The Imminent Undoing of Israel

The Imminent Undoing of Israel

written by
Susan Safi & Iman Safi

Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

History invariably repeats itself.  But in the techno age even history is running at top speed. Socio-economic and cultural changes that generally took centuries to develop and take shape in the past are materializing within decades if not years.

Much has changed in the Middle East since 1948 when the modern State of Israel was created.  The Arabs in general were reeling from centuries of Ottoman rule and decades of British/French rule/mandate.  Their young and fragile new states lacked infrastructure, resource management, skills and even identity and purpose.  After over 13 centuries of having a structured Muslim hierarchy with the Khalif on top of the pyramid, the Muslim world lost its Khalifat with the toppling of the Ottoman Empire in 1924 that system was totally dismantled.  The Khalif was meant to be the successor of Muhammed, but unlike his Catholic counterpart the Pope, the Khalif was both the ultimate religious and political leader.

Early Jewish migrants to Palestine faced an enemy that had no idea about what was to come.  When Palestinians were driven away by Jewish settlers official Arab radio stations were encouraging them to leave, telling them that the Arab governments would host them for a week or two before they could return home.  The rest is history.

Arab nationalism and the intention to liberate Palestine did not become a serious matter until after the Nasser revolution of 1952.  Nasser rose to prominence in 1956 when he nationalized the Suez Canal and prevented Israeli ships from using it.  The young and charismatic officer achieved stardom in the Arab world.  His photographs adorned almost every Arab living room from “the ocean to the Gulf”, that is from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf.  He was believed to be “the one” who would restore the great Arab pride, world stature, unity, cultural stature, international importance, and last but not least, the one to destroy Israel.

Nasser fell on his sword in 1967 when Israel single handedly crippled his air-force in no time and occupied all of Palestine, that is; Gaza strip and the West Bank together with the whole of Sinai and the Golan Heights.  In June 1967 Israel scored a military victory of biblical proportions and reciprocally the Arabs reached their lowest point in their history.  At that time it was believed and predicted that the Talmudic aspiration of Greater Israel was only a couple of decades away.  The very mention of the word “Israel” signaled unspeakable fear and apprehension in the minds of most Arabs.  Arabs genuinely believed that approximately every ten years Israel would strike, each time gaining more land, creating more refugees, whilst the region’s Arabs could only sit back and wait for their impending doom.

Amidst this hopeless and desperate predicament, Fatah, led by Arafat, rose from the ashes.  For a change, news media in the Arab world were talking about Israeli casualties, Israeli fear, and Israeli plans being obstructed by those who opposed them.  Arafat rose to a new hero status and Syria and Sadat’s Egypt scored a military victory, though modest, against Israel in 1973.  There were signs of change on the horizon and ever since the immediate period following the infamous 1967 victory, these signs accelerated with growing momentum.   It is quite a plausible argument that Israel reached its height in might and expanse after the Six Day War of June 1967.  Ever since that day, Israel has been going through a treacherous slippery slide.  This demise is the result of many factors; some are regional, others international and others internal.

In hindsight it could be said that Israel’s 1967 victory was a disaster in disguise.  Forty odd years after occupying the West Bank, Israel is still battling with the people of that land, sometimes militarily and at other times politically.  Three decades or so after the occupation of the West Bank Israel finally realized that it has to return the West Bank or at least some of it to its rightful owners.  The costs of occupying the West Bank include the carnage of suicide bombers, countless situations of political turmoil, military clashes, enormous financial costs and mounting world outrage just to name a few. The doves of Israeli politics realized that those costs exceeded the emotional and actual financial value of the real estate gained by force.  The West Bank remains a burden for Israel.  It is damned if it gives it back to the Palestinians and damned if it doesn’t.

The cost of occupying Gaza speaks for itself, particularly the current war which exceeds by far any military confrontation to date in the West Bank. This is a full-scale war, a war that even if Israel wins will forever tarnish Israel’s reputation, bringing condemnation from previous friends and possibly resulting in publicized human rights and war crimes charges and trials of Israeli officials in The Hague.

The war booty of Sinai did not buy Israel any more than peace with Egypt.  “Land for Peace” was the name of the deal.  But this peace is as fragile as the political situation in Egypt at present.   The likelihood of the Muslim Brotherhood attaining power in Egypt looks more probable by the day.  In this event Israel will find itself in a “no land no peace” situation with Egypt.

In contrast, all this time the Assad father and son in Syria sat back, endorsing and supporting groups and militia committed to fighting Israel.  As those confrontations intensify and become more frequent, Syrian soil and sky remain virtually unscathed.  The Assad policy appears to tackle its enemy on its turf leaving Syrian turf a safe haven for growth, development and support for the anti-Israeli resistance. If this analysis is accurate then without any doubt the Assads have done a well in achieving this objective.

Israel, in 1968, lost its first battle in the small Jordanian border town of Karameh. It lost its first major war with Syria and Egypt in 1973. However, it was not humiliated until it was driven out of Lebanon in May 2000 by Hizbollah, a militia group, a rogue group in the eyes of many, a bunch of terrorists in the eyes of the West.  After an agonizing occupation of Lebanon that started partially in 1978 with the initial intention of driving off the PLO, Israel invaded all of Lebanon.  It occupied Beirut in 1982 and eventually withdrew under international pressure leaving a 40 to 60 kilometer buffer zone under its control in South Lebanon.  Eighteen years and many casualties later, Israel was forced to leave Lebanon.  Barak, Israel’s PM at the time, referred to this defeat as a “strategic withdrawal”.

Irrespective of how Israeli politicians “sold” the idea of this defeat to their electorates, in the minds of the antagonists of Israel, which “withdrawal” was regarded as a major defeat of the Israelis. After all, it was the first time in Israel’s history that it withdrew from an occupied territory unilaterally and without any trade-offs.  If anything, in this withdrawal Israel did not only lose territory, but it lost a huge liquid asset; the Litani River.  It would be foolish to consider that the Israelis would let go of such a huge water supply on the basis of a “strategic withdrawal”.

Fear was a major “ace” up Israel’s sleeve after their 1967 success.  That fear that once existed in Arab minds and hearts was now gone. The “undefeatable army” of Moshe Dayan was no more.  To add insult to injury, the July war of 2006 with Hizbollah created even more humiliation of the once mighty IDF.  Israel had to soul search when it commissioned Winograde to report and recommend on these failings. The Knesset, on a bi-partisan basis, took on all the recommendations. With those recommendations implemented, and with the top gun Barak back in charge as defense minister, the Israeli war machine considered a Gaza invasion as akin to a walk in the park.  Eighteen days later Hamas is still launching rockets at the heartland of Israel.

No one really knows what the striking force of Syria is. Israel struck Syrian targets on several occasions in the last two to three years and there was no military retaliation.  The calculating and patient Assad may well be keeping the element of surprise till show-time.  Knowing that Assad and Putin are strategic allies and close personal friends, this must be of concern for Israel.

As if Israel does not have enough enemies in the Arab world.  The policies of the United States in the Middle East have been primarily focused on ensuring the military superiority of Israel, its continuity and protection.  In doing so, America has invaded and occupied Afghanistan and invaded and pillaged Iraq based on fabricated motives.  By and large, the Muslim world (over one billion people) regard the US-Israel alliance as a representation of the devil incarnate or at the least a personal affront.   In every so-called attempt of fighting terrorism, this alliance is recruiting more enemies and instilling more radical thinking into the minds of Muslim and Arab youth.  It seems like every time this alliance “eliminates” one enemy combatant, it is creating many more.  There is now a huge wave of anger and outrage sweeping the globe including the heart of American, Europe and Australia where millions of Muslims are naturalized citizens.

Today, after eight years of Bush administration, Bush will perhaps be best remembered as the man whose actions have done little to combat terrorism and unfortunately backfired by inspiring the creation of countless organizations and driving the recruitment for dogmatically trained soldiers ready to give their lives for a number of related causes. Potentially such an “army” has a recruitment base of one billion people.  What a stark contrast to the army consisting of a handful of ill-equipped Palestinian volunteers and young and equally ill-equipped armies of puppet Arab regimes back in 1948.

There is no doubt that the military balance in the Middle East is changing.  The once mighty IDF appears to find itself unable to score a convincing and easy win against an enemy as small as Gaza even after it suffered two years of blockade.  Add Iran to the equation and the balance of power would no doubt make Israel’s status in the Middle East more precarious.

Changes in the demographic balance do not look any better.  The Arab population of Israel in 1948 was reduced significantly after a massive exodus to neighbouring Arab countries.  Jewish migrants took over a land that was left virtually uninhabited.  In its land acquisition of 1967, Israel found itself occupying a highly populated territory. This population has posed as management nightmare to Israel as mentioned above.  By virtue of the fertility of the wombs of those mothers who did not flee Palestine in 1948 on one hand and the reduced influx of Jewish migrants on the other hand, the demographics within Israel proper are rapidly changing to the disadvantage of the Jewish majority.  This trend, if it continues, according to the laws of mathematics, may one day lead to an Arab majority.

To compound the issues, Israel is primarily an “imported” country that is not independently viable.  Credit must be given to the remarkable achievements in industry, agriculture and other areas but, Israel remains dependent on imported aid.   To ensure this continued assistance, the Jewish migrants did not just bring in people and skills but also left in place a support base from the Jewish Diaspora. Better known as the “Jewish Lobby”, this body has been thus far very successful in ensuring a flow of funds, strategic and political support and unprecedented backing primarily from the United States and its close allies.  The US goes one step further by vetoing UN sanctions against Israel’s violations against human rights and violations of UN resolutions.  Israel has become a state that is above international law, a state that is totally unaccountable even to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As the pampered child of the United States, the world’s only “New-Order” superpower, Israel has been literally given a license to kill. One has to remember that this license is contingent upon the existence and the ability of the licensee to grant it. America is now facing two major dilemmas; a rising financial giant called China and an economy that is showing major signs of fatigue.  If the current Chinese growth maintains its momentum, macro-economists tip China to become the major economic power within 20 years.

History tells us that with wealth comes military might.  It would not be unforeseeable to witness China thwarting the U.S and challenging its stature as the greatest military power within that same period.  Unless Israel with its Jewish lobby manages to get into bed with China, it may in the near future; find itself backed by a bankrupt, toothless Tiger….oops Eagle.

The change in the nature of the bi-lateral relationship between the U.S and Israel may come from America itself.  If the US is truly serious about improving its image in the Middle East, if it is truly serious about fighting terrorism, it may soon (and should) realize that best battles can be won by making friends rather than combating enemies; especially when the enemy is as elusive and invisible as some Al-Qaida-type organizations.

If or when America realizes that its support to Israel is coming at a great cost, a cost that it can do without, then its alliances in the Middle East may turn a corner in the very near future.  Moreover, irrespective of how Obama pans out to be, he did not seem to rely on the endorsement of the Jewish Lobby to be elected.  Perhaps this election win sets a precedent for all presidential and other office-bearer hopefuls in the future.  If or when such a day comes the American support for Israel will no longer be synonymous with American national security. This realization, on its own, could spell the end of Israel at least as we know it.

Israel is like an inflated balloon, with cracks and holes.  It remains inflated because there is a pump that is pumping it with air 24/7. There are pins also pointing at that balloon from the inside and the outside.  This pump will only function for so long before it slows down or stops. The pins are likely to increase in number and sharpness.

Israel has the ability to act with wisdom and indeed could find a win/win situation for all. But, sadly, Israel is not learning from its mistakes and continues to live, think and act with short vision and in isolation from the realities on the ground.  Israel persists, as is evident in its current war on Gaza, to believe that what force cannot achieve more force can.

Susan Safi & Iman Safi

The Arab World, Israel and Hamas

The Arab World, Israel and Hamas

written by
Osman Bahadir Dincer

Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)

23 day war in Gaza seems to have ended with more than 1300 dead and thousands of wounded Palestinians. It is really difficult to predict what is going to happen in upcoming days. Yet, it is not impossible to say that the forthcoming elections in Israel will occupy much of the time and the agenda of the Israeli politicians. If we would like to analyze the developments after the three-week war, we could say something under the following specific sub topics:

The Arab World: Current Regimes and the Islamist Oppositions

It is a concrete fact stated by everyone who knows the region very well that there is a huge gap between the Arab leaders/regimes and their societies. In this regard, the recent developments in the region illustrated this divided and problematic structure which has never been portrayed that obvious before. From the outset of the war, albeit all the prohibitions and restrictions, Arab people have not abstained from reacting and organizing demonstrations. On the other hand, the Arab leaders acted as usual, as expected, by not intervening in the issue. By doing so, once more, they proved that they are impassible and cack-handed.

