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The Sunday June 30th Cairo Demonstrations – Live Blog

9:27 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I’m beginning an attempt at a live blog here of Sunday’s demonstrations in Egypt in protest of government and administration policies.

There have been rumors and articles predicting a severe clampdown on social media output from the country.

Here’s the most recent Reuters synopsis:

CAIRO (Reuters) – Rival protesters in Egypt’s capital insist they want to avoid bloodshed during mass rallies against President Mohamed Mursi on Sunday, but both are clearly ready for a confrontation.

As the opposing sides vie for the revolution’s mantle, Mursi’s Islamist supporters have set up checkpoints around a Cairo rally, recalling the human chains that protected protesters during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

Thickset men stand in rows by guard rails, hefting wooden or plastic rods and wearing hard hats and body armor. They check ID cards and frisk visitors.

“We will defend the revolution, we will defend legitimacy,” a banner with a picture of Mursi reads above a stage set up at the rally of a few thousand outside a mosque.

Sunday marks Mursi’s first year in office – a period his opponents say is long enough, blaming him and his Muslim Brotherhood for Egypt’s economic malaise and accusing them of trying to impose strict religious values on a diverse country.

They now hope mass demonstrations will topple him just as they swept out Mubarak over two years ago.

Twitter has not gotten active enough from the people and groups I follow to compete with the Tibetans, who are very active at this time of day.  Here’s Sara Hussein a minute ago.  She is a reporter for Agence France-Presse:

Starting now, every Egyptian abroad, myself included, is going to be worried sick about #Egypt and their family and friends there #June30

I’ll try to keep people informed, probably pass the topic off to another thread overnight.

…………….

After waiting almost an hour, with this potential live blog attempt in edit mode:

The last new story to show up on Goggle News was five hours ago.

My last tweet from an Egypt-connected progressive was 45 minutes ago.

Black Friday in Cairo, Black Friday in Gaza – Updated

3:20 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The HRC-Morsi deal?

The wake of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire is getting turbulent:

Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.

Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly.

Morsi took this and other actions within hours after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Here’s a link to the text of PM Morsi’s declaration.

Nobody is yet making a connection between his meetings with HRC and this move, but one might ponder this from 2009:

We look forward to President Mubarak coming as soon as his schedule would permit. I had a wonderful time with him this morning. I really consider President and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family. So I hope to see him often here in Egypt and in the United States.

Clinton’s main job in the Middle East, after satisfying Netanyahu and his ilk, is finding the best dictators our money or threats can purchase.  She may have found one this week.

Protests are gathering in Cairo as I write:

Demonstrators for and against sweeping new powers assumed by Egypt’s Islamist president are gathering in different parts of Cairo, a clear show of the deep polarization plaguing the country.

Protests following Friday midday prayers are set to be led by prominent pro-democracy figures, like Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency.

Muslim Brotherhood backers were gathering in front of the presidential palace northern Cairo to support Morsi.

Earlier tonight ElBaradei tweeted:

Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that cld have dire consequences

In Gaza, Israeli forces appear to have seriously violated the ceasefire agreement.  The issue of changes in what constitutes the free fire zone along the Gaza-Israel border was widely reported to be in play in the Hamas-Israel negotiations mid-week.  Mixed signals went out to Gazans.  After the ceasefire, many Gazans approached the fence:

What are the new fence rules?

The old rule was that if you walked within 300 meters of the prison fence, you got killed.  It was a really stupid, cruel rule, that has led to a lot of killing of innocent Gazan inmates, many of them kids.

A lot of people came to believe the old rule was gone, until:

One adult has been killed and 10 teenagers wounded as Israeli soldiers, stationed at the border line between Khan Younis and Israel, opened fire at them, medical sources say.

Witnesses told Al Jazeera that the teenagers entered the disputed area of the “buffer zone”, which is 300m along all the Gaza-Israel borders.

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reporting from Gaza City said they had received reports that a number of farmers entered Khan Younis in the buffer zone, which ordinarily is a no go zone, to check on their crops.

She said they may have had confused information about that buffer zone as there has been lots of information about the easing of travel restrictions.

Other reports on the death seem more informative:

Medics said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs along the Gaza frontier — an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Gazans.

A relative of the dead man, who was at the scene, told Reuters that Qdeih had been trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence. He added that an Israeli soldier had fired into the air three times before Qdeih was hit in the head by a bullet.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: “We will contact the Egyptian mediator to discuss the incident.”

