Are Gaza Palestinian Rockets Really “Random” and “Indiscriminate”?

3 Aug

The conventional “wisdom” is that the armed Palestinian resistance in Gaza (usually called “Hamas” even though it is many groups and tendencies) shoots off all its rockets at random to spread “terror”.  Bob Dreyfuss in The Nation says Hamas is “suicidal”.  He says Hamas shoots “useless missiles against unseen Israeli targets.”

However, it may be that the fighters in Gaza are actually doing the logical thing, using their crude missiles at the things that hurt Palestinians the most, Israeli military forces.  It’s not me who is saying this but the right wing Israeli site “Debka File”.  On July 23 they ended a piece with these sentences,  “Hamas was focusing on strategic targets, such Israeli Air Force bases and facilities in the south and center. When IDF communiqués report that rockets land in open areas, this does not necessarily rule out their explosion in or near military bases.”  The whole article is here.

It may well be that the rocket fire is indeed foolish and counterproductive even criminal, if you like, but on the question of “Hamas’ intentions” the jury is out.

August 8.  Whatever the “intent”, these rockets seem to have had no military effect (other than shutting down Tel Aviv airport for a couple of days).  The political effect seems entirely negative, to give Netanyahu a half-way reasonable argument  for his supposed retaliation.  It may seem wrong  for someone who pays his U.S. taxes and therefore helps finance the slaughter of Gaza Palestinians to think he has the right to make criticism of people under fire, but there it is.

A Month’s Worth of My Comments in U.S. Newspapers

2 Aug

 I’m a big believer in using the comment section in (some serious) online media.  I’ve been neglecting this blog, but I have been writing furiously, mostly about Palestine.  Here’s a bunch, newest to oldest.  They were all published unless noted.

Aug 3 – Comment to the “Mike” in the New York Times who defended the IDF mission to eliminate tunnels and who thought the idea of proportionality and limits in war was bogus.


No Mike, Israel is not trying to eliminate rockets, tunnels or whatever flavor of the day Zionist propaganda serves up for you.  They want to eliminate Palestinians from the land.  Witness blogger Jochanan Gordon piece “When Genocide is Permissible” that he thought was a reasonable item for discussion and posted it on the sites “The Times of Israel” and the greater Long Island site “5 Towns Jewish Times”.  “Death to the Arabs” has long been a chant at Israeli soccer games and it’s now mainstream for Jewish mobs in Israel.   Fascism, Israeli style,  rules aided by the every loving U.S. empire which loves/fears its client state run amok.  See this article. 

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The Other “N” Word

31 Jan

Jan. 31.  Usually when you say “the ‘n’ word” you’re talking about the disgusting racist word for blacks.  The “n” word is found in “Huckleberry Finn” 213 times.  Every once in a while there’s a debate whether school kids should see the original book.  For years the word was forbidden in film until the “French Connection” brought it back under the rationale of “realism”.  Now?  Quentin Tarantino recently used it in “Django Unchained” 100 times.

There’s another “n” word that’s causing problems today.  In the Israeli parliament they’re thinking of making the word “Nazi” illegal.  It would be a crime punishable with a fine up to $29,000 to use the word in a “wrong or inappropriate way”.

According to the New York Times it’s not just the word “Nazi”, but “everything that has to do with it and everything that connects to Nazism and the regime of the Third Reich and those who were the head of it.”’

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Let’s Have a Clear-Eyed View of Mandela

12 Dec

Dec. 12. I first heard about South African apartheid during my freshman year at college in ’65 or ’66.. Two men who said they were in the armed wing on the ANC spoke one evening and I was fascinated. I recall I did one of my first papers in political science on South Africa and it was full of passionate calls for support for the cause of freedom there (to the dismay of my professor who wanted a more fact based approach).

I can’t say I did anything about it until the mid-1980’s. I was heavily involved in Middle East activism starting in 1982. Some of the folks we worked with noticed that students at Yale were trying to get the Yale Corporation to sell off stocks in companies doing business with South Africa. I’m hazy about the details, but Paula and Frank Panzarella and a number of us started the South Africa Action Committee in New Haven. We had a rally and then we talked about building shanties at Yale to give students a tiny taste of what it was like in the South African Bantustans. Frank had the building know-how and a group of activists put them together on Beinicke Plaza (which we renamed Alan Boesak plaza in honor of a South African activist). I did a google search and came up with this account about the shanties.