Organizing three different Arab summits within the same week without having any concrete and logical result from any of them is a significant example, showing that Arab leaders do not only have problems with their people but also they are in a de-facto “cold war” among themselves.[1] In fact, not being able to form a unified understanding toward many issues in the region by the Arab regimes is a natural result of the Middle Eastern geography. The maps drawn by the external powers like Britain and France between the years 1914 and 1922 simplify to have perpetual cleavages among the Arab regimes.

Another point drawing attention is that not only the recent developments in last month but, in a broader sense, all the negative events occurred in last 2-3 years have been pushing people in a more radicalized atmosphere, and puts especially the Palestinians on the horns of a dilemma; on the one hand, the Islamists who have been inherently criticized and tried to be delegitimized by the US and Israel; on the other hand, the prevailing secular regimes, -with a high level of corruption- which have been unable to provide proper solutions to the problems and unable to serve their citizens. The current equation is obvious; in Palestine, it could be said that Al Fatah and Hamas are the two options, and in Egypt, the Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the most important opposition movement, are again only two alternatives in this manner.[2]

The most important thing that should have never been forgotten is the following; having the Islamist ideology or referring to Islam is not the fundamental reason behind the legitimate support for the Islamist organizations in the Arab World. The exhausted regimes, with no success story in the last three or four decades, which cannot be defended in a way or another due to their corruption, are the real motivations for Arabs to support the Islamists. In short, it is all about the legitimacy crisis within the current regimes. In this regard, as it is widely acknowledged that the legitimacy of a regime either leans on their society, which is hardly to see in the Arab world, or the legitimacy leans on the external powers. In this regard, the position of the Arab world in terms of the sources of the legitimacy is publicly known by everybody (!).

As long as the Arab regimes keep being silent in the recent and upcoming prospective developments, they will continue to be weakened by the impact of opposing reactions springing from their society. As a matter of fact, today these opposing groups are severely threatening their regimes as never seen before. Nothing was ever the same again in the Arab states. In the globalized world, it is very easy to access any kind of information by using many tools such as the internet and the satellites. Today, in Cairo, it is almost impossible to see a house without a satellite dishes even in the poorest areas of Cairo. This fact, for sure, makes people react against their regimes which have no ability to take any initiatives.

As Patrick Seale argues that the war in Gaza has revealed what was commonly known but rarely accepted; Arab leaders hate and fear each other more than they hate and fear Israel.[3] The war also revealed another fact that the Arab League, which was, in fact, established to defend the common interests of the Arab nations, is just the name of a building located in the Square of Independence (Meydan Takhreer) in the hearth of Cairo and means nothing beyond that.

The Victory of Israel?

Let’s go back to the latest developments. Israel announced a ceasefire by claiming that Israel won a victory, before the new president of the US, Obama came to the power officially. Well, is that really possible to talk about a victory or at least a success for Israel in the War in Gaza? If we take into consideration that there are also some people within Israel asserting that there is no success, then, indeed, it is impossible to talk about an absolute success. It is obvious that Israel could not achieve its pre-announced aims –putting an end to the rocket firing and destroying Hamas completely-. Despite the fact that many of the high level leaders of Hamas were killed, such kinds of losses do not weaken Hamas or like-minded organizations. One can easily remember that Hamas came to the power in 2006 after the assassinations of its spiritual leader Shaky Ahmad Yasin and Abdulazez Rantissi in 2004. Moreover, the current top three leaders in the collective leadership of Hamas are still alive. Haniyye and Zahar are still in Gaza and the exiled leader Meshal is on duty in Syria. The leaders who announce the Hamas’ victory in the television programs after the ceasefire are also these leaders. Hence, Hamas, with its leadership cadres and the armed forces, is still in power in Gaza. From a different point of view, we should be aware of the fact that in this region destroying a radical group or conducting a wide range assaults always pave the way for emerging more radical fractions. For instance, as Salhani puts in his comment, Six Day War in 1967 pave the way for PLO and some other guerilla groups, the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 gave Hezbollah opportunity to emerge and in the coming years, in the wake of intifada the pressure on PLO and the Palestinians gave rise to Hamas.[4] Then, even if Hamas is completely destroyed today, it is almost impossible for Israel to achieve its aims and also it is impossible to placate the tension.

Besides, it is certain that the assaults did not directly targeted Hamas which was claimed by Israel. On the contrary, due to the high number of children and women causalities, it is obvious that the Palestinian people were direct targets of Israel. This is also a clear failure for Israel whether Israel accepts this reality or not. In addition to that, the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalid is still in the hand of Hamas. If it assumed that Israel won a victory and destroyed Hamas seriously, then why is Gilad still on the other side of the border?

The tunnels on the border of Egypt and Gaza are destroyed. By doing so, Israel aimed to prevent the weapons smuggling. As a result, to a certain degree, it is true that the logistic support to Hamas is going to decline. However, it is also known that most of the weapons in the hand of Hamas are homemade which means they are not definitely bounded to the smuggling. The importing of the necessary primitive inputs of these rockets could not be fully prevented.[5]

The Palestinian resistance will perpetuate, as long as the Israeli occupation of West Bank and the siege on Gaza continue. Since the children, who lose their family members in front of them, would inevitably be captive of the culture of violence. Within this context, it would be impossible to put an end to their resistance, even though Israel kills all the leaders of Hamas and confiscate all its weapons. Terror produces terror and violence only nurtures more violence. Permanent occupation means continuous resistance. And unfortunately, this state of affair connotes a persistent warfare and increasing violence.

Reasons of Withdrawal

Another point which needs to be considered is the reasons behind the withdrawal of the Israeli forces and the ceasefire announced by Israel. For sure, there are many reasons of this action. Nevertheless, oncoming elections in Israel represent a significant factor affecting the decision. It has been known that there has been a disagreement between the Chief of Staff and the minister of Defense Ehud Barak on the length of the war. Barak had been intending to finish the war but, on the contrary, the military circles had preferred to go a step further inside Gaza. If the army’s option would be realized, Israel would have found many difficulties to claim a victory. Because, a possible street war with Hamas, which would have led to more and more casualties for Israel, would be more advantageous for Hamas. If this had happened, Barak and Livni would lose many votes in the upcoming elections. In the last analyses, it is a fact that from the outset of the war, Kadima and Labor parties have increased their votes in comparison to Netanyahu’s Likud. We could say that Israel was scared of having a similar fiasco that it had in 2006 against Hezbollah. One can easily remember that after the defeat in summer of 2006, the PM Olmert was in a difficult situation which triggered the period of his resignation at the end of the day in 2008.

The Victory of Hamas?

It can be asserted that Hamas is relatively the winner of the war. At least, sympathy for Hamas dramatically increased in the Arab and the Muslim World. In spite of Israel’s desire, which was one of the aims of the war, Palestinians are not fully blaming Hamas of being the cause of the Israeli assaults. Yet, it does not mean that they will not blame Hamas in the future unless something changes in the short run. In this regard, international demands should not be required just from Palestinians in general and from Hamas in particular. Israel should also be the other side requested some demands. International actors have been always just looking at the results and criticizing Hamas and claiming that Israel has the right to defend its citizens. Yes, that’s right. Nevertheless, it is not the main issue here. The main problem is the process that paved the way to the latest developments. Hamas is an end-product and rockets fired from Gaza are reactions. In fact, before the results it would be better for all of us to talk about something else such as the ongoing occupation since 1948, more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, and more than 350 thousand Israeli settlements living in West Bank. Of course, Israel has the right to protect its citizens but it is a fact that Israel has been going its own way by ignoring tens of UN resolutions and all other international laws and norms.

From a different point of view, even though we assume that Hamas has no achievement at the end of the war, it will not be an exaggeration to say that Al Fatah and the President Abbas, who has almost no credibility, lost their whole legitimacy. In this context, we can still affirm that since Al Fatah is the absolute loser, then Hamas, the main rival of Al Fatah, has relatively become the winner.

[1] Rami, Khouri, “The Post Gaza Political Battle”,

[2] Rami, Khouri, “The Post Gaza Political Battle”, Middle East Online, 20 January 2009,

[3] Patrick Seale, “The Crippling Arab Cold War”, Middle East Online, 19 January 2009,

[4] Claude Salhani, “What Was the Gaza War About”, Middle East Time, 20 January 2009,

[5] Hamas Eskisinden Güçlü, Radikal, 20 Ocak 2009

Israel Failed in Gaza Op; Arms Smuggling Never Stopped

Israel Failed in Gaza Op; Arms Smuggling Never Stopped

Hanan Awarekeh Readers Number : 434

22/01/2009 Although the Israeli air force bombed the Phildelphi corridor along the border thousands of times during the course of its aggression against the Gaza Strip, Israeli daily Haaretz quoted sources as saying that some tunnels running under the border between Egypt and the Strip have remained in use, and were in operation even during the fighting.

Contrary to Israeli official reports saying that Israeli army has achieved its war objectives in Gaza, Hamas was still able to smuggle arms, according to Haaretz report.

Israeli occupation government has announced that its goals in the 22-day offensive, to stop arms smuggling and enhance the “invincible army’s image” in the region after it was lost during the Second Lebanon War in 206, were achieved. However tunnels lined with wood reinforcement have been especially resistant to air force bombing raids.

According to residents of Rafah, the reinforced tunnels were even used during the Israeli military offensive to smuggle in a group of German doctors who wanted to provide medical care to Gaza residents. In addition to Palestinian smugglers, Bedouin from Sinai are also involved in the trade through the tunnels.

Since the implementation of the cease-fire, the Egyptians have opened their border with the Gaza Strip to shipments of medical personnel and supplies as well as a limited number of foreign journalists, but they then hindered the entry of additional representatives of the foreign press who have been waiting at the border.

The Israeli security establishment was not surprised by Wednesday’s reports saying some smuggling tunnels under the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt have begun to operate again despite heavy bombing during the Israeli offensive.

Israeli security officials said Hamas had tried to resume the smuggling while “Operation Cast Lead” was still ongoing, adding that they estimate the bombed tunnels will soon be reconstructed.

“The tunnels along the Philadelphi route are Hamas’ central smuggling pipeline, and it is clear they will not give them up,” one official said. “However,” he added, “as opposed to the past, now there are agreements according to which several elements will work to thwart their efforts. We all hope these agreements will be implemented.”

The US, Egypt and Europe have pledged to work extensively toward blocking the smuggling.

“This is one of the most important issues vis-à-vis the strengthening of Hamas. There is no doubt that Hamas, whose arsenal has been significantly depleted, will try to replenish it with Iran’s help not only for military purposes but also to boost morale by showing that the rebuilding process is progressing at a fast pace,” an Israeli security official claimed. “We must continue to monitor the situation closely and act accordingly.”

Gaza Sues Israel over ‘War Crimes’

Gaza Sues Israel over ‘War Crimes’

Readers Number : 120

22/01/2009 Now that the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip came to an end, marking another victory for the Resistance in the region, it’s time for “action” against the “war crimes” committed by the Zionist entity against the Palestinians.

In this context, the Israeli military control banned the publication of the names and photos of officers and soldiers who have taken part in the Israeli offensive. The Israeli decision was regarded by analysts as an attempt to obstruct the juridical proceedings against Israeli military and political leaders who participated in ‘war crimes against humanity.’

The Israeli military sources said that the decision was taken after the propagation of the photos of the Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli excessive and random fire. They noted that international organizations and major states were heading towards accusing the Israeli army of violating international laws.

Furthermore, the Israeli website “” published on Wednesday arrest warrants against fifteen Israeli figures from the political as well as the military institutions from those who have taken part in the Second Lebanon war and the Gaza war.

