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Netanyahu, Pissed at the Pope for Praying at the Apartheid Wall, Attempts to Humiliate Francis. Twice.

10:36 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

A pontiff who appears to be the most humble in generations might be hard, almost impossible to humiliate.  That didn’t keep the first foreign leader to star in political ads opposing a sitting American President’s re-election efforts from trying, though.

Sunday, Pope Francis made an unscripted stop at a section of the apartheid wall in the Bethlehem shtetl, upon which a message to the pope had been spray-painted.  He stopped his entourage, got out of the popemobile lite he was traveling in, went up to the wall, touched the graffiti.  Then he put his head against the sterile concrete barrier and prayed.

On Monday, in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “demanded” the pontiff make a similar gesture at the Mt. Herzl National Cemetery:

Pope Francis visited a memorial to Jewish victims of terrorism on Monday after Israel demanded the gesture as a counter-weight to his decision to pray at the foot of the giant wall that symbolises the divisions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Israeli officials were angered by the Pope’s impromptu initiative at the separation barrier on which ‘Free Palestine’ was scrawled in graffiti on Sunday, which they felt handed a propaganda victory to the Palestinians, who regard the wall as the ultimate symbol of their subjugation and a potent example of illegal land-grabbing.

There were reports that the Palestinian Authority was planning to have the image of the Pope praying at the barrier made into a postage stamp.

Deciding, in the words of one Israeli official, not to ‘get mad but to get even,’ they strongly suggested to the Vatican that the Pope should pray at the memorial on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, made it plain that the visit to the memorial had been at his instigation.

The pope prayed at a lot of places of enormous significance.  The apartheid wall, the Mt. Herzl Memorial, the Wailing Wall (where he inserted a paper effigy of The Lord’s Prayer, handwritten in Spanish), and at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

Netanyahu’s “don’t get mad, get even” strategy is so facile, so sophomoric, so narcissistic, I don’t even want to go there past citing the event.

The Palestinians in the the West Bank Bantustans are excited that the pope addressed “The State of Palestine,”  something few Western leaders have done so openly or publicly:

Pope Francis delivered a powerful boost of support to the Palestinians during a Holy Land pilgrimage Sunday, repeatedly backing their statehood aspirations, praying solemnly at Israel’s controversial separation barrier and calling the stalemate in peace efforts ‘unacceptable.’

Palestinian officials hailed Francis’ decision to refer to the ‘state of Palestine.’ In its official program, the Vatican referred to President Mahmoud Abbas as the president of the ‘state of Palestine,’ and his Bethlehem office as the ‘presidential palace.’ He pointedly called Abbas a ‘man of peace.’

His call for the President of Israel and head of the Palestinian Authority to join him at his apartment in the Vatican for prayers for peace was accepted:

President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas immediately accepted a surprise invitation by Pope Francis in Bethlehem on Sunday to join him at the Vatican to pray for peace.

He issued his call on the second day of his Middle East trip, in the midst of a large public Mass he celebrated in Manger Square, the site of Jesus’s birth.

‘Here, at the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer,’ he said.

The pope’s decision to bring the power of prayer into the diplomatic arena comes at a moment when direct negotiations have been suspended and the US-led, nine-month peace process appears to have failed.

Peres and Abbas said they welcome the initiative and appreciate the pontiff’s efforts to achieve peace.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office made no comment on the Vatican invitation.

Netanyahu, however, did make another attempt to either humiliate the pope or befuddle him:

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In Front of Strange, Creepy Flag, HRC Announces She Is Running in 2016

2:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

HRC in front of creepy USAIsraeli flag

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke for a half hour or so at the annual Saban Forum, held this past weekend in Washington D.C.  New Yorker editor David Remnick, who attended the forum, cuts to the chase:

Hillary Clinton is running for President.

Remnick says a lot more than just that in a piece he had posted Sunday at the New Yorker web site.  He is not pleased with what he saw at the forum:

Hillary Clinton is running for President. And the Israeli political class is a full-blown train wreck. These are two conclusions, for whatever they are worth, based on a three-day conference I attended this weekend at the annual Saban Forum, in Washington, D.C.