I remember getting a call at 3 in the morning that Yale police were on their way to tear down the shanties. 40 or so students and people from the community occupied the shanties first and then after ignoring the calls to leave from the police were arrested and taken to some gym for booking. Can’t recall what the bail was or who paid it, but when we were released we came back on the campus and 1,000 people were there to greet us. There were fiery speeches and the shanties were rebuilt on the spot. Then for many months there was a pre-Occupy Occupy. You could go down to the shanties and meet up with people for political discussions at any time day or night. Eventually interest waned, one shanty remained in a state of neglect and it was burned down by a alumni.

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Will Obama Launch Drone Attack Against Israeli Settlement?

27 Oct

The ingredients are all there.  An American citizen is killed in a terrorist act.  The likely perps flee to a foreign country.  That foreign country “obstructs” the investigation and will not extradite the suspects. The country shielding the alleged terrorists had itself wantonly killed two U.S. citizens over the last decade.  The suspects can’t be arrested. What is Obama to do?  Will he make another one of those “painful” decisions to shoot a Hellfire missile onto a faraway foreign town?

Don’t bet on it.  The likely perps are in Israel.

The American citizen who was murdered was a Palestinian-American named Alex Odeh.  He was the regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in southern California.  He opened his office door on Oct. 11, 1985 and was killed by what the FBI said was a very sophisticated pipe bomb.  A month after the attack the New York Times reported that a group called the “Jewish Defense League” had planted a number of bombs in ADC offices including the one that killed Odeh.  According to Wikipedia three suspects to the killing were thought by the FBI to have fled to Israel to live in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba.

Here’s a piece written about the case in 1990 by independent investigative reporter Robert Friedman (not to be confused with New York Times imperial 1% spokesperson Thomas Friedman) about Israeli obstruction in the case.

Though the three most named suspects are still alive none have been questioned about the Odeh killing.   This year the ADC has teamed with the NAACP and Jewish Voice for Peace,  to launch a petition asking the Justice Department to bring Odeh’s killers to justice.

Here’s Democracy Now’s Oct 11 show about the effort to seek justice in the Odeh killing.

Here’s is a petition you can sign that will go to Eric Holder calling for accountability in the Odeh murder.

If you’re wondering about the identity of the two Americans killed by Israel look up the 2010 killing of Furkan Dogan, by Israeli commandos and the 2003 murder by bulldozer of Rachel Corrie.  EI recently published a piece about the killing of Dogan and U.S. government concerns…to link the victims to terrorism.

A few days ago Homeland Security arrested a Palestinian-American woman, Rasmea Odeh, and charged her with falsely filling out her citizenship application 20 years ago (see The Struggle archive on Palestine/Israel).  I have no idea if she was related to Alex Odeh, but the thought crossed my mind that this might be a cruel answer to the ADC-NAACP-JVP petition.

Final note, if you want to quibble Kiryat Arbat is not in pre-’67 Israel, but in the West Bank.  However, if you look at Israeli maps there’s no West Bank, just areas with bible names.  At any rate Kiryat Arbat is a colony living firmly under the law of Israeli apartheid.

Why Didn’t Obama Bomb Syria?

4 Oct

We can let go of our breath now.  It really looks like the U.S. bombing of Syria is off.  It sure didn’t look that way at the end of August.  The first videos of large numbers of corpses without apparent wounds appeared on August 21.  Shortly afterwards the Obama Administration announced chemical weapons had been used and began sending U.S. warships closer to Syria.   If you recall it appeared that Obama would bomb not just without waiting for the report of the U.N. inspectors or getting U.N. Security Council approval , but without even taking it up with Congress.  With the “easy” win in Libya and the weakness of the anti-war movement it looked like an attack was a forgone conclusion.  Just recently the Jerusalem Post printed an article saying that a U.S. French strike had been planned for September 1st.