At the top of the list comes Defense Minister Ehud Barak who imposed, according to the warrant, a siege, as a collective punishment, on 1.5 million residents of Gaza. On 27 December 2008, the suspect ordered the aerial bombardment of Gazan population centers. The attacks involved hundreds of aircraft sorties, dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Gazan neighborhoods.

Israeli outgoing PM Ehud Olmert was also among the “WANTED” list.  On the 12th of July 2006, the suspect ordered the bombing of cities and villages in Lebanon, breaking international law. During the attack, the suspect also ordered several thousand cluster bombs to be dropped near residential areas in Lebanon, in defiance to international conventions. In the summer of 2007, the suspect ordered the blockade of 1.5 million people in Gaza, preventing them from receiving adequate food, water and electricity supplies and medication – something explicitly prohibited under international law according to the warrant.

Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has, of course, its reserved place on the list. On the 12th of July 2006, the suspect along with her accomplices ordered the aerial bombardment and artillery assault on residential areas in Lebanon. For 34 days she authorized troops to make 12,000 aerial sorties, to fire 100,000 artillery shells, damaging 350 schools and completely destroying 15,000 residential units in Lebanon. On 27th December 2008, the suspect and her accomplices ordered an aerial, ground and naval attack on densely populated areas in the Gaza Strip.

The list of “Wanted” Israeli “criminals” also includes Amir Peretz, Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Avi Dichter, Carmi Gilon, Dan Halutz, Doron Almog, Eliezer Shkedy, Gabi Ashkenazi, Giora Eiland, Matan Vilani, Moshe Bogie Yaalon and Shaul Mofaz.

The Gaza Bombshell

The Gaza Bombshell

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

By David Rose

January 21, 2009 “Vanity Fair” — -April 2008 — The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.
It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine, they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword to my injuries.”

On January 26, 2007, abu Dan, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, had gone to a local cemetery with his father and five others to erect a headstone for his grandmother. When they arrived, however, they found themselves surrounded by 30 armed men from Hamas’s rival, Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. “They took us to a house in north Gaza,” abu Dan says. “They covered our eyes and took us to a room on the sixth floor.”

The video reveals a bare room with white walls and a black-and-white tiled floor, where abu Dan’s father is forced to sit and listen to his son’s shrieks of pain. Afterward, abu Dan says, he and two of the others were driven to a market square. “They told us they were going to kill us. They made us sit on the ground.” He rolls up the legs of his trousers to display the circular scars that are evidence of what happened next: “They shot our knees and feet—five bullets each. I spent four months in a wheelchair.”

Abu Dan had no way of knowing it, but his tormentors had a secret ally: the administration of President George W. Bush.

A clue comes toward the end of the video, which was found in a Fatah security building by Hamas fighters last June. Still bound and blindfolded, the prisoners are made to echo a rhythmic chant yelled by one of their captors: “By blood, by soul, we sacrifice ourselves for Muhammad Dahlan! Long live Muhammad Dahlan!”

There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan, long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a decade battling Hamas. Dahlan insists that abu Dan was tortured without his knowledge, but the video is proof that his followers’ methods can be brutal.

Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good, solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”

The United States has been involved in the affairs of the Palestinian territories since the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. With the 1993 Oslo accords, the territories acquired limited autonomy, under a president, who has executive powers, and an elected parliament. Israel retains a large military presence in the West Bank, but it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In recent months, President Bush has repeatedly stated that the last great ambition of his presidency is to broker a deal that would create a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. “People say, ‘Do you think it’s possible, during your presidency?’ ” he told an audience in Jerusalem on January 9. “And the answer is: I’m very hopeful.”

The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June 2007. Almost every day, militants fire rockets from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns, and President Abbas is powerless to stop them. His authority is limited to the West Bank.

It’s “a tough situation,” Bush admitted. “I don’t know whether you can solve it in a year or not.” What Bush neglected to mention was his own role in creating this mess.

According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that Fatah was not ready. After Hamas—whose 1988 charter committed it to the goal of driving Israel into the sea—won control of the parliament, Bush made another, deadlier miscalculation.

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of Gaza.

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.

Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.

Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.

The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the hypocrisy it exposed. “There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says. “It directly contradicts it.”

Preventive Security

Bush was not the first American president to form a relationship with Muhammad Dahlan. “Yes, I was close to Bill Clinton,” Dahlan says. “I met Clinton many times with [the late Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat.” In the wake of the 1993 Oslo accords, Clinton sponsored a series of diplomatic meetings aimed at reaching a permanent Middle East peace, and Dahlan became the Palestinians’ negotiator on security.

As I talk to Dahlan in a five-star Cairo hotel, it’s easy to see the qualities that might make him attractive to American presidents. His appearance is immaculate, his English is serviceable, and his manner is charming and forthright. Had he been born into privilege, these qualities might not mean much. But Dahlan was born—on September 29, 1961—in the teeming squalor of Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp, and his education came mostly from the street. In 1981 he helped found Fatah’s youth movement, and he later played a leading role in the first intifada—the five-year revolt that began in 1987 against the Israeli occupation. In all, Dahlan says, he spent five years in Israeli jails.

Muhammad Dahlan

Muhammad Dahlan at his office in Ramallah, January 2008. Photograph by Karim Ben Khelifa.

From the time of its inception as the Palestinian branch of the international Muslim Brotherhood, in late 1987, Hamas had represented a threatening challenge to Arafat’s secular Fatah party. At Oslo, Fatah made a public commitment to the search for peace, but Hamas continued to practice armed resistance. At the same time, it built an impressive base of support through schooling and social programs.

The rising tensions between the two groups first turned violent in the early 1990s—with Muhammad Dahlan playing a central role. As director of the Palestinian Authority’s most feared paramilitary force, the Preventive Security Service, Dahlan arrested some 2,000 Hamas members in 1996 in the Gaza Strip after the group launched a wave of suicide bombings. “Arafat had decided to arrest Hamas military leaders, because they were working against his interests, against the peace process, against the Israeli withdrawal, against everything,” Dahlan says. “He asked the security services to do their job, and I have done that job.”

It was not, he admits, “popular work.” For many years Hamas has said that Dahlan’s forces routinely tortured detainees. One alleged method was to sodomize prisoners with soda bottles. Dahlan says these stories are exaggerated: “Definitely there were some mistakes here and there. But no one person died in Preventive Security. Prisoners got their rights. Bear in mind that I am an ex-detainee of the Israelis’. No one was personally humiliated, and I never killed anyone the way [Hamas is] killing people on a daily basis now.” Dahlan points out that Arafat maintained a labyrinth of security services—14 in all—and says the Preventive Security Service was blamed for abuses perpetrated by other units.

Dahlan worked closely with the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and he developed a warm relationship with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, a Clinton appointee who stayed on under Bush until July 2004. “He’s simply a great and fair man,” Dahlan says. “I’m still in touch with him from time to time.”

“Everyone Was Against the Elections”

In a speech in the White House Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, President Bush announced that American policy in the Middle East was turning in a fundamentally new direction.

Arafat was still in power at the time, and many in the U.S. and Israel blamed him for wrecking Clinton’s micro-managed peace efforts by launching the second intifada—a renewed revolt, begun in 2000, in which more than 1,000 Israelis and 4,500 Palestinians had died. Bush said he wanted to give Palestinians the chance to choose new leaders, ones who were not “compromised by terror.” In place of Arafat’s all-powerful presidency, Bush said, “the Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body.”

Arafat died in November 2004, and Abbas, his replacement as Fatah leader, was elected president in January 2005. Elections for the Palestinian parliament, known officially as the Legislative Council, were originally set for July 2005, but later postponed by Abbas until January 2006.

Dahlan says he warned his friends in the Bush administration that Fatah still wasn’t ready for elections in January. Decades of self-preservationist rule by Arafat had turned the party into a symbol of corruption and inefficiency—a perception Hamas found it easy to exploit. Splits within Fatah weakened its position further: in many places, a single Hamas candidate ran against several from Fatah.

“Everyone was against the elections,” Dahlan says. Everyone except Bush. “Bush decided, ‘I need an election. I want elections in the Palestinian Authority.’ Everyone is following him in the American administration, and everyone is nagging Abbas, telling him, ‘The president wants elections.’ Fine. For what purpose?”

The elections went forward as scheduled. On January 25, Hamas won 56 percent of the seats in the Legislative Council.

Few inside the U.S. administration had predicted the result, and there was no contingency plan to deal with it. “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” Condoleezza Rice told reporters. “I don’t know anyone who wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing.”

“Everyone blamed everyone else,” says an official with the Department of Defense. “We sat there in the Pentagon and said, ‘Who the fuck recommended this?’ ”

In public, Rice tried to look on the bright side of the Hamas victory. “Unpredictability,” she said, is “the nature of big historic change.” Even as she spoke, however, the Bush administration was rapidly revising its attitude toward Palestinian democracy.

Some analysts argued that Hamas had a substantial moderate wing that could be strengthened if America coaxed it into the peace process. Notable Israelis—such as Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad intelligence agency—shared this view. But if America paused to consider giving Hamas the benefit of the doubt, the moment was “milliseconds long,” says a senior State Department official. “The administration spoke with one voice: ‘We have to squeeze these guys.’ With Hamas’s election victory, the freedom agenda was dead.”

The first step, taken by the Middle East diplomatic “Quartet”—the U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations—was to demand that the new Hamas government renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and accept the terms of all previous agreements. When Hamas refused, the Quartet shut off the faucet of aid to the Palestinian Authority, depriving it of the means to pay salaries and meet its annual budget of roughly $2 billion.

Israel clamped down on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, especially into and out of the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Israel also detained 64 Hamas officials, including Legislative Council members and ministers, and even launched a military campaign into Gaza after one of its soldiers was kidnapped. Through it all, Hamas and its new government, led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, proved surprisingly resilient.

Washington reacted with dismay when Abbas began holding talks with Hamas in the hope of establishing a “unity government.” On October 4, 2006, Rice traveled to Ramallah to see Abbas. They met at the Muqata, the new presidential headquarters that rose from the ruins of Arafat’s compound, which Israel had destroyed in 2002.

America’s leverage in Palestinian affairs was much stronger than it had been in Arafat’s time. Abbas had never had a strong, independent base, and he desperately needed to restore the flow of foreign aid—and, with it, his power of patronage. He also knew that he could not stand up to Hamas without Washington’s help.

At their joint press conference, Rice smiled as she expressed her nation’s “great admiration” for Abbas’s leadership. Behind closed doors, however, Rice’s tone was sharper, say officials who witnessed their meeting. Isolating Hamas just wasn’t working, she reportedly told Abbas, and America expected him to dissolve the Haniyeh government as soon as possible and hold fresh elections.

Abbas, one official says, agreed to take action within two weeks. It happened to be Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast during daylight hours. With dusk approaching, Abbas asked Rice to join him for iftar—a snack to break the fast.

Afterward, according to the official, Rice underlined her position: “So we’re agreed? You’ll dissolve the government within two weeks?”

“Maybe not two weeks. Give me a month. Let’s wait until after the Eid,” he said, referring to the three-day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. (Abbas’s spokesman said via e-mail: “According to our records, this is incorrect.”)

Rice got into her armored S.U.V., where, the official claims, she told an American colleague, “That damned iftar has cost us another two weeks of Hamas government.”

“We Will Be There to Support You”

Weeks passed with no sign that Abbas was ready to do America’s bidding. Finally, another official was sent to Ramallah. Jake Walles, the consul general in Jerusalem, is a career foreign-service officer with many years’ experience in the Middle East. His purpose was to deliver a barely varnished ultimatum to the Palestinian president.

We know what Walles said because a copy was left behind, apparently by accident, of the “talking points” memo prepared for him by the State Department. The document has been authenticated by U.S. and Palestinian officials.

“We need to understand your plans regarding a new [Palestinian Authority] government,” Walles’s script said. “You told Secretary Rice you would be prepared to move ahead within two to four weeks of your meeting. We believe that the time has come for you to move forward quickly and decisively.”

The “talking points” memo, left behind by a State Department envoy, urging Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to confront Hamas. Enlarge this. Page 2.

