|03/11/2009 - 07:58 PM|
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Movement of Hamas categorically denied an Israeli allegation that it conducted successful experiments on a missile with a range of 60 km that may reach Tel Al-Rabi (Tel Aviv).
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said this allegation is a proactive step taken by Israel to influence the world opinion prior to the discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN general assembly.
Spokesman Barhoum added that the adoption of the Goldstone report prompted Israel to fabricate such lies to incite the world and public opinion against Hamas.
He also warned that this fabrication could be an attempt by Israel to justify intended crimes against Gaza people.
For his part, Abu Obeida, the spokesman for Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, refused to comment on Israeli intelligence reports that the Brigades tested a ballistic missile that could reach Tel Aviv but said that Israel has many malicious goals behind spreading fabricated news.
Head of the Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin told Tuesday the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee that Hamas fired successfully a 60-km missile that could hit Tel Aviv.
November 04, 2009
November 02, 2009
A series of controversial Israeli films are provoking outrage and plaudits in equal measure at the London Film Festival.
The best documentary award has gone to one of the year's most controversial films.
Defamation is a polemic by Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir. In his expose of America's Anti-Defamation League (ADL), he claims anti-Semitism is being exaggerated for political purposes. He argues that American Jewish leaders travel around the world exploiting the memory of the Holocaust to silence criticism of Israel.
He gets inside the ADL, which claims to be the most powerful lobby group of its type anywhere in the world. With unprecedented access, he travels with them as they meet foreign leaders, and use the memory of the Holocaust to further their pro-Israeli agenda.
At one point, an ADL leader admits to Shamir that "we need to play on that guilt".
Shamir says his film, Defamation, started out as a study of "the political games being played behind the term anti-Semitism".
"It became more a film about perceptions and the way Jews and Israelis choose to see themselves and define themselves - a lot of the time unfortunately choosing the role of eternal victims as a way of life."
Israel's national psyche
He wanted to find out how this mentality has become part of Israel's national psyche.
The film suggests that the attitude is thrust upon children from an early age. School trips to concentration camps in Poland run year-round.
From just 500 children in the 1980s, he claims around 30,000 are now flown to Europe every year.
He discovers that the trips are not designed to educate, but to provoke an emotional reaction. They fly out of Israel euphoric, and end their journey in tears, talking about their shared hatred.
They are accompanied by secret service agents who prevent them from talking to any locals - they are led to believe that most Poles are anti-Semites.
The end result is disturbing. The victim mentality is being used to justify Israel's occupation and colonisation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.
In the film, one Israeli Jew tells Shamir that she refuses to get upset by Israeli aggression against the Palestinians because "we" faced worse. To her, the Holocaust justifies anything the Israeli army does.
And for Shamir, that is the real danger. "We are experiencing the most right-wing government we've ever had, and there is very little room for discussion. Putting so much focus on hate and the negative, I don't see it as a healthy thing."
In Israel, the film has received a mixed response. "It's kind of a love or hate type of response to the film," Shamir says. "It's very hard to get people to come and watch documentaries in the cinemas in Israel."
October 31, 2009
Spinwatch has uncovered evidence that an apparently London based organisation offering expertise on Iran to journalists and politicians is a covert propaganda operation run by a pro-Israel organisation in the United States.
The organisation, which is called Réalité-EU, has direct connections to the Israel Project, a hardline pro Israel organisation based in Washington DC. Both Réalité-EU and the Israel Project also appear to be connected to a Jewish organisation – B’nai B’rith International, which is also active in pro Israel campaigning
Réalité-EU was at one time linked to the former Shadow Security Minister Patrick Mercer, raising further concerns about the Conservative MP’s links to individuals and groups involved in exaggerating and even fabricating domestic and international threats for personal and political ends. These activities have previously been reported by Spinwatch as well as other sources.
Réalité-EU has claimed to be based at offices in London, but e-mails received from the organisation were sent from a mail server registered to the Washington offices of B’nai B’rith International. An expert from Réalité-EU who spoke to Spinwatch denied ‘any connection whatsoever’ with B’nai B’rith
Asked whether Réalité-EU receives any funding or direct support from the pro-Israel pressure group, the expert replied, ‘Definitely not,’ but added, ‘I’m not at all involved in any development [i.e. funding] questions so I really don’t know exactly who the individuals are and where they come from.’
Spinwatch’s questions about the backers of Réalité-EU were then referred to the group’s Communication Associate Gerlinde Gerber. She subsequently sent an e-mail stating that Réalité-EU receives funds from ‘different individuals from all over the world,’ who ‘are especially concerned about the growing threat of extremism in Europe and the Middle East.’
When Ms Gerber was confronted with evidence directly linking Réalité-EU with B’nai B’rith she said that the organisation rents ‘services and space on their server for cost saving reasons,’ but that it had no ‘ideological or other connection to Bnai Brith’. She also stated that the expert Spinwatch had spoken to had no knowledge of this arrangement.
However, Spinwatch has discovered that the London phone number for Réalité-EU redirected to a voicemail at the offices of The Israel Project in Washington. Ms Gerber did not reply to further questions about Réalité-EU’s relationship with The Israel Project or to a query as to where Réalité-EU is registered given that there is no trace of the organisation in the UK at Companies House or the Charity Commission.
B’nai B’rith International and The Israel Project were also asked to comment on whether they have any relationship with Réalité-EU but failed to respond.
B’nai B’rith International, the organisation presumed to be behind Réalité-EU, is one of a number of well funded organisations which lobby in support of Israel. It was not originally a Zionist organisation and in its early years was officially neutral on the issue. It was set up in New York over a hundred years before the establishment of the State of Israel and was originally focused on providing welfare to newly arriving Jewish immigrants.
In 1913 it founded the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith to record incidents of anti-semitism and campaign for greater protection for Jewish people. The League subsequently became independent of its parent organisation and, now known simply as the Anti-Defamation League or ADL, it has become notorious for its campaigns of harassment against critics of Israel. Amongst its targets was Noam Chomsky, who has noted ‘They try to label any criticism as anti-Semitic… in the last 40 years it’s become a Stalinist-style organization dedicated to supporting anything Israel does and to destroying all opposition to Israeli policies.’
In addition ADL has been repeatedly accused of broadening its activities from defending against what it claims is ‘anti-semitism’ to actually spying on the left, including allegedly working with the South African apartheid regime, spying on anti-apartheid groups, a wide range of left and human rights organisations and even on HIV/AIDS activsts.
ADL and the Israel Project are ideologically aligned but are also linked by personnel. For example Laura Kam, a ‘senior adviser’ for the Israel Project worked for seventeen years as co-director of ADL’s Israel office. Hamodie Abu Nadda an ‘Arabic associate’ at the Israel Project also worked for ADL. The Israel Project also works with ADL, for example, as members of the Israel on Campus Coalition.
Like the ADL, B’nai B’rith has also become a passionate advocate for Israel. Its website boasts of an ‘unrivalled record of service and commitment to the Jewish state.’  This record has included using its presence at the UN and other international bodies to lobby against criticism of Israel, as well as the provision of material assistance to the Israel Defence Forces.
During Israel’s latest attack on Gaza – described by one Israeli commentator as ‘a massive and unfettered assault, with no proportion to the amount of casualties’ – B’nai B’rith’s President visited Israel as part of a ‘solidarity mission’. When Israel subsequently came under intense criticism for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during its assault, B’nai B’rith, despite its history as a humanitarian organisation, jumped to Israel’s defence.
A UN Fact Finding Mission recently released a report criticising Israel for human rights violations and war crimes (as well as critising Hamas for indiscriminate rocket fire into Israel). B’nai B’rith dismissed the report as ‘one-sided’ complaining that it paid ‘scant attention to Hamas’ cynical use of human shields and placement of munitions among the civilian population’.
In fact an entire chapter of the report addressed allegations such as these, but the mission had found no evidence to support the claims. They did however uncover evidence that the IDF had used Palestinian civilians as human shields during its assault.
B’nai B’rith has branches all over the world including in Britain, but its head offices are based at 2020 K Street in Washington D.C. K Street is famous for housing some of the world’s most powerful lobby groups and think-tanks. Other organisations based at number 2020 K Street include the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, the NCSJ (formerly the National Conference on Soviet Jewry) and The Israel Project, which is located on the seventh floor along with B’nai B’rith. The Israel Project was founded in 2002, the same year B’nai B’rith International moved into its K Street office and also shares a mail server with B’nai B’rith.
The Israel Project
As its name suggests, The Israel Project also shares B’nai B’rith’s unwavering ‘commitment to the Jewish state’. Whilst B’nai B’rith still supports religious and social programmes, The Israel Project is exclusively committed to political advocacy. In its 2004/05 tax returns it reported spending $787,038 on polling research and over $1.3 million on public relations; the stated goal of which was to ‘improve US understanding of the vital nature of a strong relationship between Israel and other counties around the world, primarily the US’. A year later its accounts start to report the use of ‘Strategic Communications’.