Remnick was clearly upset by what he saw.  He’s a very good writer when inspired or angered.  Here is his description of a laudatory film on HRC, presented to forum attendees:

Hillary Clinton was the main speaker. In a packed ballroom of the Willard Hotel, she was greeted with a standing ovation and then a short, adoring film, a video Festschrift testifying to her years as First Lady, senator, and, above all, secretary of state. The film, an expensive-looking production, went to the trouble of collecting interviews with Israeli politicians—Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni—and American colleagues, like John Kerry. Tony Blair, striking the moony futuristic note that was general in the hall, said, “I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come.”

The film was like an international endorsement four years in advance of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. The tone was so reverential that it resembled the sort of film that the Central Committee of the Communist Party might have produced for Leonid Brezhnev’s retirement party if Leonid Brezhnev would only have retired and the Soviets had been in possession of advanced video technology. After it was over there was a separate video from the President. Looking straight into the camera, Obama kvelled at length: “You’ve been at my side at some of the most important moments of my Administration.” [emphases added]

Remnick was a bit disturbed by the closeness of National Public Radio‘s Robert Siegel to Israeli Foreign Minister and avowed ethnic cleanser-racist, Avigdor Lieberman:

[Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu was not at the Saban Forum, but his notorious foreign minister and hard-right-wing coalition partner Avigdor Lieberman was. Lieberman, who has a history of making vicious remarks about Israeli Arabs and a range of other subjects, is rarely made available for interviews with the foreign press; the chance of embarrassment and international incident is too high. But here he was, in D.C., as Clinton’s pre-dinner opening act. Lieberman, who was born in the U.S.S.R. and lives on a settlement, was interviewed onstage by NPR’s Robert Siegel.

“Everyone wanted me to be politically correct,” Lieberman said as he settled into a chair onstage. “I’ll do my best.”

And so he did. Lieberman avoided any language that would fly into the headlines as racist or xenophobic. A keen and intelligent interviewer, Siegel seemed uncharacteristically reluctant to press Lieberman very hard or bring up Lieberman’s history of indelicacies where Arabs are concerned. [emphases added]

Here’s the paean:

And here is her subsequent speech:

Philip Weiss, writing today at Mondoweiss, concentrated on parts of Clinton’s address:

At a time when Britain and France are considering withdrawing ambassadors from Israel over its latest settlement plans, Hillary Clinton addressed the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution Friday night and, declaring “America and Israel are in it together,” said nothing about settlements or occupation except when she three times praised Benjamin Netanyahu for a “settlement freeze.”

Weiss goes on:

She faults the Arab spring and praises rightwing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

She blames the Iranians for a skein of terror and “hegemonic” ambitions.

She blames Palestinians for the Gaza conflict.

…. her only references to settlements, [are] all praising Netanyahu and damning the Palestinians.

The usual demographic chatter, supporting Israeli discrimination against Palestinians:

“And without peace, the inexorable math of demographics will, one day, force Israelis to choose between preserving their democracy and remaining a Jewish homeland.”

Not once but twice:

“if you look at demography, you see the population shifts and the problems that that will cause for Israel.”

More from Weiss:

She speaks about Israeli settlements as if they are part of Israel:
“[I] walked along the fence near Gilo.”
She never uses the words occupy or occupation except in a favorable context:
“It gives Israel a moral high ground that I want Israel to occupy. That’s what I want Israel to occupy, the moral high ground.”

I commented at the Mondoweiss article, responding on whether HRC is running or not:

“Clinton won’t have much of a chance in 2016. She’s too old”

— Driving into town to go to a concert Saturday, the four of us talked about Clinton’s 2016 chances. That’s pretty much what I said too. I added that people are getting tired of the Clintons, even though Bill’s 2012 Democratic Party Convention speech showed he’s still got a spark or three of demonic life left.

The questions went on to “who will be the most likely 2016 Democratic Party prez contenders, then?” I suggested Rahm Emanuel, as he’s got the best operating money machine, even better than that of the Clintons.

The flag, morphing the American and Israeli flags into one banner, creeps me out. How about you?

At the same time Clinton and a host of others at the forum were further Israelifying the USA, here’s what was happening in the sane world:

According to three senior diplomats from various EU countries, Britain and France were coordinating their moves against Israel, which they will reportedly implement over the next few days, and have discussed the extraordinary step of recalling their ambassadors from Tel Aviv for consultations. This step has never been taken before by these countries toward Israel. It would be so extreme that Britain and France may not take such action at this point but, rather, could invoke it in the case of further escalation of Israeli actions against the Palestinians. A final decision in the matter will be made today by the British and the French foreign ministers. [emphasis added]

I want my country back.