The memo left no doubt as to what kind of action the U.S. was seeking: “Hamas should be given a clear choice, with a clear deadline: … they either accept a new government that meets the Quartet principles, or they reject it The consequences of Hamas’ decision should also be clear: If Hamas does not agree within the prescribed time, you should make clear your intention to declare a state of emergency and form an emergency government explicitly committed to that platform.”

Walles and Abbas both knew what to expect from Hamas if these instructions were followed: rebellion and bloodshed. For that reason, the memo states, the U.S. was already working to strengthen Fatah’s security forces. “If you act along these lines, we will support you both materially and politically,” the script said. “We will be there to support you.”

Abbas was also encouraged to “strengthen [his] team” to include “credible figures of strong standing in the international community.” Among those the U.S. wanted brought in, says an official who knew of the policy, was Muhammad Dahlan.

On paper, the forces at Fatah’s disposal looked stronger than those of Hamas. There were some 70,000 men in the tangle of 14 Palestinian security services that Arafat had built up, at least half of those in Gaza. After the legislative elections, Hamas had expected to assume command of these forces, but Fatah maneuvered to keep them under its control. Hamas, which already had 6,000 or so irregulars in its militant al-Qassam Brigade, responded by forming the 6,000-troop Executive Force in Gaza, but that still left it with far fewer fighters than Fatah.

In reality, however, Hamas had several advantages. To begin with, Fatah’s security forces had never really recovered from Operation Defensive Shield, Israel’s massive 2002 re-invasion of the West Bank in response to the second intifada. “Most of the security apparatus had been destroyed,” says Youssef Issa, who led the Preventive Security Service under Abbas.

The irony of the blockade on foreign aid after Hamas’s legislative victory, meanwhile, was that it prevented only Fatah from paying its soldiers. “We are the ones who were not getting paid,” Issa says, “whereas they were not affected by the siege.” Ayman Daraghmeh, a Hamas Legislative Council member in the West Bank, agrees. He puts the amount of Iranian aid to Hamas in 2007 alone at $120 million. “This is only a fraction of what it should give,” he insists. In Gaza, another Hamas member tells me the number was closer to $200 million.

The result was becoming apparent: Fatah could not control Gaza’s streets—or even protect its own personnel.

At about 1:30 p.m. on September 15, 2006, Samira Tayeh sent a text message to her husband, Jad Tayeh, the director of foreign relations for the Palestinian intelligence service and a member of Fatah. “He didn’t reply,” she says. “I tried to call his mobile [phone], but it was switched off. So I called his deputy, Mahmoun, and he didn’t know where he was. That’s when I decided to go to the hospital.”

Samira, a slim, elegant 40-year-old dressed from head to toe in black, tells me the story in a Ramallah café in December 2007. Arriving at the Al Shifa hospital, “I went through the morgue door. Not for any reason—I just didn’t know the place. I saw there were all these intelligence guards there. There was one I knew. He saw me and he said, ‘Put her in the car.’ That’s when I knew something had happened to Jad.”

Tayeh had left his office in a car with four aides. Moments later, they found themselves being pursued by an S.U.V. full of armed, masked men. About 200 yards from the home of Prime Minister Haniyeh, the S.U.V. cornered the car. The masked men opened fire, killing Tayeh and all four of his colleagues.

Hamas said it had nothing to do with the murders, but Samira had reason to believe otherwise. At three a.m. on June 16, 2007, during the Gaza takeover, six Hamas gunmen forced their way into her home and fired bullets into every photo of Jad they could find. The next day, they returned and demanded the keys to the car in which he had died, claiming that it belonged to the Palestinian Authority.

Fearing for her life, she fled across the border and then into the West Bank, with only the clothes she was wearing and her passport, driver’s license, and credit card.

“Very Clever Warfare”

Fatah’s vulnerability was a source of grave concern to Dahlan. “I made a lot of activities to give Hamas the impression that we were still strong and we had the capacity to face them,” he says. “But I knew in my heart it wasn’t true.” He had no official security position at the time, but he belonged to parliament and retained the loyalty of Fatah members in Gaza. “I used my image, my power.” Dahlan says he told Abbas that “Gaza needs only a decision for Hamas to take over.” To prevent that from happening, Dahlan waged “very clever warfare” for many months.

According to several alleged victims, one of the tactics this “warfare” entailed was to kidnap and torture members of Hamas’s Executive Force. (Dahlan denies Fatah used such tactics, but admits “mistakes” were made.) Abdul Karim al-Jasser, a strapping man of 25, says he was the first such victim. “It was on October 16, still Ramadan,” he says. “I was on my way to my sister’s house for iftar. Four guys stopped me, two of them with guns. They forced me to accompany them to the home of Aman abu Jidyan,” a Fatah leader close to Dahlan. (Abu Jidyan would be killed in the June uprising.)

The first phase of torture was straightforward enough, al-Jasser says: he was stripped naked, bound, blindfolded, and beaten with wooden poles and plastic pipes. “They put a piece of cloth in my mouth to stop me screaming.” His interrogators forced him to answer contradictory accusations: one minute they said that he had collaborated with Israel, the next that he had fired Qassam rockets against it.

But the worst was yet to come. “They brought an iron bar,” al-Jasser says, his voice suddenly hesitant. We are speaking inside his home in Gaza, which is experiencing one of its frequent power outages. He points to the propane-gas lamp that lights the room. “They put the bar in the flame of a lamp like this. When it was red, they took the covering off my eyes. Then they pressed it against my skin. That was the last thing I remember.”

When he came to, he was still in the room where he had been tortured. A few hours later, the Fatah men handed him over to Hamas, and he was taken to the hospital. “I could see the shock in the eyes of the doctors who entered the room,” he says. He shows me photos of purple third-degree burns wrapped like towels around his thighs and much of his lower torso. “The doctors told me that if I had been thin, not chubby, I would have died. But I wasn’t alone. That same night that I was released, abu Jidyan’s men fired five bullets into the legs of one of my relatives. We were in the same ward in the hospital.”

Dahlan says he did not order al-Jasser’s torture: “The only order I gave was to defend ourselves. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t torture, some things that went wrong, but I did not know about this.”

The dirty war between Fatah and Hamas continued to gather momentum throughout the autumn, with both sides committing atrocities. By the end of 2006, dozens were dying each month. Some of the victims were noncombatants. In December, gunmen opened fire on the car of a Fatah intelligence official, killing his three young children and their driver.

There was still no sign that Abbas was ready to bring matters to a head by dissolving the Hamas government. Against this darkening background, the U.S. began direct security talks with Dahlan.

“He’s Our Guy”

In 2001, President Bush famously said that he had looked Russian president Vladimir Putin in the eye, gotten “a sense of his soul,” and found him to be “trustworthy.” According to three U.S. officials, Bush made a similar judgment about Dahlan when they first met, in 2003. All three officials recall hearing Bush say, “He’s our guy.”

They say this assessment was echoed by other key figures in the administration, including Rice and Assistant Secretary David Welch, the man in charge of Middle East policy at the State Department. “David Welch didn’t fundamentally care about Fatah,” one of his colleagues says. “He cared about results, and [he supported] whatever son of a bitch you had to support. Dahlan was the son of a bitch we happened to know best. He was a can-do kind of person. Dahlan was our guy.”

Avi Dichter, Israel’s internal-security minister and the former head of its Shin Bet security service, was taken aback when he heard senior American officials refer to Dahlan as “our guy.” “I thought to myself, The president of the United States is making a strange judgment here,” says Dichter.

Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, who had been appointed the U.S. security coordinator for the Palestinians in November 2005, was in no position to question the president’s judgment of Dahlan. His only prior experience with the Middle East was as director of the Iraq Survey Group, the body that looked for Saddam Hussein’s elusive weapons of mass destruction.

In November 2006, Dayton met Dahlan for the first of a long series of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Both men were accompanied by aides. From the outset, says an official who took notes at the meeting, Dayton was pushing two overlapping agendas.

“We need to reform the Palestinian security apparatus,” Dayton said, according to the notes. “But we also need to build up your forces in order to take on Hamas.”

Dahlan replied that, in the long run, Hamas could be defeated only by political means. “But if I am going to confront them,” he added, “I need substantial resources. As things stand, we do not have the capability.”

The two men agreed that they would work toward a new Palestinian security plan. The idea was to simplify the confusing web of Palestinian security forces and have Dahlan assume responsibility for all of them in the newly created role of Palestinian national-security adviser. The Americans would help supply weapons and training.

As part of the reform program, according to the official who was present at the meetings, Dayton said he wanted to disband the Preventive Security Service, which was widely known to be engaged in kidnapping and torture. At a meeting in Dayton’s Jerusalem office in early December, Dahlan ridiculed the idea. “The only institution now protecting Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is the one you want removed,” he said.

Dayton softened a little. “We want to help you,” he said. “What do you need?”

“Iran-Contra 2.0”

Under Bill Clinton, Dahlan says, commitments of security assistance “were always delivered, absolutely.” Under Bush, he was about to discover, things were different. At the end of 2006, Dayton promised an immediate package worth $86.4 million—money that, according to a U.S. document published by Reuters on January 5, 2007, would be used to “dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza.” U.S. officials even told reporters the money would be transferred “in the coming days.”

The cash never arrived. “Nothing was disbursed,” Dahlan says. “It was approved and it was in the news. But we received not a single penny.”

Any notion that the money could be transferred quickly and easily had died on Capitol Hill, where the payment was blocked by the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Its members feared that military aid to the Palestinians might end up being turned against Israel.

Dahlan did not hesitate to voice his exasperation. “I spoke to Condoleezza Rice on several occasions,” he says. “I spoke to Dayton, to the consul general, to everyone in the administration I knew. They said, ‘You have a convincing argument.’ We were sitting in Abbas’s office in Ramallah, and I explained the whole thing to Condi. And she said, ‘Yes, we have to make an effort to do this. There’s no other way.’ ” At some of these meetings, Dahlan says, Assistant Secretary Welch and Deputy National-Security Adviser Abrams were also present.

The administration went back to Congress, and a reduced, $59 million package for nonlethal aid was approved in April 2007. But as Dahlan knew, the Bush team had already spent the past months exploring alternative, covert means of getting him the funds and weapons he wanted. The reluctance of Congress meant that “you had to look for different pots, different sources of money,” says a Pentagon official.

A State Department official adds, “Those in charge of implementing the policy were saying, ‘Do whatever it takes. We have to be in a position for Fatah to defeat Hamas militarily, and only Muhammad Dahlan has the guile and the muscle to do this.’ The expectation was that this was where it would end up—with a military showdown.” There were, this official says, two “parallel programs”—the overt one, which the administration took to Congress, “and a covert one, not only to buy arms but to pay the salaries of security personnel.”

Israel and the Palestinian territories. Map by Joyce Pendola.

In essence, the program was simple. According to State Department officials, beginning in the latter part of 2006, Rice initiated several rounds of phone calls and personal meetings with leaders of four Arab nations—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. She asked them to bolster Fatah by providing military training and by pledging funds to buy its forces lethal weapons. The money was to be paid directly into accounts controlled by President Abbas.

The scheme bore some resemblance to the Iran-contra scandal, in which members of Ronald Reagan’s administration sold arms to Iran, an enemy of the U.S. The money was used to fund the contra rebels in Nicaragua, in violation of a congressional ban. Some of the money for the contras, like that for Fatah, was furnished by Arab allies as a result of U.S. lobbying.

But there are also important differences—starting with the fact that Congress never passed a measure expressly prohibiting the supply of aid to Fatah and Dahlan. “It was close to the margins,” says a former intelligence official with experience in covert programs. “But it probably wasn’t illegal.”

Legal or not, arms shipments soon began to take place. In late December 2006, four Egyptian trucks passed through an Israeli-controlled crossing into Gaza, where their contents were handed over to Fatah. These included 2,000 Egyptian-made automatic rifles, 20,000 ammunition clips, and two million bullets. News of the shipment leaked, and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, an Israeli Cabinet member, said on Israeli radio that the guns and ammunition would give Abbas “the ability to cope with those organizations which are trying to ruin everything”—namely, Hamas.

