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Total number of comments: 39 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:10)

brenda

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  • Israeli official confirms US nixed arms sale; PM blamed for icy ties
    • What has struck me about this story is that it is not being reported on or commented on by any other than the Israeli press. Nothing here other than the WSJ article.

  • Hamas political leaders nix rocket fire on Israel
    • This item caught my eye also, I'd be interested in hearing speculation from other readers (Juan also for that matter)

      Is it too much to hope that Hamas is making common cause with (non-violent) PA ahead of peace treaty with Israel?

  • The Cheapening of American Politics: Why did Obama reward O'Reilly with an Interview?
    • It seems like the kind of thing Obama would do. Former "community organizer" probably sees himself as representing the entire community, not just the parts he likes or who like him. He also had some one-on-ones with Jeffrey Goldberg (JG now eating out of his hand) He also sucked way up to AIPAC -- I don't know how he does some of this stuff, better person than I am, obviously.

  • Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are "Anti-Semitic" in Eyes of Israeli Far Right
    • Anyone following closely the Kerry initiative I-P negotiations knows that Kerry has bent over backwards to accommodate Israeli "security concerns". Anyone following Obama diplomacy vis-a-vis Israel and the Israel lobby knows the US President has also presented same aspect. But here is a case where US is not giving Israel 100% of what Israel wants, so naturally, the American Secretary of State is "anti-semitic". I think it may be some kind of variation on "the last refuge of a scoundrel".

      Kerry has taken a lot, a whole lot of sh*t from right wing Israeli Jews lately. The US State Dept. and WH has responded with admirable restraint, playing a very good game along with the European boycotters. I think the Israelis will be the first ones to blink and a peace treaty is in the offing, which is very satisfying to me as an anti-war type. But even more personally, as someone who has engaged in battle with hasbara and been wounded by their poisoned arrows, when they get to the point of naming someone like Kerry anti-semitic -- that releases the last of the poison for me.

  • Israel and Saudi Arabia on Same page re: Keeping Iran a Pariah
    • I agree with you, Farhang. Integrating Israel peaceably into the region would be a very good thing, especially for US. If Israel could no longer be presented as poor little beleaguered country fighting for its life against bloodthirsty neighbors wanting to drive the Jews into the sea -- that would take the wind from AIPAC sails.

  • Iran Breakthrough a Triumph For Pragmatists and a Defeat For the Warmongers (Cole @ Truthdig)
    • I read the full essay on Truthdig, thank you Juan, very informative and readable overview & history.

      One thing that caught my eye: "... by the late 1960s Israel had the bomb. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan even allegedly wanted to use it in the 1973 war against Egypt."

      Seymour Hersh (The Sampson Option) made the point that Israel did use the bomb at the outset of that war, as nuclear blackmail against the United States. Henry Kissinger was SOS, prevailed upon to act against his better judgement of US interests in the region. Is that also your understanding?

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
    • " ....the rhetoric may subside if there isn’t a public audience for it."

      we hope this is the case, and probably it is the case. I admit I was a bit taken aback by Kerry's belligerence, but I think it might have been intended for 'the hardliners' at home in the US. (my country, right or wrong)

      I read an interesting history of the Vietnam War recently, that postulated/demonstrated how successive US presidents escalated the war in response to pressure from the political opposition -- to the ruination of many lives on both sides of the conflict, not to mention the environmental degradation of a beautiful region.
      link to amazon.com

      They were responding not to their own political base, or even to their own instincts, but to their political opponents. Their first priority was to stay in office.

      great piece, Juan, I especially liked your historical analogies and conclusion: "Successful negotiations only take place when the two sides are tired of fighting and doubt they would gain anything further by more violence." That sounds about right.

  • Hard Times for Journalists, but A Golden Age for Canny Readers
    • I loved it! I read every word and opened some of the links. It reminds me of a recent piece by Jim Lobe mourning the loss of the printed daily news digest, the Pentagon Early Bird Special
      link to lobelog.com

      I passionately agree with Englehardt, this is indeed the golden age for the reader. I could say more about this but Englehardt says it all and much better than I could.