Abu Zuhri’s statement is reassuring, and may indicate Hamas truly wants this cease fire to hold.

This is a rapidly developing Black Friday story, and I may update it after I get some sleep.

Updated – 10:50 am PST:  Mondoweiss is running this video with the claim that it is of the shootings written about above:

The cease fire appears to be holding, though.

Egypt Tries to Broker Cease Fire and Truce in Gaza. Israel Responds Provocatively.

5:08 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Israel Defense Forces in Staging Areas Around Gaza

As the Israeli state mobilizes 75,000 reservists, that country’s active military units are building staging areas quite close to their Sinai border with Egypt.

Early Saturday Joseph Dana tweeted:

The south of Israel is transforming from civilian areas in a sea of military bases to one large military base.

This must concern the Egyptian government, which, by its peace treaty with Israel, is limited to what kinds or quality of military forces it can station in the Sinai peninsula of its own country.  The Egyptian Sinai is 23,000 square miles. Israel is somewhere between 8,019 and 8,522 sq miles.

Friday, the new prime minister of Egypt, Hashim Kandil, visited Gaza, meeting with Hamas leaders:

Anyone hoping that Friday morning’s visit to Gaza City by Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil might ease the growing conflict between Israel and Hamas was sorely disappointed. In a brief two-hour trip, Kandil made no public mention of a cease-fire or ending the violence that has so far killed 23 people on both sides. Instead, he said Egypt’s loyalty rested squarely with Gaza’s people.

“The cause of Palestinians is the cause of all Arabs and Muslims,”’ he said during a visit to Shifa Hospital. “Palestinians are heroes.”

His presence failed to bring even a temporary lull in the fighting. Though Israel had agreed to halt airstrikes during the visit if militants also held their fire, rockets from Gaza struck Israeli towns almost as soon as Kandil arrived.

After PM Kandil left Gaza, the Israeli air force blew up the place where the head of the Egyptian government had just been:

Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas headquarters before dawn on Saturday, including the office of Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, as conflict in the region entered its fourth day.

As Israeli mobilization infrastructure grows along the Egyptian-Israeli border, Kandil will be tested by his constituency on how to respond to a military buildup along a vulnerable border that has been violated before.

The Gaza operation seems to me to be a 2013 election campaign ploy by Netanyahu and Lieberman that might backfire badly.  The bubble those two guys are trapped inside of keeps them from realizing how much the environment for a gratuitous campaign season war has changed in four years.

Photo by Israel Defense Forces under Creative Commons license.

Is The Downward Spiral in Turkish-Israeli Relations Terminal?

12:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

"Downward Spiral" by attila acs on flickr

"Downward Spiral" by attila acs on flickr

Steven A. Cook, writing at CNN‘s global public square niche:

Last Friday, the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, announced what had long been coming – the end of Turkey-Israel relations.  Although it is not a total breach, Israel’s ambassador in Ankara is no longer welcome there and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mission in Turkey was terminated.  All official business will now be conducted at the level of second secretary, which in the military is equivalent to a major or Lieutenant Colonel.  The foreign minister also warned that the Turkish Navy would defend the freedom of navigation in the international waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, conjuring images of a naval confrontation between the Israelis and the Turks. [emphases added]

Akiva Eldar, writing at Haaretz, sees the coming together of several trends, in ways disadvantageous to the Israeli state:

With all due respect to Turkey (we haven’t shown any; remember the low-chair affair ), the Israeli people will survive even without an ambassador and deputy ambassador in Ankara. No disaster will happen if the United Nations we so disparage throws the Palestinians a bone and a few young men march toward the settlements. Our highly trained soldiers will charge, the settlers’ dogs will jump them and all will be well.

Right? Wrong. The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts. It will affect the lives of 450,000 protesters and many more people who demanded social justice from their living room couches. Read the rest of this entry →

Egyptian Navy Refuses Entry to Port of El-Arish to Spirit of Rachel Corrie

11:16 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

According to Bernama, the Malaysian National News Agency, the Egyptian navy is ordering the MV Spirit of Rachel Corrie to leave the port area:

EL-ARISH (Egpyt), May 19 (Bernama) — An Egyptian navy gunboat has ordered aid ship MV Finch (Spirit of Rachel Corrie), which has been at anchor for three days, to leave the waiting area at El-Arish Port.

“They are preventing the ship from berthing,” said Bernama journalist, Mohd Faizal Hassan, who is one of the 12 passengers and crew on board the MV Finch, in a SMS note to Bernama’s headquarters here Thursday night.