Avi Dichter points out that all weapons shipments had to be approved by Israel, which was understandably hesitant to allow state-of-the-art arms into Gaza. “One thing’s for sure, we weren’t talking about heavy weapons,” says a State Department official. “It was small arms, light machine guns, ammunition.”

Perhaps the Israelis held the Americans back. Perhaps Elliott Abrams himself held back, unwilling to run afoul of U.S. law for a second time. One of his associates says Abrams, who declined to comment for this article, felt conflicted over the policy—torn between the disdain he felt for Dahlan and his overriding loyalty to the administration. He wasn’t the only one: “There were severe fissures among neoconservatives over this,” says Cheney’s former adviser David Wurmser. “We were ripping each other to pieces.”

During a trip to the Middle East in January 2007, Rice found it difficult to get her partners to honor their pledges. “The Arabs felt the U.S. was not serious,” one official says. “They knew that if the Americans were serious they would put their own money where their mouth was. They didn’t have faith in America’s ability to raise a real force. There was no follow-through. Paying was different than pledging, and there was no plan.”

This official estimates that the program raised “a few payments of $30 million”—most of it, as other sources agree, from the United Arab Emirates. Dahlan himself says the total was only $20 million, and confirms that “the Arabs made many more pledges than they ever paid.” Whatever the exact amount, it was not enough.

Plan B

On February 1, 2007, Dahlan took his “very clever warfare” to a new level when Fatah forces under his control stormed the Islamic University of Gaza, a Hamas stronghold, and set several buildings on fire. Hamas retaliated the next day with a wave of attacks on police stations.

Unwilling to preside over a Palestinian civil war, Abbas blinked. For weeks, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had been trying to persuade him to meet with Hamas in Mecca and formally establish a national unity government. On February 6, Abbas went, taking Dahlan with him. Two days later, with Hamas no closer to recognizing Israel, a deal was struck.

Under its terms, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas would remain prime minister while allowing Fatah members to occupy several important posts. When the news hit the streets that the Saudis had promised to pay the Palestinian Authority’s salary bills, Fatah and Hamas members in Gaza celebrated together by firing their Kalashnikovs into the air.

Once again, the Bush administration had been taken by surprise. According to a State Department official, “Condi was apoplectic.” A remarkable documentary record, revealed here for the first time, shows that the U.S. responded by redoubling the pressure on its Palestinian allies.

The State Department quickly drew up an alternative to the new unity government. Known as “Plan B,” its objective, according to a State Department memo that has been authenticated by an official who knew of it at the time, was to “enable [Abbas] and his supporters to reach a defined endgame by the end of 2007 The endgame should produce a [Palestinian Authority] government through democratic means that accepts Quartet principles.”

Like the Walles ultimatum of late 2006, Plan B called for Abbas to “collapse the government” if Hamas refused to alter its attitude toward Israel. From there, Abbas could call early elections or impose an emergency government. It is unclear whether, as president, Abbas had the constitutional authority to dissolve an elected government led by a rival party, but the Americans swept that concern aside.

Security considerations were paramount, and Plan B had explicit prescriptions for dealing with them. For as long as the unity government remained in office, it was essential for Abbas to maintain “independent control of key security forces.” He must “avoid Hamas integration with these services, while eliminating the Executive Force or mitigating the challenges posed by its continued existence.”

In a clear reference to the covert aid expected from the Arabs, the memo made this recommendation for the next six to nine months: “Dahlan oversees effort in coordination with General Dayton and Arab [nations] to train and equip 15,000-man force under President Abbas’s control to establish internal law and order, stop terrorism and deter extralegal forces.”

The Bush administration’s goals for Plan B were elaborated in a document titled “An Action Plan for the Palestinian Presidency.” This action plan went through several drafts and was developed by the U.S., the Palestinians, and the government of Jordan. Sources agree, however, that it originated in the State Department.

The early drafts stressed the need for bolstering Fatah’s forces in order to “deter” Hamas. The “desired outcome” was to give Abbas “the capability to take the required strategic political decisions … such as dismissing the cabinet, establishing an emergency cabinet.”

The drafts called for increasing the “level and capacity” of 15,000 of Fatah’s existing security personnel while adding 4,700 troops in seven new “highly trained battalions on strong policing.” The plan also promised to arrange “specialized training abroad,” in Jordan and Egypt, and pledged to “provide the security personnel with the necessary equipment and arms to carry out their missions.”

A detailed budget put the total cost for salaries, training, and “the needed security equipment, lethal and non-lethal,” at $1.27 billion over five years. The plan states: “The costs and overall budget were developed jointly with General Dayton’s team and the Palestinian technical team for reform”—a unit established by Dahlan and led by his friend and policy aide Bassil Jaber. Jaber confirms that the document is an accurate summary of the work he and his colleagues did with Dayton. “The plan was to create a security establishment that could protect and strengthen a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with Israel,” he says.

The final draft of the Action Plan was drawn up in Ramallah by officials of the Palestinian Authority. This version was identical to the earlier drafts in all meaningful ways but one: it presented the plan as if it had been the Palestinians’ idea. It also said the security proposals had been “approved by President Mahmoud Abbas after being discussed and agreed [to] by General Dayton’s team.”

On April 30, 2007, a portion of one early draft was leaked to a Jordanian newspaper, Al-Majd. The secret was out. From Hamas’s perspective, the Action Plan could amount to only one thing: a blueprint for a U.S.-backed Fatah coup.

“We Are Late in the Ball Game Here”

The formation of the unity government had brought a measure of calm to the Palestinian territories, but violence erupted anew after Al-Majd published its story on the Action Plan. The timing was unkind to Fatah, which, to add to its usual disadvantages, was without its security chief. Ten days earlier, Dahlan had left Gaza for Berlin, where he’d had surgery on both knees. He was due to spend the next eight weeks convalescing.

In mid-May, with Dahlan still absent, a new element was added to Gaza’s toxic mix when 500 Fatah National Security Forces recruits arrived, fresh from training in Egypt and equipped with new weapons and vehicles. “They had been on a crash course for 45 days,” Dahlan says. “The idea was that we needed them to go in dressed well, equipped well, and that might create the impression of new authority.” Their presence was immediately noticed, not only by Hamas but by staff from Western aid agencies. “They had new rifles with telescopic sights, and they were wearing black flak jackets,” says a frequent visitor from Northern Europe. “They were quite a contrast to the usual scruffy lot.”

On May 23, none other than Lieutenant General Dayton discussed the new unit in testimony before the House Middle East subcommittee. Hamas had attacked the troops as they crossed into Gaza from Egypt, Dayton said, but “these 500 young people, fresh out of basic training, were organized. They knew how to work in a coordinated fashion. Training does pay off. And the Hamas attack in the area was, likewise, repulsed.”

The troops’ arrival, Dayton said, was one of several “hopeful signs” in Gaza. Another was Dahlan’s appointment as national-security adviser. Meanwhile, he said, Hamas’s Executive Force was becoming “extremely unpopular I would say that we are kind of late in the ball game here, and we are behind, there’s two out, but we have our best clutch hitter at the plate, and the pitcher is beginning to tire on the opposing team.”

The opposing team was stronger than Dayton realized. By the end of May 2007, Hamas was mounting regular attacks of unprecedented boldness and savagery.

At an apartment in Ramallah that Abbas has set aside for wounded refugees from Gaza, I meet a former Fatah communications officer named Tariq Rafiyeh. He lies paralyzed from a bullet he took to the spine during the June coup, but his suffering began two weeks earlier. On May 31, he was on his way home with a colleague when they were stopped at a roadblock, robbed of their money and cell phones, and taken to a mosque. There, despite the building’s holy status, Hamas Executive Force members were violently interrogating Fatah detainees. “Late that night one of them said we were going to be released,” Rafiyeh recalls. “He told the guards, ‘Be hospitable, keep them warm.’ I thought that meant kill us. Instead, before letting us go they beat us badly.”

On June 7, there was another damaging leak, when the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Abbas and Dayton had asked Israel to authorize the biggest Egyptian arms shipment yet—to include dozens of armored cars, hundreds of armor-piercing rockets, thousands of hand grenades, and millions of rounds of ammunition. A few days later, just before the next batch of Fatah recruits was due to leave for training in Egypt, the coup began in earnest.

Fatah’s Last Stand

The Hamas leadership in Gaza is adamant that the coup would not have happened if Fatah had not provoked it. Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas’s chief spokesman, says the leak in Al-Majd convinced the party that “there was a plan, approved by America, to destroy the political choice.” The arrival of the first Egyptian-trained fighters, he adds, was the “reason for the timing.” About 250 Hamas members had been killed in the first six months of 2007, Barhoum tells me. “Finally we decided to put an end to it. If we had let them stay loose in Gaza, there would have been more violence.”

“Everyone here recognizes that Dahlan was trying with American help to undermine the results of the elections,” says Mahmoud Zahar, the former foreign minister for the Haniyeh government, who now leads Hamas’s militant wing in Gaza. “He was the one planning a coup.”

Zahar and I speak inside his home in Gaza, which was rebuilt after a 2003 Israeli air strike destroyed it, killing one of his sons. He tells me that Hamas launched its operations in June with a limited objective: “The decision was only to get rid of the Preventive Security Service. They were the ones out on every crossroads, putting anyone suspected of Hamas involvement at risk of being tortured or killed.” But when Fatah fighters inside a surrounded Preventive Security office in Jabaliya began retreating from building to building, they set off a “domino effect” that emboldened Hamas to seek broader gains.

Many armed units that were nominally loyal to Fatah did not fight at all. Some stayed neutral because they feared that, with Dahlan absent, his forces were bound to lose. “I wanted to stop the cycle of killing,” says Ibrahim abu al-Nazar, a veteran party chief. “What did Dahlan expect? Did he think the U.S. Navy was going to come to Fatah’s rescue? They promised him everything, but what did they do? But he also deceived them. He told them he was the strongman of the region. Even the Americans may now feel sad and frustrated. Their friend lost the battle.”

Others who stayed out of the fight were extremists. “Fatah is a large movement, with many schools inside it,” says Khalid Jaberi, a commander with Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which continue to fire rockets into Israel from Gaza. “Dahlan’s school is funded by the Americans and believes in negotiations with Israel as a strategic choice. Dahlan tried to control everything in Fatah, but there are cadres who could do a much better job. Dahlan treated us dictatorially. There was no overall Fatah decision to confront Hamas, and that’s why our guns in al-Aqsa are the cleanest. They are not corrupted by the blood of our people.”

Jaberi pauses. He spent the night before our interview awake and in hiding, fearful of Israeli air strikes. “You know,” he says, “since the takeover, we’ve been trying to enter the brains of Bush and Rice, to figure out their mentality. We can only conclude that having Hamas in control serves their overall strategy, because their policy was so crazy otherwise.”

The fighting was over in less than five days. It began with attacks on Fatah security buildings, in and around Gaza City and in the southern town of Rafah. Fatah attempted to shell Prime Minister Haniyeh’s house, but by dusk on June 13 its forces were being routed.

Years of oppression by Dahlan and his forces were avenged as Hamas chased down stray Fatah fighters and subjected them to summary execution. At least one victim was reportedly thrown from the roof of a high-rise building. By June 16, Hamas had captured every Fatah building, as well as Abbas’s official Gaza residence. Much of Dahlan’s house, which doubled as his office, was reduced to rubble.

Fatah’s last stand, predictably enough, was made by the Preventive Security Service. The unit sustained heavy casualties, but a rump of about 100 surviving fighters eventually made it to the beach and escaped in the night by fishing boat.

At the apartment in Ramallah, the wounded struggle on. Unlike Fatah, Hamas fired exploding bullets, which are banned under the Geneva Conventions. Some of the men in the apartment were shot with these rounds 20 or 30 times, producing unimaginable injuries that required amputation. Several have lost both legs.

The coup has had other costs. Amjad Shawer, a local economist, tells me that Gaza had 400 functioning factories and workshops at the start of 2007. By December, the intensified Israeli blockade had caused 90 percent of them to close. Seventy percent of Gaza’s population is now living on less than $2 a day.

