilley “The Case for Boycotting Israel” in Counterpunch.
Gaza is also the testing ground for new Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Barak and Ashkenazi replace former Defence chief Amir Peretz and Israeli Air Force Commander Dan Halutz, the two main scapegoats for the failed campaign. The new leaders are expected to take what they’ve learned in Gaza and use it in Lebanon. So far, the Israeli high command seems to like what they see.
Israel’s Tonkin Bay?

Two days before Israel began its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, UNIFIL (UN peacekeepers) increased the number of daily patrols along Lebanon’s southern border. According to the Jerusalem Post, “The decision to increase UNIFIL’s patrols had nothing to do with Israel’s military operation… but rather with the international organization’s goal to monitor the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701.”

Hezbollah has been watching the activity on the border with growing concern suspecting that Israel may be using the invasion of Gaza to divert attention from their real objective, another war in Lebanon. Presently, the Shi’ite militia is on its highest alert and is preparing itself for any sudden conflagration. Israeli warplanes have increased their flights in the last 10 days and the IDF has called up thousands of reserve troops placing some of them along the northern border. Naturally, the tension is steadily rising . Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has publicly rejected the idea of supporting Hamas militarily, but the Israeli media continues to portray him as a potential threat.

“We are here, ready for every possibility and prepared for any aggression,” Nasrallah said on Monday. “We will not weaken, fear or surrender. I tell Olmert, the loser, the disappointed and defeated in Lebanon, ‘You will not be able to eradicate Hamas and you will not be able to eradicate Hezbollah.”


According to the Jerusalem Post: “On Monday, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman suggested Israel was responsible for eight rockets that were found in southern Lebanon, saying that he fears “it is an Israeli attack to implicate Lebanon,” according to the NOW Lebanon news site.”

The eight rockets were on timers and aimed at Israel from Lebanese territory. Was Israel planning to start a war and make it look Hezbollah was to blame? The former President of Lebanon thinks so.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday, former President Emile Lahoud warned that once Israel is finished with Gaza, it would attack Lebanon in reprisal for its failure in the 33-day war.

“I’m sure that Israel is thinking after Gaza would turn towards Lebanon, and after Lebanon it will take every Arab state one by one, and this is what some of the Lebanese as some Arab leaders are not thinking about,” said the former Lebanese president….This is while Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as telling the French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday that “today Hamas and Tomorrow Hezbollah,” will come under attack. (Press TV)

The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported this comment by Head of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin in its January 6 edition: “Yadlin said, ‘Hezbollah might carry out a low-profile attack by means of a Palestinian organization that would be limited and not set the border alight.’ He added that forces also remained on high alert in light of a possible Hezbollah strike against an Israeli target abroad.” (Ha’aretz, 1-6-09)

Who really wants another war; Hezbollah or Israel?

Israel never accepted the outcome of the 33 Day war and will probably use the UN’s failure to implement UN Resolution 1701–which requires the disarming of all militias–as an excuse for restarting the conflict. Nicholas Blanford, who authored a report on the 33 Day war, told Press TV:

“Yes, 1701 stopped the war in 2006. It stopped the fighting. I mean it saved the Israelis, the Israelis were obviously in deep trouble as various internal investigations and reports and commissions have elaborated….It was kind of an unfinished war in many respects. Hezbollah, for their part, recognized Israeli unease and unhappiness with the outcome of the war.”

Israel considers the war “unfinished” and has been readying itself for two and a half years for a rematch. (Al Jazeera reported “Rockets from Lebanon Hit Israel” hours after this article was written.

“Greater Israel”

The upcoming war with Lebanon has less to do with Hezbollah than it does with Israel’s geopolitical ambitions. Israel wants to establish a new northern border at the Litani River in southern Lebanon and create an “Israel-friendly” regime in Beirut. The plan to annex the land south of the Litani River dates back to the founding of the Jewish state when Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion described the country’s future borders this way: “To the north the Litani River, the southern border will be pushed into the Sinai, and to the east, the Syrian Desert, including the furthest edge of Transjordan.”

In 1978, the IDF launched Operation Litani with the intention of annexing the southern part of Lebanon and setting up a Christian client-regime in Beirut that would take orders from Tel Aviv. Israel said that it needed a “buffer zone” for its security, the same excuse that it uses today. The 1982 invasion devolved into an 18-year onslaught which ravaged the Lebanese economy and killed more than 20,000 civilians. In 2000, Israel was driven from Lebanon by the region’s newest guerrilla militia, Hezbollah.