Originally a term used by the military, Strategic Communications refers to carefully researched and selectively targeted propaganda. The Israel Project states in its accounts that its Strategic Communications involves using ‘sophisticated public opinion research to identify messages, themes and visuals that will bring support to key [Israeli] policies,’ and that it, ‘has trained thousands of influential policy leaders, opinion elites and spokespeople to help strengthen Israel’s image in international media.’
Over the course of the following three years, The Israel Project spent over $2.7 million on ‘Strategic Communications’ and a further $9.8 million on ‘public relations’. It has retained a number of political communications and media companies which conduct telephone polling, run focus groups, and design and place television adverts. Its three main communications consultants are Greeberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Public Opinion Strategies and Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research.
Greeberg Quinlan Rosner calls itself ‘the world’s premium research and strategic consulting firm’. Its political clients are mostly Democratcs and other centrist parties around the world, and the firm worked for the Labour Party on its three general elections under Tony Blair. Its clients also include some of the world’s most powerful corporations such as Boeing, BP, Coca-Cola and General Motors.
Public Opinion Strategies on the other hand is a Republican polling firm. It also represents corporate lobby groups like the United States Chamber of Commerce and The National Association of Manufacturers.
Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, perhaps the most significant of the three in terms of devising propaganda, offers clients ‘game-changing messaging solutions’ which it claims are able to ‘generate powerful results in the corporate world’. Its clients also include Boeing, Coca-Cola and General Motors, along with a host of others including American Express, Bear Sterns, Disney, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, McDonalds and Merrill Lynch.
Assisted by these communications companies, The Israel Project produces documents advising lobbyists and campaigners on their use of language and their framing of arguments. One such document, leaked to the pro-Palestinian group Electronic Intifada in 2003, described in detail how advocates could ‘integrate and leverage history and communication for the benefit of Israel’.
The group’s political advocacy is unabashedly partisan and militaristic. Despite its claim to be working for ‘security and peace,’ Rightweb notes that it, ‘Advocates a number of positions similar to other hardline and neoconservative groups. It supports the controversial wall along the West Bank, advocates a hardline against Iran, and actively promotes the work of hawkish think tanks and writers.’
In recent years The Israrel Project’s carefully crafted multi-million dollar propaganda operation has focused heavily on Iran. In November 2007, it commissioned a focus group to assess public perceptions of the country. According to one participant: ‘The whole basis of the whole thing was, “we’re going to go into Iran and what do we have to do to get you guys to along with it?”’
As the focus group apparently showed, the public were sceptical of the need for more war. This finding has been confirmed more recently in The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary which noted that to the ‘American Left and Center-left’ and to Europeans in general, ‘Warnings about Iran sound uncomfortably too much like President Bush and his call for preemption in Iraq.’
The numerous references in that document to European opinion suggests how Réalité-EU might fit into a broader propaganda strategy. Winning over important sections of European opinion is not only useful in itself, it also helps to win over America opinion. Liberals in the US will be more likely to support aggression if it receives some degree of international support, particularly from America’s close allies.
As The Israel Project notes in its 2009 Global Language Dictionary: ‘With the advent of the new administration, Americans and the world are weary of unilateral, America-will-go-it-alone approaches. They are eager to be on the same team as other democratic nations again.’ This pressing need for international legitimacy explains what groups like B’nai B’rith and The Israel Project have to gain from backing an organisation like Réalité-EU.
Similar media strategies
Réalité-EU is directly linked to The Israel Project in that its London phone number redirects to The Israel Project and both organisations have used the B’nai B’rith mail server. Both their websites offer what they call ‘Backgrounders’ and ‘Expert Sources’ and they seem to be the only two websites which use both terms.
The Israel Project’s European Affairs Web Specialist states that part of her job is identifying European experts on Iran. However, none of The Israel Project’s experts appear to be Europeans. Réalité-EU on the other hand directs journalists to eight ‘Expert Sources’, all of whom are European; and apparently independent. Another notable feature is that The Israel Project’s European affairs associate states that he organises press events in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, London and Brussels, all cities where Réalité-EU experts have been based.
Whether the eight Réalité-EU experts are themselves aware of the Réalité-EU’s connection with The Israel Project and/or B’nai B’rith is not clear, but even if ignorant of it they could probably be relied upon to deliver the right message.
One of the ‘experts’, a French academic and risk consultant called Frédéric Encel, gave what was described as an ‘intensely emotional’ speech at a fundraising event in March this year in which he made reference to the recent bombing of Gaza. Rather than condemning the massacres, Encel argued that, ‘The Hamas party’s way of making things worse to further their own ends has obliged Israel to use its force.’ He added that the IDF conducting its attacks whilst ‘maintaining a control that is rarely seen in other armies.’
Encel’s political views are typical of neoconservatives and the pro-war liberals. He sees himself as defending a Western liberal tradition against a sinister alliance of Islamists and leftists. He says on his official website that he is in favour of a ‘fierce defence of republican values,’ which he considers to be under attack by what he labels as totalitarianism, fascism, radical Islam and Stalinism.
Another of Réalité-EU’s experts, Matthias Küntzel, is a German author and a political scientist best known for his belief that movements like Hamas, Hezbollah, and of course the Islamic Republic of Iran, are essentially anti-Semitic, fascistic movements comparable with the Third Reich.
Like many neoconservatives, Küntzel claims to have a background on the liberal left; which he now criticises for being unable to provide ‘an even halfway adequate response to the continuing impact of the crimes against the Jews’. Küntzel’s book Jihad and Jew-Hatred was published in English in 2007 and received positive reviews in the neoconservative Weekly Standard and the right-wing Washington Times.
Réalité-EU’s most prominent figure is probably the terrorism expert Claude Moniquet, who is also one of six speakers listed on the ‘Speakers Bureau’ of B’nai B’rith Europe. Moniquet heads a right-wing Brussels based think-tank called the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, an organisation which says it ‘supports the strengthening of the trans-Atlantic ties and the democracies in their struggle against terrorism and other threats.’ Moniquet worked for 20 years as a journalist, but sees no shame in admitting that throughout that time he also served as a ‘field operative’ for the French foreign intelligence.
A shadowy network
Although Réalité-EU is run by Europeans and backed by Americans, its origins at least appear to be British. At the time of its launch, Réalité-EU was closely affiliated with another organisation called International Media Intelligence Analysis (IMIA). IMIA was set up by a British neoconservative called Simon Barrett, who authored the inaugural Réalité-EU press release and was for a time one of its ‘experts’ but who has since left the group. At the time of Réalité-EU’s launch an introductory press release written by Barrett stated that Réalité EU would ‘include some of the previous works of IMIA but be greatly expanded.
Barrett, who is now 34, claims to have worked as an advisor to Patrick Mercer MP when he was the Conservative Party Shadow Homeland Security Minister. Mercer, who now chairs the the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism, was asked by Spinwatch to confirm Barrett’s advisory role. His office replied that he may have ‘spoken to Simon Barrett’ but he ‘could not be described as an advisor.’
Whatever his exact relationship with Barrett, Mercer has long been associated with the wilder fringes of the anti-terrorism world. It would appear however that his office is now attempting to distance him his former associates. Another individual who has claimed to have acted as an advisor to Mercer is Dominic Wightman, who like Barrett now works in think-tanks on the far right of British politics.
Spinwatch recently revealed that Wightman – or as he alleges a former colleague who hacked into his email – attempted to fabricate a bogus terrorism plot. An American working in Iraq received an email from Wightman requested that his colleague translate some English text into Arabic and post it on a ‘jihadinoticeboard’.
The text was written as if by someone planning to plant a bomb in an elderly woman’s wheeled-basket and explode it in a supermarket. Wightman is now suspected of involvement in a hate campaign against the blogger Tim Ireland which has including repeated threats of violence and the publishing of his home address on the internet.
Wightman denies any involvement with the campaign, which is led by a group of online vigilantes calling themselves the Cheerleaders, but as the blogger Richard Bartholomew has noted the timing and content of online attack pieces posted by Wightman and the Cheerleaders strongly suggests coordination.
Tim Ireland, the main target of these attacks, had exposed another fake terror threat fabricated by Wightman’s former colleague Glen Jenvey, and Wightman now considers Ireland to a part of an ‘Islamist-Leftist compact’ or ‘Black Red Alliance’.
After weeks of scrutiny by bloggers, Glen Jenvey admitted fabricating a terror threat supposedly targeting Alan Sugar which appeared on the front page of the Sun in January. He too enjoyed a working relationship with Patrick Mercer, which as Tim Ireland has noted, continued for two months after Ireland first produced evidence calling into questioning the Sun’s story.