Israel, meanwhile, is no safer. The emergency pro-peace government called for in the secret Action Plan is now in office—but only in the West Bank. In Gaza, the exact thing both Israel and the U.S. Congress warned against came to pass when Hamas captured most of Fatah’s arms and ammunition—including the new Egyptian guns supplied under the covert U.S.-Arab aid program.

Now that it controls Gaza, Hamas has given free rein to militants intent on firing rockets into neighboring Israeli towns. “We are still developing our rockets; soon we shall hit the heart of Ashkelon at will,” says Jaberi, the al-Aqsa commander, referring to the Israeli city of 110,000 people 12 miles from Gaza’s border. “I assure you, the time is near when we will mount a big operation inside Israel, in Haifa or Tel Aviv.”

On January 23, Hamas blew up parts of the wall dividing Gaza from Egypt, and tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed the border. Militants had already been smuggling weapons through a network of underground tunnels, but the breach of the wall made their job much easier—and may have brought Jaberi’s threat closer to reality.

George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice continue to push the peace process, but Avi Dichter says Israel will never conclude a deal on Palestinian statehood until the Palestinians reform their entire law-enforcement system—what he calls “the chain of security.” With Hamas in control of Gaza, there appears to be no chance of that happening. “Just look at the situation,” says Dahlan. “They say there will be a final-status agreement in eight months? No way.”

“An Institutional Failure”

How could the U.S. have played Gaza so wrong? Neocon critics of the administration—who until last year were inside it—blame an old State Department vice: the rush to anoint a strongman instead of solving problems directly. This ploy has failed in places as diverse as Vietnam, the Philippines, Central America, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, during its war against Iran. To rely on proxies such as Muhammad Dahlan, says former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, is “an institutional failure, a failure of strategy.” Its author, he says, was Rice, “who, like others in the dying days of this administration, is looking for legacy. Having failed to heed the warning not to hold the elections, they tried to avoid the result through Dayton.”

With few good options left, the administration now appears to be rethinking its blanket refusal to engage with Hamas. Staffers at the National Security Council and the Pentagon recently put out discreet feelers to academic experts, asking them for papers describing Hamas and its principal protagonists. “They say they won’t talk to Hamas,” says one such expert, “but in the end they’re going to have to. It’s inevitable.”

It is impossible to say for sure whether the outcome in Gaza would have been any better—for the Palestinian people, for the Israelis, and for America’s allies in Fatah—if the Bush administration had pursued a different policy. One thing, however, seems certain: it could not be any worse.

David Rose is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.


By Brother Nathanael Kapner, Copyright 2008

OBAMA MET WITH HIS WARLORDS on January 21, 2009, his very first day of his puppet-presidency. On the table for discussion was the “eventual” pull out of US troops from Iraq and the escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

The warlords present for the meeting were Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and Central Command head General David Petraeus.

Regarding the Iraqi “pullout,” in the weeks since his election, Obama has changed course on campaign pledges expressing his willingness to be “flexible.” And that “flexibility” is owing to US commanders in Iraq insisting that there is “no way troops can be pulled out” at the rate of two combat brigades per month so as to meet Obama’s pledge of a 16 month withdrawal timeline.

Regarding the war in Afghanistan, Petraeus called for 30,000 more troops, including four combat brigades and a Stryker patrol, to arrive in Afghanistan over the next year. Obama stated that he wants to accelerate that deployment.

In his inauguration speech, Obama said that America is suffering from “a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable and that the next generation must lower its sights.” Obama almost got it right. America’s decline is now occurring rather than it being a future “inevitable” event. And the next generation must rather “raise its sights” 7,000 miles away, to be sent off to Afghanistan to die or be maimed in a war they neither understand nor believe in.

Obama’s explanation of America’s mission in Afghanistan is to “prevent the Taliban from launching attacks against the United States.” Any fool knows that attacks against the US from the uneven hills of Afghanistan, 7000 miles away, are an impossibility. And besides, the Taliban had nothing to do with 9/11, have no interest in being part of a second one, and wouldn’t be fighting American soldiers if the US had not started a war against them in the first place 7 years ago.

In Sun Tzu’s ancient classic, The Art Of War, he warned against a protracted war, saying, “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. If victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and ardor will be dampened.”

The only ones to “benefit” from the Afghan war are the US defense contractors, Wall Street Jewish bankers, and the Warlords in Obama’s administration.

But the ones who will lose in Obama’s protracted and escalated Afghan war, will be the parents of the sons and daughters who will return home in body bags — whose “ardor” will not only be dampened, but extinguished.



It is becoming apparent that the frenzied Israeli attack on the people of the Gaza Strip was designed specifically to inflame Hezbollah and provoke them into a war with Israel; a war that would quickly escalate to involve Iran and the US for the purpose of ultimately bringing about regime change in Iran. Furthermore, this was all supposed to happen before Bush left office when it was hoped that war with Iran would be unavoidable by the time Obama took office.

As well as mercilessly hammering the Palestinian people in the Gaza, which served the purpose of enraging Hezbollah – not to mention the entire Arab street and most of the rest of the world – the Israelis also massed troops on their northern borders with south Lebanon while their warplanes flew low-level missions into Lebanese airspace in a deliberate attempt to further provoke Hezbollah.

A few early model non-lethal Katyusha rockets were launched from just inside Lebanon which Hezbollah denied any knowledge of, and which no other group claimed responsibility for, making it likely to have been a false flag attempt by Israeli special forces to further provoke war. Fortunately, the Israeli special forces endeavours with these captured early model Katyusha rockets proved to be patently transparent even to the Israeli propaganda machine who were content in the end to point the finger at some Lebanese based Palestinian group rather than embarrass themselves by directly blaming Hezbollah, especially after having accused Hezbollah of having now accumulated tens of thousands of sophisticated rockets from Iran. The chances of any Palestinian group unilaterally launching anything from south Lebanon into Israel without Hezbollah’s knowledge is nigh on non-existent.

As the war against the Palestinians in the Gaza went on, Hezbollah refused to bite with any acts of war against Israel. Hezbollah gave moral support to the Gazans, as did the Iranians, but refused to be drawn in to any war. Israel tried to inflame and anger Hezbollah further by stepping up their atrocities in the Gaza striking at UN buildings and schools where civilians and children were known to be but still Hezbollah refused to bite. In the end the Israelis simply ran out of time as literally the last minutes of Bush’s presidency slipped away. And with went the chances of provoking the Final Confrontation they so desperately seek against Iran – at least until Netanyahu gets his shot at it after the Israeli elections next month.

Quotes from Zionists

Quotes from Zionists

There are some pretty choice quotes from shockingly honest Zionists.  You can find them in places like here and here.  A few samples (emphasis in red; if you wonder about my continuing concerns about the Zionist Empire, see 12 to 16; 11 is so accurate a statement of Israeli negotiating procedure it is almost funny):

  1. “We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist. There is not a single Jewish settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab Village.”  –  Moshe Dyan, March 19, 1969, speech at the Technion in Haifa, quoted in Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969.
  2. “Among ourselves, it must be clear that there is no place in the country for both peoples together.                       With the Arabs we shall not achieve our aim of being an independent people in this country. The only solution is Eretz-Israel, at least the west part of Eretz-Israel, without Arabs . . . And there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries. Transfer all of them, not one village or tribe should remain . . .”  –Joseph Weitz, entry in his diary for 1940 (quoted in his article: ‘A solution to the Refugee Problem: An Israeli State with a small Arab Minority’, published in Davar, 29 September, 1967.
  3. “I gathered all of the Jewish mukhtars, who have contact with Arabs in different villages and asked them to whisper in the ears of some Arabs that a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilée and that it is going to burn all of the villages of the Huleh. They should suggest to these Arabs, as their friends, to escape while there is still time . . . The tactic reached its goal completely. The building of the police station at Halsa fell into our hands without a shot. The wide areas were cleaned . . .”  – Yigal Allon, Ha Sepher Ha Palmach, Vol. 2, p. 268, 1948.
  4. “…as uncontrolled panic spread through all Arab quarters, the Israelis brought up jeeps with loudspeakers which broadcast recorded ‘horror sounds’. These included shrieks, wails and anguished moans of Arab women, the wail of sirens and the clang of fire-alarm bells, interrupted by a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic: ‘Save your souls, all ye faithful: The Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah’.”  – Leo Heiman, Israeli Army Reserve Officer who fought in 1948. Marine Corps Gazette, June 1964.
  5. “Because we took the land this gives us the image of being bad, of being aggressive. The Jews always considered that the land belonged to them, but in fact it belonged to the Arabs. I would go further: I would say the original source of this conflict lies with Israel, with the Jews – and you can quote me.”  – Yehoshofat Harkabi, former Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence, in ‘Peace Won’t be a Plane Ticket to Cairo,’ International Armed Forces Journal, October 1973, p.30.
  6. “It is unacceptable that nations made up of people who have only just come down from the trees should take themselves for world leaders . . . How can such primitive beings have an opinion of their own?” – Yitzhak Shamir, in reference to the black African nations who voted in support of the 1975 U.N. resolution, which denounced Zionism as a form of racism, in Yediot Ahronot, November 14, 1975.
  7. “The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” – Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.
  8. “Let us not today fling accusations at the murderers. Who are we that we should argue against their hatred? For eight years now they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their very eyes, we turn into our homestead the land and the villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.”  – Moshe Dyan, 1953, quoted by Uri Avneri in Israel without Zionists, p. 134.
  9. “I don’t understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country.” – David Ben Gurion, 1956, quoted by Nahum Goldmann in The Jewish Paradox, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p.99.
  10. “We take the land first and the law comes after.”  – Mr. Palmon, Arab affairs adviser to the Mayor of Jerusalem, quoted in The Guardian, 26 April 1972.
  11. We must define our position and lay down basic principles for a settlement. Our demands should be moderate and balanced, and appear to be reasonable. But in fact they must involve such conditions as to ensure that the enemy rejects them. Then we should manoeuvre and allow him to define his own position, and reject a settlement on the basis of a compromise solution. We should then publish his demands as embodying unreasonable extremism.” – General Yehoshafat Harkabi, Ma’ariv, 2 November 1973.
  12. “To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion.” – David Ben Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, The Philosophical Press, New York, 1954, p. 419.
  13. “During the last 100 years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say that we are near the end of the road.”  Moshe Dyan, Ma’ariv, 7 July 1968.
  14. “Palestine is a territory whose chief geographical feature is this: that the river Jordan does not delineate its frontier but flows through its centre.” – Vladimir Jabotinsky, at the 16th Zionist Congress (1929), quoted by Desmond Stewart in The Middle East: Temple of Janus, p.304.
  15. “Take the American Declaration of Independence for instance. It contains no mention of the territorial limits. We are not obliged to state the limits of our State.” – Ben Gurion’s diary, 14 May 1948, quoted by Michael Bar Zohar in The Armed Prophet, p.133.
  16. The Achilles heel of the Arab coalition is the Lebanon. Muslim supremacy in this country is artificial and can easily be overthrown. A Christian State ought to be set up there, with its southern frontier on the river Litani. We would sign a treaty of alliance with this State. Thus when we have broken the strength of the Arab Legion and bombed Amman, we could wipe out Transjordan; after that Syria would fall. And if Egypt still dared to make war on us, we would bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. We should thus end the war and would have but paid to Egypt, Assyria and Chaldea on behalf of our ancestors.” – Ben Gurion’s Diary, 21 May 1948, quoted by Michael Bar Zohar in The Armed Prophet, p.139.
  17. “I shall not be ashamed to confess that if I had the power, as I have the will, I would select a score of efficient young men – intelligent, decent, devoted to our ideal and burning with the desire to help redeem Jews – and I would send them to the countries where Jews are absorbed in sinful self-satisfaction. The task of these young men would be to disguise themselves as non-Jews, and plague Jews with anti-Semitic slogans such as ‘Bloody Jew’, ‘Jews go to Palestine’ and similar intimacies. I can vouch that the results in terms of a considerable immigration to Israel from these countries would be ten thousand times larger than the results brought by thousands of emissaries who have been preaching for decades to deaf ears.” – Davar, 1952, Editor Sharan, quoted by Alfred Lilienthal in The Other Side of the Coin, Devin-Adair, New York, p.47.
  18. “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel . . . Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.”  – Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.
  19. We must do everything to ensure they (the Palestinian refugees) never do return.” – David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.
  20. We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!'” – Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.
  21. “There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument: . . . the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish . . . with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.”  – Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.
  22. “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours . . . Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” – Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
  23. “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment . . . Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” – Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.
  24. “We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not . . .You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.” – Chaim Weizmann, in Judische Rundschau, No. 4, 1920.
  25. “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more.” – Ehud Barak, current Israeli Minister of Defense, in the Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2000.
  26. One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” –  Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 in N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1.
  27. I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” – mega-political donor, mostly to the Democratic Party, Haim Saban explaining how to make your political donations go further in NYT, September 5, 2004.