Günter Grass Declared Persona non Grata in Israel for a Poem

11:01 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Gunter Grass in 1944 (at right), in German labor service

Nobel Prize for Literature recipient and leading German novelist Günter Grass’ new poem, What Must Be Said, has quickly become the most talked-about poem in recent memory. The reactions of militant expansionist Zionists have been all too predictable. The most recent reaction by the Israeli government to his critique of Israeli government policies may have gone far enough to elicit a strong reaction from the German people, though:

Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Sunday that German Nobel laureate Gunter Grass is a persona non grata in Israel, after Grass published a poem last week which was highly critical of Israel and its policies.

Yishai harshly condemned Grass’ poem, and said that he is declared a persona non grata in Israel for wearing SS uniform in the past.

A poll taken at the end of the week by The Financial Times Deutschland finds the reaction by Germans who have read the poem in its original language to be along these lines (at 9700 respondents):

“The statements by Grass are …

- insane 8%
- dangerous 4%
- antisemitic 4%
- worth discussing/arguable 27%
- correct 57% ”

As Mondoweiss commenter Klaus Bloemker observes from Germany, “The respondents who see Grass’ statements as correct or at least arguable: 84%.  I think in the general German public the approval of Grass is even higher than this poll reflects. This will have political consequences in the longer term.”

Up until this event, Germany has been Israel’s most staunch European ally in the quest to increase pressures upon Iran.  With a poll showing 84% of a segment of readers of a fairly conservative German financial newspaper backing Grass, this support on Iran sanctions may be something far more representative of the Merkel administration than of the educated population at large.  Bloemker observes further, “As for now, the establishment is overwhelmingly distancing itself from Grass.”

There is more to be gleaned from the Haaretz article on Grass’ banning, beginning with this:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also issued a harsh condemnation of Grass’ poem on Sunday, during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Lieberman said that Grass’ poem is the expression of “egoism of so-called Western intellectuals, who are willing to sacrifice the Jewish people on the altar of crazy anti-Semites for a second time, just to sell a few more books or gain recognition.” [emphasis added]

So the racist foreign minister tries to pull in the Prime Minister of Italy in linkage to his strange words.  Not only that, with the Italian PM sitting there, Lieberman made demands:

Speaking during a meeting with the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, Lieberman demanded condemnation from European leaders. “We have witnessed in the past how small seeds of antisemitic hate can turn into a large fire that harms all of humanity.”

Further on in the Haaretz article, written by Ophir Bar-Zohar and Barak Ravid, there is this:

In his poem, which was published in several European newspapers last week, the 85-year-old author claims that Israel’s nuclear reactor – and not Iran’s – presents a threat to world peace. [emphasis added]

In the translations I’ve read – four of them – the words “nuclear reactor” do not appear. Such terms as these do, in order of appearance:

first strike
a bomb is being built
growing nuclear potential
no testing is available
concealment of these facts
all-destroying warheads
a single atomic bomb
the nuclear power of Israel
an unhindered and permanent control
Of the Israeli nuclear potential
And the Iranian nuclear sites

(from Heather Horn’s translation for The Atlantic)

Were the Haaretz authors, Ophir Bar-Zohar and Barak Ravid, legally constrained from mentioning Israeli nuclear weapons in the article, thus forcing the inaccurate term, “nuclear reactor”?

If you are familiar with Grass’ important novels and enjoyed them for their deep antiwar sentiments and scenarios, but are unfamiliar with Grass’  2007 New Yorker article, How I Spent the War, you should read the article.  Here some relevant sections:

His initial service at age 15:

In 1943, when I was a fifteen-year-old schoolboy in Danzig, I volunteered for active duty. When? Why? Since I do not know the exact date and cannot recall the by then unstable climate of the war, or list its hot spots from the Arctic to the Caucasus, all I can do for now is string together the circumstances that probably triggered and nourished my decision to enlist. No mitigating epithets allowed. What I did cannot be put down to youthful folly. No pressure from above. Nor did I feel the need to assuage a sense of guilt, at, say, doubting the Führer’s infallibility, with my zeal to volunteer.