In March this year one of Mercer’s staff sent an e-mail to a journalist at The People stating: ‘I have been in touch with Mr Jenvey about a number of things but most of all the following, which in my view would combine well to make a very good Sunday story.’
Although there is no evidence that Réalité-EU’s Simon Barrett also fabricated terror plots, early in his career as a terrorism and Middle East expert he commented on similar scare stories in the tabloid press. In one such article the Sunday Express claimed that there was a risk that Muslim women in Europe and North America ‘could be planning to use fake pregnancies’ to hide explosives.
The source for the story was the US based Northeast Intelligence Network, a group of former corporate security figures who have made it their mission to ‘educate’ the American public as to ‘the true nature of the terrorist threats’. The group claimed to have discovered an image of a ‘strap on womb’ on an ‘extremistIslamist website’, but would not reveal where the images were found.
Barrett was quoted by the Sunday Express as saying that ‘terrorists are effectively using our politically correct laws as their cover’. He made a point of linking the scare story to the Palestinians saying: ‘This is unfortunately not in the realms of fantasy as terrorist recruiters within the Palestinian terrorist organisations have exploited young vulnerable women in the past to carry out suicide missions with devastating consequences.
In an earlier article the Sunday Express covered the story of a 19 year old Iraqi man with Down’s Syndrome who was reported to have been used unwittingly as a suicide bomber. Patrick Mercer commented that: ‘This shows us exactly the sort of murderous scum with whom we are dealing.’ Barrett added: ‘This is not just happening with Iraqis. Palestinian children have also been educated with hatred to become suicide bombers.’ The article referred to Barrett as ‘a spokesman for Terror Aware, a group that monitors the Middle East media’.
Terror Aware was one of a number of alarmist organisations Barrett was involved in prior to launchingRéalité-EU. Like one of his other early projects, it appears to be linked to the British record producer Trevor Horn and his wife Jill Sinclair – the owners of SARM Studios. Terror Aware was registered to the address of the SARM Workshop in North-West London. Jill Sinclair, who went into a comma in 2007 after a tragic domestic accident, is described as having been a very vocal supporter of Israel. In 2008 Trevor Horn helped to produce a record called Israel — Home of Hope to coincide with Israel’s 60th anniversary.
Press references to Simon Barrett’s Terror Aware disappeared after a few months, with Barrett instead being referred to as the director of the International Coalition Against Terror. By early 2006 the short livedInternational Coalition Against Terror was superseded by International Media Intelligence Analysis (IMIA), which was co owned by Barrett and Jill Sinclair. Like Terror Aware Ltd, IMIA was registered to a business address of SARM Studios, this time at its studio in Notting Hill. There is no evidence to connect Sinclair toRéalité-EU, though in its first year of operations, it gave its contact address as a P.O. Box in the Notting Hill area of London.
IMIA was referred to in some press articles as a London based think-tank, but for the most part it appears to have operated as an e-newsletter service run solely by Barrett. It did however co-host an event in the House of Commons with the Euro-sceptic think-tank Open Europe.
Open Europe has itself received funding from American neoconservatives via the Policy Forum on International Security Affairs, a group headed by Devon Gaffney Cross, a former director of the powerful neoconservative group the Project for the New American Century. Her brother Frank Gaffney was a speaker at an Israel Project press conference in Washington in July 2007 organised to publicise the supposed ‘Iranian threat’.
Open Europe and IMIA’s ‘parliamentary briefing’ that May was billed ‘Iran, Britain and Europe: Post hostage crisis, what can we expect next?’ It was attended by Patrick Mercer and Mark Fitzpatrick of the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies among others. Réalité-EU’s Claude Moniquet also spoke.
Moniquet told the audience that his think-tank had evidence that ‘something is under preparation in Europe,’ and that, ‘Iranian intelligence is working extremely hard to prepare its people and to prepare actions.’ They would he claimed target ‘British citizens on the streets of London, just as they kill British soldiers in the south of Iraq.’
Later that year the United States National Intelligence Estimate concluded that, contrary to the widespread claims, Iran was not developing a nuclear weapons programme. Réalité-EU responded with an Insight entitled, ‘Can U.S. Intelligence be Trusted on Iran?’, which once again conflated the issues of civilian nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
Though Réalité-EU and similar organisatoins promoting hostility against Iran were apparently unconvinced and undeterred, the National Intelligence Estimate seemed for some time to have abated the march to war. Recently however the frequency and tone of official statements and media reports in Britain and the United States have once again become a cause for grave concern. Those who are unwilling to forget what has happened to the people of Iraq, and the lies and distortions on which that war was based, cannot help but note worrying parallels with the current political climate.
The UK media critics David Edwards and David Cromwell write: ‘To us it seems like yesterday – the sense of madness is fresh in our minds. When Obama acts the stern father in demanding: “Iran must comply with United Nations resolutions,” he is repeating, with the alteration of but a single letter, the same sentence in the same tone used by George Bush and Tony Blair on Iraq.’
Last month Réalité-EU’s Matthias Küntzel wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled, ‘Iran Has No Right to Nuclear Technology’. Although the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty states that signatories have ‘the inalienable right’ to ‘develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes’, Küntzel argued that this right cannot apply to Iran which although it has signed up to the NPT, ‘can by definition not be considered a bona fide signatory’.
To give Iran the same rights afforded other states under the treaty was according to Küntzel ‘not only politically absurd but also wrong from a purely legal point of view’. This remarkable claim was justified with reference to a comment on world Islamic revolution made by Ayatollah Khomeini around 30 years ago, and to a passage of the Qur’an quoted in Article 151 of Iran’s constitution. Küntzel thus argued that Iran was politically and constutionally committed to waging war and overturning the international order. That being the case Küntzel conclude: ‘The time for “dialogue as usual” is over’.
– Notes –
 Réalité-EU, email to Tom Mills, 14 July 2009 20:34; Gerlinde Gerber, Email to Tom Mills, 11 September 2009 16:48. Both emails were sent from the IP address 188.8.131.52, the IP number for mail.bnaibrith.org.
 Phone interview, 10 September 2009
 Gerlinde Gerber, Email to Tom Mills, 11 September 2009 16:48
 Gerlinde Gerber, Email to Tom Mills, 29 October 2009 14:53
 Spinprofiles, Israel Lobby Portal
 Spinprofiles, Anti-Defamation League
Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB ‘Scholars condemn attack on academic freedom at UC-Santa Barbara’ 28 April 2009
 Jeffrey Blankfort, Anne Poirier and Steve Zeltzer, ‘The ADL Spying Case Is Over, But The Struggle Continues’, Counterpunch, 25 February 2002; Robert I. Friedman, The Enemy Within, The Village Voice, 11 May 1993, Vol. XXXVIII No. 19. http://web.archive.org/web/20050301171016/http://www.etext.org/Politics/Conspiracy/LWB/Misc/THEENEMY.TXT; Abdeen Jabara, (1993) ‘The Anti-Defamation League: Civil Rights and Wrongs‘, ”Covert Action”, No. 45, Summer;
 The Israel Project Laura Kam, Senior Advisor, http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/c.hsJPK0PIJpH/b.689731/k.A173/Key_TIP_Staff.htm#Laura_Kam
 Israel on Campus Coalition ‘Members: ADL’ http://www.israelcc.org/members/adl.htm
 B’nai B’rith International, ‘B’nai B’rith and Israel’ http://www.bnaibrith.org/165/BBI_and_Israel.cfm
 Paul Wood, ‘Analysis: Operation Miscast Lead?’, BBC News Online, 13 March 2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7940624.stm
 ‘B’nai B’rith International Leaders on Solidarity Mission to Israel’, Targeted News Service, 12 January 2009
 ‘Goldstone Report Presents One-Sided and Incomplete Information’, Targeted News Service, 15 September 2009
 Human Rights Council, Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, A/HRC/12/48, 15 September 2009; see Chapters VIII and XIV http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf
 Michael Vasquez, ‘A New Address for B’nai B’rith’, Washington Post, 15 June 2002
 See Robtex record for mail.bnaibrith.org http://www.robtex.com/dns/mail.bnaibrith.org.html#shared
 The Israel Project, Form 990 (2004), p.2
 The Israel Project, Form 990 (2005), p.3
 The Israel Project, Form 990 (2005), p.3; Form 990 (2006), p.3; Form 990 (2007), p.3
 Greeberg Quinlan Rosner Research, International Campaigns http://www.greenbergresearch.com/index.php?ID=109
 Greeberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Corporations http://www.greenbergresearch.com/index.php?ID=111
 Laura Rozen, ‘Focus Grouping War with Iran’, Mother Jones, 19 November 2007 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/11/focus-grouping-war-iran
 Public Opinion Strategies, Public Affairs Client List http://www.pos.org/research/pubclients.asp
 Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research, What We Do http://www.luntz.com/what_we_do.html
 Wexner Analysis: Israeli Communication Priorities 2003 http://electronicintifada.net/artman2/uploads/1/luntzwexneranalysis.pdf
 Rightweb, The Israel Project, 26 July 2007 http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/The_Israel_Project
 Laura Rozen, ‘Focus Grouping War with Iran’, Mother Jones, 19 November 2007 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2007/11/focus-grouping-war-iran
 The Israel Project’s 2009 Global Language Dictionary, Newsweek, 9 July 2009
 The Israel Project, Julie Hazan http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/pp.aspx?c=hsJPK0PIJpH&b=689731&printmode=1#JulieHazan [Accessed 30 October 2009]
 The Israel Project, Christoph Heil, http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/pp.aspx?c=hsJPK0PIJpH&b=689731&printmode=1#Christoph [Accessed 30 October 2009]
 Gerlinde Gerber is from Berlin, Diana Gregor lives in Vienna, Frédéric Encel in Paris, Simon Barrett in London and Claude Moniquet in Brussels.