Yet within a few days after the march to war began it hit bumps in the road.  The usual appeals and strong arming to gather support from the “international community” didn’t work.  Russia and China, burned over Libya were not going to be fooled twice.   Obama could live with that.  But then the U.S. traditional allies did not rush to join in.  France gave its OK, but on August 29 the British parliament voted “no”.  That was a thunderbolt.  That gave all sorts of weaker countries the cover to hold back.  The Arab League, recently a willing puppet of the Saudis and the Gulf monarchies, took forever to come up with a resolution that Obama could use.  Ironically the new military regime in Egypt saw in Assad a brother.  On the 27th the Arab League did pass a resolution blaming Assad, but it didn’t call  for any kind of military action.

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President Postpones Vote on Syria Strike – Still Illegally Threatens Force

11 Sep

With no international support and headed for a humiliating defeat in Congress President Obama seized on a Russian plan to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria as a way to hold off on bombing Syria.  He announced it in his speech last night (9/10/13).

As usual no evidence was given of responsibility of the Assad government in the attack.  The usual charges were made, a chemical attack, 1,400 dead, hundreds of children killed. “No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria.” even though many observers do dispute many of the White House charges.

There was one new charge or detail in the overall charge.  Obama claimed about Assad forces, “they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.”

Now it is very possible that Assad’s forces did do a chemical attack, maybe as Obama describes, maybe 1,400 were killed (though the numbers are higher than all other estimates), but is breathtaking that corporate media doesn’t ask for any proof.  Obama and Hegel say the evidence is classified and the meek sheep-like TV stations and big newspapers just bleat “yes” and go on to other matters.  No one has seen rocket fragments with traces of chemicals.  No one has heard the audio files of the Syrian officers supposedly discussing use of chemicals.  No one has looked at satellite photos (videos) of the rockets. No one outside the Administration has seen the blood and samples.  No one has read the U.N. report on what happened in Syria (because it isn’t complete and hasn’t been published).  The secrecy obsessed Obama Administration shows nothing to anyone, even Congress.  Only one very good AP report has mentioned the lack of evidence.

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My Comment on Today’s NYT Debate on Saudi Arabia

22 Aug

August 8. Five people wrote short columns about Saudi Arabia today for the New York Times. The only one really worth reading is by Ali Al-Ahmed. I made this comment below:

One should mention the Saudi monarchy’s extreme belief in its own divine righteousness and its intense hatred for the Shi’a (Iran, Lebanon) and other Sunni (Muslim Brotherhood) who don’t grovel before Saudi leadership. This has brought them to a de facto alliance with the apartheid regime in Israel and that also endears them to the U.S. one percent government.

It’s hard to think of a more backward repressive country on earth with such global reach. A good way to send them a message would be to join the petition campaign demanding the end to the U.S.-Saudi $60 billion arms deal. Why arm the implacable enemies of democracy and religious tolerance?
– Stanley Heller

Of course, the Israel lobby begs to differ. One of the New York Times debaters is Michael Makovsky, the chief executive of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). He writes, “Its recent vocal and generous financial support for the military takeover in Egypt has been very valuable, while a confused United States has sought to keep the fundamentally anti-Western, anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood either in power or part of the power structure.”

Israel Hearts Saudi Arabia (It’s Anti-Semitism Be Damned)

How You Helped Pay for a Gym for Foreign Spies and Assassins

25 Jul

The latest disgusting act by Israeli soldiers reminded me I hadn’t finished my article about that the U.S. charity Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF). If you haven’t heard, a group of IDF heroes were chillin’ at a settlement in Jerusalem called “Heritage House” and having afternoon Rachel Corrie pancackes. If you don’t get the “joke” these members of the Most Moral Army on Earth (MMAOE) was remembering Rachel being “flat as a pancake” after the Israeli army bulldozer crushed her to death in 2003.

Check out the page of Desert Peace which took a screen shot of the Heritage House page where the rabbi in charge, Ben Packer, responded to criticism of the heroes “joke” by writing:

“In honor of the all the hate messages from the anti-Israel/Jewish crowd, one of our supporters has pledged $5 towards Israeli settlements (maybe for additional bulldozers) for each additional comment. keep’em coming anti-semites! We love our Israeli soldiers and will not back down in the face of those who attempt to endanger them!”

For some reason I don’t recall any criticism of this humor from the ADL or a Jewish federation leader of AIPAC.

Lots of other recent stains on MMAOE, like their “operation” to confiscate an outhouse (covered on “The Struggle” TV show #492 ) and their detention of a fearsome Palestinian 5 year-old warrior who had thrown a stone (show #493), their use of Palestinians as human shields. etc. Electronic Intifada also noticed images soldiers posted on the photo-sharing site Instagram of nudity, drug use and violence and most notoriously of a Palestinian chlld seen through the scope of a sniper’s rifle.