Israel accused of executing parents in front of children in Gaza

Israel accused of executing parents in front of

children in Gaza

Israel has refuted allegations of war atrocities in Gaza after Palestinian children described how their parents had been “executed” by Israeli troops.

One nine-year-old boy said his father had been shot dead in front of him despite surrendering to Israeli soldiers with his hands in the air.

Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.

He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.

A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a “massacre”.

Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.

Israel has denied the claims, dismissing them as Hamas propaganda, but said that an investigation is being conducted into soldiers’ conduct in the area.

In interviews with ITV News, Palestinians claimed that Israeli forces knowingly killed civilians in Zeitoun on the morning of Jan 14.

Abdullah Samouni, nine, described the moment his father was allegedly “executed” by Israeli soldiers.

Holding his arms in the air, he said: “He was surrendering like this. My father came out and they shot him right away.”

A boy named Ahmed said he was trapped for days in the wreckage of the shelled Samouni family’s house.

He said: “My mother was dead beside me, she was clutching my brother Nasser and they were dead. My brother Itzaq was bleeding for two days and then he died. My brother Izmael bled to death in one day. My uncle Talal was bleeding for two hours and he died. God bless them.”

Dr Borno said: “It’s a massacre. They collected them from their houses. They knew that they were civilians. They were children.”

When asked if Hamas had been in Zeitoun, Dr Borno replied: “Suppose that there is one of the fighters around, what is it to do with all these? Is the price to kill the family as a whole? Is this baby carrying a machine gun?”

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev suggested the claims could be Hamas propaganda and said an investigation was under way. However, he said that Israeli troops had reported that Zeitoun was “full of Hamas” militants and that soldiers encountered booby traps in “every house” in the village.

He said: “When people live in an authoritarian regime, when it’s clear there is an official message and the message is to give out atrocity propaganda, [then] at least I think we should ask questions.

“Hamas has an interest in sending out this sort of atrocity propaganda.

“What happened in that village is under investigation. I know from speaking to IDF officers that there was very serious combat in that village, that every house was booby-trapped, there were guns. Very difficult military operation.

“If there is any Israeli solder that has done something inappropriate of course that will be discovered and there will be law, but I am very concerned about a situation where children are manipulated, where everyone is on the same message.

“We know that village was full of Hamas fighters. It’s against the rules of engagement of the Israeli army to shoot innocent civilians.”

Arrest warrant: Ehud Barak

Arrest warrant: Ehud Barak

For violations of the Rome Statute & 4th Geneva Convention

Ehud Barak

In June 2007, the suspect imposed a siege on 1.5 million residents of Gaza. The siege, which is ongoing in 2009, is collective punishment according to International Law. The year and a half long siege caused severe food and fuel shortages, intermittent drinking water and electricity supply, disruption to sewage treatment plants and shortages of medicine and essential medical equipment, affecting the lives of 1.5 million people – a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute.

On 27 December 2008, the suspect ordered the aerial bombardment of Gazan population centers. The attacks involved hundreds of aircraft sorties, dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Gazan neighborhoods At least 1,200 people – men, women and children were killed and 5,300 people were injured. The bombs damaged thousands of homes and turned hundreds of thousands of people into refugees.

On 10 December 2008, a formal complaint was submitted by Lebanese lawyers to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands, against Ehud Barak and four other Israeli: Ehud Olmert, Matan Vilnai, Avi Dichter and Gabi Ashkenazi on the suspicion that they had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity by ordering and maintaining a siege on Gaza.

Description of the suspect: a white man, about 65 years old, lower than average height, graying hair, brown eyes, with glasses.

Photo courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson

Anyone who has information about the suspect when he is outside of the Israeli borders, report immediately to:
The Prosecutor
POBox 19519
2500 Hague
Fax +31 70 515 8 555

* All calls will be treated in confidence

Israel Has the West Where They Want Us

Israel Has the West Where They Want Us

By: Peter Chamberlin

In this video, Jonathan Miller surveys part of the aftermath of Israel’s bloodletting operation.The devastation is phenomenal; it is beyond that seen in other wars by several degrees.What is different here is the fact that the murderous IDF campaign was depicted by the Western media as a “war,” even though it clearly was not a “war,” by any definition.This was not a war any more than the pogroms of the Warsaw ghettoes were wars.

The entire process of raining-down fire on walled-in ghettoes of civilians, then plowing-under the remains of what were once apartment building and family homes with bulldozers is not warfare, it is wholesale murder and wanton destruction, the likes of which has, thankfully, occurred only rarely in modern history. One of the more infamous of these anti-Semitic pogroms, known simply as “Kristallnacht,” is known as a turning point in German history and the opening act of “the Holocaust.”

What is a Pogrom? [my changes]

“Simply stated, a pogrom is an act of mass violence or mass-murder of a certain group of people. Historically, this term -– Russian for “demolish violently or riot” — has been applied more specifically to the mass killing of the [Semitic] people, perhaps because of the frequency with which pogroms were committed against them. But a pogrom goes well beyond mere killing; a pogrom is much like a riot aimed not only at killing, but also at destroying homes, businesses, and other forms of daily life and culture.

…Businesses were ransacked and looted, homes were destroyed, entire villages would be burned to the ground, and more often than not, people would die at the hands of their aggressors. In the case of the [Palestinians], these pogroms persisted for decades.”

During Kristallnacht 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. In Operation “cast lead,” 50,000 Palestinian Arabs were removed from their homes, to be removed later to new “refugee camps,” tent cities, hastily erected on the Egyptian side of the Palestinian border by Israeli demands during ceasefire negotiations.


Tents in Rafah

Arab blogs: Tents in desert reveal Israeli plan to transfer Gazans to Egypt

Kristallnacht was blamed on the Jews themselves and was used as justification for all the anti-Semitic moves which followed, just as “cast lead” is reported to be solely the Palestinians’ fault in the Western press and will be used to justify the next moves to disempower Hamas and to transfer all Palestinians to Jordan and Egypt.

Olmert is following a revived Nazi concept of “lebensraum” (living space) today, to re-transplant the Jewish “settlers” (colonists) who are already clamoring to return to Gaza, under protection of the new international forces, no different than the original Nazis who were flowing into Poland to carry-out Goebbels’ plan under cover of Luftwaffe bombers in 1939. The primary difference between the two Nazi regimes is that today, the “free world” stands foursquare behind the murderers and their plans for ethnic cleansing.

The naiveté of world leaders (or their vulnerability to blackmail and extortion) has led them into a partnership with this evil, making our leaders and our press the most effective spokesmen to promote the new holocaust/shoah. The hypocrisy is evident in every word spent defending Israel’s final solution, as the rabid foam of insanity drips from their lips, portraying Arabs and Muslims as “terrorists.”

Israeli/Jewish propagandists are masters of their craft, having crafted their own rhetoric while carefully studying the techniques perfected by the “Master race.” Israelis proudly flaunt their own perfection and innocence as survivors of the purging flames of the Nazi “Holocaust,” while highlighting the imperfections of the Arabs who “besiege” them. By blending truth and lies in a dizzying mixture, until they become indistinguishable, mental fatigue sets in, increasing the effectiveness of the disinformation. Truth no longer resides in the words that are spoken, but dwells more in the realm of the unsaid.

As a direct result of Israeli/American propaganda, the captives of the Gazan ghetto are now the aggressors, justifying the years of inhuman abuse and mass suffering that is rained down upon them. They are our tortured brothers and sisters, even though the Israeli/Western media portrays them as an alien life-forms, somewhere between some sort of retarded beings and dogs.

An international force is being put together to deny these dog-like creatures their inalienable right to self-defense against oppression and foreign occupation. The international “peacekeepers” are preparing to “protect” the occupation forces from the bombardment by “road flares” and to begin a process of transferring Israeli “settlers” and acceptable Palestinians (loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, not to the elected Hamas government) into Gaza, followed by the forced relocation of all Arabs, after an anticipated acceptance of the “two-state solution.”

Jews in Israel and the world over cringe at legitimate comparisons being made between today’s new fascism and that of a previous era, with expectations being, that the current era of censorship of the truth by ADL/AIPAC/WINEP will continue. Jewish-Americans should be more concerned about the eventual repercussions for their own families and countrymen, should Israel succeed in conquering the world by stealth (“By means of deception, thou shalt wage war“), or if anti-Zionists manage to generate a real global resistance movement.

Today’s aftermath of the slaughter is different from Kristallnacht, in that the visual record of the truth survives through the Internet. Instead of marking the beginning of a new era of global fascism, “cast lead” will mark the beginning of the end of the Zionist regime, depending on the tenacity and the commitment of the Palestinian people’s supporters to destroying the official Israeli government’s official lies (Hasbara).

Today is different, if we are willing to do what is necessary to make it different. The “Light of the Nations” (the Truth of God) is not emanating from the little spit of sand known as “Israel” today; it is echoing the Truth down the ages to us today, just the same as it has been since the beginning. It is thanks to the Truth once imparted unto the world by the original “Israel” of God, that we know for absolute certain that everything about the “Israel” today that has been fabricated with Palestinian blood is wrong.

It is wrong to kill children.

It is wrong to commit mass-murder.

It is wrong to rob and steal a people’s means to live, even the land itself.

It is wrong to lie in order to cover-up your previous wrongs, but above all, to cover beforehand the great wrongs that you have planned.

ADL to censor YouTube

ADL to censor YouTube

Too much information: Nazis to do damage control after latest massacre
Anti-Defamation League joins YouTube to fight online hate

Norman Finkelstein
01.20.2009 Haaretz

The widely popular video sharing website YouTube has reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its expertise in dealing with hate on the Internet.

As a result of this partnership, the League is now a contributor to YouTube’s newly launched Abuse & Safety Center, where users are empowered to identify and confront hate, and to report abuses.

The YouTube Abuse & Safety Center features information and links to resources developed by ADL to help Internet users respond to and report offensive material and extremist content that violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines on hate speech.

“YouTube is an incredible tool for sharing videos and giving individuals an opportunity to broadcast themselves, but like other social networking sites it can be abused or used for sinister and dangerous purposes,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “There are those who may try to exploit the technology to spread racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate.”

“We commend YouTube for their efforts to provide users with access to important information from those with expertise, such as ADL and others, on how to effectively respond to hate on the Internet and to report abuses,” Foxman said.

“Obviously, the industry has a vested interest in providing a safe online experience for the community of users, but they cannot go it alone. Maintaining a prejudice-free zone on the Internet means constant vigilance on the part of everyone. Parents, educators, industry, government and nonprofit watchdogs must work together. The bigots can only be sidelined if people of good will are actively reporting abuses, so that the Internet service providers can take action,” the ADL chief added.

Since the launch of the Internet, ADL has played a leading role in working to combat hate on the World Wide Web through education and advocacy. The League monitors extremism and hate on the Internet and works with major service providers, including Google, to identify and respond to offensive content.

Last year, the League launched a major initiative to counteract cyberbullying by providing access to educational resources and information to parents, teachers, students and caregivers. ADL also serves as the U.S. representative to the International Network Against Cyber-Hate (INACH). More information is available on the League?s web site at

The YouTube Abuse & Safety Center was unveiled on December 11 at the annual conference of the Family Online Safety Institute in Washington D.C. and can be found at…. A link to the Center is also available at the bottom of every YouTube page.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization in fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

Zionist leaders should be tried at int’l Court of Justice

Zionist leaders should be tried at int’l Court of Justice

TEHRAN (IRNA) — Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Mohammad Ali Hosseini on Tuesday strongly condemned the crimes and atrocities of the Zionists occupiers and called for its leaders to be tried at the International Court of Justice.