 Neocon Europe, Frédéric Encel http://neoconeurope.eu/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Encel
 Lucie Optyker and Laurence Borot, ‘Traditional Fundraising Dinner Organized by the Paris Woman’s Division’, Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, 26 March 2009, accessed 1 October 2009 http://www.kh-uia.org.il/EN/Missions-Events/worldwide-Events/latest/Pages/Traditional_Fundraising_Dinner_Organized_By_The_Paris_Womans_Division.aspx
 Frédéric Encel Official Website, accessed 12 September 2009.http://www.fredericencel.org/ The original text in French reads: ‘Ainsi, mon engagement actif en faveur d’une âpre défense des valeurs républicaines (à commencer par la laïcité et l’égalité de la femme), accompagne sans l’entraver ni la biaiser mon expertise géopolitique ; le combat contre les totalitarismes, du fascisme à l’islamisme radical en passant par le stalinisme, ne souffre pas de répit…’
 Neocon Europe, Matthias Küntzel http://neoconeurope.eu/Matthias_K%C3%BCntzel
 Alan Johnson, ‘Islamism, Antisemitism, and the political left. A Democratiya Interview with Matthias Küntzel’, Democratiya no. 13, 25 May 2008 http://www.matthiaskuentzel.de/contents/islamism-antisemitism-and-the-political-left
 Stephen Schwartz, ‘The Third Jihad: When radical Muslims distort Islam’, Weekly Standard, Volume 013, Issue 31, 28 April 2008 http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000%5C000%5C014%5C999uxzyj.asp; Martin Rubin, ‘When Nazis and Islamic extremists bonded’, Washington Times, 24 February 2008 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/feb/24/when-nazis-and-islamic-extremists-bonded/
 B’nai B’rith Europe, Speakers Bureau [Accessed 1 October 2009] http://www.bnaibritheurope.org/bbe/content/blogcategory/63/112/lang,en/
 European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, ‘About Us’, accessed 1 October 2009 http://www.esisc.org/esisc.php
 see contributor’s note in Claude Moniquet, ‘American Intelligence’, Wall Street Journal, 13 December 2007 and Claude Moniquet’s CV on the website of the B’nai B’rith Europe which states that he spent ‘twenty years in journalism,’ and that ‘In the same twenty years, I was under contract for a specialized branch of the French Defense Ministry, working on security issues and counter terrorism.’ http://www.bnaibritheurope.org/bbe/content/view/547/112/lang,en_GB/; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119749650426324631.html
 Neocon Europe, International Media Intelligence Analysis http://neoconeurope.eu/International_Media_Intelligence_Analysis
 Neocon Europe, Simon Barrett, http://neoconeurope.eu/Simon_Barrett
 Internet Archive, REALITE-EU – Expert Sources, 23 January 2007 http://web.archive.org/web/20070506055954/www.realite-eu.org/site/c.9dJBLLNkGiF/b.2268653/k.AA99/Expert_Sources.htm
 Réalité-EU, email to Tom Mills, 14 July 2009 20:34
 Réalité-EU Press Release, ‘Réalité: The real story’ http://neoconeurope.eu/images/2/29/Realite_EU_Screenscrab.JPG
 Internet Archive, REALITE-EU – Expert Sources, 23 January 2007 http://web.archive.org/web/20070506055954/www.realite-eu.org/site/c.9dJBLLNkGiF/b.2268653/k.AA99/Expert
 Parliamentary Assistant to Patrick Mercer, email to Tom Mills, 15 September 2009 15:24
 Tom Mills and David Miller, ‘The British amateur terror trackers: A case study in dubious politics’, Spinwatch, 26 August 2009 http://www.spinwatch.org.uk/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/74-terror-spin/5315-the-british-amateur-terror-trackers-a-case-study-in-dubious-politics
 Tim Ireland, ‘Dominic Wightman: follow the leader’, Bloggerheads, 1 October 2009 http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/10/dominic_wightma.asp; Richard Bartholomew, ‘Tim Ireland Threatened with Violence’, Notes on Religion, 30 September 2009 http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/tim-ireland-threatened-with-violence/
 Richard Bartholomew, ‘Tim Ireland Threatened with Violence’, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, 30 September 2009 http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2009/09/30/tim-ireland-threatened-with-violence/
 Dominic Whiteman, ‘A Message to the Cheerleaders’, Westminster Journal, 30 September 2009 http://westminsterjournal.com/content/view/231/1/
 Tim Ireland, ‘Patrick Mercer has some explaining to do’, Bloggerheads, 23 September 2009 http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2009/09/patrick_mercer_boom.asp
 Julia Hartley-Brewer, ‘ALERT FOR WOMEN BOMBERS WHO FAKE PREGNANCY’, Sunday Express, 28 August 2005
 Tim Shipman, ‘Scum! Iraq bombers use Down’s Syndrome victim’, Sunday Express, 6 February 2005
 ‘An ‘anthem’ for Israel from the makers of ‘Band Aid’’, Jerusalem Post, 5 April 2008 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1207238156453&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
 Candice Krieger, ‘Chief joins Trevor Horn for a kosher Live Aid’, Jewish Chronicle, 18 April 2008 http://www.thejc.com/arts/music/chief-joins-trevor-horn-a-kosher-live-aid
 see contact details in Rightweb, ‘Réalité EU’, 31 October 2007 http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Ralit_EU
 Neocon Europe, Open Europe http://neoconeurope.eu/Open_Europe
 Rightweb, ‘Réalité EU’, 31 October 2007 http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Ralit_EU
 Spinprofiles, International Institute for Strategic Studies http://www.spinprofiles.org/index.php/International_Institute_for_Strategic_Studies
 Open Europe Events, accessed 11 September 2009 http://www.openeurope.org.uk/events/
 Open Europe Events, accessed 11 September 2009 http://www.openeurope.org.uk/events/
 ‘Iran Drawing Up Plans to Strike European Nuclear Sites, Analyst Says’, Associated Press,
22 May 2007 http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,274725,00.html
 Réalité-EU Insight: Can U.S. Intelligence be Trusted on Iran?, 24 September 2007 http://www.realite-eu.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=9dJBLLNkGiF&b=2300349&ct=3957963
 ‘Iran – The War Dance’, Medialens, 1 October 2009 http://www.medialens.org/alerts/09/091001_iran_the_war.php
 Matthias Küntzel, ‘Iran Has No Right to Nuclear Technology’, Wall Street Journal, 29 September 2009 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574442561260582286.html
October 30, 2009
Europeans Uninterested in Deal Unless Iran Exports Most of Its Uranium
Just a few hours after the Iranian government submitted a compromise proposal on the third party uranium enrichment deal with the P5+1, European diplomats quickly, and angrily, rejected it.
“This is completely unacceptable,” one EU diplomat declared, saying the union was in the process of penning its common response, a rejection that may spell the end to the promising negotiations that have gone on all month.
In September, Iran proposed a system of third party enrichment which would allow the nation to create medical isotopes without having to enrich any uranium to levels higher than needed for its energy generation program. After intense negotiation the draft agreement had Iran exporting much of its existing low-enriched stockpile to Russia and eventually France.
The “eventually France” part was a stalling point for Iran however, as France had previously reneged on Uranium Hexafluoride shipments to them and Iranian MPs expressed concern that the French might simply keep the uranium once it got to them.
This led Iran to propose today’s compromise deal, the chief aspect of which was that they would ship the uranium out in stages rather than all at once. This would have limited the potential losses to their stockpile in the event the deal fell apart.