According to Mohd Faizal, the MV Finch has been ordered not to come within a three nautical mile radius of the port.

If this is what it appears to be – a rejection by Egyptian authorities of the request by the ship to unload about 7.5 kilometers of PVC pipe to be hopefully used to help rebuild destroyed Gaza sewer lines – it is a serious setback for this small freighter, which was fired upon at least four times on Monday by Israeli gunboats, which succeeded in keeping it from docking in Gaza.

Global Research, which is in satellite phone communication with the freighter wrote this morning:

The decision by Egypt to prevent the boat from docking in the port and enabling the mission to proceed by land to Gaza is deliberate.

Global Research which is a partner in the PGPF mission has been in communication with the ship by satellite phone. At 2.30am EDT, the Spirit of Rachel Corrie mission informed the Egyptian authorities that if it continues to prevent the mission from transporting the humanitarian cargo by land, it will have no other choice but to lift anchor and direct itself by sea to the Gaza coastline, transiting through the Palestinian Security Zone.

We may know soon whether or not the vessel will leave port. It does not show up as a transponding unit on Live Ships Map’s Vessel Traffic and Position report.

ElBaradei – If Israel Again Attacks Gaza, Egypt Might Declare a State of War

7:36 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

One Israeli government after another seems to never fail to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  The latest examples:

1.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, when apprised that Judge Goldstone had written an op-ed for the U.S. media that gave the Israeli Armed Forces and government credit for some of their post-Gaza invasion investigatory work, decided to kick Goldstone in the nuts, demanding that the U.N. join him in the bullying:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the United Nations on Saturday to retract the Goldstone Report following the regret expressed by former jurist Richard Goldstone regarding the damning report on alleged Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war.

“Everything that we said proved to be true,” said Netanyahu. “Israel did not intentionally target civilians and it has proper investigatory bodies. In contrast, Hamas intentionally directed strikes toward innocent civilians and did not conduct any kind of probe.”

Meanwhile, the other participants in the U.N. report bearing the highly respected judge’s name, stand wholly by the report.  The Israeli (and American) commentators who mischaracterized Goldstone’s essay could have praised the esteemed jurist.  They piled on instead.

Missed opportunity number one.

2.  IDF Reserve General Amos Gilad, who is also chief of Israel’s diplomatic-security bureau, told an Israeli television audience, regarding the expected wave of full recognitions this late summer and fall, of a Palestinian state, based on the pre-June 1967 borders:

“Israel’s isolation in September, the beginning of the isolation, will be no less severe than war,” Gilad told participants in a private session.

The central issue facing Netanyahu come September was whether Israel should enter “a partnership for peace [with the Palestinians] and spare itself international pressure or go head to head with them,” said Gilad, hinting that the ongoing freeze in the peace process was likely to bring about a third Intifada.

“If you don’t enter negotiations, you gain stability, but also international isolation,” said Gilad. “The isolation will legitimize the clashes that could erupt from a coincidental event or incident that with Twitter and Facebook could spark an entire fire.”

Gilad’s remarks were similar to those made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently in an address to the National Security Institute in Tel Aviv. Barak warned then that a “diplomatic tsunami” would wash over Israel should the world recognize a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders in September.

Barak emphasized in that address that Israel must develop its own political initiative to end the conflict in order to prevent disaster. [emphasis added]

The political initiative will not happen.  Israeli coalition politics precludes it.

Missed opportunity number two.

3.  Campaigning for the Egyptian presidency, ex-head of the International Atomic Energy  Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, responding to questions about past Egyptian intransigence in the face of Israeli military actions along its border with Egypt, stated ““if Israel attacked Gaza we would declare war against the Zionist regime.”

And ElBaradei is the moderate in the race.  Here’s more:

“In case of any future Israeli attack on Gaza – as the next president of Egypt – I will open the Rafah border crossing and will consider different ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement.”

He also stated that “Israel controls Palestinian soil” adding that that “there has been no tangible breakthrough in reconciliation process because of the imbalance of power in the region – a situation that creates a kind of one way peace.”

Will Israel fail to deal intelligently with the emerging dynamics of the 2011 race for the Egyptian presidency?  Conciliation and earnest efforts toward peace with a true Palestinian state seem beyond the ken of anyone who has obtained power at the national level in Israel.

This will be missed opportunity number three.