      Juan, thanks for publishing this piece, I would have missed it otherwise, just too much to read out there.... but what a lovely problem to have!

  • 'Palestine' Soccer Team Agrees To Yank 1-State Map From Jersey
    • the important question is: did the Palestinians win their games while wearing the provocative uniforms?

  • Israel Tries to Bully Europe over Criticism of Planned 1800 Squatter Units on Palestinian Land
    • Shahid, the foreign policy issue for the Americans is complicated. The US has its own interests in the Middle East, some of which are not compatible with Israeli interests. One of the permanent US interests is the continuing existence and security of Israel -- and I think it says a lot for the US that it continues to honor this in spite of the perversity of its often ungrateful and sometimes treacherous ally. Another permanent US interest is to forge peaceable treaties between Israel and her neighbors, including Palestine, because it is in the interests of the United States to have good relationships with the other ME states. That's where the rub comes in.

      The US will always support Israel, no matter what, so its up to the Europeans to put the pressure on, which they are doing. If the 'peace process' goes down this time, the Europeans have a set of economic and diplomatic sanctions all ready to roll out. Some sanctions have already started. It is being an interesting story to follow, especially in its implications for the Israel lobby in the US, which I think will end up being diminished.

    • a bit more light shed on the issue by the estimable Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Ha'aretz reporting on the original European calling in of Israeli ambassadors as response to new settlement tenders:
      "At Thursday’s meetings, European officials also reiterated the EU offer of an unprecedented incentive package if Israel signs a peace agreement with the Palestinians, the diplomat said. The package, which includes upgrading Israel’s status with the European Union to that of a “privileged partnership,” was unveiled a month ago, but Israel has yet to offer an official response to either the EU or any of its member states."
      link to haaretz.com

    • that's how I am reading the tea leaves also. There's been a soupcon of signaling from the Americans that Pollard will be released when the peace treaty is signed. Not really a 'bargaining chip', more like throwing in a little extra on top of the generous package the Americans have already offered.

    • "Israel has summoned European ambassadors, accusing them of pro-Palestinian bias. The move came in apparent retaliation for the summoning of Israeli ambassadors by Britain and other European countries to criticise Israel for its plans to build more settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem."
      link to bbc.co.uk
      Netanyahu has a tin ear when it comes to diplomacy. Lieberman also. Such defiance! This is what you expect from hot-headed impetuous teenagers working through their life issues, not from heads of state and foreign ministers.

      This will help take the sting out for Kerry, for which I am happy. He deserved better than what he got from the oafish Israeli government. Something more than a Nobel Peace Prize, maybe a sainthood... he's still hanging in there!

  • America Black Ops Wars in 134 Countries
    • I'm afraid it's just the nature of the beast, Mahmood. Not "America" in particular but "the dominant world power". Great Britain did the same thing at the height of the British Empire, as you probably well know.

    • "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

      this is exactly it, thank you for the reference JTMcPhee! I think where liberal criticism goes awry is when it comes close to characterizing the country as the great satan/the evil empire. Especially today when Obama (who I did not vote for btw) is fighting a close fight to bring in some of the cherished liberal ideals, I wish people on the same side would just back off for awhile.

      Also, my recent close engagement with Israeli politics and society has made me conscious -- and proud -- of how our country has already resolved some of the same problems facing Israel. The occupation of Palestine is easily equivalent to black apartheid practiced in America. And the BDS movement in the US while subject to harsh societal reaction is very unlikely to be made illegal. IOW, we rock! Not perfect but working on it.

    • I'm somewhat out of step myself. Either that or I'm shifting towards conservatism in my old age. The country has a lot of problems and Obama is taking them on energetically. He's showing a lot of bravery and endurance in standing up to the Israel lobby. He addressed one of the most egregious domestic issues, health care insurance. He's doing a good job for us, why go looking under rocks?