But for Europeans, getting Iran to hand over the bulk of its uranium all at once was the best part of the deal, and they appear uninterested in continuing negotiations without that, which will likely also make Iran all the more suspicious that France will ever give back the uranium once they get their hands on it.
Iran’s current uranium is enriched to 3.8%, but Western officials have speculated that if they chose to, the nation might be able to further enrich this uranium to the level needed for weaponization, and eventually could produce a single atomic bomb. This would require a lot of luck on Iran’s part, and since their enrichment facilities are under IAEA surveillance would also require them to make their intentions obvious before they could even begin the mad dash for a bomb.
October 28, 2009
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner
In a series of interviews with a number of media outlets, Kouchner had accused Iran of "wasting time" and showing "negative indications" about its nuclear intentions.
His comments came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) drafted a deal, according to which Iran will ship out 80 percent of its low-enriched uranium in exchange for highly-enriched uranium converted into metal fuel rods for a Tehran research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer care.
"I cannot say that the situation regarding Iran is very positive. Now, meetings are being held in Vienna. But via the indications we are receiving, matters are not very positive," Kouchner had said during an official visit to Lebanon on Friday.
An informed source in the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on condition of anonymity that such remarks are "counter-productive" at a time, when Tehran and the West are working to find common ground on the nuclear issue.
"These baseless and unreasonable accusations against Tehran are clearly in line with the [Israeli government's] frame of mind. We believe these statements to be against the interests of the French people," he said on Wednesday.
Iranian officials had welcomed foreign cooperation on the Tehran research reactor from the very beginning, but their efforts were constantly undermined by the French government, he added.
"The idea of cooperation on the Tehran research reactor was first floated by the Iranian government," he said.
"The debate now is on a few technical issues, which relate to the Iranian nation's basic rights and have remained ambiguous so far," he added.
The Foreign Ministry source noted that Kouchner's cynical remarks show that Paris has absolutely no intention of cooperating with Tehran on its enrichment program.
October 23, 2009
23/10/2009 A senior European Union official told Israeli officials this week that “Israel” is not privy to the details of the exchanges between Iran and the Western countries regarding its nuclear program. “You do not understand the extent to which you are not in the picture. You do not know how much you do not know and what is happening in Iran,” he said.
Accordingly, a number of senior Israeli officials backed the European official’s statements by saying that the release of the draft of an agreement with Iran caught Israel by surprise. However, a senior official in the U.S. administration told Haaretz Thursday that from the minute the talks began on a deal over the uranium enrichment program of Iran, Israel was updated on every detail by the United States, and was given detailed reports on the talks with the Iranians and the ongoing dialogue on a nearly daily basis.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Bureau refused to comment.
However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke Israel’s official silence on a draft plan under which most of its enriched uranium will be exported abroad for processing into a form usable in its research reactor, saying there was a need to halt all uranium enrichment on Iranian soil.
“Iran received legitimization for enriching uranium for civilian purposes on its soil, contrary to the understanding that those negotiating with it have about its real plans – obtaining nuclear [weapons] capability,” Barak said. He acknowledged that the deal, if signed, would significantly reduce Iran’s stock of enriched uranium, but said what is needed is a complete halt to its enrichment program.
“The talks [with Iran] must be of short, limited duration,” he added. “The principle we are recommending to all the players is not, under any circumstances, to remove any option from the table.”
Iran is slated to sign the agreement Friday, along with the United States, France, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Many details of the agreement have not yet been published, but the bits released to the public call for Iran to transfer about 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium – about 75 percent of its known stock – to Russia. There, it will be enriched to a level of 20 percent and then transferred to France, where it will be processed into nuclear fuel and returned to Tehran for use in its research reactor, which makes medical isotopes. The entire process will take about 18 months.
Indeed, few recent books have aroused more interest and been more frequently reviewed in the US and Europe prior to the appearance of an English version. Translator Yael Lotan has chosen to follow the example of her French predecessors by telescoping the interrogative Hebrew title (When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?), which here becomes The Invention of the Jewish People, thus misleadingly and (deliberately?) provocatively implying that such inventiveness was unique to the Jews. However, Sand clarifies that worldwide in the 19th century "[t]he national project was ... a fully conscious one ... It was a simultaneous process of imagination, invention, and actual self-creation" (45).
Sand traces how Zionist ideology drove the project of Jewish nationalism by turning Judaism "into something hermetic, like the German Volk ..." (255). He argues that history and biology were enlisted "to bind together the frangible secular Jewish identity." Together, these engendered an "ethnonationalist historiography" which was typified by the mid-19th century German Jewish historian Heinricht Graetz and his friend Moses Hess, who "needed a good deal of racial theory to dream up the Jewish people" (256).
According to Sand, the destruction by the Romans of the Second Temple in 70 AD left the indigenous Jewish population of Judea and Samaria in place. "[T]he Romans never deported entire peoples. It did not pay to uproot the people of the land, the cultivators of produce, the taxpayers" (130). Furthermore, at that time there were already Jewish communities numbering up to four million persons in Persia, Egypt, Asia Minor and elsewhere (145). Palestine's status as the unique "ancestral homeland" of the Jews collapses together with the myth of David and Solomon's imposing kingdom.
Against the ethno-biological concept of a Jewish people -- a "race" -- whose linear descendants returned from exile to (re)found today's Israel, Sand posits a religious community proliferating throughout and beyond the Mediterranean region by means of proselytism and conversion. He offers a detailed rebuttal of the conventional wisdom whereby "Judaism was never a proselytizing religion," a view disseminated by historian Martin Goodman and others (150, note 42).
Most importantly, he concentrates attention on Khazaria, that "Strange Empire" that flourished in the Caspian region between the seventh and tenth centuries AD. By the eighth century the Khazars had adopted Hebrew as their sacred and written tongue, and "[a]t some stage between the mid-eighth and mid-ninth centuries, the[y] ... adopted Jewish monotheism" (221). Sand speculates that this conversion was calculated to save them from absorption into either the Roman or the Islamic empires. The Khazars, he contends, engendered those Askhenazi Jews of central and eastern Europe who would later invent the myths of Zionism to justify their colonization of Palestine, a land to which they had no "ethnic" connection and where they remain the dominant elite.
So if the exile was a myth -- fomented, Sand writes, by the Christian church as an image of divine punishment ("The Wandering Jew") -- what happened to the indigenous Jews? Sand's answer: they converted to Islam and survive as today's disinherited Palestinians. This seemingly radical thesis was once shared by, among others, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister who in 1918 still believed that (in Sand's words) "the ancient Judean peasants converted to Islam ... for material reasons ... Indeed, by clinging to their soil they remained loyal to their homeland" (186).
Ultimately, the case against the Jewish state cannot be based on an unseemly tussle for genetic primacy, but on a discourse of fundamental political and human rights. Sand turns toward such a discussion in the final chapter, describing it as the raison d'etre of The Invention of the Jewish People, which he admits essentially contains nothing not already found in the work of other historians and archaeologists.
Today's Israel is not a democracy but a "liberal ethnocracy" (307) that assumes its "growing and strengthening" Arab minority "will always accept its exclusion from the political and cultural heart" (309). Ultimately we may see "an uprising in the Arab Galilee, followed by iron-fisted repression," which would constitute "a turning-point for the existence of Israel" in the region. Hence, Sand states that the ideal solution would be the creation of a democratic binational state.
Sadly, Sand hastily dismisses this "ideal project." In terms all too drearily reminiscent of Zionist apologetics he states that to "ask the Jewish Israeli people, after such a long and bloody conflict, and in view of the tragedy experienced by many of its immigrant founders in the twentieth century, to become overnight a minority in its own state may not be the smartest thing to do" (311-312). Instead, he falls back on a sequence of rhetorical questions: "[h]ow many Jews would be willing to forgo the privileges they enjoy in the Zionist state? ... will anyone dare to repeal the Law of Return ... ? To what extent is Jewish Israeli society willing to discard the ... image of the 'chosen people,' and to cease ... excluding the 'other' from its midst?"
What is behind this sorry post-Zionist anti-climax to a book that seemed to presage a heady anti-Zionist conclusion? In an interview Sand admitted that he "waited until [he] was a full professor" before publishing the book, adding that there "is a price to be paid in Israeli academia for expressing views of this sort." In providing the premises for radical conclusions without either drawing or excluding those conclusions, Sand has the best of both worlds with few if any consequences.
Ultimately, Shlomo Sand is a little like Moses, unable to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. The journey so far, however, is instructive, and very stylishly accomplished; one hopes that the "soldier dreaming of white lilies" may eventually be emboldened to complete it.