It happened while I was serving in the Luftwaffe auxiliary—a force made up of boys too young to be conscripts, who were deployed to defend Germany in its air war. The service was not voluntary but compulsory then for boys of my age, though we experienced it as a liberation from our school routine and accepted its not very taxing drills. Rabidly pubescent, we considered ourselves the mainstays of the home front.

His attempt to join the submarine service:

It must have been possible for a Luftwaffe auxiliary to trade a weekend leave for a Wednesday or Thursday off. In any case, one thing is clear: after one long day’s march, I took the tram from Heubude to the Central Station, and from there the train via Langfuhr and Zoppot to Gotenhafen, where Navy recruits were trained to handle submarines. It took all of an hour to reach the goal of my dreams of heroism. I found the recruitment office in a low, Polish-period building where, behind a row of doors with signs, bureaucratic rigmarole was processed, passed on, filed. After signing in, I was told to wait for my name to be called. There were two or three older boys ahead of me. I did not have much to say to them.

The sergeant and the seaman first class I spoke to rejected me out of hand: I was too young; my age group hadn’t come up yet; it would soon enough; no reason for excessive haste.

They were smoking and drinking coffee with milk out of big, bulbous cups. One of these—from my perspective—elderly gentlemen (the sergeant?) was sharpening a supply of pencils while I spoke. Or did I pick up this dramatic detail from some movie or other?

I must have stood my ground even as I was told that there was no need for submarine volunteers at present: they had stopped accepting applications. And then they reminded me that the war was not being fought entirely underwater, and said that they would make a note of my name and pass it on to other branches of the military. Provisions were being made for new panzer divisions. “Patience, young man, patience. We’ll come and get you soon enough. ”

His induction through draft into the Waffen SS:

It took less than two months for my induction letter to arrive, black and white on the kitchen table, signed, dated, and stamped. In September, 1944, my train pulled out of Danzig Central Station, headed for Berlin.

Mother had refused to accompany son to the station. She was smaller than I was, and when she hugged me in the living room she seemed to dissolve into tears between the piano and the grandfather clock. “All I ask is that you come back in one piece,” she said.

Father accompanied me. We didn’t say a word to each other on the tram. Then he had to buy a platform ticket. His velvet hat gave him a soigné, bourgeois look: a man in his mid-forties who had managed to stay a civilian and stay alive.

The 17-year old’s assignment:

My new marching orders made it clear where the recruit with my name was to undergo basic training: on a drill ground of the Waffen S.S., as a panzer gunner, somewhere far off in the Bohemian Woods.

His feelings about the Waffen SS at the time:

The question is: Was I frightened by what was obvious then in the recruitment office, as I am terrified now by the double “S,” even as I write this more than sixty years later?

There is nothing carved into the onion skin of my memory that can be read as a sign of shock, let alone horror. I most likely viewed the Waffen S.S. as an élite unit that was sent into action whenever a breach in the front line had to be stopped up. I did not find the double rune on the uniform collar repellent. The boy, who saw himself as a man, was probably more concerned with the branch of the service: if he was not destined for the submarines, then he would be a tank gunner in a division that was named in honor of Jörg von Frundsberg, whom I knew as the leader of the Swabian League during the sixteenth-century Peasant Wars and the “father of the Landsknechts”—crack infantry mercenaries. Someone who stood for freedom, liberation. Besides, the Waffen S.S. had a European aura to it: it included separate volunteer divisions of French and Walloon, Dutch, and Belgian, and many Norwegian and Danish soldiers; there were even said to be neutral Swedes on the Eastern Front in the defensive battle, as the rhetoric went, to save the West from the Bolshevik flood.

His explanation of later doubts and concealment:

So there were plenty of excuses. Yet for decades I refused to admit to the word, to the double letters. What I accepted with the stupid pride of youth I wanted to conceal after the war out of a recurrent sense of shame. But the burden remained, and no one could alleviate it.

True, during the tank-gunner training, which kept me numb throughout the autumn and winter, there was no mention of the war crimes that later came to light. But the ignorance I claim cannot blind me to the fact that I had been incorporated into a system that had planned, organized, and carried out the extermination of millions of people. Even if I could not be accused of active complicity, there remains to this day a residue that is all too commonly called joint responsibility. I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.

Grass is now being hauled over the coals for his forced service in what was the largest draft of very young people into military service in the history of the Third Reich.  Had he refused to serve, he probably would have been imprisoned, hung or shot.