      Also, I'm developing more appreciation for the US; with all of its many failings it is still a great country. What is really worrisome in myself is that I've started thinking a lot about that phrase uttered by the first President Bush, GHW, "I don't care what the facts are, I will not apologize for the United States of America"

  • American Public Pushes back against AIPAC Senators seeking Iran Conflict
    • when you live in a dangerous neighborhood it's best to make peace with your neighbors. Too bad Israel is blowing off the Kerry mission. He offered an excellent deal.

    • link to dailymotion.com
      Jon Stewart does a lovely take-down of AIPAC/Israel on both current issues -- the egregious Senate draft bill and Israeli slap-down of Kerry peace mission. It's everything a liberal could hope for. When we start making fun of them, they're doomed :>)

      As a longtime big reader of newspaper articles and commentary, I'm seeing a shift in public attitudes towards both Israel and the Israel lobby in the US. Huge public lashback over the last 10 years, people no longer cowed by the anti-semitic canard. The other side doesn't use it much anymore.

      As far as the commentary is concerned, on news websites like Washington Post for example, WaPo stalwart Israel supporter, I'm getting the feeling that ordinary American citizens speaking out against Israel and the lobby are not being answered by American citizens supporting Israel. That is not the framework of 'the debate'. Yes there are a few ordinary Americans pushing back against the criticism, but mostly it is hasbara -- professional propagandists employed by the Israeli government.

  • Messianic Israeli Minister obsessed with Palestinian Land accuses Kerry of Messianic Obsession
    • sadly, Israel's liberals, of which there are many, they hang out on Ha'aretz, have already tried and failed to change government policies. With regard to the occupation, Israel's liberals tried to do an organized boycott of OT goods and services -- this brought a reaction in the form of a new Knesset law against boycotting.

      If it's any consolation, the US enjoys a greater degree of tolerance for dissent.

    • oh I forgot
      4. The Obama WH and State Dept. deliberately blew this up into a public incident as part of their own strategy. They could have let it pass, they've let plenty of other Israeli provocations pass, but they didn't.

    • It's hard to know what to think about this. I had a strong initial reaction to the story, which is too primal to reveal here, but as far as "thinking" goes there are three lines of it:

      1. Israel is acting like it always does; obsessive, messianic, paranoid, wants what it wants. Most of Israel is not paying attention to the European sanctions threat if the peace negotiations go down, or to the threat of a 3rd intifada -- I think there are elements in the Israeli government & society that would actually welcome an intifada. These are the two risks clearly laid out by Kerry in public statements in Israel, and the reason he gave for his energetic efforts to promote a peace settlement, but most of Israel is choosing to ignore it and go about their business as usual.

      2. This is deliberate political grandstanding with a clear goal. Who knows what that goal might be. For sure it is a huge diversion, like the Senate draft bill on Iran sanctions.

      3. The Israeli government is close to being forced to settle with the Palestinians. Kerry's persistence is paying off. This dust-up is a good thing for our side as it is nothing more than a rage reaction at being outfoxed.

  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • Netanyahu's insistence on 'the Jewish State' is a fairly new wrinkle -- like the Jordan Valley security
      issue for Israel, who ever heard of that before late last year? I've read some political analysis claiming that 'the Jewish State' is a device to pre-empt 'the right of return' Palestinian negotiation. It's all politics, if you can get away with it, and so far he's getting away with it.

      here's something for you, Juan. Coming from a place where they've had some experience with ethnic cleansing and have the radar out for racial discrimination. "German Op-Ed: Israel Cannot be a Jewish State"

      link to algemeiner.com

  • United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid
    • Where is the Israeli de Klerk?

      I keep looking for some hope among dissenting Israelis, of which there are many. The new labor party leader, govt. oppostion leader Isaac Herzog, had this to say in February of this year:

      "...something that I already proposed a year and a half ago: Israeli support for a United Nations resolution recognizing a Palestinian state and international backing, in which two things are determined: the borders and the Hague Court. The borders of the Palestinian state will be determined only by negotiations, something that preserves the principal of negotiations between the sides and does not allow for a unilateral act. That will also lower the pressure with everything connected to Israeli sanctions. And that the Palestinians will abstain from taking steps against Israel in The [international] Hague Court."