4.  The combination of another flotilla headed to Gaza next month, along with a completely new dynamic at play along the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, seems to point toward the Israelis having to deal rationally with the blockade runners, rather than criminally, as they did in 2010, particularly with the MV Mavi Marmara.

All the Israelis had to do to stop the medium-sized cruise ship was to channel the vessel toward the gap between two oceangoing tug boats of at least 10,000 HP, with a cable or cables slung underwater between them.  The cables could have had a lot of chicken wire wrapped around them.  The cables and wire would have snagged the running gear of the Mavi Marmara, causing it to halt in position until the gear was unfouled, which probably would have required a return to a friendly port.  It would have broken the back of the flotilla, and shown the world a more sensible Israeli military, instead of the buffonish murderers we actually were able to see.

The methods of attack upon the flotilla were stupid, a missed opportunity.  Will the Israelis once again miss an opportunity to find international goodwill in their response to the 2011 flotillas?

What do you think?

Is Israel in Violation of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty?

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The process that resulted in the March 26, 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was long, though not by standards Palestinians, for instance, might seem particularly arduous or epic.  Israel attacked Egypt on June 5, 1967, occupying all of Egyptian Sinai and forcing a long-term closure of the Suez Canal as one of many direct results.  Then, just over six years later, on October 6, 1973, Egypt attacked Israel, seeking to reclaim their occupied territory and restore the Canal to normal use.  Israel considers the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to have been their victory;  Egypt considers it to have been theirs.  People still fight over which side won at the war’s Wikipedia article.

The preamble of the 1979 peace treaty reads, in part:

PREAMBLE

Convinced of the urgent necessity of the establishment of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East in accordance with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338

It is interesting that the Israeli Government’s web page devoted to the treaty shows a map of Israel clearly marking all of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as part of Israel, without any sort of differentiation between these zones and what is generally regarded to be Israel proper – pre-1967 War Israel.  The Egyptian government’s page devoted to the treaty is currently down.
Security Council Resolution 242 is considered to be the originating document requiring Israel to relinquish its control, occupation and settlement of the West Bank and Gaza, and its original interpretation by everyone on the planet outside of the Israeli and (then) South African (apartheid) governments regarded all of the West Bank lands occupied in 1967 as just that – occupied.  Soon after  the adoption of UN Res. 242, – November 22, 1967, Dean Rusk, who was then U.S. Secretary of State, said:

There was much bickering over whether that resolution should say from “the” territories or from “all” territories. In the French version, which is equally authentic, it says withdrawal de territory, with de meaning “the.” We wanted that to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be “rationalized”; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties. We also wanted to leave open demilitarization measures in the Sinai and the Golan Heights and take a fresh look at the old city of Jerusalem. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war. On that point we and the Israelis to this day remain sharply divided. This situation could lead to real trouble in the future. Although every President since Harry Truman has committed the United States to the security and independence of Israel, I’m not aware of any commitment the United States has made to assist Israel in retaining territories seized in the Six-Day War.

Since that time, many U.S. governments have sought to muddy the clarity of what 242 meant and means.  How that reflects upon whether or not Israel is currently in violation of the Israel-Egypt pact has not been addressed by any of the many, many reports in the media about whether or not the incoming regime in Egypt might or might not honor it.  It appears to be a moot point, as Israel is in very obvious violation of one of the most basic tenets of the pact and should therefore be seriously considered as having abandoned it already.  The Palestine Papers clearly reveal that Israel has no leg to stand upon in defending their non-compliance with 242 and the peace pact itself.

As Rusk stated in 1967, regarding adherence to the spirit and letter of 242 and Israeli intransigence and outright deceptions, “[t]his situation could lead to real trouble in the future.”

Andrea Mitchell’s BFF, Omar Suleiman’s Typical Workday

2:35 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Mondoweiss published a few short excerpts from Mamdouh Habib’s 2008 book, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, this morning, in an article by Antony Lowenstein, who had reviewed the book when it came out, for the  Sydney Morning Herald.   I  read the excerpts this morning.  As bad an actor as we already know Suleiman to be, from multiple sources, especially from Jane Mayer’s January 29th New Yorker article, Who is Omar Suleiman, I was not prepared for Habib’s first-person story.

As we watch live coverage of events in Cairo, and the amazingly blatant continuation of relating the aspirations of the struggle for democracy of the Egyptian people to perhaps being secondary to the “security” of Israel and Israelis, one person’s egregious comments disgust me more than the rest – Andrea Mitchell.  Although I heard her say it earlier, I’ve only found a paraphrase of what Mitchell said so far:

When NBC announced the news in a Special Report, Andrea Mitchell assured American viewers of vice president Omar Suleiman. “He is a friend to Israel.”