Grass writes compellingly of the end of that 1,000-year reich, as military units crumbled around him; as he abandoned his fuel-less tank, abandoned his weapon (which, apparently, he never shot at a Soviet soldier); as he shuffled by the bodies of other young men his age, hanging from trees, with placards around their necks.  Here’s one of his descriptions of the environment:

In the chaos of retreat, I sought to join up with scattered soldiers who were likewise trying to find their units. Even though I had had no direct contact with the enemy, I was scared to death. The soldiers hanging from the trees along the road were a constant warning of the risk run by every one of us who could not prove that he belonged to a company or was on his way to this or that unit with signed and sealed travel orders.

The central section of the Eastern Front, now retreating inexorably west, was under the command of the infamous General Schörner. According to “Schörner’s orders,” military police—bloodhounds, the lot of them—were to go after soldiers without marching papers and haul them, no matter what their rank, before mobile courts-martial as malingerers, cowards, and deserters. They would then be summarily and conspicuously hanged. Schörner and his orders were more to be feared than the enemy.

Well, the war was soon over and Schörner and his ilk are long gone.

Soon afterward, however, many of Israel’s early leaders were planning the killings of hundreds of British Army soldiers and thousands of Palestinians, as they sought to terrorize the local governing authorities and local indigenous population into blunt acceptance of a new kind of  racially pure society.

The hypocrisy of current top Israeli officials needs to be called out.  Günter Grass has clearly done this.  Hopefully, he will be able to withstand increasing pressure to recant, and hopefully, more people – including commenters and diarists here – will come to his defense.

It must be said.

From my point of view, what must be further said is that Israel is not our ally.  The government of Israel is not a friend of U.S. long-term interests.  Rather, they have become the most dangerous adversary we have faced since before the implosion of the USSR.  Unlike the USSR, however, the Israeli government and its prime functionaries are deeply embedded into our political and military machinery.

Israeli UN Delegation Boycotts Obama’s UN Speech, Then Lies About It

9:19 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Chutzpah and ingratitude don’t have overlapping definitions, but the Israeli delegation at the UN came close yesterday in their explanation of why they failed to be at President Obama’s UN speech, in which he dared include a long set of remarks that appear, by and large, to seek justice for Palestinians in the ongoing talks on ending the 63-year long conflict:

Amidst this upheaval, we have been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors. We have travelled a winding road over the last twelve months, with few peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now, many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible.

But consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own state. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to co-existence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity.

I refuse to accept that future. We all have a choice to make. And each of us must choose the path of peace. That responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier this month, at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity." President Abbas said, "We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause."

These words must be followed by action, and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians – and the world – to rally behind the goal that these leaders share. We know there will be tests along the way, and that one is fast approaching. Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and improved the atmosphere for talks. Our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time to build the trust – and provide the time – for substantial progress to be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it doesn’t slip away.

Peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish state requires an independent Palestine – one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means – including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.

Many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps toward the normalization that it promises Israel. Those who speak out for Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and – in so doing – help the Palestinians build the institutions of their state. And those who long to see an independent Palestine rise must stop trying to tear Israel down.

After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. And after sixty years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate. Israel is a sovereign state, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people – the slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance, it is injustice. Make no mistake: the courage of a man like President Abbas – who stands up for his people in front of the world – is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.

The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution. And we can come back here, next year, as we have for the last sixty, and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate. We can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that.

Or, we can say that this time will be different – that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire. This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred. This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.

CNN, seeking clarification on the delegation’s absence, got this:

Israel says its U.N. delegation was not able to attend the U.N. General Assembly session on Thursday because of the observance of Sukkot, a Jewish holiday.

"Due to the overwhelming number of calls and e-mails that we are receiving, even though it is the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, we feel that it is necessary to release the following statement," the Israeli consulate in New York said.

The delegation from Israel was reported by CNN, the Gateway Pundit and others of "boycotting" the speech.

Jason Ditz, writing at Antiwar.com, comments on the official Israeli explanation:

Officially the Israeli government denies that this was an organized boycott and insists the absence of their delegation was planned well in advance, and was related to the relatively minor Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The weeklong holiday does not appear to have traditionally meant Israeli officially snubbing major international events, however.