      Read more: link to al-monitor.com

      It could still happen

  • How Pundits got the Israeli Elections Wrong & Ignored the Influence of Women (Goldman)
    • Mark, it's nice to hear a bit of good news, thanks for passing it along. Two Oscar-nominated documentaries critical of Israel. Very nice.

      Lately I've been wondering if AIPAC is losing its grip. Backed off on the Chuck Hagel nomination. Didn't say "boo" over the John Kerry nomination in spite of the wikileaks. Now they can't even strongarm Hollywood? (be still my heart :>)

    • "Yair Lapid on Wednesday “went out of his way to say that he would not ally himself with politicians like Hanin Zoabi.”

      that is indeed a great pity...

      Juan, thank you for this article -- my introduction to Shalom Goldman and I'm very happy to be finding and reading more of his articles. Casting a white light over him as Campus Watch will be watching and waiting to get their hooks into him, fer sure.

      Also a great pleasure to find out about Arab-Israeli politicians like Zoabi. I treasure your blog.

  • Jon Stewart on the Israeli Elections: 50% of Israel is "anti-Semitic" since they rebuked Netanyahu
    • :>) I love Jon Stewart. But is it a bad sign when the best mainstream political analysis comes from the comedians?

      It's so easy to be accused of anti-Semitism. You'd think it would have lost some of its bite by now. But it hasn't, the slur can still ruin careers and reputations.

      “It’s like all things having to do with Israel and the United States. If you want to get ahead, you don’t talk about it; you don’t criticize Israel, you protect Israel. You don’t talk about illegal settlements on the West Bank even though everyone knows they are there.”

      link to articles.washingtonpost.com

      this is a recent article by the ombudsman of the Washington Post, refreshingly frank

  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • Farhang, from reading the AP report (today, 6:37pm) I got the same ideas about Lapid that you expressed. It doesn't sound like he will be using adherence to the peace process as anything more than a political negotiating tool. It was interesting though, the spin put on the AP piece, they really did keep going back to the peace issue as though this was the important issue -- it's what the world wants, but I don't think Israel is interested.

      many thanks, Juan, for your good report and background on makeup of the Israeli government.

  • Palestinian Legal strategy against Israel: The Real Prize is Europe
    • I think it's looking good, Juan. Even if you can't see your way clear to seeing how exactly this will help Palestine, it seems to me that there is definately a shift in the right direction.

      Significantly, as you noted also, the Israeli press is perceiving this as a defeat:

      link to haaretz.com

      written by Barak Ravid, the longtime diplomatic correspondent of Haaretz, he seems to be politically well connected in Israel

      In the US mainstream media, very good spin as far as I'm concerned. They seem to have left in the dust the usual stifling Israeli propaganda line. An example from Time Magazine -- although this might not be in the print edition, but still... We like to hear a bit of good news, right?

      "The United Nations voted overwhelmingly Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state, a long-sought victory for the Palestinians but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States."

      Read more: link to world.time.com

      Other US mainstream news reports also seeing the US as being isolated on this issue. I think it's a good day :>)

  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • very nice piece, Juan, thank you. As usual, you are very even-handed.

      "I’m not stupid or naive. I know that almost none of these 10 points is likely to be realized. All I’m saying is that these steps are would would be necessary for the achievement of peace. They won’t be taken, and therefore intermittent wars, bombings, attacks, and the blighting of human lives will continue.... "

      .... I've been following the issue for years, and yes, I was beginning to think like this myself, and it's really very debilitating when you can't imagine any good outcome, which really there doesn't seem to be here...