Raymond Deane is a composer and political activist (www.raymonddeane.com)
October 22, 2009
By TOM MOUNTAIN
October 22, 2009
As one of the first to write about the problems in West Sudan/Darfur, in mid 2003, and living side by side here in Asmara for three years with representatives of the Darfur, and other Sudanese resistance, my investigation has found no evidence of genocide. Of course, genocide has and is being committed by Ethiopia against the Somalis in Ethiopia, but there has been no genocide in Darfur.
Let us start by comparing the two situations, the first being Darfur and the second the Ethiopian Ogaden.
The refugees of the Darfur conflict were and are the beneficiaries of one of the largest, and most effective relief works in history.
In contrast, relief aid to the Somalis living in the Ethiopian Ogaden, what little there was to begin with, has been effectively shut down now in almost all of the Ogaden for several years, despite one of the worst droughts in history.
Darfur has had an international police force in place for years, who work along side Sudanese security forces and most of the violence has ended.
In the Ogaden, Ethiopian death squads, funded by western “aid” have spent the better part of the past decade spreading murder and mayhem across the countryside. With almost everyone from the International Committee of the Red Cross to Doctors Without Borders being expelled, there has been miniscule coverage of this genocide in the western media let alone any exposure of the western role in funding the Ethiopian regime. Compare this to the saturation of the western media with the “Save Darfur” propaganda campaign and the tried and true golden rule of “show me the money” needs to be applied to explain what is really going on.
The Darfur genocide myth has been promoted by western “human rights” NGOs who have collected tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars under the rubric of “Enough” and “Preventing Genocide”. The claims of genocide are based on estimates of the number of deaths that were rapidly inflated as the dollars started rolling in. First it was 100,000, then 200,000, then 300,000 and finally, in a claim so ludicrous that even the British government media watchdog yanked it off the air, 400,000 people were supposed to have been victims of genocide in Darfur. None of the Darfur reps I have heard here in Asmara ever gave any credibility to the western figures. In fact, most everyone here in the Horn, at least those not on the western payroll, all agree the real number of those lost in the violence in west Sudan is in the tens of thousands, a tragic number but far surpassed by what has befallen those suffering in Somalia and the Ogaden where a real genocide has been taking place.
Today, the humanitarian situation in Somalia, where aid workers still operate, has been declared the worst in the world (and with what is happening to the Tamils in the concentration camps in Sri Lanka that is saying a lot). Next door in the Ethiopian Ogaden, conveniently there are almost no aid agencies, other than in a few towns, to witness what is as bad or more likely worse than in Somalia. Yet what do we hear from those who are collecting so much loot on behalf of suffering Africans about the real genocide going on in the Ogaden?
As I mentioned earlier, I first wrote about what I believed was happening in Sudan and Ethiopia back in mid 2003. Sudan is estimated to have suffered some two million deaths during its decades long civil war between the north and the south. After many years of hard work, peace has slowly, almost tortuously, been nurtured in Sudan, with the major ground work laid during negotiations held here in Asmara. In contrast to this what is the program of action demanded by the “Save Darfur” lot? A western-led military invasion and occupation a la Iraq and Afghanistan! With half a million or more dead in Iraq and Afghanistan thanks to western military “intervention” who in their right mind could think that sending western soldiers to Sudan will do anything other than destroy the peace so painfully built these past few years and cause even more suffering?
While peace has been slowing taking hold in Darfur, in the Ogaden peace is a long lost memory. War, famine and disease are spreading across the Ogaden and is becoming a situation that is increasingly the norm in growing areas of Ethiopia. While the western hucksters rake in beaucoup millions of dollars while peddling their “Save Darfur” bunkum , Sudanese have seen peace break out. In contrast, Ethiopians, suffering under a regime that is the largest recipient of western aid in Africa see only a future of growing ethnic and religious conflict and worse, active programs of genocide.
The problems developing in Ethiopia can invariably be traced back to the west, mainly the USA. The west, in particular the USA are hell bent on keeping Africa in a state of crisis, the better to exploit. And the “Save Darfur” lobby is all for bringing more violence to Africa under the guise of “humanitarian intervention”, while little of the tens of millions they collect ever reaches the Sudanese who it was intended for.
Busting the Darfur genocide myth is long overdue. If people in the west really want to help Africa they should stop donating to the Save Darfur fraudsters and start demanding accountability for the tens of billions of western aid that is paying for a real genocide in the Ethiopian Ogaden.
Tom Mountain lives in Somalia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh
"The Vienna talks are a new chapter in cooperation between Iran and the other participating states… We will be waiting to see whether they will stay true to their words and promises," Tehran's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog told Al-Alam news channel.
"The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be a witness to the other states' behaviors when it comes to technical cooperation on using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," said Ali-Asghar Soltaniyeh.
Soltaniyeh had the interview with the Arabic news network on Wednesday night, following talks with diplomats from France, Russia and the US in Vienna on a deal to supply highly-enriched uranium for the Tehran research reactor.
The second round of the October talks ended with IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei sending a draft of an agreement drawn up by the Agency to the governments of Iran, Russia, the United States and France.
The Tehran reactor requires uranium enriched up to 20 percent supplies medical isotopes for treating cancer to more than 200 hospitals in Iran.
ElBaradei said the countries have until Friday, October 23, to inform the UN nuclear body whether or not they accept the deal.
In a similar Wednesday interview with the American news channel CNN, Soltaniyeh said that Tehran had accepted the offer 'in a general sense' to build confidence.
"In principle we have in fact accepted this offer for this Tehran ... reactor in spite of the fact that we are capable of producing the fuel," said Soltaniyeh.
"But we decided to welcome this offer in order not only to show our transparency and cooperation but prove that all activities are for exclusively peaceful purposes."
October 19, 2009
October 19, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled the new Sudan policy of the Obama administration today expressing a goal of preventing Sudan from becoming a haven for international "terror" groups. Anonymous officials have said that they are eager to see steps taken to eliminate support for Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas. U.S. Sudan special envoy, Retired General Scott Gration, has also said the administration’s new approach was intended to prevent Sudan from serving as a terrorist haven. Barak Obama described Sudan as a "global security challenge" in his July speech in Ghana.
"We have a menu of incentives and disincentives," Clinton said, refusing to specify the potential punitive measures, though in January the Secretary of State said the Obama administration was considering the creation of no-fly zones and increased economic and trade sanctions.
The "incentives" could possibly include removing Sudan from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism or ending the existing trade sanctions which have been imposed against the nation for over a decade. An executive order, signed in 1997 by then- President Bill Clinton, bans most U.S. trade with Sudan, including any imports of Sudanese goods and the export to the country of anything except food, clothing and medicine. It also bars the extension of U.S. credit to the Sudanese government. The Darfur Accountability Act, passed in 2006, requires the administration to get congressional approval and certify that Sudan is taking certain steps before those sanctions under the executive order can be lifted. The same "steps" appear to apply regarding the state sponsor of terror list; "Getting off the terrorism list is something that could happen if and only if they have taken the right steps" an unnamed source told Reuters.
From now on, the United States will maintain that genocide "is taking place" in Darfur, anonymous officials told the Washington Post, a rhetorical assertion that is backed only by "political statements" made by intervention advocates that the GAO has characterized as lacking in "objective analysis", relying on "too few data points extrapolated to an excessive degree." This new characterization of genocide addresses a prior dispute between U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice, who says that there is "ongoing genocide" in Darfur, and Scott Gration over how to characterize the violence in Darfur. Rice has long been a proponent of tough action against Khartoum. The genocide claims have been parroted ubiquitously in the Western press which has likewise parroted the demonization of Hamas by U.S. officials since Hamas won the 2006 elections.
To acquit itself of the "ongoing genocide" designation, Sudan is being asked to prove a negative, a logical impossibility. President of the Save Darfur Coalition, Jerry Fowler, says "the burden of proof is on the government of Sudan", while Ms. Rice said the administration would insist that Sudan show real evidence that conditions for civilians had begun to improve before offering incentives. The administration said that the policy calls for quarterly reviews of conditions in Darfur.
In Orwellian fashion the NYT presents the policy as "more balanced", presumably more balanced than the Bush policy which applied the 1997 sanctions and defined Sudan as a State sponsor of terrorism, but did not apply enough "pressure" according to Sudan hawks. Sudan interventionists are quite pleased with the new policy review. House Sudan caucus co-chairman Representative Frank R. Wolf, Republican from Virginia, said "considering the rumors we’ve been hearing, this policy seems very positive". Representative Donald M. Payne, Democrat of New Jersey, also a co-chairman of the Sudan caucus, said "I think the only thing the government of Sudan understands is bluntness and power." John Prendergast, co-chairman of the Enough Project, said the new policy appeared to be "a fine one."