Moreover President Obama’s speech sparked no small level of outrage among top Israeli officials, and a number of Israel’s ruling coalition MPs made public comments in condemnation of the president and the speech late last night. This is only adding fuel to the belief by many that the snub was about the speech and not the holiday.

AIPAC spokesmen angrily denied this belief, however, and insisted that it was a “malicious” lie against Israel. The empty chairs seem to remain an issue for many, however.

Any of us who were watching news items Thursday on this, and on reactions to the September 22nd release of the UN Human Rights Council’s "Report of the international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance," (PDF) observed a very busy Israeli UN delegation all day long. So the concern about the delegation’s absence is in no way a "malicious lie against Israel."

Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was launching "A PR war on the UN," all day long, holiday or not:

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered the establishment of a "command post" in New York in an effort to counter a damning United Nations report on Israel’s flotilla raid which left nine people dead.

The report, drafted by the UN Human Rights Council, charged that IDF soldiers executed Turkish activists on board a Gaza-bound vessel by firing at them from close range.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is currently in New York, set up the command post along with Ambassador to the UN Meron Reuben and Consul General Ido Aharoni in order to coordinate Israel’s diplomatic and PR activity in response to the report.

As of Thursday morning, Israeli officials are attempting to initiate a coordinated response by all Jewish organizations to condemn the UN report. All Israeli emissaries in North America had been briefed on their next moves vis-à-vis the media and foreign diplomats.

And, all day long, Israeli activists were working to spring traitor Jonathan Pollard from a US prison, in spite of his treachery having assuredly killed many U.S. intelligence assets in the USSR at a crucial point in the Cold War:

The Obama administration is publicly ignoring a reported offer from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend a settlements freeze in exchange for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy.

Pressure to release Pollard, serving a life sentence since 1987 for providing thousands of secret documents to Israel, arises regularly, spurred by Pollard’s wife Esther and right-wing parties in Jerusalem.

But an even more powerful backlash from national security officials in Washington has repeatedly derailed the idea. Pollard also sold secrets to South Africa and advertised his services to Pakistan, they point out, while Israel used some of the documents he gave them as barter for favors from Moscow.

That report is from the beginning of the week. By late Thursday, during the "holiday," the week-long efforts behind the scenes by the Israel lobby were perhaps beginning to pay off:

Several United States congressmen have signed a petition calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard, jailed in the U.S. for over 25 years for spying, in order to advance the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Thursday.

Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 on charges of spying on the U.S. for Israel.

A statement released by Democratic Representative Barney Frank "notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel, as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people."

"This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors," Frank’s office continued in the statement.

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will face the first major hurdle in the next few days as Israel’s moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements is set to expire. Reports have circulated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking Pollard’s release in order to pacify the settler movement if he extends the moratorium.

Let me see if I can somehow get this straight. The Israeli UN delegation fails to show up on what may have been the most important speech given in decades by a US president on a keystone obstacle to Middle East peace, claiming it is a "religious holiday." During that religious holiday, they set up a "War room" in the USA to battle public perception of a UN document cataloging Israeli war crimes that happened less than four months ago. One of these crimes was the cold-blooded murder of a US citizen.

During that same "holiday" the Israeli government used every tool at its disposal to spring a spy who cost us billions, and whose stolen and then sold secrets led to the deaths of Russian anti-communists. The promise to us, should we spring the traitor, is a twelve-week long moratorium to the expansion of settlements that our country views as clearly illegal. Given that there really hasn’t been a settlement expansion freeze, and that the Obama administration knows this meme to be a cynical fabrication, why does Rep. Frank even put his name down on a scrap of paper that promoted the lie’s further propagation?

To get back to this seeming overlap of the definitions of chutzpah and ingratitude, how much does Obama or any president for that matter, have to do for Israel to not be subjected to the most offensive slurs one might possibly imagine from a so-called "ally"?

British Prime Minister Calls Gaza a “Prison Camp”

4:00 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

In Turkey, earlier today, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated "The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp."

This is unprecedented. For one thing, Tony Blair, who is now Middle East envoy for the "Quartet" (the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia) has never been so critical of the results of Israeli foreign policy. Cameron knows Blair is under a lot of heat right now, with the possibility of a renewed, more thorough, opposition-led inquiry into what was probably the murder of Dr. David Kelly by British intelligence on July 18, 2003. Chances are that Blair knew about it, and may be brought in to testify in any inquiry.

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