This morning I wrote an article for Progressive Alaska that included part of Lowenstein’s excerpts from Habib’s book.  In light of Mitchell’s statement, I’ll recast those excerpts here in a context that I hope will give Mitchell the attention in this matter she assuredly deserves.  I imagine Andrea Mitchell, standing alongside Habib and Gen. Suleiman as these sordid events unfold:

pp.112-115:

The guard quickly told me that the very big boss was coming to talk to me, and that I must be well behaved and co-operate. Everyone was nervous. I have since found out that the boss was Omar Suleiman, head of all Egyptian security. He was known for personally supervising the interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and sending reports to the CIA. In the beginning, he was often present during my interrogations. He must have thought that he had a big fish when I was sent to him by the Americans and Australians.

I was sitting in a chair, hooded, with my hands handcuffed behind my back. He came up to me. His voice was deep and rough. He spoke to me in Egyptian and English. [Omar Suleiman] said, “Listen, you don’t know who I am, but I am the one who has your life in his hands. Every single person in this building has his life in my hands. I just make the decision.”

I said, “I hope your decision is that you make me die straight away.”

“No, I don’t want you to die now. I want you to die slowly.”

[Andrea Mitchell sighs - He is a friend to Israel.]

[Suleiman] went on, “I can’t stay with you; my time is too valuable to stay here. You only have me to save you. I’m your saviour. You have to tell me everything, if you want to be saved. What do you say?”

“I have nothing to tell you.”

“You think I can’t destroy you just like that?” He clapped his hands together.

I don’t know”. I was feeling confused. Everything was unreal.

If God came down and tried to take you by the hand, I would not let him. You are under my control. Let me show you something that will convince you.”

The guard then guided me out of the room and through an area where I could see, from below the blindfold, the trunks of palm trees. We then went through another door back inside, and descended some steps. We entered a room. They sat me down.  [Andrea Mitchell watches from the corner]

“Now you are going to tell me that you planned a terrorist attack”, Suleiman persisted.

“I haven’t planned any attacks.”

“I give you my word that you will be a rich man if you tell me you have been planning attacks.

Don’t you trust me?” he asked.

“I don’t trust anyone”, I replied.

Immediately he slapped me hard across the face and knocked off the blindfold; I clearly saw his face.

“That’s it. That’s it. I don’t want to see this man again until he co-operates and tells me he’s been planning a terrorist attack! he yelled at the others in the room, then stormed out. [Andrea Mitchell follows Gen. Suleman]

The guard came up to me, upset that I hadn’t co-operated.

I said to him, “You have to let me go soon; it’s nearly 48 hours.”

He looked at me, surprised, and asked, “How long do you think you’ve been here?”

A day”, I replied.

“Man, you’ve been here for more than a week.”

They then took me to another room, where they tortured me relentlessly, stripping me naked and applying electric shocks everywhere on my body.

The next thing I remember was seeing the general again [With Andea Mitchell at his side].

He came into the room with a man from Turkistan; he was a big man but was stooped over, because his hands were chained to the shackles of his feet, preventing him from standing upright.

“This guy is no use to us anymore. This is what is going to happen to you. We’ve had him for one hour, and this is what happens.”

Suddenly, a guy they called Hamish, which means snake, came at the poor man from behind and gave him a terrible karate kick that sent him crashing across the room. A guard went over to shake him, but he didn’t respond. Turning to the general, the guard said, “Basha, I think he’s dead.”

“Throw him away then. Let the dogs have him.”

They dragged the dead man out. [Andrea Mitchell incants "He is a friend to Israel, he is a friend to Israel," as if saying this has some sort of magical power over the evil she has just witnessed].

“What do you think of that?” asked the general, staring into my face.

“At least he can rest now”, I replied.

Then they brought another man in. This man, I think, was from Europe – his exclamations of pain didn’t sound like those of someone from the Middle East. He was in a terrible state. The guard came in with a machine and started to wire up the guy to it. They told the poor man that they were going to give him a full electric shock, measuring ten on the scale. Before they even turned the machine on, the man started to gasp and then slumped in the chair.

I think he died of a heart attack.  [Mitchell, increasingly frantic, keeps on mumbling "He is a friend to Israel" over and over, hyperventilating].