      But just yesterday I had a new thought, optimistic. It struck me how like this situation is to the situation in the American South during Jim Crow, and how endlessly dreary that also must have seemed, for decades. I remembered reading of liberal Southerners, young people (let me put that in caps, YOUNG PEOPLE, because I think this is what is important) young people, liberal-minded, sickened by the apartheid culture, they moved away from their homes in the South vowing never to return, and probably many of them did not return. There were many American writers, Southerners, who moved away. And isn't this what is actually happening in Israel? It's one of those well-kept secrets, hidden in full view. About a million Israelis have emigrated. Many millions hold foreign passports.

      The Israelis themselves are sickening of this. It will change, but it might take another full generation for peace. And I doubt very much if it will be the two-state solution.

  • US Public to Israel's Likud: On Iran, Negotiate or you are on Your Own
    • oh I nearly forgot, many thanks for the link to the Richard Silverstein piece. The commentary there was excellent.
      It's great to see American Jews fighting back against Israeli incursions into US politics. I recently discovered the JVP website and it is also just excellent.

      link to rabbibrant.com

    • now this is more like it, Juan :>)

      I always like it when a poll reflects my own view of the matter. I do think there is a broad resistance in the US to the Israeli propaganda. Yes, they have the majors, like the NYT and WaPo in their pocket, but fortunately we have the internet.

      And even on those NYT and WaPo renditions of reality, skewed to favor right wing Israeli aspirations in the Middle East -- even there, if you read the commentary you can see that we are doing very, very well against the hasbarites. They can't keep up with the numbers anymore, there's simply too many of us. I have watched this change happen over the course of about 10 years.

      And it is a campaign which is going on everywhere, in all kinds of publications. The battle between enlightened US citizens and Israeli hasbara -- or, to turn their own phrase back on them, the battle between enlightened US citizens and "useful idiots", US citizens who really do believe that US and Israel interests are one.

      Even on the Amazon book reviews, if the topic goes anywhere close you can expect a rancorous tussle between US firsters and Israel firsters. And lately, the US has been winning.

  • Afghanistan Massacre: Unstable Soldiers, Untreated Brain Injuries, PTSD
    • link to nytimes.com

      More like the British Raj than the Wehrmacht judging from this photo, which looks like a scene out of the movie "Ghandi".

      I am hopeful that Obama has managed to change the direction leading to aggressive war -- the fundamental indictment of Nazi Germany. Thanks, Juan, for your compassionate write up on this unfortunate US soldier. I hope he doesn't end up as an isolated scapegoat.

  • Poll: Majority of Republicans Expect War with Iran in 2012 (Infographic)
    • I think there is a bit more good news & hope than what a lot of you guys are perceiving, the devil and conversely, grace, both being in the details.

      Regarding Republicans: this time around the antiwar candidate was from the right, Ron Paul. So for the first time in my life, something I never thought would happen in my wildest dreams, I sent early money to a Republican candidate. The Paul primary campaigns drew a steady, heartening 15%-20% of the vote, heartening because I figure that means at least 15%-20% of Republicans, maybe even more, are sane and have their heads screwed on right.

      Also, Paul drew the biggest portion of military donations, more than any other Republican candidate. Which brings me to my most hopeful point -- the US military high command is against an attack on Iran. This is like an odd coming-true of the old antiwar slogan: "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" Again, the good news comes from the right.

      About the Israeli influence on American foreign policy -- totally over the top in my opinion. Over the top and peaked, already on its' way down. It took me a long time to finally concede that the tail does indeed wag the dog, it seemed too ludicrous and unlikely, given the bent for empire in US history. But I do think it is true and this unlikely to cease until the US finally does something about campaign finance laws. Fortunately, the Israelis probably went way too far this time, goading us to aggressive war openly, and openly manipulating the US political system during an election year, openly going for 'regime change' in the US, openly humiliating the US president, openly trying to throw the election to a Republican.

      So maybe that problem has peaked. Certainly there is a lot more criticism of Israel and the effect Israel has on US politics now than 10 years ago, and this criticism coming from both the left and the right. I think the only real US constituency that Israel has are politicized Christian fundamentalists. Along with blackmailed, bought-and-paid-for politicians.

      stay tuned, this is a story in progress. don't despair :>)

    • The constant unremitting warmongering is likely the reason why many of the respondents answered the way they did, feeling that war is inevitable whether they personally support it or not.