Zionists forces have freely used banned weapons in their aggression on Gaza which is regarded as blatant violation of human rights and war crimes, he said.

The Zionist regime has also violated Geneva conventions and have prevented human rights inspectors to visit Gaza and have even infringed the rights of civilians, he said.

Referring to the carnage unleashed on innocent civilians in Gaza, he said in the past two weeks over 907 people have been killed, half of them women and children.

The savage atrocities of the Zionists occupiers in attacking hospitals, religious buildings and educational centers have led to international protests, he said adding that International Committee of the Red Cross and head of United Nations General Assembly have called them catastrophic and sharply criticized the way United Nations Security Council dealt with it.

Huge public protests around the globe against Zionists’ inhuman genocide is unprecedented, Hosseini underlined.

The Zionist regime and its main supporter the United States of America have come under sharp criticism by world public opinions, he said.

Zionists have violated war conventions and committed international crimes in Gaza, Hosseini underlined.

The Zionist regime and its main ally, the U.S., have attacked Gaza to uproot Islamic movement in the region in order to dominate the entire Middle East region, he said.

It is incumbent on all countries to prepare grounds to bring to justice the Zionist criminals as soon as possible, he concluded.

Talk of Withdrawal Sets Forces In Motion

Iraqi Government positions its forces to seize Kirkuk oil center. Every American/Israeli move is met with a counter-move by the oppressed.

Kirkuk and Khanaqin on alert

This photo shows a general view of the ancient bridge on the Alwan River in Khanaqin town. GLOBE PHOTO/Qassim Khidhir

The Kurdish Globe

Iraqi army moves closer to Kurdistan

Kurds suspiciously gaze at new army belt in between Kirkuk and Kurdistan provinces

The Iraqi army’s 12th division intends for deployments around Kirkuk, creating a military belt and tightening contact with the Kurdistan provinces of Suleimaniya and Erbil. The military step, which is expected to decrease the presence of Kurdish forces in the controversial city of Kirkuk, looks suspicious to leaders in Kurdistan Region.

“The Iraqi Defense sets to establish firm checkpoints on the ways in and out of Kirkuk city, especially those with Kurdistan cities, in an attempt to control the city borders,” the Kurdish local newspaper “Aso” reported Tuesday, quoting an anonymous Iraqi army officer.

The anonymous source pointed out that the Defense Ministry, in its first step, works for deployments all over Laylan, Qadirkaram, Takyay-Jabari, Shwan and Bani-Maqan districts east of Kirkuk and in Dubiz and Pire north of it.

The commander of the 12th Division, Gen. Abdul-Ameer Ridha, reportedly has informed the Defense Ministry of interference by some parties, including security forces and police, although he didn’t mention names, and he has asked to be allowed more movements and deployments in between Kirkuk and the provinces of Erbil and Suleimaniya. This issue, which hasn’t yet interpreted into action, adds to the tension between Erbil and Baghdad.

“The movement of the division is not normal and it is a planned agenda; therefore, the Kurdish leadership looks suspiciously at that movement,” said Mustafa Chawrash, Peshmarga leader from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He added that they have sent a message for army forces not to move upwards. A committee consisting of representatives from Kurdistan Region, American forces, and the Iraqi army has been formed to address this new issue. He explained that committee hasn’t yet been able to meet yet, but the division 12th movement is now halted and Kurdish Peshmarga forces still are present in their designated places.

Chawrash said that Gen. Ridha is an Arab from Hilla city; he is an ex-Baath member who fought Kurds and had been imprisoned for four months by Americans. He was commander of the same division during the Baath era, and last year he was returned to his post.

The 12th Division consists of nearly 9,000 soldiers; 70 percent are Arabs, 20 percent are Kurds, and 10 percent are Turkmen.

The army in Kirkuk has practiced further changes that do not favor Kurds. Brig. Abdullah Daloyee, a Kurd and commander of the 9th Brigade of the 12th Division, was transformed from Kirkuk to Tikrit city. Another Kurd, the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the same brigade, has also been transported to another place. The posts were replaced with Arab and Turkmen officers. Meanwhile, the Suleimaniya brigade belonged to Iraqi Defense Ministry that was based in Kirkuk consists of Kurdish soldiers and has been transported to Tikrit as well.

Since the Iraq liberation in 2003, this is the second time tension occurs between the Iraqi federal army and Kurdish Peshmarga forces. In late August 2008, Iraqi troops from Baghdad moved toward Khanaqin, which lies just outside Kurdistan Region, but Peshmarga forces patrolling the town refused to withdraw and town residents demonstrated, standing in face of the army movement. That tension ended in early September after both the army and Kurdish forces stood down, leaving the town patrols in the hands of local police.

Amidst the Kirkuk deployment tension, Khanaqin is also on alert. Army officials in Diala met to discuss army movements upwards to the Khanaqin and Kulajo areas north of the province. Relevantly, head of Diala provincial council, Ibrahim Bajalan, a Kurd, said “the Iraqi army always attempts to move upward to the desired places.” He noted that, unlike August 2008, the people of Khanaqin will not let the army into their town.

Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen

Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen

montage121by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon
We have proven at long last that a black man can be elected president, a lesson for little black boys, and perhaps even little black girls to carefully consider as they begin their life’s journeys.  At the same time, we’ve placed a black face at the head of a host of detestable policies in Africa and elsewhere offering military aid and arms to dozens of African regimes instead of aiding their civil societies, rather than promoting the real growth and prosperity, building health care and education  developing world.  In recent years, the US has offered military aid, arms and military training to more than 50 of 54 African nations, arms and training which are invariably deployed against other Africans.  What does it mean to the international standing of Black Americans to be decisvely identified with these genocidal policies?
Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

It’s completely appropriate to celebrate the election of the first black president, just like we celebrated the first black mayors in Newark, Gary and Cleveland in the sixties, of Los Angeles and Atlanta in the seventies, and New York and Chicago in the eighties. When the doors were forced open, when the demographics were right, enough money was raised and sufficient numbers of black voters mobilized, thousands of African Americans were elected to school boards and city councils, to state legislatures and congress, to county boards and statewide offices. And now, an African American has taken the oath of president of the United States.

As one of many who worked day and night for three years in the early 1980s to elect Chicago’s first black mayor, I can understand the undefineable tears shed by many last November, and the shiver some felt when Barack Obama laid his hand on Abe Lincoln’s bible.  We danced and wept and prayed and rejoiced in Chicago a generation ago, and in other places too.  But eventually the party was over, and this one will soon be too, for most of us.  For many of us, it’s already time to take stock.  Were the hopes and dreams and prayers and effort put behind the Obama campaign a wise investment?  And what does the election of Barack Obama mean for the position of African Americans as global citizens?

Until now, black Americans have always enjoyed, on the world stage, a presumption that we as a people and as individuals were not responsible for the lawless and criminal acts of the US government around the world.  In the Vietnam era, many black GIs came home with stories that their lives had been directly spared by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at close quarters who could have killed them, but seemed to single out white American soldiers instead.  When Iranian students captured the US embassy in Teheran, they offered to let the black Americans go.

Polling data has consistently shown African American communities to be less sympathetic to US military adventures around the world, and to harbor more healthy skepticism of war aims and claims than any other sector of the electorate.  Immediately before the Iraq invasion, a Gallup poll showed black America opposing the war almost two to one, the opposite of white America.  No wonder our international image is dominated by figures of courageous moral opposition to empire like Muhammed Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King.  But with the election of Barack Hussein Obama, and the explicit targeting of Africa as a battleground for American control of the world’s resources and markets, that is definitely about to change.

The moment Barack Obama took the oath of office, he became commander in chief of America’s far-flung global empire, more than 800 military bases strung across the planet, and at least a million and a half uniformed personnel, secret prisons, torturers, and looters of whole economies.  The US spends more on arms than all the rest of the planet combined, and in spite of our economic woes, Obama is not committed to reducing this.  He may ask us to cut “entitlements” and tighten our belts, but reducing the military budget, the production of arms and the training of bloodthirsty proxy armies in poor countries all around the world is not to be questioned under an Obama administration.

In Africa, perhaps the best example, civil societies need the freedom to organize health care and education.  They need control over their own national resources, and they need an international monetary system that does not facilitate the wholesale looting of their economies. They need clean water, low-priced anti-HIV drugs.

Barack Obama instead is identified with fundamentalist preacher Rick Warren, responsible for funding and training African pastors who hold condom-burning rallies and lead marches and rallies to threaten gays and so-called ‘witches” with arrest and death.

Rather than seek allies in the vibrant civil sector of African societies, Obama’s advisors are enthusiastic supporters of the Bush-created AFRICOM, which works to strengthen the least productive sector of African societies — Africa’s rapacious military machines.

The informative blog Crossed Crocodiles tells of a January 18 multinational miltary seminar held in Dakar, Senegal to hand out American gadgets and treats to African armies in support of US goals for the continent, “… cement(ing) the US Africa Command in place as an imperial colonial power organizing and directing proxy armies, controlling the tools, techniques, perhaps the language of their communication….”

From Congressional testimony by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, in July 2008:

The ‘train and equip’ idea is not new. In fact, it has a very bad history in Africa – a history that harkens back to the proxy wars of the Cold War and U.S. support for illegitimate or corrupt regimes.

In the 1980’s, the U.S. spent $500 million to train and equip Samuel Doe in Liberia. According to a report from the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, “every armed group that plundered Liberia over the past 25 years had its core in these U.S.-trained Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers. There is thus a fear that when the United States withdraws support for its security sector reform program and funding for the AFL, Liberia will be sitting on a time bomb; a well-trained and armed force of elite soldiers who are used to good pay and conditions of service, which may be impossible for the government of Liberia to sustain on its own.”

AFRICOM’s value as a structure for legitimizing African armies should therefore be called into serious question. The long-term ramifications of irresponsible training and equipping should be taken into consideration before the U.S. military is awarded more power in Africa. PMC’s should be debated and scrutinized by the African people and parliamentary bodies in every country should be encouraged to enact legislation against their operations. Propping up and arming corrupt leaders is no path to stability in Africa. The U.S. must act as a credible force for peace, not an overzealous superpower that employs private contractors to conduct military operations in Africa.

Many question the idea of training and coordinating African militaries at all. Many African military forces are primarily used against their own people in order to keep the current regime in power.”

Many Africans question this policy, as do those Americans who are aware of it. Barack Obama and his advisors are certainly aware of it.  Many of them helped design it, and Obama has hired them for what they know and what they do. The question now is what will we do, and what will we help our fellow citizens, especially African Americans know about our longstanding and deadly intervention on the African continent.

Through the Pentagon and the CIA, according to Asad Ismi and Kristen Schwartz in the Ravaging of Africa, the US has fueled no less than fourteen separate African wars in recent decades.  We have sent weapons, military training and military aid to more than 50 of Africa’s 54 nations, aided both sides in several wars, and more than two sides in Rwanda, the Congo, and Somalia. We are the authors of a war in Somalia in which a million people have perished, a capital city has been deserted, and several million more are homeless, destitute and on the verge of starvation.  US forces regularly fly missions in support of the Ethiopian invasion force in Somalia, which sits atop a lake of untapped oil.

Our economic looting and militarization of African societies prevents them from setting up education and health care systems that would retard the HIV-AIDS epidemic.  Our predatory trade agreements prohibit African countries from rational public sector wealth building, and even seek to prevent African farmers from saving theirr own seeds to plant as they have done for millenia.  Our banking system makes it possible for multinational corporations and corrupt Africans to take vast amounts of wealth offshore for injection into Western economies.

Some black Americans have been quoted in the media saying that they finally felt they could unpack their bags here in the U.S, that they could finally fly the American flag with pride.  Good for them.  We should let them know what that flag is standing for around the world, with or without a black man in the White House.  We used to be regarded as a people of struggle, innocent of the crimes of our government.  That era is over.  It’s time to wake up after the party and wonder what will become of the international image of African Americans in the wake of an Obama presidency?

Bruce Dixon is managing editor of Black  Agenda Report and is based in Atlanta.