The general said that there was one more person I had to see. “This person will make you see that we can keep you here for as long as we want, all of your life, if we choose.”

There was a window in the room, covered by a curtain. The general drew back a curtain, and I saw the top half of a very sick, thin man. He was sitting on a chair on the other side of the glass, facing me.

“You know this guy?” the general asked.

“No”, I replied.

“That’s strange – he’s your friend from Australia.”

I looked again, and was horrified to see that it was Mohammed Abbas, a man I had known in Australia who had worked for Telstra [Australian telecommunications company]. He had travelled to Egypt in 1999, and had never been seen again.

“He is going to be your neighbour for the rest of your life.”

t was then that I knew I was in Egypt, without a doubt. They then took Abbas away and closed the curtain.

p.118:

After the first interrogation with Suleiman, I believed the Egyptians weren’t interested in where I had been; they only wanted me to confess to being a terrorist and having plotted terrorist attacks so they could sell the information to the United States and Australia. I decided then that I wouldn’t answer questions or explain anything; but, as a consequence, I was badly tortured in Egypt.

p.133:

The Egyptians didn’t like Maha [Habib’s wife] at all. One day, I overheard Omar Suleiman saying to someone, “I would love to bring Maha here.” [No, it was to somebody other than Andrea Mitchell].

I have no idea when this was but the memory of these few words is very vivid in my mind. Fortunately, though, Suleiman could never have gotten hold of Maha, because she is Lebanese born and an Australian citizen. Suleiman, before my release from Egypt, often threatened that he would get me back if I ever said anything bad about Egypt.

The ongoing events in Egypt appear to be the most momentous public reactions to governmental perfidy since the downfall of the Warsaw Pact and the USSR.  The growing cognitive dissonance between those who support Israel unconditionally and those of us who hope to see support for that country become far more pragmatic and realistic will be quite momentous to American politics and civic discourse.  Hopefully, within a year or so, such comments as were exemplified by Andrea Mitchell and others today, will become mostly a thing of the past.

Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – “Sign the Petition – Cut off Netanyahu” – Updated

11:32 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. On Friday, firedoglake founder Jane Hamsher asked us to sign a petition, requesting that “Congress …  immediately vote to cut off any American aid to the Egyptian government.”  I signed it.  Then I republished Jane’s post at my blog, where more people read about this important issue, and signed the petition.

Jane’s post at firedoglake sported an image of a tear gas canister that had been fired at protesters in Egypt late last week.  The canister (as are the rubber bullets and many other anti-riot implements used in Egypt) was made in the USA.   Combined Technical Systems in Jamestown, PA makes the tear gas projectiles.  In my republication of Jane’s post, I added an image of the place in Pennsylvania where Combined Systems makes and packages some of this stuff.  There, outside the company’s HQ, are a pair of flag poles.  Atop one sits the American flag.  Atop the other one, just as tall, perhaps higher, sits an Israeli flag.

The same company that makes these canisters being used as I write against the Egyptian people, makes many, many more, that are used every week against courageous Palestinian and Israeli people, who fight against policies of the apartheid regime in Tel Aviv.  American college student Emily Henochowicz lost an eye to an American-made product on May 31st, as she demonstrated at Kalandi crossing near Ramallah, against the murders of eight young Turks and another American college student, Furkan Doğan, by Israeli “commandos” brandishing more American made products in their arsenal.  American Tristan Anderson was severely injured by a Combined Technical Systems product  near Ni’in in the West Bank, on March 13, 2009.

American-made white phosphorus products killed scores, perhaps hundreds of Palestinians, including many kids, during Operation Cast Lead.  If you haven’t seen the images of these ruined kids, you should.

On Friday, I commented at Jane’s petition post, asking:

Where’s the petition to cut off the similar aid package to Israel, Jane? Essentially, they’re part of the same overall package and mindset, even if the Israelis have a very different U.S. constituency than that of the Egyptians.

A few commenters agreed.  After one commenter engaged further in my question, Jane answered:

Petitions are a tool we use to identify people who are interested in a particular issue. Once we identify them we can ask them to take actions of increasing sophistication and complexity in consort such that maximum pressure is exerted on identifiable weak spots within a system.

Thank you for your concern. When it comes to the influence of money in a political system you might be surprised what we understand.