Left unmentioned in the coverage of the policy review is the impact that the review will likely have on the heretofore promising peace talks which are underway due to the efforts of Egypt, Libya and Qatar. The next round of talks between the rebel movements of Darfur and the Sudanese government are scheduled to begin on November 16 in Doha, Qatar. Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha welcomed the Qatari hosted peace initiative saying "I think the solution to the crisis in Darfur is (above all) in the hands of the Sudanese and the citizens of Darfur."
October 18, 2009
October 16, 2009
I decided I needed to do a refresher on basic Old Testament material. I reread the entire books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. I doubt if many folks have read these two documents, but they are in the Bible, so they must be worthy of our attention.
The material is not unfamiliar to me, but I was jarred anew at the absurdity and the violence, that are contained in the two books. The Ten Commandments and commands to love God and neighbor are found in these writings, but they are not the central themes of the two books.
The first portion of Leviticus lays out detailed instructions about the slaying and burning of animals to appease and please God. Not exactly a topic of current interest.
If a sacrifice was properly executed, sins were forgiven and the odor of the burnt meat was pleasing to the nostrils of God. Other portions of Leviticus describe how priests practiced health care and what a woman must do to become “clean” after giving birth to a child.
The last chapters are known as “The Holiness Code” and describe the details of the life that is acceptable to God. Blasphemy is out. Sabbath keeping is in. Permanent ownership of land is out. Keeping feast days is in.
Slavery is in. Men lying with men is out. Adultery is out, as is incest. Loving your neighbor is in. Cloth woven with two different kinds of yarn is out. Tithing is demanded. Loaning money for interest is out. Eating pork is out.
Even the most ardent Fundamentalist picks and chooses what to embrace and what to reject from these ancient rules written hundreds of years after Moses and hundred of years before Jesus.
Deuteronomy has a different character. The book is a retelling of the basic Moses/Law story with an emphasis on the blessings of obedience to God’s law and the consequences of disobedience.
The Ten Commandments are repeated and the details of the righteous life are spelled out. Some items are redundant to Leviticus. Obedience to God’s laws is a big concern, and long passages lay out the consequences of disobedience.
In the 14th chapter the unbending nature of God’s law and the severity of punishment for disobedience are made plain.
“If your brother, or your son, or your daughter, or your wife, or your friend, who is as your own soul, entices you by saying ‘let us go and serve other Gods,’ you shall not yield to him or listen to him, but you shall kill him.
“You shall take the lead and the hand of all the people shall join you. You shall stone him to death because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God.”
This is dangerous material in the hands of a religious Fundamentalist. And another example:
In the retelling of the story of the Israelites, the Deuteronomy writer reports that the conquering Israelites entered Palestine from the south, in obedience to the instructions of Jehovah God.
They “captured all the cities and utterly destroyed them and all men, women, and children. We left none remaining.”
This report of violent destruction is repeated and the violence was justified each time because they were taking land that had been given to them by God. Never mind that people had been living there for centuries.
As I read about the strange rituals of Leviticus and the harsh, seemingly senseless injustice and violence of Deuteronomy, I reacted strongly. This does not describe the moral and ethical life that I embrace as a follower of Jesus from Nazareth. [...]
In 2009, I have become wary of saying “The Lord’s Prayer” too many times, of singing “The Star Spangled Banner” too many times, of reciting creeds and confessions of faith too many times, of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance too many times.
I believe they deaden the very senses that are needed to make me a better Christian, a better American and a better contributor to a more just world. I cannot believe building a bigger, more effective military, that can lose fewer of us and kill more of them, is the answer to a safer world.
What should I read next? Revelation?The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister, who lives in Palmer, Alaska. His email address is email@example.com.
October 15, 2009
Media Lens - October 15, 2009
In our previous alert ('The Westminster Conspiracy,' October 8) we described how the media's insistence that journalists be 'balanced', that they keep their personal opinions to themselves, is used as a tool of thought control.
Journalists who criticise powerful interests can be attacked for their 'bias', for revealing their prejudices. On the other hand, as we will see in the examples below, almost no-one protests, or even notices, the lack of balance in patriotic articles reporting on the experience of British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the credibility of British and American elections, or on claims that the West is spreading democracy across the Third World. Then, notions of patriotism, loyalty, the need to support 'our boys', make 'balance' seem disloyal, disrespectful; an indication, in fact, that a journalist is 'biased.'
The media provide copious coverage of state-sponsored memorials commemorating the 50th, 60th, 65th anniversaries of D-Day, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of Arnhem, the retreat from Dunkirk, the Battle of the Atlantic, the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, and so on. Even the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Trafalgar was a major news item. Remembrance Sunday, Trooping The Colour, Beating The Retreat, the Fleet Review are all media fixtures. The military is of course happy to supply large numbers of troops and machines for these dramatic flypasts, parades and reviews.
On June 11, 2005, senior BBC news presenter, Huw Edwards, provided the commentary for Britain's Trooping The Colour military parade, describing it as "a great credit to the Irish Guards". Imagine if Edwards had added:
"While one can only be impressed by the discipline and skill on show in these parades, critics have of course warned against the promotion of patriotic militarism. The Russian novelist Tolstoy, for one, observed:
"'The ruling classes have in their hands the army, money, the schools, the churches and the press. In the schools they kindle patriotism in the children by means of histories describing their own people as the best of all peoples and always in the right. Among adults they kindle it by spectacles, jubilees, monuments, and by a lying patriotic press.'" (Tolstoy, Government is Violence - Essays on Anarchism and Pacifism, Phoenix Press, 1990, p.82)
Edwards would not have been applauded for providing this 'balance'. He would have been condemned far and wide as a crusading crackpot, and hauled before senior BBC management.
When the Archbishop of Canterbury recently offered the mildest of criticisms of the invasion of Iraq in a sermon in St Paul's Cathedral, the Sun newspaper responded: 'Archbishop of Canterbury's war rant mars troops tribute.' It added:
"The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday hijacked a service honouring the sacrifice of British troops in Iraq - to spout an anti-war rant." (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/
The Archbishop's crime was heinous indeed, as the Sun explained:
"In an astonishing breach of convention, he then accused politicians of failing to think enough about the war's human cost.
"Speaking from the pulpit of St Paul's, Dr Williams said:
"'It would be a very rash person who would feel able to say without hesitation, this was absolutely the right or the wrong thing to do, the right or the wrong place to be. The conflict in Iraq will, for a long time yet, exercise the historians, the moralists, the international experts. Reflecting on the years of the Iraq campaign, we cannot say that no mistakes were ever made.'"
We would be interested to see Williams' case for arguing that invading Iraq might have been the +right+ thing to do. It could hardly be more obvious that invading was "the wrong thing to do" - it resulted in the virtual destruction of an entire country. It was also a monumental crime and not a mistake.
The Sun's article was archived under "news/campaigns/our_boys". As Tolstoy would have understood, the Sun is in fact a bitter class enemy of "our boys". It is a rich man's propaganda toy parading as a trusty pal of 'ordinary people'. We wrote to Williams on October 12:
Dear Rowan Williams
In your October 9 sermon at St Paul's Cathedral, you spoke movingly of the cost paid in Iraq by British servicemen and women, and their families:
"Justice does not come without cost. In the most obvious sense, it is the cost of life and safety. For very many here today, that will be the first thing in their minds and hearts - along with the cost in anxiety and compassion that is carried by the families of servicemen and women." (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/
But you made no mention of Iraqi civilian or military suffering. According to an October 2006 report published in the Lancet medical journal, the US-UK invasion had by then caused some 655,000 excess deaths. In February 2007, Les Roberts, co-author of the report, argued that Britain and America might have triggered in Iraq "an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide", in which 800,000 people were killed. (Roberts, 'Iraq's death toll is far worse than our leaders admit,' The Independent, February 14, 2007; http://comment.independent.co.uk/-
Later that year, the BBC reported:
"More than a million Iraqis have been killed since the invasion in 2003, according to the British polling company ORB." (Newsnight, BBC2, September 14, 2007)
Why did you make no mention of these death tolls and of the truly awesome suffering of the Iraqi population?
We have received no reply.
October 14, 2009
October 13th, 2009
Being part of the lefty ultra-minority in Israel – and obsessed with politics at the same time – I get mixed up regularly in political debates (fights?) with friends, family members, coworkers, writers and readers of pro-Israeli blogs, and basically, whoever is around. But lately, I have to admit, I’m getting tired of this habit. I feel that no matter what the issue at hand is, Israelis and their supporters fall back to the same argument:
The Palestinians want to destroy us, and therefore, whatever we do to them is justified.
It doesn’t matter that A doesn’t necessarily leads to B (even in war not everything is justified), it doesn’t even matter we are talking about something else completely, say racism towards Arab Israeli citizens or the future of Jerusalem. Whatever I say, wherever we go, we end up at the same station. The Palestinians want to destroy us, and therefore, whatever we do to them is justified.