Israel’s territorial objectives have not changed. They want to seize more land consistent with their vision of “Greater Israel” and reduce adjacent Arab countries to a “permanent state of colonial dependency”.

This explains why Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure and communications network were intentionally targeted. Israel requires its neighbors to languish in abject poverty and hopelessness. By destroying Lebanon’s life-support systems, Israel figured it would eliminate a potential rival while establishing itself as the dominant power in the Middle East. This same template for “total war” is being used in Gaza where mosques, schools, media offices, sea ports, girl’s dormitories, ambulances and vital infrastructure have been destroyed while international media, doctors and the Red Crescent have been refused entry. The rules of war have been abandoned altogether.


“A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” provides the neocon blueprint for “rebuilding Zionism in the 21st century” and redrawing the map of the Middle East in a way that promotes Israeli interests. The document states:

“Securing the Northern Border: Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which America can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, as the principle agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by: paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syria is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove to be insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper.” (A Clean Break; Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser)

Eventually, Syria will be dragged into the war so that Israel can move forward with its plans to build a oil pipeline from Mosul to Haifa. Israel wants to be a major player in the global oil trade. In Michel Chossudovsky’s article “Triple Alliance: US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon”, the author says:

“We are not dealing with a limited conflict between the Israeli Armed Forces and Hezbollah as conveyed by the Western media. The Lebanese War Theatre is part of a broader US military agenda, which encompasses a region extending from the Eastern Mediterranean into the heartland of Central Asia. The war on Lebanon must be viewed as ‘a stage’ in this broader ‘military road map’”.

Chossudovsky shows how the recently completed Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline has strengthened the Israel-Turkey alliance creating an opportunity to establish “military control over a coastal corridor extending from the Israeli-Lebanese border to the East Mediterranean border between Syria and Turkey.” Lebanese sovereignty is likely to be one of the casualties of this Israel-Turkey strategy.

Most of the oil from the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline will be transported to Western markets, but a percentage of the oil will be diverted through a “proposed” Ceyhan-Ashkelon pipeline which will connect Israel directly to rich deposits in the Caspian. This will allow Israel to supply markets in the Far East from its port at Eilat on the Red Sea. It is an ambitious plan that ensures that Israel will be a critical part of the global energy distribution system. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, July 2006)

Oil is the main reason the US and Israel want regime change in Syria. An article in the UK Observer, “Israel Seeks Pipeline for Iraqi Oil”, notes that Washington and Tel Aviv are hammering out the details for a pipeline that will run through Syria and “create an endless and easily accessible source of cheap oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia.” The pipeline “would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria, and solving Israel’s energy crisis at a stroke.”

The Israeli Mossad is operating in northern Iraq where the pipeline will originate and their agents have developed good relations with the Kurds. The Observer quotes a CIA official who said, “It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel’s energy supply as well as that of the US. The Haifa pipeline was something that existed, was resurrected as a dream, and is now a viable project — albeit with a lot of building to do.”


Ironically, the invasion of Gaza was in part motivated by vital energy resources, too. According to an article by Jake Bower, “Why It Rains: Hamas holding Israeli gas reserves hostage”:

“GAZA: Plans for proposed $400,000,000 offshore natural gas field development project….The deposit reportedly contains an estimated 50 to 60 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The field… is considered to be the largest in the area north of Egypt….

Estimated at 100 billion cubic meters of proven reserves, these discoveries potentially offer enough gas to meet Israel’s goal of supplying 25% of its energy needs for more than 20 years – even without further imports. The discovery has also raised realistic expectations of locating oil deposits beneath the gas fields.

Unfortunately for Israel, 60% of these reserves are in waters controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which has signed a 25-year contract with British Gas for further exploration in the area…. Keen to secure the gas for its domestic market but unwilling to submit its sensitive energy supplies (and their profits) into the hands of the Palestinians, Israel has for the past 6 years pursued a policy of non-commitment, stalling and obstruction.” (Jake Bower, “Why It Rains: Hamas holding “sraeli” gas reserves hostage”)

The natural gas deposits are just one more reason why Israel plans to remove Hamas and replace them with Mahmoud Abbas and the corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA).

The Middle East is being reshaped according to the ideological aspirations of Zionists and the exigencies of a viciously-competitive energy market. That’s a combo that makes peace nearly impossible.