  • Republicans silent as Netanyahu disses Gen. Dempsey
    • I read your piece on "the servant of Iran" the day you published it. I'm following the Gen. Martin Dempsey story closely, having come to the conclusion that our only hope is that the military will balk.

      This radio interview is also very interesting to me, Juan, and I do agree with you that the Israelis are being pretty damned flagrantly arrogant. Gratuitously so as they do indeed seem to have the US in their hip pocket.

      I can't help but think and hope that it is a mistake for the Israeli gov't to diss Dempsey. I've been hanging out on the military blogs lately, just to get an idea of what's going on, and am picking up the idea that the US military are not admirers of Israel.

      They still remember the Liberty, just like the left still remembers Rachel Corrie. They still rankle at Israeli spying on the US, passing on US security secrets to Russia. They do not worry about being perceived as antisemitic, because they're not. They tend to see Israel as a foreign country, period.

      And me over here in my small corner, looking for hope, I keep thinking about how the Army brought down McCarthy...

  • Arab World Mourns Whitney Houston
    • " ...American “soft power.” The love of world publics for American popular culture translates into favorable views of the US... "

      So there is a name for it! Who knew?!

      Juan, thank you for this post. And thank you for reminding me again -- I'm a few years older than you, so I remember it fondly and very precisely as you have described it -- this is what it used to be like. There was a time, in my lifetime, when Americans were "the good guys". Yes, really.

      This was in the 1950's and early '60's, before the US started bombing around the world, and overthrowing foreign governments either overtly or covertly, and supporting bloodyminded dictators against their oppressed populations. We were admired and welcomed everywhere back then.

      I knew even then that our movies and our music -- not to mention the Harlem Globetrotters :>) -- I knew these elements of American culture were a huge part of the attraction. Huge. But also there was that perception of us as "good". Maybe a bit naive and unsophisticated and apt to throw our money around carelessly, but essentially good and well-meaning, well intentioned. Nobly intentioned.

      It's hard to understand why the US squandered all this goodwill...

  • Israeli Troops kill 20, wound Hundreds at Golan
    • imagine, indeed!

      it takes more creativity and more true courage to make peace than to make war. let us hope the Israelis are up to the task.

    • thank you for this piece, Prof. Cole. this stuff gets me so upset, the sleazy way it "passes" here, the offhand way this kind of thing is reported by the American press...

      it really gets my blood pressure up. and then when I read a piece from you that so fully expresses what I am feeling about it -- yes, of course! they were unarmed. and Israel has the usual police equipment/techniques for crowd control/crowd dispersal.

      all we hear from the mainstream press is how Israel is justifiably concerned about the integrity of her borders, etc, etc, etc.

      I am so tired of this kind of thing. Israel has a bunker mentality for sure, all kinds of worries, surrounded by hostile enemies. And it's true, Israel is vulnerable. It looks like her only option is to make peace with her neighbors, otherwise they will surely continue to harass her.

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • well this is nice. it's nice to see that Juan Cole is ok with the US/UN action in Libya. I haven't made myself super-knowledgeable about the issue. I understood that all the Libyan rebels requested was a no-fly zone so that Gaddaffi's air force wouldn't be able to bomb them, and it did seem like the US was taking it further than that.

      But I found that I just couldn't get up any energy to protest what the US is doing there. I mean, I went to all the big anti-war marches for Iraq and Afghanistan, I stood vigil every week on a local streetcorner. But Libya -- it seemed like for once the US might be doing a truly humanitarian thing without a not-very-well-hidden agenda of its own. So I like the validation from Juan Cole, I'm happy to share whatever views he has on the middle east.

      maybe I'm just getting too old for all this protest. not that I'm any less cynical about what the US is doing overseas, I'm not. but to tell you the truth, I'm far more upset with Obama for not showing up in Wisconsin to support the trade unionists than I am about him overstepping what the Libyan rebels requested.

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