II. Today, the blog Mondoweiss, in an essay penned by their founder, Philip Weiss, all but challenges firedoglake to put up a similar petition regarding U.S. aid to Israel.  Here’s the relevant excerpt:

In his bumbling press briefing two days ago, Robert Gibbs put the U.S. “assistance posture” toward the Egyptians on the table, warning the gov’t not to crack down on the protesters or there goes our money. People are listening. Firedoglake has called for ending aid to Egypt, citing the teargas canisters we produce being used against demonstrators.

Let me remind you, the Israelis killed nearly 400 children in Gaza by dropping white phosphorus on them over 22 days of hellish attacks on a population of 1.5 million two years ago, and the U.S. said nothing. The siege of Gaza is collective punishment, a war crime. And pro-democracy demonstrations in the West Bank, where the people have no rights, are routinely suppressed by Israel. A worldwide movement has called for boycott, divestment and sanctions.

Will Firedoglake and Robert Gibbs see the writing on the wall?

It is a worthy challenge.  I’ve been commenting at fdl since 2005, writing here since 2008.  I’ve been commenting at Mondoweiss since 2008, and Weiss has asked me to begin submitting articles there (I will, when the Rachel Corrie civil suit concludes in Haifa).

Weiss’ blog (he’s now working closely with Adam Horowitz and The Nation Institute, and featuring many dynamic writers) is dedicated to “The War of Ideas in the Middle East” and to Jewish identity. firedoglake is perhaps the most formidable progressive public forum in the United States on a wide array of issues, only one of which is Palestinian rights.  But with Weiss’ challenge, there appears to be a cognitive dissonance that, through resolution, might bring about some positive results.

Update – Three Issues:

1). My Header should have read “Mondoweiss Challenges firedoglake – Please Post “Sign the Petition – “Cut Off Netanyahu.” Mondoweiss has not posted a petition similar to that posted by fdl Friday.  Nor has fdl posted one requesting funding similar to that given to Egypt be withheld from Israel.  I shouldn’t change the title, as people have already responded to the one posted.

2). I don’t know how to post such petitions as the one posted here Friday, or proposed by Mondoweiss.  I leave that up to others for now.

3). Among comments to this diary, some warrant addressing in this update:

a). firedoglake is not a “neo-lib” blog.  Please.  I stand by my statement in the diary – fdl is quite progressive, the range of progressive issues brought up by front-pagers and Myfdl diarists is enormous.

b). Even though fdl does not often front-page diaries about Palestinian rights, it does.  And when important breaking news has happened – the assault and murders on the MV Mavi Marmara being a good, fairly recent example, fdl led the world in covering the crimes as they occurred.

c). CTuttle questioned whether this post might start “another” flame war between Mondoweiss and fdl.  There is no way it should.  A good start might be for somebody here – Siun comes to mind – to post a petition to congress, requesting military aid that goes to Israel, which funds the implementation of illegal repression of Palestinian rights in Gaza, the West Bank and in Israel itself, be terminated.  I believe that can be done here.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have written this diary.

Obama on Tuesday – “We Stand With the People of Tunisia” — Obama Friday – “We Stand With the Dictator of Egypt”

10:31 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

What’s the difference between the two?

There are several, but paramount is that our most selfish, ungrateful ally – Israel – prefers to be surrounded by corrupt dictators who are more willing to make sleazy, behind-the-scenes deals with an apartheid, expansionist state, than help their own people. That has worked fairly well for the Israelis for decades. It is about to come to a screeching halt.

Along with the toppling of the corrupt Tunisian government last week, came the final election results in Lebanon, with Hezbollah choosing the final configuration of the government, and publication of what have become known as “The Palestine Papers,” which show both Israeli dishonesty in dealing with the Palestinian Authority since before the Oslo Accords, and the inadequacy of many central PA figures. Thousands are demonstrating against the U.S.-backed government in Yemen; hundreds are demonstrating in Jordan. Now, we are seeing gigantic demonstrations in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

In the U.S. the GOP leadership is openly backing the Egyptian dictator. So is Vice President Biden. So is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

GOP leadership:

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R- MI 11): “America must stand with her ally Egypt to preserve an imperfect government capable of reform; and prevent a tyrranical [sic] government capable of harm.”

Vice President Biden:

Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

[T]he U.S. Chamber of Commerce maintains a network of foreign affiliates known as Amchams, “which are foreign chambers of the Chamber composed of American and foreign companies.” In Egypt, this foreign affiliate is known as the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, known in short as AmCham Egypt.