Another example on The Struggle #495 is from a great group of Israeli soldiers (and I don’t mean this sarcastically) “Breaking the Silence”, men and women who are ashamed of what they do in their occupation army and are telling about it to the world. We focus on one young woman who talks about what soldiers do to Palestinians when they’re bored.

This is not to speak at all of the violent horrors committed freely by the MMAOE like mass murder in Gaza.

So all in all, it’s understandable that members of the IDF, I mean the MMAOE, need lots of TLC from a charity like the FIDF.

Anyway, the FIDF made the news in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz in early June because the charity decided to build a gym. That wouldn’t be big news, but the gym wasn’t for soldiers. It was for members of the Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations or Mossad, the Israeli version of the CIA.

The paper was a little offended for Israel’s dignity. The writer, Barack Ravid said, “It’s surprising that an agency like the Mossad needs to seek funds from American Jews. Although the Mossad’s researchers, spies and other employees do arduous and sometimes extremely dangerous work for Israel’s national security, they’re not military draftees. They’re working for the Mossad of their own free will, and they receive handsome salaries.”

We know all the “arduous” work the Mossad is involved in, like pampering the early Hamas to make it a rival to the PLO, putting bombs on the cars of Iranian nuclear scientists, abduction of whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, assassination of a score of people involved or not involved in the Munich Olympics killings, and many other political murders over the years. Certainly they work up a sweat and need R&R.

But it wasn’t just any gym. Ha’aretz notes that the last gym the FIDF built for regular soldiers cost $200,000 in U.S. dollars. This gym for the Mossad was “state of the art” and cost $2.2 million.

There was one thing wrong in the article, though. The headline of the piece said that the money came from American Jews. Indeed they did contribute. They raised $27 million in one night in New York City’s Waldorf Astoria But the article leaves something out. The checks to the FIDF come mostly from U.S. Jews, but the FIDF is a “charity”. Donations are tax deductible. That means the donors get a break on their taxes and the IRS loses money. Now the U.S. government is busy building democracy everywhere and those bombs costs money, so for the money the IRS loses the U.S. has to borrow money and pay back that money with interest. Borrowing has been over a trillion a year lately. So don’t give rich American Jews all the credit. All Americans help pay for the Nordic Tracks in the Mossad gym even if it means that U.S. veterans go without, even if U.S. vets go homeless, even if it means we all have to cut back services through a sequester.

Now you would think that the American Jews going to the FIDF’s gala would be proud as peacocks and revel in the publicity or at least that the U.S. media would give it some play. But as Jeff Blankfort noted in April this never happens.

It’s all kept very hush hush with a few vague articles printed in Israeli and U.S. Jewish papers weeks later. You can’t even find out who the entertainers were. (though we do know in LA Jason Alexander was MC at the event). Perhaps people who go to these “galas” are embarrassed that with the U.S. government giving the Israeli military $3.5 billion a year, the IDF and the Mossad have to act like schnorrers (Yiddish for beggers) and hustle for charity in the U.S. Perhaps it’s because they want to protect the security of the war criminals like Gabi Ashkenazi (Chief of Staff during Operation Cast Lead 2008-2009, and in control of SLA torturers earlier during his career in Lebanon) that they bring to the dinners to impress the faithful.

Or perhaps they worry they’d become targets of BDS…as they should.

Unhappy Letter to Glen Greenwald

23 May

(Greenwald is generally terrific, especially on civil liberties, but I think his knowledge of Zionist history is deficient. I wrote him this letter on May 22.)

I’m very disappointed with your piece “Al Jazeera deletes its own controversial Op-Ed, then refuses to comment”. I, of course, agree with your criticism of al Jazeera’s pulling the article without explanation, but why do you imply you find Massad’s article “repellent” and why do you tie it to junk like the dissertation of Mahmoud Abbas who claimed that only one million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the war?

You link to what you say is “very aggressive and forceful criticisms of his (Massad’s) arguments” by a blog called “The Camel’s Nose”. The article there says

“the Zionists who worked with the Nazi regime were only a small subset of the diverse global Zionist movement.”
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