I try to speak about Gaza, and say, the illegal use of phosphorus bombs against civilians.
“How do you know the IDF did that?” the answer comes. “Don’t say you believe that self-hating Jew, Goldstone?”
- Well, there are pictures of the bombs exploding, there are people with phosphorus-like burns, and I know that every combat unit in the IDF carries standard phosphorus ammunition, because I’ve been there and I even used it in training.
- You don’t get it, do you? The Palestinians want to destroy us all. What we did in Gaza was self-defense, like everyone else would have done. We didn’t want to kill those children. We did what’s necessary. It was justified.
And that’s basically it. You can’t ask about war crimes, you can’t discuss the phosphorus. Everything becomes irrelevant.
So I forget about the Goldstone report, just like the Israeli media did, and I try to write about Obama’s effort to re-ignite the peace process, or about the fact that from an Israeli perspective, there is no real alternative to the two-state solution. I ask, for example, why Israel can’t stop building settlements, even for a limited time.
- Because settlements are not the issue. They are not the obstacle for peace. We can evacuate them whenever we want.
- If it’s no big deal, what’s preventing us from stopping, even as a favor to Obama?
- The whole demand is a trick to divert us, and the rest of the world, from the real issue: that the Palestinians want to destroy us. Therefore, building settlements is justified.
- I fail to see the connection. The Hamas is indeed a problem, but surly, Abu-Mazen… I mean, look at his efforts to keep the West Bank quiet…
- If everything is quiet, what’s the rush to hand back land?
- Because if we don’t, we will have another Intifada.
- And in this case, we will give them nothing! We don’t deal with terrorists!
- So, when do we get the point where we do give them something?
- It’s simple: When they don’t want to destroy us anymore.
- And how do we know that?
- We can’t. Look at what happened in Gaza. We withdrew and what did we get in return? The Hamas with its rockets. Imagine us withdrawing from the West Bank, and five years later we get the Hamas there as well, 15 minutes from Tel Aviv! You can never trust the Palestinians. All they want is to destroy us.
And so it goes on and on. The Israelis found the perfect argument. It’s the reason and the outcome of everything. It’s the way to understand the past, behave in the present and foresee the future. It’s the full circle, the ying and the yang, and there is no way to break it, since Israelis seem to know what’s in the Palestinians’ hearts. And this is something you can’t debate.
The only possible solution is to surrender. “OK,” I say. “I’ll go along with your logic. We can’t leave the West Bank, and we can’t deport 2 million Palestinians by force…”
- No way! This is a democracy!
- Yeh, I know… and the one-state solution is out of the question…
- Out of the question! We will have an Arab majority! This will be the end of everything!
- So what do you basically suggest we do?
(Silence, followed by a long speech)
- Look. What are you getting at? Are you trying to say we don’t want peace? Don’t you remember the Camp David summit? We offered them almost everything, everything! Not to mention Oslo! And Gaza! And Madrid! It’s not that we don’t want peace! We love peace! It’s the first word in Hebrew! Show me another nation where peace means also Hello!
- Well, in Arabic…
- …The point is that we want peace. Do you think we enjoy all these wars? Remember what Golda Meir said? “We will forgive the Arabs for what they did to us, but we will never forgive them for what they made us do to them.” Beautiful, isn’t it? Captures the whole thing… I mean, look at the people we are dealing with. This is no Europe. It’s the Middle East. The Arabs, they never accepted us here. Remember the second Intifada? The first Intifada? Lebanon? Yom Kippur war? Remember the PLO convention in 64′? That was before we took the territories! Do you remember the partition offer in 47′? Why didn’t they take it? Did you know the Gran Moufti supported Hitler? Hitler! Remember the riots in 36′? There wasn’t even a state of Israel back then! And what about the pogroms in 29′? The Tel-Chai incident in 1920?
- I’m trying to think about the future. This leads us nowhere, the Palestinians have their own list of pogroms, lets take the Nakba for instance…
- The Nakba? What’s that has to do with it? Why are they always so obsessed with the Nakba, those Palestinians? They should look forward, settle the refugees where they are, build their nation… and you, why do you criticize Israel all the time? Can’t you write about them for a change?
- Like what?
- For example, about the incitement in the Palestinian society. They really don’t like us, you know.
- They want to destroy us.
- I see you are learning something after all.
October 13, 2009
One of the most notable developments surrounding the debate about the Nobel Committee’s decision to award Obama its peace prize has been the apparently spontaneous agreement by both Tom Friedman and Liz Cheney that the president should make the occasion a celebration of the U.S. military. It speaks volumes about the ideological anchorlessness of Friedman, who, according to a recent National Journal survey of Democratic and Republican insiders, is the media personality with the single greatest influence among party elites.
Here’s Cheney on “Fox News Sunday” after denouncing the Committee’s decision as a “farce.”
“But I do think he [Obama] could send a real signal here. I think what he ought to do frankly is send a mother of a fallen American soldier to accept the prize on behalf of the U.S. military and frankly to send the message to remind the Nobel committee that each one of them sleeps soundly at night because the U.S. military is the greatest peacekeeping force in the world today.”
And here’s Friedman after expressing dismay “that the most important prize in the world has been devalued in this way” in his column published Saturday, entitled “The Peace (Keepers) Prize.” Most of the column consists of “the speech I hope he will give” when he accepts the prize in Oslo Dec 10:
“Let me begin by thanking the Nobel committee for awarding me this prize, the highest award to which any statesman can aspire. As I said on the day it was announced, ‘I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.’ Therefore, upon reflection, I cannot accept this award on my behalf at all.
“But I will accept it on behalf of the most important peacekeepers in the world for the last century — the men and women of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.”
There follows a series of inspirational paragraphs about the U.S. military’s heroism and sacrifice from World War II through its rescue operations “from the mountains of Pakistan to the coasts of Indonesia” (with no mention of Vietnam whatsoever) before he concludes in a long coda:
“Members of the Nobel committee, I accept this award on behalf of all these American men and women soldiers, past and present, because I know — and I want you to know — that there is no peace without peacekeepers.
“Until the words of Isaiah are made true and lasting — and nations never again lift up swords against nations and never learn war anymore — we will need peacekeepers. Lord knows, ours are not perfect, and I have already moved to remedy inexcusable excesses we’ve perpetrated in the war on terrorism.
“But have no doubt, those are the exception. If you want to see the true essence of America, visit any U.S. military outpost in Iraq or Afghanistan. You will meet young men and women of every race and religion who work together as one, far from their families, motivated chiefly by their mission to keep the peace and expand the borders of freedom.
“So for all these reasons — and so you understand that I will never hesitate to call on American soldiers where necessary to take the field against the enemies of peace, tolerance and liberty — I accept this peace prize on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. military: the world’s most important peacekeepers.”
Note that there’s nothing in Friedman’s talk about “soft” or “smart power,” of which he is supposed to be a strong exponent. Nor even about the country’s voters who voted Obama into office. It’s all about the military, its goodness, and even its altruism.
To my mind, the agreement between Cheney and Friedman makes for a great illustration of the the similarity in worldview between the hard right — I think Liz is actually more of a neo-con in her strong feelings about Israel than her dad ever was) and liberal interventionists like Friedman. And that worldview, of course, not only implicitly extols American exceptionalism, but also — to put it bluntly — American militarism, a phenomenon to which Andrew Bacevich devoted an entire book after the Iraq invasion.
Here’s some of what Bacevich, a retired army colonel who teaches at Boston University, wrote as excerpted on Tomdispatch.com in 2005:
“[M]ainstream politicians today take as a given that American military supremacy is an unqualified good, evidence of a larger American superiority. They see this armed might as the key to creating an international order that accommodates American values. One result of that consensus over the past quarter century has been to militarize U.S. policy and to encourage tendencies suggesting that American society itself is increasingly enamored with its self-image as the military power nonpareil.
“…Since the end of the Cold War, opinion polls surveying public attitudes toward national institutions have regularly ranked the armed services first. While confidence in the executive branch, the Congress, the media, and even organized religion is diminishing, confidence in the military continues to climb. Otherwise acutely wary of having their pockets picked, Americans count on men and women in uniform to do the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. Americans fearful that the rest of society may be teetering on the brink of moral collapse console themselves with the thought that the armed services remain a repository of traditional values and old fashioned virtue.
Confidence in the military has found further expression in a tendency to elevate the soldier to the status of national icon, the apotheosis of all that is great and good about contemporary America. The men and women of the armed services, gushed Newsweek in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, “looked like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. They were young, confident, and hardworking, and they went about their business with poise and élan.” A writer for Rolling Stone reported after a more recent and extended immersion in military life that “the Army was not the awful thing that my [anti-military] father had imagined”; it was instead “the sort of America he always pictured when he explained… his best hopes for the country.”
Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.