AmCham Egypt’s relation to the Mubarak dictatorship stretches back decades. In fact, the Egyptian dictator even personally intervened to create the organization. In 1981, Mubarak issued an order to allow for the creation of the AmCham by giving it an exemption from Egypt’s strict NGO laws — which help limit the influence human rights and democracy promotion organizations. Since then, the chamber has grown to have hundreds of members. While roughly 75 percent of the organization’s members are Egyptian businesses, many of them are also large Western multinational corporations, like Coca Cola and BP. The Chamber’s member companies account for nearly 20 percent of Egypt’s GDP.

When a powerful corporate-backed entity like the AmCham Egypt gains favorable treatment, it is natural for it to try to protect its patron. So last year, when a group of U.S. Senators — lead by Russ Feingold (D-WI) — introduced legislation that called on the government of Egypt to end crackdowns on pro-democracy activists and hold free and fair elections, AmCham Egypt, at the behest of the Egyptian dictatorship, sprung into action.

As Al Masra Al Youm, a major Egyptian paper, reports, the Mubarak regime tapped AmCham Egypt President Shafik Gabr to do its bidding. Gabr was “dispatched expressly” for the purpose of scuttling the bill.

In Israel, the government itself has remained silent. Others, particularly past government officials, are more open:

Israeli officials say in private they cannot believe President Hosni Mubarak will be overthrown by the demonstrations. But if he should fall, there is no guarantee whoever might follow him will continue to tend to Israel ties.

Ordinary Egyptians have never warmed to Israel, despite more than three decades of peace, and regularly blame it for their woes.

“If Mubarak is toppled then Israel will be totally isolated in the region,” said Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and a former ambassador to Turkey.

The Israelis had an awful year with their neighbors, particularly Turkey:

After successfully helping orchestrate the demands for an international panel to look into the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Israelis, with their eager partners in the Obama administration, managed to stifle a similar international query into the murders of several Turks and an American, by Israeli “commandos” aboard the Turkish-flagged vessel in international waters, the MV Mavi Marmara.

The publication of The Palestine Papers
has effectively finished killing any rational possibility of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Here’s Steven M. Walt:

[T]hese releases can also be read as the final obituary for the Oslo peace process. Lord knows it had been on life support for years, and most analysts have already understood it was going nowhere. In that sense, these documents aren’t really revelatory: They merely confirm what most of us had suspected ever since Obama began walking back from the Cairo speech. But what I’ve argued before is now abundantly clear: The Palestinians aren’t going to accept anything less than a viable state (plus at least symbolic acknowledgement of a “right of return”), and Israel isn’t going to offer them anything remotely close to that. (See Jeremy Pressman here for further details on the difficulties.) It’s equally clear that the United States is incapable of acting like an honest broker on this issue, despite its importance to our broader security position. That means no “two states for two peoples,” which in turn means that some future U.S. president is going to face some really awkward choices.

Walt concludes:

[I]f we step back and take a larger and longer view, it begins to look like the U.S. position in the Middle East, which seemed so dominant after the fall of the USSR and the first Gulf War, is now crumbling. Hezbollah just formed a government in Lebanon, possibly after the United States convinced former PM Saad Hariri to go back on a compromise deal over the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of his father. Iraq is now governed by a Shiite government with extensive links to Iran and is denying the U.S. any future military role there. A democratic government in Turkey, while not anti-American, is charting an independent course. The Mubarak government in Egypt, long a close U.S. client, has been shaken, and even if it survives the current turmoil, its long-term status is up for grabs.

The problem is this: The United States has no idea how to deal with a Middle East where the voice of the people might actually be heard, rather than being subject to the writ of various aging potentates.

And having followed policies for decades that are unpopular with most of those same people, we may be about to reap the whirlwind.

Is it too late for Israel and the U.S. to avoid having to reap this “whirlwind”? Perhaps not.

One thing that struck me about the events in Tunisia was the extent to which young, educated professional women there participated. Their interests in changing the government were almost exclusively non-religious. Although the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia was almost non-existent, it is playing a part in the events in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Gaza. What that involvement means is being spun by conservative apparatchiks here and abroad, as a sort of boogie man figure, to which it is very easy to attach the usual racist anti-Arab stereotypes and Islamaphobic labels. The young people involved in the ongoing demonstrations don’t seem comfortable with the hardliners from Islamist groups. The young populations of these countries tend to be suspicious of religious police, as they should be. The young women involved, especially those who have benefitted from higher education, generally despise conservative religious figures because of their anti-women views.

It is about time that Americans attempt to understand the role of millions of young people in these ongoing disturbances against corrupt paradigms we have so fully supported in the past.